I decided to re-watch the defense's performance in slow motion and then post my observations. This is not meant as a replacement for Brian's UFR. You’ll notice a lack of statistics. The information below is just what stood out to me.
Three disclaimers: First, I am not a football coach. Second, I may have confused Nathan Brink and Brennen Beyer on a few plays. Both are tall, skinny white guys whose numbers end in 7. The TV I watched the game on is not that big. Third, everything below is written in the present tense. The observations are only meant to apply to the play or drive that is being discussed (unless otherwise noted).
I’ve put general observations at the end if you want to skip ahead.
· Mike Martin (“MM”) nearly sacks Carder on the first play despite the fact that it’s a bubble screen.
· MM and Ryan Van Bergen (“RVB”) get a good push throughout the drive and game.
· Brennen Beyer (“BB”) plays. He seems quick but too thin.
· Jibreel Black (“Black”) rushes from a standing position on at least one play.
· There is mass confusion before several plays for the DL and, to a lesser degree, the LBs.
· The LBs are not particularly quick to react to bubble screens.
· Nathan Brink (“NB”) plays and is unremarkable.
· The DBs are better coordinated than the front seven but still seem confused before some plays.
· Coverages seem well conceived. Michigan just lacks play-makers at DB.
· Michigan uses a three-man line on some plays. They are gashed on a draw in which no LBs line up over the center or guards.
· The team swarms to the ball.
· Will Heininger (“WH”) plays some NT. He’s not bad.
· Jake Ryan (“JR”) makes a creative spin move to get to an RB that Demens has by the ankle on one play.
· Brandon Herron (“BH”) generally looks a little lost before and during plays.
· RVB does a good job of dropping into coverage on one play.
· Blitzers come free on a play near the goal line, but it is for naught as a blown coverage by Carvin Johnson (“CJ”) allows for a completion.
· WH is the extra DT on goal line, not Will Campbell (“WC”).
· There were blitzes by the LBs and Thomas Gordon (“TG”) throughout the drive.
· Carder was very quick to make accurate passes to his receivers throughout the drive.
· The DEs tend to crash down on WMU’s RBs on what look like read plays.
· WMU runs quick-hitting play after quick-hitting play.
· Beyer seems to get himself out of position on a big run.
· BH seems to only duplicate what Kenny Demens (“KD”) does.
· TG personally blows up a WR screen.
· A delayed blitz by KD results in an incompletion in the end zone. JT Floyd (“JT”) has good coverage (possible interference), but a better receiver would have caught the ball.
· A blitz forces a quick third down throw for a minimal gain.
· The field temp is 120 degrees.
· WC appears at NT. He wins the initial burst of contact on his first play but then is pushed back for three yards (apparently due to poor leverage).
· JB Fitzgerald (“JB”) enters the game.
· WC is overcome by a double team on one play and is pushed back. He is too high to hold his ground (only in the most literal sense of the term, I assume).
· There is mass confusion among the DBs on third-and-inches play.
· The DL recognizes a RB screen pretty quickly. The LBs do not, and it results in a good gain for WMU.
· Jordan Kovacs (“JK”) blitzes from deep on 2nd and 3. The play is a draw that the LBs are slow to recognize. The play is blown dead.
· KD blitzes several times during the drive.
· The DLs run twists (“stunts”?) several times during the drive.
· NB cannot hold the point of attack on a draw.
· Black is more noticeable than Roh, but he overruns plays at times.
· WH and BB get a good push on a draw.
· JB and BH don’t seem to know where to be before some plays and during some plays.
· Courtney Avery (“CA”) blitzed on a play that ABC only partially caught on camera.
· JR lines up between a guard and and tackle, gets between them quickly, and bats the pass that BH returns.
· WH is stout on a run play while lining up at NT.
· WH holds the middle and bats down a pass.
· Only two DLs line up in three-point stances on a 3rd and 10 (WMU has four wideouts in the game). Van Slyke is in the game at safety on this play.
· Black times the snap count perfectly and helps force an incompletion with his pressure.
· The kicking game is killing Michigan’s defense.
· There are only 3 DLs on the first play but five men rush. This pattern is repeated later.
· Michigan rushes only three (all DLs) on one play, and the pressure is not bad. Carder threads the needle for a completion, though.
· A missed tackle by CJ allows for a big gain.
