...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Yesterday I put up an analysis of a simple iso that cut back behind Mike Martin and picked up ten yards. In the comments Magnus mentioned he thought this must be a mistake on someone's part because when you have the DT and MLB both heading to the playside A gap your defense is no longer "gap sound"—ie does not have one guy in every place a tailback can go—and things like ten yard iso plays result.
This resulted in some discussion about how the MLB's job in the 3-3-5 is to "make the nose right", IE fill the other A gap depending on what the nose does. This is a phrase unleashed to the world by Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 DVD, and I think it's what West Virginia does with its middle linebacker. It's evidently not what Michigan is doing with Demens when he's aligned in what I've come to think of as the Gergbacker position. Demens doesn't have time to make anyone right because he's too close to the play; he picks a side of the line and goes into the guard.
Another commenter complained that I shouldn't criticize Van Bergen for getting locked out upfield on this particular play because I can't be sure what his assignment is. That's true and a frustration I often have but amongst Wisconsin's brain-melting array of second half runs there is a serendipitous iso that Michigan stops that demonstrates the trends from yesterday's post and suggests that the key guy on a cutback is indeed the backside DE.
It's first and ten on the Michigan 41 in the midst of Wisconsin's first soul-crushing ground based touchdown drive of the second half. Wisconsin comes out in the same I-form they showed on the play featured yesterday. Michigan goes with basically the same stack look as well, though they've flipped Kovacs and Avery. The backup DL (Banks, Patterson, Black) is in:
A moment after the snap we see a difference: the backside tackle is releasing downfield instead of blocking Banks out of the play. That's left to the TE. He gets slanted under:
A moment later we see that Patterson is getting playside of the center… and Demens is shooting into the same gap to take on whoever shows up. Banks is sliding down the line behind them; also note that Jibreel Black has beaten the block of the RT and is coming upfield.
At the handoff point Patterson is beating his guy and Demens is about to slam into a guard at the LOS. In doing so he halts all progress from both the G bubbled over him and the FB. Massive cutback lane would result, except Banks is right on the center's hip. Black is now through the tackle totally and converging; tailback has nowhere to go:
Wad of bodies…
…and two yards.
So. To continue the Week of Defensiveness, usually these plays are picked because they illustrate a larger trend—Kenny Demens runs at the playside guard all day and eats facemask, and I'm pretty sure the design of this defense has a backside DE assigned to an A-gap. My choice here was between criticizing Van Bergen for getting locked out so easily or Greg Robinson for putting him in a tough position. The right answer is some of both, probably.
Object lesson type objects:
- This is a slight variation on the play yesterday. Yesterday Wisconsin kept the backside T in to block Van Bergen and ended up blocking Mouton with a guard. Here the guard attempts to slide over on Patterson and the T is assigned Mouton. These seem like subtly different playcalls with the first designed to cut back and the second to go straight upfield.
- Kenny Demens really does just run to the playside A gap all game, where he enjoys a scone with the DT. Here it works, though the next play is a 12 yard Down G run, the play after a four yard power play, and the play after that a 23-yard Down G touchdown.
- So that means your options on the cutback are backside DE or no one. Here Banks gets a relatively easy task since the guy lined up over him heads downfield and he can just slide along the line; Van Bergen had that guy blocking him. Still, the results were not so good and were repeated on a number of other runs.
- I'm pretty sure this is a bad idea. And not just on general principles! Having the backside DE clean up behind the NT seems like a thing that would work in the 4-3 where the backside DE is actually a DT inside of the tackle. In this scheme he releases downfield or he's got what seems like easy work to seal out a guy who's supposed to be an A-gap player.
- How about Jibreel Black beating a block and being useful on a run play? Woo progress!
An annual tradition. Special bonus this year: holy pants there are no seniors. Usually I skip a bunch of anonymous walk-ons who never saw the field unless they have a silly name; this year this is it.
It goes thump. Sometimes
it catches or drops a pass.
Mostly it goes thump.
Bad back, outed grades
but through it all a kickin'
Been around forever
Witnessed the Horror up close
Football purple heart
Thrown into the fire
just two weeks after switching
'08: the nutshell
One last swing hits sod
A shaft of daylight strikes down
Hello two deep
Hurling hockey kids,
the largest man in Quebec came
and he was all right
Took the Moosman crown
as player most likely to
impress your TA
Why did you tattoo
"Stand around, think about plants"
across your torso?
BONUS NOT MEAN HAIKU
Like Schilling, lived
through every last awful bit
and never complained
The west wind in fall
brings everything, and then
Walk-on captains are
pretty much always
The last vagabond
a-wander from spot to spot:
Dread Pirate Rogers
COMMENCE THE SYLLABLE COUNTING.
On the fumble return, "I was thinking 'scoop and score' like you talk in little league." Patterson was encouraging him during the runback. Was exciting to be able to score.
It's a learning experience to be in his first year on the field. Helping the team was the goal all along, and he's glad to be able to do that.
Position change is good for him because it's good for the team "I'm a football player and I want to play, nothing to it but that." Everything is coming at him faster at the new position, and the field is a bit more compacted. Being physical is his biggest strength. It's not confusing to switch positions for the third time. He's just a football player and loves being on the field.
Wisconsin: "They have some pretty good backs, the o-line is big. We'll see how it looks this week." When they put up 83 on Indiana, his only thought was "that's a good team." "They put up 83 against Indiana, not against us."
The defense's attitude has changed. "'I don't care attitude' - in a positive way" has been the defense's calling card for the last two weeks, and they'll continue with it. If the opponent gets a big play, they have to move on and not care.
Found out he was going to start within minutes of the beginning of the game. Was excited to get his first start. "It's was kinda hard to relax, but you know." There have been points where he wondered if he'd ever get the opportunity to start. Was motivated to prove himself. Filling in for Mike Martin "It's a lot of pressure." Need to step up when he goes down, even though it might be tough to fill his shoes.
Going through the coaching transition: "I feel like it's an experience that's really prepared me for my future and for life." They aren't that different, but this staff is a lot more intense.
When Cam Gordon was returning the fumble for a TD,"I just kept trying to tell him 'keep going, keep going.'"
Team will be focused to prepare for Wisconsin. "Wisconsin always has a big offensive line, and they always have a good offensive line." You respect them, but the goal is to prove you can compete with them. "You also come in with the mindset that this is going to be a very physical game."
Wisconsin scoring 83 against Indiana has motivated the M defense to make sure they don't have a bad performance themselves.
On the defense: "I really feel like the swagger is getting there. Every game we play is a stepping stone." The defense is developing, and they learned this weekend what they can do if they play up to their potential.
"To go out there and to win these next to games is very motivating." Trying to show what they can do, and improve bowl status.
"If the team ever needed me anywhere, I would do it. That was my whole mindset." He's going to get his degree, and to play football and get playing time is just an extra benefit to that.
