BIg Dan & Co. vs Wisconsin

rockford

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I suspect this may be a rather bland recap, at least based on re-watching the first quarter. The Badgers quite simply seemed to lack any fight up front.

We ran 13 plays from scrimmage in the first quarter, four runs and nine passes, making it the second straight week where we opened pass-heavy. Once again, I focused on the underclassmen starting on the line -- RT Faalele, RG Andries and LG Olson. And it was difficult to identify any major problems with their performances in the first quarter.

I ended up dinging Faalele for pass protection on our last offensive play of the quarter, but I can't say with any certainty he was actually deficient. It was a tunnel screen to his outside, and Faalele opened wide and deep. The defender beat him pretty badly to the inside, but since the pass was going far outside, the defender essentially took himself out of the play. But Faalele completely failed to make contact, increasing the likelihood of the pass being batted down. Seemed to me the preferred route would have been to engage with the guy when he went inside, and drive him toward the center of the field.

Kinda picking nits, I know.

The only other play where our guys weren't clearly successful was an inside run to the right side that only netted two yards. The camera angle was lousy, and I couldn't really tell where the play broke down, or if Wisconsin just happened to have too many bodies at the point of attack for us to account for.

Two other notes:

• I noticed Schlueter make a couple nice run blocks from his new position as a TE.

• TE Paulson failed on a run block, which is unusual, because he's usually pretty solid. (For a bit of fun, watch him come across the formation in motion and kick out the outside rusher sometime; some nice collisions there.) But he may have just been defeated by an exceptional effort from the DL. Sometimes when you do everything right, the other guy just simply does it better.

For the quarter:
• Faalele: 100% rushing, 89% passing
• Andries: 100% rushing, 100% passing
• Olson: 100% rushing, 100% passing

Gee, can't wait to see how this one turns out!

JTG
 

MNVCGUY

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Going to go out on a limb and say the run blocking grades are going to be pretty solid over the remainder of the game. Can't really remember a time where we manhandled Wisconsin up front like that.
 

WorkingMyTailOff

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This will be a fun recap. There was a point during the 9 minute drive where the undersized Clay Matthews looking fellow from Wisconsin looked very gassed. I think he was lined up against Big Dan for a lot of the game.
 

Gophers_4life

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If TE-OL6 is going to be a permanent position ... then I don't see why not grade Schlueter for those plays too.
 

rockford

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If TE-OL6 is going to be a permanent position ... then I don't see why not grade Schlueter for those plays too.
Perfectly valid point ... but I won't, at least this year. For the simple reason that it takes too much time.

To grade three guys, I have to watch every play 4-6 times, sometimes more. More players, more time. That's what happened when I graded Schlueter for the game he filled in at LT.

One of the reasons this has been relatively easy is that the guys I'm watching have played nearly every single snap of every game I've graded. I think Andries left the field once for 1-2 plays. Other than that, I've been able to just zero in. (For a while there we were running an unbalanced line a couple times a game, with some linemen shifted around, but haven't seen much of that lately.) If I have to keep track of which TE is in the game (we use at least 3-4 that I've noticed) as well as how each one does, it gets even more time-consuming.

Next year, I can see doing the entire line, plus the TE. We'll have at least two new starters, and it will be interesting to see how the three we watched this year develop.

I can also see altering the grading system to provide some more nuance. This year, it's pretty much binary -- players earn a 1 or a 0. I think there may be value in a 5-point or 10-point system per play.

We'll see. If people keep reading and commenting, I'll probably do it again next year. I'd love to start adding some video clips, as well.

JTG
 
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MrC

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We'll see. If people keep reading and commenting, I'll probably do it again next year. I'd love to start adding some video clips, as well.

JTG
If you need me to comment to keep you posting, then I am happy to add a comment to every post. Although I might have little to add...

Thanks for doing this, I appreciate you sharing your knowledge as well as all the work you put into it. I look forward to these after every game.
 

rockford

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Thanks, MrC. I certainly appreciate your kind words, and those of others. (The best was a couple weeks ago, when WW said he created an account just to say thanks.)

But I was also referring to the comments and conversations that arise from time to time. It's fun to talk football, and we have a team that's going to be increasingly fun to talk about, I think.

