|Free Safety||Yr.||Strong Safety||Yr.|
|Courtney Avery||Sr.||Thomas Gordon||Sr.*|
|Jarrod Wilson||So.||Josh Furman||Jr.*|
|Jeremy Clark||Fr.*||Delano Hill||Fr.|
[* = player has taken redshirt. # = walk-on]
Well, here it is. Michigan has lost Jordan Kovacs and the replacement derby has gone about as poorly as it could have. Jarrod Wilson was the guy they wanted to take the job and has not done so; Michigan moved a 5'9" slot cornerback back to safety because they had more faith in that guy knowing the defense than Wilson, and then that guy got hurt in a way that is not the way that he is perpetually hurt.
So… yeah, at least we'll have a good perspective on how valuable Jordan Kovacs was?
LET'S PULL THE BAND-AID OFF FIRST. The free safety slot is currently a competition between JARROD WILSON [recruiting profile] and COURTNEY AVERY that has gone to Wilson by default early because of arthroscopic surgery for Avery. Avery's only supposed to miss two games.
This preview projects that Avery will be the starter upon his healthy return, for various reasons. These are mostly about Wilson, so I guess we'll address him first. When Michigan moved him into the starting lineup last year in the bowl game, pain followed. Unless the entire rest of the defense was wrong on, Wilson was the culprit on a 70-yard South Carolina pass…
Wilson is on the numbers at the 40. He is supposed to be offscreen(!) to the right
…and the game winner…
it's called CENTER field
…in situations where it was just flat-out blowing simple centerfield assignments. We've made a lot of allowances for freshman whatsit in these previews, but Wilson hasn't done anything positive so far—literally. The only thing he charted on last year before infinite minuses in the bowl game was a critical, legit pass interference penalty on Tyler Eifert in the Notre Dame game. (That was third and goal. Ouch.)
And then there's the late move. When it leaked into the media, Hoke was of course asked about it:
MGoQuestion: What does Jarrod Wilson have to do to solidify his spot at safety?
"He's got to have production."
MGoFollowup: Have you been worried about his lack of production?
"No, we just think that we have good competition and there's guys having some production. He's got to have more."
This is terrifying because at safety, "production" means not doing things like those pictures above. Compounding the terror somewhat is that Wilson enrolled early and should be less raw, more familiar with the defense, etc.
You can hold onto this, I guess?
Do you have an idea who might start Saturday at this point?
"You know, I think Jarrod [Wilson]'s had a nice last two weeks of fall. I think the pressure that was put on him by other guys ... Josh Furman's improved. I would say Jarrod probably."
Does that make you feel good? If so, give me some of your enjoyment.
Okay, okay: Wilson does have some experience and safety is not a kind spot for freshmen. As a recruit, his frame and size got him a lot of nice offers, including Penn State, Notre Dame, and Stanford. Kovacs said he'd picked the defense up fast last year…
“He’s come in and picked up the defense really, really well. That’s one of the things he’s got the football smarts and as a defensive back you really need that,” Kovacs said. “Don’t get me wrong, there are things he needs to get cleaned up and improved on, but I’m definitely impressed with how much he’s progressed and how good of a ballplayer he is as a senior in high school. He has a lot more time here and I expect big things in the future.”
…and while that doesn't seem… you know… true, we are extrapolating from limited data here to wave our doomy fingers of doom. It could work out! Yeah!
[After THE JUMP: Courtney Avery trying to come back, Thomas Gordon definitely doing so, and dodgy depth.]
I'm just interested in the shirt. Ondre Pipkins caught a no-doubt exhausted Frank Clark catching some uncomfortable-looking Zs at something or another. As a man who slept through most of AP Bio in high school I have no leg to stand on as far as criticism of that activity. I'm just interested in his shirt:
EARN THE RIGHT TO RUSH 4
That would be nice.
And the shoes. Dr. Sap puts together a history of Michigan's shoes.
It's more interesting than it sounds. Before Nike came in in 1983, Michigan had seven different suppliers!
It's halftime. Jabrill Peppers has 20 minutes. He's already fixed your car, dated your daughter respectfully, and optioned a screenplay, so it's time to get props from Naughty By Nature:
“I would always hear about [Jabrill], and it was kind of like we let him do his thing and now he’s surfacing on his own. That was the first time I had heard him rap, I didn’t even know he had a crew like that,” he said. “I watched the video and listened to the song and it is really good. Jabrill’s song is like a throwback to ’90’s hip hop and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m really impressed.’ ”
In the time it took you to read that blockquote, Jabrill Peppers made crostini, pulled invasive garlic mustard out of an acre of parkland, and charged your phone. No, he didn't plug it into the wall.
Stick ball sports. Baseball got swept out of the Big Ten tournament, completing a promising first season for Eric Bakich. Michigan was vastly young this year, with just four seniors on the team: three relievers and Eric Biondi. With most of the best players underclassmen and a strong recruiting class coming in, baseball should be on an upward swing. Unfortunately, they'll probably lose slugger Michael O'Neill, who's projected to go somewhere in the first four rounds.
As you may know from the wince-inducing, nonsensical, miserable puns in your inbox…
Alumni Field Will Be Ragin' (& Cajun) This Weekend - Time To BUY(OU) Tickets
We're Jumba-LAY-ing It On Thick - Don't Miss The SOUP-er Regional This Weekend
…softball takes on Louisiana-Lafayette starting… uh… in a couple hours. If you're around and free, tickets are reasonably priced. If you're not, it's on ESPNU. Tomorrow's game is at noon, on plain ol' ESPN, with an if-necessary third game scheduled for ESPN at 3. Winner hits the WCWS. In the face with a bat.
"No, WE'RE going to murder the language more." Fed up with recruits claiming to be committed to schools they have no chance of actually signing with, schools fire back with offers that aren't anything like offers:
Alabama’s scholarship offers at some positions, most notably quarterback, are non-committable and pending an evaluation at summer camp.
The non-committable offer. Everything is a lie. This is a society that takes true things, hits them in the head with shovels, buries them neck-deep in turds, and waits for the tide to come in. This is called right-shoveling. All of everything is false and wrong and a lie. These words are random assemblages of symbols that have no inherent meaning. I cannot communicate at all, there is no meaning, I am floating in that crazy sad void in that one Death Cab song on that album I can't listen to for reason of not wanting to kind of want to put my face in a bathtub of water.
This may be an overreaction.
IT WAS NOT AN OVERREACTION. Charlie Weis got bought out for 19 million dollars. Oh hai meaningless Death Cab void.
Carl Hagelin has powers. Spooky powers:
GOOD EFFORT TRY WIN FIGHT. MLive asks what trolling is, discovers it is trolling. Revelations!
For example, when MSU fans post things like "LOL Walmart Wolverine skunk weasels" or when U-M fans post things like "LOL little brother" nothing is added to the conversation.
They are counseling commenters to ignore people who bother them, which if followed will reduce comments to four per article, all of them from me fighting with myself.
