in town for free camps
Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press.
"This week is probably coming at a good time for some of those guys." Mike Martin and David Molk should be 100% with a week off. Mike Shaw's been limited in practice with a sprained knee, but should be fine.
Denard sprained something in his rotator cuff; it gets aggravated or sore when you fall on it. Worried about the big guys falling on him more than anything. He's not as hurt as Tate was last year, and should be good with a week off. "Hypothetically, we won't talk," but Denard would probably be good to start if there was a game this weekend. He's still the team's starter, despite Tate's solid play on Saturday.
On Fitzgerald Toussaint: "I'm optimistic he can practice this week."
Not sure how long Odoms will be out. "That's a tough blow because he was playing pretty good football." If he can return by the end of the year, he could play a bit.
Defensive personnel moves "Kenny Demens we thought played pretty well... He's played well enough that Obi will have to beat him out in practice over the next week and a half."
"Carvin Johnson we thought did some good things at Spur." With Mike Martin's injury, Adam Patterson got a chance to step up and he did well.
The Bye Week
No practice Monday-Tuesday (players are on fall break), but the team will practice Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for sure.
Big recruiting week for the staff since they don't have a game. "Used to go out a lot on Fridays," but it's tough to get back from a HS game and be ready for a noon game the next day. Coaches are on the road recruiting today and tomorrow.
Get young guys a little better fundamentally. "We'll do a preliminary thing on Penn State as well, try to get a little bit of the game plan in."
No school today or tomorrow, get a break to refresh with no football either. The 12 or 13 true freshmen who have played maybe have hit a wall. Having a bit of a break might make them refreshed this week.
On the day off Saturday, RR will watch some film, maybe watch some future opponents' games. His son Rhett has a Pop Warner game on Sunday.
Tate came in and made some plays, brought a spark. Had some bad habits come back as well. WRs helped him out, but Michigan has three pretty good, young quarterbacks.
Molk - "I think he didn't feel real good in warmups." After a couple plays, he told the coaches he was unable to compete at the level he wanted to. High ankle sprain, but not a severe one.
The coaches have talked to the field goal defense team about recovering blocked FGs, obviously didn't cover that well enough with the kick team. There was too much penetration on the block, but the kick was a little low, too.
Rocko Khoury competed well. He battled hard. "We were worried about his snaps some... and there were 1 or 2 a little bit off..."
Lewan was a little jumpy. Partially nerves going against Clayborn. Part of his troubles may have been unfamiliarity with Khoury's snapping rhythm.
Turnovers. "I think we pressed a little bit at quarterback some." Don't have to throw it 30 yards when you only need 10. The QBs know right after it happens. "Vincent Smith's not a fumbler."
As poorly as the team played, they had a chance to tie up the game, just couldn't make it happen.
Personnel and Schemes
On offense, they need to fix execution issues that lead to turnovers. "On defense, certainly the same thing. The same issues with execution and making sure we do that." On ST, kicking and returns have been bad, other units solid. "We've got a couple guys I think could be pretty good returners, we just haven't given them a chance."
All QBs are unique "As a runner, Denard's probably closer to what Woody was with burst." Speed more like Pat White. Denard is still a young guy, he's going to keep getting better, as will the young pieces around him. Offense has evolved to be more run-heavy over the years. "The designed quarterback runs probably started with Woody Dantzler in the late 90s." Nowadays, so many people have some version of it, so there's more defensive creativity to stop it.
"We're a little more multiple. We're probably simpler formationally than a lot of teams." Oklahoma, Oregon, Cincinnati, other spread coaching staffs get together and bounce ideas off each other.
The defensive staff all knows the issues, "I think they've talked about it at length, I know they have because I've talked with them." The players still believe in it. The team is close to playing good defense outside of a couple plays a game "but those two plays count." Need to work on some basics defensively, tackling, getting off blocks, etc. Will work on understanding scheme, which helps guys play faster. At times, tackling has been OK.
"At the end of the last couple drives it wasn't good." More disappointed in the (in)ability to get off blocks. Guys won't be coming free on every play. "Some of that's strength... some if it is technique and being able to see the play, recognize the play, get off your block and make it."
"Some of the issue we have defensively... the only way to get experience is to get experience." Some first-year players can play like veterans, but freshmen are going to have "freshman moments." The goal as coaches is to limit the impact if guys have those moments.
"If I still aspire to call plays and be involved in offensive planning and special teams planning, there's only so much hours in the day." The defensive coaches have expertise and they can devote their time to it. "Vince Lombardi could come too, and that's not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense."
The defense has gotten its share of criticism, but 4-5 turnovers in the past couple games and special teams are both issues as well. "With all that being said, we still have moments that we're playing pretty well against a couple pretty good teams."
Floyd thrust in as the "experienced guy" when Troy went down. Troy was the leader of the group, and will be again when he comes back. "When you look at those guys... you gotta remember most guys, their colleagues that age are being redshirted."
Hagerup kicking better because he's not as nervous.
"This is a really close team, there's no finger-pointing or anything like that."
Defensive concerns might affect makeup of the recruiting class. "Where are your numbers offense/defense, where do we need more help." Make sure you're looking for a particular position, etc. "We're looking all over the country" for a kicker worthy of spending a scholarship on.
"No question" that having a player seriously injured on the field (like Rutgers lineman) is your worst nightmare. "That's certainly is something that's an inherent risk not just in our sport but in all sports, and you always worry about it."
Big Ten shaking out about as expected. "I think the reputation of our league is pretty good nationally this year. It should be." Quality of play throughout the depth of the league is good.
"The first two years were extreme disappointments." Inside the program, you can at least get an idea that the program is being built and the future is bright. "If nothing else I think we're fun to watch." WIshes that weren't the case sometimes.
Playing Alabama in 2012 - "Just looking at the road games... pretty tough road schedule." Denard will be a senior, some of the young guys on this year's team will be juniors, etc. "Our hesitation was giving up a home game to do that." The pros outweighed the cons. Can use the excitement of that future game for recruiting.
Haven't talked too much about other future OOC scheduling, because they don't know when the Big Ten schedules will be finalized.
It's back. Sorry for the two-week interruption, but Forces Beyond My Control intervened.
- UMass: Molk excellent, everyone else solidly positive, Lewan goes donkey, Dorrestein majorly positive.
- Bowling Green: candy for everyone. Omameh gets the gold star.
- Indiana: everyone positive, numbers depressed because they scored too fast, WOO DENARD, Lewan gets the gold star.
The major difference between my charting and The Other Brian's is a difference of opinion on Dorrestein. I evidently think he's treading water and just okay; TOB has him approximately equal with the other four guys on the line. Also he was quicker to catch the effectiveness of Michigan's TEs.
Devin zone read issues. After the BGSU game, BWS put up a post about Devin Gardner's zone reads and how they are "rough" if you're being nice and "sucky" if you're not; this was in agreement with the UFR's assessment. Michigan's coaches probably saw too; it appears Tate has reclaimed the backup job. Or maybe Gardner has tendinitis.
I don't hate Vincent Smith. Most of the offensive UFR comments were taken over by the comment war about Vincent Smith. To clarify:
- Smith is a good pass protector and reliable run blocker, though his size makes his run blocking a little sub-optimal.
- He's a good option out of the backfield but the way Michigan's offense is going this year throwing to the tailback is almost pointless.
