The upcoming Michigan - Michigan State game has a certain life all its own inside my brain right now. There are weird images (a feral MSU linebacker with no facial features except glowing eyes gnawing on Denard's bad knee after a tackle)...
...uninformed thoughts (why doesn’t GERG use press coverage when blitzing?), stark colors (radiant maize, cerebral blue, chyme green and an ink cloud of black despair waiting to descend, hovering just out of view), graphic sounds (Fight Club quality bone crunching, the Victors after the winning touchdown, a cartoon whoosh whoosh whoosh sound in my mind that accompanies every Denard breakaway), numbers (200/200, 120, 0.73663, 480, 9-3, 877, 16, 4) and a whole lot of emotions; quite honestly, more bad ones than good ones. All this wraps up into an ill-defined knot inside me as I both anticipate and dread the opening kickoff.
It occurred to me that 25 years ago my impressions of Saturday's contest would be so different as to be unrecognizable. I was just as big a fan back then. Yet, today, my love of Michigan football has so many more data points as to render my 1980s fandom a primitive, low-tech thing resembling Ken Mattingly in Apollo 13 sweating inside a simulator with a flashlight between his teeth trying to figure out how to splash down a spaceship on 20 amps of power.
All this data has, I think, distorted our view of the game. We have analyzed our way into believing that Michigan State is an emerging power that inevitably must eviscerate a statistically helpless Michigan defense.
I say hogwash.
Two decades ago, I would be moving about my week calmly expecting a Michigan victory, because two decades ago it would be the résumé that mattered, not hyper-analysis of data that promotes fear and generates such concepts as RPS-3, Chappellbombing and PAN. My understanding of the team would be that we have a great offense with a great quarterback and a schizophrenic defense, but that we were still winning. I would never have tried (and failed) to figure out a Cover-2 zone or known our national pass defense ranking or even known where Greg Robinson had coached before.
But I would know the résumés, and based upon the résumés, I would have concluded that an oddly unbalanced, uncharacteristic Michigan team nonetheless possessed the strongest résumé of any team in the Big 10.
Say what?! Prove it.
No numbers; we are in a variable-free zone and channeling both 1985 and common sense at the same time.
Michigan Wolverines Résumé
Michigan has beaten two major teams back to back, the second one on the road. The first was a beatdown of a bowl winning team from the year before with almost everyone back. The second was an always talented and very emotional Notre Dame team at home with an unexpected bonus: a competent coach. Michigan won its first Big 10 game, an away game against a serious offense. A shaky squeaker against a good FCS team mars the résumé.
- Ohio State? Four home games with a solid win against a charitable Miami team, three cupcakes, and a lackluster win over a bad Illinois team. Fail.
- Iowa? Not bad, but they lost to Arizona. Fail.
- Wisconsin? Three cupcakes, a squeaker and a beatdown. Fail.
- Northwestern? Five cupcakes with extra icing, cherries, sprinkles and a cream filling. Fail.
- And Michigan State? Five home games, three cupcakes, a less impressive win against a common opponent at home, and a solid win against an overrated Big 10 “power.” Fail.
If preseason polls were outlawed and this year’s Big 10 teams, like 11 sprinters in the blocks, were off at the sound of the gun, Michigan would be in the lead. That’s what I would have known.
I am going to finish my week calmly expecting a Michigan victory.
Okay, now that I've got your attention... this really isn't just about a tee shirt, and it's certainly not about me.
Cancer fighter. Source of inspiration. Devoted Father. Wolverine.
Most of you all know his story by now. Diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma at a very rare early age, Phil has made a choice to aggressively fight this thing with a pride and passion only a former Wolverine could muster. Spend some time on his blog, and I'm sure you'll be more appreciative of your own family and life this weekend.
Some of you may already know that Phil is an honorary captain for tomorrow's game. Look for him to be featured in the first quarter, and I almost dare you not to stand at your feet for this courageous guy. But, perhaps you feel compelled to help, and would like to do more. Well, you can!
