“On the offense last year, they had great spacing. That’s what I remember. Great spacing, great shooters, like Nik Stauskas, who’s not there right now. But they always have someone to fill the roles. They have a cutting offense, kind of hard to guard.”
Taking stock during the bye week. Previously: secondary.
Following straight on the heels of the secondary preview, the linebacker preview caused more stomach-twisting agony at projected incompetence. Craig Roh was covered as a defensive lineman, leaving Mouton, Ezeh/Walk-on, and Freshman Spur Rotation the guys covered here.
Mouton and Ezeh were lumped together as close to interchangeable backers and given a two, except it was actually Mouton and Moundros evaluated as starters. Doom was projected at MLB:
…"sparsely deployed walk-on fullback to starting middle linebacker" is as much of a flashing sign that says DOOM as anything I've ever seen.
On the other hand, during the Illinois game last year Ezeh actually ran out of a hole Juice Williams was about to enter with the ball so he could chase after a running back. It looked insane, causing me to dig out the "run away" bit of "Janie's Got A Gun" and the fake Magic card you see at right. By the end of the year whatever hope remained for Ezeh was vestigial indeed; merely having options other than him could maybe possibly hopefully slightly improve matters?
All that was offered in hope was "Ezeh won't get worse and if he's replaced the guy doing the replacing will be better than him." When it came to address the backups, I was expecting "some" improvement from Ezeh thanks to the exit of Jay Hopson and the usual leveling up that comes through experience. The Enigmatic Kenny Demens was indeed dubbed The Enigmatic Kenny Demens; the tea leaves were not encouraging on him because he'd gone from pushing for a job in spring to all but absent in fall.
Mouton was declared a wildly inconsistent guy hopped up on bad angles but theoretically capable of becoming a "ruthless Crable-like playmaker." That was just a theory, though:
Unlike the situation at middle linebacker, it seems within the realm of possibility Mouton's light goes on and the talent he's flashed the past couple years turns into an All Big Ten kind of season. To deploy a cliche, he is the X factor, the guy with the greatest possible variance in his play on the defense. I'd settle for a return to his 2008 level; he is capable of more. There's a 25% chance he's awesome, a 50% chance he's okay, and a 25% chance he gets benched.
Mike Jones came in for the most pub as a backup.
His [Johnson's] recruiting profile picked him out as a true sleeper likely to exceed his relatively modest rankings based on local praise and late SEC offers, and while my usual heuristics lead me to be skeptical about a true freshman beating out a redshirt freshman with nary a fourth star to be seen, I've just got that feeling—what's it called—you know—optimism. Optimism enough to throw this position a 2, anyway. While two less-than-touted freshmen are not likely to be average Big Ten players in year one, I don't think we'll be looking back at 2010 and saying "oh God, what about that mess at spur."
Fast forward to NOW!
Mouton has settled into the broad 50% level where he is okay, in no danger of getting benched or making an All Big Ten team at year's end. He's come in for clucking on two separate Picture Pages wherein tailbacks got outside of him despite having a clear mandate to maintain contain. Despite this, he's been in the black most of the year on the UFR chart and has turned in some huge positive plays:
Mouton leads the team in tackles and is in a big pack of guys with around 5 TFLs. Though he hasn't made the senior leap he was capable of he is appreciably better than last year and is going to get some NFL team to take a swing at him in the draft.
Ezeh managed to hold off the challenge from Moundros largely because when Moundros came in he looked exactly like you'd expect a fullback to look at linebacker. The problem was that Ezeh looked like a fullback, too:
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. … The ugly fate foretold by the "Mark Moundros could start" preseason meme appears to be coming true.
That was after Ezeh scored a –8 against a I-AA team. That may have been harsh but if you're arguing that a –8 against UMass for a senior middle linebacker is really a –4 you're really just arguing about how obvious his future benching is. Frustratingly obvious, or eye-bleedingly obvious?
It was apparently the former. Ezeh hung onto his job until the Michigan State game, when a bizarre scheme that saw him fly out of the center of the defense on two long MSU touchdown runs was replaced by the usual thing where he was asked to read and react and did only the first:
The MSU game was finally enough. Michigan turned to The Enigmatic Kenny Demens, who'd been enigmatically buried on the depth chart. Placed on the field he hit the right gaps, made a number of tackles at or near the line of scrimmage, and could not be fingered for anything particularly negative that went on. Contrast the above clip with this:
I've got plenty more of the first clip to prove the trend. Demens hasn't seen enough time to prove anything but at the very least he's suggested he's already an upgrade as a sophomore. It wouldn't have taken much.
At spur it has been super boring. Johnson got knocked out of the UConn game and missed the next few weeks. He's reclaimed the starting spot after healing but he and Gordon alternate so much that it's hard to tell who is who. It doesn't help that neither of them has done much of anything good or bad. The hope was that maybe Cam Gordon would be able to pull the Brandent Englemon 1-0-1 this year. He hasn't come anywhere close, but the spurs are doing almost exactly that. Between them they have 25 tackles, 3.5 for loss and the one impressive sack of Dayne Crist.
Is that good? On this defense it qualifies. A couple freshmen are not huge issues. The 2 they were handed in the preview seems about right.
Fast forward to LATER!
Mouton is what he is at this point. He'll use his combo of size and speed to nail down a fair share of impressive plays; his iffy angles and pursuit will open up the outside and cutbacks. His pass drops have gotten much better. He's probably going to end the year as Michigan's leading tackler and have maybe 10 TFLs. He's not a star. He's not a liability. Except he's both. It all averages out to an average-ish Big Ten linebacker.
Rotating Spur Freshman should improve as the season progresses and the collective's eyes get less wide, but it's hard to see a lot of plays from Johnson and Gordon until 2011 when one of them can get a solid grip on the job and can focus on doing a bit more than not screwing up. But they're not screwing up—or at least not screwing up much compared to other spots. One negative: they must be iffy in pass coverage in practice if the exploitable nickel package has persisted this far into its erratic 2010.
The upside in the unit comes in the form of The Enigmatic Kenny Demens, who turned in a legitimately good—not good-for-being-not-Ezeh—game against Iowa. It is highly likely he is better than Ezeh right now. It is unlikely he is as good as he showed against an Iowa team that IIRC did not run a counter or anything other than straight zone blocking all day. Where he falls in that continuum from Linebackers Obviously Better Than Ezeh to Legitimately Good will have a huge impact on Michigan's rushing defense the rest of the way.
Prediction accuracy to date: Pretty good, though the preview punted on making a call on Mouton and was taken in by whatever it was that caused Demens to plummet down the depth chart.
Level of play relative to prediction: Slightly optimistic, as Ezeh didn't seem to be any better this year than last.
