Monday, August 9, 2010

A Look At The Wisconsin Offense: Champs Sports Bowl

So, I know all 2 of you who were expecting an UFR of the Florida game are looking at that post title and thinking, "Dude."

This will be analogous to expecting an X-Box for Christmas, only to receive a box of Wheaties. Due to technical issues (torrent downloading? help? any help in the comments is appreciated), I wasn't able to do the UF UFR this weekend. Additionally, I thought I had it in my DVR, but someone unceremoniously deleted it. Dude, indeed. ANYWAY.

So we're playing Wisconsin and all this year, as we usually do, and they are supposed to be pretty good. So I decided to watch the Champs Sports Bowl again (#havenolife) to see why that is. Just to clear up some of the abbreviations that appear later on in the charting: W=Wide, B=Back (i.e., Runningback), sb=set back.

Down and DistanceField PositionFormationPlay Description
1st & 10Wisc. 22Ace 3-WideTolzien hands off to Clay after an end around fake; there's a lot of space on the outside, and Clay is brought down after seemingly an eternity…gain of 6. Note: Starting line-ups intro indicates the UW line consists of 2 Fr. At the guard positions, a Soph. at RT, and Juniors at LT and C. Also, only one senior skill player (Graham). The upshot: they should be even better this year.
2nd &4W 28I-formationClay rumbles for the first.
1st & 10W 32I-form.Clay runs for 3; Nessler talks about how Clay isn't fumble-prone (HMM FORESHADOWING?); Blackledge talks about how "wide" Clay is and Nessler assents with an "Oh man."
2nd & 7W 35AceFirst pass; Graham on a short pass in the middle for 5. And thus begins TEageddon.
3rd & 2W 40JumboRun right and Clay is hit but keeps the legs moving nicely and picks up the first.
1st & 10W 434-wideAnother fake end around; Clay for a few.
2nd & 6W 472 WideTE in motion; Clay gets overwhelmed in the backfield for a loss; a well-timed blitz on Miami's part blows this play up.
3rd & 11W 43Shotgun 2-Backs 3-WideIt is mentioned that Wisconsin is only 18% in 3rd and long situations this season; Tolzien is then sacked after finding no one after a few long seconds. PUNT.

1st & 10Miami 41I-form., 2 WR stacked close to lineKendricks (#84) goes in motion; PA, pump fake by Tolzien, hits a streaking Kendricks down the left sideline for a nice gain for 37, which works out to about a 389 yard gain for any team not named Wisconsin.
1st & GoalM 4GoallineKendricks in motion; comes back around to lead for Clay through the left side; only goes for 1…THIS TIME.
2ND & GM 3GoallineNessler mentions Miami only having given up 2 rushing touchdowns in their last 7 games (!); 3 TE's on the field; Kendricks goes in motion again, leading for Clay on the left again at the snap; he seals the edge perfectly and Clay reaches the corner of the endzone. Touchdown, Wisconsin 7, Miami 7.

1st & 10W 35Single back, 1 WideClay goes for 5; the initial fumble call is reversed; Clay goes out for Montee Ball
2nd & 5W 40I-form. 1-Wide#84 in motion; seals edge, Balls goes for 5 and the first
1st & 10W 45I-form. 1-WTE in motion; PA, Tolzien, hits #84 for a really nice gain; Miami linebackers completely mesmerized by the run fake
1st & 10M 361-Back 2-WideToon in motion; PA deep to Toon but he catches it slightly out of bounds; Tolzien hit hard
2nd & 10M 36AceBall cuts it back inside for 5
3rd & 5M 313-Wide, Graham motions to slotTol. Drops back to pass; pass deflected and picked off at the line (LOLNAVARRE'D). TURNOVER.

1st & 10W 364W, Trips LeftTol. Checks at the line; all for naught, as he's hurried and forced to throw it away.
2nd & 10W 36AceClay Buffalo Stampedes his way for a long gainer; good blocking by #77 and some shoddy tackling; Clay already has 86 yards and it's not even halftime.
1st & 10M 12I-form 1W, TE set back at the lineTimeout Miami.
1st & 10M 12Wisconsin comes out in the same formation.Fake to Ball, end-around to #84 stuffed by Miami for a loss of 4. Miami speed blah blah blah+end-around with a TE=TFL.
2nd & 14M 16AceGilreath in motion, fake end-around to him; sneaky TE screen up middle to Graham goes for close to a first.
3rd & 1M 4Goal aka "The Beef Package"Run to Clay; same play as first TD; #84 in motion, seals edge and Clay runs it in untouched; TOUCHDOWN, Wisconsin 14, Miami 7.

