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michigan's terrible terrible terrible pass defense
So, about this defense:
Greg Banks (5th)
Ryan Van Bergen (Jr*)
|Renaldo Sagesse (Sr)||Adam Patterson (Sr)||Jibreel Black (Fr)|
|Craig Roh (So)||Ken Demens (So*)||
Jonas Mouton (Sr)
Thomas Gordon (Fr*)
|Brandon Herron (Jr*)||Obi Ezeh (5th)||Kevin Leach (Jr*)||Carvin Johnson (Fr)|
J.T. Floyd (So*)
Jordan Kovacs (So*)
Cam Gordon (Fr*)
James Rogers (Sr)
|Courtney Avery (Fr)||Marvin Robinson (Fr)||Ray Vinopal (Fr)||Terrence Talbott (Fr)|
That's our current defensive two-deep. Those of you watching this year know that they've been a bad, bad defensive two-deep. Among the many irksome memes floating around since this naughty two-deep had the unmitigated gall to lose two Big Ten games, is that they're not a "Michigan" two-deep, which is to say these are not the kinds of guys we normally would see getting playing time at Michigan.
So I went back through my memory, which for non-skill positions goes back to about 1996 with any "I watched all of his games" credibility, and tried to pick out the guys that our current D evoke.
This is an incomplete exercise; you are very welcome to suggest other analogues. My ultimate goal is to generate a two-deep of known quantities which, if I stare at it long enough, it will spark some sort of epiphany about the 2010 defense and what it portends for the rest of the year (and in so doing, beat Ohio State)...
For each, I've rated them on a 5-star scale, based on how you would expect him to perform on four typical linebackerish plays that come his way in a UFR:
|1 star||-2 or more||Liability|
|2 stars||-1||Not yet ready for D-I|
|3 stars||even||Usually competent|
|4 stars||+1||All-Big Ten|
|5 stars||+2 or more||All-American/NFL ready|
Remember that these ratings only apply to their contribution this year as a Michigan starter in that position, not their projected value in the future, or their recruiting ranking. If you want to convert it to recruit ranking, imagine what you would expect a player of that star rating to be playing at by their 3rd or 4th year at Michigan.
Greg Banks (Sr/5th)
Who: Will Paul 2007 (Sr/5th if he had come back)
Why: I mean, what else? Jake Frysinger? Pat Massey? Dan Rumishek? Eric Wilson? Will Paul was a fullback in '06 and graduated, but I'm going to ask you to imagine the 4-star bust who bounced around the D-Line depth chart had stayed there through his 5th year senior season. Like Banks, Paul was about 6'3/260 while on the D-line, good at not getting pushed out of the way, but bad about flowing down the line, or generating a pass rush.
2010 Value: **
Renaldo Sagesse (Sr/Sr)
Who: Jason Ptak 1999 (Sr/Sr)
Why: I thought about going with Jr/Sr Shawn Lazarus here, but Jason Ptak's existence is my personal little piece of Michigan trivia, and it fits perfectly. Ptak was a nobody recruit about the same size (6'3/290) as Sagesse who spelled Rob Renes (NT) and Eric Wilson (DT) from time to time. When he did this, he was perfectly "meh," but didn't ever look like he was getting run over. Sagesse was the last of the Montreal troupe (Kashama, Dubuc, Casseus) and like them was a nobody recruit who has been "meh" for four years.
Mike Martin (Jr/Jr)
Who: Alan Branch 2006 (Jr/Jr)
Why: Like I would pass up the opportunity...
Like Branch, Mike Martin was a 4-star recruit who appeared like a 5-star immediately, becoming a plus to the defense his freshman year, bigger plus his sophomore year, and took the leap toward All-American as a junior. Branch split double-teams with aplomb. Martin might even be better than Branch, since Alan didn't have quite MM's agility. But it's still a strong comparison.
Adam Patterson (Sr/Sr)
Who: Patrick Kratus 1998 (Jr/Sr)
Who?!? Thought you'd say that.
Why: Well, I'm running out of DT/DE tweeners here, especially lower-Rivals 100 guys who were complete busts, and I'm not giving Patterson even the courtesy of a Pat Massey comparison, though that would be the other pick. Pat Kratus was an academic All-American who played a lot of special teams for four varsity years. Kratus was a forgettable recruit with a frame that he never filled. Patterson too was rated highly because of his "frame" but he never grew into the DT/NT he was expected to, and was never mobile enough to do anything outside.
Value: * (because NT in our 3-3-5 exposes bad play)
After break: more guys.
