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Has the running game turned the corner?


Hear The Drummer Get Wicked
Staff member
I was watching a little of the Penn State game earlier and the difference in our running game is easy to see. I thought after the Bowling Green game where Ross and Hall both nearly gained 100 yards we might be back on track only to struggle against Northwestern followed by the horrible performance at Wiscy. At the end of the Iowa game I really thought we showed some signs and picked up a few first downs trying to run out the clock when Iowa knew what we were going to do.

Indiana and Penn State do not have great defenses by any stretch but we seemed to be successful on the ground because we didn't allow penetration up front and Lydell was able to make his cuts. I've gone back and forth blaming the line and the backs on our lack of success running the ball this year. They can probably both share in the blame. I guess we won't know until Saturday whether or not the last two weeks were a mirage or signs of the running game coming around. I'd like to think we can have some success running the ball on a team who just gave up over 200 yards on 50 carries to Chris Perry last week. I honestly think we win the next three games if Lydell and the guys up front continue to play well. I just hope our recent success was the result of what we did and the things the team has been working on, not because of the poor level of competition. I suppose we are about to find out...
The big reason why we ran all over Indiana was that stupid 4-2-5 defense they ran...what the f**k was that? Having only two LBs up near the line allowed Ross to bust it outside time and time again. Once Indiana adjusted after the first quarter, they were better at limiting Ross' gains. At Penn State, the OL wasn't as consistent as they were at Indiana, but when they were good they were great...I couldn't believe the size of a couple of the holes they opened.

As for comparing what Michigan was able to do on the ground to what we might be able to do, I think a big factor is Michigan's OL. They have a better OL across the board, so Perry was able to average 4 yards a pop even after 50 carries. Hopefully the home field will help fire our OL up to perform at that level. If they do, I think Ross can run as well as Perry did (just not for 50 carries). Regardless of how well our OL run blocks, I think we open up the passing even a bit more to keep MSU off balance.
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Well Nutty, at least the running game is showing a little life. The O line is starting to open some holes and sustain some blocks. Time will tell if that was our opponents or us. I think maybe the biggest factor is a healthy (at least mostly heathly) running back in Lydell (God, I hope I didn't just jinx it). Finally someone (anyone) is running healthy and with some instinct. If he stays healthy, his running can only improve. He may not get more yards but he will make better and better desicions. Now, how bad was his "bell rung" towards the end of the PSU game, and will it affect him for MSU?

BTW, did you guys see the MSU vs UM game? I was shocked that MSU just couldn't stop Perry ... at all. 50 carries? Wow. the Michigan O-line is pretty good and the MSU D-line played weak. Also did you see Navarre's last fumble? I swear that guy tries to give away games. He took a shot, but he must have crapped his uni because the ball was falling from his trembling hands long before he got hit. The return for a TD put MSU right back in a game they were being dominated in.
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He took a shot, but he must have crapped his uni because the ball was falling from his trembling hands long before he got hit.

:lol: I'm pretty sure the ball was out before he was really hit. As long as he's the quarterback up there I will feel reasonably confident about the game. He will not be able to do the things Mills was able to do last week. If we are able to get consistent pressure on him we will be fine defensively. Unfortunately we didn't get to him too often last year until Scott forced the fumble in the 4th. It was Scott and Smith recovered, right?

I suppose scUM St. may not provide the answer to my original question. I think sometimes I get spoiled watching our defense which gives up nothing on the ground, save the Wiscy fiasco. Any more you have to make a team one dimensional but Perry couldn't be stopped. I just hope those holes are there against Saturday.

Mili, you're right on about the 4-2-5 and that's big part of the reason there was absolutely no penetration up front. Lydell has been running with more of a purpose, I just wonder if that's because there are holes there that weren't before or if he's feeling better. Obviously this line looked a whole lot better with a different RB in the backfield. It's been nice to see them get it going up front. Whether it continues will be a key ingredient in running the table.
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Our guys are putting up decent running numbers the last couple of games, however the D's they were going agains weren't exactly OSU caliber... this week agains MSU, we will face a team that on average allows a little over 100 total rush yards per game... granted I didn't look to see who they have played (if several passing teams, that could squew (sp) the numbers... this week should be a good test for our team... next week will be a bigger test, and the last game ie THE GAME will be a very big test... one game at a time!!
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gbear: While MSU gives up just over 100 yards a game on the ground (101.2 ypg), they give up 2.7 yards per carry which is good, but not great. If our OL performs like it has the last two weeks, then we'll get 150-200 yards on the ground, which will loosen the defense up for the pass (especially if McMullen gets significant PT).
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It seems to me that the line is definately coming out a tad better. I'm not sure if that's a product of improvement or just bad run defenses. Also Lydell is doing a nice job on the cutback, he seems to see the open field much better. It appears to be getting better, let's hope they can keep it up the next 3 weeks. If they can, we're in good shape.
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The thing that is going to set the tone of the running game this week is going to be the first two drives/possesions. It seems that if we get off the ball well the first 2 times that we have the ball we would/should be fine the rest of the day. What is also going to be determined in those 2 drives is if MSU is going to put 8 or 9 in the box the entire time. If they start like that and we don't run well the first two possessions we could be in for a long day, by long I mean stressful. If they stick back it will allow us to run the ball then when we need to pass. I think though that the first 2 drives we will come out throwing the ball more than usual and don't be suprised if that first play from scrimmage isn't the deep ball.
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Actually Michigan State will be playing the third team DT. The starting DT was hurt earlier in the season. The player hurt in the scUM game was the back-up that had been starting.

So this is where all the actual OSU football talk is taking place.
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I would like to think that our O line is coming together. They do have a lot of work to do though. I have been very impressed with their pass blocking as of late, that is a good sign. I have great confidence that we will be able to run the ball up the middle against Mich. St. They are very vulnerable and small up front. They have to blitz often to make up for the lack of physicality up front. The best way to counter a blitz is to hit it at the source, because once you get past the LOS the opportunity is there for the home run (which we have lacked this season). I expect OSU to have success this weekend with their running game.
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I notice the last two weeks we did a lot of pulling guard stuff (as was over-explained by the commentators last week). I think we've been doing this all year, but the guard either whiffs his block, gets the wrong guy, or is too slow coming around, etc. Am I right?

My question is, have our guards improved on this play or was the competition slower than in previous weeks so the play just worked better since it was being run in "slow-mo"?
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I think the coaches were ticked that the guards were not getting there early in the season... I think they said "we are going to run these plays, and if you don't get your rearend in front of the play on the pull, we will bench you and the next guy will get it done"... hense the reason for Step being placed at guard and Simms at tackle... they can pull so they get to play...

I can't prove this theory, but that is indeed what I think happened... take it for what it's worth...
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I may be wrong but it looks like when Clarke pulls he now has open space to find someone to block because Step has been able to control his man and move him. Like I said I could be wrong, but before it always looked as if when we pulled the pulling guard had no place to go except run into the big pile up on the line of scrimmage.
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