...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Tackling Technique: 2011 vs. 2010
Greg Mattison vs. GERG. Cage Match.
It has been the opinion of many that the defensive woes were a perfect storm of inexperience, tweener athletes and GERG.. with the resulting picture of our defense against a B10 offense resembling something like this.
The underlying problem last year was that we couldn’t tackle for shit.
While scheme was a huge factor, even when we did end up in the right spots we had severe issues bringing down the ball carrier. Enter Greg Mattison.
This off-season there was interview after interview that stressed fundamentals and technique, and nothing is more fundamental or technical on defense than tackling. It is the quintessential ability that a defense is trying to incorporate, ending up in the right spot and smashing the ball carrier to pieces.
Good Tackles look like this:
<iframe width="560" height="345" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/KsG5qZsORLM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
And Bad Tackles with poor form look like this:
<iframe width="560" height="345" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/jallAF8hjO0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
The basic analysis follows these formul
- Tackling Efficiency = (Made tackles – Missed Tackles) / (Bad Form Tackles + 1)
- Bad form tackles account for terrible form (bad angles, too high, getting shook etc)
Tackling % = Made tackles / Made + Missed
Tackling Efficiency - 2010:Blue WMU: Maize ND: Green
Tackling Percentage - 2010:Blue WMU: Maize ND: Green
Tackling Percentage is up for almost every player from last year through the first 2 games this year. That indicates to me that they are being taught better technique. There is the factor that some of these guys had a year in the weight room, but that alone is not the only indicator of success (See Barwis Wolves)
While this is a limited data set, this seems to suggest that we are getting better at tackling AS A TEAM. Decreases in Tackling Efficiency by some of the bigger names are accountable by there being a relative spreading around of tackling.
- This is not to suggest that our defense is not essentially anchored by Kovacs in the secondary, Demens in the backers and RVB/MM up front. We are.
- Kovacs is a manchild werebeast. He is easily the most accountable player on the field, always in the right spot to make a play. If he had the athleticism of Marvin Robinson he might be one of the best safeties I have ever seen wear the uniform at this point in his career.
- Demens is a sure tackler, but it seems he is lacking in making tackles for loss. Don’t take this as criticism, as his role is to stop the ball carrier after 1-2 yds consistently between the OTs, not make occasional TFL’s.
- Craig Roh. I think people are being too harsh here. He showed some flashes on plays, and I am going to assume that the decreased production is due to illness. It also seems that Roh is best suited to be at the SDE slot, as trying to keep contain all by himself on the WDE side is testing both his play-reading ability and athleticism. When he is allowed to pin his ears back is when he is best.
- Jake Ryan is your Freshman breakout contributor. No real shocker here, but this kid is everywhere. Cannot wait to see his development in the future.
- Certain diaries have suggested switching Roh to TE, that is ridiculous. Brink and Heininger make very little contribution to the position.
- Morgan makes decent reads but is not physically ready to play at this level yet.
- I am not as excited about Hawthorne as some, however he does seem to blitz with absolutely no regard for blockers or his well-being. Think non-heat seeking missle. If he learns to blitz this way and then get under control once past blockers he will be a special player. Also, he is solid in coverage.
- Jibreel Black is a playmaker, and it seems that more and more he resembles the 55 of yesteryear.
- While I cannot praise the pass coverage ability of Marvin Robinson, I am pleasantly surprised by his change in technique. He has abandoned his “DESTROY” technique, and instead looks for big hits when he can but more often than not wraps up.
- It seems that BWC seemed to improve as the game went on against ND. I hope that this trend transitions into the proverbial light turning on, as he made some good stands against double teams on short yardage runs. However, he is still a liability on pass rush.
- I would like to see Blake Countess get some PT opposite Avery in the coming 2 weeks, because JT Floyd is not a reliable answer for us on fast and physical WRs. He cannot press on the line, and this hurts him immensely.
- Mattison: All in all, I am more impressed this year with our defense. While there are definitely things to correct, we are not missing 2 or 3 tackles on the same play like last year. I think this is the greatest effect on coaching change that is easily apparent. Secondly, players are FLYING to the ball. Gone are the one on ones that result in a shook player and then a 5 yard gain. Finally, while sacks have been hard to come by, there is no question the opposing QB is feeling more pressure.
Oh, What a Night.
You've seen the stories on MSN and Yahoo about those small tribes somewhere in the secluded jungles of South America that continue to exist in blissful unawareness of the outside world. They have never seen a telephone. They might fear a flashlight. They do not know what jeans are.
These might very well be the only people on earth who do not know who Denard Robinson is, and even then they probably heard someone's stories at the watering hole about Michigan's amazing fourth quarter comeback against the Irish on Saturday night.
