Air Force's ability to consistently get the edge on Michigan's defense was the most frustrating thing about Saturday's game, and many theories have been proffered as to what was supposed to be happening, why it wasn't, and why we will or will not die on the rest of the schedule.
I'm of the opinion that Michigan's scheme was predictable and that as soon as Air Force started blocking Kovacs they were out of ideas.
Here's Air Force's first play of the second half. Denard Robinson's just gone 58 yards to put M up 21-10 and a poor decision by a Falcon player to fall on a squibbed kickoff sets the Falcons up on their own 12 yard line. Michigan has just sat in the locker room for 20 minutes getting coached up; Air Force comes out and runs the same triple option they've been running all game.
It does not go well.
Okay: I called this "near half-flex" for Air Force. Michigan is in their 4-4 under, which I know is actually shifted towards the nominal strength of the formation and so is technically an over. Michigan aligns to field, not strength—so they would flip their formation if it was on the other hash.
Against Air Force, Michigan brought Gordon down into the box and made their formation basically symmetrical. Mattison:
Jake and Thomas were the exact same position in our scheme. A lot of people play the same scheme.
Kovacs is playing center field. Earlier in the game, he was not getting blocked and doing Kovacs things. Like this:
Air Force was all like Eff that to the A and started blocking him. That took out Michigan's edge defender and opened up the corner. Michigan didn't really adjust.
Air Force's "triple" option" wasn't really that. They occasionally ran the dive to keep the defense honest but when they did that the QB just turned around and give it, no read. Here they're running the option with the token dive fake. Already in the above frame, bad things are happening.
Will Campbell(1) is tackling an Air Force lineman who's trying to get out on Bolden. He'll succeed at this, allowing Bolden to flow freely for the rest of the play, but he'll pick up a second defensive holding call doing so. On the edge, Gordon(2) is the optioned guy. Michigan is playing him to pitch like they have been all game. Kovacs(3), is the destination of the flexback.
In a second or two, Michigan is going to eat cut blocks:
Thanks for participating, Clark and Morgan, but you've been elimidated. Try again next play. Meanwhile, downfield…
…the ref is ANGAR at Campbell and Jordan Kovacs is decidedly not coming up to stop the pitch.
Why is Kovacs taking that angle? Why is he not attacking the run? That's an eligible receiver he is in man coverage on. He's got no one behind him, and there are two other receivers going vertical. He has to respect this guy as a receiver, or he could give up an 88-yard touchdown.
At this point it's pretty obvious, but Kovacs doesn't have good options.
Gordon forces the pitch. Michigan has Bolden ready to hit the QB if necessary, but he doesn't know that, and that's not the scheme.
The scheme is getting cut to the ground 13 yards downfield.
Presenting yet another ten yard run on a pitch. WSG Will Campbell holding flag.
[After THE JUMP: Air Force twists its mustache!]
“What’s up. Did you count the bubble screens again?”
MGoRetort: You had two fakes.
“Oh those were actually laser screens.”
MGoABubbleScreenByAnyOtherName: Oh, laser screens.
“They’re different. A little different.”
Your daughter started school last week. How was that?
“It’s awesome. The teacher wants to take her home. [My daughter] is so cool, she’s great. She thinks she’s pretty cool, too. She talks a lot. She talks like four times more than my son. So she’s good at talking because she practices so much more, you know. And then I get home, she’s usually in bed, but if she’s up, she’s got so many things to tell me.”
So she takes after you.
“Yeah. A little bit. I’m going to start giving her like a word a day. ‘Condescending.’ ‘Exasperate.’ Stuff like that, you know. She’ll floor her kindergarten teacher if she throws that one in, if I can get her to say it in context. Pretty cool. What are you guys laughing about? There’s nothing wrong with that. My dad did that. My dad used to all the time give me a word a day.”
You never use those words in your press conferences.
“Oh no. Never. No. Sometimes I do. Okay.”
Did anything exasperate you Saturday?
“Uh, no, not really. Not too much. Not too much. It was -- other than not getting the ball to Fitz. We wanted to get Fitz off a little more. Obviously that didn’t work out real good, but we knew going into the game that they were going to have trouble with Denard because the speed factor in the secondary. We wanted to get our athletes out in space. He’s as athletic as anybody we have. That was an emphasis in this game, and we kind of accomplished that, so the next day what we have to do is we have to get our tailback more involved, working our tails off to devise a plan to do just that.”
“I guess the first thing I would say is -- happy that we got a win. You know, not pleased the amount of yards that we gave up and not pleased with the option responsibility at times. You just want everybody to know -- I’ll take the blame for that as a coordinator. One thing we always talk about with our defense is we will always have enough bullets and always have enough in our package to be able to stop anything that somebody does. You know I think for a number of reasons, we maybe didn’t have enough or enough adjustments or I didn’t adjust soon enough to take away what they were doing. As far as the players, I really am proud of them for how hard they played. That game could have been disastrous had they not played as tough as they did on a number of situations. The thing watching the tape, in the crunch time at the end of the game, I looked out there at the end of the tape, we had seven freshmen and sophomores in there at one time, right during the heat of it. But I don’t fault our players. I know there’s things they could have done better. That’s always the case. Technique-wise, if anything, I point to myself as far as not having a little bit more expansive plan going into that game.”
[DOH: this didn't get FPed when I posted it at nine.]
Not terrible. First couple minutes got cut off, though, so the start is a little awkward.
OFFENSIVE LINE WHAT. We are concerned. I do think they are coming from everywhere, FWIW.
HELLO FUNCHESS. Welcome to our lives. FWIW, the guy who applied "the Funchise" to Funchess first was indeed Scott Burnstein of the Oakland Press.
DENARD: ACCURATE? Seems like it. We're still being careful.
HELLO FRESHMAN LINEBACKERS. We're a bit less enthused about this development. Ace likes it.
DL: WHERE IS IT? Seriously.
JEREMY GALLON 2011. Someone return him to functional status please.
THIS LEAGUE! Man, we spent all last year complaining about the Big Ten. Hope you liked that because we're going to keep doing it. I ask Jamie if Purdue is the favorite in the Le-whatever division. We talk about Minnesota making a bowl in the Le-whatever division. The Big Ten.
SONGS. "Highway to the Danger Zone," Kenny Loggins. Obligatory. "Paint It Black," The Rolling Stones. "E-Pro," Beck.
The usual links:
David Dawson receives his Under Armour All-American jersey in a halftime ceremony
Last weekend, the definitely-not-a-van made its way to Cass Tech for their matchup against Detroit Renaissance. For the second straight week, the Technicians came away with a blowout victory, jumping out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter en route to a 44-0 final. With the win, Cass Tech starts their title defense with a 3-0 record, including a season-opening triumph over defending Division II state champion Brother Rice.
Soundtrack: "Detroit Twice" — El Michels Affair
2013 CB/WR Jourdan Lewis (Michigan commit): Lewis focused largely on wide receiver in this game, rotating in on defense after the first couple possessions. He showed his shiftiness on offense, taking a tunnel screen 15 yards for a touchdown, then making a Braylon-esque leaping grab on a fade for the subsequent two-point conversion. Lewis recorded another receiving touchdown in the second half and also made an impact on special teams, breaking into the second level on a punt return.
Defensively, Lewis more than held his own in coverage and was not targeted by Renaissance, who chose to take their chances with Damon Webb and DaQuan Pace. This wasn't a great showcase for Lewis as a cornerback prospect; he continued to show that he's a viable candidate for either side of the ball at the next level, however, and he should also contribute as a return man. Lewis did record a late interception to preserve the shutout.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the scouting report plus photos from Dawson's jersey ceremony.]