the just released schedules were a flat-out statement that the B10 doesn't believe SOS will matter in playoff selection
Picture paging Kovacs' interception
MGoBlog user the fume suggested in the comments of my last diary that Kovacs' interception in the 2nd quarter came from the same defensive play call that led to Notre Dame's final score, so I thought that I'd satisfy my own curiosity and look at that play too.
It's 3rd and 9 at the 36 yard line, ND 14-UM 0. Michigan brings all of its defensive personnel to within 3 yards of the line of scrimmage, with three down linemen (Black, MM, RVB), three linebackers (Hawthorne, Demens, Ryan) and five defensive backs (Avery, Gordon, Robinson?, Kovacs, Floyd). Here's the look:
Rees checks into a new play. This is the play he checks into:
He's focused in on Floyd at the bottom of the screen. Michigan, however, is going to rush 3 and drop 8 into coverage. It's a 3-deep zone coverage with five players in the short zones:
The pressure on the defense will come at the bottom of the screen, since the slot receiver will run a seam route straight up the hash marks, and Floyd is running a 12 yard curl route. Although the seam route is open, Rees apparently expects man coverage, as he seems to have decided already to throw it to Floyd.
The seam route is open. If Rees sees it, it's probably a touchdown. Note that the safety playing the center of the field is at the 44 yard, on the other hash marks, running like crazy up field. He's the only defender who has a chance at preventing a touchdown if Rees sees the seam.
But Rees is staring at Floyd, and Kovacs is watching Rees' eyes. Here's what it looks like when Rees starts to throw, with Black breathing down his neck. Note how open the slot receiver still is.
Rees compounds his error by making a poor throw too far inside. I suppose he thinks that Kovacs is running with the slot receiver and that Floyd will be wide open.
The result: Kovacs makes the pick.
It's a great play by Kovacs. This defense clearly has a problem, however. The player who plays the center deep third of the field needs to turn at the snap and get deep. He doesn't have time to survey the field and adjust his position. Here it's even worse than on the touchdown in the fourth quarter, as the deep center defender is on the opposite side of the formation from the receiver he needs to cover.
As several people commented, Mattison is not adverse to taking risks with his defensive play-calling to generate turnovers and uncertainty. Sometimes, as here, it works. Sometimes it doesn't. But I think all of us are happier with this approach than the very passive approach taken by the past coaching regime.
Here's the video (1:00 mark):