Expected level of play for remainder of season: Somewhere between slightly and considerably better than predicted depending on how sustainable Demens's play is and how much of an upgrade Carvin Johnson is over Thomas Gordon. The guesses here: 70% sustainable and not much of an upgrade.
Promised last week but Wife Day occupied the designated space.
This week's great linebacker debate is about how I'm sitting in a tree with Kenny Demens, finding reasons to posbang him that would not be reasons to posbang Ezeh or Mouton. That's not really how UFR works on defense. A three-yard run is a usually a +1 for the D, a zero-yarder +2, and a TFL +3—though it's context dependent—and I try to assign credit and blame to get to those numbers. There is wobble when the other team makes an error or there's a rock paper scissors play. If I was going to give Demens positive he didn't deserve they'd be coming off his teammates in the front seven and the only guys to suffer relative to expectations were Rotating Ineffective Nose Tackle and the Banks/Black combo.
Mouton also come in for a big minus and clucking, but I thought that was easily justified by the clips provided. If it's not here's another one. It's late in the third quarter and Iowa has third and three from the Michigan eleven. They come out in an unbalanced formation with a covered TE; Michigan responds with a 4-4:
Iowa will run off the right tackle. At the snap Kovacs blitzes. Banks, the DE to the bottom of the screen, takes on a double team from Iowa's LG and RG; Renaldo Sagesse is getting single blocked by the center:
A moment later Banks and Patterson have both gotten in bad situations. Sagesse is a yard downfield and sealed to the inside. Banks has managed to stick at the LOS but he's about to be effectively comboed and sealed to the inside:
Kovacs gets picked off by the fullback. Roh's gotten a cut on the backside but Gordon is flowing behind him; RVB has gotten down the line to cut off a hole; Sagesse is getting buried by a double downfield. Mouton has set up on the Iowa RT as Banks just kind of sits there at the LOS:
Here's an endzone angle of the last moment:
That's a lot of grass to Mouton's right there. I wonder what he's going to do about that:
Dios ffuuuu, man. This will be clearer on the video but this was not some crazy block by the right tackle here—Mouton fought inside of the guy, sealing himself. The sad thing is that Kenny Demens has cleared the trash from the Sagesse double and is showing up in the hole:
If Mouton is outside the guy he's almost certain to tackle short of the first down…
…but he's not:
Another third-down touchdown from the ten given up by a combo of players but especially one in particular; another four points on the board because of a basic mental error from a Michigan defender. This one is ten times more frustrating than Courtney Avery's because Mouton is a fifth year senior who's been doing this his entire career, including earlier this year against UMass on another egregious play that was picture-paged.
- Either Mouton has suffered the worst kind of coaching malpractice during his career or he's just not all there. Or both, I guess. He should not be making this mistake. He has made this kind of mistake dozens of times. Maybe there's something in the scheme that makes it confusing as to when he's supposed to be the contain guy, but I don't think so. WLBs should know this as part of their DNA. There's a theory floating around that Mouton has gotten used to playing next to Ezeh and now assumes he has to do everything himself and may get all clueful now that he's playing with a linebacker that usually shows up in the right spot at the right time, but I don't think so. It doesn't matter who you're playing next to since hopping inside that tackle is guaranteed doom.
- The defensive line didn't do the linebackers any favors… Other than some sporadic help from RVB and Roh this was par for the course. Here the NT is Sagesse instead of Patterson but the end result is similar to what happened all day: effective combo on Banks gets him passively single-blocked and gives Mouton a tackle to deal with. Combo on whoever the NT is crumples and/or seals the guy.
- …but could this actually be something resembling okay from Sagesse? It's not good by any stretch of the imagination but the reason Demens is flowing into the gap unblocked is because the C could not pop off of Sagesse after shoving him downfield. That mess falls in a heap, meaning that the nose has taken out two blockers. I didn't plus the guy because I thought it was more luck than anything and ending a play on your knees two yards downfield doesn't seem like a strategy sustainable in the long term. I didn't minus him either because he kinda sorta just managed to do his job.
- More good Demens play. He doesn't get blocked but because Sagesse is blown off the LOS this isn't the world's easiest scrape. He makes it and should have an opportunity to tackle if everyone else does their job. It's impossible to say whether or not Ezeh would have made the same scrape, but we've seen enough of him to know that he doesn't do it consistently. He might be standing right where he was at the snap, or he might not have the agility and recognition Demens does to get around the garbage. (FTR, Demens did not get a plus here; Mouton was –2, Banks –1.)
We don't know whether or not Demens does execute this consistently, or whether his run-fill gusto is exploitable with misdirection or play action. His Iowa game was promising, though. I'm sure he'll have some wobbly games during the second half—Iowa was not one. I repeat my stat of wonder and alarm: when Demens was on the field runs that did not pop outside contain because of mistakes by Mouton, Black, and Banks averaged under 2.5 YPC. This happened essentially without Mike Martin. Whatever problems existed with the run D had nothing to do with him.
Mouton, meanwhile, is incredibly frustrating. This year he's turned "big positive, bigger negative" into "big negative, bigger positive" but I'm not going to spend 2011 pining for him. Michigan can't and shouldn't pull him since he makes a lot of good plays; I don't think Michigan's run defense is going to suffer greatly without him.
Hard edge. Via Martell Webb's twitter, here's Webb and Devin Gardner in their CB4 phase:
Needs moar jericurl but pretty good otherwise.
Pay your rent, eh? So Kenny Demens and Boubacar Cissoko have gotten sued for not paying rent. Like, any rent:
Hidden Valley Club Apartments is suing Demens and Cissoko for $9,925, plus interest and attorney fees. The suit, filed in 15th District Court, alleges Demens and Cissoko signed a lease, agreeing to pay $850 each month for an apartment from May 1, 2009, through May 31, 2010. The apartment complex “fully performed all of its obligations under the lease,” the suit claims, but Demens and Cissoko “failed to pay the agreed upon rent.”
Demens was served with the suit Sept. 27, court papers filed this month say. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
…and Demens being locked on the bench for the first six games gets a lot less mysterious. They're suing for 11.5 of 13 months worth of rent, so they probably paid a security deposit and then never wrote another check. Maybe the details will again point to Boubacar Cissoko and his sad disintegration, but it's probably hard to put your faith in a guy who's involved in a suit like that.
Hockey time. It's a bye weekend for football but Michigan has a key nonconference series against UNO coming up. UNO recently left the conference for the WCHA and so far they're the top-scoring team in the country; that's a little worrying after Michigan gave up more than 40 shots and required what sounded like a stand-on-your head performance from Shawn Hunwick to tie UNH 3-3. UNO is #10 in the most recent polls and pounded Michigan last year in the series that finally killed Michigan's flickering at-large hopes.
The games figure to be choppy. Via Yost Built:
They're also 10th in the country in PIMs at 20.5 per night. That's still far behind Michigan's national lead at 26.2 minutes a night. You know the CCHA officials are salivating. Don't expect much flow to these games.
