...talks about how UConn hasn't been in contact and how they're out. (HT: UMHoops)
Newsbits of importance from Tom. Dark I'm-not-saying-I'm-just-saying rumors about Craig Roh and Demetrius Hart have been flying around the internets this week. Tom clarifies. On Craig Roh:
My source told me that Craig has been concerned with his position switch to linebacker, and believes he is much more effective as a defensive end.
Craig actually vocalized his concern about his position to the coaches after the Penn State game, and my source says that he has been playing much more on the defensive line during practice this week.
Roh's apparently been handed to Bruce Tall and will no longer be mostly a linebacker. This is both good and another instance of players coaching themselves. Meanwhile, Demetrius Hart decommit rumors are false:
There was a slight mix up with Demetrius' enrollment with Michigan, but it has been cleared up. That was the issue, it wasn't that anyone was recruiting him harder, or anything along those lines. Everything has been straightened out, and his mom says Demetrius will be at Michigan in January.
Insert the usual CYA boilerplate about how anything can happen, but you can focus your panic elsewhere.
Crowded. JT Floyd is officially out for the year with "freak" ligament damage in his ankle. Hooray.
The Never Forget banner guy has updated it, and if any further members of the secondary wish to make themselves unavailable they'd advised to do it quickly because we're running out of room:
New additions are Michael Williams (concussions), JT Floyd (ligament damage), Jared Van Slyke (leg injury), and Vlad Emilien (transfer). Available locations are limited to that patch of maize underneath the crying wolverine. Given the state of the secondary this is getting considerably more RR-fault-ridden as the year goes along. Justin Turner and Vlad Emilien's transfers are big deals with the free safety depth chart reading "Ray Vinopal" and the corner depth chart reading "Random Three Star Freshman Projects and James Rogers."
At least the Floyd injury has been a productive one for the legions of Michigan photoshoppers:
So we've got that going for us. Courtney Avery will draw into the lineup for Floyd.
Okay, a final final final word or two. It's unfortunate that Anchorman references are vastly overused because sometimes there's nothing you can say except…
…I'm not even mad, I'm impressed. That is amazing. I'm sitting on this pile of ninja corpses, covered in blood. As the sun rises over a scene of indescribable gore I laugh, because what else is there to do?
Probably not in the special section about how naughty Michigan's been:
the committee wrote that "though serious," the overage was "far less extensive than originally reported and that no student-athletes were substantially harmed."
Though this was obvious as soon as the smoke cleared last August because the piece was so shoddily written, it is now official. Hurrah for pyrrhic victories.
Watch this. The House Rock Built's "Stuffing The Passer" series is the best thing going in the CFB blogosphere right now:
If "Shit My Dad Says" is being made into a sitcom, Stuffing The Passer can't be far behind.
Elsewhere in coach grumbling. You've probably seen this but Brandon Graham has some depressing quotes that point towards the Those Meddling Kids theory:
I’m surprised they didn’t stick with what Coach Robinson was running,” Graham said of the 3-4 the team deployed in 2009, its first year under Robinson. … “Let Coach Robinson play his defense,” Graham said. “Let him do what he knows. He was thrown off, I would say. I know the 3-3-5 is what he (Rodriguez) has been doing for so long. He’s just got to adjust to the Big Ten.”
Michigan ran a 4-3 under last year but that's beside the point. Those quotes from a guy who was in the program last year indicate that no one who doesn't know a 3-3-5 like the back of his hand is ever going to be comfortable as a defensive coordinator at Michigan as long as the WVU guys are around saying things like "hey it's a bye week, I've got this great idea."
While everyone says "scheme is overrated," Michigan's offense puts the lie to that. It's not necessarily the 3-3-5 itself—this is not a BLANK can't work in the Big Ten argument—but attempting to run an exotic niche defense with a guy who doesn't know it (and evidence suggests is a terrible coach anyway).
I'm pretty sure this is as close as we'll get to an opinion from Angelique Chengelis, if that's actually what it is:
Hope for next year?
Much has been made about Michigan's defense, which is near the bottom of several national categories, including total defense. Illinois was in a similar spot last year, but has made strides under new defensive coordinator Vic Koenning:
Scoring defense: 30.2 (96th) in 2009, 16.8 (12th) in 2010
Total defense: 403.3 (91st) in 2009, 301.4 (15th) in 2010
Pass defense: 248.8 (100th) in 2009, 183.9 (19th) in 2010
Rush defense: 154.4 (76th) in 2009, 117.5 (26th) in 2010
That certainly reads like a "hint, hint."
Defensive antidote. Via Wolverine Historian:
Penn State jerkos. As an internet fanbase, Penn State has a remarkable knack for accusing others of pathologies they're displaying literally within the accusation itself. The latest example is a piece at Black Shoe Diaries the author probably thinks is Swiftian satire that takes a sentence from the game recap, some random comment I don't recognize and didn't make about the Terrence Talbott whiffed PBU that turned into 40 yards, a somewhat maudlin paragraph from Maize and Brew supporting Rodriguez, and a random quote from pissed off David Molk. It combines these to show how self-centered Michigan fans are… in a post whining that Michigan fans didn't give Penn State its proper respect.
BSD can talk about self-centered behavior when they do this:
Indiana has a legitimately very good pass offense. They had 41 opportunities to make catches and made 40. Chappell almost never went to the wrong guy and missed on maybe five of his 65 attempts. Their receivers are tall and fast and shifty. One dollar they're the most productive pass offense in the conference at the end of the year.
Michigan State has somehow acquired the without-question best stable of tailbacks in the league; Iowa's Adam Robinson isn't bad but he's not the equivalent of Baker/Bell/Caper, and there's only one of him.
Indiana imploded and Michigan State's run game is pretty mediocre. We tried the credit-the-opponent bit and then all of the opponents turned out to be much worse on offense than Michigan made them look. Doing it now against your gritty moxie ginger neckbeard quarterback would be delusional. Penn State sucks and Michigan is worse. But I said Ogbu is a beast, so your pathetic insecurities can be a tiny bit less pathetic. Let's hold hands.
Now go talk about how arrogant we are as you caress each other's soft places while whispering "what if Michigan never comes back" and we discuss whether we should keep Rich Rodriguez and worry about falling into a Notre Dame-like fallow period. Tim was right to describe BSD as a place utterly incapable of recognizing irony.
Etc.: Craig Roh's eyebrows, and the rest of Craig Roh, are attractive to some guy who ranks him the #13 "hottie" of the year in CFB. Yost Built has ten things to know about Alaska. Amani Toomer is running marathons now.
Formation notes: After two games in which Michigan deployed a lot of 4 man fronts and mixed in some 3-4 and 3-3-5 looks Michigan was almost exclusively stack against Penn State. They did move Demens (and Roh/Fitzgerald) back at halftime. First half:
Substitution notes: Martin played maybe the first two series before coming out, and didn't do anything in that time. He was replaced by a combination of Sagesse and Patterson. Black and Banks are now platooning regularly, with Banks still getting most of the snaps. RVB is the line's ironman. He never comes out.
At linebacker it was Demens and Mouton the whole way with Fitzerald getting a drive or three when Michigan thought Roh wasn't playing well. Cam Gordon and Thomas Gordon split time at spur. Rogers was replaced by Talbott for much of the game. Vinopal went the distance at FS.
