If you press on the bubble, you're susceptible to the deep ball and you miss a guy who could be fitting into a run lane. You have to pick your poison when you're facing a good offense like NW's. Sell out to take away the bubble and you could get gashed for a different pass play, a QB scramble, or a run.
Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Northwestern
Formation notes: Michigan spent the bulk of the first half in their nickel package with Ryan down on the line and Gordon and Johnson at nickel and safety, respectively. In the second half they took Johnson off in favor of using Ryan as a slot LB until Northwestern started their passing hurry-up on their fourth(!) drive.
Substitution notes: The usual defensive line substitutions, with Heininger and Black seeing frequent time, Campbell a little, and Washington maybe a snap or three. Michigan did briefly show Avery as the nickelback, but that only lasted a drive or two. Demens went the whole way; Morgan got a couple series late in the first half. Countess replaced Woolfolk in the second quarter and went the rest of the way.
Demens, Kovacs, Floyd, and Gordon didn't come off the field.
|O20||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Bubble screen||Floyd||7|
|Hawthorne starts flowing up into the playfake and there's no one to the short side, leaving the slot all alone; Floyd is playing ten yards off. With Hawthorne positioned like he is there is no way he's making this play anyway. RPS -1.|
|O27||2||3||Shotgun trips||Nickel press||Pass||4||Out||Floyd||Inc|
|Floyd(+1, cover +1) is right there on the receiver's cut, forcing Persa to throw it perfectly—upfield and away from Floyd. He does so; WR has a shot at a decently tough catch and cannot make it. Rushing lane was opening up but Persa did not take it.|
|O27||3||3||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel press||Pass||5||Drag||Demens||Inc|
|Demens lines up right over the center and rushes, trying to take the center out of the play as Martin(+0.5) stunts around. This basically works; center slides off on Martin and Demens(+1) uses that opportunity to shoot up into the pocket. He's about to sack when an in the grasp Persa chucks it inaccurately in the vicinity of a receiver Hawthorne(+1, cover +1) is all over; may have a PBU if ball is accurate. Pressure +1, RPS +1. This is really close to a sack, BTW.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 14 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun empty quad bunch||Nickel press||Pass||5||Drag||Van Bergen||Inc (Pen +15)|
|Avery in as the nickelback. NW has a tight bunch to the wide side of the field and motions the tailback outside of those guys. Michigan is confused, with Demens eventually heading out there to deal with him, but late. Doesn't end up mattering this time. Michigan runs a twist that gets Roh(+0.5) through thanks to Martin(+1) threatening to shoot past the C. He's screwed either way. Persa has to dump it; RVB(+1) reads Persa's eyes and starts moving into the throwing lane, batting it down. Hawthorne(-1, cover -1) got beaten by Ebert on this drag and would have been able to turn it up for big yardage. Pressure +2. Roh picks up a roughing the passer call that is horsecrap. That's one step and then hit. Awful call. Refs -2.|
|O35||1||10||Pistol 2-back offset||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Veer triple option||Kovacs||5|
|Colter in at QB; Michigan seemingly misaligned with no reaction to the strong side and Kovacs lined up a couple yards behind the LBs. They do not comprehend Colter is in at QB. NW runs an option to the wide side. Both LBs and Roh(-2), the playside DE, suck up on the dive fake. Mattison said DE == QB so I'm –2ing every DE who tackles a dive guy or lets the QB outside. Even Kovacs hesitates; no one is tracking the pitch back at all. Roh does recover to string the play out a bit, and Kovacs flows hard, forcing a pitch a few yards downfield. Colter didn't make Kovacs take him, though, and he flows down to tackle, preventing this from becoming a big gain. I have no idea who's at fault here. Either Roh or Demens needs to get out on the pitch and Kovacs needs to do so as well. Kovacs(+1) for getting out as secondary support and making a tough tackle(+1). RPS -1.|
|O40||2||5||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||N/A||Bubble screen||Woolfolk||14|
|Bler bler bler. Michigan has two guys to the wide side of the field that possesses three NW WRs. Those two guys are seven and ten yards off the LOS. Woolfolk(-1) then misses the tackle(-1) and turns this from seven into 13. RPS-1.|
|M46||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Improv||Avery?||27|
|Black drops off into a zone before the play and Woolfolk blitzes from the other side. Unsurprisingly, this is picked up. Martin(+1) is coming through the line and is held; no call; Persa can flush outside of the pocket because Woolfolk got upfield. Outside of the pocket Persa is deadly; he finds a guy for a big gainer. Cover -1, Pressure -1, RPS -1.|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Dumpoff||Hawthorne||4|
|Yeesh, looks like Demens(-1) doesn't get enough of a drop and Johnson(-2) pulls up on a dig, leaving a post wide open for a touchdown (cover -2). Persa misses this and checks down. Hawthorne(+1, cover +1) with an immediate tackle. With Martin out and Campbell in there is no rush at all (pressure -2).|
|M15||2||6||Shotgun trips 2back||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Veer triple option||Kovacs||15|
|Trips plus two backs equals a covered up WR, equals run, equals massive frustration that this catches Michigan off guard. Ryan(-2) crashes down on the dive fake; Demens and Hawthorne move forward despite this obviously being an option and get sealed away; Demens is playside so –1. Kovacs(-1) misses a tackle(-1) at the ten but that could be harsh since he is the only player on the edge against two other players. If he takes a more conservative angle Colter pitches and the RB walks into the endzone. At least Kovacs had a shot here. RPS -2.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 8 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O37||1||10||Pistol trips TE||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Speed option||Demens||12|
|RVB(+0.5) and Martin are coming at the QB hard, forcing a quick pitch. That should be advantage D since the DL are stringing the RB out quickly. Gordon(+0.5) comes up to maintain leverage, at which point... no one comes up to tackle. Demens(-2) had gone upfield around a blocker for no discernible reason and is late as a result. Martin can't quite make up for his mistake; Hawthorne(-0.5) is there seven yards downfield. His tackle(-1) is run through but does force the RB OOB.|
|O49||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Pass||N/A||Flare screen||Van Bergen||3|