Marlin scouting Gordon. Thomas, that is. And how:
"Thomas Gordon could be a really good player," Jackson said during a recent interview. "If you look at him physically, he's everything you could want in an NFL safety."
"But I would just like to see him become more aggressive, when he's coming to make plays on the football and closing on open-field tackles," Jackson said. "Little things, but big things."
Etc.: Iowa loses a Ufer-equivalent. White House gets down with voracity. Everything you need to know about the Champions League final and horses. Toussaint "fired up" to keep his job, maybe play behind a line that will get him more than two inches of space. Denard can run man. How the pants was he still available in the fifth round man.
left: Bryan Fuller
Earlier this offseason I stumbled onto an old article where Bill Walsh wrote what qualities he looks for when drafting various positions. Meant to be a one-off on the offense, I took requests for a defensive version and broke it up into D-Line, linebackers, and now, finally, the defensive backs. The idea is since the coaching staff is building a "pro-style" team with principles more akin to the Walsh ideal that dominates the pros than the collegiate evaluations made on scouting sites and the like, we shall re-scout the 2013 roster for Walsh-approved attributes.
Since coverages have changed the most since Walsh's day—a reaction to the spread—this is probably the least valuable of the series. To bring it back on point, I've gone off the page a little bit to note some of the attributes that NFL defensive coaches are looking for nowadays, and what those changes mean.
Plankamalu / Shazorvacs/ M-Rob if all quarterbacks were Brian Cleary
Walsh Says: 6'3/215. Now hold your horses before going all "SHAZOR?!?" on me—I'm making a point: The type of player you have at safety depends on the type of system you want to run and the type of player you have everywhere else. If you're going to be playing more odd coverages (cover 1, cover 3) then you want your strong safety to be more of a run support guy, in many ways a fourth linebacker. If your base coverage is even (cover 2, cover 4) the strong and weak safeties will be more similar:
"There are other systems of defense where both safeties play a two-deep coverage and only occasionally come out of the middle to support the run. They basically play the ball in the air, the middle of the field and the sidelines. When you do that, then the stress is on the cornerback to be the support man.
So you must keep in mind these various philosophies when considering what types of cornerbacks and safeties you want to put together in forming a defensive secondary."
The attributes of your defensive backs should be complementary. Here's what Walsh is getting at: your backfield has to be able to defend the pass first and the run second. And here's the key: the more you can trust one player to handle coverage without help, the more you can stock up on extra run defense with the other guys. If your backfield already has plenty of coverage, you can have a strong man:
"The strong safety is historically the support man. He must have some of the traits you look for in a linebacker. In fact there have been some hybrid players in that position. Cincinnati had David Fulcher [right], who was as big as some linebackers but could function also as a safety. The Bengals moved him weak and strong, inside and outside and he became that extra man that the offensive run game had to account for but often could not block.
"But the typical strong safety is someone who can hit and stop people and respond spontaneously and go to the ball. Naturally, the more coverage talent the man has the more you can line him up on anybody."
Today, defensive coordinators sit on porches, remember when you could play a guy like Fulcher, and say "those were the days." The epitome of this type of safety is former Buckeye Doug Plank, who defined his position to such a degree that the defensive system itself was named for his number (46).
It's also called the "Bear" defense because it was the Bears
This defense was at the height of its popularity when Walsh joined the 49ers in 1979, and it was this defense his model passing concepts shredded. The defense played to Plank's strengths as an overly aggressive, hard-hitting run stopper with some coverage skills. The SAM linebacker in today's anti-spread sets (e.g. the 3-3-5's "Spur") is a closer analogue to the Plank-style player than the modern strong safety, with the key difference being that, as a safety, you couldn't put a blocker on a 46 without removing one from a lineman or linebacker, meaning the SS could flow cleanly to the point of attack and wrack up ridiculous tackle numbers.
College teams loved this, since passing quarterbacks were hard to come by and the big boys were running three yards and a cloud of dust (and later the option). A lot of cool names for linebacker-safeties were passed down from this period, such as the "Wolf" on Bo's teams, or the "Star" (names which today are coming out of retirement for the nickel-SAM hybrid position in base 4-2-5 anti-spread defenses).
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Why does a mid-'70s response to off-tackle NFL running games matter to a collegiate defense in 2013? Well because we have a really good free safety, and play tight end-heavy outfits this year in UConn (T.J. Weist, a rare member of the Gary Moeller coaching tree, is taking over there), Penn State, Michigan State, and Iowa, with the outside possibility of a Wisconsin if we make it to the conference championship. Also because the coaches have been subtly putting safety-like objects (Woolfolk, Gordon, and now Dymonte Thomas) at nickel, and recruiting a few linebacker-sized safeties.
I don't know what he'd think of Kovacs. We loved him, but Jordan had two weaknesses: 1) his lack of overall athleticism made exploitable if left in wide coverage (see: his abusing by Ace Sanders on the last play of the Outback Bowl, and the utter disaster that was GERG's attempt to play Kovacs as the free safety in 2009), and 2) his lack of size made him blockable if a lead blocker could get to him (see: bad things happening whenever Mouton abandoned contain).
He would have loved Ernest Shazor, a knife blade listed at 6'4/226 with a scatback's acceleration who loved nothing better than demonstrating the force equation. Brian calls Shazor "the most overrated Michigan player of the decade" because he has to live with the bolded subconscious of UFR, and nothing pisses off a figment of a blogger's imagination like a safety who gives up a big play in coverage.
Here's the point: the ideal safety would be a dude with the size and stopping power to pop a lead blocker and make the tackle or lay out a guy like Shazor, read and react like Kovacs, and cover like Charles Woodson. That human doesn't exist. A combo of epic athleticism with plus headiness and serviceable tackling and size equals Ed Reed or Sean Taylor. Epic headiness with plus size and serviceable everything else nets you Doug Plank, with plus athleticism: Ronnie Lott, Troy Polamalu or Rodney Harrison. The trick is to have epic everything between your safeties; for strongside then it's not Ernest Shazor or Jordan Kovacs; it's SHAZORVACS!
What to look for in a Scouting Report: At either safety position, instincts rate highly and speed after that (less so for the strongside). You're looking to first make sure you have enough coverage in the entire backfield, and once you do you can use this position to stock up on linebacker traits: tackling, size, taking on blockers, personal contribution to local seismic activity, that sort of stuff.
What you can learn on film: Everyone loves those bone-jarring hits and coaches are more than happy to put them in a recruiting video, but not all hits are created equal. Sometimes they're generated by another defender cutting off the lead blocker, other times it's your guy reading the play so early he can go all-out on the hit. More important is what happens to the ballcarrier: he needs to go down. Safeties are going to be left in space, and making that tackle is more important than making the offensive player wish he'd never met this oblong brown thing.