Once upon a time I was a sports reporter/editor, before moving news side. I also coached football for a number of years. So doing these reports helps me get a taste of a few things I used to love doing.

JTG
 

UpAndUnder43

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I appreciate you sharing these reviews/recaps. Interesting stuff. Oline play is fascinating and nuanced, you encapsulate that and spend A LOT of time on it. Great to have you doing this!
 

PoockItInfor6

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I appreciate these! And with 2 kids under 5 I can’t make time to watch most games more than once (though I’ve watched this game close to 3 times)!
 

rockford

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The second quarter was more of the first, with a nice TD drive and Douglas' punt return TD thrown in for good measure.

Our first possession began on our 5-yard line, which doesn't seem like a great time to tinker with your offensive line. But freshman Curtis Dunlap filled in for Andries at RG all three plays from scrimmage. Not sure if Andries was getting taped up (the announcers didn't notice, and I didn't either while watching live) or if they just wanted to give the frosh a few plays.

Before I go any further, let me say that the camera positions at Camp Randall appear to be the worst in terms of trying to watch the OL. It seemed like the angle was lower than in other stadiums, making it difficult to differentiate between linemen. Big Dan stands out like a very large, sore thumb, but the rest of 'em kind of blend together. Damn Badgers.

After Cashman steamrolled Wisconsin's punt returner, the Badgers had an excellent chance to take the lead. But CB Durr came up with the interception, setting us up at our 40.

We seemed to run more three-TE offense against Wisconsin than we have in other games, with Schlueter at TE (next to Faalele), Colton Beebe lined up in a flanker position outside Schlueter, and Jake Paulson usually coming across the formation in motion from the far side to drill the outside rusher. We ran that a couple times in short yardage on this TD drive, and did so fairly effectively. On 3rd and 2 deep in Wisconsin territory, Schlueter squeezed inside and got to the second level, but whiffed on the LB ... but RB Ibrahim (who's truly fun to watch block) drilled the LB, enabling wildcat QB Green to apparently pick up the first down. But the refs made a horrible spot, which was somewhat corrected after we burned a time out, leaving us with 4th and less than a foot to go for first and goal.

We ran the same look, with Paulson crossing from left to right in motion, but instead of running to the strong side, Green handed off to Ibrahim who went around the left end and into the end zone untouched. The Badgers jumped all over the tendency, and got burned.

Wisconsin managed to hold the ball for all of 59 seconds before Douglas' punt return TD.

The only downer of the quarter -- other than Cashman's ejection -- was Wisconsin's TD with 1 second left in the half.

For the half:
• Faalele: 92% run, 92% pass
• Andries: 100% run, 100% pass
• Olson: 92% run, 100% pass

The domination continues. Then increases. Fun times.

JTG
 

rockford

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There was some beautiful stuff going on in the third quarter -- kick-ass blocking and Ibrahim showing both power and patience as we extended the lead and Bucky turned blue.

We ran 16 plays in the quarter -- 12 runs and four passes -- and the only demerits go to Big Dan. First, he jumped offsides when we were at Wisconsin's 11-yard line. You could tell that miscue stoked his fire a bit. I've mentioned before that Faalele has not tended to do well at the second level, but on the next snap he was quicker into the second level than I've ever seen him. Maybe too quick, 'cause he whiffed on the LB. Those were the only mistakes by our three subjects in the entire quarter.

A few other observations:

• Earlier in the drive, Ibrahim just absolutely ran straight over Wisconsin's #9 and went for 15 more yards.

• After Faalele's offsides and whiff, we used that TE/FL motion that worked so well in the power run game to free up TE Beebe, but QB Morgan choked the throw. I'd love to see us target our TEs like this, just once or twice a game. Seems like we've been trending in that direction, and with the three-TE package looking dominant in the run game, this may be a really nice wrinkle.

• We used the three-TE package on a 3rd-and-2 on our next possession, with Paulson coming across in motion and delivering a nice blow. But the biggest hit was by Ibrahim, who just launched his face into a LB's chest at the line, allowing wildcat QB Green to pick up four yards. Love watching Mo block.

• On the very next play, Ibrahim exhibited exquisite patience on a run to the left. Both Olson and LT Donnell Greene had their guys tied up at the line, but didn't get much movement. Despite it being a dive, Ibrahim delayed as long as possible before slicing between the linemen for a respectable gain. His patience made all the difference from no gain to about four yards. You gotta love a freshman running back with power, patience and a penchant for inflicting pain while blocking.