|Woolfolk(-0.5) is caught up in man coverage here and never realizes this is basically a run play; he ends up on his butt. Gordon(-0.5) has the same thing happen to him. Maybe that's harsh for press coverage. Demens(+1) and Van Bergen(+1) read the play and get out on it to hold it down, with RVB actually making the tackle.|
|M47||2||7||Shotgun empty TE||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Shovel pass||Hawthorne||2|
|Yeah, technically a pass, but this is a run play in UFR's book. This is a variation on the Florida TE shovel this blog raved about the past couple years, with Persa running outside at first and taking Gordon with him, then shoveling inside to the pulling TE, who is actually WR Drake Dunsmore, as they run power. Ryan(-1) blown up and out. Big hole. One guy in space against Hawthorne; if Dunsmore cuts behind the block either Roh hacks him down or it's a big gain; instead he runs right into Hawthorne. I guess Hawthorne gets a +1, Demens a +0.5, as they tackle(+1) in space for a minimal gain, but we got lucky.|
|M45||3||5||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel press||Pass||6||Out||Gordon||6|
|Again with Demens lined up over the nose; Michigan sends the house. They don't get a free run and don't get a hurry (pressure -1) but they didn't give up anything big so no RPS -1. NW running some man-beater routes that force Gordon into an awkward path; this gets Ebert the step he needs to stab this pass one-handed and turn up the sideline for the first. Gordon was there to tackle so it's not like he did a bad job.|
|M39||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||3||Scramble||Ryan||5|
|Tempoed, Michigan only has two down linemen at the snap (RPS -1). As a result, Ryan is lost in no-man's land. Coverage(+1) is good downfield; Persa takes off, diving as Ryan comes in on him.|
|M34||1||10||Pistol 2-back offset||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Veer triple option||Hawthorne||23|
|Colter magical option formation, and they give despite again having Kovacs versus two guys on the edge. Maybe Colter was worried about Black. I'm not entirely sure about what goes wrong here but it seems to me like Campbell(+1) takes on a double and beats his man to the inside as the interior guy peels off, which means the RB has to go behind him and the C trying to get out on Hawthorne(-2) would have no angle if Hawthorne read this and made his NT right. Instead he and Demens are a foot away from each other and when the RB cuts behind Campbell there is no one there.|
|M11||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Scramble||Hawthorne||4|
|Good coverage(+2) means Persa can't find anything despite having a long time (pressure -1). He eventually rolls out; Roh(+0.5) and Hawthorne(+0.5) remain on their receivers long enough to force a scramble and then come up quickly to hold it down.|
|M7||2||6||Pistol trips TE||Nickel press||Run||N/A||Speed option||Johnson||7|
|Demens(-2) again heads too far upfield too fast and gets himself into a lineman who ends up cutting him to the ground after they run down the line for a while. This is a speed option! Get outside! RVB(+0.5) forced a pitch and flowed down the line to make it difficult for the RB; Carvin Johnson(-1, tackling -1) comes up hard around the LOS and whiffs entirely. He does force a cut upfield, but because Demens is on his stomach the cut is not a modest gain but a touchdown.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 4 min 1st Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O7||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read dive||Morgan||2|
|Morgan in for Hawthorne. Morgan(+1) bashes into the center at the LOS and drives him back on the dive; Martin(+1) fights through a double team, refusing to get sealed. When the G releases he's still playside of the T. With Heininger(+0.5) beating a single block there's nowhere to go.|
|Good coverage(+1) causes a flush but because the DL split so badly that was kind of obvious; no second read here. (Pressure -2). Not sure who to minus specifically because tape is cutting out at the beginning of this play.|
|O15||3||2||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Speed option?||???||12|
|Technical difficulties. We come back with the pitch already made. I am somewhat certain this is largely Demens's fault(-1), as he was lined up playside of Morgan presnap but when we come back Morgan is actually closer to the play. He then gets shot past the play. Morgan(-1) took a too-aggressive route around a WR and couldn't make the play; Johnson(+0.5) does come up to make a fill on a dangerous play, though his ankle tackle is maybe less than ideal.|
|O27||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Pass||???||???||???||Inc|
|Apparently this is just a misthrow, but I don't know.|
|O27||2||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||???||Sack||Demens||-2|
|Oh, hell, BTN. I guess Demens(+1, pressure +1) is a minimum?|
|O24||3||13||Shotgun trips bunch||Nickel press||Penalty||N/A||False start||--||-5|
|O19||3||18||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read dive||Black||6|
|Give up and punt.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 11 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M41||1||10||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Hitch||Martin||7|
|Zone blitz drops Roh and sends Morgan. Martin(+1) slants around the G and C to get a run at Persa(pressure +1) and bats the ball. The thing still finds its way to the receiver, but the delay allows an immediate tackle... that Demens(-1, tackling -1) does not make.|
|M34||2||3||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read stretch||Van Bergen||2|
|RVB(+2) shoves the playside OT back two yards, cutting off the outside and forcing a cutback. He disconnects when this happens and tackles himself for a minimal gain. Nice play; scary if he doesn't make this. Think he missed a check when Dunsmore motioned into play H-back, but he made up for it.|
|M32||3||1||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read dive||Heininger||1|
|NW goes tempo. Heininger(+2) takes on a double and holds, going to his knees in the backfield and absorbing both guys without budging. Martin(+1) is single blocked. He stands his guy up and sheds inside to meet the RB a yard on the backfield. Momentum from him and a blitzing Morgan coming from behind gets the pile to the LOS but no farther.|
|M31||4||In||Pistol 2-back offset big||46 bear||Run||N/A||Speed option||Roh||-1|
|Roh(+3) takes on the playside TE and sheds him to the outside, then shoots up on Persa, forcing the pitch. Getting a forced pitch from a blocked guy is clutch here. Before the snap, Kovacs motions to Morgan, who takes a step shortside and then starts flowing hard; he takes the leading fullback's block, leaving Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) alone on the corner with the pitchback, who he cuts to the ground in the backfield. Watch Kovacs take the lighting quick path to the ballcarrier after the pitch. Baller. Also make no mistake: this is Roh's play at its heart.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 7-14, 8 min 2nd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O18||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Pass||N/A||Bubble screen||Floyd||6|