So the Indiana game was water torture interspersed with electric Japanese schoolgirl sex. The latter was great but the former was almost 75% of the game, and against teams with non-theoretical defenses a repeat will mean sad faces and rage. How likely is this? Eh… pretty likely at some point. But maybe not consistently.
Indiana is probably the most competent—and is definitely by far the most deployed—passing offense in the Big Ten. Last year Indiana was the only team other than Purdue to pass more than half the time. They did so at a 54% clip. This year they're up to 58% with the return of their entire passing offense, and that's despite a big chunk of the schedule being against tomato cans in which clock-killing runs are plentiful.
A look at Michigan's opponent and what they're likely to do to Michigan's secondary:
Pass Percentages: 50% in 2009, 40% in 2010.
Quarterback: Kirk Cousins, a
senior redshirt junior returning starter.
Last year's performance: Cousins split time with Keith Nichol, with the two combining to go 20/29 for 220 yards and two interceptions.
Last year's run/pass split: 49 rushes and 29 passes, though a number of the MSU rushes were QB scrambles.
Cousins had a strong junior year, finishing 25th nationally in pass efficiency. He seems to have made the incremental improvement you'd expect him to; this year he's 13th and in two games against actual opponents he completed about two thirds of his passes for about 250 yards with a solid or better YPA. He also threw three interceptions.
However, State is an old-school I-form heavy conventional offense that looks almost identical to Lloyd Carr's and they set up a lot of their passing yards by running play action. Cousins isn't going to come anywhere near 64 attempts and MSU isn't going to pass 75% of the time. How the run defense holds up against this is an open question, but that's not what this post is about.
MICHIGAN SECONDARY : OPPONENT PASS OFFENSE :: bunny : somewhat unreliable wood chipper
CHAPPELBOMB RATING: 4 of 5. Michigan State was balanced last year, and that was with a terrible running game. This year they've got a stable of impressive backs and somewhat iffy hands in the receiving corps, so the bigger threat is probably getting gashed all day on the ground. Hurrah?
Pass Percentages: 46% in 2009, 40% in 2010.
Quarterback: Ricky Stanzi, a senior returning starter.
Last year's performance: Found breathtakingly open tight ends but was erratic, going 20 of 38 for 284 yards and two TDs. Did deliver a Rick Six directly unto Donovan Warren.
Last year's run/pass split: 34 rushes, 38 passes. It should be noted that due to a Jewel Hampton ACL injury Iowa was thin at tailback oh wait that happened again this year except worse nevermind.
Stanzi's primary game of note this year was a 18/33, 278 yard 3TD-1INT game at Arizona where he was almost literally the Iowa offense. The Hawkeyes ran for 29 yards on 26 carries, and though plenty of sacks distort that the two tailbacks combined to average under 2 YPC. He was also efficient against PSU (16/22, 227 yards, 1TD-1INT) on a day when after a couple of quick touchdowns Iowa put it in neutral since they correctly believed Penn State could not score.
MICHIGAN SECONDARY : OPPONENT PASS OFFENSE :: raccoon : sports car with gore-smeared grill that spends a lot of time in the garage
CHAPPELBOMB RATING: 4 of 5. Stanzi may not be headed for NFL riches but he's been around the block and seems to have shaken his touchdown entitlement program. He's top ten in pass efficiency against a pretty decent schedule featuring Penn State, Arizona, and an Iowa State team that just won a Big 12 game (yay!!!). Here, it's the same story as Michigan State: they might be able to replicate it but the old-school coach is likely to split run and pass down the middle instead of letting fly most of the time.
And Now A Picture Of Denard For No Reason
Pass Percentages: 46% in 2009, 49% in 2010.
Quarterback: True freshman Robert Bolden.
Last year's performance: N/A
Last year's run/pass split: 40 runs, 27 passes as Darryl Clark had four touchdowns in just 27 attempts.
Surprise! Penn State's quarterback situation is terrible. The Nittany Lions are 103rd in passer efficiency. To be fair they've gone up against the brutal defenses of Iowa and Alabama, but Bolden threw two interceptions against Kent State and a pick-six against Iowa on a day when people say he could have thrown four or five.
Their offensive line is really hurting, the tight ends are all injured, and Penn State will probably avoid passing too much as long as it remains relatively close.
MICHIGAN SECONDARY : OPPONENT PASS OFFENSE :: eucalyptus tree : koala bear
CHAPPELBOMB RATING: 1 of 5. Penn State's offensive line gets more hypothetical by the day and now they're down to freshmen or wide receivers at tight end. Meanwhile, Bolden is talented but error-prone, the perfect thing against a Michigan defense that is pretty good at watching others succeed or fail without having much impact either way. Expect gentle chewing.
