"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Normally in these posts I've noticed something or understood something or am trying to explain something. No so much on this one. I grabbed this because it's a play where it seems like four different things could go right or wrong to turn it into a better or worse play than it ended up being, which is a five-yard run on first and ten.
It's the beginning of UMass's first drive of the second half; Michigan has just put up three touchdowns in four minutes of game time to surge into an 11-point lead. UMass starts off in an Ace formation with twin WRs to one side of the formation and twin TEs to the other. Banks and Kovacs are to the top of the screen, RVB and Gordon to the bottom:
At the snap the tailback starts running to the left side of the line. Martin gets under the center and starts pushing him back. Michigan linebackers start stepping to the playside, and Kovacs starts burrowing into the line:
A moment later the action has continued but the tailback has started coming back to the right. The move left was a feint; this is a counter. It's pulled the Michigan linebackers to the right:
A couple things on the above frame: it certainly looks like Martin is in a position to tackle in the A gap if the play ends up there, and he has gotten into a position where he is useful. But: I +1ed him on this play I shouldn't have since the defense is trying to seal him to one side and has. I don't think this is a negative play since he hasn't gotten blown off the line or anything, but it's not a win for the D.
The confusing thing about the linebacker play to me is if Martin is going to go to one side when the play starts it would make sense for the MLB to immediately go the other. This is "making the nose tackle right" if the nose can cut off that gap, which it certainly looks like Martin has.
HOWEVA, in the UFR comments, Steve Sharik made a point I hadn't ever thought of: when you pull linemen you are putting more blockers in a gap than there are defenders if everyone just takes a gap. So it makes some sense that Michigan LBs were in a read-and-react mode against UConn, which was pulling linemen all over the place. ND also makes heavy use of pulls, and frankly I'd be surprised if Michigan bothered to change their gameplan for UMass. The Minutemen did their share of pulling, anway. So it's more complicated than that. If Ezeh hammered it up behind Martin on this play and the opponents were pulling around into Martin's gap they would find a lot of space.
By the next frame the tailback has taken the handoff and the defense realizes it's a counter. Banks and Kovacs are engaged in a shoving match with the OL on the right side of the line that is going nowhere, which is usually a +0.5 in my book. It won't be here, as we'll see.
Mouton and Ezeh are free, though Ezeh is about to get a guy peeling off Martin:
Mouton sitting in that gap dissuades the RB from trying to hit it up; a step later he's still moving outside as the center attempts to get out on Ezeh:
Ezeh gets his face across the blocker and Martin is fighting through his guy; no place to go (except maybe cut behind Martin for a big gainer, but RVB seems like he'll shut that down):
A moment later this is obvious. Mouton is nearing the second TE, giving M three defenders on three blockers and Floyd ready to handle a bounce:
Here is some confusion. The RB fakes outside…
…which causes Mouton to hop outside the TE and surprises Floyd; Kovacs has finally yielded to the physics of his leetle body, giving the tailback a crease:
Kovacs and Floyd close the crease down, but it's six yards:
Video; watch how the tailback's little juke outside gives him the crease:
I misidentified this play as an inside zone, which it kind of is but that does not take into account the counter action. These are the things I think about it after some consideration:
- I should not have given Martin a plus nor Ezeh a minus. Both plays are fine. Ezeh did react in time to get across the center and Martin cut off his gap, then fought back through his blocker in time to help close down the play's intended hole. But Martin did not force a cutback—that was the play design—and didn't help on the tackle.
- On a later edition of this same play Banks should have been minused for flowing down the line too hard and opening up space for the tailback, but I still think Ezeh is slow to read and react, thus allowing him to be "blocked" by a center who's falling to the ground because of Martin's violent burst into the guard; I'd rather run the D like Martin is going to able to slant into the gap he wants against most teams and watch the cutbacks. Kovacs's ability to pursue hard when he has a gap to one side of Mouton to fill, then redirect and make a tackle when the RB cuts inside of Mouton is impressively aware.
- This was the story of Banks's day: I'm not doing much but I'm not going backwards either.
- Kovacs is small and this hurt him here as he tried to stand up to blockers, but really if it takes this long for help to arrive it's not his fault.
- Mouton and Floyd are confused when it comes to edge play; here it seems like Mouton should make sure he bounces the RB to Floyd and instead he hops outside, creating a gap that the RB can use. If he bounces it to Floyd he should be able to tackle; if Floyd expects that Mouton will funnel it inside he should be able to tackle. Neither happens. More of this deficiency can be seen in the earlier Mouton picture pages and the easy touchdown UMass scored when Floyd let the RB outside.
- I think I would prefer a chancier scheme that said "aww, the hell with it" and blasted linebackers into open gaps once they read run. If Michigan's going to get ground like they did attempting to play read and react—a lot of should-be-zero-yard runs like this one turned into four or six—they're going to give up a lot of drives like we saw Saturday. Getting those zero- and negative-yard plays on early downs seems more likely to get the defense off the field. This will put more pressure on the safeties when this doesn't work out, but they seem like good tacklers and guys who take good angles.
Substitution Notes: Starting secondary, Kovacs, Mouton, and RVB went the whole way. Patterson and Black got some time on the DL; Leach substituted in for Banks on passing downs and for Gordon a little bit. Moundros got one series at MLB; Fitzgerald came in for Roh a tiny bit.
Formation notes: More of the same, with Michigan spending most of the day in a stack but occasionally shifting to a 4-3 front (sometimes Roh did not put his hand down in the front but it was a 4-3) and using the same nickel rush package they've shown in the first two games.
Against the twin TE formation Umass showed a lot the stack looked like this:
Kovacs is rolled up tight to the line there. Michigan appears to be aligning based on pass strength, so whenever they saw a formation like this it was Banks and Kovacs to the run strength.