Since the Illinois game, the defense has been more loose, and they're translating it to the field. "It's a good way to go into the game. Our swagger and everything about our defense got a lot better, and it's perfect to go into the Wisconsin game."
Not worried about Wisconsin's 83 points against Indiana "I guarantee you they're not going to score 83 points on us." Wisconsin is a powerful team, but Indiana backed down a bit at the end, and Michigan won't do that, they'll fight to the finish.
Will miss running through the tunnel after doing it the last time this weekend.
"I hope they throw the ball my way a little more, I haven't seen much action lately." Wants the chance to build up some stats. You just had two interceptions: "Yeah, FINALLY."
"I've seen Courtney grow a lot even when JT was there." He'll be a great player in the future and has stepped up. Vinopal has stepped up in a tough position. Talbott and Christian have also done a really good job as true freshmen.
"We need this Ohio State win bigger than anything. That's something we've been waiting on, and our focus will be on that really soon. We've gotta take on Wisconsin first."
Main difference between Carr and Rodriguez eras is a major step up in the conditioning.
Lots of memories about touching the banner, etc., excited to have one more time to do that. Wants the seniors to leave with a win.
The change in coaching staffs has made for an unexpectedly interesting experience. "Hopefully this is the year that Michigan turns the tide." Ohio State "That's the big one obviously, and they've got us however many 6 or 7 years in a row." Winning in Columbus would set the program up for years to come.
Ryan Kerrigan is a great player. "We weren't running the ball very well, and got into third and long." That allowed Kerrigan to get after the QBs a bit more.
"The energy has been there the last two weeks" for the defense. Even though they struggled a bit, they want to prove themselves again at the end of the season.
Wisconsin is always tough against the run. Michigan is coming off a poor rushing performance against Purdue, so they'll need to be back on their game to have success.
There are keys to victory for every week, and ball security is on the list every week. "You can't win games with turnovers. The last two we were lucky to come out of there with a win."
It's always important to take care of the ball, especially against a grinding team like Wisconsin.
It's impressive that Wisconsin could put up 83 points. "I didn't really think much of it. Obviously Wisconsin's a great team, but it didn't make me scared or anything."
Important to send the seniors out with a win in their final home game. Glad they were able to get to a bowl game for those guys. "We all wanna win, for them it might be a little more important."
Denard responds well, even after he makes mistakes.
"We're not content with anything." Want to win the last two games. "We're gonna go and and we're gonna fight in those two games."
Tries to stay ready for the occasion when he gets the ball on the reverse, but isn't begging for it to get called.
Different receivers prefer different routes, but it's their job to work them all in practice. "If you're in that position, and they happen to call the play and you've gotta run that route, you're gonna run that route."
This was the one beacon of hope on the defense, provided mostly 4s. The preview was extremely high on one Mike Martin:
… it's time for Martin to make the same leap Brandon Graham did between his junior and senior years. I can't offer anything more powerful than this wonderfully ungrammatical assessment from Jibreel Black:
You look at the rest of this defensive line and there’s a lot of talent there, but is there anyone in particular that you look at and say, ‘wow man this dude is better than I thought he was? ‘
“Not necessarily better than I thought he was, because I know all of them are good, but when I see some plays that Mike (Martin) makes in practice, I be like dang. His explosiveness, his technique that he uses. You can tell the work that he put in with it.”
I hope to be like dang for large sections of the season. … I'm not sure if Martin will be on All Big Ten teams after the year, especially at a position at which statistics don't always tell the tale, but I'm confident in asserting he should be on them.
The preview misidentified the Banks/Sagesse combination as the other defensive tackle when it's primarily been Banks on the field and he's always a defensive end when Michigan goes to its four man front. The two were regarded as meh interchangeable pieces on par with Rondell Biggs, the Other Guy on Michigan's ridiculous '06 line. In sum:
Michigan's formations will go some way to determining which player gets more time. In three-man lines Sagesse is clearly going to be a pass-rush liability as a defensive end, but when Michigan goes to four (or brings in the "double eagle" package with the DEs lined up over the opposition guards) Sagesse's got more heft. I wouldn't be surprised to see both lifted for Jibreel Black or maybe Craig Roh on passing downs.
Take your pick of adjectives: workmanlike, yeoman, gritty, etc. Expect something okay here; the upside is low, but so is the downside.
Backups were not encouraging: "Everyone is worried" about Will Campbell's ability to stick after getting lit up in limited time as a freshman and falling behind Adam Patterson on the depth chart. Patterson was not projected to be good:
He'll play; I don't think he'll be much good. The dropoff after Martin will be similar to that Michigan experienced when Graham came off the field, though less severe since Martin won't be Graham and the backup is at least a senior.
Ryan Van Bergen and Craig Roh were treated as defensive ends, something that's been true for them about 50% of the time. When Michigan goes to a four-man line Roh is the weakside DE; he's a linebacker otherwise. When they're in a three man line Van Bergen is the strongside DE; he's still a three-tech DT otherwise. RVB in a nutshell:
Van Bergen knows the position [DE], was recruited to play it, and is entering his fourth year on campus with a season as a solid starter under his belt. Least useful phrase ever: he's not going to be Brandon Graham. Mitigating phrase: but he should be solid. At a spot more amenable to pass rush and with more experience, RVB should brush up against double-digit sacks and see his UFRs climb into the consistently good realm inhabited by, say, Tim Jamison as a senior.
Roh was given a 3 as the deathbacker and dubbed "the Denard Robinson of the defense," which was true last year but cannot be true this year since Roh hasn't decapitated three opponents.
The catch in the Craig Roh explosion is this niggling move to the 3-3-5, where he's a strongside linebacker. …No one's sure how much Michigan will be running a three man line this fall but it will be some, which will give Roh the ability to attack from surprising angles and use his vertical speed to get into the backfield. It will also expose him to play action, counters, and other plays he's not used to dealing with much that can take advantage of the inability to change direction that had everyone projecting him as a defensive end despite being linebacker size. Now, you could just say he'll blitz all the time but that would get predictable; it would also impinge on Jonas Mouton's ability to do the same thing, and Mouton's a guy who has the exact same strengths Roh does. They'll have to split the fun bits where they tear into the backfield.
All this makes it difficult to project what Roh will do this season. A guess: doubling his 7.5 TFLs and significantly adding to his two sacks is a good bet. I don't think he'll be a crazy star just yet, but I expect to be saying the same things about him next year that I'm saying about Mike Martin this year.
Fast forward to NOW!
I be like dang about Mike Martin. Fears about turning him into a mediocre nose tackle proved unfounded. The move to the 3-3-5 has actually freed him up to slant past offensive linemen and splatter running plays or unleash thumping pass rush up the middle. Despite essentially missing the Iowa game he's amongst the team leaders in TFLs with 5.5 and has 2.5 sacks. He's got 23 tackles, as well, an impressive 16 of those solos. He went into beast mode against Notre Dame, racking up an 11.5 and proving himself too quick for one guy to do anything with:
He followed that up with an +8.5 in his toughest matchup to date against Michigan State:
At the end of that game he got hit with a cheap block and sprained an ankle that saw him play like a ghost of himself in the Iowa game. He eventually missed the second half.