· The D blitzes in a cover zero scheme. They almost get Carder, who throws an incompletion into the end zone. CA has good coverage on the play, but a better WR would have made the catch.
· KD blitzes and almost gets Carder on the next play. Carder throws an incompletion to a WR who is blanketed by TG.
· Mattison sends seven men on the next play. Carder throws the ball out of the back of the end zone.
· WMU kicks a field goal, and the half ends not long after.
· BB starts the half at SLB.
· The SLB often lines up in a three-point stance throughout the rest of the half, essentially as the fourth DL.
· JT makes a nice play to stop a bubble screen for minimal gain.
· Carder threads the needle again for a completion when BH and CJ were in pretty good coverage.
· WC drops into zone coverage on a play that is blown dead.
· Only two DLs line up in a three-point stance on a 2nd and 12 play.
· A KD blitz on the 2nd and 12 play forces Carder to run. RVB and MM nearly take his head off. Carder protests this treatment, but MM is unmoved.
· Carder yet again completes a throw into good coverage with CA on his man.
· A DL of Black, WH, NB, and Roh is used.
· JK blitzes from deep in a sign of things to come on 1st and 15.
· WH drops into coverage on the JK forced-fumble/BH touchdown play.
· The D has to play two consecutive series for the second time.
· WC comes in, as does BB (as he does for much of the 2nd half).
· WMU runs a WR sweep on the first play. All OLs but RVB’s make it to the second level to block LBs and DBs. The play goes for 10. WC chases the WR all the way through the play and appears to be gassed afterward.
· JR comes in for second play. He nicely diagnoses of a misdirection play that is blown dead.
· JK sacks Carder. MM may have got to Carder if JK didn’t.
· Mike Jones appears and makes a tackle on a screen.
· MM drops into coverage on 3rd down when JK tips the pass.
· WC is in. He pushes his man back about a yard on a pass play. JR hits Carder in the face on the same play. Incompletion.
· WMU’s TE seems to think that Roh cannot move before the snap. He is wrong and is penalized.
· Beyer’s inability on 2nd and 15 to take on a FB allows for a four yard gain.
· BH lines up in a two-point stance between the center and guard on 3rd and 11 and gets a good push to the QB. The pocket rolls away from a blitzing JK on the play, and Carder makes another completion.
· JB is in for KD.
· Marvin Robinson gets a good hit when given the chance on a long WMU gain.
· WMU runs out of the I for a 15 yard gain. NB, JB, and BH are all cleared out of the way by WMU’s line.
· The DL is not lined up properly on the QB-center fumble play.
· WMU never gets the ball back.
On WMU: I think, fwiw, that Carder will be in the top 25% of passers that Michigan plays all year. Bill Cubit’s offense spreads you out and hits you quickly, making it hard to get sacks. Carder is an excellent decision-maker and he is very accurate…Carder needs to tighten his chin strap. He is going to get a broken jaw and/or severe concussion before this season is over if he does not.
On the DL: RVB and Martin were easily Michigan’s best (you’re shocked, I’m sure). I noticed Black much more than Roh. Heininger was strong at the point of attack. It would be hard to argue that he was not one of Michigan’s best four linemen. Brink was unimpressive. Campbell was neither good nor terrible. I did not see Ash or Quinton Washington.
On the LBs: There is Kenny Demens and then everyone else when it comes to MLB and WLB. An effort to clone him should be made immediately. I did not see Hawthorne or Morgan. Mike Jones only played a little. Herron had a wildly inconsistent day. He often looked lost when he wasn’t snatching loose balls and running them into the endzone.
Michigan appears to have depth at SLB, especially given that Cam Gordon was hurt. Ryan is a guy who just seems to do good things. Beyer was neither good nor bad, which is fairly impressive for a true freshman in his first game.
Michigan’s LBs were the least impressive defensive unit to me. Herron’s touchdowns masked some pretty weak play from the non-Demenses.
On the DBs: They looked like they knew what they were doing more than any other unit. No one could blanket a receiver on Saturday, but they were in the right places at the right times generally. Thomas Gordon did some nice things. Kovacs’ day doesn’t need to be described.
On blitzing: I think that Michigan blitzed more effectively as the game wore on but not necessarily more often, or at least not by much.
On tackling: It was good! Carvin Johnson (sorry to pick on you, old bean) had the only missed tackle that stood out to me all game.