"The amount of professionalism that he has ... there's probably not another guy in the country that would have handled it the same way," Durkin said. "He's not only one of the best coaches in the country, he's one of the best people. He absolutely has the respect of everyone -- coaches and players, alike."
"I don’t care if Jim Harbaugh is medically insane (he is), if you run the coach out of town who took your team from absolute embarrassing garbage-pail irrelevance to conference-dominating powerhouse in ZERO YEARS, you are not only stupid, you don’t care about winning."
"We were a team that started out 2-5 and we came out of the first weekend of conference play at 11-11. Just like everybody else we had a number of injuries that we weren’t able to overcome. But I was really proud of how the team was able to stay focused, work hard, believed, kept fighting, no quit and finished strong."
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.
i actually think that many of mouton's mistakes are not just reactions to playing w/ ezeh, but also D line failures. next year, better D line play coupled with a replacement for mouton that probably isn't as good as he is probably yields about the same result. except that mouton is an effective blitzer and i doubt that will be replaced.
Regardless what the D-Line is doing, Mouton shouldn't lose contain.
One of the ways to explain why Mouton jumped to where Ezeh/Demens should be is if he has been conditioned by experience to believe that Ezeh/Demens would not be there, in which case he has to make a decision between keeping contain and doing someone else's job. Mouton does the latter a lot, and will get dinged every time (unless he makes a heroic play, I suppose).
I do agree that a good D-Line can make his job a lot easier.
Demens should just be getting PT on the sheer fact we don't lose a whole lot with him out there, and we need some more people to have experience for next year. speaking of which, i do not understand how JB Fitzgerald has yet to get any meaningful PT. Just on the fact that there is no way he is not athletic enough to play...how frustrating this is.
Good stuff, Brian. I enjoy these as much as the UFRs
The D is bad. We all know that. Horrible numbers against the pass.
All that said, if we can bottle up the run, then we'll be fine down the stretch. Teams were running the ball 50 times a game on us a year ago down the stretch because they knew they could without resistance and it kept the ball out of our hands.
I like the stat breakdown of what Iowa did when Demens was in there. We'll still get whipped down the stretch at times, I am sure, by the other team's passing attack, but if we live up to the 50-something ranked rush D we have now, we'll get enough stops, in enough game to get to 8 wins.
I think with Demens we might have a chance to do that. He seems an upgrade in the rush defense.
Mouton should have the outside shoulder of the tackle here. What I don't get is the blitzing of Kovacs off the corner. Blitzing the weak side is what gives Iowa the numbers stalemate as Kovacs is toast anytime he's challenged by a blocker of any sort. The weak side blitz works when they actually run to the strong size as Kovacs is in unblocked and makes one of those diving ankle grabbers on the TB.
Even more concerning to me is the fact that not one single DL is a factor here. A LB on a tackle is a mismatch, yet there is no one to even delay the tacke into getting out on the second level. In our running game, how good would we feel if the tackles got a free release into the secondary??? If we're in a 4 man front, it give the LBs a second to read the direction of the run and stuff the gaps. This 4-4 is really a 30 front with ROH(LB) with his hand down on the backside of the play. Iowa looks at this alignment, calls for the weak side run because the mismatches are on that side of the play. Kovacs vs fullback, Mouton versus unblocked Tackle, and DL inability to chuck their blockers even the slightest.
Blame Mouton for the bad/incorrect technique, but blame GERG and RR for repeatedly grabbing the handle of the hot pot on the stove week after week after week. If there is one prevelant thought I have watching our defense this year, its that we just make it damn easy for the opposition. We make these guys look like world beaters because of style of play. Could we really do any worse if pressured the offense more? Wait, I forget about our bump and run technique of just freezing at the snap and watching the recieve just run by before we can lay a hand on them, so yes, I guess it could make it worse.
If makes anyone feel better, I watched Alabama/Tennessee over the weekend and I saw Tennessee's DL/LB jump into the same gap several times.
Here's the second Iowa play from scrimmage on the day:
On that play, Iowa motions into an I-form twins, and the TE is again covered. Michigan is in a 4-4. It's the exact same call from Michigan as the picture-paged one, with Kovacs blitzing off the right side, but Iowa is running to the right. Here they're running away from Martin (not knowing yet that he's injured). Carvin Johnson has outside contain, and sets up well for that, so Demens can see the hole and attack it (while carrying an OL). The play goes for minus-3 yards.
With Iowa so overloaded on the front side of the play, Michigan should have a numbers advantage on the backside. If Mouton's on the outside, Demens is in the hole again, and the tackle is made at the line of scrimmage.