What could signal bust potential: Remember you want a safety, not a horse, i.e. overrating the secondary, linebacker-y attributes and expecting the rest to come along. Adequate coverage and good instincts need to be there or else this guy is just a platoon player. "May be a linebacker on the next level" is a red flag, unless he actually becomes a linebacker. Brandon Smith's recruiting profile is instructive.
It's usually good policy to discount ESPN's opinion when it's in wild disagreement with the other services, but here I tend to give their rip job ($, "he's not a fast-twitch athlete and lacks explosive quickness and speed"; "Takes too long to reach top speed"; "He can be late, takes false steps and doesn't see things happen quickly enough") some credence. Reasons:
- Rivals started off very high on him, ranking him around #50, but steadily dropped him as the year progressed despite his status as a high-profile uncommitted player.
- Despite all the guru accolades Michigan's main competitors were Rutgers and South Carolina; other offers came from Maryland, NC State, Wisconsin and West Virginia. He wanted offers from Florida and Ohio State which never came.
- You always risk looking like a tool when you rely on your super awesome scouting skills and six plays on youtube to discern a kid's fate, but... yeah, I didn't think he was all that.
The guy left in a huff after they tried to wring the last bit of value out of him as a Doug Plank-like extra linebacker vs. Wisconsin, and Wisconsin ground us to dust, but then Smith was a high school quarterback whose development as a defender had to come almost entirely from the Rodriguez-era coaching staff. Anyway you've seen this again and again: rave reviews for the guy's "frame" and a profundity of attributes that would make him seem a really nice horse, combined with not nearly enough "makes plays." First have all of the safety stuff: can read and react, cover, and tackle in space. Then care about the size.
How our guys compare: Jarrod Wilson (6'2/196) remains my favorite to start at this spot because he is adequate (not yet plus) in coverage and the other guys aren't. Like the Jamar Adams he reminds me of, Wilson doesn't stand out in any category but doesn't have any major holes in his game other than being young.
The other leading candidate is Marvin Robinson who scares the hell out of me. He was a big-time recruit early in the process thanks to apparently having an early growth spurt, and his profile was filled with horsey metaphors. The same player still hangs on that frame (he arrived at 203 and never deviated more than 3 lbs from that) and hopes for him hang on the comparative competence in coaching plus the fact that being behind Jordan Kovacs is a perfectly reasonable excuse for not seeing the field earlier.
The redshirt freshmen at this position are stiff and linebacker-ish with instincts, more Plank than Polamalu. Jeremy Clark is all of 6'4/201 and did an okay job against the run in the Spring Game I covered in this space a few weeks ago, but lacks speed. Allen Gant also had instincts praised as a recruit, but also lacks the kind of athleticism and would at best develop into a slightly bigger and less heady Kovacs. If going forward Michigan can develop a superstar at the other safety spot or with a corner, they might be able to Plank it with one of these guys—when Woodson gave us that opportunity in '97, Daydrion Taylor and Tommy Hendricks went ham.
Thomas Gordon is super-instinctive and would be a perfect fit here except he's needed at the more important free position he's been playing.
[The rest, after the leap.]
One of these is Jamar Adams, the other Jarrod Wilson (by Fuller)
Here's a little tradition from around these parts that you're not happy to bring back: who's going to be the new safety starter? Yeah, remember that conversation? Remember how it went around picking up all the we-hope-he's-at-least-an-Englemons out of Gibson'ed secondaries?
The best of all that. This last bout of hand wringing finally ended with the best safety tandem we've had in the Cover-2 era. In their two years together Kovacs and Gordon were the first capable pair since Brandent and Jamar, easily the best since Marlin and Ernest, and probably ranked higher than any since Marcus and Tommy or earlier. We can actually chart the stuff since '07, thanks to Brian's Upon Further Review charts (which total up the plusses and minuses accrued in each game into a rough net contribution stat). I've got my UFR database now updated that far (any further and the knowledge isn't really there to make it relevant or comparable). Remember this is a game-by-game exercise that wasn't meant to remain standard across the ages; that said the Chart?-Chart! chart totals for Michigan safeties in these six seasons very much fit your recollections:
|Jared Van Slyke||0||0|
Chart notes: maize is positive, blue negative so that can stand out more. Time spent at the Spur in the 3-3-5 years was counted as linebacker, likewise Brandon Harrison's 2007 at nickel, which was a starting position on the English defenses. I tried to separate Woolfolk's corner games from his safety games; for the record here's the breakdown for 2009:
…when he was obviously a better corner than a safety but as you can see from above, was needed more at the latter.
Still the totals at the bottom tell a story of a moderately positive '07 (Stevie Brown—0/-8/-8 in The Horror) did most of his damage in one game, which itself did plenty of damage to that season), three years of atrociousness, and dramatic improvement under the new staff. If you remember 2010 as worse than '09 that's because the cornerbacks were just as bad. The disparity between Kovacs 2011 and 2012 is easy enough to explain by there being far fewer opportunities for him to make those Kovacsian stops after 7 yards as Michigan faced either Alabama or teams who either didn't test or schemed against him (Air Force, Nebraska).
Also I had to chart The Horror myself because Brian didn't at the time. Thanks Brian.* Anyway the charting says Thomas Gordon (!) was the best safety at Michigan in the last six seasons. Should we be talking about all-conference stuff for ol' Prison Abs in addition to the leadership stuff? Gee, maybe. He had a spectacular spring game, which I don't think many people noticed.
As for what's opposite him Michigan has to find something out of the blues above plus another year of progression.
*Had this been done under modern UFR standards it would have doubled any record for RPS debacles. Just to know I tried doing that, handing out the remainder of expected points for any play that weren't on the players as Brian does in UFR-ing and came out with this staggering figure of +23/-46/-23. RPS is never that much of a variable, except in this game it was the alignment of linebackers, stunts (!), not stacking the box, and not responding to the QB draw even though they only ever ran one play out of that alignment.
[After the jump: Candidates]
DEPARTURES IN ORDER OF SIGNIFICANCE
- S Jordan Kovacs. Long time safety blanket specialized in open-field tackles, especially on fourth down, and was rarely victimized by his brain. Speed exposed by speedy South Carolina receivers, but you'll miss him early when someone screws up and you remember what it's like to have a safety biff a tackle and turn not much into lots.
- SDE Craig Roh. Journeyman switched positions every year, finally finding a home at SDE. Four sacks were second on the team to Jake Ryan; did a lot of non-boxscore stuff. Quality player; never quite panned out into the QB terror he was purported to be. Production should be replaceable.
- MLB Kenny Demens. Started every game, finished second on team with 82 tackles, 50 of them solo. Surprisingly quality in coverage; never great; guy you can win with.
- DT Will Campbell. Long-time disappointment got serious in 2012 and turned in adequate, blocker-absorbing season. Not an impact player—1.5 TFLs on the year. May go late in NFL draft thanks to sheer size.
- CB JT Floyd. Three-year starter turned career around after debacle of 2010, but was always kind of a sore spot as teams went after him and his lack of speed over and over again. Rarely cracked; had to be covered for at times. Iffy run defender. NFL FA type.
