Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Team Loss | by Jay

(aka, the Spartan close-out)

We "broke down some tape" and whipped up this game summary for MSU, using the official play-by-play from, and supplementing with our own notes. We tried to pay special attention to offensive formations and blitzing schemes. Hopefully it's not too confusing to decipher. A couple of random notes:

• The 1 TE, 3 WR, single back set (with Darius) was our most popular formation against Michigan State, and we used it about 40% of the time.

• A couple of the early dives by Schwapp (including the fumble on the one) seemed to actually be option plays, with Brady & Darius sprinting out after the handoff.

• State really dialed up the blitz a lot as the game went on, but overall we did a great job of handling it. Quinn's touchdown pass to Walker burned the blitz, the 50-yard bomb to Stovall over the middle had the linebacker and corner coming on a blitz, and the late drive to tie the game beat the blitz several times. Still, all three of our sacks came on unblocked blitzes, so we'll need to do a better job of picking them up.

• We also increased our blitzing as the game unfolded, mostly sending Hoyte or Mays (or both).

• Stanton ran the option at least three times, and twice it went for a touchdown. First time was on the keeper just before the half, second time was, of course, at the end of the game.

• One thing we missed in the play summary was noting when the no-huddle was used. If anybody cares to look at the tape again and earmark the no-huddle plays, we'd be interested.
One thing's clear in watching the replay: nobody had a truly outstanding game (except maybe Samardzija), and yet nobody had a really crummy game, either. Everybody was shade of grey. Just as someone screwed up, and I was fitting him with the goat horns, he'd go and make a spectacular play that would turn the game around.

Stovall holds on a Walker touchdown run; Stovall catches a TD. Ndukwe misses on coverage; Ndukwe recovers a fumble. Zibby gives up a touchdown to Trannon; Zibby strips Kyle Brown of the football. Quinn throws a terrible interception that gets returned for a score; Quinn rebounds, and leads the team back from twenty-one points down and forces an overtime. And so on. It sort of reminded me of the movie Crash, where no character is wholly good, and nobody is entirely evil, either, and just when you think you've got somebody pegged, they go and do something that flips everything over.

If it had been a character drama, it would have been sublime; but alas, it was a football game, and so, we have to take a Loss.

Thirteen Plays I Want to Have Back

13. First quarter, first drive. Quinn overthrows a wide-open Shelton. Drive result: punt.

12. State's second drive. Ndukwe jumps the passing route and nearly intercepts a Stanton pass. It's complete to Jeramy Scott for 23 yards, and State goes on to score a touchdown.

11. End of the first quarter. We set up a screen pass to Walker perfectly, but blocks aren't sustained. What should have been a big gainer ended up going for 2 meager yards. Drive result: punt.

10. Five minutes left in the second. Long pass to Stovall, who pushes off and gets flagged for offensive pass interference. Drive ended in a punt.

9. Two minutes left in the half. Third and ten, ball on MSU's 29. Charlie calls a handoff to Darius, who takes it to the short side for no gain, putting the field goal attempt on the hash instead of down the middle. Fitz misses the ensuing field goal.

8. State has the ball with under two minutes in the half. Stanton hits Terry Love over the middle and he rambles for 45 yards, with both our safeties seemingly out of position. Sets up the MSU touchdown just before halftime.

7. First drive of the second half, Sir Darean Adams intercepts Brady and takes it in for a score.

6. Schwapp fumbles on the goal line. (I'm still waiting for them to blow the play dead.)

5. Six minutes left in the third, Stanton hits Trannon on a slip screen. Two of our linebackers have blitzed, and Ndukwe takes a bad angle. Result: a short pass that turns into a sixty-five yard run to the end zone.

4. Nine minutes in the fourth. Darius runs left, weaves his way into the end zone for a score. Stovall holds on the play; TD no good.

3. Same drive, confusion on the offense, and we call a timeout; a timeout which would have come in very handy at the end of regulation.

2. Same drive. What Weis will label a broken play (should have been a "walk-in touchdown", he says) ends up with Schwapp getting stuffed on a fourth and one. Should it have been a fake to Schwapp, and a pitch to Darius? We'll never know.

1. Overtime. Stanton options right, pitches to Teague. Ball game.

...and Eight Big Plays I Loved

8. First quarter, fourth and fifteen, Quinn hits Stovall for a first down after scrambling out of a sure sack.

7. End of the first, State on our 35, the Duke makes a great play on a hurried Stanton pass and comes down with the interception.

6. Smarj nabs a sideline pass from Quinn, goes matador on the defender and high-steps it into the end zone.

5. Minute left in the third, Stanton on our 24 rolls out right, looking, looking, and sacked by Richardson for a 12-yard loss, setting up a long field goal miss.

4. End of the third quarter, third and ten on our own 36, MSU blitzes, we pick it up, and Quinn hits Stovall for a fifty-yard pass down the middle, setting up a Stovall touchdown two plays later.

3. Quinn finds Samardzija on a quick throw to the back of the end zone, tying the game at 38 with two and a half minutes left.

2. Zibby forces a fumble from Kyle Brown, giving us a chance to win it in regulation.

1. D.J., icewater in his veins, hits a 44-yard field goal in overtime to put us ahead.

Charlie termed this game a "team loss", and I think that's exactly right. No one MSU play undid us, no single mistake was a backbreaker. The opportunities to win were abundant, and yet, we didn't take advantage of them. Michigan State did, and thus deserved to win.

Onward to Washington.