Chartin' note: the "Rush" column contains the number of pass rushers on a pass; on a run I attempted to determine to which side of the line it was run, doing this by the Michigan DE that was nominally run at. "Banks" is a run at (surprise!) Banks. NA is for something that went either right up the middle or the DEs weren't relevant.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O35||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||Inside zone||Mouton||9|
|This is supposed to go right up the middle by the looks of the blocking scheme but Martin(+1) tears through the center's block and Ezeh(+1) shoots past an attempt to get him on the second level, forcing a cutback. Kovacs has cut past his blocker too and the RB has to head way outside, where Mouton(-1, tackling -1) is unblocked and has an opportunity to tackle for loss but overruns the play, which lets the RB dart upfield because Banks(-1) was easily single blocked and controlled. Floyd is also out there with Mouton but his weak diving tackle attempt (-1, -1 tackling) is run through.|
|O44||2||1||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||RVB||Down G||Roh||0|
|TEs originally split but one motions over the other as they test the other side of the M DL. Roh(+2) slants past the TE's attempted down block, sliding in between two guys and meeting the RB in the hole a yard behind the LOS. He comes around to tackle, but the RB can fall forward because of the OL blocking Roh. Ezeh took on a blocker in a way that would have funneled the RB to an unblocked Gordon, FWIW, if that was necessary.|
|O44||3||1||I-Form big twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||Iso||Banks||4|
|Martin(+1) blows through a double and occupies two blockers; Banks(-1) is bashed back and sealed by a momentary double, opening up just enough space for the RB to run through a Mouton tackle. No minus because he had to fight through a FB block and did well to slow the RB; Floyd(-1) is slow recognizing and can't clean up in time. His tackle(-1) is run through but the RB falls afterward; Michigan fortunate.|
|O48||1||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||PA waggle||Rogers||12|
|First of the many rollouts. Gordon covers the short guy well enough but Rogers(-1, cover -1) has his hips turned way early on the play, even before people scroll offscreen, and is easily beaten on the hitch. Roh(-0.5) sucked into the PA and gave the guy a wide open corner (pressure -1)|
|O36||1||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Run||RVB||Down G||T. Gordon||-2|
|UMass center stumbles as he gets out of his stance and Ezeh(+0.5) reads the direction of the play, flowing to it under control. They've only got two guys blocking three defenders as a result; Ezeh takes the correct shoulder of his blocker and T. Gordon is the free hitter. He makes a solid TFL in some space (+1, tackling +1). Lower than normal plus for a TFL because Ezeh had it easy on the stumble.|
|O38||2||12||Ace trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||NA||PA draw||Mouton||5|
|Bubble fake to a draw. Martin absorbs a double, getting pushed a few yards downfield but occupying two blockers for the duration. This gives Kovacs and Mouton free runs at the carrier; Mouton(-0.5) makes a dodgy tackle after slightly overrunning the play, turning 3 yards into 6.|
|O33||3||7||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel rush||Pass||4||Slant||Ezeh||14|
|The reason this simple slant on third and seven is wide open is Ezeh(-1, cover -1) bumping a tight end two yards from the LOS instead of getting a zone drop. A senior four-year starter doesn't know to drop to the sticks on third and seven.|
|O19||1||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||NA||PA waggle hitch||Floyd||Inc|
|PA fake is to the backside of the play so the LBs are there; Mouton(+0.5) gets a bump on the releasing RB, forcing him into Ezeh and forcing a throw from the QB that Floyd(+1, cover +1) breaks on to break up.|
|O19||2||10||Shotgun twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||RVB||Zone read inside||Mouton||2|
|Center again stumbles. We'll give some credit to Martin(+0.5) since he's occupying those guys. RVB(+1) has also flowed down the line, occupying the hole; the RB cuts back all the way to the backside where Mouton(+1) has scraped and tackles with T. Gordon. RB does a good job of getting YAC.|
|O17||3||8||Shotgun trips bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||Drag||Leach||5|
|Leach blitzes from a slot LB spot as the other three DL and no one else come; QB has to roll out away from Leach(+0.5, pressure +1) and away from his trips bunch. One of those guys is on a drag route and the QB hits him; Mouton(+0.5, cover +1) is there for the immediate tackle.|
|Drive Notes: FG(31), 0-3, 10 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O49||1||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||RVB||Inside zone||Roh||1|
|Martin(+1) shoves his blocker back into the path of the RB, forcing a cutback into an unblocked Roh(+0.5), who closes from the backside to tackle for minimal gain.|
|50||2||9||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||5||Hitch||T. Gordon||3 (Pen -10)|
|T. Gordon(+0.5) gets out on the edge, forcing a throw on a short hitch that Rogers(+1, cover +1) can tackle on immediately. UMass gets a holding call but I have no idea who draws it because of crappy BTN production.|
|O40||2||19||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||Down G||Mouton||1|
|Banks gets doubled and blown back but does absorb two without crumbling. Mouton(+1) reads the OL pull and shoots into the play, cracking into one of the pullers in the backfield and drawing attention from both. This creates a pileup in the backfield; RB comes through the mess; the delay has allowed Kovacs(+0.5) to fill and tackle at the LOS.|
|O41||3||18||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel rush||Run||NA||Draw||Roh||3 (pen +5)|
|A give up and punt; Roh(-1) jumped offside.|
|O46||3||13||Shotgun 2-back||Nickel rush||Pass||4||Scramble||Martin||6|
|Martin(+2) shoots past a double and is then flagrantly held, preventing a thunder-sack. He does force a rollout; no one is open and Havens has to run, whereupon the DEs converge. (Pressure +1, cover +1.)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 6 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|Moundros in for Ezeh. Roh as a standup DE with Gordon playing back; more of a standard 4-3 look. Roh pwns the TE(+1, pressure +1) but is almost literally dragged to the ground by the guy; no call. Very frustrating. He gets up and forces a scramble from the QB; as he rolls out he finds a TE open for several. He's immediately booted OOB. This drive likely ends immediately if the refs get this obvious call right.|
|O40||2||3||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||Power off tackle||Moundros||4|
|Backside G pulls around but is tripped because Martin(+0.5) is slashing into the backfield and pushed his guy back a little. Banks is cutting inside, as is Mouton, so this should provide an opportunity for Moundros to get a free hit if he hits the hole fast enough. Instead he sits around the first down marker and accepts a block(-1). Mouton rolls off a block and Kovacs comes up to tackle just past the first down sticks.|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||Power off tackle||Banks||4|
|TE covered up and can't go downfield, so I'm a little disappointed Mouton isn't more aggressive here since he won't be threatened by the TE. Banks is sealed and bashed back a bit, allowing the RT to get a hat on Mouton and opening up what looks like a crease, but Banks(+0.5) fights through and sets up to tackle after a few yards. Cutback lane was there but untaken because Moundros(-1) immediately went into a pass drop without even checking a key.|
|O48||2||6||Ace twins twin TE||Base 4-3-ish||Pass||4||PA deep hitch||Rogers||15|
|Covered TE. Martin is coming around on a stunt and is going to get there somewhat fast, but not fast enough if the primary read is open, which it is in front of Rogers(-1, cover -1) and behind Gordon(-1, cover -1) as he came up on a shorter receiver.|
|O33||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||RVB||Power off tackle||Van Bergen||1|
|RVB(+1.5) surges into the backfield past an attempted down block, cutting off the hole in the center and picking off the pulling guard. RB has to cut way outside where T. Gordon and Ezeh(+0.5 each) are waiting; they tackle.|
|O32||2||9||Ace 4-wide bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||NA||PA drag||Mouton||12|
|Pretty slick with the RB motioning in from an empty set and UMass faking a pitchout to him. This sucks in Mouton(-1, cover -1), opening up a drag route, though to be fair to the D the window here was not enormous because Kovacs was in decent position and this is just a good play. Catch is turned upfield for good yardage.|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||5||Flare screen||Mouton||5|
|Mouton(+1) appears to be pass rushing. He bumps an OL and then reads the flare screen, getting out between the releasing OL and running the RB down for a minimal gain despite a corner blitz that could have made this very bad. RB does fall forward so no tackling +1.|