You stayed up to watch the entire game. If you were among the 114,804 luckiest people on the planet, you were actually there. And you will never, ever forget what you experienced on September 10, 2011. And, of course, now you need a shirt.
The pride you are still feeling today can now be worn with this exclusive UGP MGoShirt design. For a limited time the "OH WHAT A NIGHT" shirt can be yours, available in S-3XL for this week only. This is indeed a short run and will not be featured in the regular MGoStore or at Moe's. Just like Brian Kelly's patience and Notre Dame's BCS hopes, this opportunity will be gone before you know it!!
I got dressed early on Friday afternoon and sat down in my parents’ living room with a couple of hours to kill. My father had passed away earlier that week and I was nervously awaiting our departure for his wake. As I waited, I surfed the hype threads and tailgaiting threads on MGoBlog and realized that my game day experience was going to be unique. I wanted to share some thoughts with all of you about life, loss, and sports.
Last Monday my dad succumbed to a two and a half year battle with leukemia. He was 61. My sister and I were by his side as he drew his last breath. A year before he was diagnosed with cancer he had an attack of acute pancreatitis, spent 2 weeks in a coma, 4 months in the hospital, lost 1/3 of his pancreas, and lost his abdominal wall due to the multiple surgeries. I thought we had seen it all. Little did I know that his struggle was just starting. The next 2.5 years were filled with chemo treatments, transfusions, a bone marrow transplant, and too many procedures to count. During the last 8 months or so we had to bring my dad to the hospital on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule for blood and platelets transfusions. The hospital was an hour away in Boston and the transfusions would take all day. I never looked forward to bringing him in but I couldn’t complain in the face of the bravery and resolve that he displayed on a daily basis. My dad taught me many lessons in life. The final lesson was how to die with dignity.
My dad raised me as a Boston sports fan. I don’t have a definitive first memory of Fenway Park because I was too young and was going there too frequently. From the cold bleachers at Foxboro Stadium, to the obstructed views of the Garden, to the cigar smoke in Fenway, my childhood was largely spent watching and talking sports with my Dad. His favorite sport was baseball but when I started focusing exclusively on soccer he tried to immerse himself in the game. We took a couple of trips to visit family in England and saw two Arsenal games. I got a VHS highlight tape of the 1994 World Cup for Christmas and watched that thing too many damn times to count.
Whenever the conversation paused or we couldn’t figure out what to say next one of us would bring up sports. I watched countless games with him in the hospital and they provided a welcome distraction and a good excuse for me to visit constantly. I’d call him up to remind him that the Sox were on tonight and he’d better get his game face on. His new hospital didn’t carry the channel that our beloved Celtics were on so we dived headfirst into the Bruins during the winter. The tv’s were standard definition and impossibly small but I enjoyed every game that we saw. Well, except for 2009 against Ohio State. I think I might have scared one or two nurses that day.
I was fortunate enough to attend the same university as my dad and we commiserated with each other about the frustrations of following a middling mid-major basketball program. In the last ten years we saw them play in two conference finals for a ticket to the Big Dance but they couldn’t bring it home. I called him from the conference tournament last year. We finally had the #1 seed and home court advantage but got bounced in the semis. “We’ll get ‘em next year”, he’d always say.
My dad viewed my increasing obsession with Michigan with a sort of curious fascination. Being from the Northeast he wasn’t much of a college football fan. He cheered for Notre Dame because we are Irish Catholics and he also had a soft spot in his heart for the Wisconsin Badgers. He’d laugh as he listened to me rave about the Maize and Blue. When Denard was setting the world on fire last year I couldn’t wait to see him on Sunday and make him watch the latest jaw-dropping play. He told me, “It looks like Rich Rod has found his guy”. We wanted to get out to the Big House to see a game together but it wasn’t to be.
On Saturday we held his funeral. I tried to stay stoic for my mom, my sister, and my aunt. After the burial and the reception my mom and I went back to the gravesite for some closure. We talked about what he meant to us and I was finally able to cry. Then my friends picked me up and we went out to a sports bar in town and saw the most amazing football game of our lives. As Roundtree came down with the game winning TD I got up and screamed “that’s what I’m fucking talking about baby yeah!!!”. I know my dad was up there laughing and smiling at my reaction. I’ll never forget the range of emotions that I went through on that day.
Sports are such a big part of the bond between a family. Do me a favor and go watch a game with your old man or give him a call. A lot of you are fathers yourselves. Take time to share with your kids what Michigan means to you. It may be the most important thing that you ever share with them. I’ll close with a quote from one of my dad’s favorite bands, the Moody Blues:
Time, take this sadness from me
Time, bring my heart back safely
Hold on to warm September
Cause life can be like December Snow.