Hopefully that's an aberration born of small sample size for Michigan. Even if it is, special teams will be key.
Old school. I link a lot of MVictors stuff on the sidebar but every once in a while it's good to put it on the front page in case anyone's new and hasn't been brought up to speed on the awesome historical content provided by Mr. Dooley. A post earlier this week on the 1910 season is extensive and awesome, as you can see at right.
"They are the men who stayed indoors during last year's underclass war." "Outrages of a further and still more vicious character were being planned and executed." This is why Mad Men is such a cultural touchstone. I miss newspapers that wrote like that and people who talked like that, or newspapers that massaged quotes so it seemed like they did. Same difference.
Michigan punched Ohio State to death 33-6, by the way, and slid by Michigan State 6-3 in a game the Daily headlined like so: "VARSITY BESTS FARMERS IN HARD-FOUGHT BATTLE." The Notre Dame game was cancelled because of a dispute over ineligible players, causing the Daily to sub-hed their article "Cancellation of today's game probably ends relations with Catholics." Sure, polio and whatever, I don't care: 1910 was awesome. Michigan even won the national title.
Ban Salsua Secundus. If you were doing that thing where you knew you'd seen that Oregon team before but couldn't quite put your finger on it, I can help you out: they are Sardaukar—relentlessly drilled, elaborately and garishly costumed, and completely without mercy.
Old stuff you've probably already seen. Wojo interview with Rich Rodriguez is frank:
Q: But most of the criticism is simply based on your won-loss record (13-18).
A: No question. That's the reality of it. OK, but why are the wins and losses there?
Q: Tell me, what are people missing?
A: In football, it's not as easy as saying, 'OK, you go to a place like Michigan that has so much winning tradition, you can screw up and win eight or nine, right?' Maybe that's not the case.
I think every program nowadays, it's not as easy to win. It doesn't automatically happen. I'm not making excuses, I'm just telling the truth. We haven't been good enough, but we're getting closer, and we'll get there. But it's gonna take longer than anybody wants, especially us.
So was Rodriguez's joke about Vince Lombardi not having a magic wand that he can come in and wave to make Avery, Talbott, and Cullen Christian juniors, but that didn't prevent Drew Sharp from calling Rodriguez Bobby Williams or this guy with a wicked leather jacket from writing something that I can link because it's not (quite) stupid enough to kill the elderly:
In the midst of a two-game losing streak where your team is giving up an average of 36 points, and with your defense ranked in the bottom 20 of college football, the best thing to do is joke about it.
Not so subtly hidden in all the knee-slappers Rodriguez delivered Monday was him taking zero responsibility for his defense's short-comings.
Behind closed doors, he can talk about his lack of contributions to the defense all he wants. To the media and Wolverine fans, Rich Rod has to be accountable for everything his team does.
Media people of earth: words said in press conferences do not matter. Rodriguez is fully aware that he needs to win games to keep his job. "Taking zero responsibility" is just answering your inane questions for the tenth time in a half hour with something other than Senator Tressel's ray of infinite boredom. This guy with a wicked leather jacket later fulminates that "this is not the time for levity." John McKay disagrees, and everyone's better off for it. Rodriguez should have gone with this after the 605th question about Denard's durability:
Following a game in 1967 in which O.J. Simpson carried the ball over 30 times, Mckay was asked "Why are you giving the ball to Simpson so often?" McKay replied, "Why not? it's not heavy, and he doesn't belong to a union."
But no. Press Conference is Serious Business.
This is what happens when you don't actually have anything useful to say. It's also why newspaper commentary is down to cheap outrage and the Washington Post making a content-sharing deal with Bleacher Report makes sense. Who can tell the difference? One RABBLE is like any other once it passes through an editor that turns it into English.
Kicking argh. I thought this was going to be a Rivals article from The Wolverine, but it turns out to be an incredibly well-timed article from the AP about kickers and how college kids are basically on their own:
Many coaches admit they don’t have any expertise in kicking and say they can’t devote an assistant coach solely to teaching it. The NCAA limits schools to one head coach, nine assistant coaches and two graduate assistants, and most programs choose to focus their staffs on positions from quarterback to defensive tackle to fullback.
That means the kickers end up coaching themselves to a large degree.
“A lot of them have got to be masters of their own trade, and that’s a discipline part of being a kicker at this level,” said Eric Russell, the Tennessee special teams coach who splits time between the kicking game and supervising tight ends.
“You’ve got to be able to correct yourself,” he said. “You don’t get a lot of one-on-one attention, and you’ve got to be able to adjust on a dime.”
Michigan's stellar 2 for 8 is mentioned. I'm not sure what Rodriguez can do about the current situation except spend another scholarship on a kicker this February and hope. That would have Michigan in the unusual situation of having two guys on scholarship at the same time, but is there any other freshman who can come in and radically improve his position from day one? Other than Dee Hart?
Etc.: "Superdenardman and Young Tatewalker." OSU blogs break down what went wrong against Wisconsin, and also what went wrong against Wisconsin. General replicability of these things by Michigan: minimal. Holdin' the Rope takes a breath and looks around.
Substitution notes: Patterson played the entire second half and big chunks of the first as it was clear that Mike Martin was not recovered from the late MSU cheap shot. RVB never came out; Black cycled in for Banks, mostly on passing downs. Fitzgerald got a few snaps as Roh's backup. At LB, Demens played the whole way except for the first few plays of Iowa's third drive; Thomas Gordon and Carvin Johnson rotated with Gordon appearing to get most of the time.
Formation notes: Okay, Greg Robinson, I believe you. This defense is indeed "multiple." Michigan played a little stack, a lot of it with two deep safeties:
That's a stack with the bandit in a deep half. I called it "stack two deep."
Michigan played some 4-3, and they played a lot of a 3-4:
This is different from a 4-3 with a standup DE because of the alignments of the DL, who are head up on the C and Ts. That's just a 3-4, straight up. Early in the game they were using Floyd as the WLB, but after a couple issues with that they put Kovacs in the box and used Floyd as the overhang guy. This appeared to be a response to Iowa's heavy use of twins.
The past two weeks the defense has used more 3-4 and 4-3 than stack, FWIW, so its heavy deployment in spring and fall may be an artifact of the team it's going against. Against spread outfits Michigan has been almost all stack.
