Coaches' timeouts are worse. Basketball teams should get one, full stop.
Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen
Did you feel Mike Martin out there today? Van Bergen: “Oh yeah absolutely. Defensive line-wise, we probably had our highest production day. Obviously you have to watch the film to see how well we really performed. I thought Mike did a good job of getting after the quarterback, and when he wasn’t there, I was there, and then when neither of us was there, Craig was there. We did a really good job up front of getting to the quarterback. We didn’t register big numbers [in terms of] sacks or anything like that, but as far as QB hurries and pressures, I’d be interested to see that stat, because I felt like we were making him move his feet all day, which changed up some of his throws.
Is this the best you’ve played this year, and did you guys change anything in practice this week? Martin: “We didn’t change anything schematically. We had by far the best week of practice as a team collectively this week, and it definitely showed up on the field. I was interviewed earlier this week, and I said that the way we practice directly correlates with the way that we play. We started out fast on Tuesday, had a great day of work Wednesday to Thursday, then we tied it together on Saturday. It all ties together, and I’m glad we put it on the field today.”
A lot of sudden change situations in the fourth quarter. How did you respond to that? Van Bergen: “You know, we’ve been pretty solid on sudden change situations all season defensively. Not allowing a touchdown, holding them to a field goal when they get good enough field position for it. It’s something our defense prides ourselves on. We’re really intent that teams don’t get the best of us when we turn the ball over, because it’s going to happen. You’re going to turn the ball over, and the main thing is don’t let that translate into points, because that’s how you get beat. So our defense, that’s one of the things on our bulletin board. That’s on our wall. One of the things we have to be good at is sudden change situations. We pride ourselves on that.”
We’ve talked a lot about slow starts on defense. What was it about the first quarter that allowed you to get off to a fast start? Was it knowing the opponent better? Martin: “You know, that’s a part of it, but I like to say it was as simple as us coming out with the most intensity we’ve had in the first quarter this season. It’s something we have to remember that we did and build on that. It went right into the second quarter, and when half time came around, we made a few adjustments, but we came to play every single quarter. So we have to start fast and finish strong, which I think we did this week.”
Hoke said on Monday that the biggest aspect the team that he wanted to see improve was the play of the front seven. Did you agree with his assessment? Van Bergen: “Coach Hoke holds us to a very high standard. That’s something I said Monday at the Press conference. He’s going to have the highest standard of any defensive line in the country. We definitely don’t want him to lower the bar for us. I think Mike would agree with the fact that we haven’t played our best game up front. And I would probably go on to say this wasn’t our best game we could have played. We played better, but the standard is so high that any missed assignment, missed tackle, miscue, anything like that, or wrong alignment isn’t going to be tolerated until everything we do on every single snap is perfect.”
How were you able to keep Hillman in check and get two turnovers from him? Also, talk about forcing the fumble from behind? Van Bergen: “There’s a lot of parts to that question. [Hillman’s] a good back. We knew he was an explosive player, but I mean, when it comes down to it, we have the most explosive player in the country in my opinion in our backfield, so we get to play against Denard. So we’ve learned how to take angles to guys with some speed. As far as that call, Mike actually was the one who sprung me on that as far as they were running a toss to the boundary side, and we were running a stunt where Mike was supposed to come up to the field first and I was supposed to loop underneath him. He picked the guy that was supposed to block me, and I just took off on my horse, thinking, ‘I’ve almost caught Denard before. Maybe I can catch this guy.’ Our corner did a good job of turning him back in. We’ve practiced that all the time. Two months ago, spring ball, that might not have happened. I don’t remember who the corner was, but he made him turn back in. We all know in pursuit drill on defensive line -- if you catch a running back, you throw your arms around him as hard as you can and you hope that ball comes out. It was a good break for us because if they score on that possession, game might have gone a little differently. It was fortunate … Mike definitely set me up on that.” [Ed-M: Van Bergen(+1) for UFR-ing]
Did you think Lindley was a different quarterback under pressure? Martin: “Yeah, that’s something that we talked about as a D-line and as a group. We knew that if we got in his face and got pressure to him, press the pocket down on him, he would get happy feet and make missed throws. He’s a good quarterback. He can sling that thing around. If you don’t get in his face, he can throw it as well as anyone. We made sure that was a big thing for us ... to push the pocket and do whatever we can to get into his face.”
Did either one of you sense this was a tough week for Hoke? Van Bergen: “I didn’t think it was a tough week for him personally. I think that there was definitely a media factor as far as it was hyped up to the fact that it was his old program. But I mean, college football is a transitioning world. Everybody moves around, so it just happened to be that they were on the schedule, and he didn’t treat this any differently. He had some inside information as far as how they would play as far as personnel, but nothing to the point to making it any different than any other week. We had to have an intense week of practice, which Mike said we did, and then have a four-quarter game, which, defensively, we came along. I won’t say we had it, but we had a better week than last week.”
Coaches say the goal is to win Big Ten Championship. How much do they talk about that now that non-conference is over? Van Bergen: “I would imagine the intensity is going to pick up. We had some pretty intense practices, but the way Coach Hoke has been talking about even through fall camp and his first four weeks -- it’s always been about the Big Ten. Everything is in comparison to the Big Ten. We have to play better or we won’t compete against the Big Ten. We have to be better up front or we won’t be able to play in the Big Ten. The Big Ten standard is higher than any expectation. In order for us to be competitive in the Big Ten the way coach wants us to be, we’re going to have to step it up. We want to be Big Ten champions. We haven’t had a good record in the Big Ten, anybody on this team, since we’ve been on it. It’s a big thing for us. We’ve started off 4-0 non-conference schedule, but to come out in the Big Ten and have a strong showing, that’s a big deal to us. I can tell you all the guys in the locker room are very excited and hyped up to get started in the Big Ten schedule and see what we’re really about.”
Even though you’ve been downplaying this storyline, is there a sense of pride in helping your coach beat a team he left less than a year ago? Mike Martin: “That’s not something that was on our mind. Our bottom line was to win the game. We have to win the game no matter what so we can go into the Big Ten ready to go. We always want to win for coach. We always want to win for Michigan and this program. It’s what it’s all about. It’s not about coach, and he’ll say that. He’ll say that [about] himself. It’s not about him. It’s not about me. It’s not about Ryan. It’s not about anyone except for Michigan and this program.”
I know you can’t see what other guys are doing on defense, but Blake Countess had a really good game. Talk about him? Van Bergen: “I think Blake is one of those guys that -- as a true freshman you can get some guys that get wide eyes when they come on the field. But there’s also guys -- he kind of reminds me of Donovan Warren when he first came in. He was very focused. He has a swagger about him, and he’s very confident in his abilities. I think the more reps he gets, the more time he’ll see just because he’ll prove that he can play. I think the coaches are slowly getting more comfortable with him and rotating him in. Unfortunately I think Troy went down. I don’t know if JT came back or not, but we had some guys that went down a little bit, and he stepped up. And that’s something we have as a team is the expectation by position. It doesn’t matter who you are. That position is expected to be played a certain way. Blake proved that today. He did really well.”
