My financial consultant generally is pretty good about predicting markets, knowing when to buy, when to hold, etc., so I invited him to join Misopogal and I as we hopped from tailgate to tailgate in our quest to procure tickets for Michigan vs. Michigan State.
On the way up, my consultant and I had agreed on a plan: We would spend pre-game trying to run into people we know, asking if they had singles with them. If not, we would wait until just after kickoff, when sellers were cursing their greed and desperate to pocket something before heading in. We had another ride lined up just in case not everyone got a ticket, our pockets were full of $10s and $5s, and we were ready – just in case – to bail for my consultant's 62-inch HDTV, where the DVR was running. I trusted this plan; my consultant has a degree in economics from Michigan State University, which I hear is a pretty good school.
At 1:30 p.m. my consultant started getting jittery. He wasn't accepting beers. He was muttering. At 2:00 p.m. he made a call: "We're not going to find tickets," and started toward the car.
I had dreamt of a Great Denardening, the exorcising of rebuilding demons against a pesky in-state rival, a victory to mark the nadir of the Dantonio era and give the local papers the loss they need to expose the program that put Glenn Winston back on the field.
Instead, I found myself in a lightless basement in front of a Matt Millen broadcast, muttering about "execution" in a room full of eight people educated by Mike Valenti, and my financial consultant - my little brother - calmly denying that holding ever occurs at Michigan State because Dantonio coaches them so well.
Whatever tickets actually cost outside the stadium at 3:35 p.m. yesterday, I would have paid it to be there instead of surrounded by people bent on extracting every juicy drop of Schadenfreude.* Sigh. Perhaps in two years…
Where We Went So Wrong
Though not so on purpose, there were an awful lot of bad prognosticators out there, as MGoDiarists spent most of the week predicting scores for the Michigan State game. Most thought it would be Michigan by 3 or 4 with scores in the 30s, suggesting we probably thought MSU was a slightly better Indiana. See:
|Week #5 National Rankings, Fremeau Efficiency Index, and Sagarin Predictor for MSU||Enjoy Life||Sagarin, FEI, etc.||M, 30-22|
|Over/Under: Michigan State at Michigan||jamiemac||betting savvy||MSU to cover 5|
|Michigan St Preview: Now with more charts!||The Mathlete||PAN||M, 35-32|
|Anxiety Time Machine||Meeechigan Dan||"Résumé"||M Wins|
|Tempo-Free Defense Points Per Posession Update: Includes Offense PPP as well||bigmc6000||Pts.-per-Poss.||M, 38-35|
|Our Defense Their Offense - tipping point!||mistersuits||Normalized PPG||M, 42-38|
|Denard/UM Offense Effect: Factored out of Opponents Past||myrtlebeachmaizenblue||Rush/Pass Stats||"Run all over Sparty"|
|Scouting the MSU Offense (vs. WIS)||AAL||Scoutin' v Wis.||MSU is predictable|
|Say What? Defensive Optimism||Meeechigan Dan||Score/Possession||Sparty won't score 40|
|Fear and Paranoia in Ann Arbor||Ryano||Fear, Paranoia and Desperation||F/P was 6/10 ftr.|
|Preview: Michigan State 2010||Brian||tingly bits||35-30|
He Picture-Paged My Life
There's little more I can add to BlueSeoul's epic picture-pages journey through the Indiana game, since Brian has used shots from it on virtually every front-page post this week. If you haven't read the whole thing yet, do so, because it's the one with lots of this:
On this play Roh is in a more traditional stack look.
But he doesn't see Doss coming in motion.
And because he doesn't go with Doss, it makes for an easy blocking assignment for the bubble screen.
Blueseoul has already won the Internet for this post, but he may now add Diarist of the Week honors. Also: now accepting ideas for Diarist of the Week trophies, preferably not something you probably picked up at Forwards in West Branch.
Our resident logoist (and sometime interviewer) Six Zero offered a new shirt design this week, honoring Phil Brabbs' fight against Multiple Myeloma (and his fight against Washington). How cool is it? LaMarr Woodley was seen in the stands yesterday with one of these bad boys on.
MGoCoach steve sharik also made pretty pictures for us this week. These break down the zone read "midline" play, which should have been useful against Michigan State (I thought I saw it twice, one on the dropped TD by Rountree, but I'm notoriously bad at picking this stuff out so don't trust me.).