1. With Mike Martin in, defenses will avoid him.
2. Mouton need have only done what Carvin did there: step up and stay wide of his blocker.
3. Blitzing Kovacs on the first play does little since it doesn't go to his side. Had the RB tried to bounce back, however, Kovacs would already be in the backfield to tackle for a loss. On the TD play, blitzing Kovacs immediately sucked up the lead blocker. Having the fullback make his block in the backfield is good, since it clogs up running space and gives the linebackers more space to flow toward the ball. I'd rather have that than a fullback with a head of steam charging through a hole, and Kovacs set up uselessly outside. You can see from the earlier play that Carvin stepping up accomplished pretty much the same thing: canceling out the lead blocker in the backfield.
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Kovacs into the backfield is a good play if he's under control and makes the RB and/or FB hesitate or adjust his angle. It's akin to your little brother rushing at you with that wild-eye look like he's going to kick your ass and you just hap-hazardly brush him aside using his own momentum; you don't even break stride as he goes flying into the closet.
I know I'm splitting hairs and using the post as a soap box for more adversion to 30 fronts, but I would feel much better with DE on that tackle and LBs free to flow to the ball.
If you look at the pre-snap alignments of this play ("Good Play") and the pre-snap alignments of Brian's picture-paged play ("Bad Play"), you will see that Carvin is aligned on the "Good Play" where Kovacs was aligned on the "Bad Play" and Demens is aligned on the "Good Play" where Mouton was aligned on the "Bad Play".
Your point #2 should instead be, "Kovacs need have only done what Carvin did there: step up and stay wide of his blocker" rather than trying to avoid the blocker and subsequently taking himself out of the play. That was actually a great play by Carvin as he was able to anchor against the H-Back (who I assume outweight him by at least 30 pounds) while taking on the H-Back's outside shoulder, thus allowing Carvin to keep contain.
Notice how Roh does a good job of slowing up the Tackle on the "Good Play", allowing Demens to get to the hole without having to deal with a blocker. Contrast that with Mouton on the "Bad Play" having to deal with the LT right in his face.
Mouton is the easy scapegoat, but I honestly don't think the touchdown was any more his fault than Kovac's or Bank's. The "Good Play" featured (1) Carvin taking on a lead blocker while still maintaining contain, (2) Roh more or less taking on a double team b/c he was able to slow up the RT and (3) Demens hitting the hole unscathed and making a very solid tackle. The "Bad Play" featured (1) Kovacs taking himself out of the play by avoiding the FB and basically allowing the RB to break contain, (2) Banks getting combo'd by the LG and LT and (3) Mouton failing to properly defeat a block.
In my opinion Kovacs should have stopped blitzing and tried to meet the FB closer to the LOS rather than so far upfield (TFLs are nice but not when they open up giant gaping lanes). This would allow him to be closer to his help, thus giving the RB less room to manuever.
In my opinion though, Kovacs had a much more difficult job taking on the FB in Brian's picture-page than Carvin had taking on the H-Back in your clip. The FB in Brian's clip had more space/room to get to full speed than the H-back did in your clip, so it would have been unlikely that Kovacs would have been able to anchor the FB the way Carvin anchored the H-back.
If Kovacs cuts/chops the FB and creates a pile, the RB either cuts up inside where Mouton and Demens are or takes a wider angle to the outside where hopefully Mouton and Demens are able to catch him (which I think they do since Mouton has pretty good speed, and Demens appears to have good speed too).
If it was somebody bigger (e.g. Fitzgerald, Herron, Roh, etc) blitzing who can take on the FB and actually have a chance at blowing up the play (i.e. stalemating the FB, then shedding the block, then making the tackle), then maybe getting that far upfield becomes a more acceptable risk (try for that TFL). This would obviously still open up the possibility of the RB breaking contain if the blitzer doesn't get off the block and make the tackle, but it would at least re-route the ballcarrier and offer the possibility of a big-time TFL.
Regardless, what Kovacs did was the worst thing he could have done on that particular play; the RB ran by him like he wasn't even there in the first place.
As MightandMain and Colin pointed out, this illustrates the point exactly. Kovacs needs to do what Carvin did there, regardless of if he's blitzing or not. Instead he simply runs himself out of the play. Roh actually stands up to a double and allows Demens to run in free. On the picture paged play, Kovacs runs himself out of the play, the DE gets killed, and Mouton has a blocker on him, which he then compounds by shedding to the wrong side. Mouton is the easy target, as the LB play has been shoddy for 3 years running. But he's far from the only on responsible on the play, and he may even have the least responsibility of any of the three.