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|My copy of the game does not have this play. It was a one-yard run on which Demens made the tackle.|
|O39||2||9||I-form twins||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Demens||-3|
|Iowa overloads the wide side of the field with a covered TE and another TE in motion to act as a lead blocker. RVB takes a double as Iowa looks to run away from Martin. Roh(+0.5) drives the playside TE back a bit, creating an obvious gap where the play will go that Demens(+2) reads and fills before the guy peeling off RVB can get to him. He sets up in the hole with that OL grabbing him around the waist; with Johnson(+0.5) set up outside in a spot to prevent a bounce and Kovacs coming from the backside Robinson is swarmed for a loss.|
|Happy feet from Stanzi here as he doesn't even let his receivers try to test the middle of the field before checking down to the tailback. Cover +1, I guess. Roh(+0.5) was sort of coming through the line, possibly forcing a throw. Rogers(-0.5, tackling -1) comes up to meet Robinson after about five yards and offers a dodgy shoulder-block of a tackle that does manage to get him OOB but does not inspire anything resembling confidence.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O44||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-4||Pass||5||Slant||Demens||Inc|
|Kovacs blitz; no one gets home before he throws on three-step rhythm. It's a slant that Mouton(+1) reads and arrives as the ball does about six yards downfield. Receiver has to leap to catch a slightly high ball and Mouton hits him into the air, exposing him to a Demens(+1) killshot that shakes the ball loose. Cover +2.|
|Martin(+0.5) gets some pressure but doesn't matter since Johnson(-1, cover -1) has screwed up his zone drop by sticking too close to Demens and his guy, opening up a slant. Should be a first down but McNutt drops it.|
|O44||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel||Penalty||?||False start||?||-5|
|O39||3||15||Ace 3-wide||3-2-6 dime||Pass||3||TE out||Talbott||5|
|Stanzi checks down (cover +1) to a TE for five yards; Talbott(+1, tackling +1) is there to tackle immediately, no funny stuff.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O16||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4?||Run||Inside zone||Ezeh||14|
|Ezeh comes in. I'm not sure what to call this formation since it's got Johnson on the slot receiver and a three man line with the guys aligned as 3-4 LBs, except the WLB is JT Floyd. Martin(-1) is single-blocked and doesn't do anything to disrupt the play. This allows a guy out on Mouton. I'm not entirely sure what the responsibilities are here, but though Ezeh(-1.5) is indeed humiliatingly pancaked by a guard, Kovacs(-1) is flowing hard to the frontside of the play and gets caught way out of position when the cutback comes. I think this is on him and not Mouton but I'm not sure. Without the rolled up S anywhere near the play Robinson shoots right into the backfield with just C. Gordon(+1, tackling +1) between him and the endzone; Gordon makes an important, solid open-field tackle.|
|O30||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||3||Hitch||Roh||11|
|Two deep safeties for the first time. Iowa goes straight dropback and Michigan drops eight; Roh(-1, cover -1) does not get a deep enough zone drop despite Stanzi looking at his receiver all the way.|
|O41||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Banks||8|
|Michigan's only got six guys in the box for this with two deep safeties and T. Gordon covering the slot guy. Again, I'm not sure who's got what here but I think this is because Michigan's blitzing JT Floyd(-1) from the corner and he's heading at an upfield angle and cannot recover to flow down the line for the cutback. Banks(-1) did get controlled and blocked downfield, giving the RB the angle to get by Floyd, and I do think Ezeh ran himself out of the play unnecessarily. There are three guys on the frontside and just two on the backside so a smart guy would figure this is cutting back. Kovacs(+0.5, tackling +1) comes up to fill well, though he had more time than Gordon to react.|
|O49||2||2||I-form big||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Floyd||5|
|Banks(+1) gets playside of his guy and forces a bounce well outside where Floyd(-1, tackling -1) sees his tackle run through.|
|Demens back. I don't think this is on either linebacker since Demens(+0.5) and Mouton(+0.5) each have to carry routes to the safeties and end up dropping deep. Floyd(-1, cover -1) doesn't have anyone and still bails out, opening up the dumpoff for a bigger gain than it should be. No one anywhere near the QB (pressure -1) .|
|M35||1||10||I-form twins||Base 4-4||Run||Off tackle||Mouton||19|
|So the DL here is Black, Patterson, Sagesse, and Fitzgerald. Doom? Doom. They hit a gap outside of Black; Kovacs has to come up and fill the outside and takes a block. This is what he has to do to force it back to help but there is no help. I think M's alignment is messed up since they've shaded the line to the open side of the field and the linebackers are basically even(RPS –1). Sagesse(-1) is chopped to the ground immediately. This is bad. I think it makes Demens(-0.5) suck up into the gap that forms because he anticipates the cutback lane is open. He takes a block and bounces off it but is delayed. On the playside Black(-0.5) is walled off by a double. Mouton(-2) charges into a gap that Patterson has somewhat controlled, losing leverage. Once RB is through the crease he's gone.|
|M16||1||10||I-form twins||Base 4-4||Pass||N/A||Waggle cross||Floyd||Inc (Pen +2)|
|PA rollout sees two guys in the route. Deep guy taken away by the coverage(+1) so Stanzi checks down to a TE cross that Floyd(-1, cover -1) is all over, but he grabs the guy around the waist and gets a legit call. For some reason the refs put the ball at the 14 instead of the 9 and no one notices.|
|M14||1||10||I-form twins||Base 4-4||Run||Power off tackle||Roh||0|
|Roh(+1) slants inside as the tackle moves to the second level immediately. He takes a blocker with him, sitting down right in the intended path of the RB and absorbing the FB's lead block. RB bounces into Floyd(+0.5), who read the receiver's attempted block and set up to contain. He's such a terrible tackler, though. Demens(+0.5) scrapes through two half-blocks to help finish.|
|Corner blitz convinces Stanzi that he's got the guy who Floyd has just vacated so he tosses it; Kovacs(+2, cover +2) jumps it and gets both hands on what could be a 95-yard Rick Six but can't hang on. Pressure(+1) was coming so Stanzi had to get rid of it. (RPS+2)|
|Michigan in three-deep, but Courtney Avery(-3, cover -3) does the same thing he always does by chasing receivers all over the field, opening up this drag for a touchdown. Rogers(-1, tackling –1) could have stopped this at the sticks but loses leverage, etc. Stanzi had to throw because Roh(+1, pressure +1) was about to waste him. One freshman playing anything approximating zone and this is a FG attempt. Picture-paged earlier today.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 1 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M49||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Pass||N/A||Rollout throwaway||Demens||Inc|
|Another two-man route covered(+1) well by Michigan. Demens(+0.5) perceives the lack of underneath threats and comes charging up on the edge to force a throwaway. Maybe I'm just not used to a routine play here to give a plus-half, but there it is. I like his decision-making.|