Let's just take a short, much deserved moment to step back out of the normal game week things we do, and look at the big picture. Now, I understand that the big picture has been looked at multiple times on this blog, In fact, my eyes are burning. But please permit me this.
Last Saturday was a surreal experience, even when witnessed from my couch in Evansville, Indiana, 500 miles south from where most of you got to sit. I'll just say that I firmly believe most of the Irish fans that are calling us lucky. No matter which way you look at it, when there were 30 seconds on the clock, I knew that even Christ Jesus couldn't pull it off by himself, but I knew we were going to, somehow.
This whole season is one big transition, which is kind of awesome, and kind of blows. On one hand, while there is still a glimmer of hope that we'll be smelling roses in a few months, most of us realists have come to terms with the fact that that just won't be the case, no matter how wrong we'd like to be. On the other hand, we don't have to spend every minute of every game tight-sphinctered wondering if we're finally going to have ten wins, if this is the game that got our coach ousted (whether we wanted it or not) or who was going to be the next man to take the field as Head Coach this coming September.
Folks, we are indeed playing with house chips.
We've already played a game that officially never happened. We also played another game that was so exciting that inmates in third world countries are talking about it. But as far as the rest of the season, what say we just enjoy this short amount of time when irrational expectations, over amped theories on what WE SHOULD DO THIS YEAR, and the general hub-bub of those amazing ESPN sooth seers who can not only predict the future, but don't lose their head at the request of the king after they are wrong year after year, when all of this nonsense that is sure to come, has decided to leave us alone for at least a little while.
Let's just sit back, and crack open our cans, and sing "The Victors" for the first time in a while, without a doom cloud hanging over us.
Here's to Hoke, in all of his stoic glory.
Here's to Denard, who I'd let date my daughter and I don't even have one yet.
Here's to that defense that wants so badly to be better at what they do.
And here's to waking up at 8am on that chilly late-November morning, my stomach wrenched in nervous tension, waiting for Ohio, and the only expectation i have of this season, or any season ever....winning on that day, that can be both macabre or marvelous, in every sense of the word.
Okay, so I’ve watched the Michigan/Notre Dame game 4 times now (3 times too many on offense). I will admit that the first two were for enjoyment…obviously; the last two were to really get a feel for what exactly happen. Also, I wanted to try to figure out where we go from here. So here it goes…
DE: D+(I'm going to do my best not to rip Craig Roh so bad everyone hates me. Plus I know recruits parents read these board as well as some players. With that said...Craig must still be sick. I really wish he would've redshirted this year.
Can Koger play WDE? I'm serious. No really, I'm serious. I'd try him out; if he could play 15-20 plays and be effective it would help us SO much. I don't think he would be effective, but I'd try it...can't get any worse.
And with THAT said...can Roh catch? His brother is a possession WR. If HE could give us 15-20 plays at TE or H-Back it would help us SO much. I don't think he would be effective, but I'd try it...at least he'd be contributing.
I'm sorry this is mean, but the truth can hurt...and what hurt was watching Craig bear hug OTs all game. He may have gotten off 2 blocks, seriously. Something is wrong, he's sick, right? Or he need to get in the weight room...OR he should switch to offense. He doesn't even provide a pass rush even though he has moves and good technique...he can't get pass OTs. *sad face*
JiBreel Black IS the pass rusher, barring the other team doesn't run a lot of screens or draws. THAT kid can get to the QB, however he over runs the play a lot and can be schemed against easily because he has NO contain. So we'd be crazy to start him over Roh because teams would just read-option, screen, counter, draw and misdirection us to death and Black would be out of position every time. Black is the PERFECT pass rushing WDE. But be sure it’s a pass. Like REALLY sure, not "it could be a screen/draw, but we think it’s a pass" sure. Black still plays too high and struggles vs. the run. I’d run right at him or Roh every down if I had the chance. We’re going to have to move Campbell in, RVB out, and Heininger over in run situations.
Brian keeps saying we have no WLB, no Brian, we have no WDE! Just a hard worker and a situational pass rusher. Can Heininger or Brink play there? Don't think they're athletic enough to be better, but that would be my move.
Speaking of those two, they're average. Average in every sense of the word. We would be SO much better off if we had a DT that could play inside all game, move RVB to the SDE position and then play Heininger/Brink against the run at WDE and Black against the pass...SO much better. Heininger got BURIED on one play in the 1st quarter when ND was about to go up 14-0. He’s kind of just “there,” good enough to take advantage if teams try to cheat off him, but not good enough to make a play on his own.)