Phil and his foundation CancerKicker.org/DomiNATION are hosting a TAILGATE event tomorrow morning/afternoon to raise awareness and (hopefully) funds to help fight Multiple Myeloma at UM. There'll be balloons, bracelets and other items there, including a t-shirt I designed in Phil's honor:
To my knowledge these shirts will be available for purchase, although they're sure to go quickly. If you want one stop by, or if you just want to help, Phil's team, led by his sister Brooke, are always looking for more volunteers to pitch a hand. If you'd like to get involved, the team offered this information:
They're meeting at 6am on the north end of the golf course, and hopefully looking to get a prime spot in the first row. Their spot will feature maroon balloons with 'MM' on them. And their itinerary is as follows:
- :: Cold Breakfast & Hot Coffee (you do not need to show up at )
- :: MM domiNATION Outreach Instructions (Teams pick up maps, bracelets and shirts)
- :: Pep talk from Phil Brabbs
- 11:00-1:00/30 :: MM domiNATION Outreach
- :: Tailgate (food and drinks provided)
- * :: MSU vs UM Game (Phil will be honored as the Honorary Captain in the 1st Quarter)
- :: Post-game Tailgate (food and drinks provided)
- *if you aren't going to the game, you are welcome to hang out and watch the game from the tailgate
My only wish is that I could be there!! But I hope to hear that you all stop by, and do your part in helping Phil fight the good fight not only for himself, but for all of the other patients sharing his diagnosis at UM and across the globe. Do your part to help KICK CANCER!
|Kicking Team Position||42|
|Kicking Team Probability||25%|
|Kicking Team Expected Pts From Own 42||2.71|
|Kicking Team Net Expected Pts||.68|
|Receiving Team Position (Onside)||58|
|Receiving Team Probability (Onside)||75%|
|Receiving Team Expected Pts From Opp 42||3.47|
|Receiving Team Net Expected Pts||2.60|
|Kicking Team Expected Pts (Normal)||0|
|Receiving Team Position (Normal)||25|
|Receiving Team Probability (Normal)||100%|
|Receiving Team Expected Pts From Own 25||1.90|
|Kicking Team Net Expected Pts (Onside) = .68-2.60||-1.93|
|Kicking Team Net Expected Pts (Normal)||-1.90|
|Advantage of Normal||.03|
(please allow for rounding adjustments)
So, yeah. That works a lot better in Excel, but hopefully you get the point.
A few other scenarios from Excel:
- If the kicking team has a 26% chance of recovery, as Brian cites in his post, there is no advantage to a deep kick (-1.90 expected points onside, -1.90 expected points normal).
- If the kicking team has a 25% chance of recovery, but the normal kick results in a drive starting at the receiving team's own 32 (maybe more likely with our kickers), there is a predicted .30 point advantage (-1.93 vs. -2.23) for an onside kick.
One more thing: as per the borrowed data, this assumes an average offense and defense (I've employed a DENARD Constant in my spreadsheet, but it is difficult to represent here).
In conclusion, this is as much an appeal to The Mathlete (and others) as it is an effort at meaningful contribution. I have no background in math or statistics, so if there are massive logical flaws in the above, please feel free to rip me in the comments.
I posted this a couple of days ago as a comment in a thread, but it got buried pretty quickly, so now that I can post diaries I thought I'd post it again.
I wanted to look at the breakdown of Rich Rodriguez's previous offenses, and in particular the main QB's run-pass balance and the fraction of runs by the QB. I'm only looking at RR in Div 1A (so Tulane OC, Clemson OC, WVU and Michigan), and I'm skipping the mess that was the 2008 offense. Data comes from the year-end statbooks for each team.
Here is the overall production chart. QB is the main QB (from what I could tell) - in 1999 Brandon Streeter got a lot of playing time (mostly passing), and in 2001 Rasheed Marshall got a decent amout of playing time.
