maybe i should have had greg howard write the brandon obit.
2011 western michigan
Brandon Herron picked up a lot of minuses yesterday but it could easily have been Kenny Demens if he was the guy tasked with hauling ass to a far, far away zone coverage instead of making Alex Carder spit blood. He was given a tough job.
But he didn't execute that tough job, and we remain a results-based charting service. The good news is that he did get better at not executing his tough job. If you're looking for evidence that this coaching staff is better than the last one at teaching people how not to be terrible defensive players, here's some hope for you.
I found two plays that were exact replicas of each other. It's third down on one hash in both. WMU is in a four-wide shotgun while Michigan deploys its Okie package. Michigan will send wide-side blitzers and Brandon Herron will be directed to drop into a zone on the other hash—IE, run halfway across the field. WMU completes both passes, but Herron gets better.
Play The First
You are focused entirely on Herron, who is on the near hash in front of Demens, threatening blitz:
On the snap Heron pivots as Demens comes; RVB drops in to a short zone as Michigan sends five:
Herron crosses the hash marks three yards off the LOS:
Still three yards:
Now he's maybe three and a half yards deep and not even to the midway point as Carder cocks to throw the hitch to the slot.
Two other things to note:
- Gordon got a free run at Carder but slips as he moves in for a killshot. If he doesn't, he's likely to bat the pass or sack Carder.
- RVB is totally cutting off the other inside hitch, though his back is to the QB.
As the ball goes over Herron's head he's four or five yards deep, still not to the other hash, and not facing the quarterback:
Play The Second
This is going to be the exact same play by both teams. WMU runs the same all-hitch; Michigan runs the same zone blitz behind it. It's third and four on WMU's first drive of the second half. Herron is below the bottom hash this time.
As the snap reaches the QB Herron is pivoting…
…and on step two he's already got a yard of depth:
By the time the WR cuts off the route he's at the spot he was when the ball went over his head last time:
Important: this hitch is seven yards and the previous one was ten. The extra two steps the WR would take to get to the depth on the previous play would also get Herron all the way to the hash, whereupon he could give that WR the business. He's closer and a bit deeper earlier in the play.
You can see the improvement in the zone drop in the next frame, when the ball is halfway to the WR. Herron is right there:
Unfortunately he's had to run hash to hash with his back to the QB and never turns around.
First down again.
A primary disadvantage of zone blitzing is having to haul ass so hard you can't look at the QB. You can see this in RVB's drops both times, too: when you're dropping into a surprising zone far away from where you start the play in order to facilitate QB pressure you can't just shuffle backwards like a linebacker, keeping your eyes on the QB and the receivers in front of you. To even get in the area you have to turn your back to the world and then whip around when it seems like the right time.
This seems hard. (Todd Howard is nodding his head right now.) Certainly we don't see it happening on either of the plays above. This is probably easier in the NFL when everyone's more athletic—and it may be an argument for the fastest, whippiest WLB Michigan can throw out there.
If your zone blitz works the pressure you get is often coming from the same area the open guy is. On the first play Thomas Gordon is in free. If he keeps his feet he's got a great shot at batting the ball skyward. A guy leaping at the QB may cause a delay. In a normal blitz package this might not get you much, but with Herron rotating over lateness is dangerous for an offense.
It doesn't take much for late to be late. Carder is late on the second play. You can see that on the frame where he's in his throwing motion: the WR has already settled and is looking for the ball. If he's on time the argh about Herron not turning around in the next frame is considerably reduced.
If offenses execute perfectly there's not much you can do about them, but offenses do not execute perfectly and defense is all about giving little margin for error. Michigan did a much better job of that on the second play than the first.
They're learning. This is good and bad. You could see the confusion on the first drive, the big errors that got a little smaller as the day went along. But if we're looking for evidence that this year's coaching staff is more adept at doing things other than preserving their meticulous hair, we've got a couple examples.
Gratuitous video of the week: is obvious. Sorry about the weird audio delay. (Anyone know why compressing a ts file into a WMV would do this and how to fix it?)
Substitution notes: Massive in the front seven. After the first few plays there was no SDE; he was lifted for a safety. Martin, RVB, and Roh were frequently replaced by Heininger, Brink, and Black respectively. Campbell got a little time and didn't do well. The SLB alternated between Ryan and Beyer. MLB was Demens and Fitzgerald. Herron started at WLB and got most of the time; Mike Jones was the only other guy to draw in.
The secondary was consistent: Avery and Kovacs the whole way, Woolfolk until he got hurt then Floyd, Johnson after the first few plays until he was pulled in favor of Marvin Robinson late.
Formation Notes: Michigan's first few plays were in a 4-3, after which they lifted a defensive lineman for an extra safety (Johnson) and moved Gordon down to the nickel. Frequently they would put a nominal SLB, either Ryan or Beyer, in a three point stance as another down lineman.
As the game progressed, Michigan got more aggressive. This is what I called "Nickel press"—you can see the one deep safety with press coverage on the outside WRs and a 3-4 front. This was blitz-heavy:
And right at the end of the first half Michigan showed a something I called "Nickel eff it"…
…which was 11 guys within five yards of the line. This ended with Kenny Demens running straight up the middle at Carder both times it happened.
On passing downs we saw the return of Scot Shafer's "Okie" package, which is a two-deep shell behind a zone-blitzing 3-4 like so:
And that was it. Will be interesting to see what they do when ND tries to manball these guys.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O26||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||4||Bubble screen||Woolfolk||6|
|Michigan comes out in a 4-3 with no one over the slot receiver and WMU probably has an auto-check into a bubble. I can't tell if what Woolfolk does is good or bad: he comes up hard and gets cut easily. He does force the WR inside of him—over him, actually. He manages to leap up and grab his ankles as he passes. Still a good gain. (RPS -1. I guess +0.5, tackling +1 for Woolfolk. ) Martin(+1) had torn through the center and hit Carder on a bubble screen. I be like dang.|
|O323||2||4||Shotgun 4-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||4||Hitch||Herron?||3|
|Soft corner from Avery means Herron is stretched horizontally. He drops into the inner route, opening up a short hitch near the sticks. Should have been seven or eight but Carder's throw was upfield, taking the receiver off his feet. RPS -1, cover -1.|
|O35||3||1||Power I||Base 4-4||Run||N/A||Iso||N/A||2|
|This was the chaos play Blue Seoul noted. They did get set eventually in a 4-4 with six guys on the LOS, including Kovacs and Herron and Demens as MLBs. They run at the gap in the shifted line between Martin and Roh, doubling both. Both hold up; Roh manages to slide inside the LT and restrict the hole but can't get any penetration. He's kind of being held but no way they call it. Herron (-0.5) reads the play maybe a hair late or is lined up too deep, meeting the FB at the first down marker instead of the LOS. That's a stalemate and the RB can fall down across the line in a heap of bodies.|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||4||Bubble screen||Woolfolk||13|
|First DL backups in; I won't be able to track the comings and goings efficiently, I don't think. Doesn't matter here. Michigan again aligns to give the bubble and WMU throws it. Ryan(+1) is tearing out at it quickly and may be able to hold it down for minimal yardage but Woolfolk(-2) commits the cardinal sin of the bubble screen by losing leverage and letting the play bounce outside of him. Ryan still almost gets him on the sidelines but does not make the play; Gordon escorts him OOB after the sticks.|
|50||1||10||Shotgun diamond||Nickel||Run||N/A||QB draw||Martin||2|
|Intended to go off tackle until a Michigan stunt gets Ryan(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) enough penetration that Carder has to cut behind everything into the unblocked Black and RVB recovering from a cut. RPS+1|
|M48||2||8||I-Form twins||Nickel||Pass||4||Deep hitch||Herron||12|
|Michigan is in a quarters zone that has four guys in short zones, or three guys in short zones and Brandon Herron(-2) running man coverage on a shallow crossing route, opening up a hitch between Gordon and Demens that should be exactly where he's sitting. (Cover -1) Martin stymied by a double; Black had fought through the RB's block to provide some token pressure. Still (Pressure -1)|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun empty TE||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||5||Flare||Woolfolk||2|
|DL: Brink/Heininger/Black. Mike Patrick: “now they're back to more of a traditional look” instead of the odd stack they're in on this play. Michigan sends Ryan and Gordon and gets nothing, but this spooks Carder into a nothing dumpoff that Woolfolk(+1, tackling +1) reads and levels for no gain.|
|M34||2||8||Shotgun 2-back trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||N/A||Triple option dive||Demens?||9|
|Beyer in for Ryan. Unbalanced formation w/ covered slot. Michigan is ridiculously misaligned (RPS -2). Black charges upfield as the tackle releases and has to form up to respect the option. Beyer(-1) drops into coverage. Demens(-1) is originally lined up outside of the tackle and starts to come back inside but that just makes him a sitting duck: he's moving backwards as the OL impacts him and gives huge chunks of ground because of physics. Running back cuts behind him into gaping space because Beyer is still looking at the bubble screen.|
|M25||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Pass||N/A||Tunnel screen||Gordon||1|