Pass Percentages: 40% in 2009, 33% in 2010.
Quarterback: Redshirt freshman Nathan Scheelhaase.
Last year's performance: N/A
Last year's run/pass split: 11 passes, 56 runs, dead kittens all over the state.
Illinois was already wildly run-biased but they've managed to slide further away from the mean despite graduating half-Desmond, half-duck quarterback Juice Williams. A man named Scheelhaase might sound like a 6'5" pocket passer with a background in soccer and the mobility of John Navarre, but he's actually a highly-rated dual-threat quarterback with FAKE 40 times in the 4.5 range. The play distribution makes some sense.
It also makes sense because in three games against I-A competition Scheelhaase's best outing is 8 of 16 for 70 yards against Northern Illinois. In his first start against Missouri he put up an amazing, amazing stat line: 9 of 23 for 81 yards, a TD, and three INTs. If Michigan gets shredded by Illinois it won't be in the air.
MICHIGAN SECONDARY : OPPONENT PASS OFFENSE :: confused goat : equally confused goat.
CHAPPELBOMB RATING: 0 of 5. If Michigan can contain one passing offense this year, it will be this one.
Pass Percentages: 54% in 2009, 47% in 2010.
Quarterback: Redshirt freshman Robert "Rob" Henry, at least until such time as Angry Purdue ACL-Hating God gets bored.
Last year's performance: N/A
Last year's run/pass split: 39 passes, 29 runs as Joey Elliot went for almost 400 yards.
Henry is Purdue's second-stringer, and to add injury to injury (to injury) he'll be operating without his top receiver, top tailback, and possibly his third option at WR if Justin Siller can't make it back from a badly sprained ankle. Information on him is limited. In most of a game against Toledo he was 17 of 31 for 140 yards, a TD, and an INT. He's probably not that good if he was behind Robert Marve to start the year, especially since he's apparently a much better runner.
MICHIGAN SECONDARY : OPPONENT PASS OFFENSE :: chicken : fox with three peg-legs and eyepatches over both eyes hyyyarrr.
CHAPPELBOMB RATING: 2 of 5. Purdue is still a passing spread but their offensive line is in shambles and by the time the Michigan game rolls around they might be starting Random Student somewhere.
Pass Percentages: 37% in 2009, 35% in 2010.
Quarterback: Senior returning starter Scott Tolzien.
Last year's performance: Fire and brimstone falling from the sky as Tolzien averaged 10 YPA on 24 attempts, throwing 4 touchdowns to one INT and causing me to swear bloody revenge on Jay Hopson. Yes, again.
Last year's run/pass split: 52 rushes, 24 passes.
This was a complete debacle last year, causing me to fear Wisconsin even after they almost blew it against Arizona State; I'm still swallowing hard at the idea of going up against them again. Tolzien was awful against MSU but very good against ASU. In the games against patsies he's been efficient… and seldom used… kind of like he was last year against Michigan.
MICHIGAN SECONDARY : OPPONENT PASS OFFENSE :: abdomen : scalpel
CHAPPELBOMB RATING: 4 of 5. Yes, this again: efficient senior game manager who carved up Michigan's crap defense a year ago and has a good shot at doing it again.
Pass Percentages: 36% in 2009, 40% in 2010.
Quarterback: Terrelle Pryor, junior returning starter.
Last year's performance: Did virtually nothing: 9/17, 67 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
Last year's run/pass split: 53 runs, 17 passes.
That line from last year might have been more interesting if Tate Forcier wasn't busy throwing the game ball at various members of the Ohio State pass defense. As it was OSU had the Tresselball on full throttle. This year Pryor's nuked the patsies (though he did throw a couple interceptions against Ohio) and been somewhat limited against real opposition. Take out a shovel pass to Dan Herron that went for 47 yards and Pryor was 11 of 26 for 186 yards against Miami, with 62 of those on a single bomb to DeVier Posey. Last week against Illinois Pryor had another epic Tresselball stat line: 9/16, 76 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT. Apparently it was windy or something.
While I can totally see that Posey bomb happening against Michigan, I'd rather this defense give up a big touchdown and then a bunch of nothing than get Chappelbombed.
MICHIGAN SECONDARY : OPPONENT PASS OFFENSE :: London : V1 rocket
CHAPPELBOMB RATING: 2 of 5. Tressel will probably Tressel it, leaving Pryor a spectator and runner most of the day. Also… wind or not, his stats are not indicative of a guy who anyone is going to put a game on in a Chappell sort of way. Doubt he even gets to 25 attempts against M.