On with it:
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O29||1||10||Ace trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||PA Fly||Floyd||Inc|
|Play action bomb against three deep; McGloin sets up and throws deep to his tiny guy Smith. Ball is underthrown and Floyd is in decent position, though a long enough throw beats him. Floyd has a chance to intercept but doesn't look for the ball quickly enough and a throw that looks like it was to him hits the turf. Um. I have to: Floyd +1, cover +1, pressure -1.|
|O29||2||10||I-form twins||Base 4-3||Run||Off tackle||Banks||0|
|Banks(+2) gets immediately playside of the PSU RT and drives him into the backfield. Michigan's running some sort of stunt on the backside that looks pretty unsound and as a result Demens was swallowed by two OL; Mouton is walled off by another—none of this matters because Banks has driven into the path of the RB and tackled him at the LOS by himself. Bad omen for the future.|
|O29||3||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||3||Scramble||Demens||11|
|One DT drops off to chuck the RB, looking for a screen. Martin(-1) comes through to flush McGloin, but with only three guys rushing there's a gap to the other side of him and McGloin steps up, sees no one, and runs. Demens(-1) is the guy nearest to him and gave up the corner because he drifted too far inside on a TE crossing route. This is definitely his fault: C. Gordon is going with his guy all the way downfield. Martin gets the -1 for coming up the wrong side and giving up the lane.|
|O40||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||N/A||PA Throwaway||Van Bergen||Inc|
|RVB(+1, pressure +1) gets upfield of his blocker and immediately releases into McGloin, forcing him to toss it away.|
|O40||2||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||5||Slant||Floyd||16|
|Michigan shifts late to man coverage and Floyd(-2, cover -2) isn't even in the same zip code as Smith on a simple slant. He can't even make a tackle, giving up another eight yards after the catch.|
|M44||1||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Kovacs||4|
|Michigan moves late to a one-high by, sending Kovacs into the box, and the shift gets PSU in a bad playcall. Seems like a designed cutback and a really bizarre scheme: Demens is like a yard from Martin and gets hit by a tackle; Mouton is way back and is scraping to the nominal frontside of the play only to get blown up by the FB as he drags himself out of position. Kovacs(+0.5) is there in the hole as a result of the late move to tackle near the LOS but he grabs ankles and allows Royster to spin forward for a decent gain. I'm guessing I'm going to neg a lot of guys because of this weird setup but not yet. This was the "This Is Not A Stack" play.|
|M40||2||6||Shotgun 2-back TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Pin and pull zone||C. Gordon||3|
|Completely bizarre play from C. Gordon(-0.5) here, who is the contain guy to this side. Instead of flowing down the line and keeping outside leverage somewhere near the LOS he takes a weird looping downfield angle that sees him five yards downfield by the time the RB gets outside; he also impeded Roh with his weird delayed move outside. RVB(+1) had driven his guy well upfield and forced an outside angle by the RB, which allowed Gordon time to recover and hold the gain down.|
|M37||3||3||I-form||Stack two deep||Pass||3||FB screen||Mouton||8|
|Three guys and still no one to sniff out the screen. Mouton(-1, cover -1) failed to read it and dropped very deep when he should have been staring right at it. Demens had a guy coming across his zone to drop into and then flows to tackle—without that this will go for a lot more. (RPS -1)|
|M29||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||5|
|Banks(-1) crushed two yards downfield by a double. Mouton comes up to hit a pulling guard and restricts the hole but there's nothing anyone can do to prevent Royster from burrowing behind his linemen for a decent gain.|
|M24||2||5||Ace trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Quick out||Banks||Inc|
|Banks(+1, pressure +1) knocks down the quick out at the LOS. Probably open for the first if not batted.|
|M24||3||5||Ace trips||Stack two deep||Pass||5||Flare||Roh?||7|
|Michigan sends five and RVB(+0.5) swims through an OG to get to McGloin, forcing a dumpoff that is so open I have no idea who I should even blame. Roh(-1) is the most likely suspect (cover -2, RPS -1)|
|Michigan covers(+1) McGloin's first read and then Black(+1) is one-on-one with the RB as PSU slides their protection. He gets cut but manages to stay up and threatening, forcing a rollout and a throwaway (pressure +1)|
|M17||2||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||Mouton||14|
|Double shoves Martin out of the hole; he shoots up under it but to no avail. Demens takes a step to the playside and is then engulfed by two OL because he's too damn close to the LOS to do anything about it. There's a hole and one blocker for Mouton to deal with; he shoots past the guy and is on the verge of a +3 for a monster play when he lets Royster through his tackle(-1 Mouton, -1) and pick up a huge gain thanks to a missed tackle(-1) from Vinopal(-2). RPS -1.|
|M3||1||G||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||3|
|Banks(-1) destroyed by a single block and pancaked, giving the edge. Kovacs(-1) blocked and does not keep contain, giving up the edge for Royster as well.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O44||1||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||C. Gordon||20|
|Another huge cutback lane. I'm not entirely sure who this is on because depending on assignment it could be any of Roh, Cam Gordon, and Van Bergen. Van Bergen is upfield as the unblocked backside guy and is cut by a TE pulling to the backside. Roh is flowing to the frontside and seems too close to Demens for that to be a good idea; Cam Gordon is either way too far outside or properly setting up to catch any bounces outside. -2 Roh for filling the same hole as Demens and -1 Gordon for being the guy shot past. Mouton actually made a nice read and flowed from the frontside of the play but for naught; Vinopal comes up and forces Royster to cut outside, where Rogers tackles. (RPS –1)|
|M36||1||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Sack||Mouton||-11|
|An end around pass ends badly as Michigan covers(+2) both available receivers well and Mouton(+2) reads the end-around, gets out on the edge, and attacks. He'd sack but the guy's falling to the ground as he gets there anyway. Pressure +1.|
|M47||2||21||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Corner||Floyd||27|
|The underneath coverage on this is indeed a debacle but the super debacle is JT Floyd(-4, cover -4) getting so completely lost in three deep coverage on a guy in his zone that he's not even the tackler on an underthrown, softly-tossed lob thirty yards downfield. What the hell is Floyd doing on a hashmark, facing inside, in a three deep, on second and twenty one? YOU HAVE HELP INSIDE. BWS picture-paged this if you hate yourself.|
|M20||1||10||Ace twin TE||Stack two deep||Run||Inside zone||Demens||19|
|Michigan horrendously misaligned as Penn State motions a TE over to give them two to the short side of the field. Michigan hardly reacts at all. So there's five PSU blockers to the short side and three Michigan defenders. Compounding this, Michigan just screws up. Demens(-2) runs to the backside when he's got Vinopal walking down and Mouton filling a backside lane, leaving no one to fill the frontside gap that he should have; there's not even a counter here, he just runs to the wrong side of the line. Banks kicked out and Roh(-1) blown up by the inline TE, Roytser into the secondary like that. (RPS -1)|
|M1||1||G||Goal line||3-3-5 stack||Run||Dive||?||1|
|Whatever. This isn't even M's to-date successful goal line package. RPS -1.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 1 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Ace twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||T. Gordon||3|
|Cam pulled for Thomas as SURPRISE, moving a deep safety to linebacker makes him confused. M adjusts to the motion this time, and Penn State runs a counter at it expecting an overreaction. Demens, who's still a yard behind his NT, gets caught with a step and sealed as the NT is Patterson and he does the usual.. Michigan does have two guys in the hole versus one blocker thanks to good reads by the backside folk. Blocker runs by Gordon to get Roh(+0.5) so T. Gordon(+0.5) hits at the LOS; they fall forward because there's no help.|
|O23||2||7||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||Out||T. Gordon||Inc|
|McGloin throws a decently open out well wide of his receiver. Third and short in all likelihood if accurate.|
|O23||3||7||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Middle screen||Demens||5|
|They throw another screen; this time Demens(+0.5) is tasked with the tailback. He doesn't tackle but he does get into the play enough to delay the guy as he has to cut back behind Demens and the guy blocking him. RVB(+0.5) takes this opportunity to peel back and make a diving tackle attempt that's spun through but does slow Redd; Mouton(+0.5) and Demens converge to tackle short of the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 13 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O26||1||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA TE flat||C. Gordon||20|
|Cam Gordon(-2, cover -2) sucks in way too far, not only giving up the pass on the corner but not being anywhere near enough to tackle after the catch. Why on earth did they pull Thomas off for this?|
|O46||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Kovacs||9|
|Michigan again hugely, vastly misaligned as PSU brings in their WR/TE guy to be a second TE to the short side of the field, where be Kovacs; said Kovacs(-1) is blasted five yards downfield and JT Floyd(-1), the overhang guy, is met and blocked seven yards downfield. When Royster has to bounce because Mouton and Demens have cut off the inside there's no one out there. Banks(-1) was also single blocked and couldn't even slow Royster as he broke outside. (RPS -1)|
