But I'm pretty sure being able to get consistent pressure on the QB with only four down lineman would be key to any great defense.
Questions about MSU defense
But I'm pretty sure being able to get consistent pressure on the QB with only four down lineman would be key to any great defense.
In their first year, Hoke and Mattison were able to dramatically improve the personnel from a GERG defense with the key to that improvement being MM and RVB...guys who were calling their own stunts on the line. High football IQ and senior leadership. That's the beginning of a great defense.
But I sometimes think its getting overplayed. Especially around here, like its our excuse for having a bad year, or a bad o-line, etc. Too Young, but when you watch the MNC in a few days, just remeber between the 2 teams on offense. There are a total of 3 seniors starting.
At some point, talent overrides Senior leadership. But the talent does still need to be "coached"
The development can only START with good leadership, taking what the coaches are teaching you and using the non-20 hours a week (or whatever that number is) to make the most of their time. If the coaches are teaching you crap, then...well...you do the math. But I agree that coaching is the catalyst, the senior leadership (heck, they can be juniors too) is the base requirement.
If I was in charge for a day, the first coach I'd look at replacing is the OL coach.
Someone looked at MSU's defensive starting lineup at another site and I was amazed how they had only 2 3rd year guys starting with the rest being 4th and 5th year guys. It's amazing what an upperclassman driven unit can do with great coaching. Youth is only part of the equation and our whole coaching staff dropped the ball this season. Changes will be made and I hope to see a much more disciplined and hard-working team out there next year.
Really? According to Rivals, FSU starts 1 RS Senior, 2 Seniors, 1 RS Junior, and 6 juniors around their RS freshman quarterback. Also, according to Rivals, the only backup on their depth chart who has been in the system less than 3 years is their backup fullback, although they do have a junior listed at third string.
Their defense is a bit younger, as they start 3 sophmores and a freshman. Of course, they also start 4 seniors and a fifth-year as well.
And while Auburn doesn't have many seniors on offense, they do have 7 juniors that start. I guess we also ignore that they start 5 seniors and 5 juniors on defense as well.
Yeah, they really compare to Michigan in terms of age/experience. Oh, and even though Malzahn is only a first-year head coach, he recruited most of the offense for Auburn as the OC. Fisher has been at FSU for 4 years; how many of Hoke's recruits were upperclassmen this year?
think you just proved his point.. even if there was more the 3 senoirs combined.
its not the high football iq or leadership, its the improved discipline from the rest of the defense surrounding disruptive pass rushers (mike martin and RVB and Roh to some extent with freshman jake ryan and kovacs as great blitzers). thats why we improved. give mattison somebody who can consitently win 1-on-1 battles and pressure the qb and he will make a dominant defense.
I see exactly what you're saying, but I will reiterate that the IQ and leadership is just the start of a great defense. You still need all those things you mentioned down to the player's abilities, no question about it.
Remember what was one of the greatest things about Jordan Kovacs? It wasn't because he was incredibly fast or strong, it was because he was always in the right spot...very smart player. And like I said, the IQ is just the start of a great defense. Good coaching, disruptive pass rushers, all that...are still needed.
Well, in addition to being a senior who seemed to be smart and a good leader, Mike Martin was an absolute terror on the inside and (if memory serves) was capable of blowing up plays single handedly. Sort of like what Jake Ryan does sometimes, except much more consistently.
I believe they still don't have someone to fil those spots vacated by Martin and Van Bergen as well. I think it shows.
for "fart noise". No idea why you wrote that and I'm way too old for that to make me lol, but lol I did.
I can tell you that their 2 recent All-American CBs were not highly recruited (per Rivals):
Darqueze Dennard - 2*
Johnny Adams - 3*
But were they diamond in the rough? Would they be equally effective at, say, UM? I am trying to see if there is anything about the scheme that can be duplicated with equal success. Or one needs really talented CBs to run the scheme.
If it relies heavily on talent, then we should see a significant drop off next year.
And four young 3* guys you've never heard of fighting for Dennard's vancantcy.
Barrnett - MSU's DB coach - is impressed with all of them.
I guess it's scouting, scheming, coaching up, practice, experience, repetition, and eventually understanding.
Pretty sure Lewis is MSU's only 4* DB since Dantonio arrived (not counting this current class).
I don't know. Go ahead and look back at the DB's UofM signed since 2007 that were also offered by MSU. Probably the majority of them. Then, look at the DB's MSU signed since 2007, but were NOT offered by UofM - possibly all of them.
Dantonio wanted/offered lots of guys that ended up at UofM. Not quite as true the other way around. Gotta have talent,but gotta have the right scheming, coaching up, and game coaching.
Johnny adams also got consistently torched on the defense his senior year.. and caused them to give up a ton of huge plays.. also lost them several games when he allowed some late TD's..
Couldn't this be asked in the other 3 threads about them that were posted yesterday?
Would anyone read it if it were?
It's the way the board works.