|Year||Team||QB||Pass Plays||Pass Yards||Rush Plays||Rush Yards||Total Plays||Total Offense|
|2001||West Virginia||Brad Lewis||357||1811||475||1992||832||3803|
|2002||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||279||1753||714||3687||993||5440|
|2003||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||252||2034||600||2762||852||4796|
|2004||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||259||1993||590||3034||849||5027|
|2005||West Virginia||Pat White||193||1398||625||3269||818||4667|
|2006||West Virginia||Pat White||233||2059||590||3939||823||5998|
|2007||West Virginia||Pat White||265||2067||628||3864||893||5931|
|2010 Proj||Michigan||Denard Robinson||285.6||2887.2||547.2||3892.8||832.8||6780|
|Year||Team||QB||QB Pass||QB Pass Yards||QB Rushes||QB Rush Yards||QB Total Offense|
|2001||West Virginia||Brad Lewis||237||1339||54||41||1380|
|2002||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||259||1616||173||666||2282|
|2003||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||215||1729||101||303||2032|
|2004||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||171||1426||130||684||2110|
|2005||West Virginia||Pat White||114||828||131||952||1780|
|2006||West Virginia||Pat White||179||1655||165||1219||2874|
|2007||West Virginia||Pat White||216||1724||197||1335||3059|
|2010 Proj||Michigan||Denard Robinson||230.4||2419.2||235.2||2172||4591.2|
Denard has already had more passing yards and almost as many rushing yards as 2005-era Pat White. If he averages just over 100 yards passing per game for the rest of the season he'll have more passing yards than any of RR's QBs other than Shaun King. If he kept on his current pace (unlikely), he'd end up with almost as many yards as 1997-era Shaun King. If he averages just over 60 yards rushing per game for the rest of the season he'll have more rushing yards than 2007 era Pat White. For total offense he would need to average just over 160 yards per game to best Pat White's best season, and just over 315 to match Shaun King. At this point it looks like Denard is the best all-around QB Rodriguez has had to date: almost as good a passer as King and as good/better a runner as Pat White.
Next I want to look at the breakdown of plays and yards between run and pass, and in particular the QB's share of production.
|Year||Team||QB||% Rush Plays||% Rush Yards||% of Runs by QB||% of Rush Yards by QB||% of Total Plays by QB||% of Total Offense by QB||QB % Rush Plays||QB % Rush Yards|
|2001||West Virginia||Brad Lewis||57%||52%||11%||2%||35%||36%||19%||3%|
|2002||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||72%||68%||24%||18%||44%||42%||40%||29%|
|2003||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||70%||58%||17%||11%||37%||42%||32%||15%|
|2004||West Virginia||Rasheed Marshall||69%||60%||22%||23%||35%||42%||43%||32%|
|2005||West Virginia||Pat White||76%||70%||21%||29%||30%||38%||53%||53%|
|2006||West Virginia||Pat White||72%||66%||28%||31%||42%||48%||48%||42%|
|2007||West Virginia||Pat White||70%||65%||31%||35%||46%||52%||48%||44%|
|2010 Proj||Michigan||Denard Robinson||66%||57%||43%||56%||56%||68%||51%||47%|
The first two data columns are the percent of all plays and all yards that come from all runs. The third and fourth are the percent of all runs and rush yards that come from the QB. The fifth and sixth are the percent of all plays and all yards that come from the QB. The seventh and eight are the percent of the QB's total plays and yards that come from his runs.
RR has historically varied a fair amount in how much of his offense comes from running the ball - this year we're about average for what he's done in the past, and less run-oriented than for example 2005 West Virginia. However, our rush offense is by far the most QB-based of any previous offense, far outstripping the one-man show of 2000 Woody Dantzler, and 2007 Pat White. If we look at total offense, this year's team is more QB-focused than any of the Clemson or WVU teams, but actually on par with the Tulane teams. Looking at Denard's run-pass balance he's actually right around Pat White's typical split, though he is certainly more run-focused in his production than any of RR's other quarterbacks.
This is just a high-level overview. I can't break down the kinds of running or passing plays RR is using from this data. The offense certainly feels very different than the Pat White-era WVU teams in formation and play style, and the YouTube highlights of Woody Dantzler I've seen have the QB iso type feel that we're seeing a lot from this year's team. I think the main message is that even within his system RR will adapt his style, both at a high level and at the formation/play level, to match his talent - which is what he should do.
Question; can a game that unfolds almost exactly the way you thought it would unfold be considered "weird?"
Chappell looked like a great pocket passer. Willis did his damage in limited oportunities. Denard was Denard (except when he wasn't).