To what extent are the turnovers a result of playmaking mentality, and how much is it is just constantly running to the ball and hoping for something to happen? Van Bergen: “You know, I think it’s just the emphasis. We have such a strong emphasis from Coach Mattison and Coach Hoke, almost to the point where you don’t want to hear them anymore. Just turn them off in practice because they’re always talking about running to the ball, that the ball’s going to come out. If you count it percentage-wise, you’re probably not going to get a ball out too often, but when it does, man, it feels great. When you buy in like our defense has bought in, all of a sudden the turnovers start piling up for us. I think everybody’s starting to take notice that we’ve gotten way more turnovers this year at this point than we did last year and the last couple years because of how much we emphasize it and how much we practice it and how much we believe that if we get 11 hats on the ball, good things are going to happen.”
Craig Roh and Mark Huyge
How complicated is Rocky Long’s defense? Did it give you guys problems? Huyge: “Well they basically stunted on every play. They were taking the defensive end and putting him inside, wrapping the nose around, bringing linebackers off the edge. They were twisting and stunting. It helps because we ran the zone a lot -- inside zone -- and that’s where everyone pushes to one side. When you can do that, it kind of negates it a little bit, but they got us on a few I know for sure.”
Can you take us through the sack/fumble play? How good did that feel? Roh: “With the sack, they were running hurry-up, so I just subbed in for Jibreel Black and just bullrushed and then ripped outside and got the ball. It was a good feeling. It’s always a good feeling when you get a sack.”
Do you take coach’s criticisms of the defensive line personally? Roh: “We take it personally every week, but we’re improving every week and I think today was a pretty good performance defensively, especially with the run. But we need to keep improving every week, and we’re not where we need to be yet.”
What was the attitude on offense when you turned the ball over, and how do you get past that and not allow it to slow you down? Huyge: “We know that we have to keep pushing past that. It’s been nice not turning the ball over, trying to sustain consistent drives. But when it happens, it’s just an obstacle. It’s football and we know that. Just keep pushing on. That’s what we keep telling ourselves. It’s what we try to do.”
What was the difference between the Ryan Lindley you saw today and the Ryan Lindley you saw on tape after you got inside his head a little? Roh: “We were getting real good pressure up the middle with Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen. I think it just rattled him a little bit and he didn’t perform as well as we had expected. He’s a real good quarterback, and we just got pressure on him and got him rattled a little bit.”
How important was it to establish Denard as a runner early in the game? Huyge: “Like Craig said, the emphasis this week was to start fast. The last couple of games we started slow and eventually picked it up. Getting Denard established early -- I think that gives the defense problems, and they have to adjust and get on their heels, and that’s always a good thing.”
This is the third straight game where you’ve had a turnover in the red-zone. What about inside the 20 makes you guys play up and what’s it like when you can get off the field without giving up any points? Roh: “It’s just, ‘Give us a place to stand and we’ll play.’ Coach Mattison’s always saying that, and I think all of us have taken it to heart.”
Denard Robinson and Vincent Smith
Talk about getting off to a faster start on offense? Denard: “That’s the thing that coach was preaching to us all week. All the seniors were just like, ‘Hey, we have to start taking off fast,’ so Tuesday practice everybody came out amped and ready to go.”
Denard, the option play with Vince was new. Do you like that play, and how long have you guys been working on it? Denard: “We’ve been working on a lot, and I wanted to give the ball to Vince, but I saw the opening and I was like, ‘All right, let’s go.’ ”
Vince, talk about chemistry in running game. Smith: “With two backs, it’s a good relief off Denard, and me and Fitz pride ourselves in taking the load off him and helping this offense move down the field.”
Hoke said one of the things that surprised him was how much you guys like each other. Denard: “We all love each other. We enjoy being with each other. It’s like a family, so that’s what we pride [ourselves] on.” Do you guys talk about that with the new guys? “Oh yeah, that’s my brother, and we’re going to take you in. So when the freshmen came in, they knew that they had a family here.”
Did you guys see the defensive signal cards that SDSU was using? Denard: “We were laughing. Everybody was in that huddle laughing like, ‘Look at those things they got. They’ve got pictures of our coaches. That’s crazy.’ ” Smith: “Yeah, I was laughing as well.”
Do you feel like you need to take it up another level on offense to compete with Big Ten teams? Smith: “We know we just have to sustain drives and keep the ball flowing and get into rhythm.”
Fred Jackson has a reputation for benching running backs who fumble. What did it mean to you for him not to bench you? Smith: “It puts a lot of confidence in me, and I knew that I had to make up for what I did. Obviously I did, and he knows that I’m capable of doing that.”
Talk about run where you broke free. Smith: “The last one I scored on?” No it was in the first half. Denard: “He’s talking about the one you broke -- you kind of looked like you were stopped -- and I was like, ‘What?’ ” Smith: “It was a zone read, and I just pressed my gut, which coach J was stressing to us all through the week. It wasn’t there at first, but I was just patient on the read, and just squirted out -- it was a small, small hole, and I just squirted through it. I just kept my feet going and something good happened.”
What’s your frustration level with yourself in the passing game? Denard: “I mean, I’m not too mad at myself, because my teammates, they keep telling I’m going to be all right. Just keep going and keep fighting. They have my back, and I know they do.”
Did anyone show up to your birthday party after your tweet? [Denard bangs head on table.] Denard: “Oh man. It was a good crowd. We went out [to Colonial Lanes] bowling, having a little bit of fun. It was just … ” How many people do you think showed up? “I don’t know. I don’t know.” What did you bowl? “I bowled a 200 the first try. The second time I only went 160 and the next time I went 170. I did all right.” Why’d you just bang your head on the table there? “Because Twitter -- I don’t know if I want to keep tweeting. I don’t want questions coming up in here about that.”
Speaking of odd questions, did you switch helmet manufacturers this year? Denard: “Big Jon told us we had to wear a different helmet, and I got a different helmet. He just told me. I came in one day and he was like, ‘Yeah, you’ve got to get a different helmet.’ And I was like, ‘Ah, come on.’ ”
Why do you think you couldn’t get into rhythm passing? Denard: “[San Diego State is] a great team. They fly around everywhere. So you could say that, but still we worked on it all week and I just have to execute, that’s all. We have to get better as a team.”
Going for it on fourth and two, how big was it score before halftime? Denard: “Roy and the seniors were just like, ‘Man, look. We have to get this and we can’t slack.’ I was like, ‘All right, let’s go get it then.’ Coach called the time-out and he was like, ‘Let’s go and get the ball. Let’s go and get the first down.’ And that’s what we did. That was a big key to the game.”
Gratuitous video of the week:
Substitution notes: The secondary was Woolfolk/Floyd/Kovacs/Gordon almost the whole game, with Avery coming in on the garbage time drive and one snap for Marvin Robinson towards the end of charted time. When Michigan brought in a nickelback, which wasn't often, it was Raymon Taylor; they left Gordon at safety.
Demens, Hawthorne, and Ryan were almost always out there at LB. Fitzgerald, Morgan, and Beyer got one or two drives each as backups.
On the line there was more rotation. Black and Roh just about split snaps at WDE. Martin and RVB were usually out there and then Heininger and Campbell split snaps at the other DT spot. Brink and Washington made cameos.
Formation notes: A lot more 4-3 this week going up against a team that uses fullbacks and TEs and stuff. This is your 4-3 under in the flesh:
Line shaded to the weakside, Ryan on the line over TEs, two MLB types in the backfield.