- WLB Brandin Hawthorne. Nonfactor.
Ryan, Ross, QWASH
- SLB Jake Ryan. Barbarian was Michigan's sole impact player on defense; shut down screens consistently, explosive rusher led team with 16 TFLs and four forced fumbles. Remember that thing he did? Yeah.
- MLB Desmond Morgan [probably]. With James Ross champing at the bit to enter the starting lineup, the stout Morgan is likely to move over to middle linebacker, allowing Ross to flow freely. Morgan was third on the team in tackles last year—M's linebackers were 1-2-3 like nature intended, with Gordon and Kovacs next—and displayed tackling prowess. He'll get pushed; he'll have to be forcibly unseated.
- NT Quinton Washington. Season surprise turned nose tackle from looming liability to actually kind of a strength. Not a Martin-type penetrator but ended up powerful and difficult to block. Range spans from merely okay to All Big Ten. Has future as wrestler named QWASH if football doesn't work out.
- CB Blake Countess. Freshman starter was hyped up as next great Michigan corner before being hewed down in the first game covering a punt. Will likely return to the field corner spot he locked down in the offseason.
- CB Raymon Taylor. Stepped in for Countess after Courtney Avery didn't seem up to the task and held his own for the most part. Teams mostly went after Floyd, leaving him alone. Did get burned for a touchdown in the bowl game. Tendency to get lost on zones should attenuate; has better size than any other experienced corner and will probably end up at boundary with Floyd's departure.
- WLB James Ross III. Bloodhound as a true freshman but too slight to take on blockers and big tailbacks effectively. With a season in the weight room should go from promising to excellent. 2012 : Jake Ryan :: 2013 : James Ross.
- FS Thomas Gordon. Unsung counterpart to Kovacs has not made as many flashy TFLs but is part of the Michigan defense's remarkable ability to prevent big plays over the last couple years. Probably takes over Kovacs's frequent blitzes.
- MLB Joe Bolden. Played a lot as a true freshman and will push Morgan and Ross equally. Survey says he loses the starting job but gets so much time he's essentially a third ILB starter. Needs to get a little meaner, work on pass drops, all that freshman business. Will be quality.
- Nickelback Courtney Avery. Diminutive but quality underneath cover guy; PBU and INT sealed OSU game; also a crappy edge tackler; fine option as a third corner.
- DT Jibreel Black. Spotted Roh, could not take his job; may be a candidate to move to SDE if he can put on the weight; emergence of Frank Clark threatens to cut into playing time.
- WDE Brennen Beyer. Best of the three WDEs at run D; nonfactor getting to the QB. Let's all focus our Heininger Certainty Principle at him.
- WDE Frank Clark. Co-starter at WDE made more plays behind the line (9 TFLs) and batted down a lot of passes, but had trouble beating blocks—thus all the batted passes—and still blows contain responsibility on the read option a maddening amount. Up or out for him.
- SDE Keith Heitzman. Redshirt freshman flashed a couple things in the spring game and came on as a rotation guy about halfway through the year, grading out okay. Could emerge into SDE starter or could maintain that rotation thing another year.
- NT Ondre Pipkins. Massively hyped recruit was rotation partner with Washington. Got knocked over by a running back once; did bull his way into the backfield impressively a couple times. DTs need time; Pipkins should make a leap in the offseason.
- WDE Mario Ojemudia. Hilariously undersized high school DT promised to be mini-Martin… still working on that. Needed size, technique; may burst past WDE competitors with strong offseason.
WHAT'S NEW, OR CLOSE ENOUGH, ANYWAY
A couple guys on the DL. Last season this post focused on the three departures from the line, found only Washington and Campbell and what seemed like a woefully undersized Roh, and was pushing any button available whether it was marked "PANIC" or not. A year later, Roh was good, Washington dang good, Campbell at least serviceable, and we're all like COME AT ME ATTRITION BRO.
The problems here are insignificant compared to last year. Michigan gets Matt Godin, Willie Henry, Chris Wormley, and Tom Strobel off redshirts. They'll add an early-enrollee in Taco Charlton plus a couple of guys who just showed very well at their respective all star games in Maurice Hurst and Henry Poggi. They return Washington, Pipkins, Black, Heitzman, and three guys who saw time at WDE. They will find folks to fill in the gaps.
They do have to figure that out. First up: dollars to donuts Black moves to SDE. It's a better fit with his size, he spent that fateful final drive of the Outback Bowl running around the South Carolina left tackle, and even if it's a horde of redshirt freshmen who would hypothetically replace him, there is a horde.
At the now-vacated three-tech spot, pick from Wormley, Henry, and Godin. I bet Wormley is the winner there. There will be rotation, and improvement, and you will feel fuzzily positive about this in September.
Lineback—nevermind. Demens was missed in said bowl game, but with another offseason behind Morgan, Bolden, and Ross the ILBs should actually get better next year.
Not having an utterly reliable tiny linebacker at safety bailing your ass out for four years. Miss you, small guy xoxo.
WHAT'S THE FIRST FOUR SEASONS OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
Keith Heitzman is like a living breathing miracle of having a two deep
DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH WOOOOO! We covered the line. Each positions has a two-deep of non-true freshmen, many of them proven or hyped. At linebacker there are three quasi-starters plus a solid rotation at SLB. The secondary is a bit dodgier but Terry Richardson should be serviceable as a sophomore.
Experience. Michigan loses five starters, yeah, but that's almost literally all they lose. Mike Jones may or may not return for another season of staring from the bench, other than that the only player they lose is Brandin Hawthorne, who was exclusively special teams as a senior. They return 16 heavy contributors to the D, 17 if you count Jarrod Wilson.
Linebackers. Ryan, of course, and then you've got Ross/Bolden/Morgan returning in the middle. Many people will pine for Michigan's linebacking corps next year.
My difficulty in thinking about bullets for the following two sections. Only got two in each.
WHAT'S THE LAST SEASON OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
looks good; was Mattison getting a free rusher at Miller's backside
Getting to the quarterback. Mattison generates lots of free blitzers with his schemes; other than that the only guy to consistently generate pass rush was Ryan. WDE, the glamor spot in a 4-3 under, barely produced. Three guys had three sacks between them last year. All of those guys are back, and Charlton gets added in. The time for someone to step up is now.
Matters should be a bit better on the interior, as whoever replaces Campbell is going to be a leaner, quicker guy who can get more penetration than he did.
A lack of outright stars. You've got Ryan, and I think Ross will get there next year, and then… maybe Countess, but that's asking for a lot after an injury like he had, and… dot dot dot.
WHAT'S INEXPLICABLE JIMI HENDRIX
Will not having Jordan Kovacs doom Michigan to a Yards After Safety kind of life? I don't think so but the parade of incompetents (and Jamar Adams) before him makes me leery.
