CMU-MSU Game Review, Offense 2nd Half

[Autobump. See concluding thoughts at the bottom.  -KJ]

This post has the MSU offense for the entire second half. DrDetroit agreed to take care of the defense and will post separately.   Thoughts follow.

Situation Offensive Formation Play Comments
3rd Quarter      
Michigan State at 12:51      
1st and 10 at MSU 26 I formation Caulton Ray rush for 11 yards to the MchSt 37 for a 1ST down. Cousins back out to start the second half. CMU in a 4-3 over. At the snap, McGaha and Moss both get good blocks to drive their men outside. Meanwhile, Stipek and Foreman double the DT and drive him 3 yards downfield which has the added bonus of blocking the Mike backer. The resulting hole on the right side is about 3 yards wide. Cironi pulls and gets to the second level and seals the Will backer. Gantt has released and is blocking the under backer. The strongside DE has come through untouched but is cut perfectly by Hawken. Ray explodes through and is brought down by the weakside corner after a gain of 10. Good blocking by all involved.
1st and 10 at MSU 37 Ace big Kirk Cousins pass complete to Dion Sims for 7 yards to the MchSt 44. Sims at TE and Gantt outside him at H-back. CMU in a 4-2-5. Sims and Gantt hi-lo, with Gantt running the out and Sims goes out and sits in the seam between 2 defenders. Cousins hits him and the defenders converge quickly for minimal YAC.
2nd and 3 at MSU 44 I formation Glenn Winston rush for no gain to the MchSt 44. CMU in a 4-2-5. This is a zone stretch play. Foreman tries to cut his DT but misses, falling down and tripping up Cironi and Gantt. The still-standing DE has a straight shot at Winston in the backfield. Moss and McGaha sustained blocks long enough for Pendy to get through to the second level but the hole closes before Winston can get there.Winston might have been able to bounce to the outside had Foreman successfully cut the DT.
3rd and 3 at MSU 44 Shotgun trips Kirk Cousins pass incomplete to Keshawn Martin. CMU in a 4-2-5 with the two backers showing blitz. Cunningham motions from the slot to the center and back. At the snap one LB stays in the gap while the other drops back into slot zone. Cunningham runs an out right at the marker. He drags two DBs with him. Martin (the middle receiver) runs a go route and gets behind the DB. Blair White runs a curl and is open in the seam. Cousins is looking at Martin the whole way and just overthrows him. I think this is another case of going for the home run rather than the base hit; had he thrown to Cunningham or White he would have had the 1st down...those need to be your first reads. I expect this is another one of the throws Cousins would have taken back.
4th and 3 at MSU 44   Aaron Bates punt for 39 yards, returned by Antonio Brown for no gain to the CMich 17.  
DRIVE TOTALS: MchSt drive: 4 plays 18 yards, 02:07 MchSt PUNT     The right side of the O-line is in a rotation: Deane / McGaha and Moss / D.J. Young. Of the bunch, McGaha and Moss seem to be doing the best. Stipek is filling in ably for Nitchman at center. Would it be too much to ask that Stipek could play OG when Nitchman returns?
Michigan State at 7:39      
1st and 10 at MSU 34 I formation Kirk Cousins pass incomplete to Blair White. CMU in 4-2-5. They bring the corner and both backers on the blitz. Foreman pulls and aims for the blitzing corner; Ray picks him up as well. Foreman realizes the linebacker is cutting inside him, but it's too late. Cousins is hurried and wings it in the direction of White who is open on the 15 yard out. It sails a little due to Cousins not having his feet set and White has to jump and spin to get it and just has it go off his fingertips. Almost a spectacular play by both Cousins and White.
2nd and 10 at MSU 34 Shotgun Kirk Cousins pass complete to Blair White for 15 yards to the MchSt 49 for a 1ST down. CMU in 4-2-5. They show blitz with the weakside corner and the SAM backers. At the snap the SAM backer blitzes and the weakside backer drops back. White puts a head fake on the corner and he bites to the outside; White cuts it in for the slant and Cousins hits him in stride for the first down.
1st and 10 at MSU 49 I formation Caulton Ray rush for 5 yards to the CMich 46. CMU in a 4-3 over. Stretch handoff; good blocking by the line. Hawken makes a good block on the linebacker who was angling to make the stop and Blair White sustains his block long enough for Ray to get through behind him.
2nd and 5 at CMU 46 I formation Larry Caper rush for 8 yards to the CMich 38 for a 1ST down. CMU in a 4-2-5. The weakside backer shows blitz; Cousins checks. Zone stretch / read handoff; Caper is heading for the edge then cuts it back up inside where Moss and Linthicum have doubled the DE and driven him farther down the line and McGaha has reached the second level and is driving an LB down the line. Caper hits the hole and keeps his legs moving and gets a couple more yards. Stipek and Cironi are well into the second level. See, we can do this blocking thing!