|M49||2||10||Ace 3-wide||Base 4-3||Pass||4||Screen||?||15|
|Michigan rushing four and dropping into a zone as Iowa runs a middle screen. Zero DL come even close to reading it, leaving four blockers in space against… uh… Kenny Demens. He charges up and gets hacked down by one of them. About all he could do. Secondary converges after the sticks. RPS -2; no idea what any individual player could have done there.|
|M34||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Run||Counter||Black||3|
|Black(+1) does a nice job to slant through two Iowa OL and should draw a holding call as an Iowa TE yanks him from behind but does not. His presence in the middle of the play does force a bounce; Floyd keeps contain and Mouton(+0.5) gets free to help with the tackle and prevent any YAC.|
|M31||2||7||Ace twins twin TE||Base 3-4||Pass||4||Corner||Rogers?||31|
|I am not sure if this is on Rogers or Gordon. I think it is Rogers because Michigan is running three-deep and Johnson(+1, cover +1) has the out to this side of the field blanketed. The pass goes to the deep corner of the endzone where a deep zone should be in cover three; Rogers(-3, cover -4) is not there. No one was anywhere near Stanzi (pressure -3). It looks like Gordon was burned over the top but he's in cover three so he should be jumping the post cut on the assumption Rogers has his back.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 13 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M48||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Banks||4|
|So they've switched Kovacs and Floyd here, with Kovacs the nominal WLB and Floyd the nominal overhang guy. Michigan LBs hit it up quickly—they're probably depending on Iowa to run the max-pro routes on PA they've run before—and Mouton(+0.5) takes on a guard at the LOS. Robinson bangs into the mess; Patterson(+0.5) has actually come through and threatens from behind but Banks(-0.5) has been kicked out too far and Floyd(-0.5) is hesitant. He meets Robinson two yards downfield and gives up two more.|
|M44||2||6||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||5||Hitch||?||16|
|Kovacs in a two-deep instead of at the line. Michigan runs the Floyd corner blitz again and gets burned (RPS -1) as Iowa adjusts to the Kovacs near-pick on the last attempt to kill it by shortening up the route. Mouton(+0.5) got a free run but with the wide open guy on the sideline it doesn't matter. Stanzi hits him, Kovacs tackles.|
|M28||1||10||Shotgun twins 2TE||Base 3-4||Pass||3||Sack||Banks||-4|
|Eight man drop does cover(+2) everyone this time but the pressure(-2) is nonexistent. Martin is out and this is sad minus Martin. Stanzi rolls out, Banks chasing him. Stanzi inexplicably runs OOB instead of chucking the ball away.|
|M32||2||14||Shotgun 3-wide||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||5||Dumpoff||Banks||Inc|
|Banks(+1) gets inside the Hawkeye LT and comes right up the middle, with Roh(+0.5) providing supporting rush (pressure +1). Those two force a dumpoff to the tailback behind the LOS that Demens(+0.5, cover +1) probably has nailed for no gain; ball is upfield and bounces off Robinson's hands.|
|M32||3||14||Ace 3-wide||3-2-6 dime||Run||Delay||Mouton?||15|
|Michigan in a three deep shell with six DBs on third and forever, which okay. RVB(+0.5, seriously) slants inside his blocker and forces a cutback. Black is understandably way upfield. Mouton(-1) takes on the wrong side of his blocker with the cutback, and with just five guys in the box it's a long way to the next M defender. Those guys are Avery, Kovacs, and Gordon, and somehow the three of them give up the extra two yards for the first down. Alright. I'm not going to put my fist through anything. 1) Avery is 20 pounds too light to stiff the momentum. 2) Kovacs is physically deficient still and with a receiver pushing the pile can't stand it up. Both get -0.5s for being tiny. Gordon had little chance to do anything given the angles of the play. Michigan would have been much better off without the cutback, but what can you do? Argh.|
|M17||1||10||Ace 3-wide||Stack two deep||Run||Inside zone||Martin||5|
|Martin(-0.5) back in and gets clubbed back. At this point it's clear he just doesn't have it. Thanks, MSU cheapshot. Demens(+0.5) does a good job to close the forming frontside hole and force a cutback; Banks(-0.5) blows his pursuit angle and is too far upfield to tackle at the LOS; Mouton(+0.5) did a good enough job with his guy to delay the back slightly and allow Banks to come from behind and tackle.|
|M12||2||5||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Van Bergen||2|
|Similar to the last play but RVB(+0.5) is slanting down the line along the line instead of two yards upfield so the cutback lane isn't there; Mouton(+0.5) perceived the cutback, hit his hole, and helped tackle.|
|M10||3||3||Ace||Base 4-4||Pass||N/A||Rollout out||Floyd||6|
|Motion reveals Floyd in man and eight guys on the LOS reveal a lack of crazy robber zones, so Stanzi can roll out and be confident he's got a window to hit on this out route. He does; Roh does okay on the rush but can't get past the RB instantly, and Stanzi's pass is accurate against good but not great coverage. RPS -1.|
|M4||1||G||I-form big||Base 4-4||Run||Power off tackle||Mouton||4|
|Sagesse(-1) gets crushed out of the hole but Roh(+1) stands up his guy, shucks inside, and convinces Robinson to maybe bounce it. He decides against it since that's going to be closed off, cutting back inside. Mouton(-1) is there. Mouton *was* there until the feigned bounce saw him head way to the playside where he had no hope of doing anything. That combined with a guard crushing Johnson(-0.5) into the endzone is a touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-21, 4 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O29||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Demens||0|
|Martin is out for the remainder. Nowhere to go this time as the M DL provides no gaps. +0.5 to Banks, who held up to a double well, Mouton, who took on a TE at the right spot to prevent a crease, and Kovacs, who took on a block and held. +1 Demens, who saw the gap forming when Patterson(-1) got scooped out of the play and hit the releasing center at the LOS, removing a developing cutback lane. Floyd(+0.5) contains, forcing Robinson back inside and allowing a gang tackle.|
|O29||2||10||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||3||Out||Rogers||8|
|Four yard out picks up a few YAC to set up third and short; Rogers(-0.5) in the area but not able to tackle quickly because of a general lack of athleticism. Avery actually dropped back into a zone well here, so there's that.|
|Probably goes for the first here except for Kovacs(+2) blitzing untouched from the outside reading the draw, changing direction, and tackling for loss. Demens ate a block but I'm sympathetic here since this is a draw against what looks like man coverage and he has to respect the threat of the guy as a receiver. Mouton should have scraped faster, IME. RPS +1.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, 11 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O14||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Floyd||3|
|Patterson(-1) scooped and sealed easily, allowing the Iowa C out on Demens, who's trying to scrape to the hole but now has lineman in his face. Banks(+0.5) holds up to a single block well and closes the hole down, giving Floyd(+0.5) a fairly easy job to come up and tackle after a moderate gain.|