|M45||2||1||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Banks||7|
|Another cutback opened up by Banks(-1) getting washed down the line. I think. We come to this play late and I'm not entirely sure what's going on.|
|M38||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA TE flat||Mouton||10|
|Another play where I can't tell who's screwing up on a wide open pass in the flat. It's either Mouton or Kovacs. Minuses for both. Cover -2.|
|M28||1||10||I-form||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Van Bergen||3|
|Roh has been pulled for Fitzgerald. Woo 3-3-5. Here RVB(+0.5) beats a guy, forcing another cutback; Black(+0.5) has slanted under his guy to the point where it has to go behind him, giving Kovacs(+0.5) the ability to read the cutback and make a weak ankle tackle at the LOS that could be run through but for Sagesse(+0.5) fighting to the ball and finishing it.|
|M25||2||7||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA throwaway||Kovacs||Inc|
|No one open (cover +1) as I think they were looking to go to the FB on the throwback but Kovacs(+1) reads the play and sits back on it, causing McGloin to chuck it OOB. Decent but not immense time.|
|M25||3||7||Ace trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Cross||Demens||6|
|Completely mistimed blitz from Floyd(-1) on the overhang sees him both tip it and leave late, so it's easily picked up. No one anywhere near McGloin (pressure -2) and he has plenty of time to find a crossing route as it nears the sticks. Demens is in the area in pursuit and tackles short of the first down, but only a yard short.|
|M19||4||1||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||C. Gordon||2|
|Demens(+3) shoots the gap between the NT and DE at the snap, blasting into the guard pulling around to provide a lead block, shucking him, and meeting Royster a yard in the backfield. Monster play, and a dead drive if he can get some help. Marvin Robinson(-1) comes up and wraps up Royster's shoulders; Cam Gordon(-2) takes an angle upfield and comes too far inside, running himself out of the play when Royster spins free. This is an amazing play by Royster, but Michigan should never have let this happen.|
|M17||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||Sagesse||13|
|Sagesse(-2) crumbles to the ground against single blocking before the handoff. Doom. Demens is again too close to the LOS to have any hope of scraping past releasing OL (RPS -2) and Roh can take the outside shoulder of the leading guard all he wants but that doesn't mean there's anyone coming to help.|
|M4||1||G||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||3|
|Banks(-1) easily sealed by a single block, which allows another OL to pop out on Mouton without delay; everyone plays this right but this is an I form big against something other than a goal line package from the 3 (RPS -1).|
|M1||2||G||Goal line||Goal line||Run||QB sneak||?||1|
|They get it.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-21, 3 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M37||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||PA FB screen||Mouton||17|
|PSU just killing this coverage where Kovacs runs his ass off into a hole at the sideline 10-15 yards downfield. Michigan again rushes three and no one reads the screen, with Mouton(-1) the guy who's zone is closest; he compounds a deep drop by getting cut to the ground. Demens(-1) didn't read the direction of the releasing linemen and steps towards Royster, making certain he won't be able to track this down. Fitzgerald(-0.5, tackling -1) whiffs a tackle just past the sticks and gives up another six. (Cover -2, RPS -1)|
|M20||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||0|
|Banks(+1) takes on a double and holds at the LOS, eventually driving the OT over him back a bit and causing Royster to trip. Fitzgerald(+0.5) came down at a good angle to squeeze the hole tight. Royster seems to trip over legs that are there because Banks made a good play and Demens(+0.5) flows to the hole to finish the play at the LOS.|
|M20||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||3||Post||C. Gordon||Inc|
|Talbott now in at field corner, PSU goes after him and it does seem like he's got position—Talbott's at least on his back unlike certain other corners. Cam Gordon(+1, cover +1) gets a good drop and tips the pass, causing an incompletion.|
|M20||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||5||Corner||Vinopal||20|
|Guh. Michigan blitzes and C. Gordon(+1) sets up a blocker on the edge to the inside, juking by him to get a free run at McGloin, who tosses up a punt off his back foot. This punt is a slightly underthrown corner route. Ray Vinopal(-2, cover -2) is too far away from the receiver to make the slightly underthrown bit matter and waves helplessly at the ball as the receiver brings it in; they fall into the endzone. While McGloin's basically been handed scads of yardage by Michigan, he deserves some props here: his ridiculous back foot just having fun Wrangler Favre throw that should be easily intercepted is a fairly well thrown touchdown. FML.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-28, 1 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O24||1||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||PA Deep Hitch||Van Bergen||Inc|
|Roh blitzes into the interior and doesn't really get anywhere. Talbott(-2, cover -2) is beyond way off on this 15-yard deep hitch and this will be complete but RVB(+1, pressure +1) reads the play and closes in on McGloin, deflecting the ball and causing it to come up well short. Fortunate.|
|O24||2||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Patterson||1|
|Same play from PSU that was picture paged; here Michigan is again using Roh as an interior blitzer; his attack draws two blockers and allows Patterson(+0.5) the luxury of just one; he slants past that guy and forces a cutback from Royster. Mouton(+0.5) is now playing a regular linebacker thing, not whatever he was doing in the first half, and reads, meeting the FB at the LOS. He's cut to the ground but his body is in the right spot and Royster slows, at which point Kovacs(+0.5) grabs him and gang tackling happens.|
|O25||3||9||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||4||Deep hitch||Talbott||40|
|Michigan drops back into a zone coverage with C. Gordon escorting the slot guy deep. (I now agree with BWS totally: it was Demens responsible for the Iowa TD). Talbott's on Moye on the outside and is in great position to break up the pass or even intercept but he screws it all up, letting the ball through for the completion and missing a tackle, turning a three and out into many yards. Talbott -3, cover +1, pressure -2. Srs.|
|M35||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Stop and go||Floyd||Inc|
|Roh out, Fitz in and they do the same thing again; this version of the 3-3-5 is mostly a 4-3 with one tiny DT. PSU runs a slant and go and Michigan is in three deep with Floyd(-3, cover +1) in what should be great position to make a play on the ball, but he again gets totally lost. He's running a yard away from the sideline, facing it, in a spot that no one would ever think useful. So instead of being in a spot to intercept on a bad decision he can only watch a receiver almost catch a poorly thrown ball he should be all over.|
|M35||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Patterson||5|
|Patterson(-1) is doubled and gives a lot of ground quickly, eventually getting pancaked five yards downfield. However, the playside is jammed up because RVB(+1) drove his guy back and fought inside, closing off the running lane and forcing a cutback. Mouton responds as quickly as possible but with Patterson getting hammered like he does all he can do is hold the gain down.|
|M30||3||5||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||4||Rollout out||C. Gordon||7|
|Vastly too easy as C. Gordon(-1) does not react to the out fast enough and this is an easy pitch and catch (cover -1)|
|M23||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Down G||Floyd||4|
|Headed outside with the playside TE blocking down and the two guys inside of him pulling around. There's a WR/TE to that side, too. Kovacs(+0.5) is momentarily doubled and gets shoved out of the play, but does at least close off an interior cutback. Mouton charges up and gets cut but creates a pile; Floyd(+0.5) comes up hard to make a tackle. Royster tries to leap through it but doesn't make it.|
|M19||2||6||Ace 4-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||5||Out||Floyd||5|
|Floyd beaten on a quick out (cover -1) but is at least there to tackle.|
|M14||3||1||I-form big||Base 4-4||Run||Power off tackle||0|
|Michigan slants the line right and sends two linebackers into the gap right, which is exactly where PSU is going with the ball. DL get crushed out of the hole but that's what you expect; Mouton(+1) roars up into the hole to take on the outside shoulder of the pulling guard, which funnels the tailback to Demens(+0.5). Demens engages to tackle but it's 50-50 whether it's a first down or not until RVB(+1) comes in. RVB was well to the backside, shoved his blocker back, and shot through the same hole the linebackers hit to help. Nice job. (RPS +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG(31), 10-31, 10 min 3rd Q. This drive is basically good play and one 40-yard mistake by a freshman. If this is what was going on consistently I could live with it.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Van Bergen||3|
|Trying to go outside it seems. Line blocks down on the two DL, leaving RVB(+1) alone. He reads the play and heads upfield at the back, absorbing the pulling G and lead FB, and forcing the RB inside. There the RB meets a heap of bodies; Demens(+0.5) was responsible for creating the lack of gaps in the line. The delay allows a bunch of players to tackle.|
