IF I WAS NOT BLITZING I MAY HAVE BEEN IN THIS AREA
TOMMY REES IS A JERK
I HOPE HE THROWS A BALL BACKWARDS FOR NO REASON LATER
This happened a lot. Michigan would line up, show something unsound, and Rees would check into something that would punish the defense. Blue Seoul highlighted another instance where Michigan tipped its blitz:
Also a result:
Michigan would line up in its okie package on plausible running downs like third and five, which caused Rees to check to runs up the middle. With no linebackers and Mike Martin dropping into coverage these went for about 20 yards.
Hell, even when good things happened this was going on. Look at this dude on Kovacs's interception:
That is a 65-yard touchdown waiting to happen if Rees's brain isn't going FLOYDFLOYDFLOYDFLOYDFLOYDFLOYD. The difference between a great call and an idiotic call is Rees not being a true sophomore in his fifth start with deep man love for Michael Floyd.
Seriously. Michigan's defensive RPS is going to have huge numbers because Mattison is doing all sorts of crazy stuff. This defense is the philosophical opposite of the bland 4-3 cover twos of Iowa, Michigan State, and Wisconsin.
They show a bunch of different fronts, blitz from everywhere, don't bother to cover guys in the seam when there are no safeties… it's a freak show out there. Sometimes it works. When it doesn't it's ugly. ND's last touchdown is especially galling because Michigan had to know ND would see this massive bust on the Kovacs INT and check into "free seam touchdown" when Michigan checked to cover zero. In this instance there was at least a guy vaguely in the area, but they've got a lot to work on.
Blitzing is not such a good idea when you wave your hand and say "sir: I am blitzing." In the first half Michigan tipped their blitzes a lot. Matters improved when Hawthorne came in—I watched him blitz without so much as taking those anxious shuffle steps, let alone going LOL I'M AT THE LINE—but it's disconcerting to watch the Michigan defense freak out on a QB handclap so consistently. They should know by now that the clap often leads to a check, because the offense did that a ton last year.
So… where is Michigan's check after ND checks? You can't check all the time because then ND's check will be "let's change their play without changing ours" but you have to check some of the time, particularly early.
Avery could have done better here. He's beaten to the inside too easily and can't tackle on the catch. He is not capable of dealing with Mike Floyd. Not many are, but predictions in this space of a bust-out year are not off to a good start. It's early yet.
Not that it would have mattered: Avery can run his slant for Floyd and Eifert is still hand-wavingly wide open. Dude could have gone for 150 against us if Tommy Rees's brain wasn't going FLOYDFLOYDFLOYDFLOYD.
Another reason for worry. This defense is unsound. Does Mattison want it to be unsound because it makes Kovacs pop up for turnovers or does he have little choice in the matter because he's starting a walk-on (Heininger—Kovacs has graduated), a couple freshmen, and only 2.5 non-walkon seniors (RVB, Martin—Woolfolk is the half)?
I don't know, but I'm betting it's the latter. I am glad they've got a week to practice not leaving guys wide open all day. They're busting coverages every other play.
these are incredibly aggressive defenses, and there are some mistakes being made. But Hoke and Mattison know young players in a new D are going to make mistakes, yet they're still going all up in it
Conclusion: GMAT has come to the same conclusion about this year's D as RR did about 2008's O - I'm going to install it and let the chips fall where they may. They didn't know any system last year, so why not? They will get better as they go, both this year and down the road (and this D has a lot more talent than that O)
He's said many times that you can't let the QB just sit back there because he'll pick you apart. So at least it appears that he's making the QB do more that just pick which reciever he wants to throw it to because they WILL always be open and I'll have the time.
The last few years we didn't have the secondary to really shut down recievers and then didn't generate enough pressure, so the results were really bad. I'll take the fact that at least we are bringing the pressure and making the QB 1) potentially check into a play 2) have to get rid of it quickly Forces them to think and make the correct decision. Now they need to make it more difficult obviously. Hoke/Mattison also said that sometimes they want the QB to check into somthing else - so they know the game and I think these are a lot easier to teach than just sitting back and waiting to get burned....this is more mental = teaching, last few years was just a bad scheme/talent/experience = not easy to teach.
At least I have the feeling that that coaching staff really does know what they want to do and just needs to get the players on the same page/learn...I didn't have that feeling last year on D.