|O15||2||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Base 4-3-ish||Run||Banks||Reverse||Banks||5|
|End around coupled with a reverse gets Michigan confused as the motion sends Michigan into a check they never get completed. Mouton gets chop blocked by a guy coming upfield of him, which was apparently a penalty on Kelvin Grady last week but isn't here... which is it? Kovacs bit; it's Greg Banks(+2) who sets up outside in a bunch of space, positions himself so the WR cuts inside of him, then disengages to tackle and possibly prevent a TD. (RPS -2)|
|O10||1||G||I-Form Big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||10|
|They load up the short side with two TEs and pull a guard around to go with the FB: 4 blockers. TE blocks down on Banks. Kovacs and Mouton both attack, getting caught in the wash but also jamming up the LOS and wiping out the last TE and the two lead guys, leaving Floyd(-2) totally unblocked on the edge with a RB; he lets the guy outside; touchdown. Good lord, if you're going to get beat get beat to the inside. Turrible.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-10, 14 min 2nd Q. Floyd's run support: very bad.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O15||1||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||NA||Inside zone||Mouton||16|
|Ezeh back, Patterson in, and as always the opponent goes right at him. Patterson(-1) goes behind the single block of the center, which might work if the linebackers were making him right but Mouton(-1) starts flowing away from the play instead of attempting to fill his gap, which is a shame because Ezeh had gotten playside of his blocker and could have held this down to a few otherwise. I do not understand the gap integrity here, but what it looks like to me is Mouton thinking this is play action. Kovacs(-0.5) does just manage to tackle(-1), but it's very tenuous and gives UMass another 5 yards. Given the blocking scheme I don't think this is a good play by Patterson.|
|O31||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||Base 4-3-ish||Run||Banks||Quick pitch||Mouton||7|
|The FB-dive/quick pitch combo suckers Mouton(-1), who should at least be looking at the tailback on a running play, and Banks, which is more understandable. Mouton closes it down fairly well but misses a tackle; Floyd(-0.5) wasn't much help on the corner.|
|O38||2||3||Shotgun twins||Base 4-3-ish||Run||NA||Inside zone||Gordon||12|
|Guh, come on, you're on the backside of a run play that happens to have 2TEs to the backside, maybe a cutback is coming? Roh(-1) is ridden down the line out of the play; T. Gordon(-1), crashes down way too far, opening up the cutback, and Ezeh(-1) just eats a block as per usual. Mouton was free and could have finished a play if someone had funneled to to him, but no one did.|
|50||1||10||Shotgun trips bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Sack||Martin||-12|
|Martin(+3) tears through a double team and authoritatively sacks. Beast mode. (Pressure +3)|
|O38||2||22||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||Down G||Mouton||3|
|Mouton(+1) flashes to the hole immediately, blasting the pulling guard and forcing the play inside where Banks(+0.5) and Floyd can combine to tackle.|
|O41||3||19||Ace trips||3-3-5 stack||Run||NA||Draw||Martin||1|
|A give up and punt, but Martin(+2) still blazes past blockers and then forms up, having read the play, to tackle for no gain.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 8 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O21||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||Power off tackle||Banks||4|
|Leach in for Gordon. UMass runs power at Banks(+0.5) and he seems to get doubled out of the play but comes around it to help tackle with Floyd(+0.5), who set up well and came off a block to deal with it.|
|O25||2||6||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||PA rollout flat||Roh||13|
|Roh(-1) sucks up too far after the play action instead of taking an angle that goes straight outside; Leach(-1) overruns the play and allows the receiver inside of him for big yardage. (Cover –1.)|
|O38||1||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Run||RVB||Pin and pull zone||Roh||10|
|New play sees three UMass players pull around. RVB(-1) gets pushed out of the play pointlessly, leaving Roh and Leach and Ezeh on three blockers. Play goes outside so Ezeh has no chance. Leach has to turn it inside and does. Roh? I think he's held, personally, but I'll leave the question open: is this is egregious or not? I am going to -1 him for not forcing it back inside. Michigan was caught in a slant away from the play, too. (RPS -1) Rogers(-1) was weak on the corner.|
|O48||1||10||Ace||Base 4-3-ish||Pass||4||PA Scramble||Roh||3|
|Play action pass sees no one open at first (cover +1), at which point Roh(+1) spins off a blocker and charges in on Havens. He scrambles for a few yards. (Pressure +1)|
|Leach's(-2) drop is terrible, opening up the easy slant because he took a step forward without so much as a PA fake (cover -1)|
|M35||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||Base 4-3-ish||Run||NA||Inside zone||Mouton||15|
|More completely terrible outside angles reminiscent of last year. There is nothing inside thanks to RVB(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) shutting down running lanes and the bounce meets an unblocked Mouton(-2.5), who can force the play back inside to two unblocked LBs but instead lets the RB outside, turning nothing into a first down. Awful, awful, awful. Picture-paged yesterday.|
|M20||1||10||Ace twins||Base 4-3-ish||Run||Banks||Dive||Banks||5|
|Backside G pulls; this is supposed to go more directly upfield. Banks(-1) gets rudely escorted out of the play like he's Kovacs, providing a ton of room the LBs can't shut down. Ezeh does force it back, where Kovacs(+0.5) tackles solidly.|
|M15||2||5||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||Power off tackle||Mouton||6|
|Sagesse(-0.5) gets pushed too far inside; Floyd takes out a blocker as the outside contain, leaving a guy one on one with Mouton and Kovacs coming up to help; Mouton(-0.5) doesn't really take either shoulder of the defender, instead plowing into him and giving the RB a lane to the inside that Kovacs can't close down.|
|M9||1||G||Ace twins||3-3-5 stack||Power off tackle||Ezeh||9|
|Ezeh(-2) has a simple job: get the outside shoulder of the lead blocker and let unblocked Mouton pound the guy; he doesn't do it, instead letting the RB outside, where he scores a touchdown. His uncertain waddle to the line is incredibly depressing.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-17, 1 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O36||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||5||Rollout hitch||T. Gordon||Inc|
|Leach in for Banks with Roh playing DE. Mouton(+0.5) is blitzing from the backside and is fast enough to make this a problem; coverage(+1) is good enough for the QB to hesitate, then try to hit a drag route late that he ends up turfing. Rogers +0.5, T. Gordon +0.5, Ezeh +0.5.|
|O36||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||NA||Inside zone||Leach||20|
|Martin(+1) shoves his guy back and cuts off any holes in the middle of the play, forcing a cut outside. Leach(-3) is sitting approximately a thousand yards outside, sitting and waiting and watching the bounce here cut up for major yards. He should be there for a free hit, or at least a delay, on the back. Instead we again get a big gainer when the DL set the LBs up for a zero-yard run. Kovacs(+3) comes in from the side, strips the ball out, and recovers.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-17, 50 seconds 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O26||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||Inside zone||Ezeh||6|
|So in the 3-3-5 the job of the MLB is to make the NT right, which means when he closes off one A gap (between a C and G) you close off the other. Martin(+1) blasts the C back and cuts off one A gap; Ezeh(-1) flows into the same gap instead of shooting into the huge gap in the line on the other side of the center created because of Martin's disruption. This allows a G to come off and harass him and allows the RB to cut back. Banks and Kovacs are doing a meh job, standing up but not making any headway, and there's a TE out there to block Mouton. Mouton scrapes over; RB jukes out, Mouton cuts it off; Floyd's corner support does the exact same thing, meaning both guys head outside for a bit, providing a crease; Floyd and Kovacs tackle, but not before the RB plows for six. -0.5 Floyd, -0.5 Kovacs, though Kovacs's minus is simply because he's leetle.|
|O32||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide bunch||Base 4-4||Pass||4||Out||?||Inc|
|Roh hops down to the line and C. Gordon comes up in the box as a fourth linebacker. Simple out is open for the first (cover -1) but dropped. Pressure was getting there.|
|O32||3||4||Shotgun empty||3-3-5 stack||Pass||6||Out||Floyd||16|
