Upon Further Review: Defense vs. Penn State
|Tape I have misses the first two plays from scrimmage.|
|M45||3||5||Base 4-3||Pass||10||Shallow cross|
|Zone blitz from the wide side sends Crable and Harris, dropping Biggs off into coverage. It basically works, getting Harris in unblocked. Morelli gets a pass off before being leveled. Butler is a step and a half in front of Graham, who stepped towards the receiver crossing the other way. One guy versus two receivers = open. (pressure +1, cover -1)|
|M35||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||2||PA Dumpoff|
|Crable(+1) blitzes again. He's in like a shot, past the OL and immediately in Morelli's face. He manages to get a pass off to Hunt, who's tackled immediately by Adams(+1). (Pressure +1)|
|M33||2||8||Base 4-3||Run||4||Shotgun draw|
|OL gets good push but no creases between Taylor and Branch. Hunt powers forward for a few. Reminsicent of his runs versus Minnesota.|
|Dropped by the WR, otherwise he's open in front of Harrison for a first down. Harrison(-1) was held inside far too long by the play action fake, which was not particularly convincing with the TE releasing immediately. (cover -1)|
|Drive Notes: Missed FG, 0-0, 11 min 1st Q.|
|You'd think this would work with Hall eight yards off the LOS and retreating on the snap (OMG Herrmann!) but no, it doesn't. Outstanding play by Hall(+2). (CA)|
|O26||2||8||Base 4-3||Run||2||FB Dive|
|Uh... okay. Matt Hahn up the gut. Taylor(+1) and Chris Graham(hi! +1) combine to stuff it in the hole.|
|Crable sent as a fourth rusher. Morelli has a moment, but hesitates and starts scrambling out as he sees Crable(+1) starting to come loose. Hall(+1) right with Norwood. (cover +1, TA)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 6 min 1st Q. A little bit of happy feet on Morelli's part on that last play.|
|O17||1||10||Base 4-3||Run||-2||Off tackle|
|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.|
|Awww, come on now. We're only rushing three guys and this screen picks up eight? Woodley(+1), one of the rushers, actually doubles back to make the tackle downfield. (CA)|
|O16||2||10||3-3-5 Stack||Run||2||Off tackle|
|Branch(+1) again into the backfield; Biggs(+1) closes off the outside. Hunt is forced into a sea of bodies, picking up two.|
|Morelli rolls from the pocket, finding Norwood open in front of Trent(-1, cover -1). Short by like an inch. Stung by a failed sneak last week, PSU punts.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, End of 1st Q.|
|O20||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||15||PA Out|
|Trent(-1) again picked on, giving a big cushion to Williams and missing a tackle. Adams cleans up. (cover -1)|
|They run; guess who snuffs it out? Alan Branch(+1), disengaging from his block even though he's well sealed and closing down a running back.|
|O38||2||7||Base 4-3||Pass||-12||Sack (2)|
|Tim Jamison(+1) is basically unblocked, closing off the outside. He doesn't go wild and shoot past the quarterback, though, closing in sensibly. As Morelli tries to step up Taylor(+2), who's blown past his blocker, explodes into the backfield and sacks Morelli. (pressure +2)|
|Woodley(+3) powers through the tackle and croosh silly bug man with ball. (pressure +2)|
|Drive Notes: That's Damn Right It's a Punt, 7-0, 9 min 2nd Q. Fourth and 33.|
|O14||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||-9||Sack (2)|
|Uh, yeah, blocking Woodley(+2) with Tony Hunt is not a good idea. He powers through the attempted cut, sacks, and strips Morelli. Only a hugely fortunate bounce prevents this from being a game-killing turnover. (pressure +2)|
|Perfect example of how defensive tackles never, ever get any credit no matter how damn good they are. This is a draw against six guys in the box, and neither linebacker is touched because Branch(+1) and Taylor(+1) both occupy two guys the entire play. Burgess makes the stick and Musberger talks about our awesome linebackers. BRANCH FOR HEISMAN.|