|O17||2||7||I-form 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||1|
|Patterson blown down the line as they try another zone play; with both playside DL getting doubled Demens hits that gap hard, cutting off the frontside. However, Patterson(-0.5) getting washed down the line so far and Banks(-0.5) getting kicked out leaves Mouton(+2) in a ton of space against a lead blocker on a play likely designed to cut back right here. He avoids the TE but gets tripped; he was aggressive enough and under control enough to knock into the back. This delays him and eventually sends him down. Even if he didn't go down the hit was enough to allow Kovacs to tackle if necessary. (RPS -1)|
|O18||3||6||Shotgun 3-wide||Stack two deep||Pass||3||Fly||C. Gordon||Inc|
|Plenty of time (pressure -2) but the underneath stuff is taken away(cover +1) and Stanzi just decides to bomb it. C. Gordon(+1, over +1) is there on an underthrown ball, taking the right angle. He's got a better chance to make a catch than the receiver. Ball goes over his head.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, 5 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O37||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Pass||3||PA post||C. Gordon||34|
|No one near Stanzi(pressure -2) and there are five guys in a short zone with one outlet receiver; a huge gap opens up between the LBs and the secondary. -1 Demens, -1 Mouton. -2 Gordon for being too far off in a cover three with three deep guys; he should be jumping the post route instead of being literally ten yards off. His tackle is almost run through, too. This was easy. (Cover -2)|
|M29||1||10||I-form||3-3-5 stack||Pass||4||PA dumpoff||Kovacs||11|
|No pressure again(-2); coverage downfield is good but the little dump route to the FB releasing out of the backfield is wide open with Demens(-1) not reacting to get over and Kovacs(-1) getting pulled downfield by a deeper route. (Cover -1)|
|M18||1||10||I-form big||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Roh||2|
|No gaps anywhere again. Roh(+0.5) has slanted past a blocker and absorbed an extra guy, as has RVB(+0.5), so there are defenders in the backfield and no gaps. RB has to bounce into Floyd, who could make a tackle at the LOS with a better angle but is conservative outside(-0.5); Demens(+0.5) has scraped over the top and dives back inside to tackle.|
|I swear to god I'm not slanting this to Demens(+1, cover +1) but here he gets a chuck on a TE releasing downfield and causes Stanzi to come off his primary read. Second read is a drag Floyd(+1, tackling +1) is in man on. He tracks the pass and comes up to tackle immediately on the catch. Stanzi again had a ton of time (pressure -1).|
|M11||3||3||I-form twins||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||11|
|No gaps inside; this is going outside. Kovacs blitzes and is picked off by the FB. Banks(-1) can't deal with a double and gets shoved inside, allowing the LT to come out on Mouton(-2), who makes a fatal mistake by fighting INSIDE of the tackle. He can get leverage on this guy, but instead fights inside and gives up the corner. Touchdown. Demens had scraped through and maybe could have tackled at the five if he had gone upfield instead of shot the gap, but in this situation I'd rather have a MLB who expects his guys to execute their assignments and hits that gap with authority than some guy who's always worried what might go wrong. Demens is playing better than anyone realizes.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-28, 1 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O40||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Banks||20 + 15 pen|
|Three-fold failure on a cutback after Patterson(+1) and others cut off the frontside. 1) Banks(-1) is blown down the line way too far. 2) Kovacs(-1) tries to hop upfield of the fullback, opening the hole up wider when he needs to squeeze down; 3) Mouton(-2) again reacts late to the developing play and loses the tailback outside of him. Demens was in position to tackle, albeit for decent yardage, if he got a guy funneled to him as he reacted to the cutback and again scraped properly. Floyd adds 15 on a facemask.|
|M25||1||10||I-form big||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Van Bergen||1|
|Van Bergen(+1) pops through the line and forces another cutback. This time Mouton(+1) does get outside his blocker and heads outside to force the play back into the scraping, waiting, tackling(+1) Demens(+1).|
|M24||2||9||I-form twins||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||5|
|I mean, Jesus balls Mouton maintain leverage for twice in a row. Here there's nothing because RVB(+1) has driven two guys into the backfield and provided Roh a free run into one gap. Kovacs(-1) takes on the FB and gets knocked back, but Mouton(-1) is flowing upfield too hard and lets the RB outside of him; Demens has flowed down the line to shove him OOB after five when this should have been nothing. Maybe this is on Kovacs for not getting outside the FB... but the success of a play jammed up by the DL is on one, the other, or both of the guys maintaining leverage to the playside.|
|M19||3||4||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 nickel||Pass||7||Slant||Floyd||19|
|Michigan sends the house. Seven guys come and Gordon is trying to run man on a guy running a slant ten yards in front of him. Doesn't matter since Floyd(-2, cover -2) gave up a slant despite setting up with inside leverage, yielding an easy TD. Maybe someone busted and Michigan was going to drop someone or two someone's into short anti-slant zones?|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-35, 11 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Ace twins||Base 3-4||Run||Inside zone||Demens||4|
|RVB(+1) drives playside, taking two Iowa DL into the backfield a yard. Patterson(-1) has been blown out by single blocking easily, allowing the C to nail Mouton. Demens(+1) is scraping into a lot of space, and forms up to tackle at the LOS as one of the RVB blockers tries to peel, but too late.|
|O24||2||6||Ace 3-wide||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Black||5|
|Nothing obvious on the frontside as Patterson flows down the line and the linebackers are attacking the playside shoulder of their blockers, but it does seem more open. Black(-1) is cut to the ground on what kind of seems like a clip but isn't called. Mouton has to radically change direction and and can only get a bump; Kovacs flows in from the edge to tackle; C. Gordon comes up to prevent YAC.|
|O29||3||1||I-form big||Base 4-4||Penalty||False start||?||-5|
|Likely on the C since everyone moves and the snap is fumbled.|
|O24||3||6||Ace 3-wide||Nickel 3-4||Run||Zone stretch||Demens||1|
|Three wide for Iowa with seven guys against six blockers in the box so there's no one to block one particular guy: Demens. Banks(+0.5) flows to cut off the playside; Patterson(-1) and RVB(-1) have been blasted off the line by single blocking but Demens(+0.5, tackling +1) avoids the trash and comes up to tackle in the cutback lane. Asking for this if you run into a stacked box on third and six (RPS +1); would be frustrated here if an Iowa fan. Mets Maize picture-paged this.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-35, 8 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O40||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||Base 3-4||Pass||N/A||Waggle TE out||Kovacs||25 (pen -5)|