There was also this, which I was at a loss to name:
Let's get a closeup of the line here:
You've got an undershifted line, linebackers shifted over… and JB Fitzgerald lined up shaded inside the TE. I called this 5-3 under. If anyone knows what an actual coach might call it let me know.
On with show:
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O10||1||10||I-form twins unbalanced||4-3 under||Pass||5||PA Fly||Woolfolk||Inc|
|PA with two guys in the route. One is a fly on Woolfolk(+1, cover +1), who is stride for stride for the guy and has a play on the ball if it's accurate. It's not.|
|O10||2||10||Shotgun 2TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Ryan||13|
|Pretty much all Ryan(-2), who flies directly upfield and loses contain instantly. Gordon and Woolfolk are on the edge with Demens pursuing from inside but not much chance for anyone to do anything about it since there's a blocker for each player and just tons of space.|
|O23||1||10||I-form||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Heininger||6|
|Heininger(-2) clobbered off the ball by a double team. He gets shoved right out of the hole. Demens is immediately under pressure by a guy with a great angle on him and Hawthorne has to take on a tough lead block despite being 214 pounds. They both do credible jobs(+0.5 each). There is no crease for the back. Unfortunately there's another blocker coming and no one to tackle because of Heininger's play, so the pile lurches forward for a significant gain. Picture-paged.|
|O29||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Black||3|
|Taylor in; TGordon stays at S. RVB(-2) is blown up this time and Hawthorne(-1) is pancaked by the guy peeling off RVB. Large gap. Demens(-1) comes up to fill, this time keeping leverage when I'm not entirely sure he should. He's got Gordon as a free hitter outside of him. In any case, the blocker kicks his ass. This is about to be EMU RB versus Kovacs for TD when Black(+3) saves everyone's bacon. He shoved the TE into the backfield, forcing an awkward cut inside, then dove to tackle(+1) the guy as he passes. Major bailout.|
|O32||3||1||Goal line||4-4 even||Pass||N/A||Flea flicker (scramble)||Hawthorne||19|
|Black and Hawthorne both get in basically unblocked and are there to pressure(+1, RPS +1) Gillett. They miss because Hawthorne(-1) gets too fast and Gillett manages to move around them. Demens is then trying to scrape to wherever Gillett's going to pop up when Martin pops back out of his stance and trips him. Just one of those things.|
|M49||1||10||I-form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Demens||12|
|Michigan is slanting away from the play(RPS -1), which makes it tough on the DL. Still, RVB(-1) should do better to hold his ground and Demens(-2) definitely needs to get outside the first blocker to funnel the RB back to his help. He does not. Ryan did okay on the edge, it's just everything else here. RB into the secondary Black(+2) read the OL pull (apparently we can do that!) and immediately peeled off to pursue from the backside; he is almost the only thing between EMU and a touchdown other than a blocked Kovacs. He gets there to tackle at the sticks. The +2 is just for the pursuit and the tackle; the forced fumble is a bonus.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||4-3 under||Pass||4||PA Deep cross||Ryan||18|
|This looks a lot like the shotgun counters that have burned Michigan the first two weeks: counter step from the RB, pulling backside G, another lead blocker, this time another RB. Instead of a handoff Gillett spins backwards and rolls out. Later this will hurt EMU. Ryan is sent on a blitz, reads the pull, and dives inside to blow up the counter he thinks is coming. Hard to fault him for that. This gets Gillett out on the edge; Ryan does come through the block to provide some token pressure. This isn't enough to throw the QB off; he finds a receiver open for a chunk. I guess you could blame Demens or Gordon here but that seems really harsh to me. (RPS -1, pressure -1, cover -1.) Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to tackle immediately. Picture paged.|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun 2TE unbalanced||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Ryan||18|
|Ryan(-2) again gives up the edge on the sweep action. He compounds matters by falling to the ground as he tries to get outside. Demens is held inside by a QB run fake momentarily; Woolfolk comes up to the outside and is cut inside of. I do think Demens(-1) could have reacted more quickly here—RVB was going to be in the QB's face if he kept—and held this down to eight or so. BWS picture pages.|
|M37||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 over||Run||N/A||QB down G||Hawthorne||8|
|EMU motions a tight end over late and snaps quickly; Demens shifts a couple yards strongside but Hawthorne does not match him; on the snap they're right next to each other. As a result Hawthorne(-2) gives up the corner, getting blocked by the RB. Black(-1) had gotten blown off the ball by a double and there might have been room inside as well, but there's no question to the outside.|
|M29||2||2||I-form||5-3 under||Run||N/A||Down G||Van Bergen||-3|
|Michigan crushes this. Van Bergen(+2) shoots straight upfield, blowing up the lineman trying to pull around and getting through into the backfield. Heininger(+1) slants past his blocker on the backside to show up in the running lane; Fitzgerald(+0.5) is three yards into the backfield taking on the puller RVB blew up, and Martin(+1) has shed a blocker. Nowhere for the RB to go. RPS +2.|
|M32||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||N/A||QB power||Hawthorne||4|
|S brought down for an extra guy. FWIW, Gordon is coming down instead of Kovacs. He's your SS. Ryan(+1) is left alone for a pulling guard to take. He takes the guy on a yard into the backfield over where the tackle was and stands his ground. Gillett doesn't really know where to go; the back also impacts Ryan to provide a corner. This gives Hawthorne(-1) a free run. All he has to do is form up and he's got a TFL; instead he misses the tackle(-1), allowing Gillett to spin inside and start picking up yards. RVB tackles from behind; Kovacs(+0.5) stands Gillett up as he nears the sticks, forcing a fourth down.|
|M28||4||1||Ace||Firedrill||Run||N/A||Tricky pitch||Kovacs||14 + 7 pen|
|EMU to the line quickly and snaps before Michigan is prepared; line dive blocks as if they're going for the QB sneak. Everyone bites on it; they pitch outside, where there isn't anyone. Kovacs(-1) was the playside guy who did not stay responsible on the RB, but this is mostly an RPS play as EMU caught Michigan unprepared. Growing pains. RPS -2. Taylor gets a legit but pretty weak late hit after.|
|M7||1||G||I-Form trip TE||5-4 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Ryan||4|
|Either Ryan or Black screws up here. Black dives inside the last TE on the line, then heads upfield a bit to pick off the fullback. Ryan hangs outside as well, allowing the pulling G to not even block him. Need to have one of those guys cram that hole down. I vote Black(+1) for taking out two blockers and against Ryan(-1) for not even hitting a guy on this play. Kovacs(-0.5) is also slow to react, waiting for the RB to get to him instead of IDing the hole opening in front of him and hitting it.|
|M3||2||G||I-Form trip TE||Goal line||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Van Bergen||1|
|EMU flipping TEs everywhere and Michigan not reacting quickly enough—Heininger is trying to get Martin to slide over at the snap. He does just make it. RVB(+3) blows this up himself, though, sliding through a downblock and into the pulling G. The RB has to cut behind this mess and ends up falling over the G RVB had put on the ground moments earlier. Martin(+0.5) had gotten through a block to show up in the hole just in case.|