Through three quarters
• Faalele: 88% run, 94% pass
• Andries: 100% run, 100% pass
• Olson: 96% run, 100% pass

These guys oughtta be all-conference or somethin'. :eek:

JTG
 

rockford

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Even when the final score isn't close, most big-time football games are a lot more tightly contested than it appears, with just a handful of plays making all the difference. Minnesota's victory over Wisconsin is a perfect example.

Basking in the glow of victory, especially a 37-15 victory over a despised foe like Bucky, it's easy to lose sight of how close the game really was. As soon as the game is over, we're talking about it being a butt-kicking. The viciousness of the alleged butt-kicking increases as time goes on, until all we remember are hapless Buckies quaking in their boots while we run roughshod over them.

That seldom jibes with reality.

Consider our fourth-quarter drive, the longest in the B1G this year at 9 minutes, 16 seconds. A drive that we (myself included) have called an ass-kicking, a curb stomping. It was also a drive that resulted in ZERO points, and left Wisconsin with a path to tie the game with 5:37 to play. Yeah, we were still up 23-7, but I would have a hard time believing any long-term Gopher fan didn't think, "Oh my gawd, here we go again," as Carpenter's field goal attempt sailed wide right.

The fact is, even during that epic, non-scoring drive, we didn't exhibit dominant blocking up front. In fact, on the very first play of the drive, all three of our guys failed on their blocks, resulting in a run stuffed for little or no gain. On this drive, we ran the ball 12 times and passed twice. Our pass blocking was 100%, but I rated our run blocking at 86% -- thoroughly average when one would think it would be dominant. Hell, it had been dominant all day. Collectively, our guys scored 94% run blocking through the first three quarters, an unheard of level of attainment for a group.

In addition to failing on the first play of the drive, we had two breakdowns on the final series of downs before the missed field goal. On first down, Olson failed on a run that was stuffed for no gain. On third-and-6, Faalele -- tasked with picking off a LB at the second level -- whiffed, allowing the LB to stick Morgan for a 1-yard gain.

The missed field goal left us hanging in limbo, until the sack and fumble recovery sealed the game. As I remarked elsewhere, the sight of LB Barber handing that recovered ball to PJ on the sideline is the sweetest thing I've seen since the 1991 World Series.

The big takeaway for me in reviewing the game is that -- like some Gopher losses this year -- it was a lot closer than it first appeared. The difference is that we made a handful of remarkable plays (especially on defense) ... and Wisconsin didn't. The lesson is not that we're capable of dominating a quality program like Wisconsin, but that we're able to go toe-to-toe with 'em, parry their punches and deliver knockout blows.

I don't know if our OL wore down as the game progressed, or if Bucky merely played tougher as their backs were pushed up against the wall, but the efficiency of our OL decreased in the fourth quarter. Not a cause for concern, but there's nothing to be gained by pretending something different transpired.

For the game
• Faalele 84% run blocking, 95% pass blocking
• Andries 98% run blocking, 100% pass blocking
• Olson 91% run blocking, 100% pass blocking

As a group, our guys graded out to 91% run blocking, 98% pass blocking -- far and away their best performance since we first began putting them under the microscope. In the biggest game of the year -- on the road against a hated rival, and with a bowl berth hanging in the balance -- the Gophers delivered big time.

JTG
 

MGGopher

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Awesome job a usual, Rockford! I started getting the sense early in the 3rd quarter that our OL was taking over the game. That gave me confidence that the chances of a Wisco comeback were much lower than a Gopher fan might expect. I know there was a sense of dread in the game thread with the late first half TD and Wisco receiving the 3rd qtr kickoff, but that feeling quikcly went away for me upon seeing our OL operate.
 

WorkingMyTailOff

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Thank you again for doing these Rockford. You’re right this game like the NW one was played mostly close but the difference in this one being the Gophers made some big plays and executed better than the Badgers.
I remembered another key play in this one that was in the first half. Weyler had a bad shotgun snap and Beebe who had passed by the line of the snap while in motion turned his head backwards to see the football on the ground and dove back to recover it. Saving what would have been a huge momentum shift and score for the Badgers.
 

dpodoll68

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Even when the final score isn't close, most big-time football games are a lot more tightly contested than it appears, with just a handful of plays making all the difference. Minnesota's victory over Wisconsin is a perfect example.