|This confusion might actually have helped M: they shift late with Woolfolk getting out on the outside receiver just as the snap is arriving. If they have an autocheck into this screen we may have dummied them into it. As a result the inside WR takes Woolfolk(+0.5), who does a good job to stand him up near the LOS, and the tunnel guy is running right into Gordon(+0.5). Gordon gets beat to the inside but slowly enough for the cavalry to rally. RPS+1.|
|M24||2||9||I-Form big||Nickel 4-3||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Demens||2|
|I think it's inside zone but might be wrong. Nickel personnel; Gordon as an OLB. RB takes the handoff to the side opposite to where the FB goes and will look to cut back. Martin takes a double and sits at the LOS. Gordon takes on G and gets annihilated but the RB cuts back. Probably a bad move. Demens(+2) is sliding playside, reads the cutback, and gets to the POA in a flash, making a diving tackle despite a lunge from the backside G, who fell trying to get out. He was supposed to be blocking Herron(-1), who ran so far to the playside that by the time the RB had cut back he'd passed Demens. I think RVB and Ryan are stunting and sort of think Ryan is doing a bad job but I'd like some outside opinions. This one is confusing.|
|M22||3||7||Shotgun 4-wide||Okie||Pass||5||Deep hitch||Gordon||14|
|Michigan sends five, dropping RVB and Herron. This gets Gordon(-1) in clean (RPS +1, Pressure +1), but he takes an angle too far outside and slips. He should be in the QB's face leaping at him and forcing him to bring this down. He's not so Herron is given the tough job of hauling ass across the field to hopefully cover the slot on the other side of the play. He doesn't, and he gets a (-1) for running away from the QB and letting the pass get over his head. He will do this better later. I have Picture Pages to show it. Cover –1.|
|M8||1||G||Shotgun 2-back trips||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||N/A||Triple option dive||Demens||1|
|They figure it out this time with men tight over the WRs and one deep safety in an obvious run-prevent D as discussed by Blue Seoul. This time Ryan(+1) blitzes at the snap and drives past the G into the path of the RB; cutback. Demens(+1), now properly aligned, hits the LT while moving forward and pushes him back this time. Black(+0.5) forms up and crashes after the handoff; he and Demens tackle (RPS +1)|
|M7||2||G||Shotgun empty TE||Okie||Pass||5||Hitch||Johnson||6|
|RPS -2; Carvin Johnson(-3) leaves Avery on an island with two receivers. Avery(+1, tackling +1), does as good a job as possible in the situation he's put in, splitting the WRs and smashing the short hitch they complete short of the goal line. Too bad, too, because the blitz had gotten Demens straight up the middle untouched. Johnson aligning properly might make this a sack.|
|M1||3||G||Wishbone||Goal line||Run||N/A||Iso||Van Bergen||0|
|RVB(+1) times the snap perfectly, shooting through the G assigned to him and nailing the FB at the two. RB hits FB. Martin has made a pile at the one and the delay allows the massive pile of meat to not end up in the endzone. Whoah: actually, they messed up the handoff and Carder followed it up. Same result.|
|M1||4||G||Power I||Goal line||Run||N/A||Iso squared||--||1|
|They get it this time by running everybody on their offense straight up the middle.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|Jones in at WLB; they send him while dropping Roh. WMU picks it up and hits an out in front of Avery(-1, cover -1). No chance for the D to get there if it's going to be first read three-step stuff.|
|M48||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Run||N/A||Counter||Demens||25|
|Mattison is sick of this crap. Michigan goes into bump and run on the outside receivers and brings Kovacs into the box, leaving one-high. WMU gets a big gainer on a counter. Beyer(-1), unblocked on the backside, does not read the pull and rushes too far upfield. He's easily kicked out. That DE is critical on a power play like this; he needs to get into the puller and force a bounce or restrict the hole. He does neither. So it's a tough job for Demens against the pulling TE, but Demens(-2) pulls a Mouton by losing leverage. If he gets outside the blocker there's a decent chance RVB(+1) , who has given a little ground to get playside of his blocker, makes a great play to prevent this from going a long way. He'd have to do that because Johnson(-1) sucked up on the counter step and got lost in the wash. Picture paged.|
|M23||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Pass||4||Tunnel screen||Gordon||-2|
|Gordon(+2) reads, attacks, and destroys.|
|M25||2||12||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Pass||6||Fly||Floyd||Inc|
|Demens's delayed blitz gets him in free(pressure +1, RPS +1) but I wonder if he didn't time it quite right. Another step and Carder is seriously harried. As it is he gets off an accurate deep ball on Floyd's guy, who's got a step. Floyd runs his ass off, starts tugging jersey early, and... I'll be damned. He strips the ball loose(+2, cover +1). That was textbook. Gibson -1.|
|M25||3||12||Shotgun 4-wide||Okie||Pass||5||Slant||Van Bergen||2|
|Van Bergen(+2) slants past the G before he can react and is up the middle on Carder before his receivers can even get to the sticks(pressure +2). Carder dumps it off on a little in at the LOS that takes the receiver off his feet; Kovacs(+0.5) likely had it covered for minimal gain anyway.|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG(40), 7-7, 12 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||N/A||Yakety sax||--||3|
|Looks kind of like a QB draw but this is a busted play. RB thinks it's a speed option; Carder extends for a mesh point. Then he runs. Frontside has a totally unblocked Fitzgerald because of the bust; Carder cuts it back. There's room because Campbell(-1) gave a lot of ground fighting playside. Fitzgerald(+0.5) chases Carder around RVB, who held up to a double, and tackles with help from Ryan(+0.5). Ryan flew upfield and recovers with a flying squirrel tackle.|
|M44||2||7||Shotgun empty 2TE||Nickel||Run||N/A||QB power off tackle||Fitzgerald||6|
|Poop all around, I say! Campbell(-1) is blasted back by a double. He gives a couple yards and that's two too many. Roh(-1) runs too far upfield and almost doesn't have to be blocked; G peels at the last second when Roh finally starts coming down. Big hole. Fitzgerald(-2) doesn't read a single key ON A PLAY WITH PULLING OL and starts dropping into coverage, whereupon a TE cuts him. Carder's about to be one on one with Johnson for the endzone when Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) cuts him down after taking the exact right angle to get there.|
|Someone's got to win an individual battle here to prevent this from happening and no one does. Martin holds up to a double; Fitz takes the FB, and Herron(-0.5) hits the RB after a yard. I think he can get to the hole more efficiently.|
|This is tough for Avery since he's in press man. Hard to read this quickly. Herron would be the guy who could diagnos this early since he's dropping while looking straight at the QB; he reacts just as fast as Avery. Herron(-0.5) takes an angle a bit too far outside and allows the RB to spin through for an extra couple yards. Not terrible but he could have done better. Beyer did do a good job of recognition and helps tackle, FWIW. Tackling -1.|
|M29||2||3||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Penalty||N/A||False Start||--||-5|
|M34||2||8||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Pass||6||Improv||--||17|
|Michigan sends six and gets picked up (pressure -2) until Black(+0.5) worms his way through on a stunt. Too long; Carder rolls away from the pressure and hits a receiver. Kovacs(+0.5, tackling +1) is there immediately.|
|M17||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Run||N/A||Counter||Beyer||11|
|Beyer(-2) can't win for losing here: after getting burned by going too far upfield on the last counter he does squeeze down this time... way too far. He needs to thunder at the pulling guard and cut his ass to the ground in the backfield in a spot where the other lead blocker will run into the pile. Instead he just gets sealed and allows everything to bounce outside. Herron(-2) compounds matters by also getting sealed, not that it would have mattered much because Fitzgerald(-1) took a counter step and then got sliced to the ground on a cut block that also took out Johnson. Kovacs(+0.5) cleans up. It's like these guys don't have OL keys. Picture paged.|
|M6||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide?||Nickel press?||Pass||6||Out||Kovacs||2|
|Some technical difficulties. As we come back six guys are rushing Carder including Avery(!). Brink(+0.5) is running free (pressure +1). Carder dumps it off into the flat, whereupon Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) tackles immediately for little gain.|
|Ryan(+3) lined up as a standup DT next to Martin. He rips through the RG like he isn't there and leaps at Carder as he tries to get the ball out, deflecting it into the air. Herron(+2) makes the easy interception and then runs a long way for points. Should I give Ryan more here? I've never given more than +3 for any play. Picture paged @ TTB.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, defensive TD, 14-7, 7 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O30||1||10||Shotgun 2-back trips||Nickel||Run||N/A||Triple option dive||Heininger||0|
|Heininger(+1) takes a double; Jones(+0.5) moves to fill quickly, causing the RB to hesitate as he nears the LOS. This is a bad idea, and Heininger(+1 again) eats him.|
|Looks like Carder is going to zing it on a hitch near the sticks that Mike Jones(-0.5) got a little out of position on; Heininger(+1, pressure +1) bats it down.|
|Blitz does not quite get home but RVB(+1) is pushing through the line just as the routes break; Carder has to throw to his first read. This is against Kovacs(+1), who is in good coverage(+1) against the outside guy as he breaks his route at ten yards. Carder's throw is downfield and the WR has to stab at it one handed; Kovacs hits him and breaks it up. Live I thought M got lucky here; on tape Kovacs's coverage is good enough to require a perfect throw. If this is just a little upfield he tackles short of the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 6 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Pass||4||Seam||Johnson||20|
|Zone blitz sees RVB drop into a short screen-killing zone. Blitz does not get home (pressure -1). It's hard to tell who's at fault for the seam coming open but if I had to guess it would be Johnson(-1, cover -2), who is the deep center in a three deep and is way late, overrunning the play. Floyd comes from the outside to tackle.|
|M42||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||3||Hitch||Van Slyke||7|