What I don't get is the blitzing of Kovacs off the corner. Blitzing the weak side is what gives Iowa the numbers stalemate as Kovacs is toast anytime he's challenged by a blocker of any sort. The weak side blitz works when they actually run to the strong size as Kovacs is in unblocked and makes one of those diving ankle grabbers on the TB.
This is just a wild guess, but probably when Gerg dialed up the blitz, he didn't actually know what play Iowa had called.
I think we send Kovacs an awful lot when we align this way. In fact, we did it a couple times earlier in the game. Iowa was going off tendencies on this play call and it worked. The goal for an offense is to exploit mismatches when they can and this must have been a mismatch in their eyes with their LT on one of our LBs and their fullback on Kovacs.
They probably thought that even if Mouton takes the outside shoulder, kovacs stands up the fullback, and Michigan fills the gaps that they could get the 3 yards for the first down because of the push they would be able to get...otherwise, why call it?
FTR, it was also a Kovacs blitz that got picture paged after the State game, when Baker (I think) busted out for a 40 yd. TD. Again, the point of the pic pages was that other defenders were getting themselves unduly sealed. But in both cases, having our best tackler available to, you know, tackle might be an especially important point of strategy for this team -- even at the expense of dialing down the likelihood of a TFL. That is what bend-but-don't-break should be all about.
I had slightly tempered this view after seeing Kovacs do a little bit of damage in the backfield against Iowa, but seeing it spelled out in stop-action photos brings it back.
It's like he's thinking "get to the ball, get to the ball!" right from the snap, as though he's the only one on the team who can make the play. He approaches the line too fast, the tackle gets the inside angle on him, and the only way past is then to the inside. One more step to the outside laterally and he's around the outside of that block.
It seems like Mouton's has gotten too used to having crummy players around him and keeps thinking he has to do it all himself. He got suckered into taking the inside route and broke contain because he was too anxious to make the tackle himself and didn't trust his teammates.
However one defines playing one's "assignment", I think it can be safely said that Mouton generally doesn't play his. With all the fail that has infused our defense over the past few years, he has clearly gotten into the habit of attacking the football, rather than playing his assignment.
He may yet learn to trust his teammates to execute their own assignments, but I'm not particularly hopeful.
It's hard to be disciplined when large chunks of your unit aren't very good. You can see the impulse to do it all himself, captured nicely by TennBlue's "get to the ball, get to the ball!" comment.
Brian, in the review you mention that Sagesse going down was more luck than anything in your opinion.However, for once, Sagesse deployed text book technique, we're just not used to seeing it. As a defensive lineman, when you get double teamed, you are taught to do one of two things, either split it or sit it. Basically, when you feel the pressure of two guys on you you either have to get of the block and make it in between them, effectively freeing yourself up and still keeping your gap, or split it which is what Hulk usually does. The other option is to sit it, where when you feel yourself going backwards, you grab hold of the two players blocking you and fall to the ground bringing them with you. What this does is creates a mass of bodies the the HB is unable to run through. Essentially Sagesse erased two blockers and his gap all in one motion. Now as a coach, you would like to see him do this a little closer to the line of scrimmage, but it's still not a bad play.
This isn't actually one of the plays that I think people were questioning, at least it wasn't one I was questioning. Mouton clearly made an error here and deserved a minus. I would say however, that Kovacs abaolutely sahouldn't be getting off with an "oh well, he did something kind of whatever. No plus or minus." Kovacs was just as responsible on that play for giving up the edge as Mouton. As the outside guy, you can't just blitz the edge irresponsibly, kinda sorta bump into the fullback who easily gives you a little shove way out of the play, and then just get a pass. He has to take on a block there, regardless if he's blitzing or not. I realize he's not big enough to be doing that, but then that's an RPS issue.
That was actually my biggest problem with most of the clips purported to show bad play by Mouton. I saw Kovacs as the outside contain on two out of the three clips. Did the RB on those plays go inside of him? Yes, so I guess technically he "contained" him. But that's really not the standard for contain. If it was a guy could get blocked or just run to the sideline on every play and say "well I did my job. Totally contained baby!" As the outside guy, he's got to at least force the RB to redirect back inside a little bit, which he doesn't do on this play, or on two of the plays linked in the UFR. He rarely takes on blockers, instead running around them to the outside and opening up huge lanes.
Honestly, while this play certainly deserved a negative on Mouton, I think you're expecting Mouton to do far, far too much in this defense.
Personal opinion here of course, and perhaps Magnus or Steve Sharik will disagree with me and, if so, I'll take their word, as I believe they have more experience than I do (run on sentences are fun!).