Basking in the glow of victory, especially a 37-15 victory over a despised foe like Bucky, it's easy to lose sight of how close the game really was. As soon as the game is over, we're talking about it being a butt-kicking. The viciousness of the alleged butt-kicking increases as time goes on, until all we remember are hapless Buckies quaking in their boots while we run roughshod over them.

That seldom jibes with reality.

Consider our fourth-quarter drive, the longest in the B1G this year at 9 minutes, 16 seconds. A drive that we (myself included) have called an ass-kicking, a curb stomping. It was also a drive that resulted in ZERO points, and left Wisconsin with a path to tie the game with 5:37 to play. Yeah, we were still up 23-7, but I would have a hard time believing any long-term Gopher fan didn't think, "Oh my gawd, here we go again," as Carpenter's field goal attempt sailed wide right.

The fact is, even during that epic, non-scoring drive, we didn't exhibit dominant blocking up front. In fact, on the very first play of the drive, all three of our guys failed on their blocks, resulting in a run stuffed for little or no gain. On this drive, we ran the ball 12 times and passed twice. Our pass blocking was 100%, but I rated our run blocking at 86% -- thoroughly average when one would think it would be dominant. Hell, it had been dominant all day. Collectively, our guys scored 94% run blocking through the first three quarters, an unheard of level of attainment for a group.

In addition to failing on the first play of the drive, we had two breakdowns on the final series of downs before the missed field goal. On first down, Olson failed on a run that was stuffed for no gain. On third-and-6, Faalele -- tasked with picking off a LB at the second level -- whiffed, allowing the LB to stick Morgan for a 1-yard gain.

The missed field goal left us hanging in limbo, until the sack and fumble recovery sealed the game. As I remarked elsewhere, the sight of LB Barber handing that recovered ball to PJ on the sideline is the sweetest thing I've seen since the 1991 World Series.

The big takeaway for me in reviewing the game is that -- like some Gopher losses this year -- it was a lot closer than it first appeared. The difference is that we made a handful of remarkable plays (especially on defense) ... and Wisconsin didn't. The lesson is not that we're capable of dominating a quality program like Wisconsin, but that we're able to go toe-to-toe with 'em, parry their punches and deliver knockout blows.

I don't know if our OL wore down as the game progressed, or if Bucky merely played tougher as their backs were pushed up against the wall, but the efficiency of our OL decreased in the fourth quarter. Not a cause for concern, but there's nothing to be gained by pretending something different transpired.

For the game
• Faalele 84% run blocking, 95% pass blocking
• Andries 98% run blocking, 100% pass blocking
• Olson 91% run blocking, 100% pass blocking

As a group, our guys graded out to 91% run blocking, 98% pass blocking -- far and away their best performance since we first began putting them under the microscope. In the biggest game of the year -- on the road against a hated rival, and with a bowl berth hanging in the balance -- the Gophers delivered big time.

JTG
I get what you're saying, but you're being a touch dramatic. Carpenter missing that FG meant that our win probability stayed at 99.9% rather than going up to 99.99%.
 

touchdownvikings

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rockford, if I were to make a list of my favorite posters on this board, you would be #1. Thank you and please carry on!
 

rockford

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Thank you again for doing these Rockford. You’re right this game like the NW one was played mostly close but the difference in this one being the Gophers made some big plays and executed better than the Badgers.
I remembered another key play in this one that was in the first half. Weyler had a bad shotgun snap and Beebe who had passed by the line of the snap while in motion turned his head backwards to see the football on the ground and dove back to recover it. Saving what would have been a huge momentum shift and score for the Badgers.
That was huge. Looked like Weyler was snapping to a QB under center ... and the QB was in shotgun.

JTG
 

rockford

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Awesome job a usual, Rockford! I started getting the sense early in the 3rd quarter that our OL was taking over the game. That gave me confidence that the chances of a Wisco comeback were much lower than a Gopher fan might expect. I know there was a sense of dread in the game thread with the late first half TD and Wisco receiving the 3rd qtr kickoff, but that feeling quikcly went away for me upon seeing our OL operate.
Third quarter was awesome. I felt the same way. But it still wasn't quite enough to seal the deal.