1st and 10 at CMU 38 Shotgun Kirk Cousins pass incomplete to Keshawn Martin. CMU in 4-3 over. Cousins has time to throw and hits Martin on a 15-yard hitch. Martin is blanketed by the D-back and from the camera angle it's difficult to tell if there was contact before the ball got there, the DB got his hand in and broke it up, or if Martin just let it bounce off him. Martin appeals for a flag, but none is forthcoming.
2nd and 10 at CMU 38 I formation Caulton Ray rush for 1 yard to the CMich 37. CMU in a 4-2-5. Cironi seals the end. Stipek and Foreman open a big hole on the left side of the line; they double the DT and try to knock him down and both release to the second level. Unfortunately, they don't knock him enough and both release simultaneously, allowing him to stay on his feet and present the pulling Moss the unenviable choice of two guys to block at the second level. Moss takes the linebacker and knocks him out of the way, but the DT is back up and cuts off Ray as he hits the hole.
3rd and 9 at CMU 37 Ace Kirk Cousins pass complete to Keshawn Martin for 14 yards to the CMich 23 for a 1ST down. 4-2-5. Cousins has plenty of time to throw and hits Martin who is open on a 15 yard curl despite CMU having 3 defenders in the area. He almost breaks it for a big one when he sheds the corner's tackle but is just pulled enough to step out of bounds.
1st and 10 at CMU 23 Ace big Caulton Ray rush for a loss of 1 yard to the CMich 24. 4-2-5 with a corner up on the line showing blitz. This is a trap, I guess, with Sims engaging the corner and Cironi pulling out to lead block around the end. Foreman misses the DT but McGaha connects on the trap, but the DE is lurking behind and Ray can't get the edge. He cuts back up inside and is met by 5 converging defenders. Without the corner off the end, Sims could have taken the DE and this would have worked nicely.
2nd and 11 at CMU 24 I formation big Kirk Cousins pass complete to Blair White for 8 yards to the CMich 16. 4-2-5 with two DBs showing blitz on the left side. The DBs rotate off as one comes to pick up the right side tight end (Sims). Cousins has lots of time to throw and hits White on the 5-yard curl. White throws off the tackler, who has overcommitted high, spins and tries to shake and bake the safety but more defenders are converging; he wisely puts his head down and dives for the sideline.
3rd and 3 at CMU 16 I formation Caulton Ray rush for 1 yard to the CMich 15. CMU has like 9 in the box; it's a 4-3 with an LB and a DBs up on the line (so there's 6 on the LOS), two backers, and a safety. Another stretch; Gantt does well to open a hole but the LB throws him off and gets back inside. Meanwhile Stipek can't get inside the DT who takes him down the line playside and pinches the hole shut from the other side.
4th and 2 at CMU 15   Brett Swenson 32 yard field goal GOOD. 20-13 MSU.
    Brett Swenson kickoff for 70 yards returned by Antonio Brown for 24 yards to the MchSt 30, CENTRL MICHIGAN penalty 12 yard unsportsmanlike conduct accepted. I have very mixed feelings about the O-line. They are very good at pass protecting, especially with Cousins at QB. Cousins is very comfortable in the pocket and doesn't get "happy feet" like Nichol. On the downside, run blocking continues to be a problem. The line is able to open holes but by the time the RB gets there the hole is closed or closing. Since we run a lot of I-Form, the RB is lining up 7 to 7.5 yards behind the LOS. I wonder if we would be more successful if we ran from Ace with the RB like 6 yards back so he can hit the hole sooner (i.e., while it's still open).
DRIVE TOTALS: MchSt drive: 11 plays 51 yards, 05:06 MchSt FG      
4th Quarter      
Michigan State at 14:24      
1st and 10 at MSU 20 I formation Caulton Ray rush for 8 yards to the MchSt 28. 4-3 over. Cironi and Foreman go straight ahead and leave the DE for Pendy, who gets a nice block to seal him off and open the hole. McGaha pulls through and gets to the second level but gets his head on the outside of the linebacker.  Ray is still able to squeeze through and keep his legs moving, then fall forward for a couple more.
2nd and 2 at MSU 28 Ace big Larry Caper rush for 1 yard to the MchSt 29. Gantt motions to an H-back then plows straight ahead. Straight ahead Wad O Bodies play ((c) Brian Cook) that is stuffed. What I wouldn't give for a bowling ball back (a la TJ Duckett or Jehuu Caulcrick) right about now.
3rd and 1 at MSU 29 I formation big Caulton Ray rush for 1 yard to the MchSt 30 for a 1ST down. CMU in a 4-3 over. Gantt in an H-back formation; he motions to center and holds there. Right side of line overwhelms the D line oad over backer. Corner comes flying in on the blitz; nobody picks him up but he goes low and whiffs. Ray steps over him and is tripped up by the linebacker who has fought off Gantt's block, but not before he gets the first down. A very near-run thing here.