Some 4-3 teams like to put their 3-technique away from the back. If they do this, then the Mike is the backside B-gap defender.
If the defense puts the 3-technique to the back, then the 3-tech is the backside B-gap defender.
We also have some bad news in the picture department. monuMental's awesome (e.g. the now-I-can't-show-you Denard Action Figure) weekly backgrounds have had to cease because U-M and the Heisman Trust have lawyers on retainer with too little to do (that's just my opinion, not the blog's). This ends your weekly scheduled wallpaper for the foreseeable future. If, dear diary, your daddy was one of those stacks of legal papers used to shut down all things that don't make money, then I totally apologize, and please put (non-harmful) soap in his coffee.
Great Moments in Statistication
Meanwhile, Communist Football won a great victory for the proletariat over the evil capitalist empire, by ripping various offensive records from hoarding private databases, and sharing them in one common, Denard-celebrating central repository. Read it now before the numbers get updated with MSU stats and everything (note: not everything) goes to shit.
Rushing Yards by a QB, Single-Season
Denard currently has 905 rushing yards in 5 games. This projects to 2,172 over a 12-game schedule (yes, I am aware that stiffer competition is ahead). He has already destroyed the previous Michigan record for QB rushing yards in a season: 674 by Steve Smith in 1981.
And if you think Smith's 674 yards are shabby, at 56.2 yards per game—back in the days before Communist Football—keep in mind that Comrade Pryor, the second-most-heralded dual-threat QB in the country today, has rushed for 373 yards, or 74.6 yards per game. Denard is at 181.0 yards per game.
The Big Ten record is 1,270 by Antwaan Randle El of Indiana in 2000; the NCAA FBS record is 1,494 by Beau Morgan of Air Force in 1996. Both of these records are easily within reach. Denard only has to average 84.2 rushing yards a game over the rest of the regular season to break the NCAA FBS record.
The Mathlete was at it again with his PAN, trying to soothe our fears about this year being like last year (gee, why should I have such fears?). The Mathlete says that Michigan's offense is a lot better this year than it was last year. How much? I make chart, in PAN:
Based on the sets of numbers, Michigan initially has been 7 to 11 points-per-game better than year’s offensive unit. This represents a very high level of play.
The Mathlete won't go there, so I will: if Michigan's 2010 offense replaced last year's kind-of-capable offense, here's our 2009 season with 9 points more offense per game:
Ed (Miso): Woo 8-4! Thanks comments section for the catch.
This exercise is fruitless, but The Mathlete's really is not.
Laveranues did some analysis on something we brought up during the Indiana liveblog: when should Michigan try onside kicking? Answer: never? I get the feeling like this would be a great thing. Brian mentioned on the main page that he thinks there's 0% chance of this happening since the kickers have enough trouble just kicking field goals, but I'm with Laveranues: let's have one guy who practices nothing but perfectly placed onside kicks, and then do this 1/2 of the time.
If you're a chart fan, though, try out mistersuits's It means everything to them diary. We all agree that his "why" is baseless – Brian called him out too and you can see my response in the article - but the "what" is really interesting stuff about Michigan opponents and their tendency to go for it against us on 4th down.
After break, no more good Diary stuff, but you can read my bid for TWIS
A new commit for Michigan means we're hitting the front page. Action since last rankings:
3-14-09 Michigan gains commitment from Antonio Kinard.
10-4-10 Indiana gains commitment from Cody Latimer.
10-6-10 Wisconsin gains commitment from Denzel Doe.
10-8-10 Michigan gains commitment from Demetrius Hart. Iowa gains commitment from Melvin Spears.
10-9-10 Wisconsin gain commitment from Tyler Marz.