You can learn to make better decisions, you can't learn to be more physically gifted week to week.
After seeing those stills, I fear for our defense when it faces 5th year QBs Persa and Cousins. Son of a bitch. Sometimes I feel better not knowing.
Still, this kind of info is what separates MGoBlog from anyting I've ever seen on the interwebs. Well done, Brian. For a geer-head, you're ontop of your football game. Wanna be a JV offensive coordinator for a small private school in Oakland County?
Henninger is in. He doesn't command a double team, which allows the guard, who obviously saw Woolfolk coming, to block him easily. The entire right side of the line points as they see Woolfolk trying to time the blitz.
I think if VanBergen is in and Woolfolk times this better, we get to Rees. As it is, the center easily blocks Henninger, Woolfolk gets stoned and Avery can't cover Floyd 1v1 and its an easy completion.
I think part of what we're seeing where Kovacs and others tip their blitzes is intentional mind games on Mattison's part. Mattison wants to give the quarterback too many things to think about. The linebackers or safeties lining up like "oh, I'm blitzing, wait, no I'm not, wait, yes I am only now I'm in the 'B' gap, wait, fooled you again" stuff isn't about having a sound coverage scheme, it's about confusing the quarterback (and O-line) enough that either a blitz gets home due to busted coverage or a pass gets rushed into a well-covered lane when the blitz doesn't come. The zone blitz calls follow the same idea: RVB covering Michael Floyd is a terrible idea in terms of sound defense, but the point of zone blitzing is to keep the QB and OL constantly guessing where the pressure will come from and which short zone lanes will be occupied. It's a high-risk, high-reward defense by design.
And seeing as the defense was clearly able to get into the head of experienced senior Alex Carder last week, it seems reasonable that Mattison would try even harder to get into the head of inexperienced sophomore Tommy Rees. I give Rees (and Kelly) a lot of credit for being so effective against this, especially early in the game. But I also think that, as the game went on, the mind games did start to work: notice Rees did start to lock onto Floyd more and more as the game went on. I suspect that starting slow but becoming more effective as the game goes on will be a hallmark of our defense this year, as Mattison's mind games start to wear our opponents out mentally as well as physically. And aside from the busted coverage on the Riddick touchdown (which was just busted coverage, not an RPS problem IMO) and the general unguardability of Floyd, I thought our defense did become increasingly effective as the game continued.
Another note: a lot of folks have shown some concern about running an Ed Reed-level defense when you don't actually have Ed Reed. Maybe I'm just grading on a curve, but I'd argue the opposite: it's really impressive how well folks like Ryan Van Bergen have adapted to dropping into zone coverage given their very limited experience with it. And they'll only keep getting better with experience. Remember, we're only two games into a new system. Patience is required!
Football allows the intellectual part of my brain to evolve, but it allows the emotional part to remain unchanged. And this is all I want from everything, all the time, always. --Chuck Klosterman
I'd also argue that while UM doesn't have an Ed Reed on their defense, they aren't trying to run this against Tom Brady/Wes Welker, Brees/Colston, Rothleisberger/Ward, etc. It's college players trying to run it against college players.
... than what coach Hoke said at the end of the game? His message and Brian's post convey the same idea: It's obviously nice to win football games, but we have a lot of work to do on both offense and defense. And yet Brian is "douchey" for agreeing with the HC.
I'm all for LOL-ing at Hoke's love for "tremendous" and pointing. I understand coach-speak. But, "This defense has a long way to go" has probably been his single most repeated message since the Spring game. And it has been confirmed on the field. Yes, the sample size is small and the defense will, God willing, improve over the course of the season. But right now, today, it's pretty much indisputable that the defense has a long way to go. For the life of me, I can't understand why that's a controversial position to take.
(Sorry, this was supposed to be a reply to the poster who referred to Brian's post as "douchey.")
This is it exactly. Even yesterday Hoke said 'you would think we would be farther along by now" with regard to the d-line. Why aren't poster attacking Hoke for being too negative? The criticism of Brian's post is ridiculous.
"Before I could pull the trigger, I was hit by lightning, and bitten by a cobra."
I would totally neg Hoke if he posted on the board here. I'm sick of his emo bullshit.