1st & 10W 182W Stack, 2 TE on left side of the line next to LT#68 pulls and Ball picks his way for 3
2nd & 7W 212W, TE set back on left side of the line#84 in motion; settles on line next to LT; #1 in motion; PA to Toon for nice intermediate gain of 19.
1st & 10M 362W on each side stacked, 1BTol. Drops back and fires to Graham down the middle but it falls incomplete.
2nd & 10M 36Same form. except Graham is set back on left instead of stacked#84 leads again and Ball rumbles for a first; Flagàholding. Miami players look visibly affected by the cold…it is 49 degrees.
2nd & 16 M 41Gun 1B 3WESPN shows a Miami fan yawning; clearly the Wisconsin offense is doing its job. Tol. Moves right and tosses shuffle pass to Ball for 6.
3rd & 10M 35Gun 2B, 3W (TE in slot)Tolzien hits #84 while being hit; #84 makes a great grab on a low pass for a first.
1st & 10M 23I-form 2W#84 in motion; PA, hits Clay for 5 up the middle
2nd & 5M 18AceGraham in motion; another run blitz blows up the play and Ball gets dropped for -3. It happens.
3rd & 7M 20'Gun 1B 4WRight slot in motion; Tolzien pass to Gilreath broken up nicely; incomplete. FIELD GOAL GOOD w/ 0:12 left in the half; Wisc. 17, Miami 7.

1st & 10W 26Ace, TE set backEnd-around to Gilreath only picks up 1.
2nd & 9 W 27AceClay only picks up 2 after frantic Tolzien pre-snap gesticulating; Clay hobbles off to the sideline.
3rd & 7W 294W Trips rightTolzien again gets rid of it at the last second after the RT Oglesby gets completely owned by the pass rush; hits #84 for nice first.
1st & 10W 40I-form 2W#84 in motion; Ball for 2.
2nd & 7W 42AceGilreath in motion; fake end-around to Gilreath, Ball dropped for loss of 1 (Miami's #35 beats Carimi).
3rd & 8W 43Gun 1B 4WGraham in motion and back; FALSE START on #67. Not a good drive for him.
3rd & 13W 37'Gun 1B 3WTE screen to Graham only nets a few; PUNT.

1st & 10W 27I-form 1W TE set backBall hits left side for 5
2nd & 5W 322W TE set backGraham in motion, settles on line; Gilreath in motion; fake end-around pitch back to Ball in space for gain of 23; excellent execution by Carimi and the LG.
1st & 10M 451W TE sbBall cuts and puts head down for 2.
2nd & 8M 422W TE sb#84 in motion; PA, flips to Toon for 6.
3rd & 2M 36Gun 1B 3W TE sb#89 in motion; PA, Tolzien steps up and fires incomplete. PUNT. Telecast moves ahead in the action to 11:08 left in the 4th.

3rd & 3W 40Ace TE sb #6 in motion; PA bootleg; Tolzien pressured and throws parabolic arm punt to a wide open Gilreath; Procedure penalty on Kendricks brings it back.
3rd & 8W 352W TE sb RB offset84 in motion; Tolzien has all day and hits Graham in center of field for 23 (ah, shades of the Michigan game).
1st & 10M 43I-form 1W 2TE on right side of line84 in motion; standard run goes for maybe 1.
2nd & 10M 43AceTolzien overshoots Toon deep down the right sideline.
3rd & 10M 43Gun 1B 3WTolzien rolls left then shuffle passes to Ball for 8. PUNT.

1st & 10M 34I-form 1W TE sbAfter a Jacory Harris fumble; 84 in motion; Clay with a strong run for 7.
2nd & 3M 27I-form 1W TE sb84 in motion; Clay gets the first.
1st & 10M 20I-form. 1W TE sb84 in motion; Clay drives away for 4.
2nd & 6 M 16SameClay for 2.
3rd & 4M 14Same84 in motion; Miami with the heavy run blitz; PA bootleg and Tolzien decides to take the money and run; picks up 2. FIELD GOAL GOOD, Wisc. 20, Miami 7.

Tolzien-19/26, 260 yards, O TD 1 INT
Clay-22 carries, 121 yards, 2 touchdowns (Ball added
Kendricks-7 rec., 128 yards
Graham-6 rec. 77 yards

TOP- 39:15 (!)
The Upshot:

Don't laugh, but yawning Miami fan aside, this was a fun watch in a number of ways. For one, it was nice to see someone other than Michigan have their secondary eviscerated by an endless wave of cyborg tight ends. Also, Wisconsin's offense was simple, yet effective, and as "old school" football becomes somewhat of a relic in the college football landscape, Wisconsin's offense will continue to become increasingly unique.

While it's possible that nothing in this post tells you anything new about Wisconsin; here are some takeaways:

1) Wisconsin uses their TE's basically as receivers. Toon is a decent target, and even he was overshadowed by Graham and Kendricks. I don't know what secret underground lair Wisconsin creates these pass-catching TE's in but either way they're dangerous and definitely a central part of the offense.