|There by alignment with no one on the the slot and Morgan reacting to the zone fake. Floyd does as well as he can to get into the blocker at about five yards but help can't converge for seven. RPS -1|
|O24||2||4||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||N/A||Bubble screen||Johnson||9|
|Another bubble by alignment; Gordon is over the slot but in these situations the guy grabs it and goes right up the hash, where there is no one. Johnson eventually fills and makes a dodgy tackle. RPS -1|
|O33||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||N/A||Bubble screen||Johnson||7|
|Exact same thing as NW goes tempo. RPS -1. Better tackle from Johnson.|
|O40||2||3||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Slant||Van Bergen||Inc|
|Morgan(-1, cover -1) is now paranoid about the bubble, though he's not aligned any better, and starts outside as NW runs actual patterns. Slant is wide open. Persa throws it; Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) bats it down as he's come inside on a stunt.|
|O40||3||3||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel even||Pass||5||Drag||Martin||19|
|Zone blitz sees Martin left in man coverage on Dunsmore on a drag. That goes about how you would expect. (Cover -1, RPS -1)|
|M41||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel press||Pass||4||Fade||Countess||39|
|No pressure(-2); huge pocket for Persa to step into. Countess(-1, cover -1) gets flat beat on a go route and is a step and a half behind the WR; even though it's a little underthrown and definitely in the defeat-Michael-Floyd zone he cannot catch up and gives up the big completion. Does get a hand on an arm, but it's that half step that kills him.|
|M2||1||G||Shotgun trips 2back||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Speed option||Gordon||2|
|Covered WR with Colter in. RB motions to the other side; Kovacs goes with him. Speed option to the plentiful WR side. Gordon(-1), Demens(-1), and Floyd(-1) get blown up and after Ryan forces the pitch the RB walks into the endzone. This is clever by NW: Kovacs is the guy with the pitchman so they get him out of the picture and exploit the LBs. RPS -1.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown,14-21, 2 min 2nd Q. This was pretty terrible on Mattison's part. Bubble bubble bubble Martin on drag no answer for option.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O48||1||10||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Drag||Roh||16|
|Martin(+1, pressure +1) goes right around the center and gets a hurry as Roh drops off and Morgan comes. Another zone blitz gets burned by the drag route as Roh cannot keep pace with Colter, RPS -1.|
|M36||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||4||Comeback||--||13|
|No pressure(-2); Persa has plenty of time to survey and find the deep comeback coming open. Gordon the nearest guy but not really on him.|
|M23||1||10||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Slant||Morgan||16|
|Morgan(-1, cover -1) beaten easily by Colter. Morgan(-1, tackling -1) then fails to tackle. Quick throw leaves little time for pressure but the lack of push from the DL is worrying. Why is Morgan in the game against a spread offense when you have Hawthorne available, especially on a two-minute drill?|
|M7||1||G||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone read keeper||Demens||4|
|Black(-1) doesn't get upfield, causing a pull. If he was crashing on a scrape that's one thing. Here he's in no-man's land. Demens(+1) sets up a lineman, getting into him and then pushing out into the space Persa occupies; Gordon(+0.5) also flows down to help tackle, though he had an easy time of it because Colter didn't even bother blocking.|
|M3||2||G||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel press||Run||5||Snag||Woolfolk||Inc|
|Pick play designed to beat man coverage. It does so but Persa is late, allowing Woolfolk(+1, cover +1) to recover and knock the ball out as it arrives. Pressure(-1) not getting to Persa.|
|M3||3||G||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||3||Post||Johnson||Inc|
|Three man rush gets nowhere (pressure -1); Johnson(-1, cover -1) gets outside and opens up the post. Persa hits him; dropped.|
|Drive Notes: FG, 14-24, EOH. Refs are idiots about the time either way here.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O40||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||4-3 under||Run||N/A||Speed option||Ryan||-1|
|Ryan back at LB instead of DE and hanging out over the slot. They run a speed option; Ryan flies up on the edge. It kind of looks like he comes up on the QB and has just given the pitchman the edge but Persa doesn't think so, so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Ryan's(+2) excellent positioning prevents a pitch, forces Persa to cut it up, and results in nothing thanks to RVB(+1) and Martin(+0.5) flowing down the line well.|
|O39||2||11||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 under||Pass||4||Sack||Martin||-5|
|Persa apparently looking at a hitch Floyd(+1, cover +1) has covered; he hesitates and never gets a second read because Martin(+2) bull-rushed the center back into him and Roh(+2) came under the left tackle; the two combine to sack. (Pressure +2) Hawthorne appears to have the TE seam covered; Countess is way off the hitch on the other side of the field.|
|O34||3||6||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel press||Pass||4||Seam||Van Bergen|
|Van Bergen(+2, pressure +2) rips through the RG and gets immediate pressure up the center of the field. Persa fires too far in front of his receiver; Johnson nearly digs out the pick. Route was a seam or skinny post that Gordon(+1, cover +1) was in coverage on; incidental contact with the feet caused the WR to fall. He looked in pretty good position, FWIW.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-24, 9 min 3rd Q|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O18||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 under||Pass||N/A||Bubble screen||--||6|
|Yay. Ryan is on the wide side slot but there's still no one over the short side, so they throw it. With Floyd playing very soft, no chance this doesn't pick up a pretty decent gain. Hawthorne does well to get out there and push him out before it's eight, I guess. RPS -1.|
|O24||2||4||Shotgun empty||4-3 under||Pass||4||Rollout||--||9|