Seriously, though. I don't know what's wrong with the community's reading comprehension re; Brian's posts the last few days. I think there's some reasonable room for dispute about how concerned we should be about the offense, but the D gave up 500 yards and 31 points in a game in which they benefitted from 4 turnovers. And also the defense has sucked for several years. There might be some signs of life, but there were clearly mistakes and there is clearly cause for concern going forward.
I think this Picture Pages is great, tone and content. I don't get the bitching.
I agree 100%. Brain's is just providing the insightful game analysis I read this blog for in a very humorous tone.
Playing devil's advocate on his point about bad rps for this game, it seems to me that we tipped our hand waaaaaay too early on blitzs, and it is there for a no brainer to go left against 2 instead of right against 9. It would have been interesting to see how some of this worked out if we don't tip our hand so much.
Edit: sorry. Somehow over looked Brian's spot on tipping our hand. Anyone got a feel if these blitzes work better if we don't tip our hand?
I think it is bei g critisized because it is not particularly in
Blitzing leaves recievers open
Telegraphing a blitz makes it less effectivewhat is still useful about Brian's posts is that the generate lots of good discussion and I learn alot. However, more and more, I'm not learning both fromBrian's original post and the responses, but only from the responses.
Maybe I'm reading this with Hoke colored glasses, but it seems that his posts used to criticize but also offer insight into what could be done better. Given the defensive personel he has, what should Mattison be doi g different? That would be useful insight. Lots of things aten't working I can figure out for myself
the likes of MSU and Iowa where we will se similar styles of offense with less talent than ND. I am worried about how we will do against mobile QB's like Persa, Martinez, and Scheelhase (sp?) As long as we continue to learn on D and O, this is what will make us a better team than last year. We are going to have many more moments like this in the next two years until we start consistently hearing Michigan Football on Saturdays.
Harbaugh - I don't always tweet unless Pete provokes me.
Our defense is unsound regardless of scheme. If you're blitzing, someone is open. If you're not blitzing, someone is open. I'd blitz and run confusion packages all day. Until we have dbs that can defend dudes or a DL that can create pressure on their own, we're stuck making lemonade.
The problem with our defense last year is our DB's were not very good at coverage. Bringing in a 5th and/or 6th guy, (who were worse than the starting 4 obviously) was useless; the best way to help out the starting 4 DB's was to get to the QB ASAP. It seemed we rarely tried to do that and suffered a death of a thousand cuts.
Desmond Morgan tipped his blitz every time and ND changed the call to run in the middle that was vacated. I don't know crap about football and that was obvious. I could see it occuring once or twice but it happened several times. I think Brian has good insight and I guess we will see how much better we get at running this defense. I do prefer it to the old Michigan bend but don't break defensive philosophy. But then again I prefer the spread.
"I knew Bo Schembechler and you sir, are no Bo Schembechler!"
I think it's important to note that these guys are playing this brand of defense for the first time in many of their careers. Greg Robinson didn't dare fake a blitz and then drop someone into coverage. He was as vanilla as can be. And Scott Shafer - in his 2/3 of a season before being neutered - didn't play much like Mattison's defense, either.
The difference between NFL defenses and Michigan's defenses (aside from talent/experience) is that when offenses audible, the defenses audible, too. As I was watching the game (admittedly only once so far), I didn't see ANY audibilizing by the defense. When Rees checked to a different play after seeing a blitz, the blitzers might back out of their gaps...but when the ball was snapped, they came anyway. An experienced defense with a little bit of autonomy might realize that they showed their hand and check to a different play, but we just can't do that right now.
I thought Hawthorne was a bit of a revelation because, unlike Kovacs and the other linebackers, Hawthorne didn't show a damn thing before the snap. That's why a couple of his blitzes were successful while a lot of the other dudes got stoned.
I was pretty impressed at the guys ability to hide the fact that he was blitzing. I was actually impressed with him all around. It would be a nice bonus if he kept turning in good performances for the D.
I think he's darn close to the defensive MVP in this game. I am sure he made mistakes, but he didnt play a single down during the first two possessions. He came in on possession three and his presence and aggression were noticeable. He never really came off the field after that and then began to make some plays
I have no clue what to make of that. Is he becoming a player? Please say yes, Magnus. I'll sick Vincent on you, if you say no.