2) I'd have to look back at the Michigan game to see if this is consistently the case, but Wisconsin loves to put their TE's and WR's in motion. I didn't count, but if I did, I would guess that about 75% of Wisconsin's plays involved some sort of pre-snap movement. Then again, it could have just been the gameplan specifically tailored for Miami. In this game, it was a safe bet that the man in motion would be getting the ball (this occurred with all 3 primary targets at various points in the game...Kendricks, Graham and Toon)

3) Wisconsin's strong tradition of FAT BUT GOOD tailbacks continues, manifested in the forms of John Clay and Montee Ball. As detailed in the charts, Miami had been defending the run particularly well. While UW only averaged 4 yards per carry, it was an efficient performance; most importantly, they were able to punch it in when they got close to the endzone. Miami was a respectable 31st nationally in rushing defense, 3 spots ahead of Iowa and their vaunted defense, and 7 behind Michigan State (uh?).

4) Which brings me to my next point: Wisconsin loved to use the TE in motion to block when they got close to the endzone. On both of Clay's rushing touchdowns, Kendricks went in motion and kicked out the playside end/LB to clear the way masterfully. So, unlike Travis Beckum, who was more of the Greg Olsen mold (i.e., "I can't block"), Kendricks can in fact block, and well, as evidenced by his play in this game against a Miami team that always has its share of former 4 and 5-star players on defense.

Conclusion: This may have been a pointless exercise, but, you know...oh well. Wisconsin brings back everybody on offense except for Graham, I believe, including the entire OL. That is always a good thing. Tolzien, while unspectacular, is efficient in the traditional UW quarterbacking fashion. Stocco circa 2006 is probably a reasonable expectation to reach for Tolzien this year, IME (they might not necessarily only lose 1 game in the regular season like Stocco's squad did, but still). What does this mean for us?

It is pretty obvious what needs to be done for Michigan to succeed in stopping Wisconsin's attack. IME, it can be done with our current personnel, but a lot needs to happen before now and gameday. Unlike many of the other attacks Michigan will face, this one is the epitome of brute force, with a smattering of strategic first down passing/play action. In short, like any good defense, Michigan must be strong up the middle. Campbell, Ezeh, and Cam Gordon/Kovacs need to come up big, starting of course with Big Will.

Eat up big man (but stay away from that 3 a.m. Bell's Pizza, por favor)...FAT RB'S, coming to ur base this fall.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


"To make war all you need is intelligence. But to win you need talent and material."

Friday, August 6, 2010

News and Notes-8/6

-The 2000 Michigan-Purdue game (a game for which I was in attendance) airs on the BTN tonight at 8ET. I went to two games that year, both of them losses to the eventual Big Ten Co-Champions (the other, of course, being Northwestern in one of the most bloody-mindedness-of-the-universe games I have ever been to). If you're the masochistic type, set the DVR and go to town (or not). The defense that year was just absurd (in a BAD BAD way).

From a purely historical perspective, this was probably the peak of basketball-on-grass and Coach Otto von Bismarck's--ahem, Joe Tiller's--reign. If you close your eyes and pretend like Michigan is not the one getting torched, that Drew Brees guy is fun to watch.

The 2000 team was a frustrating and senseless fusion of extremes; the excellent '03 offense+the take-your-pick-ok-2008-it-is defense.

Either way, it's football, and you can stop watching at halftime if you want.

29 days:

-PRESEASON POLLS (!). The Preseason USA Today Coaches Poll is out, to everyone's great delight. Michigan State, a team that won one more game than a hapless Michigan squad, received votes, which is a bit curious if you ask me. Not that it matters much, or even at all really. Preseason polls are about as important as the Iowa Caucus in terms of predictive ability. But, people like lists, so there you go.

Anyway, the Big Ten is looking a little top-heavy for now. Michigan hopefully returning to their typical form should help that a bit, although the prospects for the likes of Illinois, Minnesota, etc. look grim. FWIW, between Iowa and Wisconsin, I think the Badgers end up having the better season. Either way, both games will be tough, despite being in the New and Improved Big House.

Bonus-I'm looking into doing a sort of informal UFR for the 2008 Capital One Bowl, similar to the one I did for the Ohio State-Oregon Rose Bowl. I read somewhere on the MGoBoard the other day that Brian supposedly promised to do one and didn't; I wouldn't mind watching that game for the 278th time. It won't be as aesthetically pleasing and table-savvy as Brian's work but it's something to look at to pass the time between now and UCONNageddon. I'm hoping to have it ready by Monday, so watch out for that. Additionally,there should be a good amount of content coming before the school year school starts up, especially with practice starting in but a few days (!).

Other than that, have a great weekend everybody and Go Blue.