I have no idea what Greg Robinson is trying to accomplish. This puts me in the same situation as Greg Robinson.
Awesome, just awesome. /s
Note: no UFR today, as the torrent got down late Monday and I couldn't do the first half then. Hopefully both halves tomorrow.
You'll have to forgive the picture quality on this one—both of these are low-quality torrents. Just like Michigan's defense. AMIRITE!
So in the game column this week I complained about the alignment of the middle linebacker in this bastardized version of the 3-3-5. Michigan has him maybe a yard behind the nose tackle, like so:
This creates a major vulnerability against misdirection, as we'll see. This play is a first and ten on Penn State's first drive. They've driven it into the Michigan half of the field because of depressing things, and more depressing things will happen. This isn't one of them. Michigan shows a two-deep with six in the box, but moves Kovacs down late to add a seventh guy, which gives Michigan the formation above versus Penn State's ace 3-wide.
At the snap the offset fullback heads inside the tackle to his side. You can see the handoff is going to be made to the right side of McGloin. Linebackers start scraping as each and every DE attempts to take on two blockers:
Here's the handoff point. The fullback is hitting the backside B gap, which makes me think this is a called counter play. Where's Demens?
Demens has taken a step towards the line of scrimmage and has hit a guard. Now… he hit the backside guard, the one that PSU is cutting towards. He read the play, but he's a linebacker two yards from the LOS meeting a guard with a free release who's much bigger than him. Momentum means that the best he can do is bounce off it and attempt to flow down the line. (This is much more apparent in the video below.)
The play cuts back as designed. Roh has attacked a frontside gap. Martin and Demens are caught up in the wash on the interior, and Mouton, who was scraping along well back of everyone else, is going to eat the fullback four yards downfield:
The saving grace here is Kovacs, who sifts through the blockers and makes a mediocre ankle tackle that the RB (Royster, I think) steps through:
Demens and others finish it off but after four yards:
Michigan got away with this by putting an extra player in the box late. When Penn State was not caught in a bad playcall, counters like this gashed Michigan all night.
Here's the video:
I don't have an exact replica of this from Rodriguez's WVU days but here's an inside zone Rutgers ran in their 2007 game. Rutgers was no joke on the ground in '07. Ray Rice was around and the Scarlet Knights finished 26th nationally.
The first thing that's obvious is that the MLB is six yards off the line of scrimmage, not two. Also despite playing against a bigger set—Rutgers has a tight end on the field instead of a third wide receiver—West Virginia maintains two deep safeties:
At the snap WVU has shifted to an aggressive look with the OLBs and the spur at the LOS; the MLB has moved up a yard:
At the snap six players attack the line, giving all but one WVU DL a one-on-one matchup:
This is a similar setup, really: inside zone. Main difference is that there is an inline TE instead of a fullback on the backside, but they block the backside end above. The playside end is about to beat a Rutgers tackle to the inside. Note the MLB two yards away from the LOS now—where Demens started the play—after the handoff. He's scraping to the hole. A Rice cutback would be somewhat problematic for him but he's not likely to get a lineman in his face:
MLB has now engaged an OL at the LOS. Rutgers tackle is totally beaten and forces Rice to start cutting:
There are four WVU guys in the area:
And Rice goes down shortly after he crosses the LOS:
On the day Rutgers would get 183 rushing yards, but Mike Teel completed under 50% of his passes and threw two interceptions on a 128 yard passing day because WVU left the safeties back the whole time. West Virginia won 31-3. Their rushing defense was 18th nationally.
I have no idea what Greg Robinson is trying to accomplish. This puts me in the same situation as Greg Robinson.
Awesome, just awesome. /s
Sad but true
It makes sense to me, and I can't argue with the analysis. Nor do I understand what GERG's trying to accomplish. But the reason I can't argue with it is that I am not a coach. And neither is Brian. Neither he nor any of us are in the room when these positions are designed. This is not a "coaches know best so STFU" rant. But the fact is that for this critique, unless you are in the coaches room and understand what they are doing positioning the LB's the way that they are, none of us are qualified to say that Demens and Mouton are positioned wrong IMO. Something is clearly wrong, and maybe this is part of it. But its all guesswork unless you know exactly what is in the coaches mind.
autopsy...err I mean analysis.