Can anyone step in right away and be a QB terror? Looking at you, Taco Charlton. He and Ojemudia seem like the best bets for a truly fearsome edge rusher—we've seen a lot of Frank Clark this year and he just hasn't done much.
MANDATORY WILD-ASS GUESS
I was worried about a backslide last year. If there was one, it was exceedingly minor. In 2011 Michigan was 17th in yardage, 6th in scoring defense, 36th in pass efficiency D, and 39th in rushing D. Last year those numbers were 13th/20th/50th/51st, and if you'd added Blake Countess for the whole year, well…
I tend to trust the poorer numbers there since Michigan moves at such a slow pace and their YPC average allowed—3.8—is pretty meh. Pre-Outback Bowl, FEI has them 20th, and that feels about right.
Michigan is probably still a year away from being capital E elite, but you could see how they get there ahead of schedule. It requires three things:
Countess comes back and is a "war daddy," to use super secret football lingo.
Someone emerges as as serious pass rush threat at WDE.
Kovacs, peace be unto him, is adequately replaced by Jarrod Wilson.
#1 is possible. #2 seems doubtful, and #3… I hesitate to predict anything about that because it will blow up all over.
Anyway. Michigan tightens up its run D, moving from around 3.8 YPC allowed to under 3.5. The pass defense looks worse superficially because the Big Ten isn't as terrible at throwing the ball next year (right?) but is actually better since neither starting corner spends the entire year getting balls thrown over his head. The D moves up to around tenth in the advanced stats, stays static in yardage and improves pass D efficiency.
Formation notes: Michigan spent virtually the whole game in a nickel package, with occasional forays into okie stuff. I started labeling various okie looks "one" "two" and "zero" with the number denoting the number of deep safeties on the play. This was zero:
Also there was this weird thing once.
That is okie two, one they shifted into late. Look at Campbell there right next to Roh.
Substitution notes: Avery slid back inside and it looks like your new field corner is Raymon Taylor. Guessing it's Taylor out there when Michigan is in a 4-3 set.
At linebacker, heavy rotation between Bolden, Ross, and Demens; Hawthorne got in a bit thanks to Morgan's absence. Mike Jones came on in garbage time.
On the line, the aforementioned nickel oddity where Roh and Black were usually the DTs, flanked by Clark and Ryan. Cam Gordon and Ojemudia rotated through at DE; at DT it was Brink and Heitzman with some appearances by Campbell and Washington. Pipkins did not get in until late.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun trips covered||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone counter||Demens||5 (Pen -10)|
|TE motions into the backfield to act as an H-back as UMass goes with a covered slot guy. TE then goes backside and nails Ryan. Demens is slow to the hole, getting hit two yards downfield, and Black(-1) is sealed out of the hole. Ryan(+0.5) does a pretty decent job to constrict that hole and forces Cox to knock into some of his own blockers; Demens would get a minus for missing the tackle here but his blocker is called for a hold. Gordon(+0.5) fills decisively, holding the gain down. He can't tackle Cox cleanly but does delay him enough so that there is no YAC.|
|O15||1||20||Shotgun trips bunch TE||Nickel under||Pass||5||Quick out||Gordon||6|
|A little dink pass is complete on a half-roll. Gordon's a little iffy on his approach and falls down, but Demens flowing out makes the WR run into the prone Gordon anyway. Push, but I'm eyeing Gordon warily.|
|O21||2||14||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Tunnel screen||Black||-1|
|Black(+2) reads it, backs out, gets to the spot, and tackles for loss. Roh helped out as well and Ross(+0.5) fended off a block to put himself in a position to contribute.|
|O20||3||15||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel even||Pass||4||Corner||Floyd||Inc|
|Stunt doesn't quite get there but that's because the QB is going from five yards back to 11 by the time he throws. DL is getting in, with Roh(+0.5) getting pressure that forces a throw. Floyd has a better shot at a reception than anyone else and should really have an INT but misjudges the ball badly. No points for you. (Cover +2)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 11 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O6||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||N/A||-2|
|Fumbled exchange. FWIW, looked like Cox was going to get popped by an unblocked Ross near the LOS.|
|O4||2||12||Shotgun trips||3-4 nickel||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Ojemudia||11|
|Ojemudia(-1) as a 3-4 DE, which goes about how you'd expect. A 230 pound freshman is doubled and pancaked, cutting off the outside. I feel better about this because Michigan's not going to do this against a real opponent unless it's third and twelve, not second and twelve. Campbell(+0.5) got some good push, but it was irrelevant. RPS -2. I moved a minus to the RPS from Ojemudia, FWIW. Because obviously.|
|O15||3||1||Shotgun trips||Okie zero||Penalty||N/A||False start||N/A||-5|
|Same guy who got the hold.|
|O10||3||6||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||TGDCD||Ryan||-1|
|M sends Bolden and Avery, sending Ross on one of those hash to hash drops. They've slanted the line away from this and had Ryan back off the LOS, which is fortunate because the playcall goes right where Ross just vacated. Roh(+0.5) comes around the tackle and squeezes the hole down; Ryan(+1, tackling +1) brings down Cox in space. RPS +1|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Stop and go||Taylor||Inc|
|Good time(pressure -1); Taylor hops up on the hitch route but has safety help so that's fine. There's a small window for a 15 yard completion that's missed. Cover push. Illegal man downfield penalty is declined.|
|O26||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Counter||Ross||6|
|Ross(-1) doesn't read the T pull and gets sucked away from the play, sealed into oblivion. Bolden(-1) does an okay job of getting to the hole and makes contact with the pulling T at the LOS, but slows up. Instead of lowering the boom like Ross he gently contacts the T, and there's still a gap. Needs to hit that blocker in the mouth, drive him back, and then be able to come off and tackle. As it is, Ryan, the contain, is the only guy trying a tackle attempt and that doesn't go so well. Black got sealed away but I'm not sure that's really on him. Need some linebackers to not get blocked. Gordon(+1, tackling +1) makes a nice fill. Picture-paged.|
|O32||3||4||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 cover one||Pass||5||Out||Avery||4|
|M shows man and runs zone, but this still comes off as Avery isn't quite able to tackle on this little out before the WR can reach the sticks. This will happen on this down and distance; push.|
|O36||1||10||Shotgun trips covered||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone counter||Black||-1|
|Same as their first play. Black(+1) gets some backwards motion and this convinces Cox to go nuts. Instead of slamming it up in a meh hole and getting tackled from the side by Black or Ryan, he hits a blocker, bounces, runs into Roh(+1), who shed a blocker to get into the backfield, and then Clark(+0.5) cleans up on the edge. Somewhere, Rich Rodriguez has an inexplicable urge to spike his headset.|
|O35||2||11||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel even||Pass||5||Rollout out||Avery||Inc|
|Michigan brings a blitz that UMass rolls away from. Same little out they got the first on is preferred because Michigan has good coverage(+1) in the area. It's turfed. Avery(+0.5) looked ready to light this guy up on the catch.|
|O35||3||11||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Run||N/A||QB draw||Ross||16|
|Michigan stunts out of the gap UMass is attacking. That leaves Ross(-1) alone in a ton of space against two blockers. One runs by, he fends off the other, and can't get out to the QB to even slow him. Ojemudia was tearing back in pursuit and safeties were filling, all Ross needs to do is slow the guy a half beat and this is not a conversion. But really, this is RPS'd. RPS -2.|