But here's the weird thing. That game made me feel a whole lot better about the years to come, but it also made me feel a whole lot worse about the rest of this season. That is to say that I've come back down from the ND high of WOOOOOO dENARD!!!! WHOOOOHHHOOOO! Back down to 7-5 or 8-4 reasonable expectations. (Yes it is entirely possible we go 2-5 from here on out, and I'm steeling myself against that scenario. Still hoping for 12-0 of course!)
I know the mathlete just put up some good predictions that has us at 9 or so wins. Unfortunately our defense has a couple of things that just aren't going to be fixable for this season. Those two things are named 'inexperience' and 'James Rodgers'. It's never nice to get on a kid's case and call him out by name, but...yeah.
HOWEVAH! In the near ironic board meltdown following the close win, I had to take a stand against some of the negativity and offer up some silver lining for the maligned defense. After breaking down the tape, I'm even more convinced that Robinson knows what he's doing, and that we've got brighter days ahead next season and beyond.
We are soooo close to having a good defense. I mean it is litterally just a matter of inches, a few fractions of a second. A defense needs to be consistent to force punts and end drives. We actually managed quite a few of these in the second half. The 2nd half drives read Punt, TD, TO on downs, TO on downs, Punt, TD, Game. That's not that bad.
Right now we're getting a mediocre play, a good play, and then a breakdown that extends a drive or gives up a TD. If we could just get to mediocre, mediocre, mediocre, good, we'd be stopping teams left and right. But like a chain, we're only as good as our weakest link, and right now we've got lots of young babby links out there that need to get battle hardened.
The good thing is that it looks like some of them have very high ceilings. Talbott, for one, looked half decent in man coverage. Floyd is impressive, even though he still makes lots of mistakes. At least he's making them at full speed. To be as good as he is, as young as he is, is a very good sign. (Of course if JT is reading this, just know that you're no Chuck Woodson, sorry can't let you get a big head)
No it wasn't perfect, no it wasn't good, no it wasn't even satisfactory in any way other than that we got the W. But if you're looking for positive signs, there are plenty to be had. Against 90-some odd plays, the defense only really had 3-4 really bad schematic clusterf*CKs. And it's only fair, (and in fact constructive) to point these out.
Constructive criticism is specifically pointing out mistakes in particular situations. It's not being a chicken little crying for someone to be fired and whining "WHY DID WE ONLY RUSH THR3333??!" If you want to be like that, please do us all a favor and take it somewhere else *cough*mlive*cough*.
When I look at this defense, I'm reminded of watching our offense from 2 years ago. You can see how the scheme is supposed to work. But we've just got too many mental errors or people that can't quite get to where they need to be fast enough. As they get more reps and things become reflexive, this defense will get better. (A few stud bluechips at DB and LB would help a lot too).
So Let's do this.
The 2nd play from scrimmage!
The line gets good movement (as they should against the Hoosiers)
There's an unblocked safety.
But Denard makes him miss.
AND! He gets downfield blocks that send him on his way.
Every week he provides more evidence that he's the real deal. Have you ever seen a cooler customer on the final drive? It's 2nd and 2 with :47 seconds to go.
The clock is running, he just picked up 8 yards on a rush. TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK-TICK. Get the damn play called! But Denard is completely zen. He even drops his mouth piece after calling the play, scoops it up,
and calmly rushes the ball to midfield.
Receivers are MAKING PLAYS!
Roundtree, Stonum, and Hemingway are all threats with the ball in their hands. The national media is of course focusing on Denard! (WOOO!) But when receivers are catching the ball, making people miss, and then running 70 yards to the house, they deserve some major props.
This is a base zone read bubble pass:
Both defenders on the end get taken in by the fake.
The hoosiers are actually in great position to either blow up this play or stop it for a moderate gain. There's only one blocker for two defenders.
But because the ball is put perfectly in front of Roundtree, he's got upfield momentum and gets past the first man who had beaten his block.
Then he just runs around the unblocked safety to take it to the distance. Even tho' it is only Indiana, this is still awesome.
Hemingway had his best performance that I can remember.
This is a play Brian gave RPS +4 on, I might argue for more. BOTH safeties and both linebackers are selling out to stop the run.
The man covering the slot is concerned with the bubble pass, leaving an empty mid-zone, i.e. no one between Hemingway and the ball.
And then he displays a nice stiff arm to free him on his jog to the endzone.