This and BWS's picture page of a 2nd and 21(link below) make me realize that these players are not only green and inexperienced, but they are also put in a position to fail by the coaching staff.
is there any doubt this team was not prepared by its coaches? Youth on D has masked the problem - this defensive staff cannot and should not survive
sick to my stomach and leaves me with even less faith in the defensive staff.
Look at Kovacs and Gordon forming up like perfect little soldiers, staring into oblivion towards the deserted flats. They were so obviously coached to stop and do this
AND ITS FUCKING IDIOTIC!
with my same name. The link here is how a cover-3 is supposed to be played. Floyd is playing too deep. He should be 5 yards off the WR, knowing that he has deep third. His coverage should be backpedal and turn hips once he knows it's a deep pass, not start 10 yards off and backpedal like there's no tomorrow. Was he coached to do this? I don't know. If he was, then it's poor coaching. Watch the CB in the link and watch the safety come up and intercept the ball. I'm not expecting Vinopal to intercept this pass, but Floyd could have easily knocked it away if he's coached like the CB in the clip at this link.
I think Floyd playing off and over backpeddling is his way of accounting for his lack of athletic ability. However when he turns his back and runs the other way, this is just ridiculous and he should know where his help is. The fact that he doesn't means it's on the coaches. I dont know if Floyd can make the play here either way if he's playing so far off, but it's definitely possible.
at the end of all this, I really feel sad for D-Rob and the offense. D-Rob does have heisman numbers yet no love from the media all because our track record. I feel irritated at the defense... I know the players are trying hard but when you make the same mistakes game after game (both coaching, where we run the predictable man coverage and players for some stupid decisions in some cases) it sort of makes even the sane fans angry. I still like RR and I think he should continue next year. The major fault I find in him is a few clock management issues, but yet as a head coach I think he should get more involved with the defense.
I know this is a poor attempt at humor and I probably should lighten up, but please do not denigrate Michigan players
What you describe has been my biggest complaint. The coaches just are not giving these kids a chance to make a play. Doesn't matter if they are fr/so or jr/sr, if the coaches can't give them a chance to make a play they won't.
That's not something that changes by being a year older, wiser, and bigger.
probably doesn't value a sack. perhaps RR doesn't either. having 5 or six on the line, rushing different guys in different directions is much more likely to produce negative plays (ie. sacks).
sack = punt. usually. sure, it leaves the CBs on an island, but they've proven they can't play zone coverage anyway. so is there really a risk at being more aggressive?
demens' position makes sense if roh's hand is down. otherwise he's essentially a delayed blitzer on a mission other than to blitz.
I've seen a lot of comments here that boil down to "Wow I want a drink/to get drunk". Until now, I thought they were facetous. Until now. It is a serious effort to not walk out of the office and into a bar after reading this and the BWS piece.
"Michigan's deployment of the 3-3-5 isn't really a 3-3-5."
This is what RR and GERG said before the season isn't it?
It would be interesting to know if they are coaching the MLB to play that close to the line or if the MLB is choosing to do that in the game to try and gain an edge? Is this where the quotes of "guys trying to do too much" comes into play?
Is this coaching (which who's the LB coach again... let me see... could it be... GERG?!?!?) putting Demens in an incorrect pre-snap position if what they're trying to accomplish is a WVU like 3-3-5, or is it Demens incorrectly setting up? We'll never know to be sure unless there's a mole who'd like to divulge practice sessions and film room work. Based on seeing Demens setup close to the line on multiple picture pages, it seems like the evidence is leaning toward coaching.