Games are almost always closer than they appear to be.

JTG
 

rockford

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I get what you're saying, but you're being a touch dramatic. Carpenter missing that FG meant that our win probability stayed at 99.9% rather than going up to 99.99%.
Wouldn't be the first time someone accused me of that, dpodoll. But I'd rather that than be accused of being a touch boring. ;)

And you gotta remember, we're talking Gopher football here. Percentages don't matter, especially when they're percentages of the Gophers actually winning. What was our projected win percentage when we were up 38-7 midway through the third quarter of the Insight Bowl? In 2005, when we were beating Michigan by 10 with 3:27 left in the game? When we blew a 21-point fourth-quarter lead against Michigan in 2003?


Bad things have happened.

JTG
 

alchemy2u

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Even when the final score isn't close, most big-time football games are a lot more tightly contested than it appears, with just a handful of plays making all the difference. Minnesota's victory over Wisconsin is a perfect example.

Basking in the glow of victory, especially a 37-15 victory over a despised foe like Bucky, it's easy to lose sight of how close the game really was. As soon as the game is over, we're talking about it being a butt-kicking. The viciousness of the alleged butt-kicking increases as time goes on, until all we remember are hapless Buckies quaking in their boots while we run roughshod over them.

That seldom jibes with reality.

Consider our fourth-quarter drive, the longest in the B1G this year at 9 minutes, 16 seconds. A drive that we (myself included) have called an ass-kicking, a curb stomping. It was also a drive that resulted in ZERO points, and left Wisconsin with a path to tie the game with 5:37 to play. Yeah, we were still up 23-7, but I would have a hard time believing any long-term Gopher fan didn't think, "Oh my gawd, here we go again," as Carpenter's field goal attempt sailed wide right.

The fact is, even during that epic, non-scoring drive, we didn't exhibit dominant blocking up front. In fact, on the very first play of the drive, all three of our guys failed on their blocks, resulting in a run stuffed for little or no gain. On this drive, we ran the ball 12 times and passed twice. Our pass blocking was 100%, but I rated our run blocking at 86% -- thoroughly average when one would think it would be dominant. Hell, it had been dominant all day. Collectively, our guys scored 94% run blocking through the first three quarters, an unheard of level of attainment for a group.

In addition to failing on the first play of the drive, we had two breakdowns on the final series of downs before the missed field goal. On first down, Olson failed on a run that was stuffed for no gain. On third-and-6, Faalele -- tasked with picking off a LB at the second level -- whiffed, allowing the LB to stick Morgan for a 1-yard gain.

The missed field goal left us hanging in limbo, until the sack and fumble recovery sealed the game. As I remarked elsewhere, the sight of LB Barber handing that recovered ball to PJ on the sideline is the sweetest thing I've seen since the 1991 World Series.

The big takeaway for me in reviewing the game is that -- like some Gopher losses this year -- it was a lot closer than it first appeared. The difference is that we made a handful of remarkable plays (especially on defense) ... and Wisconsin didn't. The lesson is not that we're capable of dominating a quality program like Wisconsin, but that we're able to go toe-to-toe with 'em, parry their punches and deliver knockout blows.

I don't know if our OL wore down as the game progressed, or if Bucky merely played tougher as their backs were pushed up against the wall, but the efficiency of our OL decreased in the fourth quarter. Not a cause for concern, but there's nothing to be gained by pretending something different transpired.

For the game
• Faalele 84% run blocking, 95% pass blocking
• Andries 98% run blocking, 100% pass blocking
• Olson 91% run blocking, 100% pass blocking

As a group, our guys graded out to 91% run blocking, 98% pass blocking -- far and away their best performance since we first began putting them under the microscope. In the biggest game of the year -- on the road against a hated rival, and with a bowl berth hanging in the balance -- the Gophers delivered big time.

JTG
Great job and thanks a lot. Would love to see some films like you said.
 

Bigskydog

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That was huge. Looked like Weyler was snapping to a QB under center ... and the QB was in shotgun.

JTG
Rewatch that play and tell me it doesn’t look like they were tryin to run a fumble-roosky


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