|Martin(+1) bowls over the center and then fights past the guard to get pressure(+1) up the middle pretty quickly on a three man rush. Van Slyke gets a chuck on the slot receiver, who sits down in between him, Herron, and Demens; he immediately tackles. (Cover -1)|
|Five man rush gets there(pressure +1) with at least two guys; Carder throws a quick out as Demens(+0.5) flies up the middle on a well-timed stunt past two guys doubling Martin. Johnson(-3) is late reading the little out and has already given up the first by the time he forms up; he then whiffs the tackle(-1), turning five yards into 15.|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel Eff It||Pass||7||Fly||Avery||Inc|
|Sends: house. Obviously something gets through(pressure +1); Carder chucks it deep to a fly route Avery(+2, cover +1) has step for step. He's right in the WR's chest as he goes up for the ball. WR leaps, then reaches out and low in an attempt to stab the ball. Avery rakes it out. Gibson -2. Demens(+1) leveled Carder, BTW.|
|M19||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Pass||6||Corner||Gordon||Inc|
|Demens(-1) comes on the same blitz untouched (pressure +1); Carder dodges him. He sets up and chucks it unsurprisingly, the corner route was long. Gordon(+1, cover +1) was step for step with the slot.|
|M19||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel Eff It||Pass||7||Corner||--||Inc|
|Demens(+0.5) charging again(pressure +1); this time the corner is more open but Carder chucks it way long off his back foot. RPS +2 for this sequence, which clearly got in the QB's head.|
|Drive Notes: FG(36), 20-10, EOH|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O13||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||N/A||Zone read counter||Martin||3|
|At first I thought this was a stunt by the DTs but not so much after I look at it a while; RVB(-1) just got bashed inside by a double while Martin(+1) read the G pull and fought through his downblock to flow down the line. Demens(+0.5) takes on that G about a yard past the LOS—not ideal—but does turn the play inside with an assist from Gordon(+0.5), who plunged down from the slot. Herron(+0.5) is about to tackle but Martin beats him to it.|
|O16||2||7||I-form 3-wide||Nickel?||Pass||N/A||Bubble screen||Floyd||3|
|Jebus, Michigan is begging for a bubble in its face on this play. There is one player within ten yards(!) of the twins side, that being JT Floyd. Autocheck to bubble is autochecked to, whereupon Floyd(+3) dodges a cut block and tackles the bubble by himself for three yards. (RPS -2.) Great play on an island.|
|Part II of “they can learn”: This is a very similar blitz and play to the previous Herron hitch that resulted in a first down. This time Herron's steps are better, as is his angle, and he's in position to make a play if he'd just look for the ball/get his hands up. He doesn't and Carder hits the small window provided. I guess Herron(-0.5), cover -1. Pressure -1 as well; Carder would have had time to go to a second read.|
|O26||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Run||N/A||Yakety snap||N/A||-2|
|Who knows what this was going to be; the snap is high and Carder manages to bat it forward to his tailback, but then he's submarined. I think it was going to be a QB power off tackle, FWIW.|
|O24||2||12||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Pass||5||Scramble||Kovacs||3|
|Carder's first read is a hitch around the sticks that Kovacs(+1) has dropped right into from a blitz position(RPS +1) and is bracketed over the top by Avery. Late movement and a blitz by Demens(+1) flushes Carder up in the pocket, where RVB and Martin combine to tackle after an eh gain. (Pressure +1, cover +1.) Picture paged @ BWS.|
|Avery(-1, cover -1) gets no chuck on the WR at the line in press and does not protect the sticks with his break despite having deep help; Carder hits his WR with a nice rhythm throw. Not horrible but you could do better.|
|O41||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Nickel||Penalty||N/A||Illegal Snap||--||-5|
|O36||1||15||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||N/A||Inverted veer||Demens||1|
|Late shift sees Kovacs run down into the box as Herron blitzes. Herron is blown up by the RT, but that takes some time and prevents any release downfield. Beyer's upfield blitz convinces QB to hand off and takes the pulling G. Reason you run this is so that Beyer does one or the other, not both. The blitz means Kovacs(+1), who is now in the box, nails the FB near the LOS and turns it inside. Demens(+1) got a free scrape because of the blitz (RPS+1) and tackles with authorita.|
|Yeah, that play that instantly changed everyone's opinion of Kovacs? Four man rush. NT Heininger backs out and two guys take Brink; Kovacs, who has been backing out on these so far, lines up outside of Herron, who also comes, and adjust his route after a beat. This allows those two guys to occupy themselves with Brink and gives Kovacs(+3) a free run at Cader, which he takes LIKE A BOSS, depositing his helmet on the ball and knocking it free. Herron(+2) gets more credit this time for the presence of mind to scoop and score. Kovacs. Like a boss. Picture paged @ BWS as well.|
|Drive Notes: Defensive touchdown, 27-10, 9 min 3rd Q. Do you know what I love? The camera settles on Carder after this play; as this happens the replay hits the scoreboard and the stadium goes “OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH." That is what I love.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||M. Robinson||11|
|Marvin Robinson still in for Johnson. Here there are two keys. Black(-1.5) is unblocked and scoots upfield fast. He does not read the jet action until it's too late and runs by it without forcing the WR to orbit around him. He's never going to make this tackle but he can delay the opposition; he does not. By not blocking him WMU can double Demens, who read and flowed with aplomb but can't do anything about an OL and another dude blocking him. Gordon(+0.5) fills to the outside, forcing a cutback. Robinson(-1.5) is filling until a WR slices him to the ground. RB leaps over MRob and rumblestumbles for a first down.|
|O48||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel||Penalty||N/A||False Start||--||-5|
|YOUR PARENTS ARE ASHAMED|
|This does go one high because Kovacs is sneaking down, kind of telegraphing his blitz. Martin moves left, taking the G, as Jones moves up the middle. RG shoves Martin and moves to Jones; RB shoots up the middle, leaving both Martin and Kovacs(+2) unblocked. Kovacs has the agility to cut inside Martin and nail Carder again. By the time this happens Martin is already peeling back to the LOS in case this doesn't work out. Kovacs has this, ese. (Pressure +2, RPS +1)|
|YOU SHOULD HAVE GONE TO MICHIGAN STATE LOL|
|Stunt seems harmful here as by the time the four rushers realize what their lanes are and what's going on the screen is already happening. Martin(-1) should read what it is faster, I think, and peel back. Avery(-0.5) comes up a bit too hard and lets things in front of him; safeties are way off. Jones(+0.5) gets hit by an OL but recovers to make a diving dodgy ankle luck tackle. Dangerous. Demens(-1) also slow reading. RPS -1|
|O43||3||15||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Pass||4||Out||Kovacs||Inc|
|Despite what Patrick says, blitz not actually coming; four guys. Martin backs out. Roh(+0.5) threatens to split a double and Ryan(+0.5) does the same, spooking Carder. Probably for the best since because of these things if Carder delayed Demens was going to annihilate him. Carder throws an out short of the sticks that Kovacs(+2) has dropped into and breaks up. Wasn't getting the first anyway. (pressure +1, cover +1) Picture paged @ BWS.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 27-10, 6 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O37||1||10||I-Form tight||Nickel 4-3||Pass||4||PA Out||Ryan||Inc|
|Ryan(+2) swims past the LT like he's not there and gets in on Carder just after he gets the PA fake off (pressure +1), causing him to throw his out wide. Good thing. Either Avery(-1) or Herron had biffed his zone drop (cover -1) and this would be open. I think it's Avery, but your guess is as good as mine.|
|O37||2||10||I-form||Nickel 4-3||Penalty||N/A||False Start||--||-5|
|O32||2||15||I-form||Nickel 4-3||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Martin||4|
|Martin(+1) splits a double and threatens to tackle in the backfield, forcing a cutback. He just misses a TFL. Herron(+0.5) reads the backside cut and does fend off a free-releasing tackle to get to the RB and begin the takedown. Kovacs arrives in time to take him down.|
|O36||3||11||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel press||Pass||6||Rollout out||Gordon||12|
|They're finally tired of getting destroyed by Kovacs and roll the pocket away from him. Martin(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5) still bust through blocks and force a throw (pressure +1). This is in front of Gordon(-1), who can't react quickly enough to tackle on the catch(cover -1) on a third and long, allowing the WR to fall forward for the first.|
|O48||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Nickel||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Beyer||9|
|Martin(+1) slants past the backside G, getting playside and rapidly flowing down the line in the backfield; Black(+1) also gets good position and helps close down the POA for what should be a TFL... if not for Beyer(-2) tearing after the QB on his boot fake and Herron(-1) not reacting to the cutback as quickly as I'd hope he would. May be harsh on Herron.|
|M43||2||1||Ace 3-wide||Nickel press||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Fitzgerald||4|
|A 3-4-ish look with press on the WRs leaves six in the box. Black(-1) gets banged inside as blitzers come from the edges, leaving a big hole for the RB. Fitzgerald(+1) takes on a block and bounces out to help contain, eventually making contact just past the sticks. MRob helps clean up.|
|M39||1||10||I-Form||Nickel 4-3||Run||N/A||Power off tackle||Brink||14|
|Brink(-2) at NT nailed inside, blown behind Heininger at DT. Really cannot give that much ground. Herron(-0.5) and Fitzgerald(-0.5) both have tough jobs and don't really do them, getting cut and not being able to slow the RB. This is really on the lack of impedance through the hole, though. Kovacs(-0.5) comes to fill and misses his tackle(-1); his angle did drive the RB into Gordon, who's angling back from his duties over the slot.|
|M25||1||10||I-Form||Nickel 4-3||Run||N/A||Yakety snap||--||0|
|Fumbled snap that M recovers.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 34-10, 3 min 3rd Q. Game is called on next drive.|
How was that?