|O23||2||7||I-form 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||N/A||PA FB screen||Demens||7|
|This again. Another very slow read by the LBs; this time Mouton is up to take a cut near the LOS and forces the ball inside but Demens(-1, cover -1) is nowhere to be found and there's a lane the FB hits for first down yardage.|
|O30||1||10||I-form twins||Base 4-3||Run||Down G||Black||12|
|It looks like M is trying a similar slant to the one that got them the third and one stop on the previous drive but then Demens runs right into the middle of the line and Black runs upfield so I guess it can't be. It's pretty weird, though. Black(-1) heads upfield and is not blocked but does not sit down in an effort to combat the run, he just runs upfield, takes a shove from some OL, and is gone. Big gap. Mouton(-1) needs to get outside the pulling tackle but does not. Kovacs does what he can to funnel it inside against a blocker, and then RVB(-1), who stunted and flowed down the line the whole way, overruns Royster and turns this from like six into 11.|
|O42||1||10||I-form twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Floyd||6 (Pen +10)|
|So Floyd is rolled up to the LOS and Kovacs is overhang. Banks and Floyd to one side of the field? Let's run right at it. Floyd(-1) starts executing a pass drop before the handoff and gives up the corner on a play that otherwise could have been stopped near the LOS. Umpire calls Sagesse(-1) for grabbing the C and preventing him from getting out on a linebacker. Need to be more subtle about it, eh?|
|M48||1||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||N/A||PA rollout wheel||Christian?||34|
|PA gets McGloin a billion years as RVB(-2, pressure -3) sucks into the playfake and removes any and all pressure. McGloin has forever. PSU runs a post-wheel combo against Christian, Gordon, and Johnson, IE three freshman, two of whom are playing their positions for the first time ever. Gordon gets beat but I don't really blame him; Christian(-1, cover -3) was late getting over. (RPS -2)|
|M14||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Sagesse||4|
|RVB(+0.5) squeezes down on the pulling TE and there should not be much in the way of holes, but Sagesse(-0.5) gets booted out of the center, opening up a small crease that creates a decent positive gain.|
|M10||2||6||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Off tackle||Roh||5|
|Roh(-2) gets hooked and gives up the corner easily. Michigan seems misaligned, too, as PSU OL have incredibly easy angles to block Michigan LBs. (RPS -1) Floyd comes off a guy to tackle at the sticks.|
|M5||3||1||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||FB dive||Sagesse||5|
|Sagesee(-2) is crushed, erasing the MLB; Banks(-1) slants inside a TE but takes a way upfield angle and can't close down the resulting hole. Kovacs is pulled outside by a pitch fake and Mouton eats a free release from a tackle.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-38, 4 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Down G||Roh||5|
|Black(+0.5) does get sealed off but gives no ground and absorbs two blockers, leaving two on the edge against just one PSU guy. Roh(-1) is the outside guy and goes a little too far upfield, then gets chopped to the ground by the pulling guard. Demens is flowing from the inside and can't quite run Redd down as he breaks outside. Redd runs OOB after about five.|
|O30||2||5||I-form 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Inside zone||Black||1|
|Black(+2) comes underneath the RT and into the running lane. He forces the RB away from the gaping lane behind him caused by Patterson(-1) getting blown back three yards and forces Redd to leap into a cluster of bodies in an attempt to avoid Black's tackle. RVB(+0.5), who's shooting inside when unblocked now, helped knock him off balance.|
|O31||3||4||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||3||Rollout out||Talbott||5|
|Way too easy. No one within miles of McGloin (pressure -2) and the little out is open in front of Talbott(-1, cover -1)|
|O36||1||10||Ace twin TE||Base 3-4||Pass||PA sack||T. Gordon||-10|
|Michigan PA blitzing all the way with Thomas Gordon(+2, RPS +2) sent off the corner on a McGloin search and destroy mission. He gets upfield too quickly for McGloin to adjust and tackles solidly for a huge sack. (Pressure +3)|
|O26||2||20||I-form twins||Stack two deep||Run||Down G||Sagesse||6|
|Banks slants under his blocker and it takes a good adjustment from the pulling guard to wall him off. Sagesse(-1) is blown downfield immediately by the backside guard after getting scooped and the linebackers have to deal with a ton of blockers. Demens actually gets doubled, so he's doing well just to stand his ground. Fitzgerald(-0.5) overruns it, leaving Sagessse to come off his block seven yards downfield and tackle, which good for you but really the whole issue is that you're seven yards downfield.|
|O32||3||14||Ace 3-wide||Base 3-4||Pass||5||Corner||Floyd||Inc|
|Michigan sends blitzers and then sends a delayed LB once it's clear the TE is staying in. No one gets there (pressure -2). McGloin can throw a corner route; this one is well covered by Floyd(+1, cover +1) and the resulting throw is well high. Floyd was grabbing, but these days PI isn't PI unless it's called, same for holding. Rubbin's racin'.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 24-38, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M49||1||10||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone stretch||Van Bergen||2|
|They run at RVB for the first time in what seems like forever; he gets a push on the two OL over him(+0.5) that allows Fitzgerald(+0.5) to flow hard to the outside, absorbing the playside tackle and leading FB, and cutting off the outside. Cutback forced. This time Banks(+0.5) is flowing properly and is there to tackle with help from Mouton(+0.5)|
|M47||2||8||I-form 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Counter||Fitzgerald||3|
|Michigan blitzing here; Fitz and C. Gordon come from the outside. RVB(+1) gets inside a tackle and takes out the pulling guard as this is supposed to go right up the middle of the field. Royster takes it a gap outside into the B where Fitzgerald(-1) is supposed to be; he runs too far upfield and gives up a gap between himself and the RVB mess. Demens(+1) was dropping into a zone to prevent any quick slants behind the blitz. When he reads run he comes up quickly and makes a solid tackle(+1) two yards downfield; Royster falls forward for two more. Plus for the Demens drop because I believe his pass pro responsibilities came first because of the Gordon blitz and he did react quickly enough to hold this down to 3.|
|M44||3||5||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||4||Rollout hitch||Kovacs||14|
|Michigan finally covers the out but in doing so they open up the hitch inside of it. Kovacs(-1) is nowhere to be seen on a play with no deep routes and a rollout in a situation where a first down is a serious threat of game over (cover -2). I'm not sure if Demens is doing the right thing here since he seems to have the tailback and moves up towards the LOS. If he stayed back that's where he'd be. Also this could be Floyd or Mouton since they both end up covering the out. Any of these folks could be at fault. Just don't know. Do know that this is a pretty insane call for the situation. Let's have two deep safeties twenty yards downfield.|
|M30||1||10||I-form twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Mouton||0|
|Mouton(+1) flows, hits the pulling G at the LOS, gets outside of him, and stands there, eventually drawing the affections of the FB. Floyd(+0.5) comes up to hit the FB, too, cutting off all holes; Demens(+0.5) has scraped from the inside and delivers the tackle, though there's a bunch of bodies and a lot of falling so it wasn't a difficult one.|
|M30||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||Stack two deep||Pass||4||Scramble||Black||4|
|PSU slides its protection and lets Black(+0.5) in on a tailback; he gets cut but does convince McGloin to start scrambling around; no one open (cover +1), McGloin decides to take off. Four Wolverines converge after a few yards.|
|M26||3||6||Shotgun 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||3||Flare||?||Inc|
|No one open (cover +1) and McGloin does something I don't think we've seen all day: checks down. Sad face. This is dead meat if caught and is poorly thrown anyway.|
|Drive Notes: FG(42), 31-41, 5 min 4th Q. PSU's last drive is academic and not charted.|
|Van Bergen||10||3||7||The solitary player to have a good day.|
|Martin||-||1||-1||I'm going to throw myself off a bridge.|
|Banks||5||6||-1||I'm picking it out right now.|
|Sagesse||0.5||6.5||-6||Not high enough.|
|Black||6.5||1||5.5||Hey… wait, what? I guess so.|
|TOTAL||22.5||19.5||3||Lost out to a terrible OL.|
|Mouton||6||5||1||Very difficult day; made that one awful missed tackle on Royster.|
|Roh||0.5||7||-6.5||Is not a linebacker. Is not a linebacker. Is not a linebacker.|
|C. Gordon||2||6.5||-4.5||Doesn't know WTF he's doing. Clearly inferior to…|
|T. Gordon||2.5||-||2.5||…but Cam played more than a guy who'd established himself as decent.|
|Demens||6.5||5||1.5||Still picking guard out from his teeth.|
|Fitzgerald||1||2||-1||More PT because Roh is not a linebacker.|
|TOTAL||18.5||25.5||-7||Position moves a disaster.|
|Floyd||3||12||-9||Awful, awful, awful.|
|Rogers||-||-||-||Did he play at all?|
|Kovacs||3||4||-1||At least he's around zero.|
|Johnson||-||-||-||Did play a little but did not make an impact.|
|Talbott||-||6||-6||Played in place of Rogers.|
|Christian||-||1||-1||One exploitable play.|
|Avery||-||-||-||DNP, I think.|
|Ray Vinopal||-||4||-4||Obviously tiny.|
|Pressure||7||11||-4||No pressure on PA.|
|Coverage||11||27||-16||An utter debacle.|
|Tackling||1||3||-2||This counts as good.|
|RPS||3||13||-10||Let's align our MLB two inches from the nose tackle.|
[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.]