|Entire world sucks to the run fake. I understand why, but this is just ludicrously open (cover -3) because Kovacs(-1) and Mouton(-1) the playside guys, went nuts about the run. Result is a big gainer but Iowa was in an illegal formation and it comes back. (RPS -2)|
|O35||1||15||Ace twins twin TE||3-3-5 stack||Pass||N/A||Waggle TE out||Kovacs||10|
|Floyd comes off with a minor injury; Avery in. Same play; Michigan defending it better but does allow a short completion; Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) overruns the tackle and allows the TE to cut back inside for an extra five.|
|O45||2||5||Ace twins||Base 4-4||Run||Inside zone||Kovacs||-4|
|Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) blitzes off the edge untouched into another inside zone, where he forms up, gets under control, and tackles in the backfield by himself. Unblocked, sure, but actually making the tackle here is a big deal since it's the difference between third and long and third and medium. RPS +1.|
|O41||3||9||Ace 3-wide||Nickel 3-4||Pass||5||Slant||Floyd||17|
|Floyd(-3, cover -2) again gives up an easy slant based on one stutter-step outside. Increased penalty for doing the same thing you just did like five minutes ago. Also he's still not even in position to tackle.|
|M42||1||10||I-form twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Zone stretch||Mouton||2|
|Patterson(-1) scooped and sealed again; Demens eats OL. So does Mouton(+2.5) but he beats the block to the outside on the stretch and pops Robinson at the line. This is a great play, and one Mouton can make but doesn't too often.|
|M40||2||8||I-form big||Base 4-4||Pass||Waggle scramble||Mouton||0|
|Mouton(+1) reads it and *flies* upfield at Stanzi(pressure +1), forcing him to roll out further and eventually forcing him OOB slightly behind the sticks.|
|Michigan stunts, getting Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) through on Stanzi and forcing him to dump it off really early. Avery(-2, tackling -2) comes up way, way too hard on a play where all he has to do is make a lousy ankle tackle and completely whiffs. Demens(-1, tackling -1) takes an angle too far upfield but maybe he's just doing what he does and knows a tackle eleven yards downfield is death and if he can't make it short of the sticks why bother at all? In any case, he's too far upfield after the whiff and Robinson runs through an arm tackle for a bunch of yards. This isn't even really a juke here, it's just... a freshman. I need a drink.|
|M14||1||10||I-form twins||3-3-5 stack||Run||Inside zone||Mouton||1|
|Linebackers attacking hard given the situation; Mouton(+1) avoids one block and Demens(+0.5) comes up to pick off a guy peeling off Patterson. Mouton tackles.|
|M13||2||9||Ace||Base 4-3||Run||Inside zone||Sagesse||2|
|Two deep safeties as Michigan may expect pass. Sagesse(+1) at NT (finally) gets playside of his guy and drives him into the backfield, forcing Robinson outside. Demens(+0.5) is chasing from the inside, forcing it further out where Mouton(+1) has kept outside leverage against two guys and comes off to tackle. Banks had fallen here; dangerous without good play from the LBs.|
|M11||3||7||Ace twins||Base 4-4||Pass||5||Corner||T. Gordon||Inc|
|T. Gordon tears off the corner unblocked(+1, pressure +1) and nails Stanzi quickly; Stanzi just chucks it long to prevent a sack. No one open, FWIW.|
|Drive Notes: FG(38), 28-38, 3 min 4th Q. Last drive not charted as it is irrelevant.|
Demens? Demens Demens? Is it really pronounced "Demons"?
Sounds like you need a—
You're no fun.
|Van Bergen||5.5||1||4.5||Best performance on the day but that's just average.|
|Banks||3.5||4.5||-1||Is what he is. No pass rush.|
|Sagesse||1||2||-1||Wonder why he's not the backup NT.|
|Patterson||1.5||5.5||-4||Bled it slowly this time, at least.|
|Black||1.5||1||0.5||Did not play much except on passing downs.|
|TOTAL||13.5||15||-1.5||Roh still mostly DE here so his plus also factors in here; the worst day for an M DL in a very, very long time. Pressure metric will confirm.|
|Ezeh||-||1.5||-1.5||At least the humiliating pancake was the definitive last word.|
|Mouton||13||10||3||Frustratingly culpable for most of Iowa's cutback or bounce-out runs.|
|Roh||5||1||4||Okay, but not making a big impact.|
|Johnson||1.5||1.5||0||This is the life of a spur this year…|
|Demens||11.5||3.5||8||A full and sumptuous conversation later.|
|Fitzgerald||-||-||-||A couple plays only.|
|TOTAL||31||17.5||13.5||Competency! And terrible loss of leverage!|
|Floyd||2.5||11||-8.5||Oh my god the slants.|
|Rogers||-||5||-5||Oh my god the 31-yard TD.|
|C. Gordon||2||2||0||One good angle on a deep ball, one good tackle, some excessively conservative play.|
|Talbott||1||-||1||One tackle, little dime in this game.|
|Avery||-||5.5||-5.5||The whiff, the zone vacation, etc.|
|TOTAL||12.5||30||-17.5||It's dead, Jim.|
|Pressure||6||13||-7||Loss of Martin gave Stanzi luxurious amounts of time.|
|Coverage||16||21||-5||Corners came in for a beating.|
|Tackling||7||5||2||Pretty decent until the 404.|
[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.]
Losing Martin—even when he was in the game he was obviously not Martin—crushed the DL just like you would expect. With Martin out the only half-plausible rushers on the line are RVB and Roh, if he's coming, and since the other two guys can be single-blocked no problem all you have to do is leave one guy in to double the other two, and while they're not terrible they're not BG or Martin. Add in Patterson and Banks getting clubbed in the run game and it adds up to a very rare—possibly unprecedented—negative day for the DL to go with a –7 pressure.
The linebackers we'll get to in a sec; the secondary is just a debacle. Avery's a part of that but it's not like the starting corners are any good, either. The two slants Floyd gave up were incredibly frustrating, the second moreso than the first because you should be able to play off the receiver and tackle the slant for less than nine yards.
Yeah. Watching the game live I thought that he was an obvious upgrade over Ezeh but expected that when I went over the game in detail I'd find he was at fault for some of the longer Iowa runs or third down conversions, or had messed up in some way that had gone unexploited. I didn't. I found little things that I thought were good plays I hadn't seen live, like this:
There Patterson gets insta-scooped and the center is going to club the MLB five yards downfield and the tailback will get a nice gain, except this is Demens and he reads the block. He attacks, turning the center into the clubee and turning the Iowa line into a mass of bodies without a gap in it. Floyd comes up to tackle.
How many times did Iowa RBs find themselves facing a line with no penetration and no holes in it? Several. How many times did previous Michigan opponents face this? Essentially never. Good DL play with crappy linebacker play yields a lot of penetration and a lot of lanes where the DL aren't. Crappy DL play with good LB play is this, a bunch of bodies on the line with no windows to squeeze through.
This doesn't look like much but he's there when Mouton forces it inside:
This was 100% consistent. When plays were turned back inside Demens was there.
Meanwhile, this was the only instance where it seemed like he was burned on play action:
Is that really on him? It seems like it's mostly on Gordon being way, way too deep. Demens was eight yards deep on his drop and I can't see any way that him being better at pass D stops this play. I minused him here, but I'm not sure if he deserves it.