DT: A(Martin is a beast. 2nd or 3rd team All American, first team All-Big Ten. He did get caught dropping into a zone, they ran a draw and he was missing. Van Bergen works his behind off, he'd just be better holding down the edge. He's like Huyge of the defense when he plays DT...maybe a little better. Nothing too great, nothing horrendous. He needs to be on the outside where he can hold down the run and still make more plays pass rushing than Heininger or Brink can.
Mr. William Campbell, welcome. Will played a GREAT game. Sigh, finally. Hopefully he gets better because if he can move RVB to SDE and the to SDE's to WDE in run situations, we just got a lot better. I’ve said this like 5 times now, but Heininger/Brink v. run downs, Roh v. regular downs, Black v. passing down at WDE gets me tingly inside. Because I know we’re better at SDE with RVB there and we’re bigger at DT with Campbell there.
However, it's like a dream because BWC, Q and Ash can't play consistent enough to hold down that DT spot next to Martin. If only, if only...)
Q got knocked on his ass one play, .5 seconds into the play…shows what good technique can or can’t do. Hopefully he gets better and if 75% Will and 25% Q can equal a whole defensive tackle, we’ll be in good shape.)
LB: B+(Brandin Hawtorne, good work. Gold star. Did you make every play? No. Did you over run some plays? Yup. Were you out of position on some plays? Uh huh. Did you make every tackle? Nope. But what you did do is bring an effort and energy to this defense that was in desperate need of. Also, the speed. Hawthorne plays FAST. You know how you hear coaches say "if you miss, miss fast?” Well, that's what Brandin did...he was flying around and when he did mess up, it wasn't a lack of effort or him just standing there...(I'm looking at YOU Mr. Ezeh!) It was awesome to watch a LB actually move. Actually get across the line of scrimmage. Brandin has a lot to work on, but if he puts work in during practice and film, I think we have a starter at WLB. He made plays in pass coverage (more than I realized until I watched for the 4th time…he definitely got after the QB, and he helped stuff the run).
Demens still makes me mad. Not because he did anything wrong, seems like a great kid, parents should be proud. He's just so good and consistent that I still can't figure out why it took so long for him to play. So it’s a good mad. He DOES have to play better in pass coverage though, he just floats around a lot and doesn’t have a tight zone.
Cam Gordon must be really good if he's still over Jake Ryan at SLB. I truly believe he was at the beginning of the year, but like Hawthorne will get, Jake's now got experience. IMO, that position is now his. Move Cam to WLB and let him battle it out with Hawthorne. Then slide him to SLB in passing situations UNLESS you're rushing the passer, in that case, Ryan needs to be in. ORRRR play both on passing downs, Gordon at SLB and Ryan at WDE. He (Ryan) is better and stronger than Roh (sorry, another shot...won't happen again, it honestly hurts me cause I love Roh, I want him to play well as much as anyone).
Back to the LBs, they played pretty well as a unit; however they need tighter zones in pass coverage. Speaking of pass coverage? Where is Mike Jones? He was always a pretty good LB in passing situations.
I told everyone Desmond Morgan was gonna be a player when we got him, loved his film. However, I wasn't talking about in game #2 as a true freshman vs. Notre Dame - under the lights!!! He's not even close to ready and I don't think anyone thought he could've been. He's the most ready LB to contribute because he's smart and has the size. But that game was too fast for him. He should’ve started vs. EMU not Notre Dame. Poole has to get bigger, Beyer and Clark too for their roles. Morgan can hold up now...but he's simply not good enough yet. I was expecting him to be like Bobby Carpenter at OSU a few flashes and then boom, huge RS junior and senior years. Special teams NFL player.)
CB: C-(Floyd, sigh, same ol’ CB, just a different game...too cocky for my liking, too slow for CB, and can't tackle for SHIT so he's worthless at safety. Where do you play him? I'm not just talking about him going against one of the best 3 WRs in the country. To me Floyd is STRICTLY a zone CB. Do not let him play man! Ever! Play zone, let him get physical and jam a WR and fall back into his zone and read the QB, that's where he's actually pretty good. That’s how he got his interception. He’s a ZONE CB, hear me?! A ZONE CORNERBACK! Everything else? Not so much.
Woolfolk, dude, stay healthy!
Avery...I keep saying this, but Avery is not an outside CB. He's amazing in the slot, love the fluid hips. He's also great in man coverage. But he's too small to play on the outside. He goes from good/great to average when you put him outside.
Woolfolk should play wide-side CB and back off the WR. Floyd should play short-side CB and jam the WR. Avery should play the slot. They should never switch because seriously those are like the only spots at CB that any of them can play. (If anyone can change its T-Woolf, but the other two are locked in.)