If you see any errors in the individual tables, please let me know. I'm tempted to move Indiana down a bit, but their averages per commit are about even with (or only very slightly behind) the teams nipping at their heels, and they have more commits.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45).
|#1 Ohio State - 17 Commits|
No change for the Buckeyes.
|#2 Notre Dame - 20 Commits|
|George Atkinson III||S||CA||5.8||4||79|
With their higher commit numbers, Notre Dame is actually pretty close to passing Ohio State, though a deflated ranking on Scout (which hasn't rated kickers) keeps them well behind on the average at that site.
|#3 Nebraska - 13 Commits|
No change for Nebraska.
|#4 Michigan State - 16 Commits|
Nothing new for MSU.
|#5 Michigan - 11 Commits|
Yay! Michigan picks up Dee Hart finally. The MSU loss might slow down anything else from happening soon, though. I've also added Antonio Kinard, as U Recruit reports he'll join the team this winter.
|#6 Indiana - 22 Commits|
Rivals is far higher on the Hoosiers' new commit Cody Latimer than are the other two services.
|#7 Iowa - 15 Commits|
|#8 Northwestern - 13 Commits|
No change for Northwestern.
|#9 Minnesota - 15 Commits|
No changes for the LOLphers.
|#10 Wisconsin - 13 Commits|
Two new pickups for the Badgers, though neither is highly-rated.
|#11 Penn State - 4 Commits|
They have to get some commits sooner or later, right?
|#12 Illinois - 16 Commits|
Nothing new. The sites still aren't in agreement over whether Hayden Daniels is committed.
|#13 Purdue - 7 Commits|
No change for Purdue.
Tae Odoms may have a broken foot. "I don't know what's up with Mike" Martin. James Rogers cramped severely. [I saw Rogers leaving the stadium, and he seemed to be walking fine, for what it's worth].
"I don't look at margin of defeat. I'm just disapointed we didn't play better. Our guys played hard, but we didn't play well." Too many mistakes to win against a good team. A little off in both the pass and run game on offense. Dropped passes, missed protections. "I don't want to say it wasn't our best effort, but it certainly wasn't our best technique-wise and the things we needed to do."
Need to make big plays to counter the opponents' big plays "None of those things occurred today." Can't diagnose what went wrong on the big plays until watching film. "We didn't tackle well." Maybe accountable to going after the ball a bit too much.
Ineffectiveness in the red zone made a difference. Denard needs to "live for another play" or take off and run instead of making bad passes which can turn into turnovers.
Denard not as sharp as he has been. He's still young, but he's competitive and going through the film they'll see what happened. "This is just his sixth game. I'm told everybody all along that he's a first-year starter." Denard wasbhesitant at times, but there weren't a lot of creases. "We had some more things planned."
Guys were close to making some plays, but didn't close the gap on defense.
On MSU containing Denard: "They just played well, got off blocks. And we didn't play as well I don't think."
Low kick led to the blocked field goal - there wasn't penetration up front that caused it.
Punting with 6 minutes left was the wrong decision. RR was trying to get the players' attention and change the call. He wouldn't punt it again in the same situation.
Iowa has had an open week to get ready, and Michigan has a big game against them next week.
Mood in the locker room was what you'd expect from losing the game.
MSU had a couple blitzes, stunts. That wasn't the main issue on offense though, Michigan just made a couple bad reads. "We made bad mistakes, and we've gotta capitalize on a few things." Made bad reads, bad plays, some mistakes.
MSU didn't try to take Denard specifically out of the offense: "Not really. We've got weapons everywhere. I'm not the only weapon on offense." Denard hesitated a lot, which prevented him making the long runs. "Just bad reads, bad reads."
Rivalry games are always exciting, maybe Denard played a little too excited. Got too excited on the bad throw to Hemingway.
MSU is fast - "they're a Big Ten team." MSU more physical? "It's just like the rest of those games." Dirty play at all? "It's Michigan State vs. Michigan. That's all I've got to say."
Greg Jones wasn't the reason Denard made mistakes today. "I didn't pay attention to one player. I paid attention to everybody."
Team wasn't worried when they went down 2 scores. With a high-powered offense, they should be able to come back from that. Knew they could come back, just needed to keep playing hard and keep focused.
No one person is to blame for the poor performance, time to move on. "Refocus and get back in there. It's mid-season now. Time to crank it back up."
"Yeaaah, I just lost focus" on the first drop. Got into the endzone and realized he didn't have the ball (jokingly).
"I felt like it was a lot of mistakes in the redzone." Have to score when you get down there, and not doing so hurt the team.
Denard "he was keeping poised all through the game." Not getting frustrated by throwing interceptions, and was pumping the team up.