I'm going to dispense with the cute. This was a debacle. Michigan abandoned a defensive philosophy that hadn't exactly shone against Iowa but did put Michigan in a position where better play here or there from one player would have gotten redzone stops. They forced five three-and-outs and endured an avalanche of short fields and turnovers, looking sort of respectable against a veteran offense with solidly above average numbers. The Mathlete had their performance about three points worse than an average defense. They did this without Mike Martin.
Michigan gets a bye week. They play a team without a mobile quarterback running the same assortment of conventional power and inside zone plays they've faced. They:
- Install Ray Vinopal at FS.
- Move Cam Gordon to spur and displace the Johnson/Gordon combo.
- Install a bizarre three-man line package that's somewhat like a stack but not really a stack.
All of these moves fail. Cam is the worst spur we've had all year because he's been playing it for a week and a half. Vinopal is clearly overmatched whenever called upon. And the 3-3-5 sees Michigan give up 41 points to a team that was 82nd in yardage, 99th in scoring, and starting a backup walk-on quarterback. Penn State scores on all but two of nine real drives. 41 points on nine real drives. Without a single turnover.
Every single move made in the bye week is a detriment, and two people have now told me that at half time the adjustment made to Kenny Demens's alignment was a result of Demens himself asking for it. Michigan badly regressed after a panicked bye week adjustment that saw them slide to the 3-3-5 and fail at it, which is exactly what happened in 2008. This doesn't even cover it…
…because the chart doesn't know Robert Bolden was out.
Michigan needs to pick one thing and do it. Right now what are they? Are they a stack? Are they a 4-3? Are they a 3-4? The answer to all of these questions is "no."
You know who did this? You know what is going on here? Do you know the thing that is happening to Michigan's defense?
"They're going to have to learn about us, OK? Let them try to stop a pro-style [defense], which has multiple personnel groups and multiple formations. Let's see how they are going to do. They've had their advantage because I've come into recruiting late. Well, now it's Xs and Os time. Let's see who has the advantage now."
We've been Weis-ed. This is the equivalent of running a spread option against Georgia Tech and then abandoning it a quarter into the season. Michigan is running around with ten freshmen playing meaningful time and not one of them has any idea what they're supposed to be doing down to down. Greg Robinson has never had a successful college defense except for his one year at Texas where he just went with the flow before moving on, and his pedigree comes from the NFL. GERG E. Coyote, man.
So… your firing stance after the review of the game?
Even stronger. Michigan needs to get a proven collegiate defensive coordinator by paying ridiculous money and boot at least two and probably all of the other defensive assistants so he can bring in whoever he wants, and he needs an iron fist. There are two possibilities here: either GERG thought this stack was a good idea and needs to be fired, or GERG cannot maintain control over the gameplanning despite what happened in 2008 and needs to be fired along with everyone else.
Got a better example of the stack incoherence that got Kenny Demens eaten?
One step, he reads it, he tries to get back, he's way too close to the LOS and any release from an OL eats him.
How much brunt do the players bear?
Quite a bit, obviously. I mean:
JT Floyd had three instances of the worst coverage I've seen in my life. The one where he correctly read a stop-and-go only to run himself to the sideline five yards in front of the WR is even worse than this one, which is heroagagdddgsagasfying as is. In its glory:
McGloin threw about four terrible passes that a secondary with "players" "somewhat near" the "opponent" coulda/shoulda intercepted. On zero of them was the coverage within yards. Floyd's regressed badly and while Michigan's secondary was horrible with him they're not going to be much more horrible without him.
I won't get on anyone else too badly since we all knew the NT was death minus Martin and the other guys with big shiny negatives are freshmen who shouldn't see the field until they're redshirt juniors (Vinopal, Talbott) or second year players who've been jerked around into positions they aren't suited to and don't know very well (Roh, Cam Gordon). It's obvious why they're bad. This is Floyd's third year and he's not good.
It's symbolic that this is the play where it all went to hell:
Demens has that dead to rights if he can just get some gang tackling help. Marvin Robinson whiffs, Cam Gordon vacates the only area Royster can go, and Royster makes a terrific play to spin outside for the first down. Great play, but you can't spin past three guys without something having gone horribly wrong. That's a true freshman and a redshirt freshman who was a wide receiver last year and a safety last week. FFFUUUUUUUU.
Ryan Van Bergen.
Greg Robinson, everyone in the secondary, Not Mike Martin, and whoever decided Craig Roh should play linebacker.
What does it mean for blah blah blah?
Everyone will score every time they touch the ball this year and when Greg Robinson is fired after the season Michigan will hire a Tecmo Super Bowl cartridge to run their defense.
The diary on poor tackling got me thinking about Rich Rod's coaching philosophy. It's obvious that he recruits speed and athletes on offense at not only the skill positions but also the o-line where he likes guys who can get out and block in space. These are the guys who get all the attention and the playing time. They are "the game breakers" and the guys who can make a big play at any time. How can that not transfer over to the defensive side of the ball? So, in the spring, we heard rumors about Cam Gordon having a great camp because he probably delivered some big hit kill shots to 4th string RBs instead of learning how to play assignment football with fundamentally sound tackling.
Am I way off here? Every yard after contact I see Michigan allow, I can't help but think how much better a (I can't believe I'm saying this) Jim Herrmann/Ron English defense was at stopping the run. We can chart how few upperclassmen we have on D until we are blue in the face but you have to concede that something is fundamentally wrong with the program's defensive attitude and philosophy. I think it just may be the constant search for "big time players" rather than smart football players who can read and react quickly.
What do you think?
Well… yeah, I guess, but like everything else on the defense the lack of depth and experience makes it hard to tell whether we're just seeing what would happen if Virginia Tech threw out a secondary full of underclassmen or if there's a long-term talent development problem. Is it a recruiting issue? Don't know. Rodriguez recruits at Michigan are all freshmen or sophomores, and if none of them are very good there's a pretty obvious reason why. Very few can "read and react quickly" as underclassmen.