|No one on the edge (pressure -2) and Persa can run or throw for the first. He chooses the throw, hitting the second receiver, who's drifting outside of Demens's zone. (Cover -1) Countess makes a quick tackle.|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun trips||4-3 under||Pass||N/A||Bubble screen||--||6|
|argh argh argh. Ryan blitzes off the corner; Persa sees this and immediately throws the bubble without a mesh point. Gordon(+1) is the only guy out there. He gets into the slot guy at the LOS, getting outside and forcing a cutback, then disconnects to tackle after just five. RPS -1.|
|O41||2||4||Shotgun trips||4-3 under||Pass||5||Drag||Hawthorne||Int|
|Michigan tempoed and not aligned at the snap. Zone blitz gets Demens in but Martin(-1) has vacated his lane and Demens can't do anything about it as Persa steps up into the pocket. Receiver is moving to give Persa an option; he throws it to him for what will be seven yards and a first down if it doesn't derp off the guy's pads, allowing Hawthorne(+1) to make a diving interception.|
|Drive Notes: Interception, 28-24, 1 min 3rd Q. Dude... how was this not overturned? Poopin' magic yo.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O19||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Martin||6|
|Michigan spread out with LBs shaded over the slots so NW hits them inside. Martin(-1) fights through a block way upfield and opens up a big hole in the middle. Demens(-0.5) and Ryan(-0.5) sit back and accept blocks but at least they combine to force the guy into a tackle.|
|O25||2||4||Shotgun empty||4-3 even||Pass||4||Hitch||Countess||6|
|Schmidt motions out; there is a bunch to the wide side and then the RB outside of them. Quick hitch to the RB that Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) actually deflects, but the ball still goes right to the RB. Countess(-1, cover -1) is really soft, giving up the first down despite the ball taking a long time to get there because of the deflection.|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Hitch||Floyd||10|
|Floyd(-1, cover -1) beaten pretty clean by Ebert; this is a five yard route on which Floyd is at the sticks on the catch. Ebert picks up the rest of the first down as a result.|
|O41||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Martin||2|
|Martin(+1) and Heininger(+1) hold up to blocks, closing off holes up the middle of the field. Mark manages to pick his way through little gaps for a few yards, but that will happen.|
|O43||2||8||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||5||Fly||Floyd||Inc (Pen +15)|
|Floyd in press; Michigan zone blitzes behind it. Gordon gets in free (pressure +1, RPS +1); Persa throws it to the fly route without really knowing if it's open. Floyd is there, gets his head around, and seems to break up the pass... and gets flagged. On replay, yes, he got his hand on the shoulder pad and prevented the guy from jumping for the ball. I'll take that though, since it's subtle and you can miss it. I still have to (-1, cover -1)|
|M42||1||10||Shotgun trips||4-3 even||Pass||N/A||Bubble screen||Ryan||4|
|Finally something that looks like defense. Gordon(+0.5) flows up hard and Ryan gets outside of the slot blocker as Demens reads the throw and gets out there usefully. Ryan gets cut under; Gordon and Demens are there to tackle. As the WR is digging for an extra half yard Gordon(+3) strips the ball loose.|
|Drive Notes: Fumble, 35-24, 12 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O31||1||10||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Drag||Demens||5|
|M sitting back in an obvious four-man-rush zone as they work to not blow it; grades handed out with that in mind. Persa hits Colter underneath on a drag; Demens(+1, tackling +1) comes up to tackle immediately.|
|O36||2||5||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||4||Slant||Hawthorne||9|
|Hawthorne(-0.5) comes up on a not very convincing run fake and opens the slant up for a first down.|
|O45||1||10||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Gordon||6|
|Glerb. M blitzes into the sweep and Gordon(-1) widens out to blow it up; he misses the tackle(-1). This makes good play from Hawthorne and Demens to get outside their blockers bad play and the DL, slanting away from this on the snap, cannot pursue fast enough to prevent a gain.|
|M49||2||4||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||4||Circle||Floyd||6|
|Circle route high-lows the corner and Floyd sinks, opening up the short stuff.|
|M43||1||10||Shotgun empty||Nickel even||Pass||3||Cross||Gordon||Inc|
|Line slants right and Black drops off into a short zone... I think one of the LBs forgot to blitz. This means Persa has acres of space; he steps up and zings it to Colter... behind him. First down otherwise. (Pressure -2, cover -1)|
|M43||2||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||N/A||Bubble screen||Johnson||5|
|Late-arriving WR doesn't actually get into position so NW has five in the backfield. No call. These refs are idiots. NW throws the bubble and Michigan is finally playing it well. Gordon(+1) gets into the slot guy at the LOS in a good spot to force the WR upfield; Demens flows but misses; Johnson(+1) comes into finish with a good hit.|
|M38||3||5||Shotgun trips||3-3-5 press||Pass||4||Hitch||Countess||Inc|
|Michigan in tight man on the first down line; Persa's first read is Floyd(+1, cover +1), which is not a good idea. Second is Countess, still not a great idea but gotta throw it, so he does; Countess(+2, cover +1) breaks it up.|
|M38||4||5||Shotgun trips bunch||3-3-5 press||Pass||5||Sack||Kovacs||-10|
|Mattison sends Kovacs on a crazy ninja blitz from way deep; at the snap he's hurtling at the LOS at full speed. The seas part. Kovacs goes too high, though, and Persa ducks under his tackle. Tackle attempt pulls the helmet off, though, and that's a sack. RPS +2, Pressure +3—this was instant. Kovacs... +1, results based charting. And well timed blitz. Also wag of the high tackle finger. Gordon(+1, cover +1) breaks up the desperate improv throw Persa gets off after the helmet incident.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 35-24, 7 min 4th Q. Northwestern's last drive is down 18 with 2 minutes left and is not charted.|
SECOND HALF DOMINANCE
Er. So. I don't really think so.
Yes, yes, probably, but the things that happened in the second half were:
- Three and out, one contained speed option, two incompletions thanks to DL pressure.
- Bubble, easy rollout hitch, bubble, drag route for first down that bounces off receiver's numbers to Hawthorne (sort of).
- Inside zone, hitch, hitch, Inside zone (defensed!), legit pass interference on deep ball, bubble leads to fumble.
- Hurry up pass mode w/ Michigan in soft zone, drive ends with Persa IN, five-yard bubble, and two good plays by the D.
So… the move to have Ryan in the slot didn't really slow down the bubbles, which went for 6, 6, 4, and 5 yards. This is better than the 8 they seemed to average in the first half, but it is not a thunderous shutdown of the spread.