MSU always plays physical, just like everyone else in the Big Ten will against Michigan. MSU isn't necessarily the best defense M has played, there were a lot of mistakes on the Michigan side that helped them.
"This is a tough loss, you know. We just have to go in there Monday and learn from our mistakes and prepare for Iowa."
Ryan Van Bergen
MSU better than other teams played? "They have some better players at some positions than teams we've seen." They took care of the ball, moved it with the run, and smart passes. "They executed better than we did."
A couple miscommunications on gap responsibility led to the long runs. "We weren't in the right one twice. Same play." Will figure that out. "I thought we were prepared for it. Unfortunately they just gashed us on a couple plays."
"I think they got called for an illegal chop on Mike. I think he'll be fine." He wants to get it evaluated before risking further injury.
"If I'm going to be a leader on the defense, I have to set an example. Obviously we didn't win today, I didn't play well enough." Everybody has to push, we haven't seen Michigan play as well as they can yet.
Cousins' bootleg wasn't that effective - the defense against that was improved. "It was kind of easy getting back there to him."
After a long, strange recruitment, FL RB Demetrius Hart is (finally) committed to become a Michigan Wolverine.
|4*, #9 RB||4*, 5.9, #1 All-Purpose RB||4*, 80, #9 RB|
Hart is in the running for this year's "Marvin Robinson/Ricardo Miller Memorial Underrated Award," as the prospect that Michigan fans get really excited about early in the process, only to become disappointed when the recruiting services don't agree. He's still a four-star prospect, most likely, but that's a far cry from the National Top 10, where it seemed like Hart would end up.
On the Orlando Sentinel's Central Florida Top 100, he's fluctuated from anywhere between #2 and #14, and is currently #4. The big board provides the following brief comment:
Has all the moves and the grades
Both positives, in this guy's humble e-pininon. There's a little more detail on the Sentinel's profile page for Hart:
Hart is a playmaker in every sense of the word and will likely set the school's record for all-time leading rusher this season [ed: He did, along with records in single season touchdowns and career touchdowns]. Hart is a running back/receiver/return-specialist for the Panthers.
Some of Hart's disappointing rating can be attributed to his size, which doesn't translate to the running back position at the college level:
Despite his size Hart has owned central Florida the last two years.
That, of course, didn't stop him from getting offers to play either RB or slot from a number of top programs (about which more later). In an interview with ThaRinger.com, Hart broke down his game a little bit:
“Basically, a lot of schools when they recruit me, they recruit me for kick returner, punt returner, things like that but I also play running back. I’m more of an outside runner but I can run up the middle. I can do it all. I’ll put my head down and run through some people, so I can do a little bit of both.”
“I think my strengths are I can see the whole field. I can read a defense real well, watch a lot of film and I have speed so I can get around the outside or I can get through holes. I know how to be patient and wait on things like for blocks to happen and stuff like that. I think one of my weaknesses are just trying to get those extra few yards and taking that contact. I know as a running back you shouldn’t do that too many times, just try to preserve yourself and also just depending on my O-line to be there. I’m pretty good with reading the blocks so sometimes I kind of get ahead of them. Sometimes I see what they don’t see and I try to make a play on it, so that’s what I’m going to try and work on this spring.”
ThaRinger also gives its opinion on Hart:
He’s a smooth athlete with good speed and acceleration and he changes direction as good as anybody. He is also much more physical than his size would indicate. He definitely doesn’t shy away from contact. But perhaps his best attribute is his vision and he admits that when asked what his strengths are and what he would like to work on to continue his development.
He's versatile, excelling from the tailback position, as a receiver out of the backfield, and in the return game.
His coach provides a short-but-sweet comment on Hart:
"Dee is a student, and he's a tremendous competitor. There's a whole lot to like about him."
Scout.com talent evaluator Bill Greene echoes the coach's sentiments:
"Hart's physical ability, speed and quickness, are easily identified, but after watching him for two days there is much more to this impressive athlete," said Scout.com recruiting analyst Bill Greene. "His leadership ability, infectious attitude, and desire to win far outshine his impressive physical gifts. Demetrius Hart is a winner, on and off the field. He will be an outstanding addition to whichever college he chooses."