That was kind of like watching last year's Michigan offense.
WMU's offense was like Michigan's offense last year insofar as they drove the ball down the field consistently but only got ten points because they missed field goals and shot themselves in the face with turnovers. The touchdown returns were a zesty bonus on top of the turnover sundae, but it was basically the same.
So we made Western look like Denard Robinson was their quarterback?
Er… not exactly. The Broncos had a distinct lack of explosion in their giddy-up, averaging just five yards a play. They were only on yardage parity with Michigan because of the two defensive touchdowns and their drives only got as threatening as they did because of some crappy special teams on Michigan's part.
- 16 play touchdown. Bad.
- Drive starts at midfield, basically, and after a long run we discussed earlier WMU is booted off the field. They miss a FG. Correctable.
- WMU drives from midfield to the Michigan ten, whereupon Herron INT TD.
- Three and out.
- Two-minute drive starts at 40 and gets to the Michigan 19 before Mattison goes blitz nuts. FG.
- WMU finally has bad field position (their 13) gets a couple first downs, and then Kovacs fumble TD.
- One first down, then punt.
- Drive starts at 40, moves to Michigan 25 before fumble.
Carder started off hot and Michigan's defense was a confused shambles for the first drive. After that it wasn't too bad.
How about that Herron?
Er, it's just that…
[Introductory section for new people and those who need reminding:
UFR points are handed out to players who seem to have a direct impact on the success or failure of a particular play. The system has historically favored linemen, who are put in a position to Make A Play frequently, and been tough on defensive backs, who have usually screwed up when they are in your picture. I can't fix that without putting a crippling amount of time into grading players not directly affecting the play and frankly I am an amateur, so I might not do it right. By focusing on the directly involved I can used Results Based Charting: I can hand out things based on the success of the thing that actually happened.
Points usually range from –3 to +3 with half-points available. When particularly incensed I have given out bigger minuses.
There are also four metrics:
- TACKLING: Points handed out for good open field tackles that cut down on YAC. Subtracted for whiffs that do not serve a purpose. (It's okay to whiff outside because you know there will be gang tackle when the guy cuts back.)
- PRESSURE: Points handed out for getting to the QB, subtracted for not getting there. As a general rule when the QB is not able to get to a second read that's a plus. If he's able to get to three that's a minus. Pressure is graded on a curve: it's easier to get a plus rushing three than rushing six.
- COVERAGE: Points handed out for covering a guy and subtracted for not doing so. Running a guy's route for him is a +2, being in position to do something about it is a +1. Usually you will have to be far enough away to allow YAC to get a –1. Huge minuses are possible here when you DON'T COVER THAT GODDDAMN WHEEL—ahem.
- RPS: "Rock-Paper-Scissors." This is a proxy for the coordinator battle. When Michigan does something that the opponent can't deal with, like blitzing Kovacs into the QB's chest, they get a plus. When they send seven and get a screen on their face they get a minus. End section.]
So I completely screwed up the RPS. The rest I'll vouch for.
|Van Bergen||5||1||4||Not as much pass rush as you might want but did get a litte push.|
|Martin||6||1||5||Not really seeing the criticism. He made a few plays in about a quarter and a half of time and was often dropping.|
|Roh||1||1||0||This, on the other hand, was disappointing.|
|Brink||0.5||2||-1.5||Blown up on a run late.|
|Heininger||3||-||3||Made a few plays on a second half drive.|
|Campbell||-||2||-2||This is not happening.|
|TOTAL||17.5||9.5||8||Uninspiring. Mitigating factors: heat, lack of 4th Q, zone blitzes, mega pressure number.|
|Demens||7.5||5||2.5||Kind of a rough start but played in odd conditions.|
|Herron||5||9.5||-4.5||Not good when ball wasn't finding him for touchdowns.|
|Ryan||8.5||-||8.5||Can really get to QB. Most consistent rusher on the day.|
|Fitzgerald||2||3.5||-1.5||Slow to react.|
|Jones||1||0.5||0.5||Not much to go on.|
|Beyer||-||6||-6||Highly irresponsible against the run. Doubt we see much of him this week.|
|TOTAL||24||24.5||-0.5||Schizophrenic day; will get better with more Demens, less Beyer. WLB a concern.|
|Floyd||5||-||5||One great play on a bubble, one endzone PBU.|
|Avery||3||3||3.5||Another endzone PBU but not so hot underneath.|
|Woolfolk||2||2||0||Mostly bubble action before injury.|
|Kovacs||13.5||0.5||13||Impeccable. Some of these points might belong to Mattison.|
|T. Gordon||4.5||2||2.5||I like him.|
|Robinson||-||1.5||-1.5||Also not much to go on.|
|Pressure||15||5||10||Alex Carder is still coughing up blood.|
|Coverage||6||11||-5||A lot of this was Herron, frankly.|
|RPS||10||9||1||A bit more on this later.|
I think that's mostly on point. While the corners gave up some short plays they coped well with the bubble and both had endzone PBUs. Our first tenuous suggestion that Tony Gibson may be an evil spy has been achieved.
Meanwhile, Carvin Johnson had a rough day that ended with him getting pulled for Robinson, Jake Ryan was excellent, about which more later, and Michigan got very little out of the WDE spot. I'm not that worried about RVB or Martin since they didn't get much action and still had a few plays to their name; extrapolated across an entire game they'll be fine.
And then there's Kovacs. That is a record-shattering performance for a member of Michigan's secondary and it is absolutely deserved. Kovacs led the team in tackles, only half-missing a couple of those. He led ballcarriers into other defenders, which is why Western had to go on long marches—they couldn't bust it past Kovacs. He annihilated Carder on two sacks, one of which produced a game-sealing fumble. While Mattison got him those runs at the QB, his execution was flawless. On the first, he had the agility to slash back inside of Herron and the technique to put his helmet directly on the ball. And he added two PBUs for good measure.
But he's a walk on and not very good.
Screw it: Kovacs is good now, no qualifiers. I have just doomed him to awful play against Notre Dame, but whatever.
What about that RPS?
Obviously that should not be right when the QB has been forced into two turnovers and has been eating linemen all day. I think Mattison was brilliant, at least as far as you can be against a MAC team, and have to adjust my grading to account for these "blitz" things he's introduced.
Yeah, how about those?
Last year I started tracking the number of rushers M sent at the quarterback because Greg Robinson kept sending three, which I defended as not totally insane at the time. Like everything else, it was totally insane.
The number of three-man rushes against WMU? One. That stuff about being aggressive that every defensive coordinator says? 100% valid. The really cool thing about being aggressive? Mattison is doing it while often getting seven guys into coverage by bringing zone blitzes.
This kind of stuff isn't anything new to NFL watchers or teams that deploy a non-GERG as a DC. But being able to do it well is a massive advantage because it makes life hard not only on the opponent's bodies but their minds. There were points in that game when Carder was just dumping the ball out of the endzone so Kenny Demens wouldn't hurt him so much, and Mattison confused the hell out of the Bronco OL.
Brandon Herron's two touchdowns make him awesome. /national award thingy guys
Er… no. I generously gave Herron four points for not dropping the world's easiest interception and doing the scoop and score on the fumble, and the fourth point is really just for running 100 yards without passing out. Outside of those plays in which other folks did the work Herron was –8.5 on the day.