Well, since the MLB is always (okay, usually) only about 2 or 3 yards off the line of scrimmage when we line up in a 3-3-5, I'm guessing it's what he's coached to do. Just like in 2008 when everybody got pissed that Morgan Trent was lining up 10 yards off the ball...over and over again. If it happens once, it might be the player. If it happens repeatedly, it's probably the coach.
on a brighter note, looking at those Rutgers and WVU uniforms - yikes.
I really wish this defense was 2 years more experienced. We wouldn't be looking at these pages like this. They'd be "Picture Pages: Us owning them."
I think you are missing the point. This is illustrating the fact that regardless of experience, the defense is failing because the coaches are incorrectly aligning people and putting them at a disadvantage.
Wondering what if any kind of shakeup/adjustment is even possible before the Illinois game. You have to assume the defensive coaches are poring over the films but you don't what the group dynamic is at this point. Are they together on this or have they already devolved into blaming and finger-pointing among each other? RR says he is going to be spending more time in the D-meetings - sure that will be a happy situation.
"sure that will be a happy situation."
My coworkers are looking at me for laughing out loud on an exceptionally shitty day.
is it that the coaches cant see this???
I hate Greg Robison so much. I feel like a child who wants to cry not because they are sad but because they are frustrated and just want to burst because the thing is doing bad thing and nothing makes sense.
So if I am understanding this right, and its possible that I'm completely off but our run defense could be improved if Demens moves back 4 yards?
Probably not since whatever they've been taught to do by now is tough to un-teach in a week. They should just ditch the stack entirely.
Probably true, I wonder how far back most other teams keep their MLB and if there is any correlation between effectiveness and distance to the LOS.
I've watched a lot of football in my life and I seem to remember seeing most pretty far off the line. Like someone said before, being only a few steps off the line, the MLB is essentially just a blitzer and can really only come downhill.
Maybe it is too simplistic to say that a linebacker should back up the defensive line but in regards to our defense, they don't really seem to be doing that in any formation or alignment.
Is it possible to ask a question with charts and pictures (like the pictures in BWS) during a presser, so that we can find out why the defense was lined up as it was and reacted as it did on the 2nd and 21 play? It would be useful to know how the coaching staff would respond to such a question.
I don't know why you got negged for this because I wonder the same thing. All this speculation about alignment and "is it coaching or is it the players doing things wrong" is just that - speculation - until someone specifically asks the coaches about alignment.
And yet, we will run this same scheme and get gashed again on Saturday. What a bummer. These kids have worked so hard and I feel bad for them.
I think we've gone off the rails. We don't run WV's 3-3-5. So we don't know what is the point of having the MLB so close. How about we contact someone who knows about playing up so tight and see what the pros and cons are?
I think you answered a key question Brian. You said no one got off theri blocks so the only way to stop the was outnumbering them. So what do you want GR to do? Keep yelling get off blocks to guys like Banks and hope or do you play games trying to guess right and actually get a stop? Not sure the answer, but it is a pretty tough gig.
It does seem like this is too obvious and egregious an error (if indeed, it is one, and not just a different flavor of the defense) for it to not be done for some possibly legitimate purpose.
What Brian has pointed out is that we aren't running the defense the same way as WVU did, but if I was asked to run this defense, I would start studying it as much as I could, so either GERG didn't do that and is just winging it, or there's a legitimate reason he's trying this strategy and it's just not working.
If it's the former (didn't study), he should be fired. If it's the latter, it bears more investigation. Maybe they tried having the MLB deeper and there were other, more problematic flaws exposed due to lack of talent and/or experience.
This is just another argument for the bad coaching camp. This is showing that GERG doesn't understad how to run the 3-3-5 and raises the possibility that if RR would just remove himself from the defensive scheme and allow GERG to run hs own scheme that he understands and has run before it may improve defensive play.
I believe he did. And the 2009 defense was horrendous. So RR and the rest of his WVU-carryover staff say "fuck it" and decide to use the 3-3-5.
And again, abject failure.