And I will never get tired of this play.
Denard takes one step towards the line and the defense craps its pants.
It's just wide open. Make that "Oh, WIDE OPEN."
Griese to Tuman or some other TE on a rollout was my favorite play for a long time, but this has replaced it.
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, and 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 cooly throws it away.
How the D is supposed to work.
Everyone hates the "Bend but don't break" philosophy especially when you end up being broken on half the drives. But in some situations, it is the right call.
It's 3rd and 10 near midfield. If you get a stop, they probably have to punt. Both corners are playing soft. Rogers is playing a bit more soft to compensate for his lack of speed (and reflexes, and acceleration...)
This 2-deep coverage is meant to give the impression of man-to-man (and it would have if Rodgers was in the same time zone as his receiver...)
We've got 4 guys along the first down marker, the only man open is the short crossing route, which we gladly give up because we've got two men in position to make the tackle. Result is a punt.
Mike Martin continues his path of destruction
Sometimes it's nice to have a good scheme.
Sometimes it's nice just to have a player who's been around the block and is a man beast that can lift small cars with one hand.
This is a really well-executed screen by Indiana's linemen.
They get 4 (FOUR!) linemen out in front of the play. But something clicks in Martin's head and he diagnoses what's up.
How many nosetackles can run down a running back from behind? WOW. Mike Martin; Killing ragdolls and savin' our bacon. This would have been an easy TD for them.
Going to the Chappell
In retrospect, we gave this guy way too much time to pick us apart, and he delivered. His decision making was excellent, and he was very quick with most of his reads. The interception was both a bad throw and a bad read, but when a guy throws for 480 on you, there's not much to criticize.
Quit Dossing around
I was impressed with how many ways Indiana was trying to get the ball to Doss. They did an excellent job of taking what we were giving, and taking it all day long. But they had a lot of wrinkles prepared.
On the 1st drive they put him in motion to get an unexpected bubble screen.
Floyd rolls back into a deep cover responsibility. The problem is Rodgers who is probably supposed to move up into more of a run support role. Of course, he's so untalented that the coaches are probably not trusting him to play close to the line, so he stays back.
It looks like a run to the right, and our end man is completely sucked in and roh doesn't go with Doss, leaving him wide open for the bubble screen.
With Rodgers playing so far off his receiver we have what looks like a three deep.
This play picked up huge yards as both of their blockers are holding, which wasn't called.
Later when we faced this motion, we made good adjustments to it schematically.
Because of his offensive line, I think he's going to be an underrated back all year long. He reminds me of a slower version of Evan Royster.
On this play he's got enough burst to split the partially blocked linebackers.
And he nearly runs through Floyd's arm tackle to go the distance, but looks like Floyd put some stickum on and he gets dragged for a lot of yards before finally bringing Willis down.
Here he is releasing to the flat:
We've got the bunch formation well covered, but the OLB to the bunch side is showing a blitz.
It's a disguised coverage meant to get Roh an interception.
Unfortunately, Kovacs is too far beyond the sticks. Chappell sees this and takes advantage.
We're so close to stopping this drive. But the walkon safety doesn't have the speed, so he's playing too far back, and can't come up quick enough.
But we adjusted to it later.
On this play, Floyd reacts to Willis going into the flat.
T-Gord on the other side has the bubblescreen covered. And since it's zone, Floyd is free to pass his man to the LB.
What blows up this play for a TFL is Floyd's aggressiveness coming up and a nice job by the D-linemen to track down the ball.
Talbott had a pretty quiet day, which is a good thing for a DB. He spent most of his day locked onto Belcher in man to man. This is one of the reasons Doss got so many balls thrown to him.
Here they are at the bottom of the screen.
Belcher is bigger and phsyical, but Talbott is fighting nicely.
The combo slant and outcut was just too finely executed on this play to stop. But if you can force the receiver to make a great diving catch to beat you, that's not something to be too broken up about. It's way better than the automatic 7 yards that was being given up wherever Rodgers lines up.
Wait what? Yeah, this is here just to be nitpicky coaching pursuit of perfection stuff. After Denard tweeked his knee, we had a bunch of bad drives in a row. He missed a wide open Hemingway on a pump-and-go:
Had three overthrows in total.