A typical play follows. On it, Kenny Demens makes a tackle in the hole as Herron, who was lined up closer to the eventual hole, actually passes Demens halfway through the play:
That sort of slow reading was rampant.
Did anyone impress you, sourpants?
Apparently Jake Ryan can do what he did to a freshman walk-on in spring to backup JUCO MAC guard and an actual starting MAC guard, too. You've probably seen him rip through the line on the INT TD plenty but there was also this:
I have him down for a couple additional pressure and one hell of a debut. It sounds like Cam Gordon's out this weekend too; he might have lost his job by the time he gets back. Or maybe they'll move stuff around to get more production out of the WDE and WLB spots.
This was a very black and white game: Kovacs and Ryan were awesome.
The black: Herron makes me very worried about WLB, Beyer shouldn't have been on the field, and the lack of production out of WDE is alarming.
What does it mean for Notre Dame and beyond?
That nickel package is probably going to be on the field a lot against ND's passing spread. Rees is not mobile and they seem mistake-prone so we could see a fair share of helmets deposited in to ribcages in the backfield.
Downfield they'll chuck it up to Floyd a lot, which means Woolfolk will need to be back and healthy and he'll need some help. Though Avery and Floyd did well against Western, ND is a whole additional ball of wax. If Woolfolk does end up fully back—sounds like it—I wonder if Michigan will put all three corners in and drop Gordon back to the other safety spot. That will be key, as will getting a better performance out of WLB. And Craig Roh's got to step up.
Gratuitous video of the week: It's only appropriate that we lead off with some fullback SMASH.
THAT'S MANBALL YOU'RE PICKING OUT FROM YOUR SHATTERED TEETH, BRONCO WOOOOO
Reminder: dotted underline mean a video that will pop up for you when you click.
Formation notes: As noted by many, Michigan was about 70% shotgun in this game. They showed some I-form, a few ace sets, a few big sets, and one unbalanced line. I'm not sure breaking down the percentages is going to mean much given the paucity of snaps and big lead. We'll get a better picture of the offense in a pressure situation this week.
Substitution notes: Schofield played the entire game at left guard. Lewan had to come out for a couple snaps after losing a shoe; when that happened Mealer went in at RT and Huyge flipped to LT. Toussaint got the bulk of the work at RB with Shaw and Smith getting carries here and there.
Moore was the second TE and only one to play other than Koger; Hemingway, Roundtree, Gallon, Grady, and Dileo were receivers on passing downs. Jackson played but those were all runs IIRC.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M24||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Down G||Robinson||11|
|Koger(+1) blocks down on the playside end as Lewan(+1) and Schofield(+1) pull around, both picking off linebackers. Toussaint(+1) leads the way for Robinson, hitting Schofield's guy as he threatens to break outside and driving the pair back into the last LB. Hemingway(-1) totally whiffs on his guy; Robinson can cut past him but slips to the ground just past the first down marker.|
|RUN+: Koger, Lewan, Schofield, Toussaint||RUN-: Hemingway|
|M35||1||10||Shotgun 2TE Twins||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||4|
|The old Minor play where Robinson takes a step towards the LOS late and the RB attacks downhill. It's a little like the pistol. Schofield(+1) kicks out the playside DE; Molk and Omameh double the NT and there is a crease playside. It's getting filled by the S quickly but it's where Toussaint(-1) should go, probably. He cuts back. This puts him in the path of the NT, who is spinning backside; NT falls past the play. Toussaint is nimble enough to get behind him. This means he runs up the back of Molk and Omameh. That S and a few other guys make a pile.|
|RUN+: Schofield, Molk(0.5), Omameh(0.5)||RUN-: Toussaint(0.5)|
|M39||2||6||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 3-4||Pass||Hitch||Roundtree||3|
|Simple pitch and catch as the CB bails at the snap. Defense reacts quickly and holds it down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)|
|M42||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||4|
|Schofield pulls around. Huyge(-1) is blocking down and loses his slanting DE a bit. This isn't serious enough to get the DE in but the ground given up almost disrupts Schofield's pull. He does make it, though, kicking out a linebacker(+1). Omameh(+1) pancakes the other MLB; Toussaint(+1) kicks out the playside OLB. Safety is charging hard but can't get to Robinson before the first down.|
|RUN+: Schofield, Toussaint, Omameh||RUN-: Huyge|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||Tunnel screen||Gallon||1|
|Man, do I like the bubble way better here. The play action fake sucks the playside OLB up and if this was a bubble it would be one blocker, one defender, and Gallon—probably a good chunk. On the tunnel Gallon's coming inside just as the OLB reads the fake. He forces Gallon upfield and inside. Gallon does well to turn a two yard loss into a minimal gain. (CA, 3, screen, RPS -1)|
|M47||2||9||I-form||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||4|
|Some third down back. Huyge(+1) gets a much better block this time, nailing his man inside and out of the gap. WMU is playing to spill this: the DE dives inside and an OLB scrapes over the top to catch bounce-outs. DE does a pretty good job, leaving Smith no choice but to hit it up behind Huyge's good block. In there Koger(-0.5) has only done a meh job on the MLB, who is sliding towards the LOS, where he trips Smith. I have an impulse to RPS -1 this that I know is bad.|
|O49||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||10|
|Other side of the line so Omameh pulls. Lewan(+2) goes EPIC DONKEY, first blocking down on the DT with Schofield and sealing him, then peeling to pancake the playside LB. Omameh doesn't really have anyone to block; he's concentrating on the other LB but I'd like to see him read that and beeline for the safety. Those guys end up at a pile at the LOS; Robinson cuts behind it to avoid the safety and gets a few more.|
|RUN+: Robinson, Lewan(2)||RUN-:|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 2TE||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Pass||PA TE Seam||Koger||11|
|Zone read fake draws up the linebackers and opens up Koger. Robinson zips it high, forcing Koger to extend to grab it. At the same time he gets lit up by the safety. He hangs on. Nice catch. (MA, 1, protection N/A)|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||5|
|Doubles on both DTs; the playside one sees Schofield shove the guy and move to the second level, where there is no one to block because the WMU LB has shot up through the gap to the inside. This is to no avail as Toussaint is already outside. He's got a lane. Molk is doing okay against the playside DT and the gap is narrow. That DT reaches out to arm-tackle. Toussaint hops through it and then has to leap over Lewan, who was chucked to the ground by the DE. He's then in no position to deal with the safety; he still gets decent yardage. I think half points for Lewan and Molk for creating the hole and a half point to Toussaint for getting what he can.|
|RUN+: Lewan(0.5), Molk(0.5), Toussaint(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O23||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 Nickel||Run||QB draw||Robinson||1|
|I'm not sure if this is anyone's fault or just an RPS. WMU line slants playside so the NT ends up impacting Omameh, not Molk. Omameh lets him outside, which means Robinson has to cut behind. This robs Toussaint of his angle on the MLB. I think I do blame Omameh(-1) because Schofield(+1) had the same problem and did better; Molk(-1) still had an MLB angle and whiffed. He tackles after a minimal gain.|
|RUN+: Schofield||RUN-: Molk, Omameh|
|O22||3||4||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Pass||Speed out||Dileo||3|
|IE: cover zero. They send seven. Michigan runs speed outs with the slots and I think this is a missed read from the start since the safety is way off Grady on the other out and he's got an easier throw and obvious first down over there. As it is he does have Dileo and probably has a first down; he throws it upfield, forcing a diving catch that takes Dileo off his feet a yard short. (MA, 2, protection 1/1)|
|Straight up the middle with no lead blocker. Eh? Omameh(+1) latches onto the LB blitzing up the A gap and puts him on his ass. Molk(+1) gets under the NT and drives him back, and Huyge(+0.5) gets enough of the last LB. Toussaint slams it up.|
|RUN+: Omameh, Molk, Huyge(0.5)||RUN-:|
|O16||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||-1|
|Lewan loses his shoe. Huyge flips to LT and Mealer comes in at RT. Blitz/slant from WMU. Blitzer cuts off the frontside of the play; on the backside Schofield(-1) and Huyge(-1) let the DE slant between them into the backfield. Schofield ends up running into Huyge behind the LOS. Mealer(-1) ends up blocking no one. Toussaint slows up and is lost. Run-: Mealer, Huyge, Schofield|
|O17||2||11||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Dig||Grady||15|
|PA stretch into the passing play where the TE leaks into the flat. WMU's WLB makes a great play; he's blitzing into the backside. He whacks Koger, then grabs him a bit and starts riding him downfield. First read closed. Robinson comes off it and hits Grady in the numbers just as he clears one linebacker in zone. Catch, first and goal. (CA+, 3, protection N/A)|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||1|
|Actually blocked pretty well but just too many guys in the area. The safety who would normally be way downfield is at the LOS. Toussaint isn't big enough to plow him into the end zone. This is such a wad of bodies I hesitate to give anything out. No one seems to do anything wrong or exceptional. I guess Lewan gets a point for being the main thing that created the room down to the one.|