|Utterly BS PI call on Trent on a ball that's eight yards past the receiver. To boot: this contact is completely wussy and incidental. Words cannot express the contempt I have for this call. (IN)|
|Defended decently by Trent. (CA)|
|Actual successful run play! Reason: Jamison(-1) is irresponsible. He's doubled on the edge by Brown and a TE so he decides to spin inside. Corner = ceded.|
|Taylor(-1) caves on this play, eventually getting pancaked five yards downfield. With a DT giving that much ground there's a crease for Hunt.|
|Biggs(+2) defeats the right tackle much like Woodley did on his first sack, driving inside of him and into the quarterback. Morelli had time to throw... but not much. (cover +1, pressure +1)|
|Ack. A very late developing, slow screen lets everyone get into their zone drops. Play was going for a first down as soon as Hunt released but Mundy's (-1) foolish attempt to hurdle a blocker instead of get outside and force the play back into pursuing defenders probably resulted in 15-20 Yards After Mundy.|
|Morelli half rolls, finding Norwood open in front of Trent. The pass is short-hopped. (IN)|
|Dropped by Quarless. Adams(+1) had good coverage and was going to hold this to 3 or 5 yards. (cover +1)|
|Crable-Woodley stunt picked up well by the PSU OL, opening up the right side of the field for Morelli to roll into. He does and finds an open Norwood. Can' reall blame Mundy(+1) for the coverage, as it was a zone. He reacted quickly enough to prevent YAC. (pressure -1, cover -1)|
|Burgess(+1) does well to stand up his blocker and disengage to tackle. Taylor, doubled, is blown off the line but Hunt goes the other way. Branch almost had him at the LOS.|
|Trent(-1) badly beaten. Biggs(+1) was coming and would have had another sack if we had good coverage. (cover -1, pressure +1)|
|Uh, okay. Branch(+1) bursts through the line into the backfield. Hunt cuts up past him; Harris and Taylor are waiting (+1 each).|
|Trent(+1) has Williams locked down this time. Woodley(+1) battles through a block to pressure Morelli, forcing him to throw it away. (TA, cover +1, pressure +1)|
|Brandent Englemon(+2) breaks on the ball, knocking it down. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: FG, 10-3, EO 1st Half.|
|We stunt past some trap blocking here â€“ our rock, their scissors. Woodley(+1) into the backfield, drawing the attention of a guard and allowing Graham(+1) to come unblocked and make the TFL.|
|Play action to Hunt. Levi Brown decides not to block Jamison for some reason â€“ we're not even threatening a blitz that might cause PSU to shift its protection -- leaving Hunt alone trying to block him. He easily sidesteps Hunt and makes the sack. (+1 Jamison, pressure)|
|O15||3||19||3-3-5 Stack||Pass||24||Deep out|
|Harrison blitzes from the corner. A Jamison-Branch stunt gets Branch(+1) free. He buries Morelli and ends his night, but not before he manages to get off a quail of a pass that somehow finds its way to an open reciever. Johnny Sears(-1), replacing Trent, is victimized. Unless Morelli keeps his brain in his left shoulder, this is not anywhere close to a flag. (pressure +1, cover -2)|
|Hall(+1) reads this and closes off the outside; Burgess(+1) ges through a blocker and pounds Williams.|
|O39||2||10||Nickel||Run||4||Zone read keeper|
|Burgess and Harris are weirdly passive on this play. If they had been more aggressive they definitely could have closed this down for no gain, and with Clark just in the game you have to figure run.|
|Harrison(+1) gets a hand in, breaking up the play. Clark was late, staring his receiver down. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 7 min 3rd Q.|
|O21||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||-7 + 15||Sack|
|Crable(+2) blitzes into the backfield like a shot, taking Clark down. Taylor(-1) picks up a dumb personal foul for falling on Clark after the play.|
|Hall makes an immediate tackle. (CA)|
|Branch(+1) is on the quarterback far too quickly for this screen to get set up. The throw from Clark is panicked and inaccurate. Hall(+1) has going to crush this for a loss if complete. (pressure +1, cover +1)|