I don't know... Hawthorne looked pretty solid on Saturday.
I'm not exactly sure why you're trying to throw Vincent Smith in my face. Hoke and Borges are using him exactly as I wanted him to be used all along - as a catcher of screens and as a change-of-pace back. So if you're throwing him in my face in an attempt to say, "HAH, Magnus, you were right!"...then...uhhh...okay. I always said he was a situational back and not a feature back, and so far that seems to be playing out.
This may be an obvious comment, and one which shows that I know way less than most of you on this Board about defense, but I am correct that Rees also ignores the open guy in the first set of pictures -- even though he completes the pass? Maybe the D is simply counting on college quarterbacks not having the vision to see the whole field, and, as was noted above, consciously taking chances.
I hate to say it but I believe that alot of people are overestimating our defensive talent right now. We simply arent very talented. I dont think that Mattison would blitz as much if the defensive line could generate any sort of pressure with the front four but we see that isnt happening so he has to blitz. Some people seem to think that theres some perfect scheme we could use or to adapt the defense around the players. While I agree with adapting to the players, I feel the difference between adapting to our offense versus our defense is that our offense is much more talented. Frankly, what do they do well that we could begin to build around? He has to blitz because otherwise they would just move the ball and tear us up like they did the first couple of drives and how WM Qb did as well. Plus I believe he realized that Rees, while more accurate and a better decision maker than Christ, doesnt have the arm to throw it deep (30+ yards in the air). So I think he just banked on blitz and tipping the blitz to try and get to throw the hot read and keep it short and underneat and hope they could jump one ala Korvacs.
I think you're right. We just don't have much talent out there on the defensive side of the field. While Mattison's schemes are hardly a silver bullet, I much prefer his chance taking than the slow death we experienced most games the last few years under GERG. While Mattison's blitzes up the risk factor, they also up the reward opportunities.
Not to take credit away from Floyd, but he really didn't do too much spectacular stuff. Most of his catches were basic catches, its just that Rees went to him ALOT. As Brian alluded to, Rees could have made any one of his receivers out to have a career day if he wanted to. I really hope we can get better defensively fast. We need more pressure up front without the blitz, because when the blitz doesn't work, man coverage in the secondary is a recipe for disaster.
Is alignment on that trips formation. It's a good thing ND didn't have an auto-bubble checkdown like Western did. We've got one guy lined up covering three, a corner in the parking lot 10 yards off the ball, and a LB on the opposite hash? Plus a safety covering deep half 15 yards away from the play?
That alignment seems to be asking for a checkdown quick hit, and the pressure (real or not) is only going to make it worse. I see the reason for the press coverage on a blitz, but dropping coverage 10 yards off and blitzing doesn't make much sense to me.
"Why would you ask a dumb question like that?" -Lloyd Carr
My only wish is that the linebackers would fake more blitzes when they are going to just play the base defense. This way the QB won't be so easily tipped off when they jump the gun on a real blitz. Instead, they often looked like statues five yards deep when they were playing a base defense.
I think the picture page is misleading. What you can't tell from the pictures but get a feel for watching it live, is the momentum of Rees body and closing speed of Black. I am not sure Rees can make the throw to the man breaking open without re-adjusting and to re-adjust would have meant dealing with a fast closing Black. Go ahead, go out to a football field, run near full speed towards the sideline,with a 250 pounder chasing you down and make the type of throw Rees would have had to make to hit the open man.
Rees priority one was getting the first down and time was limited with Black coming after Rees. It's much easier to look at an aerial view and make the easy read with all day to make it, it is quite another thing to do it in real time from ground level. Had Rees seen Kovacs and decided against the throw, he would have had little option but to throw the ball away.
I an not writing this to exonerate the D, but this particular easy TD does not look so easy to me.
It's kind of ridiculous to respond to this a day later, but whatever. This is a great point and shows something interesting. Even with the guy running free down the seam, this defense worked (this time) at confusing Rees. By faking the blitz, he shifted to a protection that guarded the inside at the expense of the outside. The result, when we pulled back into coverage, was the entire left side of ND's oline blocked no one while turning Black loose (maybe rolling the pocket here was a line check as well, which served to eliminate 3 of his 5 receivers. The only choices left to Rees were to throw to Floyd who was being undercut, to attempt a very difficult across the body throw to the wide open TE (one that Robinson might have been able to defend if it floated as many such throws do), or to set his feet for the same throw, resulting in either a sack or a huge hit as the ball went out.