Not sure what his responsibility is here. It's never good when linebackers play parallel to the line of scrimmage. He needs to play 'down hill'. He has zero chance against a FB/H-back. He's running laterally and has to stop and turn to take a blocker on. Notice he starts the play at a depth of 4 yards, and that's exactly where he takes the block on. The PSU blocker has 7 yards of momentum behind him by the time he reaches Mouton. It seems we're playing a 3-3 with a linebackers resonsible for contain. Perhaps Gerg is going with the philosophy this will confuse the blocking scheme because this is so dumb of a concept they will have never seen it before.
and it's hard to disagree seeing it laid out like this. What I've read about the 3-3-5 says that the point of the defense is to be multiple in itself. So you create fronts based on what you know about the offense's plan of attack rather than actually changing up to a 4-3 or a 3-4.
If you want a 4-3 under, you line up your DL and blitz the appropriate backers to get the 5 man front and leave two to scrape. 4-3 over requires one blitzing backer. But you're either on the line actually blitzing or far enough removed to be able to actually play linebacker.
"Incoherent" probably equals the new "Amoeba" defense being used in the NFL. We are ahead of our time. All part of the grand plan Captain Murphy, just like when you had to declare Martian Law in the Lab. Not everyone will understand our genius.
Penn State had to be running these same plays in 2006, when we had our last really good defense. It would be interesting to see a similar play from the 2006 season picture paged to get a sense of how a "traditional front" defense with more experienced players would handle this particular situation, or at least similar situations. Wouldn't surprise me if there was more than one 2nd and long.
Not necessarily a Picture Page, but you can get a good idea here. Sample:
Branch(+1) drives his man into the backfield and is held, drawing a flag. Burgess(+1) and Woodley(+1) drive past blockers and make a TFL. Michigan accepts the holding call.
So they mostly handled it by being unblockable.
What are all of these 'punt' things at the end of PSU's drives? I am quite familiar with TD's and even the rare FG, but what is this punt Brian speaks of?
Our only unblockable player is Martin, and he was injured. So, if we have no unblockable players, what do we do?
Hurr hurr i'm a gerr gerr gerg.
It appears RR takes an interest in the d and stuff falls apart. Was some of this debacle RR taking an interest? Or was this all on Gerg?
If RRod wants to protect his guys so badly he just promote one of them to DC and get it over with already. No excuses at that point.
Doesn't it seem unfair to criticize our deployment of the 3-3-5 when it in fact isn't a 3-3-5? The coaches were saying this before the season when everyone was like OMG 3-3-5 WTF - this was NEVER going to be a 3-3-5 stack like it was at WVU, so it seems kind of pointless to compare the two. Would I rather see that same scheme, yes, but that doesn't matter because that's not what it is. The depth at which the MLB plays is far from the only difference between the two schemes.
Frankly - and this is no shot at Brian - I think scheme is a little overrated when you have guys like Banks who can't get off blocks, Moutons who refuses to tackle with anything more than just one arm, and a secondary with no experience. Not to mention a Mike Martin who hasn't been healthy since the 4th quarter of the MSU game.
Do I think we need to make some adjustments on the defensive staff? Sure. But I think when we're at the point when the coaches are just running guys out in different positions to see what sticks, it's time to consider the fact that maybe no FBS team in the last 10 years has had such an uphill climb in terms of fielding a defense. And yes, a lot of that is on the coaches, but a lot of it is just plain old terrible luck.
The coaches are not getting the kids in position to make plays. It also appears that against a known running team (us vs. PSU, WVU vs. Rutgers), if you run the stack you need to have six guys attacking the LOS with the MLB running free and not straight into a block. As Brian points out, Demens has no momentum and is getting swallowed by a guy 60-70 pounds heavier. At least if he has a few more yards to work with he can properly react and potentially crush the blocker if he has enough momentum.
The kids can only make plays if the coaches put them in the right position - I've heard this from so many coaches I know it makes me crazy, and in this case, it appears to be completely true.