- He seems to have lost a significant amount of shake-and-bake because of the ACL injury.
- He does not make a lot of yards himself, but he doesn't miss reads often either.
This adds up to an average back.
Finally. BWS has an excellent breakdown of the final drive and the importance of this moment:
This offense is not only explosive but S-M-R-T, kids.
And now on to the WARZONE:
Rollout mitigation strategies. Our Helmets Have Wings has a post based on this previously-linked BWS piece about defending the copious rollouts Michigan has endured. It evades easy summary but the idea is to take someone out of a deeper zone and have him play a flat zone close to the area the rollout is intended to go so he can pressure the QB.
Crab man. The Indiana UFR did not pick up a whole lot in the way of disagreements that are supposed to be the reason for this series, but this is an informative comment for doubters about Roh's DE potential from ironman4579:
While Roh has good athleticism for his size, the key term is "for his size." His hips are fairly stiff in coverage. He has great speed for a DE, probably average at best for a LB. He's not great in space. He has elite athleticism for a DE. He has below average athleticism for a LB. He's just too stiff.
I'd also disagree that he's undersized. Yes, he's a little light (I'd agree that he's definitely lighter than I'd like to see my DE's, but there's enough successful, disruptive light DE's out there in a 4 man line that I think he'd be fine. He might struggle a bit against the run, but I'd give up some in the run game to get an, IMO, vastly improved pass rush), but a guy like Aaron Maybin of Penn State had 12 sacks and 20 TFL's at 235 pounds. O'Brien Schofield was 248 pounds when he went ahead and got 12 sacks and 24.5 TFL's. That's just two recent examples. There are many, many others. Leverage plays a huge part, which actually leads to my next point.
I want people to watch Roh this week when he's at DE and when he's at LB. When he's at DE, he's what scout's call a "flatback." He's incredibly low in his stance. When he comes out he stays basically in the same stance, getting very low with great leverage. He gets his hands out and keeps guys away from his body, and has a great initial punch. He shows a variety of pass rush moves.
When he's at LB, he gets very high. He goes into blockers almost straight up. He lets guys into his body and almost seems to forget his hands until he's already engaged and the blocker is into his body (this is especially evident last year against ND on the Armando Allen hold run at the end of the game, but throughout the season this was a problem). He loses leverage regularly. When he rushes, it's almost always a straight speed rush. He gets lost in space.
The difference between Roh as a DE and Roh as a LB are night and day. He has flashed the potential to be a fantastic DE. As a LB, I don't think he's going to be much more than an average to slightly above average player
I added the picture demonstrating Roh's crazy leverage stance before the snap. I'd like to see a lot more four-man lines this week.
An aside: the debate that's raged between what people are calling a 4-2-5 but is really just last year's defense and the 3-3-5 that's Michigan's run most of this year is really just debating what Craig Roh should do.
Cam Gordon confusion. I solicited opinions on whether or not Cam Gordon should have been able to do anything more than tackle on that corner route…
…picture-paged yesterday. Many people said yes. Many others said no. Upon review I do think that Cam should have been a lot closer since there was no vertical threat from the inside. That probably wouldn't have let him make a play on the ball but he might have been able to tackle at the 25 instead of the 15. The counterargument:
The problem is, jumping the route too quickly can lead to long touchdowns. Gordon does in fact make the right play here. If he jumps up, the experienced receiver will skinny his route and the 5th year QB will loft it over the crashing safety. In a cover 2, the corner route will almost always beat the safety to the soft part of the zone; it's only when the corner drops back enough to disrupt this spot that this pass fails (and then the QB checks down to the out). In a 3rd and long situation, the CB should focus on the deeper part of his zone, as it's always easier to stop a first down if the catch is made in front of the sticks. A more experienced corner, or one that is just less hesitant to react, makes this a much more difficult play to complete.
As always, pass defense and linebacker play are mysterious since who's at fault can vary wildly based on assignments you're not privy to.
The larger point stands. Michigan's inexperienced secondary is not reading the opponent's routes at all (underneath) or quick enough (deep). Hopefully they develop this with time. Also, Chris Brown pointed out this is another variation on the snag concept that Michigan was running elements of earlier this season.
BONUS: Misopogon suggested that the issue was with JT Floyd not getting depth and letting Gordon out to the sideline, but I disagree. Sometimes I fail to explain things I picked up over the course of the game and people disagree based on the individual play, and that's the case here. Most of the time when Michigan went to this coverage, JT Floyd was acting as a Tampa 2 middle linebacker with responsibility in the deep seam. That's why he was at fault when IU hit a deep seam to the TE in the first half…
Does the "J" in J.T. stand for Journeyman?
Floyd spent his second week in a row being moved all over the place. I can understand why they're doing this (he's probably our best DB and we need to get our best athletes on the field.) But with all this moving around, you expect him to get confused occassionally.
On this play he gets caught looking at the underneath crossing route when what he needs to be doing is getting depth in his zone to squeeze off the seam route. The cross will be picked up by the other linebacker, so his false step here was not going to help anyone.
… later in the game when Michigan had covered this bunch snag route a few times they went to a different variation where the vertical receiver ran a post and Floyd dropped right into it. He is not playing a deep half; he's playing a robber. On this pattern he will be of use when the receiver running a dig to the top of the screen clears the CB.
Zone! Man! Fight. BWS's thing this week is advocating more man coverage, complete with a chart of the results when Michigan ran man:
So in 12 attempts, Indiana had six incompletions, one sack, and five completions for approximately 69 yards. Is this statistically significant or proof that Michigan should use more man coverage? Probably not and no.
I'm not sure all of those were man, as BlueSeoul's continuing epic game breakdown series touches upon:
When you're facing 4 or 5 WR, a 3 man rush is not a bad idea because it allows you to run combo coverage behind it.
2 Deep, looks like man coverage underneath, but really it's zone. The man on the slot has good position for run support. The near cornerback is in bump n run with the tall and dangerous, but not necessarily quick, Belcher.
Everyone is covered, Rodgers even manages to stay close enough to his man to dissuade a throw against the confusing look, the 3 man rush gets pressure because Martin beats a double team. Plus we've got 4 extra men in coverage that are just waiting for Chappell to misread it as man coverage and try to force a ball in, so they can get an interception.
Chappell coolly throws it away.
So those numbers may not be right. It seems clear that whatever Michigan is doing in the dime they need to keep doing until they can do it right, at which point they can mix some stuff up. Man coverage is playing with fire every time because of…
James Rogers finally getting exposed. One of the main takeaways from BlueSeoul's post is something that was obvious in the Indiana game after Michigan managed to get away with it through the nonconference:
I've probably covered this enough already, but just to summarize, he is the weakest link. No, that's not surprising given what's happened to the depth chart at corner.
It's so bad that it's hard to tell who he's covering and whether he's supposed to be in zone or man. He's just kind of over there on one side. By the 2nd half, Indiana was actively targeting him on a large percentage of plays. He's giving up the 7 yard out
ALL THE FREAKING TIME.
I don't mean to beat up on him but I agree; he's Nick Sheridan out there. I'm half-expecting he gets replaced this weekend, probably by Avery, though I imagine he'll still have a job in the dime package. Whither Cullen Christian? (Blowing coverages against BGSU, is where.)