|Confusion from Roh as he flops over to the other side of the line only for Ezeh to point him back where he used to be. Doesn't really matter since six guys are rushing and Martin dropping off into one of those screen-destroyer zones; another quick out at the sticks is thrown, with Floyd making a great break on the ball but whiffing (cover -1), yielding a tackle and some YAC. Kovacs(-1) misses an open field tackle(-1); Martin is the guy who tracks him down. Actually, I won't minus Floyd here since he did deflect the ball and the receiver was just lucky it bounced off his facemask and into his chest.|
|O48||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||Base 4-4||Run||NA||Inside zone||Ezeh||4|
|Zone read look from UMass. Ezeh(-1) has another one of those plays where he just sits exactly where he is and eats a blocker as the line flows down, leaving absolutely nowhere for the RB to go (+0.5 Martin, Roh). T. Gordon(+0.5) maintains contain and then crashes down after the handoff, tackling the RB from behind as he passes the LOS.|
|M48||2||6||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||Inside zone||Martin||-3|
|Martin(+3) blasts through the line into the path of the RB, tackling for loss by himself. Banks(+0.5) had also fought through a block and was there to help if Martin couldn't get the job done himself.|
|O49||3||9||Shotgun 3-wide||Stack rush||Pass||5||Out||Mouton||Inc|
|Mouton(+0.5) gets a free run on a Michigan blitz, with Martin again dropping out (RPS +1, pressure +1). This forces an errant throw, though it's depressing how open this is in front of Floyd(-1, cover -1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 28-17, 10 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O30||1||10||Ace twins||Base 4-3-ish||Run||RVB||Off tackle||Ezeh||4|
|Michigan slants, leaving Ezeh(-0.5) alone with a motioning TE. He takes the wrong shoulder of the defender, leaving a big gap between himself and Gordon, who's set up outside the slot receiver; Cam(+1) fills quickly and makes a good open field tackle to hold it down(tackling +1)|
|O34||2||6||Ace trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||PA draw||Kovacs||-2|
|Martin(+0.5) shucks the C to the ground and gets in on the G; RVB(+0.5) and Banks(+0.5) also do good jobs of driving into the backfield without vacating lanes. RB has to cut outside, where Kovacs(+2) reads the play, shoots the gap, and tackles(+1) behind the LOS, albeit a tiny bit shakily. He is a good linebacker. He should play middle linebacker. I am not kidding.|
|O32||3||8||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel rush||Pass||4||Drag||Leach||9|
|Leach(-1) and Ezeh drop super deep, leaving this simple drag route open for the first (cover -1)|
|O41||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||Quick pitch||Floyd||8|
|No idea what Floyd(-1) is keying on but his run read is way late given the single receiver to his side is obviously blocking from the snap. Kovacs(-0.5) also could have read this faster.|
|O49||2||2||Shotgun twins twin TE||Base 4-4||Run||NA||Inside zone||Roh||1|
|Roh(+2) slants into the backfield into the path of the runner and tackles at the LOS. Since he gets no help from the LBs the RB can fall forward near the sticks.|
|50||3||1||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Pass||NA||Waggle out||Rogers||9|
|Michigan in man, biting on the fake. (RPS-1) Open in front of Rogers(-1, cover -1) and UMass converts. RVB charging down the QB, but for naught.|
|M41||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||Base 4-4||Run||Banks||Power off tackle||Banks||5|
|Banks(-1) doubled and blown too far back this time. Ezeh(-0.5) sits and eats another block; Patterson(+0.5) does an admirable job to eventually fight through his block and make an ankle tackle as the RB slashes past the LOS.|
|M36||2||5||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-4||Pass||NA||Waggle hitch||?||8|
|An absolute ton of time (pressure -2, RPS -1) as Michigan is slanting towards a run play and needs Mouton/Kovacs in coverage (cover +1), which they do well. Havens comes off those two guys, finding a third open for the first in front of Ezeh. No blame there; just too long.|
|M28||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||RVB||Power off tackle||Fitzgerald||0|
|Fitz in for Roh. Not sure about this play since it looks like an off tackle play with a backside guard pulling but the RB's angle is kind of directly upfield. Maybe a bust by the RB. Anyway, Fitzgerald(+2) is being blocked down by the TE but gets in the gap, picking off the pulling lineman and causing the RB to try to bounce outside; he can't because Fitzgerald throws him to the ground. Possibly the best play by a LB all day?|
|M28||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||6||Seam||T. Gordon||Inc|
|Michigan sends six and does not get there (pressure -2); T. Gordon is in man on the slot receiver and his man gets a step (cover -1); ball is low and tough to dig out and not dug out. Probably a TD if accurate.|
|M28||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel rush||Pass||5||Tunnel screen||0|
|Man to man, tight man, and Rogers(+1, cover +1, RPS+1) is right there for the tackle. Maybe some credit to Martin(+0.5) for harassing the QB and forcing a suboptimal throw? Sure.|
|M28||4||10||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel rush||Pass||6||TE corner||Mouton||13|
|Five or six sent; not sure WTF Mouton is doing. He chips the TE and then starts moving inside, which is weird since that means there's no contain to the short side of the field, where the QB rolls and finds the TE, who's broken just in front of Kovacs in man coverage. (Pressure -2, RPS -1) Anyone with a theory as to what Mouton's assignment is here please inform. Man cover on the RB?|
|M15||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||NA||Inside zone||Ezeh||9|
|RB makes a quick cut to the backside as Martin cuts off the playside A gap. Mouton attempts to funnel the RB to help, which is Ezeh(-1), who stepped to the wrong side of the play and had to leap a cut block and is late. A desperate ankle tackle from Kovacs(+0.5) prevents a TD. Please tell me if I'm right and Ezeh is insane or not here.|
|M6||2||1||I-Form Big||3-3-5 stack||Run||RVB||Iso||Ezeh||-1|
|Martin(+1) pounds the center back, allowing Ezeh(+1) a lane he takes, shooting up between the C and G and pounding the fullback. No room, RB slides along the line, meeting RVB(+0.5) for no gain.|
|M7||3||2||I-Form big||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Waggle scramble||Kovacs||7|
|Kovacs(-2) bites like a mother on the run fake, opening up the corner wide enough for Havens to stroll in. Mouton(-1) also bit, and then passed up a chance to pound the guy at the two.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-24, 13 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O27||1||10||Ace||Base 4-3-ish||Pass||3||Deep hitch||Floyd||19|
|Just bad luck and bad refereeing here. Play action sees RVB and Martin through the line, with Martin(+0.5) recovering in time to force a throw(pressure +1) that Floyd(+1, cover +1) deflects. Receiver steps OOB, is STILL OOB when he touches the ball, and somehow gets credit for a completion.|
|O46||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||Base 4-3-ish||Run||NA||Inside zone||Ezeh||4|
|I am really, really frustrated with Ezeh(-1) at this point. Here he is totally unblocked but just sits on his ass the whole play instead of hitting it up in a gap that opens behind RVB and in front of Roh. RB goes through a gap, Ezeh tackles, but it's four yards instead of zero.|
|50||2||6||Ace||Base 4-3-ish||Pass||Waggle hitch||Rogers||15|
|No pressure (RPS-1, pressure -2) and all day for Havens to hit his receiver in front of Rogers(-1, cover -1)|
|M35||1||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||NA||Inside zone||Martin||0|
|Martin(+1) blasts the C back and sheds to the playside, forcing a cutback. RVB(+0.5) got inside the pulling WR block and forces the RB into Mouton(+1), who zipped past a blocker. The trio tackles for nothing.|
|M35||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||C. Gordon||Int, fumble|
|Corner blitz from Floyd is picked up; Banks(+0.5) gets enough pressure to force a rollout from havens once his first read is covered by Ezeh(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5, cover +1). As he rolls out he throws it to a drag route still pretty well covered by Ezeh(+0.5 again). Pass is way overthrown and intercepted by Gordon, who runs it back to the 30 and fumbles it because of course.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 42-24, 10 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Banks||Down G||Banks||5|
|Patterson in. Banks(+1) holds up to a double team well enough to occupy two guys and get Mouton in clean on the tailback; he hits him, so does Kovacs, and there are like five M guys and three UMass guys as this tailback just drags a pile five yards. I'm not minusing anyone because who do you minus? Impressive by UMass; kind of depressing for M.|
|M21||2||5||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||5||Slant||Floyd||Inc|