|Biggs(+1) unblocked on the backside as PSU rolls the pocket away from him. Clark hesitates a moment and is lost. (pressure +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 4 min 3rd Q.|
|Both DTs doubled again â€“ Taylor(-1) driven back as a result. This allows the guard to get out on Harris. Hunt has a hole until Mundy(+1) fills smartly.|
|They're double-teaming the crap out of Taylor, but this time Branch(+1) and Woodley(+1) drive their men back and converge at the LOS.|
|Clark's pass is ill-advised and overthrown, as Trent(+1) has excellent coverage. Butler is forced to take an offenisve PI to prevent a pick. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 17-3, 13 min 4th Q.|
|O20||1||10||Base 4-3||Pass||1||Shovel pass|
|Biggs(+1) avoids a pulling guard and closes the shovel pass down quickly. Will Johnson(+1) also there to help.|
|Nice throw and catch. Decent but not great coverage by Trent.|
|Johnson(+1) gets enough penetration to disrupt the pulling guard, leaving Harris unblocked at he LOS.|
|We miss the first bit of this play because we are checking out Lisa Salters as a PSU basketball player. When we come back, Clark is scrambling out of the pocket for a few yards, then getting pounded. He leaves the game. (cover +1)|
|Crable(+1) reads the quarterback's eyes, stops reacting to an underneath route, and gets in the passing lane here, deflecting the ball and nearly intercepting it. Nice play. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7 min 4th Q.|
|O47||1||10||Base 4-3||Run||5||Pitch sweep|
|At this point in the game we're set up for pass rush with wide splits on the DL and only a few guys in the box. Williams gets the pitch and has some room; Jamar Adams reads and fills nicely but his tackle is lame: a shoulder block that manages to trip Hunt up. Wrap up! [/spielman]|
|Hall(+1) plays this coverage very tightly, wrapping up and tackling Williams short of the first down. (cover +1)|
|I'm not sure who to blame. They set this up nicely, but we're only rushing four. Crable gets chopped, as does Harris. He's into the secondary. Harrison and Mundy are converging from the left, Adams(-1) overruns the play, allowing a cutback lane. Sears, Harrison, and Adams all dive at Hunt's feet, but no dice.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-10, 3 min 4th Q.|
|Jeez. First of all: how did Brandon Harrison not sack Ciancolo? He comes in unblocked, but runs right by the QB, who's not moving. He then plows into the back of an OL and goes down like a ton of bricks. Pure slapstick. Then: how does Jamar Adams not intercept this pass? It's right in his hands. (+1 for the Adams PBU, cover +1)|
|Mundy(+1) in good coverage and makes a quick tackle.|
|Hall in better position than the wide receiver, who tackles him to prevent a pick. No flag this time. (Hall +1, cover +1).|
|Pass to a double-covered Norwood is well over his head. (cover +1)|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on Downs, 17-10, EOG.|
No kidding. 184 total yards of offense, two quarterbacks woozy on the sideline, and only a persistently irritating vulnerability to screens standing in between Michigan and complete domination.
Was it really that dominant a performance?
Well... while a good portion of the sack parade was impressive Michigan play, a few times Penn State either didn't block anyone or put themselves in a position where Tony Hunt was trying to cut a defensive end. And once Morelli went out so did 80% of the Penn State playbook. Michigan did get more pressure than they did against Michigan State and Minnesota but not drastically more. The mobility of Stanton and Cupito's ability to make quick throws on three-step drops turned sacks into hurries and fourth and 33 into (occasional) first downs. Penn State's wobbly offensive line and immobile, inexperienced quarterback doomed them to failure from the start. Neither Iowa or Ohio State will heistate to move their quarterback and both schools have more experienced offensive lines. I wouldn't expect a repeat.