The Darryl Stonum fashion show marches on.
Long drives speak to the team's preparation in practice to execute. "It becomes clockwork, and I think that's what we do - we execute very well and that just goes to how well-coached we are... Wherever we are on the field, we feel like we can execute at any time." The offense is explosive. "I think it's 'no limits' when we execute."
Kelvin Grady has been working hard on the field and in the weightroom. He's catching and blocking well. "He's a lot more comfortable - as well as all of us."
This offense is fun because there are so many options. "You never know who's going to be the one having a big game."
The collapse last year is motivation to keep working hard this year. "We can't get our heads big right now. Like Coach Rod said - we can't swallow the poison."
"I think we're just together as a team... it's a family atmosphere in the locker room." Everyone is comfortable with each other, and they're able to have fun out there.
"Troy's happy... He wants to get back out there with us so bad." He'll be on the sidelines as soon as he can.
Haven't watched any Indiana film. "I'm pretty sure Indiana's a great team, and they're gonna be a great team for us to play this week."
Grady will graduate in December and start working on a Master's.
"I actually smiled" when he saw the penalty flag calling back his touchdown. "It's one of those things where - it happens." Felt good to score, even if it didn't end up counting.
Feels comfortable in the system. Has had the opportunity to play three different positions. Understanding the other positions had made him more comfortable at slot.
"I'm blessed to be able to get to different positions and learn other positions." Now he has the experience to help younger guys out.
"We're gonna go in this week and we're gonna work hard." Playing Indiana is no different than another opponent.
Avoiding team's recent struggles in Big Ten play? More guys are interested in their individual role on the team. Some guys have stepped up. "Darry Stonum has really stepped up this year for us." Mike Martin has stepped up on D, and the DB corps is getting better all the time.
Is Denard at 75% healthy faster than most QBs? "I'd take 25% Shoelace as faster than most quarterbacks." He's worked hard to step up. Devin and Tate came in and showed the depth at the position. "It's very key" to have the quality of backups Michigan has. "This game is more about patience. Obviously we have Denard that's stepped up and is doing very well for this team. But we've also got a 12-game starter as his backup." There are plenty of guys to step up.
Success on the ground: "I feel like we have weapons all over the place." It helps to have a fast QB.
"Being 1-7 is something obviously we don't want to look back on." Use it as motivation for this season.
"Denard is really humble. A really humble kid. Sometimes, I think we actually - I don't think he recognizes or knows the accolades." They tease him that he doesn't even know he's on TV every 10 minutes. "A great person, a great teammate. Humble, has great faith. It's all positive." He's not selfish - wants to see the other QBs play well.
"Did you see those glasses? They were awesome."
Starting "was the goal as a redshirt freshman." It's been a blessing to get the opportunity, glad to be out there. "You're just way more into the game." It was frustrating against Penn State last year, because there was nothing he could do. "The biggest thing is I can help change."
Working out with Barwis helped Lewan - "really just fueled the fire." Worked on strength, speed, quickness, using everything he has to his advantage.
Jersey number - "When I actually committed, one of the things was, 'I want #77.'" Didn't know much about Jake Long until after he started wearing the number in high school. Watched Long play for the Dolphins last night: "He does it all, and that's awesome." Saw Long once last year on the sidelines. "That's a very large individual."
Favorite thing about Ann Arbor is all the different people. See all sorts of interesting people.
Balancing mean streak with avoiding penalties. In high school, got probably three penalties a game. Need to be nasty, but also smart. "When I go out there, I'm trying to be as mean as possible, and make sure nobody's having a good time when they're playing against us."
Lewan's dad gives him constructive criticism after every game.
"We were 4-0 last year at this time. We've gotta keep out head down, keep playing."
The QBs are playing like seniors. "They're playing like champions, and that's awesome."
Zac Ciullo has probably never played a snap [Ed: Got in at left guard during CONESTRAVAGANZA '09], but he's a huge leader out there. He has great work ethic. "He works harder than every other person on this team."
The OL blocks equally hard for all three QBs. "I'm gonna do what I can to protect them no matter what."
At first, Lewan was bitter to lose the LT competition in camp. "It just made me work harder."
Likes left tackle because they get all the attention of the offensive linemen.
"I feel like I just turn off my head and play football" to get the mean streak going.
Ryan Van Bergen
"I think it's a more mature 4-0 team. I think it's a hungry 4-0 team. A lot of guys on this team have been 4-0 before and didn't accomplish a lot of things they wanted to ."
Chappell is an experienced QB. Have to account for him on every play, they protect him well.
Young guys on D. "I think that the play of Thomas Gordon" has been a pleasant surprise. When Carvin went down, he stepped up. They'll compete when Carvin returns.
Lewan: "He's a pretty physical guy. I'll give him credit." Joked with him a lot that he'd never get big enough to play, but that motivated him. They've exchanged blows in practice, but are still friends after. "The ceiling for him is really high. I think he's got a lot of potential."
Facing Denard in practice is helpful, because you're never going to see a guy like that in the opposition. Helps learn pursuit angles, but it's frustrating to chase him on D.
"I think it's a common misconception that if you play to your assignment, you can get to Denard. That's why we have him out there, because he breaks your assignment."
Martin - "Since he's playing in that 0 head-up on the center..." people are doubling him up, but they don't get there in time because he can get rid of the center before the guard can get over. Credits his quickness to wrestling.
RVB's role on the D is to help break down the Xs and Os for the younger guys.
RVB's mom is telling him to keep it up. "She's happy with the way we've been playing."
Lewan competes on each and every play, he shows the nasty streak in practices.
The D knew they had to come out aggressive to improve from the UMass game. Worked on tackling, but still need more improvement. "A lot better energy going into the game, and I just think we were a lot more focused."
The defense is versatile, they have a lot of different schemes, and can put guys in many positions to make plays. Can disguise things, etc.
"We definitely remember what it was like 4-0 last year. We know this year we can't get our heads big." Need to continue to progress.
"Playing at Notre Dame was a great experience." It gave the young guys a chance to get ready for a hostile atmosphere.
Indiana is a Big Ten team, the Wolverines can't look ahead to MSU. "No chance. We look at each game like it's the most important game of the season."
IU's receivers are another challenge to step up to. "They're definitely a talented bunch."
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.
On Heisman hype: "I don't pay attention to none of that." He doesn't have cable,and doesn't go on websites that talk about it. For entertainment "I like being around my teammates, and around the players." The opinion on him has really changed: "A lot of people doubted me last year... I really don't care what other people think about me."
Staying humble: "My mom raised me to be humble, and always keep your eyes on the prize, and on you go." Can't get a big head. People back home tell Denard he's gotta keep going "It's not the end." What is the prize to aim for? "Try to keep winning for Michigan. Be all-in."
Are teams trying to knock him out? Yeah, but you can't control that. "I guess you've gotta be ready to take blows like that, shots like that." He's a little sore, but you've gotta get through it.Denard is stronger and faster than he was in high school. Can take more of a pounding, reads defenses better. "You get better when you get to the next level because you have great coaching."
Other teams recruiting him said receiver, corner. Michigan's pitch was "you'll be a quarterback unless you want to play something different."