|Fake six, drop Ezeh into short zone, open up slant in man from Floyd(-0.5, cover -1) that is behind the WR and dropped.|
|M21||3||5||Ace||Nickel rush||Run||NA||Down G||Martin||2|
|Martin(+2) shoves back the C, refuses to get sealed, fights off a hold, and runs down the tailback for nothing. Ezeh and Mouton were around but not needed.|
|M19||4||3||Shotgun 3-wide bunch||Nickel rush||Pass||4||TE out||Leach||4|
|Wide open; totally lame coverage from Leach(-1, cover -1, RPS-1)|
|M15||1||10||Ace trips bunch||3-3-5 stack||Run||RVB||PA draw||Ezeh||6|
|Ezeh(-0.5) drawn out of position by the fake; RVB(-0.5) rushes upfield after the passer and vacates the lane.|
|M9||2||4||Shotgun twins twin TE||Base 4-3-ish||Run||Banks||Inside zone||Ezeh||8|
|More zone read action. M slants the line again and totally destroys the play, with Martin and Roh ready to obliterate; Ezeh(-2) ran himself way to the frontside of the play, got sealed, and there's no one back there. T. Gordon blitzed at the QB, opening up a lane, too. (RPS -1)|
|M1||1||G||Goal line||Goal line||Penalty||False Start||?||-5|
|M6||1||G||Ace twins||Base 4-3-ish||Run||NA||Inside zone||Martin||0|
|Martin(+2) flashes into the backfield impossibly quick and almost has a five-yard TFL but a last-second shove from an OL causes him to miss the tackle. Still, he's destroyed the play and Michigan just has to clean up. Ezeh(-1) overruns a stationary RB and Gordon has to clean up at the LOS.|
|M5||2||G||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||6||Waggle cross||C. Gordon||5|
|Man coverage as Michigan is going heavy after the run; Cam Gordon(-1) is beaten easily by the WR, opening up an easy TD (RPS -1, cover -1)|
|M3||2pt||2pt||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Improv||Kovacs||Int|
|Drop eight, covering everyone(+1) for the first read, at which point the QB starts scrambling because of good pressure from RVB(+0.5, pressure +1). He rolls out, finds no one, and chucks a hopeless pass back across the field that Kovacs(+0.5) picks off.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown(2pt failed), 42-30, 5 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M25||1||10||Ace||3-3-5 stack||Pass||NA||RB scramble||?||5|
|They try a halfback pass but it's covered(+1). RB decides to scramble and picks up five. Not charting this one too harshly since this is such an outlier of a play.|
|M20||2||5||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||3||Out||Rogers||7|
|Martin(+1) rips through the line instantly (pressure +1) on the roll but the soft corner (Rogers) opens up the little out for the first. (Cover -1)|
|M13||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||Dumpoff||?||6|
|Good coverage(+1) downfield forces a checkdown as Banks is collapsing the pocket; Ezeh tackles immediately.|
|M7||2||4||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||7||Fade||Rogers||Inc (Pen +5)|
|Michigan sends the house and gets there(Pressure +1) so the QB chucks one off his back foot that's too long; Rogers(-1, cover -1) is called for PI. Weak call, but they all are.|
|M2||1||G||Goal line||Goal line||Pass||2||PA flare||Kovacs||2 (Pen -5)|
|Kovacs(-1) overruns the play and the RB cuts past him into the endzone. This ceases to exist because of a false start but no one knew it when he scored.|
|M7||1||G||Shotgun trips bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||7||TE corner||Mouton||7|
|Mouton(-2, cover -2) doesn't bother to cover the TE.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-37, 2 min 4th Q. M gets the onside kick and runs out the clock.|
Down or across?
Should I cut down or across with the razor? The former is just a cry for help, the latter is srsly.
Maybe on the diagonal?
I HATE YOU
Yeah, okay… chart?
If you'd like an answer to "what if Brandon Graham played every snap against Delaware State like his life depended on it," here you go:
|Van Bergen||5||1.5||3.5||Lots of half points for doing decently on run plays.|
|Martin||25||-||25||I just write the numbers down! More on this later.|
|Banks||6||4||2||Not great but not the big problem.|
|Sagesse||-||0.5||-0.5||Very few snaps.|
|Patterson||0.5||1||-0.5||Not exactly Martin but seems okay.|
|Black||-||-||-||Did play, didn't record anything.|
|Roh||7.5||4.5||3||Okay, not great.|
|T. Gordon||3||0.5||2.5||Doing okay.|
|Leach||-||8.5||-8.5||Extremely poor performance spotting Gordon and acting as a passing down LB|
|Moundros||-||2||-2||Poor on single series.|
|Fitzgerald||2||-||2||+2 play may have been in error but it worked.|
|TOTAL||24||38.5||-14.5||What the hell happened? This was +21 last week against ND!|
|Floyd||2.5||8.5||-6||Major issues in run support..|
|Rogers||2.5||5.5||-3||Guys were open in front of him consistently.|
|Kovacs||7.5||5.5||2||Michigan's best linebacker.|
|C. Gordon||1||2||-1||Not tested much.|
|TOTAL||13.5||21.5||-8||Corners were exploited for the first time.|
|Coverage||12||19||-7||Scary against a I-AA team|
[A reminder: RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]
What didn't go wrong?
First a word on that number: holy pants. I don't even know if I can stand by that but what I saw is Martin either occupying two blockers or obliterating the blocking concept on almost every play. He tore into the backfield for +3 TFLs twice and got a a pair of +2 near TFLs. He was completely un-containable, and the number is just this side of literally incredible because what would happen if a ridiculously good player happened to be on a terrible defense that kept him on the field the whole game and saw the opponent put together multiple grinding drives on which to rack up points by destroying run concepts only to see the confused ducks behind you clack heads and fall over?
He would get a damn lot of points, is what. That's a UFR record.
Also, I went into the UFR after watching UMass go at Banks and Kovacs all day to good success and thought I would end up with big negatives for at least one of those two guys. I didn't. Neither exactly covered themselves in glory but both ended up on the positive side of the ledger, and on this day that makes you immune from criticism. RVB had a solid day. You'd like to see him do better than that against a I-AA team but he was not tested much what with all the running at Banks. For the record, I have ten rushes at RVB for 2.1 a carry and 18 at Banks for 4 a carry, so the intuition wasn't wrong: UMass ran at Banks a lot and did better than they did when they ran at RVB, but the defensive ends weren't involved in the big gainers much.
And that is all.
I trusted you! Linebacker GERG fairy theory! I HATE YOU
Yeah, man, hell if I know. A week after racking up thirteen tackles and getting talked up by the NFL risers and sliders guy, Mouton forgot seemingly everything he'd learned over the offseason, repeatedly getting lost. Ezeh, meanwhile, is back to that thing where he stands around until someone blocks him, whereupon he starts moving backwards and maybe falls over to make an ankle tackle:
At this point it's almost hopeless. What are the chances Obi Ezeh learns how to be a linebacker in the last ten games of his career if he's still making incredibly basic mistakes like that after starting for three years? This has nothing to do with scheme. This is basic play recognition/ability to remember how to make your legs go.
Mouton's mistakes, too, are things common to every defense like "don't let the tailback outside of you when you are a force defender," but at least he makes some plays to help with his deficiencies. The ugly fate foretold by the "Mark Moundros could start" preseason meme appears to be coming true.
Here is where I take up the shield of someone who knows what he's talking about to forestall the inevitable complaints that I'm not being very nice and we should really give Boubacar Cissoko a chance before declaring him not good at football: this is an opinion shared by former M LB Ron Simpkins, whose latest interview with Rivals($) has the word "inexcusable" in the title in re: linebacker play and is even less kind behind the paywall. These seniors are not good at football.
What are they so indecisive?
So I think what the coaches mean by "this is not a stack" is that in a stack everyone has a gap. The line will slant one way and from a combination of blitzes and other attacking bits all the non-DL gaps get filled. Usually the OLBs and DEs will have specific B and C gaps depending on the slant; the goal is to kick runs out to the spur and bandit or just fill your gap and tackle there. The MLB's read depends on the NT. The NT has to take a double, and then he has to slant into a gap, and the MLB has to figure out which gap he's covered and attack the other one.
Here's Ezeh not doing that even a little bit on a counter:
Ezeh does not key off Martin or he'd shoot the gap in the backside after Martin closes off the frontside A gap. He reads the running back, steps to the wrong side of the play, does not take the opportunity to shoot in a gap for a TFL, and allows the back to run up the backside of a bunch of blockers for decent yardage. He did this all day. He does not have a gap, he has to figure out what's going on and then try to close it down, usually with poo results of poo.