Something is wrong with the program's defensive philosophy. That much is obvious. To me that problem is an incoherent coaching staff that either forces the coordinator to run a scheme he doesn't understand or forces the position coaches to do the same. Why is it so important for the position coaches to know what the defense is doing instead of getting JT Floyd to exist? I don't know, but those meddling kids have put Michigan in some goofy variant of the 3-3-5 for three years running and it hasn't done anything but implode because the defensive coordinator isn't really on board.
The problem with Michigan's philosophy on D appears to be the lack of one.
While i think there are many things wrong with the Michigan football team right now, it seems like either the play calls or the reads have been restrictive in nature.
Last year, it seemed like on the read-option, there was a third option to pass to a receiver at the line of scrimmage that could catch and run for an easy 5 yds. Has this been replaced by the receiver running a skinny post?
Also, it seems a major component of any spread offense is the quick screens/pass to the slot receiver with the outside WR blocking down. The offense featured this last year but hasn't at all this year.
I believe the plays are in the offense's playbook. When Tate is in, there is a more even run/pass distribution. (ie- look at the easy 7 yds michigan could have had at the end of the Penn St game when Denard threw to Junior Hemingway and he dropped the ball)
The main point of all of this... It would seem that passing on the edge would open up the defense to make running in the middle a little bit easier.
Thanks for you coverage of Michigan. It makes my work day more enjoyable.
Opponents have been taking the bubble away by alignment. Iowa put a linebacker over him and managed to keep two-deep coverage. Penn State moved a safety down. When opponents have gone away from these schemes it hasn't taken Michigan long to hit the bubble for a nice gain, at which point they go back to taking it away. When Iowa started blitzing off the edge in the second quarter Michigan hit a couple bubbles and Iowa reverted to its previous scheme. Smart Football dubbed the bubble a "constraint play" way back in 2008, defining the concept like so:
What if your offense is based only on bubble screens and then you just run the ball or throw the ball as a counter to your bubble screen offense?
The difference is that the bubble screen is a play that really only works when the defense has made a structural choice or is out of position. Most commonly, you'll run when the bubble only when the defense has but two defenders to cover three receivers. You thus block the two defenders and the receiver has free yards. If the defense puts a third defender there they can take the play away, intercept it, or make the tackle.
Conversely, a well designed dropback pass play, a triple option play, or certain base runs will work every time you face a normal defense. The only time the play stops working is when certain defenders cheat on their assignments, either by alignment or aggressiveness.
You're right that the edge passing opens up the interior running, but it's already a reason Michigan's ground game has been so effective, and a reason that things like Kevin Koger 60 yard touchdowns happen.
The bubble option after a zone read keeper is still being run but it's not being thrown. I imagine they've de-emphasized it because when it has been thrown it's not usually getting more than a few yards and if that's your upside you might as well let Denard carry it. The equation changes radically when he's running the ball instead of Forcier.
Chip Kelly said a week or so ago he has nothing to do with his defense, he just leaves that side of the ball to his defensive coordinator. GERG has championship rings on multiple levels. Why can't RR just let him do his thing? It seems to me that if Rich Rod just worried about the offense and let GERG do the D, Michigan might be better off.
The other side of the complaint about Rodriguez not being involved enough in the defense. This is an unanswerable question. I'm not sure why there was an insurrection against Scott Shafer in 2008—well, okay, I have some idea since Michigan refused to put Brandon Harrison on the field—or why the 2009 defense spent most of its time in an eight-man front or why Michigan decided to install every front imaginable this year.
It's clear, however, that the position coaches are forcing the coordinators to adapt to them (again, this is exactly what happened in Tommy Tuberville's final year at Auburn) and the results are dismal.
Whether or not turning the defense over to Greg Robinson would help any is debatable. He has never built an effective college defense. After getting fired from the Chiefs he had a single year at Texas during which he turned in the same level of performance the DCs before and after him did. Then he went to Syracuse and could not field a minimally competent unit after his first year—the team went backwards fast and stopped in the triple digits. While he got a rep for being a good position coach last year it's obvious that the linebackers we can actually compare across '09 and '10 did not progress much over the offseason. Ezeh was the same, Mouton is a little better but still prone to the same mistakes he's made throughout his career. No one else has never seen the light of day before this year.
At this point there is no case for keeping him around. There is no reason to expect anything but failure from him; some good NFL defenses with the Broncos are now a decade old. All the reasons the defense should be bad are still valid, but the only way to salvage Rodriguez's job is to bring in a defensive coaching staff with proven recent success that cannot be undermined by whatever the deal is with the current assistants, whichever of them stay around.
In response to your recent post about the blood drive where you said: “I should put up a ticker that says 1343 DAYS SINCE OHIO STATE BEAT MICHIGAN AT BLEEDING. Ain't got no other tickers to put up” there is indeed a slightly more noteworthy streak that is still intact. Michigan’s Mens rowing team has beaten OSU’s mens rowing team 14 consecutive years at their annual dual race. According to the team’s website this streak is the longest continuous streak for Michigan over OSU in any sport ever (at least where head-to-head meetings are applicable). The matchup takes place right before the annual football game (with the first win coming in November 1996), so in my approximation this streak is at about 5,085 days or so and counting. Thought you might like that nugget of info.
Woo! Also, sincere congratulations to the rowing team.
And at least no one broke this guy's nose:
I dressed up as everyone's favorite defensive coordinator for Halloween this year!
One guy I never met before came up to me and told me how much he hated me and how badly he wanted to punch me in the face.
Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press. Photo from file.
Mike Martin is going to be OK this week. "He's our best defensive... one of our best defensive players period. One of the best in the league when he's healthy." Other people need to be able to step in.
Perry Dorrestein should be able to practice by tomorrow. "Michael Shaw and maybe even Fitz Toussaint, we'll see if he can get back in the mix there." Will Heininger will be more in the rotation this week. "You'll probably see him more likely playing going forward."
Cam Gordon is now the starting Hybrid [Ed-M: Spur], backed by Thomas Gordon. Ray Vinopal is the starting Free Safety, backed by Carvin Johnson. "I thought the personnel moves defensively, I think were good for us in the short term and the long term." Cam Gordon more comfortable closer to the ball. Vinopal did "ok" for his first time out there. Staff is trying to figure out a unit that can get some stops, part of it is just getting them to play better.
There haven't been changes to the defensive coaching staff. "No. I've just met with the defensive staff the last couple hours, and we talked about some of our issues and talked about what to do to get ready for Illinois." "Y'all don't deal with rumors do you?" Everyone is frustrated, but it's always a collective effort, win or lose.
He'll be spending more time on defense this week, because the more inexperienced players over there might need more coaching. Injuries will affect lineups, different packages. "We have what we have." If there was somebody else there who could help, he'd be contributing by now. "I have a critical view of everything, every coach, every player, everything in our program every day... That's what head coaches do, you evaluate everything with everybody every day."
"Schemes are way, way overrated as far at 4-3, 3-3-5." There's no front that does or doesn't work in a particular league. "It's the execution of the schemes. We've gotta coach the schemes the right way, we've gotta execute the right way." They'll try moving Craig Roh around a bit. Laughed when he heard rumors of defensive staff changes.
"They're a big screen-draw team." They hadn't done much of it with their fullback yet. Defensive recognition wasn't great on that, partially experience. "When an experienced player gets hurt [Mike Martin] - I'm not making excuses - whether you put a senior, junior, or freshman in there, when a guy hasn't played a lot of football, it's different."
"That was one of the positives of the game, is I thought Denard played pretty well." They were close to breaking a couple big ones. He landed on his hip the one time, but was able to come back from it. "His shoulder was better. It's good, but it's not 100%."
Speech to defense at the start of fourth quarter was just a pump-up one, nothing particular schematically.
Personal foul call? "Well, I don't want to get in trouble here. There's some plays I'll send in and get clarification on the rule." Turn in a few plays every week "there's a few more this week."