That drive for success has shown itself in the weight room, where he's packed on weight to become more of an every-down back:
Hart has been working hard this off-season. He has added 18 pounds since this time last year.
“My playing weight last year was 170 pounds. I have actually gotten faster. My quickness is the same. It’s just God given.”
Tying it all together: Shifty running back prospect with great hips who could also project to slot receiver or cornerback. Very good (but not great) speed, good balance, and improving ability to pound the ball inside.
Think of any football power, and there's a damn good chance they offered Hart. That includes the last two national champions, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson, Georgia... the list goes on. His impressive offer list says what should be obvious by now: this kid is a Big Deal.
As his recruitment wound down, he had several "final" lists of schools. Alabama, Auburn, and Florida started the party, with Florida replaced by Michigan shortly thereafter. Auburn dropped off the list, but resurfaced about a month ago.
Hart has been a highly productive player in each of his seasons at Dr. Phillips High School. As a sophomore, he ran 111 times for 758 yards (6.83 ypc) and 16 touchdowns. He also played in the return game and was a cornerback on defense.
Hart is the all-time leader at Dr. Phillips in just about every rushing and scoring category. His junior stats include a game that he missed completely, and one for which he was injured and missed the fourth quarter.
Somehow I didn't managed to find exact junior year stats, but he gained about 2,000 yards rushing, receiving, and returning, and scored 20 total touchdowns. Five of those touchdowns came in the return game, and at least three came receiving. Hart split carries with 2010 Colorado State signee Marvin Ford. He was named 1st-Team All-Central Florida and 2nd-Team All-State.
Hart has been even more productive this season(!), with 813 all-purpose yards on 89 touches (9.13 yard per touch) through just four games. Much, much more detail on his season in next week's Friday Night Lights post.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals credits Hart with a 4.43 40-yard dash time, and Scout says 4.50, both of which are fast but plausible (and therefore no fun). ESPN is even less bullish, pegging him in the 4.65 range.
Hart is known as a speedster, but not a blazer, so all these times range from realistic to pessimistic. I have no choice but to dole out just a single FAKE.
Here's his junior year:
There's also video available from the Nike Gridiron Kings 7-on-7.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Hart plans to enroll early, which gives him a better opportunity to contribute on the field early in his career. However, in his freshman year, Michigan will still have a bunch of running backs on the roster in senior Michael Shaw, redshirt junior Mike Cox, junior Vincent Smith, and sophomore Stephen Hopkins. That means carries will be limited, but Hart might be able to find the field in other ways.
With his receiving and returning abilities, there's a darn good chance that he'll be a starter or major contributor on special teams, and he could see some time in the slot. Couple that with a handful of carries in Michigan's stacked backfield, and it's not hard to see Hart get some good PT as a true freshman. However, with Michigan's depth at all of those positions, it's not necessary for Hart to play much as a freshman, unless the coaches want him to get his feet wet for the future. He could redshirt that season, then have a chance to play extensively the next year.
Hart's talent may be too much to keep off the field. He will probably get shuffled in during his true freshman year, become a big part of the rotation as a sophomore, and then have the opportunity to star as a junior and senior. As with Steve Slaton before him, Hart could become a Heisman contender before leaving Rich Rodriguez's program.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The depth shown above is an indication that Michigan doesn't have a huge need for running backs in the class of 2011. If the coaches find another running back that they really like, they might take one (maybe Thomas Rawls?), but with 11 commits already in a class that should only go to about 22, the spots will likely be used elsewhere.
Hart's Dr. Phillips High School has put out plenty of talent in the past few years (Kenny Shaw of Florida State and a trio of Colorado State signees in the class of 2010, a trio of D-1 players in the previous class), and that trend looks to continue into the future.
Hart's commitment may not have an effect on Alabama commit S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, the #1 defensive back prospect in the cass of 2011, but the Wolverines are looking at several other teammates, including WR Chris Gallon and S Roderick Ryles. Michigan is also looking at 2012 QB Nick Patti, whose father is influential in the Dr. Phillips community. Hart's commitment could solidify the Dr. Phillips pipeline that Ricardo Miller helped start (prior to his move to Ann Arbor).
It's back. Sorry for the two-week interruption, but Forces Beyond My Control intervened.