|M49||1||10||Shotgun trips covered||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Ojemudia||14|
|Campbell is moving and gets chopped, but I guess I can't minus him because this convinces Cox to reverse field. Or maybe it was Ryan(+1) coming under a guy—usually a no-no—with enough speed to make me think the outside is cutoff. Ojemudia(-2) abandoned his cutback contain to start a long-term pursuit angle, which opens up the corner once the QB cuts off a redirecting Ross.|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun trips||Okie one||Pass||5||Fade||Taylor||22|
|One on one to the boundary, Taylor takes inside leverage and is basically step for step with the guy on the sideline. QB throws it perfectly, WR makes incredible catch, nothing you can do. Cover +1.|
|M13||1||10||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel even||Pass||5||Out||Avery||11|
|Kovacs comes up late for a safety blitz, UMass dumps it short. Ryan(+1, pressure +1) is through the line and about to nail the QB, so he has to dump it. Avery(-2, tackling -1) is there for a tackle attempt on a stationary guy one yard downfield that he misses. He manages to hold on to the guy but guy drags him ten yards.|
|M2||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Pin and pull zone||Clark||-1|
|Clark(+1) blows outside a TE trying to seal him, Roh gets push on a G trying the same. Cox cuts behind that, away from his blockers. Ross(+0.5) is in in the hole and gets a tackle attempt in from the side. Black got cut and reaches out as well. Cox falls over.|
|M3||2||G||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Ryan||-1 (Pen -10)|
|Ryan(+2) motions in late, shoots inside the RT, gets held, and still stops Cox in the backfield by diving at his feet. Black(+1) drove through two blockers to meet Cox in the backfield as well. Slant got it here. RPS +1.|
|M13||2||G||Shotgun 4-wide tight||3-4 nickel||Pass||5||Improv||Black||Inc|
|Black(+2) motions late to a gap between the C and G and jumps the snap Worthy style. He's offsides, obviously, but they don't call it. So you get a plus. He's up the middle of the pocket immediately, forcing a flush (pressure+2). QB actually has a shot at a WR but can't hit it. Gordon and Avery in pursuit. Gordon(+1, cover +1) was there to bat at it.|
|M13||3||G||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Penalty||N/A||Offsides||Clark||5|
|Clark(-1) also offsides, this time they call it.|
|M8||3||G||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Dumpoff||Roh||Inc|
|Roh(+1, pressure +1) splits two OL and gets in to force a dumpoff. Clark(+1) reads this, backs off, and bats it down. Michigan had this killed dead anyway (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG(25), 14-3, 13 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O26||1||10||Pistol 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Bolden||4|
|Bolden gets to the hole at the LOS and Cox has only a narrow gap, but he should be funneling back inside and does not. He got there pretty well, so I'll say push. Roh(-0.5) got blown up momentarily, so maybe Bolden's leery about that subconsciously. Gordon(+1, tackling +1) fills nicely, holding a dangerous-looking burst through the line to four yards with help from Avery.|
|O30||2||6||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie one||Pass||5||Rollout out||CGordon||5|
|They roll the pocket away from the blitz and Gordon has to try and track down a slot guy running an out, which doesn't go well. He does enough to make the throw outside and diving, removing a potentially large amount of YAC from the equation. RPS -1.|
|O35||3||1||Pistol 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Roh||3|
|Still playing Roh at DT on third and one. He gets blown out of the center by a double, and that's enough. I'm not minusing the guy for being 280 pounds. Gordon(+1) fills well, hitting at the LOS, but without DL support this is always going to get it. RPS -1.|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Hitch||Floyd||Inc|
|Half roll deflates pressure but M is all over the receivers (cover +3); a two-yard checkdown is jumped by Floyd(+1) and may have been an INT if more accurate. Nowhere to go.|
|O38||2||10||Shotgun trips||3-4 nickel||Pass||5||Rollout out||Gordon||3|
|Avery cuts off the outside and forces a throw. Pressure is not exactly rampant but it's a push. Pass is a four yard out Gordon(+0.5) is in good coverage(+1), guy runs OOB anyway.|
|O41||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Out||Clark||Inc|
|Hawthorne sent as Gordon backs out. Clark(+1) gets around the edge(pressure +1) and gets the QB's feet moving. Floyd(+1) jumps one out; CGordon(+1, cover +2) has the one underneath. QB turfs it, possibly on purpose.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 10 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide tight||Nickel under||Penalty||N/A||False start||N/A||-5|
|O30||1||15||Shotgun 4-wide tight||Nickel even||Pass||4||PA Out||Clark||Inc|
|They leave Clark unblocked, try to throw a three yard out and miss. Clark may have gotten a finger on it. RPS +1? By default, I guess. Clark +0.5.|
|O30||2||15||Shotgun 4-wide tight||Okie two||Pass||5||Tunnel screen||Ross||4|
|WR ends up in front of all his blockers. Bolden(+0.5) and Ross(+0.5) force the guy upfield away from all those folk. Gordon(+0.5) comes up to keep leverage well inside the numbers, and then everyone rallies to tackle.|
|O34||3||11||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Pass||5||Sack||Bolden||-24|
|This is a screen. Bolden(+1) is charging forward at the snap along with Avery; Bolden gets through clean. Ryan(+0.5) has dropped right into the screen; not sure if this is read or if QB is just panicking. Roh also gets some pressure before bailing out; QB ends up tossing the ball away well short of the sticks after giving up 24 yards, giving Bolden a sack. RPS +2, Pressure +2, cover +1.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 28-10, 6 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Counter||Gordon||6|
|LBs do a much better job of reading this, with Ross(+1) sticking the pulling T in the hole and Bolden(+0.5) getting around a block to fill if Cox is going to go where Ross wants him to. He doesn't because Gordon(-1) has lost the edge. Kovacs and Taylor fill on the bounce; still gave up more yards than they had to there.|
|O34||2||4||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Pass||4||In||Ross||9|
|M ran this against NW last year: double flare screen fakes with an little middle hitch opening up. Ross(-0.5, cover -1) books out for the flare, opening a slant behind him. I don't really blame him. RPS -1.|
|O43||1||10||Pistol 3-wide||Nickel under||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Clark||9|
|Okay so our DL on this play includes Clark as a DT. M blitzes one LB-type substance—Kovacs is the other—and stunts Roh back around. Clark(-1) gets blown back, so Roh can't flow; Kovacs is taking on a pulling G and there is no one on the second level. Clark does spin off his block and take Cox down with a lunging shoulder grab; otherwise this is Gordon vs touchdown. RPS -2. Virtually nothing any M player could do. Hope they're just screwing around at this point.|
|M48||2||1||Ace twin TE||4-3 even||Pass||4||Flea flicker||Taylor||33|
|This looks like man coverage w/ Avery going in motion to mirror his guy presnap. The flea flicker sucks up all the underneath guys, giving the QB a look at the deep guy, who is covered(+1) by Floyd and Gordon. Taylor(-2, cover -2) got way behind the second option, a deep in by the other receiver. Not close enough to tackle immediately, Taylor gives up another 20 yards after the catch.|
|M15||1||10||Shotgun trips bunch TE||Nickel under||Pass||4||Rollout out||Floyd||2|
|Another one of these dink passes. This one takes the WR off his feet; Floyd(+0.5, cover +1) looked like he would tackle anyway.|
|M13||2||8||Shotgun trips bunch TE||Okie zero||Pass||6||Throwaway||Clark||Inc|