Van Bergen has also checked in around expectations. He wouldn't look out of place on Michigan defensive lines of yore when the defense was actually good. He's not making a ton of tackles (just twelve) but has two sacks and four of Michigan's eleven QB hurries on the season. He's been hovering around the +4/+5 area that's a decent to good day for a 4-3 DE, and since he's not a 4-3 DE those numbers point towards an above-average player. He was even an impact player against MSU with a drive-killing sack and solid play against the run. He tied Martin's numbers on the day.
The Banks/Sagesse combination has disappointed. Sagesse hardly sees the field. Moving him to the outside when he seemed like a functional DT last year is and was a strange move. It's hard to imagine he'd be less effective than Patterson, and with Michigan moving towards four-man lines against pro style offenses he could have reprised his role from last year as an okay backup to Martin. Though Banks leads the team in sacks that's because Ricky Stanzi inexplicably ran out of bounds, Indiana busted a protection, and one of the nonconference snackycakes was a nonconference snackycakes. He delivers no pass rush and often finds himself single-blocked effectively. Michigan's been trying to get freshman Jibreel Black more playing time in response; they're finding it hard to keep him on the field because right now he's horrendous against the run.
Finally, Craig Roh has not made the hoped for leap in production. This is largely not his fault. He's not a linebacker, he's a weakside defensive end, and when you put him in space he makes a lot of bad zone drops and is often beaten in one-on-one situations by far more agile receivers. He's okay in man coverage against a tight end, but he's hovering around 250 pounds—he is the wrong kind of mismatch against a WR.
Michigan put his hand on the ground against Notre Dame to good effect…
…until Brandon Herron went out with injury and Michigan felt forced to put him at linebacker. Roh had a +11 on the day; Herron hasn't seen the field since and Roh's been stuck at LB in Michigan's 3-3-5. As a result, he ended up solidly negative against Indiana. The pro-style attacks of MSU and Iowa saw him put his hand on the ground 70-80% of the time; Roh ended up in the +4/+5 RVB zone after both games.
Fast forward to LATER!
At this point it's obvious that Will Campbell is not going to have an impact on the defense this year, so things are settled and relatively static at three positions.
Martin's ankle is 90% of the variance in future performances from the Michigan defensive line. Since he was healthy enough to at least try against Iowa and has had a bye week the assumption/hope is that he's shaken it off and can resume his backfield-terrorizing ways. He should continue to perform at an all conference level; his numbers will probably come up short because no one can cover long enough for Michigan to get sacks.
Roh and Van Bergen are a level of play down from Martin; at this point in their careers they're both good Big Ten players but not stars. Roh should be improving more quickly than anyone else on the line because of his relative youth. Hopefully by the end of the year he can make more impact in the pass rush and Michigan can reliably get pressure with four.
The strongside DE spot currently manned by Banks could see a late switch as Michigan coaches keep trying to get Black playing time. Unfortunately, he's an obvious liability in the run game and opponents will have scouted this by now. They've already installed a run/pass platoon there, so all that's left is to throw Black in the game and hope.
Prediction accuracy to date: Complicated by the error when it comes to positions. RVB is about a 4, as is the combination of Martin and Banks. Roh is about a 3. If I'm ranking them by actual position the strongside DE is a weak 2, the DTs a 5, and Roh still a 3.
Level of play relative to prediction: About right; main error was being too optimistic about the Banks/Sagesse combo.
Expected level of play for remainder of season: No change unless Michigan manages to get Herron back and decides to roll with Roh as a 3-3-5 DE, something that will only be relevant against Purdue and maybe Illinois.
Substitution notes: Patterson played the entire second half and big chunks of the first as it was clear that Mike Martin was not recovered from the late MSU cheap shot. RVB never came out; Black cycled in for Banks, mostly on passing downs. Fitzgerald got a few snaps as Roh's backup. At LB, Demens played the whole way except for the first few plays of Iowa's third drive; Thomas Gordon and Carvin Johnson rotated with Gordon appearing to get most of the time.
Formation notes: Okay, Greg Robinson, I believe you. This defense is indeed "multiple." Michigan played a little stack, a lot of it with two deep safeties:
That's a stack with the bandit in a deep half. I called it "stack two deep."
Michigan played some 4-3, and they played a lot of a 3-4:
This is different from a 4-3 with a standup DE because of the alignments of the DL, who are head up on the C and Ts. That's just a 3-4, straight up. Early in the game they were using Floyd as the WLB, but after a couple issues with that they put Kovacs in the box and used Floyd as the overhang guy. This appeared to be a response to Iowa's heavy use of twins.
The past two weeks the defense has used more 3-4 and 4-3 than stack, FWIW, so its heavy deployment in spring and fall may be an artifact of the team it's going against. Against spread outfits Michigan has been almost all stack.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|My copy of the game does not have this play. It was a one-yard run on which Demens made the tackle.|
|O39||2||9||I-form twins||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Demens||-3|
|Iowa overloads the wide side of the field with a covered TE and another TE in motion to act as a lead blocker. RVB takes a double as Iowa looks to run away from Martin. Roh(+0.5) drives the playside TE back a bit, creating an obvious gap where the play will go that Demens(+2) reads and fills before the guy peeling off RVB can get to him. He sets up in the hole with that OL grabbing him around the waist; with Johnson(+0.5) set up outside in a spot to prevent a bounce and Kovacs coming from the backside Robinson is swarmed for a loss.|
|Happy feet from Stanzi here as he doesn't even let his receivers try to test the middle of the field before checking down to the tailback. Cover +1, I guess. Roh(+0.5) was sort of coming through the line, possibly forcing a throw. Rogers(-0.5, tackling -1) comes up to meet Robinson after about five yards and offers a dodgy shoulder-block of a tackle that does manage to get him OOB but does not inspire anything resembling confidence.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O44||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-4||Pass||5||Slant||Demens||Inc|
|Kovacs blitz; no one gets home before he throws on three-step rhythm. It's a slant that Mouton(+1) reads and arrives as the ball does about six yards downfield. Receiver has to leap to catch a slightly high ball and Mouton hits him into the air, exposing him to a Demens(+1) killshot that shakes the ball loose. Cover +2.|
|Martin(+0.5) gets some pressure but doesn't matter since Johnson(-1, cover -1) has screwed up his zone drop by sticking too close to Demens and his guy, opening up a slant. Should be a first down but McNutt drops it.|
|O44||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Penalty||?||False start||?||-5|
|O39||3||15||Ace 3-wide||3-2-6 dime||Pass||3||TE out||Talbott||5|
|Stanzi checks down (cover +1) to a TE for five yards; Talbott(+1, tackling +1) is there to tackle immediately, no funny stuff.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O16||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4?||Run||Inside zone||Ezeh||14|