The down side was Rees recognizing the same look on the last drive and checking into a perfect play.
RPS +1, RPS -1. That's the nature of a gambling defense meant to confuse the QB.
I think I just read 122 replies to Brian's post ...
that details, in pictures the defensive breakdowns on a several plays including one where Michigan forces a turnover? Really ? Seems that JK was in Reece's mind on that play. Denard threw one of those ... "shit I didn't see that safety there" too. In ANY game you can usually find some receiver that broke coverage - but the QB just didn't see him.
I still believe that this defense came through in crunch time - only 1 breakdown (albeit a big one) in the 4th qtr. The run D stuffed nd on 3rd and short at least twice that I can recall and I believe Floyd only had 1 catch in the 4th qtr.
Is the a great defense, defined as one that makes very few mistakes? Nope. Is this defense better than 2008, 2009 or 2010? ... I say Yes.
No place on earth I'd rather be on a football Saturday than Michigan Stadium !
This defense is giving itself a chance. The D is definitely a work in progress, but atleast it is attacking (or fake attacking), and being aggressive. This alone makes offenses have to account for something other than "which receiver can I pass it to, I'll just sit back here and wait for 5 minutes and then decide". Whether or not the blitzed get home, they are still coming and that creates its own kind of pressure. I'd much rather see our DB's get beat in one on one man coverage (which they are, but at least they aren't giving up big plays), than watch us get picked apart playing a zone with 20 yard cushions. Sometimes just being close enough is enough to get a turnover.
I agree that the defense appears unsound at times, but a scheme heavily dependent on complex stunts and blitzes will be unsound as players learn where they are supposed to be. I agree with Brian that we may not quite have the personnel (especially to play straight up base 4-3. I agree with special sauce that in that instance, I would rather they take some chances, potentially confusing the QB and getting big plays periodically. I am somewhat resigned (at least for now) that a big play is going to happen in from time to time in this situation. I do agree that they must work on the discipline, so as to not show the blitz, pre-snap, as much. Overall, however, I think this is an improvement. Tackling is clearly better (not good enough yet) and I haven't seen O-line "swallowing up" the D-line where you can't see our guy's jersey anymore. We are still getting blocked, but with the improved technique, there is at least a chance they could shed a blocker and make a play.
Overall Mattison is doing a good job of trying to win the play before the snap. Setting up defensive formations, fake blitzes, etc design to confuse the quarterback and make him do something dumb.
Clearly we can't sit in base defense all game, because we lack the skill to survive without getting pressure and pulling out tricks to force turnovers (see Last Year).
The deal is, and accept this now, on the plays we tip our hand or the QB figures out what Mattison is trying to pull, we're going to suffer. We lack the athletic ability to survive in a base configuration. When the QB figures out where we're weakening ourselves to get pressure it will just get worse. On the plays he doesn't figure it out we get a sack, a turnover, etc.
So far we're ahead in the TO margin, the defense has scored points, and we don't let people just bomb us for big plays anymore. That's solid progress from last year. It sure as hell beats sitting back and letting Wisconsin kick out asses with nothing but Power I for an entire half.
He walks up to the line to cover Floyd, 1 yard off, and no jam. I don't understand this. He walks up, plays patty-cake and gets juked. Looks like Avery is playing the sideline as he turns his feet that way even though Floyd is clearly running a slant. Give him a quick jam and the play is disrupted. Also, if Floyd is jammed the ball goes to #80, but if it does, #80 gets destroyed by Kovacs at the 17 yard line.
Was it really that bad? The defense only allowed 10 points from 2:00 in the first quarter until 00:30 to go in the 4th quarter. Thats 10 points in over 3 full quarters of football and still only 17 points including the broken coverage TD (easily corrected) at the end of the game.
ND had 11 possessions after the two quick TDs
There were three possessions that resulted in 3 and outs. The defense did its job for the vast majority of the game, creating turnovers, getting huge 3rd down stops in the 2nd half and generaly keeping UM in the game. The defense is not giving up BIG PLAYS! Thats the stated objective of G. Mattison.