Growing up, he watched "Charles Woodson, you gotta say the great guys who came through Michigan" but watched the great players from the Florida teams. Mostly receivers, RBs, guys with the ball in their hands. He's never talked to him or met Pat White, but it's an honor to be compared to him. "That's somebody that's set records." Denard has watched lots of tape of him. Great runner and passer. "Same thing they listed me at: as an athlete."
"When the offensive linemen are blocking like that and it's god-willing, I can do whatever."
QBs are a happy family. "We're all brothers on this team." Tate, Devin, Jack happy for him after the game. The team is having fun. "Just starving to get better."
The RBs are all-in for Michigan, and nobody's going against each other. "Michael Shaw is a tough, tough dude." He tells Denard to make the read, and if he has to pull the ball, so be it.
Punting - Practiced it a lot, and RR makes a big deal about QBs being able to punt. "I wouldn't like to punt. We don't want to punt any balls."
"Classmates, they don't really say to much. They probably just say 'great game, and just keep doing it.'"
"Both of my parents like smiling. My whole family smiles all the time. It's just something that goes through my family, I guess."
"Denard is probably the best person that could have all this fame." He can handle it, and doesn't seek it out. "He's not gonna get taken by the storm."
RBs - "Our running backs are forming. Denard's been taking a lot of it as we all know. they're going to step up and they're gonna be big."
Ranking doesn't change his view of the season "I don't like the attention that comes with all of it." Would rather see the team stick together. The team came in ranked 80th, now 20th, will change other teams' view of them.
"Everyone's more mature, no one's making mistakes" frorm last year.
OL is doing well, but there are always places to improve. Will find and make those improvements over the course of the season. Playing center in a spread offense is "probably no different than any other center in the country." He starts with the ball, so his screwups look bad. It's nothing he can't handle. "Offensive line play, in my eyes, really doesn't change. I just get to hit people, snap the ball."
On fan perception of Rich Rod: "They hate him when we lose, and they love him when we win."
It was amazing to see guys come together when drives would stall because of mistakes. "It was more come together: 'we know we need a drive.'"
"We don't really look at rankings. We're still playing like we're ranked 80th in the nation." The players all citing the 80th ranking is not a marketing ploy, it was the truth coming in. They're trying to earn everybody's respect back. Anything provides motivation.
Is it tough to get up for a powderpuff? There's no such thing. "We saw that with App State. We underestimated them, and it'll never happen again." Michigan will give their all against every team.
The defense wasn't low about allowing the last ND touchdown. "It happened one play ago, so we have to flush that in order to be ready for the next play." During Michigan's game-winning drive, Banks was just reminding everyone to stay focused and be ready to get back out there.
UConn and ND have great OLs, not taking anything away from them "we can only focus on what we can do."
Doesn't matter what year it is, "The Notre Dame game is the Notre Dame game. Big either way you look at it."
Can't replace Brandon Graham. It's not the player they're filling, it's the position. "I can only play within my limits. I talk to him every day before the game, before practice." Graham is a mentor. "He's a great friend of mine that I'll have for the rest of my life."
Preparing for an FCS team - "just gotta stay humble. Go out and prepare every week like it's the biggest game of the year." Prepare the same way as other games. Didn't see any of JMU's win against Virginia Tech. "I didn't see any of it, so I don't know."
UMass receivers - get scouting books today and learn more about them.
Michael Floyd "I kind of picked of some of his tendencies early from watching film." Prepared well for him. You have to watch as much film as you can for a little advantage over an exceptional opponent.
Denard off the field "He's a great kid. He's only a sophomore, but the kid's a leader." First one to workouts, etc. "Boy's a speedster. When I see him, I just look at it like it's a track meet. He's just gonna cross that goal line and be a champion."
DBs get together as a unit to watch film "I gotta help these young cats out a little bit." Help them use the film system, etc. Cam Gordon- "Cam's a hard worker. Me and Cam worked out together over the summertime." He'll watch the film and get better - he's his own biggest critic.
Comfort level - "I go out and play, just have fun every week. I feel that I've got nothing to lose." Have fun, play with enthusiasm. Always get out there and have fun with it. Saw Woolfolk's injury and any position switch as an opportunity. "I knew when Troy went down, I knew I had to step up my leadership as a senior."
Half the team probably doesn't even know they're ranked.
Denard "He's the best, man. He's a real down-to-earth guy... I can't say enough good things about him, I'm just proud to be on this team with him."
Jonas Mouton - "Man, I love having him on my side." He's a great ommunicator, always gives 110%.
Extremely impressed with James Rogers's play against ND. "He's always had the work ethic," and just needed a bit of game experience.
The goal is always to win for Michigan. Stay focused and keep the hunger.
"It was one of the most exciting games I've ever been a part of." Confidence "I definitely believe this is a step in the positive direction." Still a lot of stuff that needs to be patched up. The road victory is something that can be attributed to hard work and preparation.
UMass has a good group of receivers. Work hard to prepare for them.
On his interception: "It was a big weight off my shoulders, just getting that first one. It's aways elusive." The secondary did well, had some good plays. Gave up a couple plays they wish they could have back.
Unfair perception of the secondary - it's just something out there, everyone's inexperienced. "Every week we've just gotta go out there and prove we really belong here."
Video reminder: they pop up!
Substitution notes: Michigan did make the move I suggested they might in the season preview: on passing downs they lifted the Sagesse/Banks platoon, bringing in Mike Williams as a linebacker and using Roh as a DE on a three man line. Several times they used a four-man line with Mouton and Roh the DEs and Martin/RVB the DTs.
Sagesse and Banks seemed to split the snaps about evenly. Black and Patterson got spot snaps early and more extensive time later as the game seemed in hand. Moundros got one drive in the second quarter; Herron got one drive; Jones was in the nickel package and briefly spotted Mouton when he got a cramp. Thomas Gordon got one drive early and then replaced Johnson when he went out injured.
There was no substitution in the secondary (shock!) until the final, uncharted drive.
Formation notes: It's a 3-3-5 stack unless you are a football coach, in which case it is very close to but not quite a 3-3-5 stack if you believe Rodriguez and Robinson. This is what it looks like on most plays:
And that's a stack. When the opposition goes 3x1, this is what happens:
Still a stack, just a stack reacting to a 3x1.
Sometimes Roh hops down to be a DE:
You may recognize this from last year; I called it 4-4 under since it is a shifted line, this one away from the (nominal) strength of the formation. Michigan has put RVB out by himself like they did Graham last year, so Roh is doing the exact same thing he did a year before.
I had Michigan down for 40 snaps identified as a stack, 5 in double eagle (which is a short-yardage version of the stack), 5 in the 4-4 under, 5 in which they were in their "nickel rush" package in which it's that four man line with Mouton and Roh as DEs described above, and two goal line plays. 45 of 57 plays is 79% stack, which is even stackier than I thought the defense would be in the Five Questions section of the season preview. That could be an artifact of the opponent and a relatively comfortable day in which Michigan could put away much of the playbook, but, seriously people, all that talk about how it's "not a 3-3-5" and is a "multiple" defense was bunk. It smokes a cigar constantly and gets very frustrated with Jimmy McNulty.