I was thinking about this yesterday as well. It would seems like you'd need your entire secondary (those that are in coverage anyway) to be very athletic and nearly flawless in their decision-making. I'd love to read an analysis of how their defense works.
here is a write up from spacecoyote http://www.maizenbrew.com/2013/10/30/5045564/michigan-state-cover-4-defense-adjustments-primer with some links inside to other posts he has done on them as well. they do have an athletic experienced secondary, ends that can rush the passer, and linebackers that are very athletic and react extremely fast
That Stanford decided to run the football into the teeth of MSU's front seven on first and second down all night. The way to beat MSU's defense is over the top. Dennard is a stud but I thought Drummond and the other CB were the weak spots. Stanford hit a couple of times and missed on a few others. I thought outside of the first drive, the Stanford playbook looked like it had 3 plays.
MSU was also pretty fortunate on a few plays. The dropped INT that Fowler ended up catching led to points. The PI call (ball was 15 feet in the air) on the first MSU TD gave them 4 points, and the holding call on the other Stanford INT was pretty lame IMO. If some of those calls or bounces go the other way, we're talking Stanford in a rout and perceptions of MSU are different.
MSU is beatable over the top. You have to come with the plays you practice though. Hindsight is 20/20.
ND scored 17 points against MSU. It's not like they unveiled some huge weakness. Moreover, ND drew a ton of pass interference calls that day just to get in position to score. After that game, Dantonio went nuclear on the officials and MSU never seemed to get flagged for PI much the rest of the season.
I would say MSU's defense looked most vulnerable all year when they tried to stop Carlos Hyde in the BTCG - he averaged 6 yards a carry, but Ohio didn't feed him the ball that much - he only had like 18 carries, and they didn't give him the ball on those two crucial short-yardage plays that basically decided the game.
I don't think it was unreasonable for Stanford - which has been a run-first team all year - to go into this game with a ground-heavy gameplan. I think they should have mixed it up with some of their specific playcalls (the inside run on 4th and 4 was definitely questionable) - but ultimately, they did what they'd been good at. In most games this year, Hogan would attempt around 18-20 passes. He's a solid player but not Andrew Luck.
But you have to keep going deep. Kelly gambled that he'd get the calls b/c Sparty does blur the line on almost every play.
If Michigan QBs and WRs are prepping in the offseason for Sparty in addition to Ohio, and unfortunately I think it's time they need to do that, they must be practicing the long ball. Their defense counts on the fact that most teams have difficulty completing deep passes at the college level, and especially in the B1G. If they're going to leave guys on islands over and over, you have to take advantage of that over and over.
Plus the LBs play so hard downhill, because I believe the safeties can pick up their routes on play action. Given this, I don't know why fake pumps aren't used more often over the middle of the field. We had Funchess wide open on an "Oh Noes" when Gardner inadvertantly faked by targeting him on that play. The safeties sucked up and covered him, and Devin tucked and ran or got killed or whatever. But the announcer pointed out that a moment later Funchess was wide open behind the safeties.
The problem with going deep all the time is that you have to protect your passer. That's hard to do consistently against this MSU defense. It could be different next year; they break in some new guys and maybe their corners won't be good enough to play one-on-one consistently. But this year it was tough.
Again, as "great" as Kelly's gameplan might have seemed, his team only scored 17, not the most points MSU gave up. ND really won that game by holding the MSU offense to 13.
ND won that game by passing. PI tacked on gave them over 200 yards in the air.
You need to pass to get MSU to stop it with the downhill. Not always deep either.
Stanford's defense was good enough to win that game.
And I think that you can't be afraid to throw a couple of interceptions. Stanford took a couple of shots, and then stopped when they turned the ball over. An interception on a 40-50 yard pass is no worse than punting, really. The payoff on hitting is big enough to counter that.
Michigan's main problem with going deep is they couldn't keep Devin clean enough to go deep regularly.
"Devin tucked and ran or got killed or whatever. But the announcer pointed out that a moment later Funchess was wide open behind the safeties."
Those double-move deep routes with fake pumps take time, and it does no good at all to get a receiver wide open behind the safeties after your quarterback has already gotten kiiled or whatever.
But Devin left the pocket because he had happy feet (understandably so). If the intention was to fake the zone read, then fake pump the Oh Noes, and pull it up and throw it over the top, he had time to do that on the play. Even with our terrible OL.
And I didn't mention this in my post, but it wasn't a deep route. The Oh Noes plays never really are - they're fake ZR's then pop pass to the TE or whoever (I think Herbstreit refers to all of those type of plays as a pop passes). This was near the goal line.
And the distinction is important, because if you're going against the corners on an island (although they do get help at times), then yes those deep routes take time. And further the CBs are in man coverage, so they're not even looking at the QB unless you sell the first break hard, making a fake pump ineffective.
But if you're attacking the downhill overly aggressive LB's, you're working the middle of the field 5-15 yards out and the safeties. The LBs can crash, and the safeties pull up to pick up coverage responsibilities in that area. If you send Butt out there on a slant or seam and fake pump, it doesn't take that much time. And now you have a safety running forward, if he bites he's flat footed and can't recover. So if you're attacking the safeties and this tendency, the fake pump is a weapon.
But what the hell do I know, I'm sure there are other counters to this idea.
