Blue_Sam Breaks it Down

Sam Webb has a coach's eye for the game, and will provide 'tape-breakdown' analyses of games. Here is the Purdue game breakdown: the Michigan offense.

The Star: Navarre

The player who made the offense go this week was none other than John Navarre. His maturation continues to be extremely impressive. We've stated since the summer that Scott Loeffler would have a great effect on John's development. We still believe that to be true. Much of the improvements are the direct benefits of Coach Loeffler's tutelage. This young coach is a star in the making. That said, the person most responsible for John's improvement is John himself. His knowledge of the offense is very evident. All of the new mechanics would be wasted if his knowledge of the game and of the offense wasn't where it is.

The most evident improvements that stand out when watching the film of the game, are how he steps up in the pocket now and goes through his progression from one receiver to the next. There have been numerous examples of this during the season and in this game. One of the more subtle improvements is his shotgun stance. Last year, many might recall that John would line up with his feet parallel in that stance. Often, he would take a few steps back in anticipation before the ball was hiked. Michigan was actually called for a few false starts because of it. This year, he has a cocked stance with one foot about a half yard behind the other. This allows him to get into his drop quicker and leaves him better prepared to receive the ball. I have to think this was a Loeffler improvement.

Here are a few examples of Navarre's stellar play:

1st quarter 9:39
Tony Pape gets mildly beaten to the outside on the pass rush. He effectively pushes the rusher outside of John -- helped by John moving up in the pocket. Navarre steps up and hits Joppru on the crossing pattern.

1st quarter 9:17
Purdue is in man to man coverage with one deep safety in the middle. John immediately recognizes the coverage. He drops back while giving the safety a brief look (not more than a second) to hold him in the middle. Then, he sets up in the pocket and throws to Edwards on the 'GO' pattern. Should have been a TD. However, even though it didn't succeed, it's still evidence of his maturation.

1st quarter 0:30
3rd and 2. Navarre scans downfield, comes back down to his checkoff, which was Askew. However, the blitzing backer peeled off leaving BJ covered over the top by the flat guy, and underneath by the blitzing backer. John makes a perfect throw into the window between these players. Furthermore, he gets the ball in FRONT of Askew so he can run with it.

3rd quarter 0:23
Courtney Morgan is beaten by a speed rush to the outside and John steps up in the pocket (while being grabbed) and delivers the ball to Bellamy on the crossing pattern.

3rd quarter 13:06
John is under heavy rush from the entire right side as well as up the middle….he moves up in the pocket (evading three guys) and finds Bellamy on a crossing pattern.

Those plays stood out for me the most. I was also extremely impressed with the presence John showed in throwing the ball away when nothing was there. On the one interception Navarre threw was a ball that probably could have been thrown a little better, but it was the right read…and the receiver just has to go up and get that one or break it up.

Others deserving mention:

Chris Perry deserves special Kudos for gutting it out with the ankle. BJ and Sanderson have both become huge plusses from the fullback position.

Missed Plays:

As everyone watching the game could see, the offense did bog down and/or barely miss big plays at various times during the game. This prevented Michigan from putting more points up on the board. Some notable missed opportunities:

On the very first drive of the game, Michigan committed a false start on 3rd and 1. Then, on 3rd and 6, John rifled the ball to Tyrece Butler on a slant and he dropped it.

I already mentioned the near-miss touchdown between Braylon and John at 9:17 in the first half. The very next play of that drive was also a potential big gainer.

9:08 2nd quarter
Petruziello pulls and becomes the lead blocker for Askew. However, he fails to take away the defenders play-side shoulder. At the same time, Pearson releases to cut the offside linebacker and whiffs. Those two players converge to stop a play that could have gone for 10-15 yards. Resulted in 4 yards. Michigan ended up pooch-punting on that drive.

6:38 2nd quarter
Michigan is putting together a little drive after Purdue scores to make it 7-7. Bellamy catches a 17 yarder for a first down a few plays before. It's 2nd and 10 and John drops back to pass. Courtney Morgan is beaten by a bull-rush and subsequent move to the outside, resulting in a sack.

5:52 2nd quarter
This is the very next play. Purdue comes on a blitz on 3rd and 18. The blitz comes to the left side. Two blitzers come at Bass and he doesn't know which one to take. He misses both (he should have taken the inside man; it's up to the back, if there is one back there, or the QB to pick up the outside guy). This resulted in an incompletion and subsequent punt.

0:19 2nd quarter
It's 3rd and 10. John drops back and throws a strike to Braylon Edwards. However, Braylon jumped for the ball and couldn't come down on his feet - on a ball that he didn't have to jump for. If he catches it on the ground, he has at chance to score…or at the very least pick up a few more yards and get out of bounds. Michigan gets a field goal on that drive.

10:30 3rd quarter
Michigan stoned on the fake field goal. The man comes in unblocked.

4:50 3rd quarter
Michigan is up 17-7 at this point and can put the game just about out of reach here. 2nd and 7. Courtney Morgan is beat around the corner again. The man pressures John into an incomplete pass behind Edwards, who was single-covered on an out pattern.

4:41 3rd quarter
Morgan beat around the corner again. John is flushed up in pocket and has to throw the ball early to Bellamy on the crossing pattern. The play is broken up as a result.

At the beginning of the 4th quarter, Michigan is up 17-14. They had a 3rd and 1 AND 4th and 1. The 3rd and 1 was just a great play by Purdue's MIKE linebacker. The 4th and 1 boiled down to the entire left side getting stoned at the line. They got no push, which in turn held Perry up and allowed the blitzing corner to get him.

7:45 4th quarter
Michigan is up 23-14. It's 3rd and 10. John drops back and throws a perfect ball to Edwards running an out pattern. But, he dropped it. Michigan got their field goal attempt blocked on this drive.

Improvements (hopefully) for next week:

This offensive unit is really exceeding most expectations so far this year. They don't have far to go to become outstanding. Now the bar has been raised.

Braylon Edwards is on the verge of superstardom. He's living up to all the praise that was heaped upon him in the preseason. That said, in the meantime he has a few little things to work on. If he improves his concentration just a little (the dropped balls, jumping when it isn't necessary), he will become one of the best we've ever seen around here. After watching the update on him and his dad this offseason (as well as getting a look at all of the hard work they put in), I don't have any doubt that he'll make these improvements.

The most pressing concerns for next week are Chris Perry's ankle and the O-line. The improvement needed to Perr'y ankle is strictly physical of course. The remaining question is can the offensive line get push against one of the more physical fronts in the Big Ten. I'm sure this will be an area of great focus after the short yardage failures of the past week.

The Wolverines must also sure up the pass protection from the left side (particularly left tackle). That was the source of a lot of QB pressures Saturday. I expect Morgan to improve after being on hiatus for a while. Either he or Stenavich will have to keep the backside rusher off a John about a second longer.

Next: The Defense

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