|Ezeh comes in. I'm not sure what to call this formation since it's got Johnson on the slot receiver and a three man line with the guys aligned as 3-4 LBs, except the WLB is JT Floyd. Martin(-1) is single-blocked and doesn't do anything to disrupt the play. This allows a guy out on Mouton. I'm not entirely sure what the responsibilities are here, but though Ezeh(-1.5) is indeed humiliatingly pancaked by a guard, Kovacs(-1) is flowing hard to the frontside of the play and gets caught way out of position when the cutback comes. I think this is on him and not Mouton but I'm not sure. Without the rolled up S anywhere near the play Robinson shoots right into the backfield with just C. Gordon(+1, tackling +1) between him and the endzone; Gordon makes an important, solid open-field tackle.|
|O30||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||3||Hitch||Roh||11|
|Two deep safeties for the first time. Iowa goes straight dropback and Michigan drops eight; Roh(-1, cover -1) does not get a deep enough zone drop despite Stanzi looking at his receiver all the way.|
|O41||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Banks||8|
|Michigan's only got six guys in the box for this with two deep safeties and T. Gordon covering the slot guy. Again, I'm not sure who's got what here but I think this is because Michigan's blitzing JT Floyd(-1) from the corner and he's heading at an upfield angle and cannot recover to flow down the line for the cutback. Banks(-1) did get controlled and blocked downfield, giving the RB the angle to get by Floyd, and I do think Ezeh ran himself out of the play unnecessarily. There are three guys on the frontside and just two on the backside so a smart guy would figure this is cutting back. Kovacs(+0.5, tackling +1) comes up to fill well, though he had more time than Gordon to react.|
|O49||2||2||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Floyd||5|
|Banks(+1) gets playside of his guy and forces a bounce well outside where Floyd(-1, tackling -1) sees his tackle run through.|
|Demens back. I don't think this is on either linebacker since Demens(+0.5) and Mouton(+0.5) each have to carry routes to the safeties and end up dropping deep. Floyd(-1, cover -1) doesn't have anyone and still bails out, opening up the dumpoff for a bigger gain than it should be. No one anywhere near the QB (pressure -1) .|
|M35||1||10||I-form twins||Base 4-4||Run||Off tackle||Mouton||19|
|So the DL here is Black, Patterson, Sagesse, and Fitzgerald. Doom? Doom. They hit a gap outside of Black; Kovacs has to come up and fill the outside and takes a block. This is what he has to do to force it back to help but there is no help. I think M's alignment is messed up since they've shaded the line to the open side of the field and the linebackers are basically even(RPS –1). Sagesse(-1) is chopped to the ground immediately. This is bad. I think it makes Demens(-0.5) suck up into the gap that forms because he anticipates the cutback lane is open. He takes a block and bounces off it but is delayed. On the playside Black(-0.5) is walled off by a double. Mouton(-2) charges into a gap that Patterson has somewhat controlled, losing leverage. Once RB is through the crease he's gone.|
|M16||1||10||I-form twins||Base 4-4||Pass||N/A||Waggle cross||Floyd||Inc (Pen +2)|
|PA rollout sees two guys in the route. Deep guy taken away by the coverage(+1) so Stanzi checks down to a TE cross that Floyd(-1, cover -1) is all over, but he grabs the guy around the waist and gets a legit call. For some reason the refs put the ball at the 14 instead of the 9 and no one notices.|
|M14||1||10||I-form twins||Base 4-4||Run||Power off tackle||Roh||0|
|Roh(+1) slants inside as the tackle moves to the second level immediately. He takes a blocker with him, sitting down right in the intended path of the RB and absorbing the FB's lead block. RB bounces into Floyd(+0.5), who read the receiver's attempted block and set up to contain. He's such a terrible tackler, though. Demens(+0.5) scrapes through two half-blocks to help finish.|
|Corner blitz convinces Stanzi that he's got the guy who Floyd has just vacated so he tosses it; Kovacs(+2, cover +2) jumps it and gets both hands on what could be a 95-yard Rick Six but can't hang on. Pressure(+1) was coming so Stanzi had to get rid of it. (RPS+2)|
|Michigan in three-deep, but Courtney Avery(-3, cover -3) does the same thing he always does by chasing receivers all over the field, opening up this drag for a touchdown. Rogers(-1, tackling –1) could have stopped this at the sticks but loses leverage, etc. Stanzi had to throw because Roh(+1, pressure +1) was about to waste him. One freshman playing anything approximating zone and this is a FG attempt. Picture-paged earlier today.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 1 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M49||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Pass||N/A||Rollout throwaway||Demens||Inc|
|Another two-man route covered(+1) well by Michigan. Demens(+0.5) perceives the lack of underneath threats and comes charging up on the edge to force a throwaway. Maybe I'm just not used to a routine play here to give a plus-half, but there it is. I like his decision-making.|
|M49||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||4||Screen||?||15|
|Michigan rushing four and dropping into a zone as Iowa runs a middle screen. Zero DL come even close to reading it, leaving four blockers in space against… uh… Kenny Demens. He charges up and gets hacked down by one of them. About all he could do. Secondary converges after the sticks. RPS -2; no idea what any individual player could have done there.|
|M34||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||Black||3|
|Black(+1) does a nice job to slant through two Iowa OL and should draw a holding call as an Iowa TE yanks him from behind but does not. His presence in the middle of the play does force a bounce; Floyd keeps contain and Mouton(+0.5) gets free to help with the tackle and prevent any YAC.|
|M31||2||7||Ace twins twin TE||Base 3-4||Pass||4||Corner||Rogers?||31|
|I am not sure if this is on Rogers or Gordon. I think it is Rogers because Michigan is running three-deep and Johnson(+1, cover +1) has the out to this side of the field blanketed. The pass goes to the deep corner of the endzone where a deep zone should be in cover three; Rogers(-3, cover -4) is not there. No one was anywhere near Stanzi (pressure -3). It looks like Gordon was burned over the top but he's in cover three so he should be jumping the post cut on the assumption Rogers has his back.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 13 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M48||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Banks||4|
|So they've switched Kovacs and Floyd here, with Kovacs the nominal WLB and Floyd the nominal overhang guy. Michigan LBs hit it up quickly—they're probably depending on Iowa to run the max-pro routes on PA they've run before—and Mouton(+0.5) takes on a guard at the LOS. Robinson bangs into the mess; Patterson(+0.5) has actually come through and threatens from behind but Banks(-0.5) has been kicked out too far and Floyd(-0.5) is hesitant. He meets Robinson two yards downfield and gives up two more.|
|M44||2||6||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||5||Hitch||?||16|
|Kovacs in a two-deep instead of at the line. Michigan runs the Floyd corner blitz again and gets burned (RPS -1) as Iowa adjusts to the Kovacs near-pick on the last attempt to kill it by shortening up the route. Mouton(+0.5) got a free run but with the wide open guy on the sideline it doesn't matter. Stanzi hits him, Kovacs tackles.|
|M28||1||10||Shotgun twins 2TE||Base 3-4||Pass||3||Sack||Banks||-4|
|Eight man drop does cover(+2) everyone this time but the pressure(-2) is nonexistent. Martin is out and this is sad minus Martin. Stanzi rolls out, Banks chasing him. Stanzi inexplicably runs OOB instead of chucking the ball away.|