This should have been 6 pts.
And he needs to throw the damn bubble screen more!
Not every play needs to be a 70 yard TD. (MWAHAHAHA, I love that I can even type that sentence). There's 3 defenders for two blockers, but the OLB is flat-footed. Denard needs to read that and take the 5-yard minimum gain. When you've got WRs like ours that can MAKE PLAYS!! you need to give them the ball and not take unnecessary hits to your bruised knee.
Here's another one, This time it's 2 defenders for 1 blocker. But with the corner that far off, it's an automatic 5 yards. Denard, your mission from now until OSU is to win games and DON'T GET HURT!
FWIW, Tate's only pass of the day was a bad screen flare where he put the ball on the wrong shoulder and that killed his only drive.
Inexperience on D
It's really difficult for young players who are seeing funky formations and plays for the first time.
Indiana has 5WR and puts one in motion all the way to the far sideline. We've got 4 deep, (IN THE REDZONE!!?!?) And there's mass confusion.
Nobody goes with the motion man, and we're so far off the ball, we're inviting a 7 yard hitch on either side.
Both OLB's blitz leaving Avery? to cover three men in space. Lucky for us that Chappell decided to take the easy seven yards. Had he thrown to either short man on the right, this would have been an easy TD for them. You have to say this was a bad scheme on this play.
But Indiana tried to come right back to it.
This time, we're locked into tighter man coverage. Maybe that's only because we're on the goaline, but at least this alignment doesn't look completely insane like the previous one did.
I'm a big advocate for this kind of combo package coverage where you've got some men in zone coverage, but the others 'look' like they're in man. The whole point is to make it difficult on the opposing QB. And only rushing 3 allows us to do that.
And when Mike Martin is busting through the line, it makes you think you can get away with a 3-man rush.
But Chappell is a cool customer and sidesteps the rush just enough to buy some time and find the open man, who gets behind a flat-footed Mouton.
A lesser QB could not have made this play against this D. We've got good coverage all over the field and a man about to run him over. But he still finds the right receiver and delivers a good ball under pressure.
Good call: Mouton is just a step slow to react. Chappell makes a great read and throw under pressure.
Sometimes, we've got guys in position, but they're just not quite aware of the sticks or reacting quick enough to what's in front of them.
On this play, #5 is in position to make the tackle, he's just too far behind the sticks.
So Doss muscles forward for the 1st down. It would have helped if Roh had taken a better angle.
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 Mouton, so his false step here was not going to help anyone. And of course Rodgers was in his usual position.
Floyd leaps for the ball, but between his mistake, and the safety playing way too soft, there's a ton of room for Chappell to lob the ball into. If only Floyd could jump as high as the linebackers in NCAA05, it would have been an automatic interception...
C-Gord does lay a nice lick on the TE who does a good job of holding onto the ball. Gordon had lots of good hits, he just needs to not be giving up so much room underneath.
Here's another play where the safety is back way too far against the bunch formation.
I mean, he's not even in the picture. Literally.
We've got 2 out of 4 receivers decently covered.
But Gordon is way too far off to make a play on this deep out.
Roh in space
So the big controversy on defense this week centers around whether Roh is better utilized as a pass rusher or can he be a true OLB? I tend to lean towards the camp that says he should rush more often than drop, but his athleticism makes it tempting to try more things with him.
Here he is in pass coverage:
He takes one false step going wide instead of getting depth.
And that gives Chappell just enough room to hit the slant.
Schematically he's in the right position. But he's just slow to recognize the play. You need lightning-quick reactions on defense and that comes from experience, film study, and repetitions. Like Alvin Mack, you need to know who to kill and where to go against a huge number of plays.
But for anyone who wants to pick on GERG, just look at this later play when Roh gets it right:
Against the bunch formation, Roh gets depthin because Rodgers (who again isn't in the same area code as his receiver) has outside flat responsibilities.
This was one of the few poor decisions Chappell made (the other was the interception). He has the flat for the 1st down, but gets greedy and goes back to the seam route. This time, Roh is in position to make it a more difficult throw.
Chappell has to get it over his tall reach and overthrows the receiver.
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.