Anyway, on with the show:
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA Bubble Screen||C. Gordon||-1|
|UConn opens up with a PA run fake and then throws a bubble; Michigan has three guys in an area with three receivers because Floyd, Johnson, and Gordon are out there. Gordon(+1) reads it and keeps the WR inside of him, where Roh(+0.5) cleans up. No blocks defeated but contain kept. (Tackling +1, Cover +1)|
|O38||2||11||Shotgun Trips TE||?||Run||Power||Mouton||-3|
|First of what I'm told will be a profusion of awful directorial decisions. UConn gets to the line quickly and snaps the ball as we're doing player introductions. As we come back Mouton and Kovacs are nailing the RB for a sizeable loss. +1 Banks for holding up to a straight double and giving no ground; +1 Mouton for recognizing and getting to the hole before the pulling guard has any chance to get on him. Kovacs also kept contain.|
|O35||3||14||Shotgun Trips Bunch||3-3-5 stack||Penalty||False Start||--||-5|
|Banks out, Jones in, Roh to DE on third and long. Also oops.|
|O30||3||19||Shotgun Trips Bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Hitch||Roh||Inc|
|Michigan rushes three and gets Both Martin(+1) and Roh(+1) through blockers, Martin through a double-team. (Pressure +2). With eight guys in coverage and two guys in his face he has no chance and chucks a hitch well short of a receiver who was going to get like three yards even if he catches it.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q. That went better than expected.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide bunch||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone read stretch||Kovacs||7|
|Banks(-2) blown back, crushed to the point where RVB on the backside is closer to the running back than he is. Martin(+1) tears through the line and threatens a tackle for loss, forcing the running back upfield a bit, delaying him. This doesn't matter because Kovacs(-1) takes a block and gets blown back by a WR, forcing Mouton to scrape over the top of him, tripping as he goes. He falls(-1), getting into the lineman's feet; Floyd(+1) comes up on the outside to maintain leverage on the ball and manages to get in a diving shoe-string tackle. Dangerously close to a long gainer.|
|O27||2||3||Shotgun 2-back||4-4 under||Pass||Throwback screen||Mouton||4|
|Martin is stunting around and ends up tacking a block from one of the guards releasing downfield; he's there but occupied. Kovacs(+0.5) recognizes the play quickly, coming up outside as Martin gets past his blocker. This forces the RB inside to Mouton(+0.5), who delivers a thumping tackle but ends up falling backwards because this is the FB, not the TB. Everyone did all right. Tackling +1 I guess.|
|O31||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||4-4 under||Run||Lead draw||Ezeh||8|
|I sighed in involuntary disgust here, as Ezeh(-2) completely fails to read the draw and goes into a pass drop. Mouton's attacking the LOS on a jammed-up frontside, leaving a big hole between RVB (the weakside DE in the under this year, a la BG last year), and Martin fighting through a double. Roh's slant will get him to the RB if there's the slightest delay--if Ezeh just meets the fullback, but there's no one there, Ezeh eats the fullback six yards downfield, and it's up to Mouton to run him down from behind.|
|O39||2||2||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Pass||FB dumpoff||--||15|
|Mouton and Floyd blitz; Banks(+1) manages to trundle past the tackle on an inside slant, leaving two guys in Frazer's face(pressure +1), but the flat is wide open(cover -2) for the FB. This looks like a busted coverage given how close Roh and Ezeh are to Kovacs and Johnson, but it's hard to tell who it's on. (RPS -1),|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide bunch||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Mouton?||20|
|Doomed from the start. Mouton(-1) is up tight to the line outside Banks; he and Banks slant inside at the snap, with Banks actually banging into Martin as those three guys run themselves up the middle of the field as two UConn players pull around. Roh is cut to the ground by two guys, Ezeh has no chance but uselessly run inside a blocker, Floyd eats an OL, and there's a guy into the secondary with blockers. Kovacs forces him inside where Gordon(-0.5) fails to wrap up (tackling -1) but does manage to get the guy to fall on his spin move; other secondary members were there to clean up anyway. (RPS -2),|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA Post||C. Gordon||Inc|
|Dive fake to a pass play with some room in the middle for this post near the goal line as Gordon is late arriving, but not too late. The throw is low and in front of the receiver, taking the guy off his feet and making this probably a 1; Gordon might have had an opportunity to blast the guy if it had been more on target. Receiver cannot dig it out. No pressure at all on a three man rush. (Pressure -1),|
|M26||2||10||I-Form twins||4-4 under||Run||Power off tackle||Sagesse||3|
|Roh moves down late and Gordon comes up as another LB, giving about nine guys in the box, give or take Johnson. Mouton and Kovacs set up outside their blockers; Sagesse(+1) holds up against a double, leaving Ezeh(-0.5) a free hitter. He sets up and dives at the RB's feet, taking him off balance but turning zero yards into three; Roh cleans up from the backside. ,|
|M23||3||7||Shotgun trips||Nickel rush||Pass||Screen||Martin||Inc|
|Bangesse pulled for Mike Jones; four man undershifted line w/ Roh, RVB, Martin, and Mouton. Mouton(+1) tears through the LT with a juke move and Roh(+1) roars around the corner. This is actually a fake-right, throw-back-left screen, but Martin(+1) has chopped the RB down in the backfield (no PI behind LOS) and there's no one to go to, so Frazer chucks it into the ground. (Pressure +1) Note that the pass rush moves by Roh and Mouton were legit; neither tackle was looking to release downfield.,|
|Drive Notes: Blocked FG(41), 7-0, 4 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||WR wheel||Johnson||Inc|
|UConn runs a fairly unconvincing bubble screen fake that draws Gordon up on the innermost receiver to the trips side. Johnson(-2) stares at the QB and then goes to the fake, vacating a ton of space behind him on a wheel route for a receiver who heads beyond him. The wide open pass dies in the wind and Michigan is fortunate to escape without giving up 20 yards (Cover -2) Another three man rush; Martin does get to jump at Frazer but can't bat it down.|
|O20||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||Van Bergen||4|
|Looks like a zone stretch in the backfield, but down blocks on the line and two linemen pull around on counter action. Van Bergen(+1) avoids a cut from one of the pulling linemen, hops over the guy, and tackles as the guy passes the LOS. Not sure what to make of Roh here, as he dangerously goes around the wide receiver blocking him when he's got unblocked guys to the outside. He comes around him fast enough to get in on the tackle. Good or bad?|
|O24||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel rush||Pass||Cross||Roh||Inc|
|Mouton DE, Martin and RVB DTs, Roh a standup DE, two LB, Johnson lined up basically as a nickelback. Michigan sends six. Roh(+1) doesn't even have to make a move, he just runs right by the tackle, forcing Frazer into an early throw and ending the drive. (Pressure +1) Good chance a crossing route would have come open against Floyd without the pressure.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q.|
|O26||1||10||I-Form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Pin and pull zone||Ezeh||-1|
|See the Smart Football link for a detailed explanation, but basically the two OL on the playside who are lined up to the playside of their guy block down as the other two pull around. Here Martin(+1) fights through his block and absorbs the pulling guy, allowing Ezeh(+1) to attack, drawing the FB's block and delaying the RB. Martin and Sagesse combine to tackle.|
|O25||2||11||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Jailbreak screen||Rogers||8|