There were three drives on which NW was actually running its offense. On one the adjustment got a speed option contained and then Michigan got some pressure. On two NW has just picked up its second easy first down if the WR doesn't bat it into the sky. On three they have second and six after picking up a couple first downs when Gordon yanks the ball loose. What happens if the WR doesn't DROPX the drag? If Ebert's knee is down? What is your confidence level that Michigan is going to stop Persa & Co. if these things don't happen?
VERY HIGH THANK YOU
Wait… are you Joe Paterno?
NO I AM YOUR FILTHY IRISH ALTER-EGO
I see. So… what I am saying is that the vaunted second half adjustments are little data being made big and what we saw in the first half was very frustrating to me. How do you stop a bubble aligned like this?
You don't. On Northwestern's final touchdown drive they ran three straight bubbles for 22 free yards. This is 2011. You should not have to adjust to the staple constraint play of the spread 'n' shred.
Yes, well… I don't want to make too little data big again. I sure as hell don't know 10% of what he does and rushing to judgment about what Michigan's defense will look like once he's had them for three years is stupid. Mattison uber alles.
HOWEVA, it seemed like he was caught off guard by the spread 'n' shred. He's been in the NFL for three years but he was also the DC at Florida and Notre Dame over the increasingly spread-mad last decade of college football, so he should be familiar with it.
Were players not reacting appropriately? Maybe. Late the secondary did get more aggressive and helped hold the bubbles down. But that was the difference between 8 (or even 13) yards and 4-6. As I was UFRing this I was again thinking of Magee describing his philosophy, or rather WVU's defensive philosophy: they run the stack because it's built to stop the spread. Maybe Michigan needs a three-man-line package for games like this?
In any case, Mattison's admittedly hypothetical inability to deal with the spread 'n' shred in year one of his regime is a moot point. The remainder of Michigan's opponents are either pro-style (MSU, Iowa, sort of OSU), triple option (Illinois, Nebraska), or so incompetent it shouldn't matter (Purdue). I'm a bit worried that Fickell is installing a ton of bubbles right now, though.
DO YOU FIND THIS DEEPLY IRONIC
That Michigan can't defend a bubble but won't run a stretch because it's not preparing you for the Big Ten? Kinda. /ducks
I REQUIRE NOTES OF THE HUN
|Van Bergen||10||-||10||Pressure and PBUs. I enjoy his contributions.|
|Martin||10||2||8||Not as many plays as you might want but it's hard when everything goes outside.|
|Roh||6||2||4||Fourth down play; needs moar pass rush.|
|Heininger||3.5||-||3.5||No real problems, but not tested much.|
|Black||-||1||-1||Not much PT.|
|TOTAL||30.5||5||25.5||Step back from last couple weeks.|
|Demens||5.5||9.5||-4||Did not get outside even on speed options.|
|Hawthorne||4.5||4||0.5||One big error on dive; good in coverage.|
|TOTAL||13||21||-8||Major problems containing.|
|Floyd||3||3||0||Push is good against Persa.|
|Kovacs||4||1||3||Mostly neutralized because he had to try to tackle two dudes.|
|T. Gordon||8.5||2.5||6||Fumble half of the plus.|
|Countess||2||2||0||Beaten deep once, but also a push.|
|Johnson||1.5||4||-2.5||Not as bad as you might have thought.|
|TOTAL||20||14||6||Wow. I mean, no long stuff, right? Except the one.|
|Coverage||13||15||-2||Not bad. Some issues getting RPSed.|
|Tackling||4||6||40%||Not a good day; this is what the spread tries to do.|
|RPS||4||15||-11||Killed by easy bubbles.|
So… I ended up thinking that it was crazy that none of the linebackers could contain on the outside and hardly tried. When people keep leverage and force the guy inside, as Johnson did and Kovacs did and Gordon did, and there is no one to clean up from the inside that is a problem with a linebacker, and that linebacker was more often than not Demens. An example from Blue Seoul:
Seoul says Gordon has to do a better job getting off the block but he forces this upfield at the numbers and there is no linebacker to clean up; backside guy Hawthorne is even with Demens.
Seoul also caught my complaint about Demens on one of the option touchdowns:
Okay, Johnson missed. He missed to the inside, at which point a good D rallies to tackle.
Here a slow-reacting Demens gets caught up in an OL and cut to the ground. This is not even a triple option, it's a speed option, so, like… go. I've been taunting other LBs for being too aggressive this year but this is the alternative.
Demens did have a good blitz or two, FWIW.
The rest of the chart is basically as expected. No safety got burned on the pass and the missed tackles from Johnson were not too bad; he is still a clear downgrade from the starters. Van Bergen and Martin are high quality players; Roh is doing better but we still need more pass rush from both defensive ends. The cornerbacks are much improved but still not outstanding. Michigan got about a push in both pressure (four sacks but also a number of plays on which Persa had a ton of time or broke contain) and cover, and Mattison was slayed dead on RPS.
What was with the option success?
If you were suspecting that Heiko was the guy who asked this of Mattison…
Northwestern ran the veer option with a lot of success against this defense, and there seemed to be some confusion with the assignments. For those plays, whose assignment is the quarterback, and who has the pitch man? “That’s why people run the veer option. And again, to play an option team, you have to be very very disciplined. You have to really feel confident in what you’re doing, and it’s happening really fast. There was a number of times where you might have seen Jake go down and hit the dive. Well, our ends had the quarterback all day, so right away you knew, ‘Uh oh,” and sure enough, now you have two guys on the dive and nobody on the quarterback, and that’s why people run that offense. It taxes young guys. It really does. So your next thought is to stunt it a little bit, move it a little bit, to try to make a play, and that quarterback was pretty good. Fortunately we settled down in the second half and the guys said, ‘Okay I got it now.’ Every guy that made a mistake like that during the game, they came out, they looked right at you, and they went, ‘I know.’ I said, ‘I know, too! That’s 20 yards down the field.’ But I was really proud of them.”
If you had to defend them again, who would be assigned to whom? “We do the same thing. The only thing we do differently, if we defended it again, is we would play it more honest like you’re supposed to and not cheat to take away one part of the game and not the other.”