|Same play as the 4th and 1 and they get it. Again it seems like Lewan is the main reason, as he is playside of a tackle slanting into the gap and gets enough of him. But he also kind of gets annihilated. I'll abstain here.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M21||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Pass||TE Out||Koger||5|
|Meh gain that looks like a bad read. Slot is running the same pattern farther outside except the corner over there is being run off by a fly route. He could turn it up; Koger just gets chopped down by a linebacker. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, though Schofield had a little trouble.)|
|M26||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||Base 4-3||Run||QB lead draw||Robinson||2|
|Gets past the first level snappily as Schofield(+1) kicks out the playside DT. Omameh does okay with his guy but can't prevent him from getting playside when he starts giving ground. Still, he's through the hole. Molk contacts the MLB near the LOS and this spooks Robinson(-1) into the backside of the play, where the blocking is thin on the ground. It doesn't help that Hemingway(-1) was torn between two different guys and ends up blocking no one. The corner comes up hard; Denard jumps over him and looks like he just... might... fall over for two yards.|
|RUN+: Schofield||RUN-: Robinson, Hemingway|
|M28||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||TE Fly||Koger||Inc|
|WMU rushes four and gets stoned; Molk is driven back by a blitzer and then starts blowing that LB downfield. Robinson has a ton of time. He sees Koger breaking open downfield and decides to take a shot; the pass is long. Koger had good position on a DB but was step-for-step with him. Also it's third and three and you're Denard Robinson: run. (IN, 0, protection 3/3)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 11 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||RB||TE||WR||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun 2TE Twins||1||2||2||Base 4-4||Run||Pin and pull zone||Shaw||-1|
|This does not work at all. The idea is to pin a couple guys with down blocks and pull more and then have the RB work it out as he goes; nothing works here. Koger(-1), Omameh(-1), and Lewan(-1) get beaten on their down blocks. Huyge misses a hard-charging corner but that wouldn't be a problem if anyone else had made a block. Shaw(+1) manages to dodge that guy and a six-yard loss. Molk(-1) then runs by the guys flowing down the line before thinking better of it, giving him no cutback against the charging corner. This was a crapfest.|
|RUN+: Shaw||RUN-: Molk, Lewan, Koger(2), Omameh|
|This is a well-blocked play that gets held down because WMU is running cover zero and by the time Shaw crosses the LOS the FS is four yards away from him and charging. RPS -1. Molk and Omameh(+1 each) destroy a DT; Lewan and Schofield(+1 each) both kick out DL. McColgan kind of misses but not too badly; Shaw is one on one with a safety for a TD, but unfortunately this battle is going down three yards past the LOS.|
|RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Schofield, Lewan||RUN-:|
|M30||3||6||Shotgun 3-wide||1||1||3||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Deep Hitch||Gallon||13|
|WMU sends five and gets picked up pretty well. WMU corner bails out early and Gallon cuts his route off; Denard zings it to him. Ball is a bit outside and upfield but nothing too bad; could argue he's keeping it away from defenders. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)|
|M43||1||10||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Base 4-4||Pass||PA TE Cross||Moore||Inc (8 Pen)|
|Play action with a pulling guard suckers Western. Denard pulls up and floats one to Moore at about the sticks; he's tripped just as the ball gets there. On replay this looks like a pretty tough catch. (MA, N/A, protection 2/2)|
|O49||1||10||I-Form Big Unbalanced||2||2||1||Base 3-4||Run||Power off tackle||Smith||7|
|Moore at “RT”; Huyge on the left inside of Lewan. Huyge(+1)blocks the playside DE off the ball; Lewan(+1) gets a linebacker; McColgan(+2) blasts a linebacker back into a teammate, leaving no one for Omameh to block; Smith follows the blocks.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Huyge, McColgan(2)||RUN-:|
|Pitch and catch as a linebacker who might be able to cover this zooms into a flat with no one in it. Zone opens up. Denard zings it considerably behind Roundtree, who makes a tough spinning catch just as he's lit up. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)|
|O32||1||10||Shotgun trips||1||0||4||Base 3-4||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||10|
|Molk(+1) clubs the NT out of the hole. Lewan(+1) gets his helmet across the backside DE and then blocks him with his back; there's the crease. Toussaint(+1) hits it, then gets into the chest of a guy Schofield was trying to block, running through him for six yards.|
|RUN+: Lewan, Molk(2), Toussaint||RUN-:|
|Schofield(-2) smoked in pass pro, but the guy misses Robinson, and then another guy sort of inexplicably hits the ground. Missing Robinson means you are in trouble and he takes off on a weaving, darting run. By my count he slips three tackles and turns a six yard loss into a first down. (SCR, N/A, protection -2, Schofield)|
|O10||1||G||I-Form||2||1||2||Base 4-4||Run||Quick pitch||Shaw||5 + 2 pen|
|I kind of hate this play since it depends on suckering an unblocked guy or having your RB make a great play. Here WMU blitzes off the edge, suckering by default, and the CB is still totally unblocked. Huyge(+1) does a great job of sealing the playside LB; Roundtree(-2) runs at the same guy, leaving the corner to charge up unmolested. Shaw(+2) jukes him , gets five yards, and then gets hit OOB.|
|RUN+: Shaw(2), Huyge||RUN-: Roundtree(2)|
|O2||1||G||I-Form Big||2||2||1||Base 4-4||Run||Iso||Toussaint||2|
|Nothing on the frontside; Toussaint sees this and cuts behind Koger(+1), who's driving down-the-line block opened up a cutback lane.|
|RUN+: Toussaint, Koger||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown(blocked XP), 20-7, 1:50 2nd Q|
|Miss the play because of technical difficulties.|
|We come back just in time to see a scrambling Robinson nearly throw a pick in the direction of Moore. (BR, 0, protection ??)|
|M45||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||3-3-5 Nickel||Pass||Slant||Roundtree||Inc|
|Well defended; pass thrown in front of Roundtree anyway. Mitigating factor: it is now raining like mad. (IN, 0, protection 2/2, special commendation to Smith for a blitz pickup)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 20-10, 14 min 3rd Q|
|M13||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||43|
|For the first time all game that's not a passing down WMU removes a linebacker from the box and places him over the receivers. The WMU DE has to form up on the zone read; Huyge(+1) gets the MLB and Omameh(+1) shoves the NT well past the play; he slanted playside when Michigan stepped to a zone. Big cutback lane that Toussaint(+1) hits fast enough that he's by the last LB despite his angle not giving Molk an opportunity to block him. I guess that's RPS +2 if only because this was easy.|
|RUN+: Huyge, Omameh, Toussaint||RUN-:|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||1||0||4||Nickel 4-3||Pass||PA seam||Dileo||Inc|
|Zone read dive fake sucks up both linebackers and one safety, leaving Dileo open for six; Denard throws it well behind him. (IN, 1, protection 1/1, RPS +3|
|O44||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Shaw||44|
|This may be what was supposed to happen on the previous play, with both LBs hitting the backside hole after the line slants playside. Problem: two blockers there. Schofield(+2) and Lewan(+2) annihilate the linebackers; the DE is held outside by Robinson. Then the umpire(+2) picks off the safety. Good job ump. Shaw just has to run straight upfield. I guess that's +1? Also RPS+2? This is why the zone read is powerful. On both these plays it erased the DE, giving a numerical advantage.|
|RUN+: Schofield(2), Lewan(2), Shaw, Umpire(2)||RUN-:|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 34-10, 6 min 3rd Q|
|M25||1||10||I-Form||2||1||2||Base 4-3||Pass||PA post||Hemingway||37|
|Hemingway comes in motion inside and Michigan runs play action, pulling(!) the backside guard as if this is power. This sucks in both linebackers and one safety, who is five yards rom the LOS in a flash. Oops. Denard sets up and has Hemingway free on a post one on one with a corner. Denard puts it up. The ball is a bit short but I'd rather it's a little short and you give up five yards than missing long here; Hemingway posts up and brings it in. (CA, 2, protection 2/2, RPS+2)|
|O38||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||1||1||3||Nickel 4-3||Run||Zone read dive||Toussaint||3|
|WMU has flipped their formation and manages not to give up 40 yards on this. Michigan gets confused as to what they should do, as Omameh(-0.5) and Huyge(-0.5) end up doubling a DT without trying to scoop him and end up leaving the MLB unblocked. Toussaint(+1) swiftly cuts behind that block and gets out of that gap. WMU did run a scrape here; Huyge has pulled off to take on the crashing DE. The scraper read the handoff and is in position to tackle at the LOS. Here the ZR did not option off a defender. RPS -1|
|RUN+: Toussaint||RUN-: Omameh, Huyge|
|O35||2||7||Ace twin TE||1||2||2||Base 4-3||Run||Power off tackle||Toussaint||11|
|WMU slants under the down-block from Schofield(-1) to get a DT into the backfield; he delays the pulling Omameh. Koger(+1) is a lead blocker and bangs a linebacker who's sucked too far inside. The slant plus that equals just a morass of bodies; Toussaint(+2) bounces out like whoah, breaking contain and dodging a safety for good yardage. Lewan(+1) clubbed a linebacker to the ground as well.|
|RUN+: Toussaint(2), Koger, Lewan||RUN-: Schofield|
|O24||1||10||Shotgun twin TE||1||2||2||Base 4-4-||Run||QB power off tackle||Robinson||2|
|Cover zero in a driving rain storm means this run is overwhelmed and it's tough to block everyone. Charting this is pointless.|
|Drive Notes: EOG, 34-10.|
Well, Mr. Fear of MANBALL, don't you feel silly?