|M2||3||G||Power I||Goal line||Run||N/A||Iso||Martin||1|
|Michigan again having a hard time lining up. This time Black trips over himself trying to get to the wrong side of the line. He gets up and just gets into place on the snap. Martin(+2) takes a guard's block and chucks the dude past him, then comes under the tackle trying to deal with RVB to meet the second FB—actually an OL—a yard in the backfield. The pile of meat gets a yard.|
|M1||4||G||Power I||Goal line||Run||N/A||Iso||Kovacs||-|
|Everyone does the low-man-wins goal line blocking as EMU tries it again. Roh(+1) is in the path of the pulling dudes and wins his block, penetrating into the backfield. The second FB is tripped up/leaps from about the three. The RB tries the same thing only for Kovacs(+2) to roar around from behind him and stall his momentum, spinning him to a halt short of the goal line with an assist from Demens(+0.5). Picture-paged by MGoFootball.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 0-0, 4 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M24||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Down G||Campbell||4|
|Campbell's been in a bit and this is his first noticeable play. This appears to be a slant to the playside here, which is good for M as it gets Campbell(+1) past his assigned down-blocker and into the guy lined up right over him who pulled. Roh(+1) swam through his blocker to set up outside of the Campbell mess; cutback. RVB(-1) is flowing down the line; he's too far upfield after shoving a DL and allows the guy to dive through an arm tackle for positive yards.|
|M20||2||6||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Demens||2|
|Miss part of this play; looks like counter action from a tight shot of the RB. M gets lucky as the guy blocking RVB thinks the blitzing Ryan is a major issue and peels off; pulling G now has to take RVB. This leaves Demens(+0.5) unblocked in the hole. His tackle is spun through but that takes a long time to happen; Ryan(+0.5) comes from behind to finish the job but there's some YAC here.|
|M18||3||4||Shotgun trip TE||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Pin and pull zone||Hawthorne||7|
|Guh. Triple TEs to one side and Michigan slants away from it. Guys right over the LBs are pulling and both are so late. What can they be keying on? Hawthorne(-2) is especially late; Demens tries to shoot a gap without effect but it was a good idea given that setup. M blitzed from the weakside, had no support over the top, and even if Hawthorne plays this perfectly this doesn't look like a stop (RPS -2)|
|M11||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Pin and pull zone||Van Bergen||3|
|Van Bergen(+2) shocks his blocker with a quick punch and gets playside of a downblock. He ends up driving to the outside, sucking up both lead blockers and forcing a cutback. Demens(+0.5) pops up in a hole; more cutback. Roh has hesitated a bit in case Gillett keeps, which is fine, but Heininger(-1) got blown up and ends up pancaked so when Roh comes down the line he's only able to tackle from behind; forward momentum is slowed by Hawthorne but not stopped.|
|M8||2||7||Shotgun 2TE||4-4 over||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Hawthorne||2|
|EMU seems to have a bad playcall on because there is no blocker for Hawthorne(RPS +1). Block down, pull backside T and G around. Ryan is kicked out by G. Demens kicked out by the T. Hawthorne(+1) is free to meet in the hole; Demens peels to help tackle.|
|M6||3||5||Shotgun 2TE||4-4 over||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Demens||2|
|Finally some contain. Gordon(+1) is creeping up looking for this on the jet motion and forces a cut up, picking off a blocker. Ryan does better but still gets too far upfield, IME. No delay in the guy's path because of him. Thanks to the contain Demens and Kovacs have shots at this; Kovacs(+0.5) takes a hit from a block and stays upright; Demens(+1) has flowed to the sideline and tackles(+1) near the sticks. Picture-paged.|
|Drive Notes: FG, 0-3, EO1Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|Morgan in. Waggle action from EMU is poorly executed so RVB is out on Gillett; he falls down (-1, pressure -1). Gillett can only come underneath to a WR drag rout a couple yards downfield. Ryan(+1, tackling +1) helped take away one of the deeper routes then rallies to tackle almost on the catch, holding this to a minimal gain (Cover +2).|
|M41||2||4||Ace diamond||Firedrill||Pass||N/A||Double pass||Gordon||Int|
|Michigan is horribly misaligned at the snap, with only three guys against the four out to the right. If this is just a screen it could get some yards, but it's trickery. Okay. Defense freaks out, TGordon(+4(!), cover +2) goes with the WR and makes an incredible one-handed INT. Should have tried the transcontinental here. RPS -1 for misalignment, or RPS +1 for covering the trick play? Aw, hell, the latter.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 0-3, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O40||1||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Counter Iso||Martin||10|
|Campbell in, Morgan still out there, Brink at SDE. EMU basically runs an iso but the RB takes a counter step like he's headed outside. This works like crazy, sucking every playside defender to the outside. Martin(-1) is the biggest offender; Brink(-1) is pancaked. Morgan(-1) is cut to the ground and Demens(-0.5) has a really tough job but pulls the Ezeh by just sitting there. Gordon fills to tackle. I am actually a fan of the EMU running game. They are a confusing bunch to work against.|
|50||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Counter Iso||Ryan||-2|
|Basically the same play from a different formation with the same counter step. This time Ryan(+1, RPS +2) is blitzing from the counter side and crushes the guy in the backfield. Martin(+1) had blown back blocking so even the cutback wouldn't have been there.|
|O48||2||12||Shotgun twins unbalanced||4-3 under||Run||N/A||QB power||Black||3|
|EMU flips their RT to the left side after they align and Michigan flips their entire front five in response. They run the jet motion but have the QB take it upfield with help from a puller. Martin(+1) beats a downblock and cuts off a cutback lane. Campbell is on the playside and doesn't do great. Black(+1) gets into the TE trying to double Campbell instead of shooting down the line, then takes on a block to the outside, defeating it. Campbell is just kind of there, being large(+0.5) so Gillett has nowhere to go except up the backs of some of his dudes; Black tackles.|
|M49||3||9||Shotgun trip TE||4-3 under||Pass||N/A||PA TE flat||Gordon||5|
|This orbit boot motion again; Black(-1) flies upfield at it but is chopped down by a cut block. Demens and Taylor are blitzing, though, and get through untouched to provide pressure(+1) and force a dumpoff short of the sticks. TGordon(+1, cover +1) belts him OOB.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 6 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O44||1||10||Ace 4-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Trap||Heininger||0|
|Fitz in. Heininger(+1.5) is passed off by the G over him as he runs downfield to hammer Michigan's spread-out LBs. He keeps his feet and gets popped by a pulling G, fighting playside of him. Martin(+1.5) beat a downblock; the two DTs converge to tackle.|
|O44||2||10||I-Form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Counter Iso||Hawthorne||0|
|M moves Kovacs down late for another guy in the box. Campbell(+1) slants under his blocking, which is pretty good on this play since they're trying to dupe you to head outside; this time he comes under and heads backside for the RB. Hawthorne(+2) read the play on the counter step and attacked the backside hole that opens up; FB can only make a diving stab at him. This does get him to the ground but he's falling forward into the path of the runner, whereupon he grabs ankles; Campbell comes in from behind.|