|M32||2||14||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||5||Dumpoff||Banks||Inc|
|Banks(+1) gets inside the Hawkeye LT and comes right up the middle, with Roh(+0.5) providing supporting rush (pressure +1). Those two force a dumpoff to the tailback behind the LOS that Demens(+0.5, cover +1) probably has nailed for no gain; ball is upfield and bounces off Robinson's hands.|
|M32||3||14||Ace 3-wide||3-2-6 dime||Run||Delay||Mouton?||15|
|Michigan in a three deep shell with six DBs on third and forever, which okay. RVB(+0.5, seriously) slants inside his blocker and forces a cutback. Black is understandably way upfield. Mouton(-1) takes on the wrong side of his blocker with the cutback, and with just five guys in the box it's a long way to the next M defender. Those guys are Avery, Kovacs, and Gordon, and somehow the three of them give up the extra two yards for the first down. Alright. I'm not going to put my fist through anything. 1) Avery is 20 pounds too light to stiff the momentum. 2) Kovacs is physically deficient still and with a receiver pushing the pile can't stand it up. Both get -0.5s for being tiny. Gordon had little chance to do anything given the angles of the play. Michigan would have been much better off without the cutback, but what can you do? Argh.|
|M17||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Inside zone||Martin||5|
|Martin(-0.5) back in and gets clubbed back. At this point it's clear he just doesn't have it. Thanks, MSU cheapshot. Demens(+0.5) does a good job to close the forming frontside hole and force a cutback; Banks(-0.5) blows his pursuit angle and is too far upfield to tackle at the LOS; Mouton(+0.5) did a good enough job with his guy to delay the back slightly and allow Banks to come from behind and tackle.|
|M12||2||5||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Van Bergen||2|
|Similar to the last play but RVB(+0.5) is slanting down the line along the line instead of two yards upfield so the cutback lane isn't there; Mouton(+0.5) perceived the cutback, hit his hole, and helped tackle.|
|M10||3||3||Ace||Base 4-4||Pass||N/A||Rollout out||Floyd||6|
|Motion reveals Floyd in man and eight guys on the LOS reveal a lack of crazy robber zones, so Stanzi can roll out and be confident he's got a window to hit on this out route. He does; Roh does okay on the rush but can't get past the RB instantly, and Stanzi's pass is accurate against good but not great coverage. RPS -1.|
|M4||1||G||I-form big||Base 4-4||Run||Power off tackle||Mouton||4|
|Sagesse(-1) gets crushed out of the hole but Roh(+1) stands up his guy, shucks inside, and convinces Robinson to maybe bounce it. He decides against it since that's going to be closed off, cutting back inside. Mouton(-1) is there. Mouton *was* there until the feigned bounce saw him head way to the playside where he had no hope of doing anything. That combined with a guard crushing Johnson(-0.5) into the endzone is a touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-21, 4 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O29||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Demens||0|
|Martin is out for the remainder. Nowhere to go this time as the M DL provides no gaps. +0.5 to Banks, who held up to a double well, Mouton, who took on a TE at the right spot to prevent a crease, and Kovacs, who took on a block and held. +1 Demens, who saw the gap forming when Patterson(-1) got scooped out of the play and hit the releasing center at the LOS, removing a developing cutback lane. Floyd(+0.5) contains, forcing Robinson back inside and allowing a gang tackle.|
|O29||2||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||3||Out||Rogers||8|
|Four yard out picks up a few YAC to set up third and short; Rogers(-0.5) in the area but not able to tackle quickly because of a general lack of athleticism. Avery actually dropped back into a zone well here, so there's that.|
|Probably goes for the first here except for Kovacs(+2) blitzing untouched from the outside reading the draw, changing direction, and tackling for loss. Demens ate a block but I'm sympathetic here since this is a draw against what looks like man coverage and he has to respect the threat of the guy as a receiver. Mouton should have scraped faster, IME. RPS +1.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, 11 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O14||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Floyd||3|
|Patterson(-1) scooped and sealed easily, allowing the Iowa C out on Demens, who's trying to scrape to the hole but now has lineman in his face. Banks(+0.5) holds up to a single block well and closes the hole down, giving Floyd(+0.5) a fairly easy job to come up and tackle after a moderate gain.|
|O17||2||7||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||1|
|Patterson blown down the line as they try another zone play; with both playside DL getting doubled Demens hits that gap hard, cutting off the frontside. However, Patterson(-0.5) getting washed down the line so far and Banks(-0.5) getting kicked out leaves Mouton(+2) in a ton of space against a lead blocker on a play likely designed to cut back right here. He avoids the TE but gets tripped; he was aggressive enough and under control enough to knock into the back. This delays him and eventually sends him down. Even if he didn't go down the hit was enough to allow Kovacs to tackle if necessary. (RPS -1)|
|O18||3||6||Shotgun 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||3||Fly||C. Gordon||Inc|
|Plenty of time (pressure -2) but the underneath stuff is taken away(cover +1) and Stanzi just decides to bomb it. C. Gordon(+1, over +1) is there on an underthrown ball, taking the right angle. He's got a better chance to make a catch than the receiver. Ball goes over his head.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, 5 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O37||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Pass||3||PA post||C. Gordon||34|
|No one near Stanzi(pressure -2) and there are five guys in a short zone with one outlet receiver; a huge gap opens up between the LBs and the secondary. -1 Demens, -1 Mouton. -2 Gordon for being too far off in a cover three with three deep guys; he should be jumping the post route instead of being literally ten yards off. His tackle is almost run through, too. This was easy. (Cover -2)|
|M29||1||10||I-form||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||PA dumpoff||Kovacs||11|
|No pressure again(-2); coverage downfield is good but the little dump route to the FB releasing out of the backfield is wide open with Demens(-1) not reacting to get over and Kovacs(-1) getting pulled downfield by a deeper route. (Cover -1)|
|M18||1||10||I-form big||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Roh||2|
|No gaps anywhere again. Roh(+0.5) has slanted past a blocker and absorbed an extra guy, as has RVB(+0.5), so there are defenders in the backfield and no gaps. RB has to bounce into Floyd, who could make a tackle at the LOS with a better angle but is conservative outside(-0.5); Demens(+0.5) has scraped over the top and dives back inside to tackle.|
|I swear to god I'm not slanting this to Demens(+1, cover +1) but here he gets a chuck on a TE releasing downfield and causes Stanzi to come off his primary read. Second read is a drag Floyd(+1, tackling +1) is in man on. He tracks the pass and comes up to tackle immediately on the catch. Stanzi again had a ton of time (pressure -1).|
|M11||3||3||I-form twins||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||11|