We need to get Countess and Anderson on the field to give these guys a rest and to provide flexibility at CB.
Obviously Michael Floyd killed them, Riddick had a big day. But they weren't god awful, they just weren't good and they were playing roles I don't think puts them at their strengths.
Again, I would lock Woolfolk to that wide spot, lock Avery into the slot...even as a nickelback. I'd pay Floyd primarily in zone and then Countess/Anderson in his place primarily when we run man.)
S: B+(Not too many gigantic plays, Kyle Rudolph isn't still running down the field #camgordon@deepsafetyfail! Kovacs is still the man, he's such a smart player, we really have to stop talking about him as a walk-on and start talking about him as a potential late NFL pick (he'd be perfect with the Patriots)...he has no speed to keep up with even average college WRs, however is so smart that he's always in position, he reads the offense well and he makes sure the defense is set (assuming they can at least halfway lined up, unlike the first two drives of WMU)...he's got a shot. He played well against ND. I’m serious about the NFL, a late round or undrafted FA safety, special teams/practice squad player…commentating on BTN/ESPNU or coaching for a MAC school in 5-7 years.
Thomas Gordon is like Brandent Englemon 2.0, just a safe player, but not going to make many plays or get you killed. He's the exact opposite of Cam Gordon last year who was going to get a wild INT or give up a 95 yard pass.
I'd prefer Ed Reed, but whatever, I'll take it.
Marvin Robinson should only play if he's stopping the run or rushing the passer (which he doesn't do much, but I'd love to see him blitz) Using him as a 3rd safety and taking Ryan off the field was a fail. That last ND TD wasn't his fault, he was asked to do too much, even though it was his assignment.
Where is Carvin Johnson? He'd be better as the 3rd safety than M-Rob unless M-Rob was brought on in a linebacker’s type role like they did with Tommy Hendricks back in the day (see Rose Bowl vs. Wazzou). That would be a good fit for him actually.)
Overall: C+(Average night, would like to see less than 31 points…but some of that was playcalling rather than the players screwing up. Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs aren’t walking through those doors.
Like many have said…we show blitzes too early and don’t make checks after the offense makes checks.
We do a good job of slanting and bringing blitzes behind it to stop the cut back. Also a solid job of making adjustments to the offense.
Tackling was “okay.” Some good sticks…some Desmond Morgan misses.
Cover 3 failed…I wrote this regarding it yesterday: “On the last TD, we ran Cover 3 and had Marvin Robinson up at the line disguising a blitz and dropping to the deep middle and he couldn't get back in time.
It was a smart call on 3rd and short because you drop 5 guys short and cover the quick out, hitch, slant, etc. However, you can't disguise the deep safety and expect him to get back...M-Rob was in a dead sprint and wasn't even close. Like one blogger said, Ed Reed is the ONLY person in football that can make that play. The ONLY one.
IMO you disguise it like it's Cover 2 or Cover 4 with 2 deep safeties...then you run one of them up into one of the short zones and have the other slide to the deep middle if you're playing Cover 3. You can still have 7 guys in the box and make it look like you're going man on all the WRs and sending the house. It's very possible Rees reads man or cover 2 and checks to a quick slant or hitch, you bail out at the snap and drop a LB right into his passing lane for the INT (see this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et3_UXSHugc&feature=related (we didn't disguise shit on that play, but we rushed 3, dropped 8) ...it's the opening play).
And for the record, I don't like the play at ALL when it's 3rd and 9 like it was during the Kovacs INT. IMO we got away with one. The LT for ND was too busy trying to think of the 2nd line to the chorus of Katy Perry - Firework and totally didn't see Black or whoever that is coming off the edge. If he's even half blocked that's a potential touchdown.”)
Michigan State will actually wear this (HT: allinforM) when they host Michigan on October 15. The Fulmer Cup runs, the Florida Atlantic "home" and home series, replacing Sparty with Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino: these were just the precursors to MSU's ultimate goal of Becoming South Florida.
Ohio State also gets the Ken-doll-in-a-hospital-for-the-criminally-insane treatment for their game against Wisconsin. At least they got the bird poop off the helmets:
In other Pro Combats released today, Stanford and Georgia are auditioning for the cover of the next White Stripes album. Navy came through pretty unscathed (history buffs/tea partiers will be likin' the "Don't Tread on Me" undershirt), as did Army. The relative normality of these uniforms has nothing to do with the Ranger division that's been camping near Portland, nor the carrier group stationed several miles off Cape Meares. Really. LSU already uses purple in its scheme so it's not like they can get much worse.
That is all.