|Ball is way behind the intended receiver and drags him back and outside, turning this into something like an impromptu bubble. Thomas Gordon is in the game and out there along with Rogers; both guys try to get outside leverage, giving the receiver time to hit it up behind the WR blocking for him; Ezeh's not fast enough to get out there. Rogers and Ezeh combine to tackle. Er... I think I'm going to hit Rogers with a -0.5, and probably Ezeh, too, since he did not react that quickly.|
|O33||3||3||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 eagle||Pass||Quick hitch||Rogers||Inc|
|Looks like one of Shafer's old Okie packages with a three deep shell and eight guys threatening something at the LOS, and then the LBs back out and it just looks like a 3-3-5. Another three man rush, UConn has quick throw on; Rogers(+1) is sitting on the little out by the #2 WR and attackis it, breaking it up(!) and even if he hadn't probably tackling short of the sticks. (Cover +1, RPS +1),|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 12 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Corner||Johnson||21|
|Similar problem to the earlier pass in which Johnson got lost and let a guy behind him. Play action fake doesn't really fool anyone as M drops into zone. Johnson(-2) gets a bit of a chuck and then no depth at all, instead running a few yards away from Roh, guarding no one in particular. This time they actually hit the wide open guy for big yardage. (Cover -2, Pressure -1). Another three man rush, this one totally neutralized.|
|M42||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Quick out||Floyd||9|
|JT Floyd must be faking a blitz because he heads towards the QB for a few steps and then starts backing out; it is too late since they're just running one of these quick outs and he's the flat guy. Easy pitch and catch and YAC. RPS-1. Coverage -1.|
|M33||2||1||I-Form 3-wide||4-4 under||Run||Iso||Moundros||0|
|Roh moves down. Moundros is in; he and Mouton (+0.5 each) both tear into the hole, with Mouton standing up an OL and Moundros the FB; Roh(+0.5) comes from the backside to clean up after the mess.|
|M33||3||1||I-Form Big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Roh||4|
|Either Roh or Moundros screws up because they both head inside and one guy blocks both. Blocker gets driven back a bit and ends up tripping the OL pulling through the hole, allowing Floyd to dart by him and deliver a solid tackle(+1). I blame Roh on review: -1.|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle?||Mouton||0|
|Late getting to this play; as we get to it two OL have pulled around and are trying to block Kovacs, Mouton, and Moundros. Mouton(+2) avoids a cut block, leaping over it to deliver a thumping tackle(+1) for no gain.|
|M29||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Quick out||Rogers||Inc|
|Quick pass zinged high and through the hands of the intended receiver. Rogers(+1) read it well and was coming up to pound the guy on the catch anyway. (Cover +1),|
|M29||3||10||Shotgun Trips TE||Nickel rush||Pass||TE Cross||Kovacs||8|
|Rush package. Michigan sends six, with Martin(+1) breaking through and threatening terrible things; Frazer has to throw. He does to his TE, who catches it and is immediately tackled (+1, tackle +1, cover +1, RPS+1) by Kovacs short of the sticks.|
|M21||4||2||I-Form Big||3-3-5 eagle||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||2|
|This is actually a great play and a stop. Mouton(+1) blasts downhill at the fullback and nails him at the LOS, forcing him back; Banks(+1) shucks the LT, comes under the other puling guard, meets to tackle at the LOS, and gets the hefty Shoemate down seemingly short of the first down. They give him the spot. Maybe I'm wrong... they never show a replay.|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun Trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power dive(?)||Martin||0|
|Features a guard pulling around the center, who single blocks Martin, and by single blocks Martin I mean tries to single block Martin. Martin(+2) pwns the guy, comes around, and tackles with some help from Mouton(+0.5).|
|M19||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||TE Cross||Moundros||Inc|
|House sent, getting Moundros free up the middle. He leaps and bats the pass(+1, pressure +1, RPS+1). Floyd may have been in position to do something about it right after the catch, but maybe not.|
|M19||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 nickel?||Pass||Dumpoff||Roh||3|
|Kovacs drops back to safety depth; Johnson takes up a position behind the linebackers. Don't know what to call this. Three man rush finds no one open or near the QB until Roh(+0.5) threatens to spring free, forcing the dumpoff that Moundros and Rogers(+0.5) snuff. Cover +1.|
|Drive Notes: FG(32), 21-3, 4 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O23||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide bunch||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Fly||Gordon||Inc|
|Three man rush, so Frazer has plenty of time (pressure -1) to step up and bomb; the pass is long. Receiver had a step on Gordon(-1, cover -1).|
|O23||2||10||Shotgun Trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Flare screen||Ezeh||Inc|
|I don't know WTF this is, but it develops late and has no prayer to work since Ezeh(+0.5) and Rogers(+0.5) react in time for there to be two guys ready to pound this guy behind the LOS; he drops the ball anyway. Some execution error on UConn's part, surely.|
|O23||3||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||Dig||Ezeh?||21|
|Another three man rush and plenty of time (pressure -1); this time Frazer finds someone well downfield between guys in the zone and nails him. I don't really blame Ezeh since there's a number of guys who this could be on. Wouldn't surprise me if this is Carvin getting too deep since he seem too close to the safeties. (Cover –2)|
|O44||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel rush||Pass||Cross||Floyd||Inc|
|Corner blitz gets Roh a free run (pressure +1, RPS+1); Frazer dumps it to a crossing route that the guy drops; Floyd(+0.5) was probably in position to tackle. (Cover +1)|
|O44||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||HItch||Floyd||Inc|
|Johnson(+1) blitzes this time, spooking Frazer into the throw (pressure +1) that short hops; Floyd(+0.5) again seemingly in position to tackle for no YAC afterwards. (Cover +1)|
|O44||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel rush||Pass||Dig||Kovacs||47|
|Mouton(+1) smokes the RT and gets in on Frazer(pressure +1). He has to chuck it and does as Kovacs(-2) vacates the middle of the field for some unknown reason. If he just sits back on third and ten he has a deflection or pick. Pass should be caught but is juggled ridiculously, causing Cam Gordon(-2) to alter his path to the receiver because he's going after the ball, that receiver eventually hauls in. Gordon whiffs, Floyd drags him down inside the ten. Cover –2, tackling –2.|
|M9||1||G||Shotgun Trips TE||3-3-5 stack?||Run||Power off tackle||Mouton||2|
|Get to this play at the snap as the tackles are pulling around. RVB(+1) is quick enough from the backside of the play that the backside tackle bumps into him and gets slowed down, allowing Mouton(+1) to knife upfield and meet the RB at the line; Herron jumps on his back and the pile falls the wrong way.,|
|M7||2||G||I-Form Big||3-3-5 eagle||Run||Down G||Ezeh||4|
|Mouton(+0.5) again slashes upfield, taking out a blocker; Ezeh(-1) waits and gets blown way downfield and pancaked. If he had held up a little bit the cavalry would have arrived sooner (Herron again) and the gain held down.|
|M3||3||G||I-Form Big||Goal line||Run||Power off tackle||Ezeh||2|
|Kovacs(-1) blitzes into the pull to spill' the play but to do that he's got to make a pile, instead he just gets plowed by the FB. Danger. Roh's coming from behind and starts tripping the guy, Mouton cuts off the outside, Ezeh(+1) fights through the Kovacs traffic to grab Todman. Gordon(+1) delivers the final blow to stop his momentum short.|
|M1||4||G||I-Form Big||Goal line||Run||Power off tackle||--||1|
|They rush to the line and snap it before M gets set. Frustrating no TO. (RPS-2.)|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-10, EOH|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Flare screen||T. Gordon||0|