|No gaps inside; this is going outside. Kovacs blitzes and is picked off by the FB. Banks(-1) can't deal with a double and gets shoved inside, allowing the LT to come out on Mouton(-2), who makes a fatal mistake by fighting INSIDE of the tackle. He can get leverage on this guy, but instead fights inside and gives up the corner. Touchdown. Demens had scraped through and maybe could have tackled at the five if he had gone upfield instead of shot the gap, but in this situation I'd rather have a MLB who expects his guys to execute their assignments and hits that gap with authority than some guy who's always worried what might go wrong. Demens is playing better than anyone realizes.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-28, 1 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O40||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Banks||20 + 15 pen|
|Three-fold failure on a cutback after Patterson(+1) and others cut off the frontside. 1) Banks(-1) is blown down the line way too far. 2) Kovacs(-1) tries to hop upfield of the fullback, opening the hole up wider when he needs to squeeze down; 3) Mouton(-2) again reacts late to the developing play and loses the tailback outside of him. Demens was in position to tackle, albeit for decent yardage, if he got a guy funneled to him as he reacted to the cutback and again scraped properly. Floyd adds 15 on a facemask.|
|M25||1||10||I-form big||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Van Bergen||1|
|Van Bergen(+1) pops through the line and forces another cutback. This time Mouton(+1) does get outside his blocker and heads outside to force the play back into the scraping, waiting, tackling(+1) Demens(+1).|
|M24||2||9||I-form twins||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||5|
|I mean, Jesus balls Mouton maintain leverage for twice in a row. Here there's nothing because RVB(+1) has driven two guys into the backfield and provided Roh a free run into one gap. Kovacs(-1) takes on the FB and gets knocked back, but Mouton(-1) is flowing upfield too hard and lets the RB outside of him; Demens has flowed down the line to shove him OOB after five when this should have been nothing. Maybe this is on Kovacs for not getting outside the FB... but the success of a play jammed up by the DL is on one, the other, or both of the guys maintaining leverage to the playside.|
|M19||3||4||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||7||Slant||Floyd||19|
|Michigan sends the house. Seven guys come and Gordon is trying to run man on a guy running a slant ten yards in front of him. Doesn't matter since Floyd(-2, cover -2) gave up a slant despite setting up with inside leverage, yielding an easy TD. Maybe someone busted and Michigan was going to drop someone or two someone's into short anti-slant zones?|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-35, 11 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Demens||4|
|RVB(+1) drives playside, taking two Iowa DL into the backfield a yard. Patterson(-1) has been blown out by single blocking easily, allowing the C to nail Mouton. Demens(+1) is scraping into a lot of space, and forms up to tackle at the LOS as one of the RVB blockers tries to peel, but too late.|
|O24||2||6||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Black||5|
|Nothing obvious on the frontside as Patterson flows down the line and the linebackers are attacking the playside shoulder of their blockers, but it does seem more open. Black(-1) is cut to the ground on what kind of seems like a clip but isn't called. Mouton has to radically change direction and and can only get a bump; Kovacs flows in from the edge to tackle; C. Gordon comes up to prevent YAC.|
|O29||3||1||I-form big||Base 4-4||Penalty||False start||?||-5|
|Likely on the C since everyone moves and the snap is fumbled.|
|O24||3||6||Ace 3-wide||Nickel 3-4||Run||Zone stretch||Demens||1|
|Three wide for Iowa with seven guys against six blockers in the box so there's no one to block one particular guy: Demens. Banks(+0.5) flows to cut off the playside; Patterson(-1) and RVB(-1) have been blasted off the line by single blocking but Demens(+0.5, tackling +1) avoids the trash and comes up to tackle in the cutback lane. Asking for this if you run into a stacked box on third and six (RPS +1); would be frustrated here if an Iowa fan. Mets Maize picture-paged this.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-35, 8 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O40||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||Base 3-4||Pass||N/A||Waggle TE out||Kovacs||25 (pen -5)|
|Entire world sucks to the run fake. I understand why, but this is just ludicrously open (cover -3) because Kovacs(-1) and Mouton(-1) the playside guys, went nuts about the run. Result is a big gainer but Iowa was in an illegal formation and it comes back. (RPS -2)|
|O35||1||15||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||N/A||Waggle TE out||Kovacs||10|
|Floyd comes off with a minor injury; Avery in. Same play; Michigan defending it better but does allow a short completion; Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) overruns the tackle and allows the TE to cut back inside for an extra five.|
|O45||2||5||Ace twins||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Kovacs||-4|
|Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) blitzes off the edge untouched into another inside zone, where he forms up, gets under control, and tackles in the backfield by himself. Unblocked, sure, but actually making the tackle here is a big deal since it's the difference between third and long and third and medium. RPS +1.|
|O41||3||9||Ace 3-wide||Nickel 3-4||Pass||5||Slant||Floyd||17|
|Floyd(-3, cover -2) again gives up an easy slant based on one stutter-step outside. Increased penalty for doing the same thing you just did like five minutes ago. Also he's still not even in position to tackle.|
|M42||1||10||I-form twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone stretch||Mouton||2|
|Patterson(-1) scooped and sealed again; Demens eats OL. So does Mouton(+2.5) but he beats the block to the outside on the stretch and pops Robinson at the line. This is a great play, and one Mouton can make but doesn't too often.|
|M40||2||8||I-form big||Base 4-4||Pass||Waggle scramble||Mouton||0|
|Mouton(+1) reads it and *flies* upfield at Stanzi(pressure +1), forcing him to roll out further and eventually forcing him OOB slightly behind the sticks.|
|Michigan stunts, getting Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) through on Stanzi and forcing him to dump it off really early. Avery(-2, tackling -2) comes up way, way too hard on a play where all he has to do is make a lousy ankle tackle and completely whiffs. Demens(-1, tackling -1) takes an angle too far upfield but maybe he's just doing what he does and knows a tackle eleven yards downfield is death and if he can't make it short of the sticks why bother at all? In any case, he's too far upfield after the whiff and Robinson runs through an arm tackle for a bunch of yards. This isn't even really a juke here, it's just... a freshman. I need a drink.|
|M14||1||10||I-form twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||1|
|Linebackers attacking hard given the situation; Mouton(+1) avoids one block and Demens(+0.5) comes up to pick off a guy peeling off Patterson. Mouton tackles.|
|M13||2||9||Ace||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Sagesse||2|
|Two deep safeties as Michigan may expect pass. Sagesse(+1) at NT (finally) gets playside of his guy and drives him into the backfield, forcing Robinson outside. Demens(+0.5) is chasing from the inside, forcing it further out where Mouton(+1) has kept outside leverage against two guys and comes off to tackle. Banks had fallen here; dangerous without good play from the LBs.|
|M11||3||7||Ace twins||Base 4-4||Pass||5||Corner||T. Gordon||Inc|
|T. Gordon tears off the corner unblocked(+1, pressure +1) and nails Stanzi quickly; Stanzi just chucks it long to prevent a sack. No one open, FWIW.|
|Drive Notes: FG(38), 28-38, 3 min 4th Q. Last drive not charted as it is irrelevant.|
Demens? Demens Demens? Is it really pronounced "Demons"?