Did Kovacs have the pitch man? “That was his job. When you’re playing the option and you’re playing man coverage, there’s a guy with a blocker on him. A guy who has man coverage and still is supposed to get off and try to make that play. Well if you’re stronger, better, faster, you can throw that guy away and make that play. So we had Jordan going through the alley, meaning he would go dive, quarterback, to pitch, and he made some good plays on it.”
…you are wise in the ways of how MGoBlog differs from other media. I wanted to know how Michigan planned to defend the option so I thought I'd have Heiko ask and Mattison gave a terrific, useful answer*. So now we know that…
…defensive ends were a big problem. QB outside of DE without pitching is a problem. Here Kovacs gets a 2-for-1 by forcing a pitch and still getting out on the RB, but Colter would learn from this and juke Kovacs on his first touchdown run. I don't blame Kovacs much, if at all, because he's on the edge against two guys. Forcing it back inside and getting any tackle attempt at all is better than letting the pitch guy walk in.
It wasn't all bad for Roh:
That is one of the plays of the game and it happens because he beats a block to force a pitch and allows Kovacs to do what Kovacs does best: take a great angle at speed.
Ryan had similar problems, and then there is the Demens complaining. So: better play from the DEs to force the play inside of them or at least force a quick pitch and getting those linebackers to the edge more quickly.
*[How much does everyone love the coordinator pressers? One million points worth, right? I mean, they give it to you straight and give you actual information and reassure you that the guys in charge are really smart.]
Yes, again this week:
When those guys miss their tackles there is no one within 15 yards. Result: 20 yard return.
Martin, Van Bergen, and Gordon. Gordon's strip was a 100% player-generated turnover that is a reason to believe they are being coached on these things.
Demens, and the inability to line up to defend a bubble.
What does it mean for Michigan State and beyond?
Well, I'll be extremely nervous when we come up against Nebraska and Ohio State since their mobile quarterbacks could force us into situations that will exploit the same things. I just watched that game and it doesn't seem like either team spends a lot of time threatening bubbles; both enjoyed themselves some pistol offset stuff with Nebraska having great success running the inverted veer out of that diamond formation becoming all the rage. Either could gameplan for the M game—Ohio State might well start preparing whatever package they think will beat M because it's not like they have anything else to play for.
As for this weekend, Michigan State is the opposite of Northwestern and the 4-3 under will be a much more comfortable fit against State's largely pro-style offense. HOWEVA, we have seen State prepare special packages for M since time immemorial and one of the recent ones was a trips-TE bubble package that exploited M in 2008 like whoah. If that's still on the shelf they might bring it out and force Michigan to line up against it. HOWEVA HOWEVA, that year they could run the ball; this year M might be able to defend it without giving up those pitches that killed them that year.
- Michigan continued to prove the secondary is much improved and the safeties are for real, especially the starters.
- Heininger held up pretty well, caveats about limited tests included.
Could someone with the time or ability track down video from SDSU last year and see whether they ran the spread punt formation or the old school one?
Brian - I LOVED the question asked of the coordinators and hope to see similar ones in the future. Now can you have Heiko ask why we don't use the spread punt formation to ensure more defenders are downfield to cover the punt?
I sort of agree with the theme of the comments in that giving up a 4-6 yard bubble is a strategic decision when considering the high risk/reward of getting beat deep. In that situation I think you're right to RPS- them, but maybe -0.5 instead of -1?
Also, I like when you RPS the refs for a play that went for/against us in an obvious fashion. If you were slightly more consistent with when you put the +/- in there for obvious missed/blown calls we could track the ref/luck factor over the course of the season.
I enjoy reading a game summary where our defensive coordinator purportedly got schooled and Michigan not only won, but obliterated the point spread. This is one heck of a team, I love it.
I love scrolling down the page during the second half and wathing the score changes after each drive.
- If you look at the #s from UFR, they are significantly better this year than last, on a grading basis (and almost any basis, for that matter). I think the point we need to see is that, while we aren't giving up the points we have been, this is not a good defense. It is not a bad defense, either. It is an average defense with fundamentally sound, opportunistic players. That's all we asked for this year, and we should be satisfied with that. I am, I believe Brian is, but it is necessary to have a voice of reason amongst all the kool-aid drinkers that cover Michigan Football.
- The WVU guys can talk about how the 3-3-5 is designed to stop the spread, but I think it is not a good defense against the spread any more than it is against pro-formation. From a secondary/1-shell standpoint, I actually think it is not good against the spread, period. IMO, the best defense for the spread is the 3-4 (which might be the best defense, period).
- If anyone's interested, I can perhaps put together a diary on the basic strategy of spread vs. defensive schemes. Post a response if you'd like me to do this.
How is that even a question?
My boss: oh god please no
I can understand the thing about the spread punt, but I'm utterly confused by Terrance Talbott (that's his name, I think) who doesn't seem to be looking at the return man and has 3 times this year thought the returner called fair catch and then avoids him... even though he can lay a huge hit. I say go for the hit. It sends a message...
Most people would probably look at 0 second half points and value that more than cumulative yardage, but to each their own. You can call a tipped ball interception and a stripped ball luck and "Unsustainable" if you want to, but in reality that is the kind of stuff that happens when you hold an offense to 6 plays over 15 yards. If they run enough plays, eventually they're going to screw up.
Yeah I'm a homer, but looking at this defense...I dont think they're worse than average. That is a huge step forward. I've gotten to the point where I take everything Brian writes with a grain of salt. You can actually see him planting the seeds of discourse for the big "Three and Out" freakout, where he'll devalue Michigan's defensive improvement even further and suggest that said improvement is derived strictly from age and experience.
Then we'll hear some more about poor Rich Rod, he put all the ingredients into the stew and didn't get to cook it, then I'll vomit on my keyboard.
Or maybe he'll just wait for the first loss and remind us all how much smarter he is than Borges(and Mattison apparently) and we'll all bask in the glow of his enormous intellect.
I can think of one sure fire way for you to avoid what you are describing in your post....don't read the damn blog if you don't like the content. Seriously...if it offends you so much what the hell are you doing on here? Fuck some people are stupid.