However, In this scenario, I'd prefer to see Kovacs go low on the blocker and create a pile to redirect the RB a little farther inside (basically cut the blocker). At the very least I'd rather see him simply take on the blocker and get blown up. At least he's not running himself completely out of the play, which is what happened here.
Now again, Mouton did mess up by fighting to the inside of the block, so I don't think Kovacs doing something different would have led to a hugely different outcome. That said, I've always felt like you need to neg ALL mistakes on a play, regardless if they directly affect the outcome of the play or not. Even a slight change to the RB's angle or burst to the hole may have changed the outcome.
I'd also say I think it's a little optimistic to think Mouton would have made the stop before the first down had he fought to the outside. He was met at about the 11 and disengaged from the block at about the 10 or 9. The first down was the 8. Robinson had a head of steam and was running pretty hard that day. At best I'd say he gets the first down but not a TD.
Unlikely, that tackle was laying a solid block on Mouton. However, if the back saw Mouton and the tackle stumbling toward the sideline, he would have had to adjust his path inside where we hope Demens would have met him with a bear hug.
Instead of heading upfield, he should run straight at the FB and cut/chop him so that they create a pile. This will force the RB to cut upfield or at least go around the pile to the outside, hopefully giving the pursuit enough time to converge.
Kovacs basically took himself out of the play by charging so hard upfield and then trying to avoid the FB block. Every SS/LB is taught that when a FB is about to block you with the RB following closely behind, you cannot get out of the way of the FB b/c you will allow the RB to run through without forcing him to change his path.
Ideally, that would have been Fitzgerald or Herron in that spot and he would have been able to take on the FB on the FB's outside shoulder, allowing Fitz or Herron to keep contain, and also force the RB to cut or slow down.
but doesn't Mouton assume responsibility for outside contain if Kovacs is sent on a blitz on this play? If Kovacs weren't blitzing then he would be the outside guy, but the blitz was called and thus it seems that Mouton should have processed this and taken responsibility for the edge--namely by fighting to the outside rather than the inside off his block. I got the impression that all Brian is asking of Mouton is to recognize when he is responsible for outside contain (e.g., when the flat safety blitzes), which doesn't seem like too much to ask, and thinking "get outside, get outside, get outside" throughout the play in that case.
Is this analysis inaccurate or unfair to Mouton?
"There was a time I could have been mistaken for Burt Reynolds. I had a moustache and so did he. But he was the number one star in the world, so there wasn't really much confusion."
As I said, I'm not saying Mouton should get a pass here. He absolutely should have fought to the outside rather than the inside. I think that should go without saying. The only reason I even stated that was because I didn't want people to think I wanted to give Mouton a pass on this play.
However, even on a blitz, Kovaks has to recognize (in my opinion of course. Again, if Sharik or Magnus disagree, I'll take their word here) that he can't completely give up the edge and run himself out of the play here. If he was a lineman, Brian likely would have given him a minus for getting too far upfield and being irresponsible in his rush. The big thing is, that this happened many, many times in this game, and all on plays that closely resemble this one. Even when Mouton was fighting to the outside of a block or was unblocked, Kovaks was being easily chipped out of the play by a fullback. He just can't get that far upfield.
EDIT:In fact, looking at the pre snap alignment, I think Kovacs really messed up here. The DE is lined up slightly inside (to my eyes) the tackle, with Mouton slightly inside him. You've got to assume the DE is going to get passed to the guard (Ideally he'd force a double team, but yea right) and that the tackle is going to get out on Mouton. Even if he fights to the outside that play is a first down.
To be clear, still a bad play by Mouton, but also on Kovacs. Perhaps I'm making it sound like Kovacs is more responsible here and that Mouton did nothing wrong. That is not my intent. You are correct in that Mouton needs to understand he has to get outside, and under no circumstance can he fight to the inside of the block. All I'm saying is that an out of control play by Kovacs certainly didn't help matters, and he was just as responsible as Mouton on the play.
For Mouton? Seems like Mouton's size is the hardest attribute to find. Jake Ryan is 223 on the current roster, making him the biggest non-MLB type candidate. C. Gordon, Mike Jones, Furman all need to put on some pounds to get there.
that putting on pounds is going to be too big an obstacle to playing LB. Demens got up to 250 after arriving at 215-220 i think. Mouton got up to 240 after arriving at 205 including tacking on 10-15 last offseason. Bell is already at 240 and is a candidate to start. MJones is at 210, with 230 likely being an acceptable weight for a 6-2 guy.
If this staff has accomplished one thing at an optimal level, it has been increasing strength without sacrificing speed.