Um, well… I'm not sure yet. We had five and a half drives against a MAC team, some of which were in a pouring storm. The jury is still out. As far as the blocking schemes go… I have to admit I'm a little worried. After years of noting that Molk can get his helmet across damn near anyone if tasked with a reach block, he wasn't asked to try it once against Western. The play at the beginning I thought was a stretch was actually a Down G, which they did run last year. All this interior blocking minimizes the advantage Molk possesses that seems likely to get a relative shrimp like Molk a job in the NFL.
For the record, Michigan's run breakdown:
- Down G (gap): one for 11 yards on the first snap.
- Power (gap): three RB carries for 7.3 YPC. Three QB carries for 5.3 YPC.
- Draw: two QB draws for three yards.
- Quick pitch: one for five.
- Inside zone: seven for 15.4 YPC. Woo small sample size!
There were also four short yardage plays. Two were dives from a two TE ace formation with Toussaint lined up three yards from the LOS, a third was an iso out of an I-Form Big, and the last was a power from the same formation. The dives/iso got first downs or TDs; the power got a yard on first and goal from the two. These aren't included in the YPC numbers I'll be tracking since they'll unfairly ding under center carries that are successful if they get a yard.
Shotgun carries averaged 10.6 YPC. From under center they averaged 6.8. Zone/gap was split about evenly but there was no outside zone. Obviously these are massive sample sizes that should be taken with deathly seriousness.
SAY IT YOU SILLY PERSON
Hoke uber alles?
Indeed. Tell us about our sumptuous quarterback who is the awesomest.
Uh… he kind of sucked.
LIES UNLESS THERE'S A CHART ALSO PROBABLY EVEN IF THERE IS ONE YOU LYING CHARTMONGER CHART
Chart. I'll throw in last year for comparison:
|2009, All Of It||1||7||6(2)||3(1)||4||4||-||-||?||44%|
This is also a huge sample size not acquired in the process of herding animals into an ark and must be taken seriously.
But… yeah, when people were saying Robinson was a disappointment they were not wrong. That's his worst downfield day since he was a confused freshman and frankly some of those MAs could have been INs. I mean, Dileo touchdown easy biff sad. He didn't do much on the ground other than use his speed on the first play from scrimmage and dance around on that one scramble. In addition, two of those non-bad throws were bad reads where he had a better option. The weird nature of the game obviates a lot of that but if Denard does not go all Denard on Notre Dame there are going to be some nervous people around here.
I don't think much of it can be ascribed to operating from under center since he was missing plenty even when it was dry and he was operating from the shotgun. The throws he was asked to make didn't seem much different than what he was doing last year, but it's possible some of the inaccuracy was a timing issue. Saturday will be the first real test.
YOU SON OF A—
How about some more charts?
Receivers follow; I'll refrain from duplicating the first game totals. You can figure it out:
Very little to go on when there are 13 attempts but for what little action they got they did superbly, bailing out Robinson on two occasions and helping twice with no drops.
Finally, you can see the effect of the change in run offense on Molk's numbers:
|Omameh||4.5||2.5||2||Lot of pulling; bear with me as I adapt to the new style.|
|Huyge||4.5||2.5||2||All right, as per usual.|
|Schofield||8||2||6||Good debut; did get smoked on the Denard scramble.|
|Moore||-||-||-||Did some blocking but didn't register good or bad.|
|TOTAL||34.5||11||22.5||Solid; running does seem considerably left-handed.|
|Robinson||4||1||3||Most of this on the scramble.|
|Toussaint||8.5||0.5||8||I like him. May be a little exuberant though.|
|Shaw||4||-||4||Half of this on the quick pitch, another point for running fast on TD|
|Smith||-||-||-||Third down back my patootie.|
|McColgan||2||-||-||One slamming block.|
|TOTAL||18.5||1.5||17||We'll see if this holds up with more sample size.|
|TOTAL||0||4||-4||Not a good day on the outside. Held down a couple runs.|
That's a lot of plusses, but the numbers say they're warranted as Michigan ripped off 7.3 YPC and would have threatened 250 yards rushing if the game had been completed. Rushing is not a concern yet. Notre Dame looms.
Little enthusiastic about Toussaint there, aren't' you?
I admit that when the number came up I was like "oh, someone wants a good running back this year and has corrupted himself to get it." This was pretty sweet, though:
That bounce is super-quick and correct. Toussaint showed good vision all day and that is 11 yards from nothing.
Lewan was the best of the OL, Toussaint had a good debut, and the receivers as a unit were near flawless.
Er, Denard? Please don't pelt me with radioactive socks.
What does it mean for Notre Dame and beyond?
Man, I ain't extrapolating much from a few plays run in blistering heat or a driving rainstorm against a MAC opponent that got outscored by Michigan's defense. I think we'll see a multiple offense that leans on the shotgun in crunch time; I think Toussaint is for real and will be a B+ starter this year; I seriously hope they're not just going to shelve the stretch all year.
Against better teams I think the only way they get that safety in the box is by using Denard as that extra guy in the run game—the two long ones this week were zone reads where WMU did not scrape, providing Michigan a numerical advantage. Let's say it a third time: next week will be the test.
Last time on Picture Pages we saw how hopeless n00b Brennen Beyer made life very difficult for Michigan on a 25-yard counter play Western ran in the second quarter. Poor linebacker play from Kenny Demens and Carvin Johnson contributed.
A bit later in the half, Western would go back to the well. How would Beyer react?
It's first and ten at the Michigan 17 on Western's third drive. They've taken the ball from the Michigan 47 to get here. Western comes out in the same look-ma-spread-in-shred formation and will run the same counter play they ran before. Michigan is again in an aggressive one-high press look:
A lot of backups are in. The DL is Beyer/Heininger/Brink/Black. LBs are Herron, Fitzgerald, and Johnson walking down into the box.
On the snap it's the same business, with the backside G and H-back pulling around. This time Beyer's got it figure out, though. You can just see his head popping out from behind the tackle who is releasing downfield:
All right, now we are in the business. Or not. You can read the title.
Beyer disappears in the above frame because he is making contact with the G at about the LOS. Also look at the linebackers. Fitzgerald has not moved; Herron is starting to run at the play.
Beyer has run inside and gotten sealed at the LOS approximately where the center started the play. The fullback sails outside no problem. Instead of making a pile he's just created a huge hole by removing any leverage available.
Meanwhile Fitzgerald is getting cut to the ground. He's hardly moved despite a guard pulling in front of his face, and thanks to that Johnson can't flow. Neither can Brink, who is giving ground to pursue but just gets cut.
Herron, for his part, is going to blow the leverage again…
…but it wouldn't have mattered much because there's hardly anyone behind him.
Kovacs cleans up again.
Video with dramatic pause:
Someone took Beyer aside and told him how he'd screwed up on the first power and what to do. If you look at the comments on the last one there is some debate about whether or not Beyer was absolved because of a blitz. I don't think that's entirely possible; if you're blitzing and no one's blocking you off the edge while the QB executes a mesh point you need to slow your roll and adjust. Beyer didn't; someone told him he should do that.
Beyer took that advice and overcompensated a la Cam Gordon playing safety last year. I'm still not sure if they were playing to squeeze or spill. I'm guessing squeeze. This is the cost of playing freshmen. This kind of thing will get better.
I do wonder why he's even on the field. If they're going to run a four-man line I'd rather have Brink and Heininger out there than Beyer, since at least they've played football in college before. I guess you have to chalk that up to the heat and the necessity to play the walk-ons on the interior, which means just terrible things about Ash/Campbell/Washington. If Cam Gordon returns next week it wouldn't surprise me to see Ryan in Beyer's role.
Yet more indecisive linebackers. A guard pulling is a dead giveaway as to the direction of the play and twice we see Michigan players not reacting to it at all. If they're not reading the G whatever they are reading is not giving them a heads-up quickly enough.
This may be four defensive systems in four years with three coordinators; it may be a talent issue. Demens suggests it's at least some of the latter. Either way, Fitzgerald sits entirely still until he's chopped to the ground by a Western OL, which eliminates not only him but Johnson and Brink thanks to the location of the block. Meanwhile, Herron has a tough job that he does poorly with, losing leverage on the play.
I assume days that aren't blistering hot will see Demens on the field for every snap, but if he's hurt we're screwed and WLB is a real problem. Herron had two touchdowns and is going to end up significantly negative on the day.