Why isn't it a stack?
Don't know. I think it should be because anything that gets Ezeh moving forward is good. Especially when you've got Martin, an incredibly active NT who is going to be able to close off big gaps frequently, I'd rather have Ezeh shoot gaps and get guys in the backfield or at the line than rely on all this reading business that the linebackers suck at and ends up bleeding the kind of yards UMass had on the ground last week. My complaint here is they didn't go far enough.
What can we do?
The worst part is that when Michigan got tired of Ezeh they put in Moundros for a series and Moundros proceeded to do the exact same things, except in his case it's obvious why: he was a fullback last year. He's no substitute, and he's the #2 guy on the depth chart! JB Fitzgerald and Kenny Demens: where are you? You are nowhere.
Everyone's got their crackpot theories of how to fix the defense with random positions switches or, in the case of a couple dedicated caterwaulers, overhauling the scheme to be more of a 4-3 to take an extra defensive back off the field, which makes zero sense because Michigan's 4-3 would have the exact same personnel as last year's 4-3 and this year's 3-3-5. None of that is going to do anything, and Will Campbell is not a useful football player right now.
My suggestion is going to sound utterly ludicrous but here it is anyway: replace Ezeh with Kovacs and bring Marvin Robinson in. This is nuts, I know. Kovacs is a leprechaun-sized walk-on. But I go back to the stack DVD Casteel put out back in the day. In it he made two things clear: the NT is by far the most important player in the defense and makes things go (check), and the middle linebacker can be spectacularly undersized as long as he is a heady, instinctive player who can put a hat on the right shoulder of the right guy at the LOS after "making the nose tackle right". Casteel specifically says that the player they had the previous year was 190 pounds. Raise your hand if you'd take West Virginia's 2002 defense right now. That's everyone.
I mean, Kovacs does this:
He is a decisive slasher. Mike Martin is peeling the faces off of people right now and Kovacs will have free runs to the ball plenty. It won't be good, lord knows, but it almost can't be worse.
Enormous secondary minus?
Part of that was the return of rollout doom reminiscent of that Toledo game. Midnight Maize tallied up the results of those:
- Out of 11 Roll Outs or Moved Pockets UMASS hit on 8 of them. Two were good Michigan defense and one was a UMASS holding call.
- UMASS gained 87 yards on Roll outs
- James Rogers was to blame for 5 of them.
This is also a major source of the crappy RPS metric; Michigan had no effective response to these all day, though that may be due to the fact they couldn't consistently stop a I-AA team's running game.
Not sure what to do about that since M is in cover three a lot and the cornerbacks are so weak they have to play soft, basically. Floyd did make a few plays on the ball, though he had the misfortune to see two deflect to his receiver anyway; Rogers was not going to challenge anything. I might do more edge blitzing against QBs who can throw on the move, and though Rogers hasn't been a huge liability it might be time to start seeing some of the freshmen work in.
Mouton and Ezeh primarily with assists from the corners. Especially Ezeh. Also Kevin Leach managed some impressive minuses in a brief window. Missing Herron and Jones is hurting; where is Hawthorne?
Mike Martin a thousand times. Not exactly heroes but okay: the Gordons, Kovacs, the DEs.
What does it mean for Bowling Green and the future?
It means the linebackers are going to either revert back to their decent form of the first couple weeks or it's happy-happy walk-on time again, at which point they'll basically play like the starters and we'll get a rotation and everyone's brains will explode. I do think this game was a perfect storm of crappy play by Michigan and excellent execution by UMass and that there will be a couple Big Ten teams that get Denarded this year and fill their message boards with threads like "but UMass scored 37, fire everyone!" Michigan did not see that level of offensive execution from their first two opponents and it's hard to picture some of these upcoming Big Ten foes matching it what with their freshman quarterbacks and stapled-together run games.
But, really: it's time to replace Ezeh once and for all, except they can't. Mouton will turn in up and down games but as long as Ezeh is on the field Michigan is going to get gashed, nice guy though he may be. Who do you do that with, though? Michigan's inability to see the enormous problem mounting here and have four kids shoehorned into the position who aren't former walk-ons is a failing on par with starting Sheridan over Threet. Fitzgerald and Demens should have been backing Ezeh all year; their failure to develop, and Michigan's failure to acquire and keep any reasonable linebacker sorts in the last three years, is killing the defense.
QB pressure does remain an issue, though against passing teams Michigan has used a series of blitzes that get free guys in because you have to deal with Mike Martin before outside threats. Play action and rollouts will be issues; passing downs will be okay if they can just get some zone drops.
This is just pure aaargh right here, but how about a preview of why the Michigan defense was so terrible against UMass?
It's first and ten on the Michigan 35 on what will be UMass's second touchdown drive. UMass comes out in an ace set with two tight ends to the short side of the field:
Michigan is in a 3-3-5, basically, but the twins formation and the double TEs distort it. Roh's off the field momentarily, replaced by JB Fitzgerald. UMass is going to run it up the gut:
There's no pull on this so it's an inside zone. There's nowhere to go with RVB shoving his guy into the backfield, Kovacs beating the second TE to the inside, and Leach blitzing unmolested off the weak side. Michigan has basically killed this play as the RB has no choice but to head outside, where…
…Mouton is totally unblocked. You can also see Kovacs poking his head through at the top of the line and Van Bergen getting his shove on.
Anway, Mouton: with no one outside of him because of the alignment he's the force defender who must get the tailback inside of him, where Leach and a scraping Ezeh can deal with the tailback if he cuts back inside tackle. (For some reason, this is "keeping leverage on the football.") And he's playing against a I-AA tailback. So he runs up real fast…
…lets the tailback outside of him…
…and personally turns zero yards…
Seriously, there's nothing else here except Mouton making an enormous mistake. The good news is that if they fix that stuff the scheme of the defense is fine. It's not like they're asking the players to do anything particularly difficult or novel: make tackle. If cannot make tackle, funnel RB to help. Do not let RB outside of you. This has nothing to do with a shift to a 3-3-5. Look, here's Mouton doing the pretty much the same thing last year, albeit against a blocker:
That's the bad news: if these linebackers have been starting for three years and are still making these mistakes, why would they stop now? GERG linebacker fairy theory is about it and that took a major hit against UMass.
Maybe it was just an off day, one on which the linebackers took it easy and reverted to old, bad habits. Yeah. That, too, is the ticket.
First: Look at those glasses! He says they're not prescription.
When he made two big plays late in the first half "I just felt like it was the momentum changing." The offense started poorly, and he needed to provide a boost. "I don't know if 2 touchdowns in 45 seconds is quite the dream," it might be better. "I was always the big-play guy in high school, I was always the deep threat in high school. I've always wanted to get that transition over to Michigan."
In the third year of the offense with Denard throwing well, it's not just Stonum that's blossoming. Everybody knows stuff so can go out there and play fast.
"I try to lead by example most of the time. I'm not really a vocal screaming yeling in the huddle type of guy." He lets his work ethic speak for itself. Always works as hard as he can in weight room, in class, and on-field.
Defenses play differently with Denard in the game. They'll contain instead of trying to sack Denard. He's making the right reads and is pretty dangerous. "We knew we didn't want him carrying the ball 30 times a game every game." They were able to get the ball to some RBs and establish something else on the ground.
"We've got some pretty athletic offensive linemen." They relish the opportunity to show off that athleticism by getting downfield and making plays. "I knew we had playmakers, it was just a matter of us getting the ball into the laymakers hands and setting up opportunities for them through our blocking."
The OL is coming together each week, as they have pretty good experience. Molk jumped back in where he left off with his injury last fall and spring. Taylor Lewan - "I watched the whole game yesterday, and he seemed to have a pretty good game." He and some others have been performing well in practice, even if they haven't seen the field much.