|Mattison sends the house. Clark(+1) leaps a cut block, Roh(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) both come free as the T can't get out and the G has another guy to block. QB just gets rid of it. Had no one anyway. (Pressure +2, Cover +1, RPS +1)|
|M13||3||8||Shotgun trips bunch tight||Nickel even||Pass||4||Throwaway||N/A||Inc|
|Miscommunication and QB tosses it into the endzone, where none of his WRs are. Coverage(+1) looked good.|
|Drive Notes: FG(30), 35-13, 2 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Pistol trips bunch||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Roh||-3 (Pen -13)|
|Roh(+2) shoves an opposing guard into the backfield, causing a full stop by Cox as he reaches where he'd normally cut despite Black getting chop-blocked to the ground (no minus, that ain't right). Ryan(+0.5) cleans up as the unblocked backside guy. Ross(+0.5) split blockers and was going to be useful if Roh hadn't beat him to it. Flag overrides play.|
|O12||1||23||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Black||3 (Pen -6)|
|Runner is actually a slot receiver who comes in motion and takes a shovel pass. Ryan(+0.5) gets upfield, forcing it back and stripping the WR of a lead blocker. Black(-0.5) avoided a cut but got delayed sufficiently that he can't close the hole. Ross is bugging out, gets blocked. Demens is taking 'er easy, which fine given down and distance. Ross forces back to Demens; before Demens can tackle the RB falls of his own accord. Another chop block backs them up even further.|
|O6||1||29||Shotgun trips covered||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone counter||Black||-1|
|Again with the counter; Ryan(+0.5) squeezes down and prevents that backside hole from forming. Black(+1) and Roh(+1) both shed blocks and meet Cox in the backfield to tackle for no gain.|
|O5||2||30||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Hitch||Clark||7|
|Clark(+1, pressure +1) rips around the corner and is about to safety the QB when he fires out a short hitch that is complete. Instant tackle from Demens(+0.5, cover +1)|
|O12||3||23||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Draw||N/A||10|
|Give up and punt.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 42-13, 12 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Pistol 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Power||Brink||7|
|Brink(-2) blown up by a double. This means Ross can't flow; Bolden(+1) got to the hole, stood up the blocker, and funneled to his help but that help got washed out. Ross does come through the block to tackle; Brink spun off and added a little help too.|
|O32||2||3||Shotgun 4-wide tight||Nickel even||Pass||4||Scramble||Clark||6|
|Clark(-0.5) left unblocked and gets in on the QB as coverage(+1) takes away whatever he was about to dink. Clark misses the tackle(-1); Campbell(-1) misses another tackle(-1) and QB squeezes out the first down. Campbell's was worse because QB didn't even put a move on.|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-4 nickel||Run||N/A||Inverted veer keeper||Avery||-1|
|Avery(+2, tackling +1) comes up hard, stalls out a couple yards in the backfield, convinces the QB to give, and then tackles the guy. Ojemudia(+0.5) had prevented an OL from releasing into Ross so he was likely to hack this down pretty quickly.|
|O37||2||11||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Run||N/A||QB draw||Roh||3|
|Roh(+1) takes a shove from the C but still doesn't get kicked out and this convinces the QB to start rolling outside, away from the guys releasing downfield. Black(+1) also helped this no crease situation and when he read the play he's the guy containing, forcing the QB back into blockers.|
|O40||3||8||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Pass||5||Throwaway||Demens||Inc|
|Blitz gets picked up but Demens(+1, pressure +2) drives inside his blocker and gets upfield pressure; Roh(+0.5) also got in on the edge. QB is like seeya ball, don't need you no more.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 49-13, 8 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O29||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Washington||4|
|Washington(+1) clubs a G backwards, which cuts off the guy trying to move backside to pick up Ryan. Heitzman(-1) has gotten shoved backside, though, and there's a crease. Ryan(+0.5) comes down to tackle from behind. I still wish the LBs would be a little more aggressive here but this is single blocking and immediate release stuff. Bolden does shed to help tackle downfield.|
|O33||2||6||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Clark||-6|
|Clark(+1) shoots past the RT and gets upfield, picking off a leading block. That's a two for one. Cox stops and thinks about hitting it up. I think Heitzman is again getting too much motion; Washington(-0.5) gets cut but Michigan gets lucky as Cox slips on his cut. By the time he gets going forward again Washington is to his feet and unblocked backside guy Ryan is a factor. Cox doesn't know when he's beat and gives up a bunch more yards by trying to outrun Ryan(+0.5) upfield. Shades of that Sugar Bowl play.|
|O27||3||12||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Pass||4||Rollout corner||Avery||13|
|Mostly an RPS thing as Richardson gets run off deep and there's no one in the zone to get the corner that develops underneath it. I'm guessing Avery may have been able to play this better somehow, but it probably wouldn't have been enough to stop it. (Cover -2, RPS -1)|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Washington||2|
|Washington(+2) blows up the LG and shows up in the middle of the line. Brink(+0.5) is also there, albeit still blocked and just holding on. Bolden was free thanks to Washington's work and moves up in the hole, but doesn't actually get to do anything because Washington eats the guy instead. NT play. Just UMass. Remain calm.|
|O42||2||8||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel even||Pass||3||Throwaway||Hawthorne||Inc|
|Another double flares and slant combo that is designed to get the LBs bugging out and open up the inside. Hawthorne(+1, cover +1) doesn't bite as Gordon flares out with the flare. Pipkins(+1) avoids a cut block and trundles up them middle, forcing a throwaway. RPS +1.|
|O42||3||8||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Out||Hawthorne||11|
|Stunt doesn't get there (pressure -1) and the man cover behind it is vulnerable to a route like this; would still like Hawthorne(-1, cover -1) to at least be there to challenge on the catch, maybe try a tackle. He's not and then misses his tackle attempt. No real damage, but first down yielded.|
|M47||1||10||Pistol 3-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Jones||4|
|Heitzman(-0.5) gets plowed back; he also lets a guy through, a guy that Hawthorne(-1) eats when he really should be able to scrape past it. Jones(+0.5) gets a hit on the pulling G at the LOS; Ojemudia(+0.5) can peel off and tackle thanks to the small hole created.|
|M43||2||6||Shotgun empty||Dime||Pass||5||Rollout out||CGordon||15|
|Rollout away from pressure effective; again running off that outside corner and finding space underneath. No idea if this is Gordon or Richardson or just RPS; we'll give it to RPS. (Cover -1, RPS -1)|
|M28||1||10||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Scramble||N/A||1|
|Thought this was a draw but no one releases downfield and the WRs are running routes, so just QB panic. No particular reason for this; unblocked LBs converge after a yard.|
|M27||2||9||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||6||Batted||Bolden||Inc|
|Bolden(+0.5) gets a free run(pressure +2) and hits the QB as he throws. RPS +1|
|M27||3||9||Shotgun trips bunch||3-4 nickel||Pass||6||Batted||Clark||Inc|
|Clark(+1) bats down an out that may or may not have had it; Hollowell in coverage that is not great.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(45), 56-13, 13 min 4th Q. It's walkon white CB time the next time UMass gets it; charting ceases.|
THEY GOT SIX YARDS ON THAT ONE CARRY WERRRRR GON DIEEEEE
I was with you man, but then I was like "oh, they are putting 250 pound guys at DT and 230 pound guys as 3-4 DEs."