|Woodley||9||9||Two sacks, another TFL, and consistently strong against the run.|
|Biggs||6||-||6||Wasn't blocked on one sack but the other was impressive.|
|Taylor||6||3||3||Good, but got blown back a bit when doubled.|
|Branch||7||7||Didn't appear much on the statsheet but has made running inside impossible virtually all year.|
|Johnson||2||2||Had a couple nice plays in the third quarter.|
|Jamison||2||1||1||Definitely relegated to Biggs' backup now, but that says more about Biggs than Jamison.|
|C. Graham||2||-||2||Seems healthy again.|
|Hall||6||-||6||Have come around: he's really, really good.|
|Englemon||2||-||2||Important PBU in the endzone.|
|Trent||2||3||-1||Tough game early. Got pulled in favor of Sears on the possession Morelli got knocked out on.|
|"Pressure"||15||1||14||Uh... yeah, when you get seven sacks and don't blitz all that frequently this is what you see in this category.|
|"Coverage"||13||8||5||Shaky when Morelli was in the game. After he left, the hesitancy and questionable arm strength of his replacements allowed Michigan to close on receivers.|
The screen difficulties should be charged to the linebackers and safeties but assigning specific blame is hard for me. Also, the linebackers didn't get much in the way of plusses because Penn State didn't run that much, Michigan didn't blitz that much, and a huge percentage of PSU's throws were easy-to-read outs. With the DL crushing the run and pass game nearly by itself, all the linebackers had to do was flow to the ball and tackle. This they did.
As noted above, "coverage" was dodgier than it appears. Both Clark and Rudy stared down their receivers badly, allowing players to break on obvious routes. When Morelli was in there were problems with cornerbacks not named "Hall."
OMG Defensive Line.
Seriously. What more is there to say? Can we point out that Rondell Biggs has five sacks and is playing at an all-conference level himself? He is the easy winner of the Bennie Joppru award (given to the most inexplicably great senior) this year, one of those three-star no-hopers that panned out in a big way. Preseason we were all screaming for Jamison; now that looks about as silly as "Iowa... #2!"
But that second corner spot...
Looks much shakier than it did after the Wisconsin game. Charles Stewart was torched when pressed into service versus Minnesota, and when Morgan Trent came back from a completely non-fictional hand injury his game slipped versus Michigan State and Penn State. Johnny Sears was inserted for one third-quarter drive in Happy Valley and ceded a third and 19 completion on a desperate, looping pass from a freshly concussed Anthony Morelli.
It's not a huge deal... but it's a weakness.
I know we shouldn't be looking ahead, but does anything here have bearing on the OSU game?
Probably not, sadly. Penn State's offense resembles OSU's in no way whatsoever. One thing: Hall's continued high-level of performance is encouraging. I expect him to see a lot of Gonzalez. Trent has the speed to deal with Ginn and his weaknesses on breaks are matched by Ginn's less than amazing routes. I think we match up decently well there except for one niggling issue: our nickelback is 5'8" and their slot receiver, whoever he is, is well over 6'.
And what does it mean for Iowa?
I don't know what's happened to their offense. Drew Tate's off, their receivers are pedestrian, and their starting running back is wounded. Freshman WR Dominique Douglas and left tackle Dace Richardson are also questionable for the game this weekend. Iowa's flipping their offensive line around, trying to find a combination that actually works. It all implies more doom for an opposing quarterback... but NSFMF!
Iowa has the potential to pose a threat if they can find a competent wideout or two. If Tate plays like he did last year, he'll find open territory on the side of the field not occupied by Leon Hall. Our linebackers are sometimes vulnerable to Spaethian tight ends like Scott Chandler. Backup running back Damien Sims is a little darting guy very capable of turning the corner, unlike just about everyone else we've faced so far this year. Penn State is probably going to be the outlier for quarterback annihilation this year and Iowa will get some yards. Probably.
I hope Young doesn't play much, not because I am worried about Iowa but more because I'm interested to see what Sims can do against the Michigan defense. The closest thing to a scatback we've seen this year is Amir Pinnix, and while his big chunks of yards were more due to clever formations convincing us to misalign ourselves than any perimeter weakness, Antonio Pittman is a faster, more nimble player than Hunt or Hill.