"There's absolutely more [offensive improvement] to come. The offense is clicking but we're still not performing to our full potential and capability."
UMass was a "mini wakeup call." Seniors have been good at getting them pumped, but they need to do better than last week. "I'm frustrated now and I was frustrated then. You just can't do anything about it now." The defense needs to prepare better and be more hungry going forward.
The first two games were good for the defense. Against UMass "looking at the tape, we just didn't tackle well." Were surprised by a few schemes as well. Have to have a certain persona to tackle well. "I really did think every guy came in with that" and it just didn't work out for some reason. They'd hit guys in the backfield, or allow 5 yards to be stretched into 10. Don't want to let guys get more than they should.
"With our training from Mike Barwis, we don't get very tired ever." The fourth quarter points for UMass were not a result of that.
Taylor Lewan played well. Proud of him because they've been buddies for a couple years. "He's finding a happy medium between being aggressive and holding a lot." That style will work well in the Big Ten.
Mike Martin "he is the strongest person I' ve ever seen in the weight room, and it's really showing on the field." Beat a double team to sack the QB.
It won't be tough to get up for BGSU. "From our performance this Saturday, this team is definitely going to get up for this game."
"The offense really helped us out this past Saturday, and that's why it's a team." One side will have to rely on the other from time to time.
Craig doesn't listen to music before games to get pumped up - reads a bit of the Bible.
Being a hometown guy, it'll be a different experience to play BG. He doesn't know anybody on the team though, outside of Bryan Wright. "It's gonna be weird" being on opposite sidelines. Knows him well, good kicker. They keep in touch a little bit, but haven't been trash talking yet.
Defense mindset - "Obviously we aren't satisfied with the way that we played defensively." It's much nicer to get that out of the way early in the season, and with a win. "I expect it to be a 1-game slip-up. I'm sure we'll make our corrections today."
Feels different than last year's struggles. They'll move forward. "I think they're pretty simple things." Technical errors and a couple missed assignments. Players might have been hesitant after giving up big plays to Notre Dame "maybe guys are just inexperienced and aren't feeling comfortable in their zones yet."
Obi and Jonas are the senior leaders on D. Each said a few things after the game in the locker room, as did Craig Roh.
"If you can control the ball, you can wear out a defense." The D didn't do their job to get themselves off the field.
Interception - "The first thing I was thinking is 'yes I finally got one.' Sometimes, you don't want to do too much." He should have tucked the ball better.
The team will be very focused after a letdown against UMass. "Last game was a reality check for many games to come. Of course, it's a good thing that we still got the win." There's a small margin for error at this level. The other teams prepare, too. "You have to prepare even better. It's not like high school."
The defense wants to do their part like the offense has been doing. "We're still not as good as we need to be or want to be." Both sides of the ball can improve, but there's only been three games.
Going against Michigan receivers in practice helps prepare for other teams' best receivers.
Transition to safety is good. Still room for improvement. "What's the best room in the house? That's room for improvement."
Choosing Michigan - "I love it here." Everyone will face adversity growing up, and he's learning at Michigan that working hard and staying in the fight will help you through.
Not pleased with the way they played, but happy with the win. All three phases of the game had letdowns. "As quiet a winning locker room as you'll ever see."
"I can promise our guys will look at the film, coaches will look at the film, I'll watch everything on all three phases." "Defensively we thought they would pressure us a little bit" so Denard couldn't run. Has to talk to D coaches to see if UMass did surprising stuff. "They're pretty good up front."
Nobody was injured outside of Banks, and his injury isn't serious.
Take what they give us. Stonum made plays, Shaw stepped up. Not worried about starters being tired because they only played 56 snaps.
3-4, 4-3 shift "We saw the same thing last week." Switch just about every other snap. "That's kinda part for the course. Our guys have seen that." UMass adjusted at the second half. UMass played a lot of cover-0, gave up lots of 1-on-1 opportunities. Maybe Michigan should have taken even more deep shots. Wanted to run to give the D a break.
"[Denard] was pretty sharp with his eyes and his decisions." Ball-handling was the problem. Denard not as sharp as he was first couple weeks. "Amost like a first-game feel." Execution wasn't clean. Denard made some great throws, a few good runs. "We didn't run him as much. We didn't want to." Shaw stepped up.
Offense is QB-centered, he has to run sometimes. More designed RB runs today to give him some relief. Shaw - "runs hard, got great speed, used his vision well today." Team's biggest homerun threat.
Lewan - "we should have played Ricky Barnum too some." They'll decide if a few more guys should have gotten onto the field. "If we'd have payed better, we could have played more guys. Didn't happen, so we've gotta play we've we've got to to win the game."
"We have some warts, that's still out there. Let's not pretend that we're the 1985 Chicago Bears." Have to play with passion, intensity, and intelligence in all 3 phases, but especially on D. Didn't get better today, but the guys know without being told that they need to work hard this week.
Some of D struggles lack of execution - missed tackles, losing contain, "there's a lot of things that we've gotta clean up, and everybody knows that." Going against a different scheme this week, made some mistakes. Has to watch film to compare where the breakdowns were. Losing contain to our left was bad, because they knew it would happen coming in. Lost contain 5-6 times at least.
Kovacs strip - scored quickly, then got the turnover for 2 quick scores. Momentum with the ball in third quarter. Didn't happen to shut them down and put the game out of reach. "They played well." Went into the UMass locker room to tell them that.
Special teams - The return game was OK, a couple times Darryl almost broke one. Missed only field goal, kick coverage needs to improve. Kickers make them in practice. Will just dropped the snap on the block.
Thought Seth Broekhuizen kicked better for kickoffs. Placekicking - "We had a student body tryout. Any student out there... we'll have another tryout for you.
"You never know" how many points you'll need to win. UMass is a good team. "They gave us a run for our money." The D carried the offense last week, so in the team concept, it's time to pay it back a bit. "They'll make some corrections, and so will we."
Came out slow, but for the most part did a good job executing. Offense knew they were shooting themselves in the foot early, just started executing better.
"On that play, I'm usually a backside outlet" on the long TD reception. Omameh and Grady did a good job blocking to open the hole.
Last time he scored 2 TDs back-to-back like in the second quarter was in high school. Personal breakthrough game? "With all the talent we have at receiver, you never know who's gonna be the hot hand for the week." Just his job to show the coaches he's capable of making plays. He and Roy joking about who would be the guy this week.
On his long (non-TD) reception "Denard fakes the sprintout, and we knew that the whole defense is gona key to his running." Just had to run past the cornerback.
Denard throwing: "His accuracy and his... total quartebrack, just being a pocket passer." His accuracy has improved. Puts the ball where the receivers can run away from the defender after the catch.
"[Denard] told me on the sideline, mid second quarter, that he was gonna start giving up the ball a lot more." Denard's been getting yards because Ds are keying Shaw instead of Denard. Today was different. Other guys need to step up so the offense can click without Denard having to do it all. "We have playmakers, but now we're coming into our own as an offense."
There's no way to tell from film who the end is keying on. Had an idea they'd try to contain Denard (like ND, which didn't work out for them).
He was trying to hit the hole fast early in the game, but the DL was 2-gapping the OL, so he tried to hesitate on his long TD run to make sure he had the right read.
Offensive pressure opposite that D? "We added pressure to ourselves." Held each other up each of the past two weeks. Denard kept the team poised when they were down 17-7.
Special team struggles? "I don't really expect our kicking game to miss kicks. We all have faith in all of our teammates." Offense's job is to score TDs and not have to rely on those guys as much. "Those 40-yard kicks can turn into 2-yard extra points."
UMass held onto the ball well. Defense didn't do their job to get them off the field. "You've gotta give them a lot of credit they're a very good team. Maybe they caught us off guard." "They've got some big offensive linemen, I know it's nothing like we'll see in the Big Ten."