- UMass: Molk excellent, everyone else solidly positive, Lewan goes donkey, Dorrestein majorly positive.
- Bowling Green: candy for everyone. Omameh gets the gold star.
- Indiana: everyone positive, numbers depressed because they scored too fast, WOO DENARD, Lewan gets the gold star.
The major difference between my charting and The Other Brian's is a difference of opinion on Dorrestein. I evidently think he's treading water and just okay; TOB has him approximately equal with the other four guys on the line. Also he was quicker to catch the effectiveness of Michigan's TEs.
Devin zone read issues. After the BGSU game, BWS put up a post about Devin Gardner's zone reads and how they are "rough" if you're being nice and "sucky" if you're not; this was in agreement with the UFR's assessment. Michigan's coaches probably saw too; it appears Tate has reclaimed the backup job. Or maybe Gardner has tendinitis.
I don't hate Vincent Smith. Most of the offensive UFR comments were taken over by the comment war about Vincent Smith. To clarify:
- Smith is a good pass protector and reliable run blocker, though his size makes his run blocking a little sub-optimal.
- He's a good option out of the backfield but the way Michigan's offense is going this year throwing to the tailback is almost pointless.
- He seems to have lost a significant amount of shake-and-bake because of the ACL injury.
- He does not make a lot of yards himself, but he doesn't miss reads often either.
This adds up to an average back.
Finally. BWS has an excellent breakdown of the final drive and the importance of this moment:
This offense is not only explosive but S-M-R-T, kids.
And now on to the WARZONE:
Rollout mitigation strategies. Our Helmets Have Wings has a post based on this previously-linked BWS piece about defending the copious rollouts Michigan has endured. It evades easy summary but the idea is to take someone out of a deeper zone and have him play a flat zone close to the area the rollout is intended to go so he can pressure the QB.
Crab man. The Indiana UFR did not pick up a whole lot in the way of disagreements that are supposed to be the reason for this series, but this is an informative comment for doubters about Roh's DE potential from ironman4579:
While Roh has good athleticism for his size, the key term is "for his size." His hips are fairly stiff in coverage. He has great speed for a DE, probably average at best for a LB. He's not great in space. He has elite athleticism for a DE. He has below average athleticism for a LB. He's just too stiff.
I'd also disagree that he's undersized. Yes, he's a little light (I'd agree that he's definitely lighter than I'd like to see my DE's, but there's enough successful, disruptive light DE's out there in a 4 man line that I think he'd be fine. He might struggle a bit against the run, but I'd give up some in the run game to get an, IMO, vastly improved pass rush), but a guy like Aaron Maybin of Penn State had 12 sacks and 20 TFL's at 235 pounds. O'Brien Schofield was 248 pounds when he went ahead and got 12 sacks and 24.5 TFL's. That's just two recent examples. There are many, many others. Leverage plays a huge part, which actually leads to my next point.
I want people to watch Roh this week when he's at DE and when he's at LB. When he's at DE, he's what scout's call a "flatback." He's incredibly low in his stance. When he comes out he stays basically in the same stance, getting very low with great leverage. He gets his hands out and keeps guys away from his body, and has a great initial punch. He shows a variety of pass rush moves.
When he's at LB, he gets very high. He goes into blockers almost straight up. He lets guys into his body and almost seems to forget his hands until he's already engaged and the blocker is into his body (this is especially evident last year against ND on the Armando Allen hold run at the end of the game, but throughout the season this was a problem). He loses leverage regularly. When he rushes, it's almost always a straight speed rush. He gets lost in space.
The difference between Roh as a DE and Roh as a LB are night and day. He has flashed the potential to be a fantastic DE. As a LB, I don't think he's going to be much more than an average to slightly above average player
I added the picture demonstrating Roh's crazy leverage stance before the snap. I'd like to see a lot more four-man lines this week.
An aside: the debate that's raged between what people are calling a 4-2-5 but is really just last year's defense and the 3-3-5 that's Michigan's run most of this year is really just debating what Craig Roh should do.