|Excellent job by T. Gordon(+1) to gets outside the #2 WR's block and shoot directly inoo the FB's path. He's forced to cut inside, where RVB(+0.5) had avoided a cut and tackles the flying FB for no gain. (Cover +1.)|
|O39||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter pitch||Ezeh||17|
|Counter step like this is going to be a stretch, then the RB heads out for a quick pitch; sort of like what we tried to run last year with the edge pitch that never really came off. Kovacs(+1) reads and attacks, getting past the blocker and threatening to tackle. Mouton(-1) does the same but takes a shove that could be a block in the back and gets shoved out of the way, yielding a hole because Ezeh(-2) is outside the guard who pulled around the other side to block the backside DE. RB can cut inside, running by RVB and into the secondary where Floyd and Gordon tackle.|
|M44||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Broken play||Roh||-4|
|This is supposed to be a power play but the RB goes to pass block. Frazer is dead meat; Roh(+2) does a nice job of avoiding a cut and taking him down for a loss.|
|M48||2||14||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 stack||Pass||PA Corner||Mouton||19|
|Mouton(-2) sucks up on second and fourteen and then drops straight back, ending up no more than two yards from Ezeh on his zone drop and leaving a huge area along the sidelines for UConn to exploit. Floyd(-1) failed to get any depth in a cover two, taking the short guy instead of the deep one. Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to tackle(+1) immediately (cover -2). RVB(+0.5) was getting there on a three-man rush.|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Ezeh||9|
|Power play they just messed up; Michigan blitzes two guys on the backside of the play, leaving a lot of room and not many guys to the run side. (RPS-1) Martin(-1) is doubled and taken out of the play, then continues to attempt to get upfield instead of spinning back in case there's a tackle opportunity. Meanwhile, Ezeh and Mouton are taking on a WR and a pulling OL; both go outside, leaving Todman an opportunity to cut past Ezeh and into open space. Should Ezeh(-1) attempt to send Todman outside to his help? Yeah, probably. He definitely shouldn't just thunk into the OL and fall over, which he does. Gordon does make a solid tackle(+1).|
|M20||2||1||Shotgun 4-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter pitch||Mouton||4|
|Same blocking but the counter step and the pitch out. This time Ezeh does recognize it and starts heading out to follow the back, but it doesn't matter because Kovacs(+0.5) and Mouton(+0.5) are all over it; this time Mouton doesn't get a debatably legal shove in the back and tackles, albeit weakly, yielding a first down.|
|M16||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Down G||Mouton||6|
|Roh(+1) times a blitz into the heart of the line well, drawing a guard and erasing the pulling OL. Kovacs(+1) reads it, beats an OL block, and hops around the guy to grab and tackle; Mouton(-1) should be a free hitter here since Roh took two blockers but he stepped away from the play to start and has not given himself an angle to attack. Instead of finishing Kovacs' tackle with a thump he runs by and watches Kovacs dragged a considerable distance.|
|M10||2||4||I-Form Big||3-3-5 eagle||Run||Power off tackle||Ezeh||1|
|Pulling guard slips as he comes around the line, allowing Ezeh(+0.5) and Gordon to tackle pretty much unmolested. ,|
|M9||3||3||Wildcat||3-3-5 stack||Run||QB power||Mouton||3|
|Mouton(+1) reads and blasts the leading guard, allowing Ezeh a free hit. He forms up and lowers his shoulder, getting the tackle just short of the sticks. Would like it if he was a little faster to the hole and brought some momentum.|
|M6||4||In||I-Form Big||3-3-5 eagle||Run||Down G||Floyd||-4|
|Mouton blitzes and is erased by a downblock; Kovacs kicked out, Ezeh manages to get past one guard only to get crushed off his feet by a second; Floyd is free and fills, putting his head on the ball(+2), jarring it free; Ezeh has it pop to him, recovering.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 24-10, 2 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Play||Player||Yards|
|O28||1||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Hitch||Floyd||Inc|
|Looks like some miscommunication as the receiver is not near the ball at all. Floyd(+1, cover +1) is, and if this is a little lower he's got a shot at a pick.|
|O28||2||10||Shotgun 2-back||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Angle||Patterson||Inc|
|Michigan rushes two(!), dropping Patterson into a short zone in front of the fullback that happens to be where Frazer's outlet is. The ball clanks off Patterson's pads. (RPS+1, cover+1, Patterson+1.)|
|O28||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Dumpoff||Mouton||9|
|Roh and Mouton blitz off the edges, with Mouton(+1) coming around and threatening a sack; Jibreel Black(+1) has also fought through, preventing Frazer from stepping up. He has to get rid of it, picking a five-yard dumpoff to the FB. Floyd(-1) has dropped into that deep zone that the corner routes were exploiting earlier and does not react quickly enough to tackle at the snap; Ezeh(-0.5) is in decent position but his tackle attempt is mostly powered through, setting up fourth and short instead of fourth and two. (Pressure +1)|
|O37||4||1||I-Form Big||4-4 under||Run||Iso||--||2|
|Todman burrows for the first. Martin has been out most of the last two drives, BTW, and Black is playing in RVB's stead--they're basically packing it in. Black does get through the line and almost finds himself in position to thump this, but not quite.|
|O39||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power dive||Ezeh||14|
|Martin(-1) is pass rushing and gets way out of position, opening a crease. Ezeh(-1) sits there, not challenging a blocker, and gets pushed out of the way without delaying a tailback; Roh(-1) starts a pass drop too soon and can't recover. I guess some of this is understandable given the situation, but Roh should tackle(-1) anyway and does not.|
|M47||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Dumpoff||--||Inc|
|Martin(+1) is triple(!) teamed on a three-man rush and still manages to claw through to spook Frazer into a throw to the underneath dumpoff (cover +1), which the guy can't handle, dropping it instead of getting his five yards.|
|M47||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||Martin||15|
|Martin(-1) appears to be pass rushing again, hopping to the wrong side of the C here and getting single-blocked, which leaves two guys pulling and another two releasing. Roh(-1) comes up too hard to the outside, getting kicked out; Ezeh(-1) just gets shoved out of the play.|
|M32||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Pin and pull zone||Ezeh||4|
|Jones(-1) is tardy reading the play and bumps into Ezeh, causing him to trip a little; Ezeh(+1) however, is reading it fast and flows to the hole well enough to get a diving tackle. Kovacs(+0.5) squeezed it down so the RB would have to cut back into help.|
|M28||2||6||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||Quick out||Rogers||Inc|
|Variation on the long handoff, I guess, as the outside WRs run slants and the inside guy runs parallel to the LOS, turning back for the ball. He drops it; didn't matter since Michigan was going to crush it anyway. (Rogers +1, cover +1)|
|M28||3||6||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Power off tackle||Banks||3|
|Michigan sends the house but UConn manages to run by it. (RPS-2) Michigan is very fortunate that Banks(+1) can make a diving tackle on the TB, otherwise he scores.|
|M25||4||3||Shotgun trips TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||Ezeh||2|
|Same counter they were just gashed on. Roh(+0.5) manages to squeeze down enough for the RB to run up in an area where Ezeh(+2) has a chance. He's blocked but he discards the guy and makes a lunging tackle that sees the RB short of the sticks.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 30-10, 9 min 4th Q. Michigan strangles the game; the last Uconn drive was meaningless and saw Michigan adopt a prevent; it's not charted.|
I'm noticing a distinct lack of ichor seeping from the clawed-out holes that used to be my eyes.