Heininger does not accomplish what RVB does. He gets sealed away and is trying to spin free when the LB-FB contact occurs; he's in no position to help if Herron turns it inside, which he doesn't because no one turns it inside ever. This may be a slight exaggeration born of frustration.
People are worried about the defense, and with good reason. The worrying bit isn't so much the best quarterback in the state averaging 5.9 YPA and being forced into two turnovers by getting clobbered, but rather Western Michigan running for almost 5 YPC with guards they picked up at a yard sale in Jackson.
I have good news and bad news about this. The good news: a major reason for these issues was a true freshman in his first game who made obvious errors. He fixed some of those errors. The bad news: he fixed those errors so hard he made the opposite error. More bad news: he wasn't the only culprit.
We're looking at two successful first-half counters run by the Broncos. Here's the first. It's second and two on the Michigan 47 on Western's second drive of the day. Western's all like "look, ma, I'm the 2010 Michigan offense" and Michigan brings out its aggressive one-high press man for the first time:
You see the 3-4 front with three tight corners. Kovacs is out of the picture deep. The slot "corner" is Thomas Gordon. The LBs from top to bottom are
Herron Jones, Johnson, Demens, and Beyer, with Roh/Martin/Van Bergen the DL. Your key players are the bottom three guys in the front seven: Beyer, RVB, and Demens.
A moment after the snap:
The tackle blocks down on RVB, leaving Beyer free to fly into the backfield. This is an Admiral Ackbar situation that Beyer is too pumped up on adrenaline and youthful stupidity to recognize. He's all like "gonna get me some QB."
Meanwhile, the RB is moving right, but check out that OL directly in front of the QB: he's pulling left. This is a counter.
A moment later Beyer is recognizing his DERP far too late. He's already three yards into the backfield and his momentum is stopped as he tries to change direction now that the QB doesn't have the ball. the pulling G is going to hammer him.
Not all is lost, though: Demens has read it and is moving into the hole. And you see a lot more of Van Bergen's jersey, don't you?
RVB has given about a yard but now has his helmet across his blocker. Beyer defeats the OG's block and would have a shot at a tackle if he hadn't flown upfield so fast. There's that lead blocker and a lot of room for Demens to close down but he could…
…just about turn it back inside to RVB, who has now totally defeated his block, or he could…
…turn into Jonas Mouton and lose leverage.
That's 25 yards before Kovacs can come up and save the bacon.
Video, with annotation!
I learned this from Spielman. There are two main ways to defend the power play: "squeeze" and "spill." Squeezing is getting into the guard upfield a bit so that the RB has to take it inside into a more restricted hole. Beyer would have to be a yard or two closer to the LOS and to the inside to be squeezing. From that spot he can make a play, or at least make it harder to burst outside that LB.
Spilling is kind of a scrape exchange type deal where the playside DE roars down the line at the pulling G and cuts his ass to the ground. This is intended to create a pile that takes out the other lead blocker and forces the running back to bounce outside, where a linebacker scraping over the top should clean stuff up. Beyer would have had to shoot directly at the G as soon as he reads the pull.
Obviously, he does neither and gets kicked out of a very large hole. If he's in the right position he's dealt with the block well enough to make a tackle. He's not.
Demens did Mouton it. He's got a tough job here with the fullback and a big hole, but letting the guy outside of you is a cardinal sin—unfortunately, one we're all too familiar with. If Demens gets outside that fullback WMU might get a big run anyway but "losing leverage" (the jargon) guarantees it.
Another quiet Van Bergen plus. This is the kind of thing I am talking about when I say RVB is good but the things he does often go for naught. Here he beats a downblock, which is tough, to show up in the hole and potentially rescue Johnson, who you may note ran ridiculously playside and ends up farther away from the play than double-teamed NT Martin. Demens loses the plot and Van Bergen's reward is just a UFR plus and a chase downfield.
Ugh Johnson. To reiterate: the guard directly in front of Johnson's face pulls and he ends up yards away from relevance.
Kovacs. He tackles. He does not not tackle. Here he sort of misses, but this was very rare. This may not hold up against Big Ten teams but there were plenty of opportunities for the Broncos to pick up a touchdown that they could not because Kovacs tackled them.
I hope nobody ever refers to Kovacs as a "walkon" ever again. Dude is a great football player!
"He's a guy that can get things lined up for you, and he's a tough guy, and he will go attack the football," Hoke said of the former walk-on. "He has a great deal of pride in his performance on a daily basis. He's one of those guys who has an urgency about getting to the football. I'm pleased with what he's done to this point. I would guess that he won't take a step backward."
Brandon Herron (on the fumble-TD):
"First of all, I want to thank Kovacs, but it was a call where we saw -- I can’t put it out there – but we made a check, and I ended up coming off the edge, and Kovacs got free. I don’t think the ball rolled my way. I think I went to go get the ball, and then just ran it into the endzone."
Made a check, huh? Okay, let's go to 16:15 and see who was doing the pointing…
… or don't and guess.
Kovacs entered the Michigan canon two years ago this week, when Michael Williams cramped up versus Notre Dame's two towers of evil, Michael Floyd and Golden Tate. His former coach:
"Here it is in crunch time, the second half of the game, they've got some of their four- and five-stars -- and they're really good players," said Rodriguez in his postgame press conference. "And then we got Jordan Kovacs, who was a school-start walk-on, second time. First time he didn't make it because he was injured, and he went and got his knee fixed. We told him to come back again to try out with the general student body, and not only does he try out and make the team, now he's in there playing at safety, in the middle of crunch time, national TV, against Notre Dame. To me, that's pretty special. I'm awfully proud of him."
Kovacs had his number called for three reasons. One, the position was under-recruited for several years prior, leaving only the starters, Steve Brown and Williams, as the only upperclassman safeties. Second, despite not having even played football since high school, his ball skills and tackling were such that he was clearly a better option than the freshman DBs. The third reason they called his number is GERG didn't know his name.
Since Kovacs took the job from Williams for good after the incident with the trolls in East Lansing, only 18 guys on BCS teams recorded more tackles. He's tied for 19th* according to NCAA stats (counting assists as 0.5) with the guy in this photo…
… whom Michigan fans, Notre Dame fans, and anyone who will listen to Notre Dame fans will tell you made this tackle.
|1||LUKE KUECHLY||Boston College||269||25||2.5|
|4||GREG JONES||Michigan St.||188||24||10|
|19||MANTI TE'O||Notre Dame||145.5||16||2|
How Kovacs and Te'o got to 145.5 tackles and fairly equivalent backfield stats are two very different stories. Te'o was a 5-star LB in the 2009 class. When Patrick Omameh isn't plowing him into safeties 15 yards downfield … (Compliance:
… he has been one of the best linebackers in the nation, using his uncanny combination of football sense, size, speed, athleticism, and power to shed blocks, pick through traffic, and run down plays. Kovacs meanwhile has used his stunning combination of just the first one to blow up screens and swings, and otherwise prevent 9 yard gains from turning into 40. Notre Dame's defense is designed to funnel every play into Moria, where the Balrog can clean up. Michigan's in '09-'10 was about a bunch of dwarves waiting around outside while the hobbit goes and burgles something.
This was true when they were freshmen in '09 and it's true now: the physical factors that made Te'o a star are the same that give Kovacs a ceiling not far from where he seems to be right now. He is still slower than an Indiana running back on a dead run (so it's a good thing his angles have markedly improved since freshman year). He's still too small to beat a block from a fullback or guard (so it's a good thing he can diagnose a play and get there before they do). And he's just not athletic enough to close off holes in the zone, so despite his reflexes there will always be a hole in a Cover 2 which accurate QBs can exploit. What you should appreciate about Kovacs is that almost nobody makes it as close to their ceiling as he has.
Kovac had a hell of a game against Western. Early on he ran down a few plays that might have gone for TDs on drives that ended in the Herron interception and the missed field goal. He was excellent in run support, made several key PBUs, brought pressure when called upon to blitz, and had that fumble/TD-causing hit heard even in the deep nether regions of the press box where Michigan banishes authors of unflattering books, and disturbed asshats.
Herron gets to do the talk show circuit this week as the blankety-blank defensive player of the blank and I don't want to take away from that, while Kovacs gets named to the watch list for this year's Scrappy White Guy Trophy they created for Harrison Smith. Here his adventure has come full circle, facing Notre Dame at Michigan Stadium, two years removed from having to remember his number is 32 not 22 because his coach can't remember his name is Kovacs not Cavanaugh. In a race to the open receiver or the hole where this year's feel-good walk-on stories have been crushed out of, Marvin Robinson might be better than Kovacs. But in the time before the snap, which may count more than we ever realized, I'd rather have Kovacs than Te'o.
Even Herron says the real defensive MVP of the Western game and maybe this season is the guy who's telling everyone where to be, the guy calling audibles that result in 14-point swings: the walk-on, making the most out of the skills and talents that only he possesses.