Here's the flaw. What if a team has a short field and has a bunch of short touchdown drives, gaining a moderate amount of yards per play, but close enough to put it in the endzone. On the other hand, what if the offense starts from deep, puts together several big chunk yardage plays, but fizzles because of how far they have to drive. One scenerio would allow for low yardage, but lots of points. The other, more yardage and less points. Looking at points and yards are nice and all, but they don't really paint you a picture of how good your team is playing. That's where the brilliance of FEI comes in. I can't wait to see where Michigan's defense falls when the first defensive FEI rankings of the year come in next week!
Mattison's not stupid. You can't have these guys play aggressive defense like they're the Baltimore Ravens. Also, as young players they can get confused by too many adjustments, which would make matters worse. Rather than go for immediate strategic perfection, better to try to do your best with what you prepared until halftime. What I'm saying is, it takes discipline for a DC to look at a flawed formation, swallow his frustration and trust the safeties to limit the damage until he gets a chance to fix things. This is patience UFR doesn't have.
The hurry-up offense isn't designed to confuse defenses (tho they'll take that if they get it); it's designed to prevent substitutions. Substitutions are used not only to spell players but pull one aside and make an adjustment. At times, NW was literally robbing Mattison of the time to do that.
This defense is not NFL-caliber, and they get the most of their ability by admitting that. All they really had that worked was patience. Although the defense made a lot of mistakes, even when they played perfectly they couldn't shut down Northwestern. That's agonizing for a player to admit, and I'm genuinely impressed at how they kept their composure. Mattison basically just had the defense play more honestly in the second half, make NW work for yards, and count on NW to eventually make a mistake. That is not lucky; that is sound strategy, the only real way to slow down an offense with the talent we have. It's very mentally demanding for a college team to execute perfectly for a full football game and Mattison coaches the defense to take advantage of that.
I just made an account for the sole reason to intereact with UFR's otherwise excellent analysis, but if there's one thing I'm tired of, it's UFR's habit of dismissing unforced turnovers as anomalies. A lesser team (like last year's defense) wouldn't have even been in position to catch a derp pass. The key to winning the turnover battle is to capitalize on the opponent's mistakes; this is just as much sound football as D-line tactics. There are very few teams in football history that played every down perfectly, even for a single game. The guy who knows that best is Mattison, the Sun Tzu of defense. He doesn't just understand schemes; he understands human nature. Train your defense to grab every mistake like it's their last meal because people WILL make mistakes and turnovers are game-changers. Last year a bobbled pass would just make a 2nd-and-7 into a 3rd-and-7 en route to a 40-yard run. This year's defense turns bobbled passes into turnovers. TURNOVERS, dude!! This isn't improvement?? For "results-based" charting stop treating them like flukes in commentary; it takes practice to make a defense opportunistic and they've done it with consistency.
Who is saying that this defense isn't massively improving? There is so much strawman going on here it's incredible. This defense is way, way, way, way, way...(continue for a while)...way better than last year. Same thing with the defensive coaching. Acknowledging that, however, doesn't mean this is an objectively really good defense. I would say it's an above average one, with potential to be better going forward, but no one is confucsing this group with our 85, 97, or 06 outfits.
No one here is saying the defense isn't improved; strawman isn't my intent. I'm saying the context seems to be within technique, playcalling, etc. When it comes to catching a deflected pass, it's "derp -- what if". It's that double standard that grinds my gears. Unforced turnovers aren't drawn up in X's and O's or individual technique, and I think that's where UFR has problems grasping them. UFR analyzes from some ideal perfection and works from there. Don't get me wrong; the analysis is excellent -- I wouldn't waste my time picking apart derp. But UFR has less of a grasp on human nature than Mattison.
From almost any angle people are gushing about the defense's improvement, sure. BUT unforced turnovers are treated as an exception. In UFR's eyes they're a happy result of a few lucky breaks. UFR is very reluctant to give any credit for unless a defender literally snags a pass out of mid-air or rips it out of someone's hands. That's not only the opposite of results-based thinking; it's an inaccurate assessment. This team is very obviously more opportunistic. Mattison's philosophy is knowing the offense will eventually make a mistake, so be ready. Not hoping, KNOWING. See the difference? UFR says "what if". Mattison says "when". Mattison knows how hard it is for 11 young men to move perfectly 50 times a game; that's 550 things that can go wrong. Getting an unforced turnover or two is an expectation he deliberate has his squads practice for.
I am by no means saying anyone here is disappointed with how this defense is improved. That, if anything, is a strawman. What I'm saying is that there are no "what ifs" about Michigan's turnovers. Every one -- EVERY SINGLE turnover -- was created. Even if the ball carrier just dropped it. Because a loose ball is NOT a turnover; a loose ball is just a loose ball. A turnover is completed only by defenders flying to the ball every second of every play, which is something Michigan does now that they didn't do last year.
I think we may be being a bit generous with Roh's positive total score. He did make a GREAT play that was a bit of a momentum changer but besides that play as you had in the link he was consistently beat on the speed option because he bit on the dive allowing the QB outside. On about every one of the speed options in the first half he was guilty of this which based on Mattison's answer was the incorrect play for our defense.
Our DEs were consistenly out of position (also Demens) and I think the UFR lets the DEs off the hook a bit and punishes the secondary slightly even though the reason they were facing the difficult situation was due to the fact that up front had made a small mistake. Northwestern ran only one speed option in the 2nd half (thank goodness!). If they had we may have a different outlook on this game as I don't think our DEs are skilled enough this year to be able to stop that particular when it is well-executed like northwestern ran it.
Fantastic analysis overall as always
I feel like this is UM's best chance to beat MSU in 4 years and I'm still super nervous about the game. Just beat these annoying South Florida uni imitating guys already!
My inner-paranoid gets worked up when I hear Mattison specifically mention his assignments on the veer. Paul Johnson has made a career of figuring out who has the pitch back and then changing assignments to block him. I'm not a fan of making it easy for the opposing side.
Fort Schembechler isn't completely without value.
...Mattison did it that way this game, and he'd do it again against that opponent, does not necessarily mean that's the way M will always defend option from the spread.