Illinois - Not a rebuilding year, because they returned plenty of good athletes this season. "They're playing at a very high level right now - probably playing their best football." One of the more athletic teams in the league and that Michigan has played in the last two years. Illinois is playing with confidence.
Illinois has a bit of a rhythm, their young quarterback is playing well for them. They have really athletic guys.
Illinois has a similar offensive scheme to Michigan, it may help the defense be prepared for it. It'll be different to do it live, because they don't tackle Denard in practice.
Goods drive at the game (Gates 2 and 8) to send to troops and families in Afghanistan. Tim Horton's is donating 720 pounds of coffee to send as part of it. Team will be wearing a flag on the back of the helmets. The American flag will be embroidered on the coaches' hats (not the Adidas ones from the Sep. 11 game).
Some of the D problems aren't going to get fixed overnight, etc. "Not just the freshmen, we've got a lot of inexperienced players playing defensively." There is a bit of improvement at this point, but not to the amount that they need.
"We've gotta get faster and more athletic defensively." That was painfully obvious from the film.
"I don't have any grand magic wands to wave [at the defense] and all of a sudden they're going to be playing better." Spending more time with the D is something he's done a few years in the past. If it was an easy fix, he'd have already done it.
Talking about defensive turnovers gained "We're almost like next to last in the country." They're trying to improve that by making sure they get guys in the right positions, working on recognition, aggressiveness. "If it doesn't work out, don't go in the tank the rest of the game."
3rd and long conversions: "If it was jut one particular thing, it would be easier to solve... or one particular guy." It's always something different. They need to look at doing enough third-down work in practice, already doing more than they've ever done.
"We're playing OK offensively, but I think we can play even better when we have more of a rhythm." Defense getting opponents off the field will help establish that rhythm.
"When you play a whole bunch of freshmen in the secondary, do you want to play a lot of man coverage or cover-0?" Need to find a balance with inexperience. Took a couple chances against PSU, and got beat.
Stop a slide like last year? "I don't have to think about it. Everybody else writes about it." People want to focus on the negative, because it sells papers. Team is better offensively, team is closer as a group, making strides in classroom and weight room. Young men are growing up. The wins and losses are bad, but there's more to it than that.
"These guys that are playing young and inexperienced from now, they're going to be experienced a year or two from now. I'm not happy, but I'm optimistic."
"Nobody's happy we've lost the last three games. We're still five in the good and three in the bad." People can't walk around moping, just need to learn from the mistakes, be mad for 24 hours, and start working on the next game.
Turnovers "I thought we were really pretty good at it most of the year." Denard used the bye week to go back and remember to have his eyes in the right spot. "Denard threw one ball he'd like to have back that could have been intercepted," and Hopkins had the fumble, but it was good other than that.
Defensive scheme change help? "we're gonna try." Trying to simplify some, but still give them the opportunity to be aggressive without exposing the secondary.
"I'm not sticking my head in the sand... we know what we have, we know what we've gotta have, and we'll try to fix that going forward."
10/30/2010 – Michigan 31, Penn State 41 – 5-3, 1-3 Big Ten
these were the same pictures used in the very first Greg Robinson post and were named –fail1, –fail2, –fail3.
A few years back my fiancée (then girlfriend) and I had one of those conversations that draw out over two weeks. You have them when the other person's position is so bizarre and unbelievable that unlocking the reasoning behind it is important if you're going to hang around this person for a long time—because it's possible the reasoning goes something like "I'm a stabby person who stabs you in the stab places."
The argument was about the narrative of overarching, capital-P Progress that the world is or is not making. I, the engineer, pointed to various statistics that all point in the right direction. She regarded all of it as different paths to the same thing: misery for all but a few. A Foxconn factory is just a handy place to jump off, and they take even that away from you.
I don't think we ever came to a satisfactory conclusion despite the lingering threat of stabbing, but I don't think we have to anymore. Since that conversation the world's financial system exploded, the economy fell into a deep and lingering malaise that figures to last most of a decade, and Greg Robinson was hired to coordinate Michigan's defense.
The worst part has been the illusion. Actually, the worst part has been the actual progress. The worst part has been a combination of the illusion and the progress. The worst part has been a combination of the illusion and the progress and the relentless losing.
The illusion: two straight years Michigan has leapt out to a hot start only to see all the supposedly quality wins evaporate. A thrilling win over Notre Dame devalued as the Irish collapse into a heap of laughable crap. UConn goes from team on the verge of a Big East championship to a team that can't even keep its head above water in a horrible conference. Indiana is still not a surprisingly good, competitive version of Indiana. It's just Indiana. Then there is losing, and not competitively.
The actual progress: Michigan has the #1 yardage offense in the Big Ten by a huge margin. The gap between Michigan and #2 Ohio State is considerably bigger than the gap between Ohio State and #7 Iowa. The prophesied Rodriguez Leap, which did happen last year, happened again this year. Rodriguez is what he was sold as.
That progress looked like enough to get Rodriguez through 2010 into a prove-it 2011 until some walk-on shredded Michigan for 28 first-half points. If Progress means not being Minnesota, Michigan is failing. At some point last night the extremely depressing score was 31-10 and the ticker scrolled to the OSU-Minnesota game, which was also 31-10. The Gophers managed to hold Penn State to a mere 33 points and caused them to punt an astounding six times. Michigan did it twice. A comprehensive description of the ways in which Michigan's defense failed last night is impossible, but here's an attempt: Penn State scored 24 points against Kent State, 22 against Temple, 13 against Illinois, and 44 against Youngstown State… with their starting quarterback.
Youngstown State is a 3-6 I-AA team ranked 94th in total defense. They are the closest comparison to Michigan's D amongst Penn State's opponents to date.
Greg Robinson should be fired. Tomorrow, yesterday, bring in Gary Moeller, bring in anyone, don't care. He should never have been hired, just like Jay Hopson and apparently Scott Shafer. At the time of his hiring he was a decade removed from his last sustained success, fresh off driving a respectable Syracuse program into Washington State territory. As a head coach, he sounded like an idiot. His team played like he was an idiot. Michigan hired him and has gotten exactly what they deserved.
The worst part other than the illusion and the actual progress and the relentless losing is that this was obvious at the time:
Anyway: being a stunningly incompetent head coach does not necessarily mean one is a stunningly incompetent coordinator. Numbers will have to make that case. Go, numbers, go!
Year Team PassEff Rush Scoring Total 2008 Syracuse 101 101 101 101 2007 Syracuse 109 108 104 111 2006 Syracuse 81 110 72 107 2005 Syracuse 37 97 67 57 2004 Texas 31 16 18 23
I'm a little stressed out by that. Robinson walked into a good situation at Texas* and managed not to screw that up, then went to Syracuse, where he had an average defense on a horrid team (1-10), which he then proceeded to crater for the next three years. Before his brief, star-making turn at Texas—again, for doing nothing more than treading water—he presided over one of the worst defenses in the NFL, getting fired after three years. The last actual success you can plausibly attribute to Greg Robinson came during his tenure as the Denver Broncos' DC, when his defenses were top ten in the NFL and a significant aid in Denver's back-to-back championships. Since then it's been abject failure save the one year in Texas.
Now it's even more blitheringly obvious. Syracuse is 6-2 despite Doug Marrone having R-U-N-N-O-F-T huge swathes of Robinson's leftover pack of unmotivated jackaninnies and while Scott Shafer's defense has gotten bombed in a couple games and is severely overrated because of games against two terrible I-AA schools and the worst I-A school (0-9 Akron, 56-10 losers to WMU and everyone else), the last two weeks they've allowed 7 and 14 points in road games against West Virginia and Cincinnati. Neither of those teams is good at offense, but neither is Penn State.