|O44||3||10||Shotgun empty 2TE||Nickel||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Kovacs||4|
|This is a formation with a covered up slot WR on third and ten and run a jet sweep towards it. I take back what I said about the EMU running game. Kovacs(+2) is sent on a blitz up the middle, reads the play, adjusts his flight path, and meets the WR after a couple yards to make a nice open field tackle(+1).|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 3 min 2nd Q. M scores, then squibs to terrible effect right before the half. Next drive starts w/ 33 seconds left.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|Clark in for the first time, I think. Four man rush gets nowhere(pressure -2) but the coverage is good(+2) and Gillett has to scramble out. He picks up eight, which seems more due to the situation than a breakdown.|
|M44||2||2||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||Rollout scramble||Black||4|
|Sprint draw fake as the pocket rolls. Coverage is good(+2) but Black(-1) loses the edge and ends up falling to the ground, giving Gillett the corner.|
|That God Damned Counter Draw... is defended. Wow. Martin(+1) reads the play and chucks his defender past him, peeling back to close down the hole as Hawthorne steps up to take on the lead blocker. Black(+2) collapses down to close off the hole outside Hawthorne, then extends back outside when the RB bounces, bringing him to a complete stop and eventually tripping him up when he breaks outside again.|
|Roh(+0.5) gets around the T enough to force Gillett to step up, where Martin(+1.5) has beaten a couple blocks to rush up the middle; Gillett has to bug out lest he gets crushed (pressure +1). Gillett has room to run after he breaks the pocket but, like, fine.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(50), EOH.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O33||1||10||Ace 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||PA sack||Roh||-7|
|This doesn't end up under because of motion, but whatever. EMU goes play action and Roh(+2) reads the PA seemingly before the mesh point with the RB. This is not hell-bent QB obsession, as he takes a step inside, sees the puller, and then heads upfield. He gets outside Gillett; Gillett slows up, Roh still grabs him; Martin(+1) beat a block and comes into finish the job. (Pressure +2)|
|O26||2||17||I-Form||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Ryan?||5|
|Ryan(-1) is not used to playing off the line and it shows, as he sits in the hole way too long. RVB(-1) is the playside DE and fights inside his block, which seems like a good idea only if there's a LB containing—if you're in an under. They aren't. Here Ryan is off the line and once RVB fights inside there is a bounce. RB takes it. Gordon(+0.5) fills quickly; Floyd(+0.5) comes up on the edge to tackle.|
|O31||3||12||Shotgun empty 2TE||Okie||Run||N/A||QB power||--||5|
|A give up and punt. Jet sweep action, Michigan is pass blitzing. Combo is a bit odd and gets Gillett to the second level, where Floyd(+0.5) comes up to whack; Hawthorne(+0.5) finishes him off.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 7 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O35||1||10||Ace 4-wide||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power||Campbell||5|
|DTs are Campbell (nose) and Washington (3tech). EMU runs a-gap power, pulling a G around into the hole between Campbell and RVB. Campbell(-1) gets pushed out of the hole easily and RB is into the second level without delay. Demens(+0.5) forms up, takes on a blocker, and disconnects to tackle with help from Hawthorne(+0.5). RVB(-1) was easily passed off, allowing that block on Demens to be executed.|
|O40||2||5||I-Form||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Campbell||4|
|Campbell(-1) stands straight up and gets Heininger'd. This provides a small crease for decent yardage; RVB(+0.5) held on the edge and Demens was there to close it down.|
|O44||3||1||I-Form trip TE||4-4 under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||--||3|
|Line shifting in response to the formation flip and Michigan has this defensed for a loss except for a pretty good cutback by the EMU back. He just manages to squeeze through a gap between RVB and Martin's blockers, tripping as he goes; Demens is there to bump but the cutback was too quick—guy just went straight upfield, really—to do anything about it.|
|O47||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||Flare screen||--||Inc|
|Dropped. May or may not have worked if completed.|
|O47||2||10||I-Form||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Roh||1|
|Running at the strong bit of the line. Roh(+2) slants under the TE, gets held, takes on a lead blocker, and fights through all that to tackle for no gain. RVB(+0.5) held up well on his block and helps constrict the hole; this was a blitz that worked against power (RPS +1).|
|Kovacs(-1), blitzing off the edge, does not execute the look-for-puller-flatten key like Ryan did earlier and gets upfield/outside of the guy. Hawthorne(-2) reads the play and has no one blocking him but takes a shallow angle and misses a tackle(-1) that would boot EMU off the field.|
|M42||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Down G||Hawthorne||10 (Pen -10)|
|Okay, Michigan is slanting to the weak side after aligning to the weakside, which means you're going to have a lot of players back there and not up there, if you know what I mean. In the past when I've seen something like this both linebackers bug out for the playside because they are needed. Here Demens does, getting outside and forcing a cutback; Hawthorne(-2) does not, getting blocked by the backside tackle. Ryan(+1), the SLB, had slanted inside the pulling T and was tackled, drawing a flag that erases the gain. Kovacs again cleaned up (+0.5, tackling +1).|
|O48||1||20||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Pin and pull zone||Ryan||12|
|SDE Brink(-1) handled by single blocking from an EMU TE as two OL pull around. Ryan(-2) gives up the edge; three tech Heininger(-1) was blown up, erasing Hawthorne. Demens gets blocked by a puller. Black(+1) was tearing hard on pursuit from the backside and tackles from behind(!) after about ten yards. His pursuit has been outstanding; on this play all he needed was a little delay on the edge to tackle from behind at the LOS.|
|M40||2||8||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Down G||Black||-2|
|Michigan slanting playside since they're lined up away from the strength of the formation. Black(+2)slides past the TE's block and gets into the puller in the backfield. Campbell(+0.5) threatens to get into the backfield and draws the C's attention; Hawthorne(+1) shoots the gap in front of him for a TFL.|
|M42||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||Rollout scramble||Roh||2|
|Gordon to nickel as MRobinson comes in. Sprint draw fake to Gillett rollout. Roh(+1) is on the edge and starts chasing (pressure +1), causing Gillett to abandon things after his first read is covered(+1). His scramble goes for little.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 28-3, 11 min 4th Q. Last drive is garbage time; not charted.|
THEY ALL BE RUNNIN' YO
Yeah… they do all be runnin'.
It's a combination of things. Abitrary pie graph? Arbitrary pie chart:
For confirmation of this, let's check the
ARBITRARY PIE CHART
We already checked that.
BORING ASS NON COLORED CHART
Chart. A disclaimer: since Eastern hardly threw there were scant opportunities for DL to pick up bonuses on plays where they get collective minuses for lack of pressure, so even-ish is okay.