You can tell that it's a mistake by Roh because the DE is already upfield making Roh's instinctive rush redundant.
But later in the game, he sees it and makes the play:
From virtually the same alignment, this time he picks up Doss and slides outside of the DE.
Kovacs (who is by far our smartest player, if I could put his mind and heart into Mouton's body, and then clone them, we'd be just fine on Defense) is not letting the TE get a free release, something I think we should do more of. One of the LBs is going with Willis.
Everyone is in pretty good coverage, except the comeback route is open for a 1 yard gain. I don't mind giving that up.
The Gordons and Talbot look fairly talented and will get better with more PT; they just need to tighten up to the receivers and react a hair quicker, but they look like they'll be solid next year.
Denard's fumbled snap.
He also put it on the ground on another run. This needs to be fixed. When WVU was really clicking, the only time they lost was when they had oodles of turnovers. With our defense we cannot afford to not score on drives.
James "Serta" Rodgers.
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.
It's like he has no idea what the down and distance are. Either that, or he's just not capable of doing anything about it.
This was a 3rd and very long, and he gives up an easy first down.
At this point he needs to be taken off the field on some plays. With opposing offenses looking for him, maybe his absence will cause them a moment of confusion. There's a great story about how QBs were so focused on finding Lawrence Taylor before the snap that one time when he was on the bench, the QB was so confused he had to take a time out.
Seriously, if Cullen Christian or any converted WR can pull a Talbott and just give the impression of being able to cover someone, it'll be a step up from what we've got now. It certainly can't be any worse.
Clusterf*ck against the unbalanced line.
This was probably the single worst defensive play from a schematic standpoint. Give credit to Indiana for coming up with a good play, but we were completely out of position on this and we played it bad on top of that:
Indiana comes out in an unbalanced line. Unfortunately NO ONE sees it. Or at least no one adjusts to it. Doss goes in motion and Floyd floats back as if that was a short corner with no WR over there.
Patterson? is in the wrong gap. It's up to one of the safeties or Ezeh to see the formation and get the nose tackle to slide over. Instead, we've got 4 guys covering two linemen. Just days after I ripped Indiana for doing the same thing against one of their cupcakes, -- guess what -- we did the same thing:
C-Gordon reacts to Doss's end-around fake, and the O-line takes a hard first step to their right. So now, not only are we not lined up right against the unbalanced, they've put us essentially two men down on that side by their at-the-snap movement.
Mouton and Ezeh get sucked in by the fullback heading to the left, and we've got three guys covering air. Meanwhile, since the center has no one to block, he's free to release onto Ezeh.
Floyd takes himself out of the play by following Doss (which is not a terrible thing if he gets the end-around, but it's entirely unnecessary against this unbalanced look. Roh has got it in his mind that he's pass rushing, and that makes for an easy kickout block. Carvin Johnson (#13) is about to be destroyed by someone who weighs about 150 lbs more than him. And C-Gord is so far out of position that there's nothing he can do. But hey, we've got 4 guys who could stop the end-around...
And so Willis gets to run through a hole you could drive a truck through, and laughed his way to the endzone completely untouched.
Not sure what happened with Taylor on the last TD because the cameras cut away. But it might have had something to do with the awesome DOUBLE pancake block he got after Denard had leapt through the hole.
Denard is still TEH AWESOEM! But he has things he needs to work on.
WR, major props.
GERG is not the problem. (Rodgers is)
And Roh has the capability to get better as a LB in space.
Last week we saw Points Per Posession for the offense as a tempo free metric to see how good our O is. With that in mind I wanted to look at PPP for our defense. This is a little tough as the NCAA doesn't put it all together so you have to go back to each drive and pull in the drive numbers. So I went ahead and did that for 2010 so far and got this...
|1||-9||0||Punt||71||7||Rush TD||53||3||FG Good|
|5||48||3||FG Made||19||0||Punt||79||7||Rush TD|
|8||49||0||TO on Downs||24||0||Punt||24||0||Punt|
|9||42||0||TO on Downs||77||0||EOH||70||7||Rush TD|
|11||66||3||FG Made||26||7||Pass TD|
|4||64||7||Rush TD||99||7||Rush TD|
|9||69||7||Rush TD||33||0||TO on Downs|
|10||8||0||Punt||50||0||TO on Downs|
Note that the items in italics were not counted as I decided they shouldn't be counted - a couple other EOH drives were counted because, at least to me, it seemed obvious the other team was definitely trying to score.