I have to imagine Hagerup is still getting back into form. He hasn't really had a ton of game opportunities to punt this year, which I'm totally fine with. Less punts? Okay.
I see the defensive philosophy of Mattison being "make a play" , if we can make one big play on any 4 down series, we have a good shot at getting off the field. By play I mean a turnover,a negative yardage play, a PBU, something, anything.
When I watch this D I'm hopeful for one excellent defensive play out of 3 to facilitate getting the D off the field, and if they don't get it, I move on to the next series of downs and hope they make that one play to get off the field. It is kind of like a hitter in baseball, if you can be successful one out of three, you can be a star
Brian is correct about all the failing on the D but sometimes it is a moot point. The D can grade out average to below average on 8/9 plays and still be successful in terms of points allowed, if they can just make that one play.
I think you have that backwards. "Make a play" is high-risk, high-return. That leads to big plays that lead to touchdowns. Mattison does blitz, but by his own words that's really intended to make the QB uncomfortable because the linemen can't consistently create their own pass rush. Notice when he does blitz, it's never without having guys covering the deep routes. He'll give up a 15-yard pass or two as long as the safeties keep the play in front of them (and they do, and he knows that); his message to the QB is, "I may not get you every time, but do you know where the next one's coming from?" One of the keys to winning at poker is to lose a round on purpose to prevent your opponent from picking up a pattern. Giving up a first down outside the red zone now and then is OK; the blitz is worth the risk. But that's not "make a play". He's taking very calculated risks.
Mattison doesn't have the defense MAKE plays so much as take away the big stuff and force the other team to execute, execute, execute. Do that and Mattison will give you the 7 yards you earned, and Mattison eats his RPS-1. But you will have to do that 10 times to score a single TD.
If all goes according to Mattison's plan, you will be human and fail to execute perfection 50 times in a row. You'll get your 350 yards, but eventually mental exhaustion will lead to a mistake. And when that happens, know this: Mattison drills his defenders in practice to jump on every ball -- every fumble, every pass, even every incompletion. Everything. When you make that mistake, the Wolverines will descend on the loose ball like hungry dogs.*
They've been doing this every game, and I love it. It needs way more credit than it deserves. It is the essence of a "bend don't break" defense, which is the best way to execute with an undertalented squad. Mattison is GOOD.
*They'll also take a sack or PBU, but then I don't get to use colorful hyperbole.
We agree, we are saying the same things in different ways. You are interpeting my saying "making a play'' in a high risk fashion, but that is not my intent.
OK, you don't mean high risk. But as I understand it you're still implying Mattison is counting on his defense to do something beyond just hold ground, getting a play once in every three or four downs. I think he'd LOVE that (he's said as much), but I don't get the feeling he called plays like he could count on it. No one's really afraid of Michigan's four-man rush (except Minnesota, but they're cute like that). I'm pleased with the defensive line's improvement but Mike Martin isn't Ndamukong Suh and Mattison knows that. If I was going up against Michigan, the only guy I'd lose sleep over is Kovacs and him being the safety I'd still get my 5-6 yards if no one else steps up. Northwestern played like they knew that; they seemed to try to make his life as difficult as possible.
In Mattison's own words: "Every team we go up against is going to get a run of 4, 5, 6 yards. We know that. But we can’t give up 25 and 30, and the home runs." Honestly, that doesn't sound like a guy who thinks this defense can blow up one in three plays to me.
They don't have to blow up one out of three, just one out of three in a series of 3 or 4 or 5 such opportunities in a drive sequence. So now we are talking about 1/9 or 1/12 or 1/15, which is why Mattison also preaches having "a place to stand''
Woolfolk or Johnson
It gets Demens off the field, you could've watched him last year and see that he struggles vs. the spread and vs. the option. However, against the power, he's the MAN. (expect a big game this Saturday).
It gets Ryan ON the field, but as a LB...putting him on as a DE isn't going to work unless it's 3rd and long.
You have your 4 DBs, Countess on the wideside, Kovacs at SS, Gordon at FS, and Floyd on the boundary side.
But you also have Woolfolk or Carvin as your roamer...they can spy the QB, play nickleback, LB or CB.
I look at this picure:
Take one of those 2 LBs and align him right over the slot just above the LT, jamming in the same fashion Floyd is playing at the bottom. And all of a sudden you feel a lot more comfortable about defending the bubble screen while still being solid on the strongside and up the middle.
It becomes 3 vs. 3 up top (weakside)...with Michigan having help over the top with T. Gordon
It becomes 1 vs. 1 on bottom (strongside)...with Michigan having help over the top with Kovacs
4 vs. 5 on the line with N'Western having the advantage
1 vs. 1 LB to RB...with Michigan having both Gordon and Kovacs over the top.
By having the DE's defend the QB, you easily take away the 4 vs. 5 advantage...if they run wide...you've got a DE on the QB, plus 3 vs. 3, AND Gordon coming in from the top. You're never out manned.
If they run shortside, you've got a DE on the QB, plus 1 vs. 1, AND Kovacs coming in from the top...no way Kovacs doesn't clean up any mess even if they block that run to perfection.
WARNING: The biggest play this opens you up for...*shutters in fear* the '04 MSU counter draw. By having your DE's play the QB, they get up field (like Roh on the sweet play on 4th and 1)...that can create huge lanes for that counter draw play.
Thing is, NW didn't run that play. So defend the bubble and the option like this until they do. At that point, you've got to walk your safties down more because you can't allow your DE's to give up those alleys.
I enjoyed seeing the adjustments ... and it seems very clear that Michigan is changing it up enough for others to notice that this isn't the same team it was last year. I love the fact that opposing offenses are looking at Michgan's defense on film and (with a little bit of caution/fear)seeing that they're changing things up enough to the point that it's not longer a guarantee where the weaknesses will be.
It's a short link on MLive, but at least I like to see a different tone coming from MSU about UM's defense than last year. There were no coaches last year making any statements about Michigan's defense, because the only thing that they could have said would have been the honest truth about the horror of what GERG was doing. This year, it's clearly different ...