|Van Bergen||8||6||2||Had some trouble holding up; also made some big plays.|
|Martin||10.5||1||9.5||Consistently fought playside of blocker appropriately but got bupkis for it.|
|Roh||7.5||-||7.5||Did some things.|
|Brink||-||2||-2||Handled one on one.|
|Heininger||2.5||4||-1.5||Got blown up more often than he made plays.|
|Black||12||3||9||A monster in pursuit and played well at the POA.|
|Campbell||3||2||1||Doesn't seem that real.|
|TOTAL||44.5||18||26.5||Goal line stand is a major reason this is so positive, but, hey, goal line stand.|
|Demens||3.5||4.5||-1||Slow to diagnose some things.|
|Ryan||3.5||7||-3.5||Eaten up on the edge.|
|Fitzgerald||0.5||-||0.5||A few plays.|
|Beyer||-||-||-||Did not register.|
|Hawthorne||5||11||-6||Slow reads really got him.|
|TOTAL||12.5||22.5||-10||Edge edge edge edge edge.|
|Avery||-||-||-||DNP in charted time.|
|Kovacs||6||2.5||3.5||I don't even know what to do.|
|T. Gordon||6.5||-||6.5||Two solid safeties? Is this legal?|
|Robinson||-||-||-||One play before charting ceased.|
|TOTAL||12.5||4.5||8||Half of that the INT.|
|Tackling||3||2||1||Need Hawthorne to get guys down.|
|RPS||8||6||2||Hugely reduced numbers as M goes vanilla|
So the defensive line numbers came out more positive and the linebackers more negative than I expected, but a quick glance at the chart above shows a lot of EMU success on the flanks, where linemen are doing well just to remain in the picture. Even on the power stuff the theme is obvious:
Demens(-2) definitely needs to get outside the first blocker to funnel the RB back to his help. He does not. ... Hawthorne(-2) gives up the corner ... they pitch outside, where there isn't anyone ... Guys right over the LBs are pulling and both are so late. What can they be keying on? Hawthorne(-2) is especially late ... Hawthorne(-2) reads the play and has no one blocking him but takes a shallow angle and misses a tackle(-1) ... In the past when I've seen something like this both linebackers bug out for the playside because they are needed. Here Demens does, getting outside and forcing a cutback; Hawthorne(-2) does not, getting blocked by the backside tackle.
Linebackers not getting to the hole, Hawthorne especially. This is a great example of the day's theme:
1: The three tech is not helping matters. Here it's RVB.
2: Hawthorne + block = done
3: Y U NO DEMENS
4: Jibreel Black bailing our asses out.
Here's another one. Watch RVB get blown out and Demens not funnel back to Hawthorne, and Jibreel Black bail our asses out:
Why would Hawthorne be so disappointing a week after a good game against Notre Dame?
Hawthorne didn't blitz or cover against EMU, two things he flashed great skill at in the ND game. Instead of sending him places where he has a job and is suppose to do it, they asked him to play linebacker straight up and he got blocked tons. The rest of it is just not reading the plays quickly enough, something I noted last week.
I'm curious as to what he was doing when Michigan slanted its line, though. When I've seen this in the past—and I have plenty—what happens is the line slants one way and the LBs roar over the top the opposite direction. This eats up cutback lanes and gets that offensive lineman who releases downfield immediately blocking no one, leaving the weakside LB a free hitter. Michigan didn't do that when they slanted:
Look at this:
There's nothing but a TFL on the back side of this play because the line slanted to the weakside of the formation. Hawthorne has to get playside of that guy releasing because there's going to be a hole. It's going to be a hole without anyone to block him in it if he gets to it quickly enough; instead he gets hammered.
When he did things right—and he did a couple—he was a decisive slasher. He, more than most LBs, needs to figure out the play and hit a gap before blocking can get in place. He's not going to make a lot of plays by taking on lead blockers. Diagnosis skills are key for him.
I think EMU actually did us a favor here by exposing a lot of mistakes in the defense. The film room this week is going to have a lot of "ohhhhhhh" moments; hopefully we can iron some of this out before Ronnie Hillman shows up this weekend.
So, Jibreel Black and Craig Roh both did things.
Yes, yes they did. A lot of Black's positives are encompassed above, and Roh got off the stat schneid with a sack and some other tackles. It's not that Roh has been actively bad. He's done a number of quiet things that help the D without showing up on the statsheet. For one, he's the hidden reason Michigan made that fourth down stop on the goal line. He got penetration and caused a lead blocking EMU OL to leap at the endzone from the three. RB had to follow, Kovacs came in from the side, stop. He's probably not going to be James Hall at this point but he can be solid.
Black looks like a different player, though. That downfield pursuit on the fumble recover is both smart and fast. He did that all day. If anyone was holding the edge on a number of plays he would have been crushing dudes from behind. He's holding up at the POA better (against Eastern, granted) and seems to be emerging into a starter.
Here's a thing that has a 50-50 chance at happening: Michigan starts playing both at the same time, with Roh (probably) at strongside DE. Roh's bigger, Black's pursuing like a mofo, and Roh has far too much experience coping as an SDE, which he played as a freshman when he was too exploitable alone on the edge and sort of played last year when he moved to a three-man line. Is he ideal? No. Is it a way to get better personnel on the field? I think so.
What's wrong with Mike Martin?
I don't think anything is yet. He's having a hard time making an impact when everyone's heading outside.
They get an incomplete on the day, though Thomas Gordon did take another step forward, and not just because he speared a pass I would have rated an 0.5 if he was a receiver.
Jibreel Black had his best day in a winged helmet; Martin was solid inside; Roh got off the schneid; Gordon interception hello.
Pick a linebacker, with Hawthorne having the toughest day. Also the three-tech is a sore spot. Heininger got blown out, yeah, but you can see that RVB suffered the same fate in a couple of those clips above.
What does it mean for SDSU and the future?
Unfortunately, Hawthorne has not locked down the starting WLB job and will probably have to fight for it as long as he's not diagnosing pulling linemen more quickly. The three tech spot is a sore one and will need to be addressed if the interior run D is going to hold up; choosing between freshmen at SLB is leaving Michigan vulnerable on the edge.
I know everyone says the three tech gets one on one blocking, but that has not been the case so far this year and the inability to hold up there has caused a multitude of problems.
As for the rest of it… Black may or may not be a player. Check back in a couple weeks to see if he keeps it up against better competition.
This is the point at which we see learning happen—they're not very good right now but since they won't be swapping systems midseason these issues with play diagnosis should get better. We are all scarred by the last few years; here is where they start sucking less when people teach them how to play football.
Hypothesis! Michigan is going to start slanting heavily when they feel they're in trouble. The three tech is not holding up well, the linebackers are not good when being asked to read and react, but they've got a lot of DL who can get penetration when tasked with being aggressive one-gap players and linebackers who can come over the top to the other side. It will be a high risk, high reward system but against teams with good running games the alternative is getting bled to death because your guys are getting plowed or are hesitant.
News bullets and other important things:
- Vincent Smith is starting at RB.
- Thomas Rawls is second or third on RB depth chart.
- Russell Bellomy is scout team QB to simulate Ryan Lindley.
- Matt Wile hit a 59-yard field goal in practice.
Greg said yesterday that he’s asking the Michigan defense to play perfect. What does that mean? “I think perfect means perfect, and it’s a part of what you want to be. You’d like to go out and play a perfect game. When you say that, you have high expectations for each individual out there for a specific position and for the defense itself. Whether it’s playing your base package, your sub packages, whatever -- if they’re doing exactly what thye’re supposed to do with the best of their abilities with great effort and toughness.”
Will Vincent Smith be the starting running back? “Yeah, I would think so. And Fitz had a good day yesterday, too. Both those guys ran the ball hard. Rawls ran the ball hard. He had some snaps in there. I think we’re still trying to find what the magic combination is.”
Don’t want to be running back by committee, but is there a point where you want to see just one guy to establish rhythm? “I think there’s a point, but I can’t tell you on the 21st of September that we know when that point’s going to happen. I think there’s good things that they all do, but at the same time, we want that guy who’s going to play a perfect game.”
Where does Rawls fit into the depth chart right now? Would he be second or third? “Probably somewhere in there.”