Cam Gordon confusion. I solicited opinions on whether or not Cam Gordon should have been able to do anything more than tackle on that corner route…
…picture-paged yesterday. Many people said yes. Many others said no. Upon review I do think that Cam should have been a lot closer since there was no vertical threat from the inside. That probably wouldn't have let him make a play on the ball but he might have been able to tackle at the 25 instead of the 15. The counterargument:
The problem is, jumping the route too quickly can lead to long touchdowns. Gordon does in fact make the right play here. If he jumps up, the experienced receiver will skinny his route and the 5th year QB will loft it over the crashing safety. In a cover 2, the corner route will almost always beat the safety to the soft part of the zone; it's only when the corner drops back enough to disrupt this spot that this pass fails (and then the QB checks down to the out). In a 3rd and long situation, the CB should focus on the deeper part of his zone, as it's always easier to stop a first down if the catch is made in front of the sticks. A more experienced corner, or one that is just less hesitant to react, makes this a much more difficult play to complete.
As always, pass defense and linebacker play are mysterious since who's at fault can vary wildly based on assignments you're not privy to.
The larger point stands. Michigan's inexperienced secondary is not reading the opponent's routes at all (underneath) or quick enough (deep). Hopefully they develop this with time. Also, Chris Brown pointed out this is another variation on the snag concept that Michigan was running elements of earlier this season.
BONUS: Misopogon suggested that the issue was with JT Floyd not getting depth and letting Gordon out to the sideline, but I disagree. Sometimes I fail to explain things I picked up over the course of the game and people disagree based on the individual play, and that's the case here. Most of the time when Michigan went to this coverage, JT Floyd was acting as a Tampa 2 middle linebacker with responsibility in the deep seam. That's why he was at fault when IU hit a deep seam to the TE in the first half…
Does the "J" in J.T. stand for Journeyman?
Floyd spent his second week in a row being moved all over the place. I can understand why they're doing this (he's probably our best DB and we need to get our best athletes on the field.) But with all this moving around, you expect him to get confused occassionally.
On this play he gets caught looking at the underneath crossing route when what he needs to be doing is getting depth in his zone to squeeze off the seam route. The cross will be picked up by the other linebacker, so his false step here was not going to help anyone.
… later in the game when Michigan had covered this bunch snag route a few times they went to a different variation where the vertical receiver ran a post and Floyd dropped right into it. He is not playing a deep half; he's playing a robber. On this pattern he will be of use when the receiver running a dig to the top of the screen clears the CB.
Zone! Man! Fight. BWS's thing this week is advocating more man coverage, complete with a chart of the results when Michigan ran man:
So in 12 attempts, Indiana had six incompletions, one sack, and five completions for approximately 69 yards. Is this statistically significant or proof that Michigan should use more man coverage? Probably not and no.
I'm not sure all of those were man, as BlueSeoul's continuing epic game breakdown series touches upon:
When you're facing 4 or 5 WR, a 3 man rush is not a bad idea because it allows you to run combo coverage behind it.
2 Deep, looks like man coverage underneath, but really it's zone. The man on the slot has good position for run support. The near cornerback is in bump n run with the tall and dangerous, but not necessarily quick, Belcher.
Everyone is covered, Rodgers even manages to stay close enough to his man to dissuade a throw against the confusing look, the 3 man rush gets pressure because Martin beats a double team. Plus we've got 4 extra men in coverage that are just waiting for Chappell to misread it as man coverage and try to force a ball in, so they can get an interception.
Chappell coolly throws it away.
So those numbers may not be right. It seems clear that whatever Michigan is doing in the dime they need to keep doing until they can do it right, at which point they can mix some stuff up. Man coverage is playing with fire every time because of…
James Rogers finally getting exposed. One of the main takeaways from BlueSeoul's post is something that was obvious in the Indiana game after Michigan managed to get away with it through the nonconference:
I've probably covered this enough already, but just to summarize, he is the weakest link. No, that's not surprising given what's happened to the depth chart at corner.
It's so bad that it's hard to tell who he's covering and whether he's supposed to be in zone or man. He's just kind of over there on one side. By the 2nd half, Indiana was actively targeting him on a large percentage of plays. He's giving up the 7 yard out
ALL THE FREAKING TIME.
I don't mean to beat up on him but I agree; he's Nick Sheridan out there. I'm half-expecting he gets replaced this weekend, probably by Avery, though I imagine he'll still have a job in the dime package. Whither Cullen Christian? (Blowing coverages against BGSU, is where.)