WERRR GON DIE?
Oh, I'm not saying we're not going to die. We may very well die. But the yards UMass was grabbing weren't evidence of things that should carry over against bigger opponents. They were evidence you should not expose Mario Ojemudia to OL double teams at this juncture.
wer gon live?
Well, the Big Ten sucks. I'm a little worried about what it means when Michigan is not even playing its DTs on first and ten. Okay, it's a sub package. Why run that on a potential running down even if you've got the nickel in there? Is it because you're wondering if you can get away with it against other opponents? What does that say?
Mattison talked up Washington, FWIW…
"I will say this, the one guy if you ask me to single out, one guy I was really really pleased with as far as seeing his technique really come on was Quinton Washington. When he went in there, he did some things that we have been trying to get done, and it was just the technique. I was real pleased with him.”
…so I'd wait on any conclusions you might draw from the substitution patterns until after the ND game. If you've got some extra heebie to go with your jeebie I can't say I disagree.
That said, Roh and Black did turn in nice games. Here's this—
--chart I've got.
|Roh||8||0.5||7.5||Tiny opponent funtime.|
|Campbell||0.5||1||-0.5||Not much PT.|
|Black||8||1.5||6.5||Snuffed his share of runs.|
|Pipkins||1||-||1||One play late.|
|Heitzman||-||1.5||-1.5||Needs weight. Ideally would not see field until 2013.|
|Clark||8||2.5||5.5||Whacks down all the passes.|
|Ojemudia||1||3||-2||Too small to be anything but situational pass rusher.|
|TOTAL||30||12.5||17.5||Problem solved forever you guys.|
|Demens||1.5||-||1.5||Didn't notice him do much either way.|
|Ryan||8.5||-||8.5||Essentially a DE in this game.|
|Ross||3||2.5||0.5||Another couple blocks split; still think he got lost on misdirection.|
|Bolden||3.5||1||2.5||bring more BOOM plz|
|Hawthorne||1||2||-1||Nevermind the Hawthorne PT thing.|
|TOTAL||19||5.5||13.5||Jones also +0.5. Move Ryan to DL and this is a lot of nothing.|
|Floyd||3||-||3||Shoulda had a pick though.|
|Taylor||-||2||2||Flea flicker is the negative. Check cover metric below.|
|Kovacs||0.5||-||0.5||No deep passes at all.|
|T. Gordon||6||1||5||Various authoritative fills.|
|TOTAL||12||5||7||Not much to do.|
|Pressure||15||2||13||No time… no time!|
|Coverage||19||7||12||Open downfield guys were about zero.|
|Tackling||5||3||62%||Whiffs mostly on QB oddly.|
|RPS||8||11||-3||Weird personnel most of this.|
That's about what you'd expect when an opponent's offense scores six points.
Overall numbers are low because of a low number of plays and a lot of dinky four-yard routes on which pushes are extremely common since the DL doesn't have time to get to the QB and the thing to do in the secondary is let the pass happen and tackle.
Is any of this meaningful? Doubt it.
We did get a few additions to Frank Clark's rapidly expanding collection of knocked-down scuds. If he keeps doing this I might start calling him the Patriot Missile.
I'm worried about everything DL related.
I feel you. At least Clark is making plays out there. He was batting stuff down, he got a one on one speed rush that almost racked up a safety…
…and he made some plays against the run. He does tend to get far upfield quickly, which is nice on passing plays but could expose Michigan to things like That Goddamned Counter Draw, which ND used for a big gain against the Spartans.
Meanwhile on the other side, quasi-DL Jake Ryan is playing at a high level. Those two guys are your pass rush. Their performance against ND will be crucial, especially since Golson loves rollouts, whether they're called or impromptu.
Also, Quinton Washington made a couple of plays. He's driving UMass's center back and blowing stuff up…
…so this is obviously going to happen against ND. But that's what Mattison was talking about. If your NT is not going to do that when single-blocked, thus demanding another guy, your linebackers are doomed. It's hard to put their iffy performances to date in perspective when the line is not helping them out at all.
Kind of pointy for Gordon there.
Yeah. I thought he came down well when Cox popped through the line. If he missed a tackle it was after he'd created a long enough delay to prevent any more yards from being gained, and he didn't often do that:
The coaches were talking him up over the course of camp and we're beginning to see a sliver of that there. Yes, UMass, etc.
What's this "covered" thing?
A high school coach convinced me that "unbalanced" was not a great term for plays on which only four guys are eligible receivers because one is covered on the LOS. So I'll go with covered since that's explicit. For the people asking why you'd do this, UMass had a play made possible by it:
Michigan adjusted after that first one when UMass tried it a couple more times. Here they've dragged coverage outside and gotten that counter to work since Kovacs is in man and can't get through the trash as the LBs attack the frontside.
Mike Cox is good?
While he's tough to bring down and fairly athletic, I totally get why coaches benched him. He has a bad tendency to miss holes and then start running around in the backfield in a way you can't get away with in college.
Everybody! The line mostly because UMass couldn't get past the line.
What does it mean for ND and the future?
Another playmaking performance from Clark offers hope that Michigan can get some impact from their WDE spot. Notre Dame will be the big test for that. They probably should use NTs against the Irish, and Washington might be the man there. And… uh. Don't play Ojemudia as a five-tech?
It's UMass. It is not that useful.
Generally, this is going to be when we find out what happens against a bunch of mortals instead of the godly, dead, or bizarre. I'll be looking to see if Clark and Ryan can beat guys one on one on the edge, if Washington in particular can hold up—Campbell hope is flatlining—and looking out for Taylor on the edge. Moment of truth stuff this weekend.