Sounds like you need a—
You're no fun.
|Van Bergen||5.5||1||4.5||Best performance on the day but that's just average.|
|Banks||3.5||4.5||-1||Is what he is. No pass rush.|
|Sagesse||1||2||-1||Wonder why he's not the backup NT.|
|Patterson||1.5||5.5||-4||Bled it slowly this time, at least.|
|Black||1.5||1||0.5||Did not play much except on passing downs.|
|TOTAL||13.5||15||-1.5||Roh still mostly DE here so his plus also factors in here; the worst day for an M DL in a very, very long time. Pressure metric will confirm.|
|Ezeh||-||1.5||-1.5||At least the humiliating pancake was the definitive last word.|
|Mouton||13||10||3||Frustratingly culpable for most of Iowa's cutback or bounce-out runs.|
|Roh||5||1||4||Okay, but not making a big impact.|
|Johnson||1.5||1.5||0||This is the life of a spur this year…|
|Demens||11.5||3.5||8||A full and sumptuous conversation later.|
|Fitzgerald||-||-||-||A couple plays only.|
|TOTAL||31||17.5||13.5||Competency! And terrible loss of leverage!|
|Floyd||2.5||11||-8.5||Oh my god the slants.|
|Rogers||-||5||-5||Oh my god the 31-yard TD.|
|C. Gordon||2||2||0||One good angle on a deep ball, one good tackle, some excessively conservative play.|
|Talbott||1||-||1||One tackle, little dime in this game.|
|Avery||-||5.5||-5.5||The whiff, the zone vacation, etc.|
|TOTAL||12.5||30||-17.5||It's dead, Jim.|
|Pressure||6||13||-7||Loss of Martin gave Stanzi luxurious amounts of time.|
|Coverage||16||21||-5||Corners came in for a beating.|
|Tackling||7||5||2||Pretty decent until the 404.|
[RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]
Losing Martin—even when he was in the game he was obviously not Martin—crushed the DL just like you would expect. With Martin out the only half-plausible rushers on the line are RVB and Roh, if he's coming, and since the other two guys can be single-blocked no problem all you have to do is leave one guy in to double the other two, and while they're not terrible they're not BG or Martin. Add in Patterson and Banks getting clubbed in the run game and it adds up to a very rare—possibly unprecedented—negative day for the DL to go with a –7 pressure.
The linebackers we'll get to in a sec; the secondary is just a debacle. Avery's a part of that but it's not like the starting corners are any good, either. The two slants Floyd gave up were incredibly frustrating, the second moreso than the first because you should be able to play off the receiver and tackle the slant for less than nine yards.
Yeah. Watching the game live I thought that he was an obvious upgrade over Ezeh but expected that when I went over the game in detail I'd find he was at fault for some of the longer Iowa runs or third down conversions, or had messed up in some way that had gone unexploited. I didn't. I found little things that I thought were good plays I hadn't seen live, like this:
There Patterson gets insta-scooped and the center is going to club the MLB five yards downfield and the tailback will get a nice gain, except this is Demens and he reads the block. He attacks, turning the center into the clubee and turning the Iowa line into a mass of bodies without a gap in it. Floyd comes up to tackle.
How many times did Iowa RBs find themselves facing a line with no penetration and no holes in it? Several. How many times did previous Michigan opponents face this? Essentially never. Good DL play with crappy linebacker play yields a lot of penetration and a lot of lanes where the DL aren't. Crappy DL play with good LB play is this, a bunch of bodies on the line with no windows to squeeze through.
This doesn't look like much but he's there when Mouton forces it inside:
This was 100% consistent. When plays were turned back inside Demens was there.
Meanwhile, this was the only instance where it seemed like he was burned on play action:
Is that really on him? It seems like it's mostly on Gordon being way, way too deep. Demens was eight yards deep on his drop and I can't see any way that him being better at pass D stops this play. I minused him here, but I'm not sure if he deserves it.
He's the undisputed starter now. Not to pile on the guy, but this is the first thing that will pop into any Michigan fan's head when Obi Ezeh is mentioned for the rest of time:
Fair or not (pretty much fair), that's the coda.
So if Demens was such a ninja how did Iowa rack up all those yards on the ground?
Mouton. I know he came out +3 but I'm annoyed with that, and annoyed with him. There will be a picture pages later today or tomorrow discussing Iowa's 11-yard touchdown run on which Mouton fought inside a tackle and gave up the corner when Demens was scraping to the hole; most of Iowa's long runs were on plays where Mouton did not contain the ball and drive it back inside. Here's one:
Black didn't do Mouton a ton of favors but he can't get upfield and essentially block himself there. Force it back inside and it might be a big gainer; let him outside and it will be.
On the same play I gave Demens a minus half because he bit up, but I was torn about that since he sees Sagesse chopped and knows there's going to be a cutback lane, then doesn't get locked up by the OL. He seems like a smart player. Mouton doesn't; he makes a lot of great plays but he is still consistently making errors similar in severity to Avery's zone messes. Avery's a true freshman. He's a fifth-year senior. He is better this year, but he's still mistake-prone.
Here a window opens up in the line. I know what Demens would do: hit it. Mouton gives up backside contain by attempting to scrape over the top on a jammed-up play and gives the cutback lane. The #1 answer to the question "why do we give up so many cutback runs" is Mouton.
These four plays represent 54 of Robinson's 110 or so yards that came with Demens in the game. On plays where the rest of the D allowed him to be involved Iowa averaged under 2.5 YPC. This is how you get +8 as an MLB. Mouton came out positive because he made some impressive plays and blame on those outside runs was shared with the DL; he was obviously Michigan's second-best LB on the day.
Why the hell didn't they put Demens on the field before?
Man, I don't know. I assume part of it is disciplinary; I heard from a good source that he got in some minor trouble in the offseason. Not trouble enough to actually warrant a suspension or justify leaving him off the field for the first half of the year, but something that would provide some drag as he attempted to pass a senior returning starter. That's the only explanation for the Moundros dalliance. Obviously they were dissatisfied with Ezeh; to go to a converted FB walk-on when you've got Demens in your pocket there has to be something off-field, whether it's attitude or whatever.
And then Obi had a game or two where he was moderately okay, and GERG apparently really likes him, and oh hell, I don't know. As you're bitching try to remember that this is the vastly preferable scenario. For the rest of this year and the next two years Michigan will have an upperclass starter who looks competent instead of yet another freshman or position switch guy.
Isn't this all a little too good to be true?
Yes. I mean, Cam Gordon imploded as soon as I said "I like the kid!" I've just doomed Demens.