He's the undisputed starter now. Not to pile on the guy, but this is the first thing that will pop into any Michigan fan's head when Obi Ezeh is mentioned for the rest of time:
Fair or not (pretty much fair), that's the coda.
So if Demens was such a ninja how did Iowa rack up all those yards on the ground?
Mouton. I know he came out +3 but I'm annoyed with that, and annoyed with him. There will be a picture pages later today or tomorrow discussing Iowa's 11-yard touchdown run on which Mouton fought inside a tackle and gave up the corner when Demens was scraping to the hole; most of Iowa's long runs were on plays where Mouton did not contain the ball and drive it back inside. Here's one:
Black didn't do Mouton a ton of favors but he can't get upfield and essentially block himself there. Force it back inside and it might be a big gainer; let him outside and it will be.
On the same play I gave Demens a minus half because he bit up, but I was torn about that since he sees Sagesse chopped and knows there's going to be a cutback lane, then doesn't get locked up by the OL. He seems like a smart player. Mouton doesn't; he makes a lot of great plays but he is still consistently making errors similar in severity to Avery's zone messes. Avery's a true freshman. He's a fifth-year senior. He is better this year, but he's still mistake-prone.
Here a window opens up in the line. I know what Demens would do: hit it. Mouton gives up backside contain by attempting to scrape over the top on a jammed-up play and gives the cutback lane. The #1 answer to the question "why do we give up so many cutback runs" is Mouton.
These four plays represent 54 of Robinson's 110 or so yards that came with Demens in the game. On plays where the rest of the D allowed him to be involved Iowa averaged under 2.5 YPC. This is how you get +8 as an MLB. Mouton came out positive because he made some impressive plays and blame on those outside runs was shared with the DL; he was obviously Michigan's second-best LB on the day.
Why the hell didn't they put Demens on the field before?
Man, I don't know. I assume part of it is disciplinary; I heard from a good source that he got in some minor trouble in the offseason. Not trouble enough to actually warrant a suspension or justify leaving him off the field for the first half of the year, but something that would provide some drag as he attempted to pass a senior returning starter. That's the only explanation for the Moundros dalliance. Obviously they were dissatisfied with Ezeh; to go to a converted FB walk-on when you've got Demens in your pocket there has to be something off-field, whether it's attitude or whatever.
And then Obi had a game or two where he was moderately okay, and GERG apparently really likes him, and oh hell, I don't know. As you're bitching try to remember that this is the vastly preferable scenario. For the rest of this year and the next two years Michigan will have an upperclass starter who looks competent instead of yet another freshman or position switch guy.
Isn't this all a little too good to be true?
Yes. I mean, Cam Gordon imploded as soon as I said "I like the kid!" I've just doomed Demens.
What about the other ten guys?
Right. Something more specific?
That's a horrendous performance from the DL, isn't it?
Yes. For most of the day Stanzi's experience in the pocket was this:
Martin is the Woolfolk of the defensive line and not having him made the line 70% as bad as the secondary. (The secondary doesn't have an RVB and the line isn't starting freshmen.) Patterson does well to not get blown up by a single block and Banks is reason 1B for all the cutback runs; neither can sack the quarterback unless given a gilded invitation (Banks got credit for one for Stanzi's inexplicable run OOB, FWIW). There's nothing surprising here given what we know.
Is the secondary.
Yeah: Kenny Demens. Also, RVB and Roh did yeoman work against extra defensive attention and still came through to the good.
All cornerbacks save Talbott and Mouton, +3 be damned.
What does it mean for Penn State and beyond?
If Martin's not full go we're permadead, but you knew that. Secondary is dire, but you knew that.
Demens's emergence is huge. If he can maintain this level of play Michigan will have gone from some of the worst linebacker play in the league to average-ish, or even better, and they've filled a gaping hole in the 2011 and 2012 defenses with the upperclass years of an effective player. There is a nonzero chance that Michigan can kinda-sorta shut down Penn State's rushing attack. If Demens comes through the next three games unscathed Michigan just picked up a huge win.
Freshman quarterbacks ahoy!
This one's not going to be a revelation. It's just more of the same from nickelback Courtney Avery, who you may remember from "aargh crippling third down conversion" and "I play man coverage always." But I'm grabbing it to show just how damaging it is to have these guys who should be redshirting running around on the field.
It's third and ten from the Michigan 14 on Iowa's third drive; Michigan has an excellent chance to boot Iowa off the field here. They come out in a three-wide set. Michigan responds with its 4-2-5 nickel package:
Courtney Avery is the nickelback and the key guy. Michigan's going to rush four and play three deep, leaving four guys in underneath zones. Avery is on the hashmarks to the top of the picture on the slot receiver:
Iowa's underneath receivers run crossing routes past each other—a mesh route. the two receivers to the top of the screen are going vertical, with Rogers on the outside guy and Avery on the inside one:
Avery is dropping deep to cut off space but turns his back to the QB. Has anyone else turned his back to the QB? No:
Here you can see two things: 1) Avery actually did a good job of rerouting the slot. Iowa's receivers are running paired posts and they are a yard away from each other. Cam Gordon should be in position to make a play on a throw here; it's unlikely Stanzi will force it if the drag isn't breathtakingly open. 2) Avery is completely out of his zone moving inside with his back turned to the QB:
Stanzi sees it and throws just as Roh lights him up:
Avery is nowhere. He can't change direction fast enough to get back out to his zone. No one could:
- Courtney Avery should be redshirting. He looks like a quarterback who played a little man coverage in high school, because that's what he is.
- Courtney Avery is not redshirting. Never Forget.
- Rerouting receivers is an important part of zone coverage. Avery changes the WR's route here and forces it deeper, into an area in which Cam Gordon is a threat.
- …but you have to pass the guy off way faster than this. I can't imagine you're ever supposed to chase the guy this far inside, or totally turn your body away from the QB.
- Demens is fine here, I think. Mesh is tough on LBs in zone. Here he lets the receiver outside of him but he has to expect Avery will be there. He also knocks down the other guy running a drag, which is a bonus.
- This is four free points from a freshman DB after the rest of the team got a stop. Maybe if Avery pulls off the slot receiver Stanzi has a shot at him on the post but that's a tougher throw than the little drag route here and with the reroute and the pressure chances are Stanzi either throws the drag anyway and picks up five or eats a sack.
- I would abandon the nickel. Thomas Gordon is almost exactly Avery—a high school quarterback switching to nickel-type DB in college—except he's got a redshirt year behind him. I can understand the desire to get another DB on the field in passing situations but Avery's been a huge liability so far; Gordon has not made similar mistakes.
So there's this and there's 404 Tackle Not Found—two huge swing plays that went against Michigan's freshman nickelback. Missing Troy Woolfolk is an enormous deal.
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.