Mike Shaw has gotten fewer carries. What’s going on with him? “He has to be a little more consistent in everything that we do. He’ll have his time in there. There’s a lot that goes along with being a back besides running the football, and we’ve got to be a little more consistent in those areas. He’s working his tail off. That’s the encouraging thing.”
How important is running back pass protection in a week like this? “It will be very important. This is unique. You never know what Rocky Long’s going to have in store for you. Working for him for six years on the defensive side of the ball, he’s going to have something you haven’t see and something a little different.”
Rocky Long does funky things with defense. As his head coach did you talk about those things with him? “We ran it at Oregon State. Believe me I still have playbooks from that, not that it helps, because he’s evolved quite a bit from the basics. Number one, the personality of that team and the quickness of that team -- the thing that you equate it to from a defensive standpoint, when you play midline option to use a true triple option, your defense has to catch up a little bit with the tempo and the speed. I think it’s the same way offensively three or four possessions in, trying to have a clear understanding of what the defense is doing and catching up to that speed.”
What do you do for the scout team? “Well they’ve been working like heck. They gave them a great look yesterday. Roy Manning, the GA who runs it, did a great job of preparing them for it. Credit to those kids on the look teams -- they did a nice job.”
You have a quarterback still in his first year getting used to the offense. How difficult is it to prepare for such a unique defensive set? “When you look at your schedule, I think there’s a uniqueness to every defense. Some of that may be if you’re going to be a man team, a man free team, a tampa 2 team … He did a nice job yesterday. What we ask a quarterback to do, getting in and out of things, that’s a good start.”
Is it a problem that you don’t have anyone on the scout team who can throw the ball as well as Lindley? “Well, Russell Bellomy throws the ball pretty well. So that’s a plus. I really think the pride that those guys are really getting when it comes to giving you great looks. We reward those guys who do the best job every week. We’ve had two guys a lot of the time, which is good. I think they’re doing a daggone good job. In fact one guy came up to me and apologized after practice because he didn’t think he did a good enough job. That tells you a little bit about their consciousness of helping the football team.”
How would you assess tight end play up to this point? “I think we’re doing okay. Kevin’s a really good tight end to do both -- blocks at the point of attack well, runs good routes, catches the ball well. Brandon’s coming along well. Steve we’ve used both at fullback and tight end. Ricardo hadn’t gotten any playing time yet, but he gets some good work with them. He’s escobar for us this week and doing a nice job of running the routes and the speed and those things. I think they’ve been pretty good.”
You looked a little mad when team when over to student section after the Eastern Game. How come? “I wanted to score a touchdown at the end instead of a field goal.” Is that something you’re going to allow the team to do? “Yeah it’s fine. I mean, the students are important. I hope they will get there early. We need a lot of noise.”
Greg said that he’s been very hard on Craig Roh, and about a week ago he saw a different player. “I think if you’d ask Craig, he’ll tell you his best week of practice was last week. It’s amazing -- how you practice is how you play. That’s always a battle, Angelique. Angelique, is it your birthday? Are you 39? 29?” I’m still younger than the head football coach at Michigan. “So is everybody else! But, uh, no, that’s something that you always push and you always want. You’re going to play like you practice, and that’s what he did.”
How has he practiced this week? “Good. He’s been good. He’s got a lot of pride and ownership of you are, and pride and ownership of who you represent.”
Is part of that breaking bad habits and rebuilding them? “We all have habits, good or bad. I think the expectations that we have for the kids and what they have for themsleves are always different. We’re coaching pretty hard but fair. We love them and kiss them on the cheek when they do things the right way, and kick them in the butt -- not literally, please understand that.” So you do kiss them on the cheek? “I do. Yeah.”
Is there a lot of emphasis on special teams coverage? “Yeah. Part of that’s placing the ball. Part of that is doing a good job of lane recognition and the block recognition at full speed. Wasn’t as bad as you think, and I hate saying that. I think the kids have a lot of pride, and they don’t like if we think they didn’t do as well as they could.”
Wile hit a 59-yarder in practice. Would you try such a long field goal? “Yeah. Yup.”
You want defense to be perfect. At what point would you say they were perfect or had a perfect game? “Hm. I don’t know. I don’t know.” Have you ever said that about any of your defenses? “Nope.”
Q: How did Eastern Michigan run for 4.5 YPC despite having their quarterback attempt five passes all game?
A: There were a few different issues. Here's one of the minor ones.
It's first and ten on EMU's first drive of the day. They've just gotten a first down on a jet sweep. Their second play from scrimmage is POWER they will run with POWER and on the BIG TEN NETWORK they use HUGE WIDE ANGLES instead of REAL TIGHT ANGLES and this was going to be MATT FOLEY but now it's more like a BRAWNDO COMMERCIAL.
Anyway. EMU I-Form, Michigan responds with an even front with three linebackers back. They'll run power at Will Heininger. The images will be a little fuzzy. Tackle box:
On the snap the backside G pulls; linebackers start creepin':
The playside DE is Craig Roh and he'll do a pretty good job. He's at the LOS, his guy is a yard or so behind it, he's able to release either way. He is not sealed. This is what he looks like:
This is the essence of a half-point. You are relevant to the play. You are basically doing your job. When everyone does their job and you don't get rock-paper-scisssored you are not going to give up many yards. Roh will eventually get plastered by a pulling G and tumble to the ground, but that's fine. Two guys blocking you means someone's free to hit.
If the rest of the line did this there'd be nothing. Unfortunately, this is Will Heininger's fate (second from the top in the first frame):
You can see the blue stripe. Roh has his helmet on it. Heininger ends up a yard behind it and sealed away. That middle frame is a butt-kicking, and the third frame is the result: two Michigan players with no hope of making a tackle.
The result of this is a hole with blockers headed out to the linebackers:
Here's the key point as EMU's #13 has to whack Roh, leaving the pulling G for Hawthorne. If there's a crack here the RB is into the secondary:
Hawthorne holds and the RB runs up the back of his blockers. His other option is a bounce outside that Floyd may or may not have covered:
The blob stops moving after about six yards.
I don't think Heininger can hold up. Last week I pointed out a couple instances where one on one blocking handled him easily against ND; here he gets blown up by a couple of dudes from Eastern Michigan. He makes plays from time to time but I shudder to think about what will happen when we play Illinois, Nebraska, and Ohio State to close out the year. Those OSU drives against Miami where their interior line whooped that of the 'Canes give me the heebie-jeebies.
So Campbell's pretty important, and every time I see something like this it increments my Rodriguez firing justification meter, especially with Jon Hankins starting as a sophomore for OSU.
The playside DT is probably the most important player on a power. We've explored what happens when DEs aren't in the right spot, but what happens when they are in the right spot is not often impactful. The play kicks you out and you need to restrict the hole; you also need to be prepared for a bounce. This makes it hard to do much* except sit there and maybe try an arm tackle if the running back passes by close enough.
The playside DT is kind of the key to the whole thing. If the DE is in the right spot and that DT holds up to the double two things are going to happen:
- the hole in the line is going to be very narrow or nonexistent.
- one of the linebackers is going to be a free hitter.
If the guy gets caved in it's hard not to give up your three to seven yards. It's hard not to get caved in—that's why they double you—and this is why planet-sized DTs are popular.
*[Exceptions for slants and stuff granted.]