Yeah, that was dodgy but far from the worst-case scenario.
They completed less that half their passes!
Yeah, how about that. How about that.
|Van Bergen||3||-||3||Not exactly BG, but I don't think he has to be if it's a stack.|
|Martin||8||3||5||Late minuses for getting too pass-rush-y. Demands doubles. Good start.|
|Banks||5||2||3||Line will probably be something akin to this all year.|
|Patterson||1||-||1||Had ball thrown into chest.|
|TOTAL||19||5||14||Were working uphill most of the day with Michigan going to a lot of three-man rushes, so this is okay.|
|Ezeh||6||9.5||-3.5||Well, when you're almost beaten out by a walk-on it's for a reason.|
|Mouton||11.5||6||5.5||Smells like progress. DE moonlighting was effective.|
|Roh||7.5||3||4.5||Odd reliance on three man rushes.|
|Johnson||1||4||-3||Culprit on one long pass play and another that should have been a long pass play.|
|Jones||-||1||-1||Part of the pass defense package, FWIW.|
|Moundros||1.5||-||1.5||Not much data.|
|Herron||-||-||-||Did not register a point on his drive.|
|TOTAL||26.5||23.5||3||Going to take a bit to get a feel for the new scheme, but they appeared to do all right. Mouton and Roh are going to be in a lot of backfields.|
|Kovacs||5||4||1||Keeping his head above water.|
|C. Gordon||2||3.5||-1.5||I don't really blame him for the long pass too much.|
|M. Robinson||-||-||-||DNP on D.|
|Ray Vinopal||-||-||-||Spinal Tap's current drummer.|
|Pressure||11||4||7||In retrospect, a better than than I thought.|
|Coverage||12||12||0||Even == major win for any secondary.|
|Tackling||6||4||2||No outright misses.|
|RPS||5||9||-4||Maybe not showing your hand?|
[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.]
Are you telling me that every member of the secondary had a great day except Gordon?
Uh… maybe? UConn's deeper completions were on Kovacs, Ezeh, or Gordon, with the corners mostly hanging out in the flats and punishing short passes, which they did very well. And because of all those short passes the cover number is even. That's a good result for any secondary, let alone what we thought would go down with these guys.
Caveats abound. Michigan dropped eight into coverage a lot. UConn's solitary receiver with any talent got a step on Floyd and Gordon once only to see Frazer miss, and that guy dropped a couple of tough-ish catches. The wind may have prevented UConn from testing Michigan over the top much. Frazer is thoroughly mediocre. They kept dumping it to squat white guys. Etc etc.
But even if all those things were true we've seen magnificently flaming failure time and again from Michigan secondary members. On Saturday the only hint of that was the ridiculous bobbling catch that went for 47 yards, and it's hard to blame Gordon for altering his path when he saw the ball pop skyward and he thought he could intercept it. The rest of the day he took excellent angles to the ball and delivered blows. There was one shoulder-block of a tackle that came as Floyd was wrapping a guy up; other than that and the bomb he looked pretty solid. If every game ends with an opponent's longest run checking in at 20 yards, he will be a hero.
Wither Brandon Graham?
Zero sacks from 38 attempts is not an encouraging statistic. But when I looked at it closer it came out to 11-4 = 7, which is a good, if numerically low day. Mouton, Martin, and Roh flashed hints that they'll be able to get to the passer regularly, and RVB and Black chipped in a little help. On a lot of Frazer's errant or short-of-the-sticks throws he had little choice but to dump it off to the squat white guy lest he eat facemask.
UConn may not be the most talented team Michigan plays this year but it might be the most experienced: Frazer is a senior, as are three of the offensive linemen, with the others a junior and sophomore. They returned for starters on the line and both guys in the backfield. Last year they were solidly above average in sacks allowed despite the statue quarterback; they should be better this year. And they didn't bother trying deep passes or long-developing routes more than a few times. It'll be interesting to see what happens against Notre Dame, as they only return their guards from last year's offensive line and will be starting Dayne Crist for only the second time.
That nickel rush package looks promising. I wouldn't want to try to pass block against Roh, Mouton, Martin, and RVB.
How are the initial returns on the GERG Linebacker Magic theory?
Good, but not great. It's not much of a surprise when you juuuust barely beat out a walk-on for your job but Obi Ezeh's progress has been incremental at best. He did make a nice play on the last defensive play charted up there but there was an awful lot of Ezeh getting shoved around like a rag doll and even one instance of those horrible times last year when he'd go into a pass drop on a run play. I mean:
That's pretty much what his day was like. Do something sort of right, get hammered to the ground. It's really frustrating that the second best option is not only a walk-on but a walk-on who's not even going to be around next year. There are picture pages to follow with more detail.
On the other hand, Jonas Mouton didn't do anything I remember as really frustrating. There were the usual errors that come along with being a linebacker, a couple of instances of late recognition, and maybe a coverage issue or two, but he did look good. Numerically he put in his best day since he was a sophomore.
Roh looked good too. He looked far more dangerous as a pass rusher than he ever did as a freshman and did not make a ton of linebacker errors.
So was this… good?
I don't know. Michigan was playing a lot of bend, don't break and they bent and they didn't break much. Even on UConn's long drives they had to put together fourth down conversions. It would be nice if Michigan could keep those stops a yard or so shorter and force punts, but that seems like random fortune instead of something repeatable.
The shortness of the game—just eight real drives each—overstated how efficient the defense was, so don't let that yardage total influence you too much (especially if you're looking at the sub-300 total from before the last drive. By result:
- Three and outs: 3
- Somewhat fluky two-minute drill touchdowns: 1
- 40-60 yard drives ending in bupkis or FG: 4
I'd be livid if this was 2002, but it's 2010 and the secondary is comprised of baling wire and duct tape. I'll take that, assume opponents can get to 24 points in a normal length game when they don't waste drives like UConn did, and say "outscore them, Denard."
This was the thing about the UConn game: there are only eight clips above. That's less than half the usual number, and that's because there weren't hugelong unexplainable touchdowns that needed to be present so I could give someone a big minus without also providing the evidence; there also weren't many OMG AWESOME plays. Michigan had just 4 TFLs. UConn had 11. It was a boring, boring day from the defense.
Maybe that's not good, exactly. But maybe it's good enough.
The cornerbacks! Jonas Mouton! !!!!
Also less thrillingly weird, Mike Martin.
Ezeh mostly, but Banks, RVB, and Sagesse need to turn in some more plays. RVB did not have a good day.
What does it mean for Notre Dame?
Oh, God, who knows? I'm about 75% of my way through the Purdue game and the offense looks very similar to UConn's except replace Juggly McHusky with Mike Floyd and I'm A Good Big East Back with what looks like a pretty rampage-y Armando Allen and that's a recipe for the above drive breakdown minus the bupkis.
On the other hand, UConn's OL has got to be a bunch better and if Michigan gets pressure by running past the pretty trundling OTs Crist is liable to freak out. In a word: variance.