What about the other ten guys?
Right. Something more specific?
That's a horrendous performance from the DL, isn't it?
Yes. For most of the day Stanzi's experience in the pocket was this:
Martin is the Woolfolk of the defensive line and not having him made the line 70% as bad as the secondary. (The secondary doesn't have an RVB and the line isn't starting freshmen.) Patterson does well to not get blown up by a single block and Banks is reason 1B for all the cutback runs; neither can sack the quarterback unless given a gilded invitation (Banks got credit for one for Stanzi's inexplicable run OOB, FWIW). There's nothing surprising here given what we know.
Is the secondary.
Yeah: Kenny Demens. Also, RVB and Roh did yeoman work against extra defensive attention and still came through to the good.
All cornerbacks save Talbott and Mouton, +3 be damned.
What does it mean for Penn State and beyond?
If Martin's not full go we're permadead, but you knew that. Secondary is dire, but you knew that.
Demens's emergence is huge. If he can maintain this level of play Michigan will have gone from some of the worst linebacker play in the league to average-ish, or even better, and they've filled a gaping hole in the 2011 and 2012 defenses with the upperclass years of an effective player. There is a nonzero chance that Michigan can kinda-sorta shut down Penn State's rushing attack. If Demens comes through the next three games unscathed Michigan just picked up a huge win.
Freshman quarterbacks ahoy!
Normally the start of spring practice would have been a bigger deal around here, but the basketball team's late season push and 21st-century tourney debut relegated the football team to the back burner, which is a first for this blog.
Yes, spring practice has started. Get a load of our new savior at the gun show:
Vernon Gholston's got nothing on Tate Forcier. At some point this year when Michigan is flailing about in a fashion reminiscent of well, last year, keep this image in mind and think "he's just a freshman" to yourself over and over again. Apparently Forcier spent 100% of his time getting quarterback tutoring and 0% of it picking things up and putting them down, which is all well and good until someone snaps him in half.
But, hey, the news isn't all bad. Friend of blog and practice attendee Craig Ross:
Forcier’s arm is stronger than I thought it would be. Most of the balls he threw looked pretty crisp. He looked terrific in the drills. Running right or left he puts the ball on the money. I didn’t see him throw a poor ball.
And of course there's the other guy:
I felt Nick Sheridan looked better than last year at this time.
Woo! A roundup of other items:
- Toney Clemons is gonzo. See the previous post.
- So is Andre Criswell. He'll be a grad assistant. He was a fifth year senior, so that doesn't change your scholarship projections for the 2010 class.
- Adam Patterson got his redshirt. He is now a junior, which removes a scholarship from the 2010 class and reduces the urgency at DT and DE. Michigan is still waiting on word about Kenny Demens. That should be a formality
- Mouton and Shaw aren't participating. Also, Tim McAvoy has been out with an ankle issue. Ricky Barnum has a wrist issue he's playing through.
- Steve Schilling is probably moving to guard and Patrick Omameh is legit. Intermittent friend of blog and general correspondent Craig Ross has attended some of the sections of practice open to the media and reports that the apparent first-team offensive line reads like so from left to right, with changes from last year bolded: Ortmann, Schilling, Molk, Moosman, Omameh.
Ross elaborates: "I was told by one media guy that Schilling asked for the move and so far it has worked out. RR talked briefly to the media and said that it seems likely "Schilling will stay at guard." Barnum is running at LG with the second team---or was this AM at least."
That fits with the practice buzz over the last year that had Barnum and Omameh closest to the field amongst the freshmen; you can pencil Omameh in at RG in 2010 if you want to get seriously premature.
Things That Are As Factual As Rosters Ever Get
- Anthony LaLota is pretty small. He's listed at 6'4", 235, which is not ready for primetime on the defensive line. Redshirt beckons.
- Junior Hemingway is crushing your head. 6'1", 226. Dang, man, hope you can still run.
- Vince Helmuth is on the Gabe Watson diet. Helmuth got up to 299, which probably bodes unwell for his shot at playing time. VB noted he looked "tiny for a DT," which means he'd be better served being quick instead of flabtacular. Rodriguez made a comment about his conditioning at the press conference. Sounds like he's unlikely to see the field.
- Kenny Demens seems field-ready. The roster has him at 237; at 6'1" that's pretty hefty.
- Smith: quarkback. We got ourselves another kid who can do a credible impression of Paper Mario: 5'6", 158 pound Vincent Smith. Hopefully this one doesn't get concussed into oblivion.
Position switches, or not position switches, or things that may or may not be position switches
- Brandon Hawthorne is running with the defensive backs. I said he was safety-sized, but I didn't actually expect he would be a safety. Blip or serious "what?" moment? Eh… survey says blip. Varsity Blue attended a Rodriguez presser at which the headman said Hawthorne is expected to be an outside linebacker.
This is more fuel for the fire of this spread-combating LB/S hybrid sort, FWIW.
- Ferrara is still on the OL. Given the sudden reversal in depth on the two lines—the defense has seen two starters depart and two recruits fail to sign while the offense gets six-count-em-six redshirt freshmen to play with—this may not last. But word is the coaching staff likes Ferrara's potential on offense more than they do on defense; a switch back would be an ominous indicator about the defensive line.
- Stevie Brown is sort of a linebacker. This will meet widespread joy, I'm sure, though it does beg the question "who the hell is going to play safety?"
- Steve Watson is doing okay at DE. I still think he's a longshot to contribute what with the move and all, but he's a high motor individual.
Something Not Particularly Fact-Like
You might remember defensive ends like James Hall and Juaquin Feazell—who should be referenced whenever the opportunity arises just so you can say "Juaquin Feazell" as mellifluously as possible—being listed as the "RLB" or "rush linebacker" during the heyday of Jim Herrmann's tenure at defensive coordinator. These folks were no more linebackers than your average defensive end. That nomenclature was a holdover from days when Michigan did actually have a "rush linebacker" that lived on long after Michigan had departed from the land of the hybrid 3-4.
This style of defense has worked in the Big Ten recently. You may remember Penn State deploying one of its many, many talented linebackers as a standup DE in a year when injury and malfeasance had robbed them of their standard complement of edge-rushing terrors. I think it was 2006. Though it was an ad-hoc solution to a severe personnel deficiency, at the end of the year Penn State's defense occupied its customary position near the top of the Big Ten rankings.
Word around practice is that Michigan is going to adopt something similar, with a lighter DE dubbed the "spinner" who can move around and play with his hand down or up. Or at least they're practicing it to see if it's a good idea.
Persons you might see do this: Steve Watson is practicing there along with a couple of the thicker linebackers—Evans and LaLota have been mentioned. This corresponds with other rumors to the effect that Adam Patterson and Ryan Van Bergen may end up as three-tech (i.e., penetrating) DT sorts, if not permanently than on an occasional basis.
Of course, this could all be declared a bad idea and shelved before fall until the Purdue game. But it's worth knowing.