Michigan's alignment exposes Heininger to the double. This is not the "under" alignment that usually allows the three-tech to take on single blocking. Here he's on the strongside between the G and T. Ryan is not on the line hovering over the TE.
That's about it. It's bad if your DT gets his butt kicked. SCIENCE!
Are you glad you scheduled San Diego State? "Uh ... no."
How did this game turn into running Denard 25 times? Was that part of the game plan? “Uh, no, we don’t want to get him beat up. We’re going to play in a pretty physical league, so we have to make sure we get it out of the way. I thought Vince and those guys did a nice job. Vince and Touss’, did a good job running the football. It takes a toll on your body. He’s not the biggest guy in the world.”
How much of defensive struggle in the first quarter was them outscheming you vs. them winning the battle up front? “I think that the jet sweep, which is part of their offense -- it hasn’t been a huge part depending on different things that you watch game-wise, but I thought that was really where they hurt us early in the football game. But after the guys settled down and got used to where they tried to leverage you, they played pretty well.”
Can Vincent Smith be the lead back? “He ran the ball pretty well today. Until you analyze it, look at it, and really evaluate it, I would hate to say that.”
Thomas Gordon made two big plays. Talk about him, please. “Thomas had a really good summer, and it starts there [with] what he did with his weight and how he reported to camp. I think his attitude and Michigan football being important to him, and his teammates being important, and just the way he’s come to practice everyday, I’m really proud of him for doing those things. It’s paying off for him and paying off for us.”
Did the team seem flat early? “No -- [Eastern Michigan’s coaches] are good coaches too. I think they had a good plan. I think a lot of the movement and some of those things, they’re a little bit unconventional as it is from that standpoint. I thought they did a good job.”
What can you do to get passing game going? “I think we just have to be better with our feet. Setting our feet on some of our throws. That’s usually where it starts with our quarterback. We need to do a better job there. It would have helped with some possessions early in the ballgame, if we make a couple first downs.”
This is the third game you started slow on defense. Is there a way to combat that? “If there was, I think we would have tried to do that. We just have to execute some things better. There’s not a real answer to it besides we have to keep working on it and keep playing hard with it. Guys have to do a great job in practice, which they have. That part of our team has really made some good strides. It’s coming along.”
Can you talk about in-game adjustments to shore up defense? “You always have the things that you want to run from a defensive perspective. And there’s also things that may be on the fringe. We were pretty vanilla and pretty base today. But there’s a couple movements Greg called that helped us. A couple adjustments coverage-wise that helped us. More on the run support than the actually coverage.”
When it was 28-3, did you think about giving Devin some snaps? “Not really. I’ve been around this game a long time, and I never feel real comfortable until it’s :00 on the clock. We wanted to down and put the ball in the endzone, and unfortunately we didn’t.”
Assess how the defensive front did today. “I felt them a little more this week. I felt Mike, I felt Craig, and Ryan. I felt those three guys than I have.”
Running game -- what started clicking for you, and how big was it to have Vincent Smith to complement Denard? “It’s huge. I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s not. The offensive staff came in at halftime, and said, ‘This is what we liked, this is how we’re want to align it formationally, this is how we need to tweak the blocking of it,’ and it went pretty well. Vince did a nice job. He made one cut too many on one run, but he did a nice job with his vision, and I thought Fitz did also.”
When you get a tailback going, what does it do for confidence of running backs as a whole? “They’re all very competitive. I also think they all want to play. But I think they also are very supportive of each other.”
Jibreel made a difference out there. Talk about him. “I think Jibreel’s played pretty consistent the last two games. I just didn’t feel him as much as I felt those other guys.”
Another big play by Kovacs on fourth-and-one. What happened? “It was a man coverage situation, and he was locked on that guy, and he did a tremendous job of beating the guy to the edge, to be honest with you. It’s something that Curt Mallory had worked with those guys all week.”
You’re off to a 3-0 start. This happened the last few years, too. Tougher opponents ahead. Cold shower? “Tougher opponents – I think they’re all tough. Believe me. College football – they’re all tough. Every game is such a from-the-neck-up football game. We’re a different team. I mean, yeah, we’ve been there, but we have to improve so much tomorrow when we look at the film and see, maybe we got out-leveraged here on this and why. There’s some urgency things when you’re setting up front, and guys getting lined up and all those things. Not getting technical, but we’ve got to go to work. I am not the funnest guy in the world like I am today, but Sunday to Friday, we have work to do.”
Second week in a row Gallon’s done some good things. Talk about him. “Well I think Jeremy’s another one of those guys who really, you could sense some things in his demeanor. Change in the spring. He had a really good summer, and good fall camp. He’s earning respect because of how he’s coming to work, how he’s playing.”
Denard had some problems passing. What do you want to see from receivers to help him out? “That one interception, that was kind of a bang-bang deal. I think Junior – if he comes back a little bit more, he maybe could have bodied the guy more and been in a better position. We’re pleased with our quarterback and I’m glad he’s at Michigan.”
You talked about Denard setting his feet. How hard is it to get him to set his feet when he loves to run so much? “I think it always is [hard] when you have a guy who can make multiple plays because of his athelticism. There’s no doubt that it’s a little more difficult. It is, and he’s done a nice job, and we just have to keep working, and he’s got to keep working on it and focusing and concentrating on that improvement in his game.”
Are Herron and Cam Gordon close to coming back? “Cam is real close, and so is Herron. I would think they’d both be ready next week.”
We didn’t see a lot of power runs today. A lot of spread instead. Is this by design or just playing more to Denard’s strengths as the game goes along? “It’s kind of what we’ve been since we started in the spring, to be honest with you. The quarterback power is still the power play, the read zone a little bit, and a couple things how we’re blocking that a little bit different depending on front. When we got I-backs today -- and Phil Snow’s a tremendous defensive coordinator, the guy has a tremendous pedigree -- he was going to load the box. That’s when we had a couple opportunities with some throws, because it’s all man coverage. You connect on those and the game changes a little bit.”
Thoughts on next game? “A guy from San Diego would ask that, wouldn’t he? I tell you, we have our hands full. That’s a very good football team, and a wel- coached football team, and a talented team. We’re going to try and get by the next 12 hours and then focus on that one.”
Glad you scheduled them? “Uh … no.”
Craig Roh got some stats today. Talk about him, too, please. “I thought he played more physical today. I thought he played with a little bit of a different mentality. He was aggressive. And you can really tell how he prepared all week he was going to do a great job for us today.”
Michael Schofield made an appearance -- what happened with Ricky Barnum? “His shoe came off. He’s got big feet. To get a big shoe on a big foot, sometimes it takes time.”
The way you guys end the game isn’t how you always start the game. What’s the deal? “I think it’s a little bit of both. I think both units, offensively and defensively … their respective coaches do a tremendous job of gathering information during possessions during the first half and coming in there as a group and each other’s room, taking some things out, putting some things in, making some adjustments, and relaying them to the kids so they can understand it. We [as coaches] can understand it all we want, but it doesn’t do us any good. If they understand it, then you’re going to make progress.”
When Denard struggles in the passing game, do you actively give him more carries to get him into rhythm? “I don’t know if we do that. I think your comfort level that you always want your quarterback to have is important, because he and the center and the only two guys that will touch the ball every play. Al looked at where we were and what we needed to do, and because we have worked on both styles so much, it’s easy to revert back and forth.”