"We're happy that we didn't lose, but we're not satisfied with the way that we played defensively." Defensive play overall: "Clearly it's disappointing." Better to have that happen in a game that they still win, instead of have them cause a loss.
On his strip and recovery: "At that point in the game, they had a lot of momentum." Knew his team needed a big play, noticed the guy was carrying the ball low.
Losing contain - "Tough to see defensively. I'll admit that it happened to me a couple times." Need to get back to fundamentals and responsibilities. Would have been a different story if everyone executed well.
"We never underestimate a team. We're not good enough to just walk in and get a victory." The team just has to play hard. "I think a focus that we needed" was lacking. Had a good week of practice. Need to get back to fundamentals this week in practice. "Michigan came out with a victory, and that's all we can ask for."
UMass offensive line - "They had a good line. They were smart and they did a good job with positioning their bodies a certain way." Called some plays to keep UMass unbalanced, disguise some things. They did a god job reacting.
Fighting through doubles. "It feels good as a nose guard because you don't get a lot of chances to be free." If you hit a rock over and over and it breaks after 100th hit, it's not the 100th hit that breaks the rock, it was the 99 before that.
Fewer sacks - "We've just gotta keep playing hard." Last year, it took BG 4 games to get a sack, there's still a lot of football to play.
Cam Gordon int/fumble "That's tough. I think it's just one of those freak things." The way it happened, they didn't complain and just went to go play the next play.
The team has done a good job not getting worried, pointing finger. "That's what we did in the past and we've done a better job this year in that aspect." Just do your job to win.
Coach went over a few things on the drawing board, and the halftime message was to go out and play as hard as they can for the final 30 minutes.
Make sure guys buckle down and get ready for Bowling Green.
UMass is a good team on both sides of the ball. "We watched film and knew they was pretty good." The team just came out sluggish. Can't come out sluggish and expect to win. That was the lesson they learned today. Have to re-focus to make sure this doesn't happen next week.
"We just had to focus and everybody had to play as one, play as a team, play smart" when they were down 10. Team started slow, and everyone needed to whole team to play.
"They really didn't contain me, I guess. That's why Shaw had a great game." UMass made that decision, not Denard. "It was great to have [Shaw] running the ball like that." All the running backs are threats, they just needed a D to give them a chance to break out.
"I'm all in for Michigan. Whatever it takes to win. We winning for Michigam, we're not just winning for me." Doesn't care about his stats if they win. "If we get a W, that's good." Nobody's perfect. He knew he wasn't going to go a whole season without throwing a pick. "We're gonna face adversity the whole season."
He thought he would play the whole game, until the coaches tell him otherwise.
On the long Stonum touchdown, "It was designed, he read the blocks perfectly, he made one guy miss, and got going." It was a big shift in momentum before the half. The offense just had to make the plays happen. Everybody knew they had to step it up.
"We've moved from that Notre Dame game, that was last week. And will move on from UMass after we watch film tomorrow to Bowling Green."
Didn't get any awesome emails this week but there are a few bits from the comments and other blogs. Anyway:
GS's run chart comes to a lot of reassuringly similar conclusions as the UFR did: the left side of Michigan's line struggled against Kapron Lewis-Moore but the right side and Molk got their pwn on; he was way more impressed with the tight ends (8-0=8 combined!) than I was and similarly down on Shaw. More Omameh hype:
Much better from Omameh. The 2* who was a 250 pound DE in high school crushed the 5* all-world linebacker multiple times, with brutal efficiency.
I meant to mention this in the UFR, but BWS also picture-paged some running back inefficiency. This is a key point:
As you can see here, the defensive end is staying high, forcing Denard to hand the ball off. But the Notre Dame linebackers have engaged with the offensive line before they were able to get upfield. If Michigan's linemen were given a free release to the second level, they're fast and smart enough to make the block. But instead, Notre Dame's linebackers were told to plug the holes at the point of attack and make Shaw slow down at the line and pick a hole. In doing so, it gives the weakside defensive end enough time to crash down for the tackle.
Last week against UConn we saw a lot of holes open up; this week ND linebackers were clogging the LOS. I made my position on this clear: Michigan really needed to exploit this tendency more. The other play he cites is the frustrating Shaw dance where this…
…turned into no yards because Shaw cut behind Schilling and then tried to spin to the backside of the play.
Magnus also criticizes the play design of the Te'o sideline to sideline play. Might and Main points out that Stonum got chewed out after the Vincent Smith swing pass that Calabrese killed for a minimal gain on third and seven. This is what I said:
Last week this was paired with a slant and I'm confused why it's not this week. ND is in man-to-man for once and the deeper hitch is covered by the CB, leaving the flare open; accurate, but Calabrese is all over it for minimal gain. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)
Given the reaction of RR, it's likely this was supposed to be a slant after all.
Didn't get much feedback this week, but here's Magnus making a valid criticism of the 53-yard touchdown breakdown:
Rogers shouldn't get a -1 for the 53-yard TD pass to TJ Jones. Here's why:
In a Cover 2 defense, the flat defender (Rogers) is supposed to play any receiver in his zone. If no receiver enters his area, he's supposed to gain depth. On that play, an underneath receiver entered the flat zone; furthermore, the QB was rolling to his side. When a QB rolls to the flat defender's side, there will always be a receiver in the flat - that's just how plays are drawn up. So when that receiver enters his zone, Rogers had to suck up closer to the line of scrimmage.
Meanwhile, Cam Gordon's job is to play the deepest man on his half of the field. Whether one, two, or three receivers enter his zone, he has to play the one who runs farthest down the field. It was a well designed play to pick on an inexperienced safety. Gordon got caught looking in the backfield and didn't see TJ Jones streaking up the sideline. By the time Jones came open, he was no longer the responsibility of James Rogers - that was all Cam Gordon.
This is the exact reason that Michigan wants to run a lot of Cover 3. Gordon doesn't have the speed/experience to cover a deep half, and Kovacs doesn't have the athleticism to make a play on the ball, either.
On the other hand, this seems reasonable to me too:
Magnus, I think you should look at the video again......Rogers doesn't even react to the fact that both receivers are going vertical. He almost immediately looks up #3 and starts to jump the route (completely disregarding his coverage duties).
Rogers was the one caught looking in the backfield. He should be reading 2 to 1. When 2 gets vertical, he should immediately get into phase on #1. He jumped the flat route and disregarded the fact that 2 receivers had gone vert, putting Cam on an island.
Who is right? Video:
I can see it either way. It's tough to zone up when you've only got six guys in the coverage, and Rogers was faced with a choice of sinking back on the vertical routes, leaving Rudolph wide open, or leaving Gordon one-on-one with two guys. From his play it looks like he's not even considering dropping back into coverage, which is either a major bust on his part or just the way the D is drawn up. Either way I should have RPS –2ed the play.
Magnus also disagrees with my minusing the linebackers on Armando Allen's nine-yard run off tackle late (the play before the epic Mouton hold:
By alignment, it looks like Kovacs has outside contain to the bottom of the screen. He steps down to get a jam on the TE and replace his feet, but he then gets caught inside. If Kovacs can keep contain here (like he did earlier in the game when he fought off a block from the pulling OT), he's funneling the running back to the inside.
If Kovacs holds the edge, Mouton is stepping up to take on the pulling OL. Ideally, Mouton would stuff up the OL, cut his legs, or take him on with the inside shoulder and force the RB further inside. But Mouton gets caught up in the wash of Kovacs getting blown down the line.
Meanwhile, Ezeh is scraping unblocked and would presumably make the tackle after a minimal gain.
This is plausible, but it's hard to see how Kovacs can possibly maintain contain when he's one guy lined up opposite two ND tight ends and the fullback. This is bad defense design and should have been RPS-1ed.