1st and 10 at MSU 30 Ace big Kirk Cousins pass complete to B.J. Cunningham for 5 yards to the MchSt 35. 4-2-5 with corner rushing off the edge. Play fake; Gantt takes off downfield on a circle / TE post and Cunningham runs a whip underneath him. Cousins has lots of time to throw, gets it a bit high but Cunningham takes the hit then hangs on. OK, one gripe about officiating on this play. Cunningham is down on both knees. He gets up on one knee and Bellore angles in and belts him then immediately puts his hands up like he did nothing wrong. No call even though it's a later hit (Bellore takes four full steps and angles toward Cunningham) than the supposed "roughing the passer" penalty on MSU during CMU's last touchdown drive. [/whine]
2nd and 5 at MSU 35 I formation big Glenn Winston rush for 3 yards to the MchSt 38. 4-2-5 with corner rushing off the edge. Sims engages the DE and Foreman and Pendy both bulldoze that hole. Winston plows in as well with his head down and gains a couple. If it won't go, get a bigger hammer….
3rd and 2 at MSU 38 Ace big / twins Kirk Cousins pass complete to Andrew Hawken for 6 yards to the MchSt 44 for a 1ST down. Unbalanced left with Hawken as the H-back. Hawken motions across then hesitates like he;s going to block off the edge (twins side). At the snap the WRs dig downfield and Hawken cuts under. Cousins' throw is a bit high but Hawken pulls it in and gets the first down. Oh yeah, this Ace formation has the RB 5.5 yards behind the LOS. I haven't noticed till now but apparently Ace with the RB 5.5 yards back = pass, Ace with the RB 7.5 yards back = run. Hope we can break that tendency later on this season...
1st and 10 at MSU 44 Ace big / twins Kirk Cousins pass complete to B.J. Cunningham for 8 yards to the CMich 48. Same formation as last play (including the 5.5-yard deep RB) but with Gantt at the H-back. CMU in a 4-2-5. White recognizes the man bump and run on him and signals Cunningham who is getting a bigger cushion. White digs for the sticks and Cunningham cuts under and gets the throw from Cousins.
2nd and 2 at CMU 48 Ace big Glenn Winston rush for no gain to the CMich 48. Pendy in at the H-back; he motions across. Stipek and McGaha run the switch; Stipek gets a good block on the DT with Moss to open a hole. Foreman lets the other DT get his head inside and he fills the hole. Winston had a brief gap if he would have bounced off and cut right behind Stipek, but he just plows ahead into the pile and is stuffed.
3rd and 2 at CMU 48 Shotgun Kirk Cousins pass complete to Blair White for 5 yards to the CMich 43 for a 1ST down. CMU in a 4-2-5 over showing both corners on the blitz. White fakes the out then goes in on the slant. The DB reads and closes quickly but Cousins puts it in just in front of White and White hangs on for a first down.
1st and 10 at CMU 43 I formation Kirk Cousins pass complete to B.J. Cunningham for 35 yards to the CMich 8 for a 1ST down. CMU in a 4-2-5. Gantt goes in motion from one side to the other; the safety rotates up on Gantt and the other safety moves over to 1 deep on the strong side hash, leaving Cunningham with single coverage and no deep help. Looks like Treadwell has noticed CMU's tendency to rotate over on the strong side and play 1-deep. Cunningham runs a go, takes a step out and gets the corner moving outside and turning his hips, then just turns on the burners and blows past him. Cunningham waves for the ball but no worries, Cousins has seen him. Cousins has lots of time to step up and throw but again he sails it a little and Cunningham has to jump; if he leads him a bit more inside then Cunningham can catch in stride and it's a TD.
1st and Goal at CMU 8 I formation big Caulton Ray rush for 3 yards to the CMich 5. CMU in a 4-2-5 with corners up on the edges. McGaha and Moss double the DT and push him inside. Sims is on the DE and blocks him well but allows him to get his head inside so when Sims releases the DE for the lead back (Pendy) to take and goes to the next level, the DE is angling toward the hole. The DE sidesteps Pendy and forces Ray to cut back inside where Foreman has pulled through and dropped Bellore and Moss is grabbing a linebacker. Ray shoots through but is tripped up and gets a few where there could have been a no gain.
2nd and Goal at CMU 5 I formation big Caulton Ray rush for 3 yards to the CMich 2. 4-2-5. Stretch; nice hole opened up by Cironi and Gantt and Foreman immediately releases to the second level and seals the linebacker. Hawken goes after the safety but misses the other linebacker (Bellore) angling in toward Ray; if Hawken stops and seals Bellore then Ray is through and can cut back in for the TD -- there's no one there in the second level but Moss.
3rd and Goal at CMU 2 I formation big MICHIGAN ST penalty 5 yard false start accepted. This is the first penalty of the game against the offense. On the replay, the DE drops his hand and Gantt jumps.
3rd and Goal at CMU 7 Ace big Kirk Cousins pass complete to B.J. Cunningham for 7 yards for a TOUCHDOWN. RB is 5.5 yards deep. Tendency alert. Cunningham motions from the slot, taking the DB with him. Cunningham runs the out crossing under White and White sets a pick. Even without the pick the DB is a good 3 steps behind Cunningham and can't catch up. Cousins delivers it outside, touchdown.
    Brett Swenson extra point GOOD. 27-20 MSU. Another efficient drive by Cousins: 6-6, 66 yards, TD. 4-4 on third downs. If this doesn't finally confirm him as the starter I don't know what will.