Greg Robinson is a terrible football coach. Hiring him was literally the dumbest thing Rich Rodriguez could have done, and he did it. Hiring Jay Hopson to see him leave two years later was a terrible decision, as was whatever the fiasco was with Shafer. The rot on defense goes deeper than Robinson, though—Michigan has insisted on being "multiple" this year, to what purpose is unknown. Week after week Michigan plays teams that sit in a 4-3 with a two-deep shell and play defense adequately enough for this Michigan team to be headed for a New Year's Day Bowl; Michigan has not maintained the same system year-to-year during the Rodriguez era, largely because the leftover guys on the staff are all 3-3-5 guys and they keep insisting that these DCs who have never run the system become One of Us. Braves and Birds nailed this problem when he compared it to Tommy Tuberville's zombie offensive assistants submarining Tony Franklin and eventually Tuberville himself.
Michigan's addiction to the 3-3-5 is causing them to do the exact same thing Rodriguez rejected as dumb his first year when he installed the spread because that's what he knew how to coach—they're shoehorning a coach into a system when that coach doesn't even know how to properly align his middle linebacker. At left, Michigan's horrible defense. At right, West Virginia's excellent 2007 D:
Kenny Demens finally moved further from the LOS in the second half of the Penn State game. The supposedly attacking, slanting, different-front-making defense has been a passive heap of quivering goo coached by someone who clearly doesn't understand what the system he is running is supposed to accomplish. Robinson's been put in a terrible position, but he has no track record save blithering idiocy and there is no reason to retain him.
As for Rodriguez, well, hell. The are four games left, for one. Michigan is #4 in total yardage nationally and isn't scoring at an insane pace only because the special teams and defense have been beyond terrible. The special teams were not a problem before this year and really the only problem this year has been the kicker*, which is a thing that just happens sometimes in college. If they overhaul the defensive coaching by either bringing in an actual 3-3-5 guy like Jeff Casteel—who may be in need of a job after the season—or toss the Tuberville saboteurs overboard and bring in a Serious Man, I'd be willing to see where the Denard Robinson era ends up.
*(Willing to bet that by year's end Michigan isn't giving up any yards on an average exchange of punts; kickoff returns have been bad but that's an incredibly minor facet of the game—an average team is gaining one more yard per attempt than M.)
Change please. How many terrible decisions does Jeremy Gallon have to make before he loses his job at returning things?
Also: gararagagagargh Vincent Smith third and two. Hopkins's fumble was not his fault; Robinson put the ball in his shoulder. (I'm surprised he handed the ball off high—if Smith was in the game Robinson's handoff would have been in Smith's facemask.) Shaw can't be healthy, Cox is not healthy, Toussaint is not healthy… it's actually possible that Angry Michigan Running Back Hating God has been more wroth than Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God this year. The tailback situation is so bad that even Fred Jackson has gone no sugarcoat:
“We have to play better,” Jackson said. “Let’s call a spade a spade. We’ve got to play better. We’ve got plays there to be made and we’re not making them, I’m talking from the running back position.
“We have to play better.”
This is different from Jackson's usual approach of calling a spade a fantastical thousand-story casino in the clouds.
DerpBord. The circumstances behind hiring Greg Robinson are eerily similar to those behind the re-hire of Mike DeBord after his "no mas" faceplant at Central Michigan, down to the seemingly more competent guy being pushed out due to unconfirmed but widely speculated conflict. One dollar Robinson is assistant (to the) linebackers coach in the NFL next year.
The Ron English Effect. The next defensive coordinator (or next head coach, depending) is in line for a mega Ron English Effect, wherein some guy takes over a crew of players returning a ton of starters and looks like a genius for improving them when all he really did is not prevent his players from aging normally. In 2006, Ron English inherited Alan Branch, Lamarr Woodley, David Harris, Prescott Burgess, Shawn Crable, and Leon Hall and looked like a genius. The next year absent all those guys save Crable he was bombed into oblivion during The Horror and Post-Apocalyptic Oregon Game.
Anyway, next year's DC gets every starter back save Mouton, Rogers, and Banks, adds Troy Woolfolk, and should have a healthy Mike Martin. He could pick his teeth and look SMRT.
Martin doom. It's clear by now that Martin's injury is the dreaded high ankle sprain and we probably won't see him play effectively the rest of the season. Hurray.
Aw, hell, it's just variations of this with either equal or slightly less tolerance for Rodriguez's terrible choices on the defensive side of the ball. I do like the Hoover Street Rag saying the "shields are down." That's about right. Zook is loading his photon torpedoes.
Ridiculous wallpaper part 7. Via user monuMental and his ridiculous talents:
How could this possibly happen? So when people say things along the lines of "could we really have the worst defensive talent in the Big Ten" and I say "yes," no one believes me. This is usually because one sophomore four star in the starting lineup at a particular position looks like talent and two fifth-year-senior three stars do not. Here's the Iowa two-deep on defense:
There are 22 players. Five of them are underclassmen, only one of those a starter. Nine are seniors, and this is minus a senior starting linebacker who would shove a freshman out the door. Michigan's starting lineup has as many sophomores (Floyd, Kovacs, Roh) and freshmen (Gordon, Gordon) as the entire Iowa two-deep, and where Iowa has seniors backed by seniors or sophomores backed by juniors in many places Michigan has freshmen, freshmen, and more freshmen. This is why it's impossible to tell anything about Greg Robinson yet. You could take an established genius and give him this roster and the results would be, oh, I don't know… somewhat depressing:
|Pass Efficiency Defense||92||139.01|
|Tackles For Loss||66||5.83|
That's not Michigan. It's USC. USC's secondary:
- Senior CB Shareece Wright, a top 50 recruit
- Freshman CB Nickell Robey, a top 250 recruit
- Sophomore S Jawanza Starling, a top 250 recruit
- Sophomore S TJ McDonald, a top 50 recruit
This is a "talented" secondary. It is also awful because it has one upperclassman; they're trying to bolster things by moving freshman and starting WR Robert Woods to nickelback. That sounds familiar except in Michigan's case it's a guy who should be a linebacker moving from wide receiver and being forced to start instead of being Courtney Avery.
Michigan does not have near that amount of recruiting mojo, nor does it have the veteran consistency of Iowa. Yes, if Michigan is not more experienced and less awful next year it's time to focus the firey finger of blame entirely on Rich Rodriguez. Not quite yet, though.
Parachute in. While everyone was looking at that guy in the parachute he was looking at us:
AIM FOR THE YELLOW.
Alabama-rama. Some final thoughts on the Alabama game, but first Dave Brandon:
"I just thought it was a terrific opportunity for our team, our coaches and our fans," Brandon said. "But we got the numbers right, we worked really hard to make sure there was plentiful availability of tickets, because we wanted to get that right for our fans. We hope to think of this as a preseason bowl trip where we can bring lots of people and really make it a special Labor Day weekend."
Booting the Notre Dame game is not an option, so Michigan will go on the road to face Ohio State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Alabama (sort of) in the same season. Have fun, senior Denard. Anyway, thoughts:
- I am almost certain the reason introducing a middleman is preferable to a home-and-home are the messed up TV contracts. If Michigan plays a home and home with Alabama they split the extra TV money with the rest of the conference. It sounds like by doing this neutral site thing they are getting the financial windfall all to themselves. If you dislike this trend—and as a guy who would rather travel to Tuscaloosa than Dallas, I do—the only solution is to let teams keep all the profits from their nonconference games to themselves.
- As to why it's in an irrelevant place like Dallas: when ND started its "barnstorming" games it quickly discovered it couldn't play anyone in a relevant location because TV contracts prohibit anyone from playing a neutral site game in their conference's geographical footprint unless that game is going to be on the appropriate network. The result was ND-Washington State in Texas.
- This will be the biggest nonconference game played against anyone other than Notre Dame in…a very long time. Maybe the 1996 Colorado game? Michigan accidentally played a 13-0 Utah team in 2008 but in terms of pregame hype that pales in comparison. Washington was #9, IIRC, so Alabama will outstrip that.
Etc.: Hockey has a critical road test against UNH this weekend. People are still projecting us for New Year's Day. The Daily takes a look at college amateurism and whether it can or should go away. BWS picture pages the Webb TD.