All that data chrunched in this:
Ok, so thus far our D is giving up just over 2 points/posession - hmm (and OMG, Thank God IU wasn't as efficient as UMass). That doesn't sound that good - rather than compare it to tOSU or MSU I thought I'd compare it to our 2009, since most of us have a pretty firm grasp on what we thought of that D (I'll update with the rest of the Big Ten next week but I don't have the time just yet). Also, for 2009 I used our first 4 and Delaware State. Chart...
|Opponent||Western||Notre Dame||Eastern||IU||Delaware St|
|1||6||0||Punt||69||0||FG Miss||8||0||Punt||80||7||Rush TD||-1||0||Punt|
|3||6||0||Punt||56||3||FG Made||79||7||Rush TD||-5||0||Punt||5||0||Punt|
|4||0||0||Int||76||7||Pass TD||8||0||Punt||67||7||Rush TD||2||0||Punt|
|6||-14||0||Punt||17||3||FG Good||36||7||Rush TD||52||3||FG Made||14||0||Punt|
|9||80||0||TO on Downs||17||0||Punt||6||0||Punt||8||3||FG Made||14||3||FG Made|
|11||85||7||Pass TD||36||7||Rush TD||55||0||TO on Downs||72||3||FG Made||76||3||FG Made|
Again the italized EOH drives were not counted in the following:
Ok, great, so now we know exactly much worse our D is this year than last year but we also played Sparty last year so let's see how that turned out...
|10||45||0||TO on Downs|
So using that same Sparty 137% over achieving you end up with the D doing this...
Eeek! So how many point are we looking at? Well, the average number of drives faced thus far in 2010 per game is 12 and the average number in 2009 was 13. Last year Sparty had 11 countable drives so I'll call that a wash compared to this year. With that in mind where does that leave this years D vs Sparty?
Well - 2.91*11 = 32 points and if we give them another posession they get 35 points.
Summary - well, it looks like comparing this years data to last years data our D might be giving up another 14 points in this game but our O is also much better. The next natural step is to look at how MSU is performing this year compared to last and merge the two sets of data but, as I said, that's for another week as it's already Thursday and I've got work to do!
My prediction (knocking on wood, throwing salt over shoulder, every other non-jinxing thing you can think of) UM 38-MSU 35 (I think we'll get a 27 yard FG at some point along the way).
I welcome any suggestions/additions and I'll try to update this weekly and expand it to all of the Big Ten and just have summary data in the future so as not to make it too long.
Update: I've updated with the fixed numbers for the IU EOH TD and pushed the prediction to 38-35 - maybe that 27 yard FG will come at the end of the game?
Update 2: For Mat - I've run the Offensive numbers comparing ourselves to last year and, in a word, NNNOOOO!!!!
Keeping UMass and DSU in the calc I ended up with our O only getting 57% of it's expected output (OUCH!) with about 1 posession more per game. Even if we throw in that extra posession our expected offensive output is only 2.058 pts/posession leaving us at 25 points. Of course 09 was bouyed by the DSU game pulling in over 5pts/possession so if we take that out that game you end up with an expected offensive output of 26 for 11 drives or 28 for 12 drives.
Basically, our O is going to have to do MUCH better against their D than they did last year if this is going to be a win because last years O didn't do squat (60% <= squat).
Also, something of note to give hope for this years O vs last years (even after accounting for drive efficiency) is the massive decrease in number of negative yardage drives (not just plays but entire drives!).
2009 negative yardage drives through 4 OOC + IU = 9
2010 negative yardage drives through 4 OOC + IU = 2.
I'm still sticking to my prediction but, hopefully, the UM O will do better against MSU than it did last year otherwise we're going to be hurting.
In case you're curious our O, as mentioned in another diary, is at 3.614 PPP. If Sparty is going to get the 35 points predicted above and we get 12 posessions we'll need 3.166PPP to get to 38 or 3.5PPP to get to 42 - both below our season average.
Again - knocks on wood, throws salt over shoulder, yada yada yada...