1).  Cousins played very well.  He made no major mistakes, no interceptions, took only 1 sack and that was early in the 1st half.  The team seems to be more comfortable with him, both on the field and off.  On the other hand, Nichol really struggled.  He has happy feet and I think he has poor throwing mechanics.  I like his mobility, but it doesn't really fit this offensive system.

2)  The run game has possibilities, but it needs some adjustments.  The biggest thing I saw was that the holes are there but the RBs are reaching them as they are closing.

3)  Offensive line:  Stipek played very well.  McGaha shows promise (especially since he is a Sophomore) and Moss bounced back from a shaky start and played better in the second half.  We will probably see the platooning on the right side of the line for a while longer.  Pass blocking was excellent.

3)  If I am Don Treadwell, I am very happy that there was only 1 penalty against the offense (the false start on Gantt)and it didn't affect the outcome overall.  I am also looking carefully at my own playcalling tendencies.

4).  If I am Pat Narduzzi, I am embarrassed that my defense and I were not better prepared for this game.  The defense was totally on its heels the whole game reacting to what CMU was doing.  I suspect that Narduzzi was looking ahead to Notre Dame and did not put enough thought into defending the spread.

5) If I am Mark Dantonio, I am happy with the offense (they played well enough to win) and disappointed in the defense.  But I am also convinced that CMU was all-in -- they did everything they possibly could to win this game.  In addition, everything went their way. It took a perfect onside kick and two shots at a field goal for CMU to win.

This is a FanPost, written by a member of the TOC community. It does not represent the official positions of The Only Colors, Inc.--largely because we have no official positions.