Hyde got going because OSU came out and started throwing the ball and MSU had to back off him. Once it became clear that Meyer didn't trust his passing game to do anything, MSU shut Hyde down again.
I think the way to attack MSU's defense is to go 3 or 4 wide and force their safeties into coverage. They were talking in the first quarter last night how the safeties play soft zone while the corners play tight coverage. If you can attack that, you can back the pressure off, and run the ball. Michigan and Stanford aren't really built for that kind of attack right now.
MSU never shut Hyde down. I don't have the exact numbers in front of me but in the second half he averaged something like 8 yards a carry. He was getting stronger as the game went on but Ohio simply stopped calling his number. Urban Meyer tried to get cute when he could have just ground away a victory.
After OSU took the lead, Hyde rushed 4 times for 25 yards, half of that on his first carry. He rushed twice for 7 yards in the 4th quarter. Braxton didn't run the ball well either in the 4th.
Putting aside the issue of it being a tiny sample, does seven yards on two carries really constitute being "shut down"? You do that on 1st and 2nd down, and you've got a 3rd and 3.
I think a back as talented as Hyde should have gotten a few more carries than that in the 4th quarter of a close game. Miller, a smallish guy, carrying the ball on those critical short-yardage plays was a curious decision.
Meyer's bread and butter play is inside zone read, and when you run zone read it's the defense that decides who carries the ball. If they want Miller to keep, they can force him to keep.
...were run run pass punt and run run run run turnover on downs. Then, down two scores with two minutes to play, they understandably tried to throw.
Four of the six runs were Braxton instead of Hyde, but when you're running a lot of zone read you don't have full control over which guy gets the carry. It certainly doesn't look like Meyer "getting cute", in any case. They were trying to run, MSU stuffed it.
You can be "cute" and still keep it on the ground. Miller's always been a little feast or famine in the run game - he can bust out a 40-yard run on a broken play, but is liable to get dropped for a loss because he's not that physical of a runner.
Hyde had something like two carries all year that lost yardage. His YAC this year is incredible. He is quite probably the best inside runner in the country. Against a team like MSU, getting him two carries in the fourth quarter is astonishing.
The fact that ND beat MSU, in and of itself, does not prove that their gameplan was impeccable and a model for everyone to copy. Here's the box score of that game:
As you can see, ND managed all of 220 yards of offense and gained 14 first downs (several via penalty). Rees completed less than half his attempts and averaged a paltry 4.2 per attempt.
In retrospect, the real story of that game was that they held MSU to 13 points, something that none of Michigan, Nebraska, OSU or Stanford was able to do. The latter three teams would have beaten MSU if they'd held them to that.
Of course, Connor Cook isn't the player he was now back when they played Notre Dame. On some teams, young players get better as the season rolls on.
Not to mention, ND benefited from a handful of pretty bad PI calls.
I agree. I was amazed that Shaw kept running up the middle with little success. That 4th down call was terrible! MSU did get a little lucky with the calls but they still deserved the win.
Maaaaaannnn, you must be kidding. Wonka you crazy mother fucka!!
Only way to beat MSU is over the top? Damn, you could be a defensive coordinator or some shit at the NFL level with knowledge like THAT homie!!!
Shiiiiiiitttt - only game MSU lost all year was to ND - when their offensive only scored 13 points and Rees threw for 142 yards!!
You make it sound so easy, Wonka. It ain't. I park my Range Rover on your lawn, smash your Carolla. Ya bish!
And your "music" was awesome 10 years ago. Do you like Fishsticks?
Yes, I have met Aquaman, I have hung out with Aquaman, but the only thing I have in common with Aquaman is my love of the sea.
So you created your sparkling new account just so you could uncork this argle-bargle complete with a misspelling of one of your cars. Excellent way to kick off 2014.
Well, Don - like my auntie used to say - if you knows how to correctly spell the name of the cheap car you needs to get your paper up.
Stanford was also fortunate at times. The Langford fumble - that could have happened to any RB. They had no answer for MSU on that drive.
Stupid inexperience pressure pass by Cook directly results in 7 pts the other way. No luck with the pressure, but the panic floater pass to the OL was incredibly lucky for Stanford.
Overall, Stanford and MSU looked about equal on O, but MSU has a much better D. Score didn't reflect that - should have been more lopsided.
Man, what game were you watching? Give credit where it is due, MSU played a great game. Stanford threw over the top a few times, completed a long one at first, missed a couple and had one intercepted. Stanford couldn't do anything offensively in the second half. You could as easily argue that if MSU doesn't fumble when it looked as if it was about to score, then its MSU in a rout. It was a good game, breaks did not decide it, MSU was the better team.
went complete Al Borges play-calling in the 2nd half and easily could have beaten Sparty...they were stupid and stubborn much like Borges and it cost them the game...hats off to MSU, they played really good in the 2nd half and zero'd in on the terrible offensive game that Stanford thought would work...maybe they could have watched the UM/MSU game to see how running up the middle against Sparty's D works out
That was the same thought I had. Gaffney had average over 5 yards per rush and was in the 3's agains MSU. It seemed that in the 4th quarter, when they really needed first downs, they were predictable.
You have to hand it to MSU, their second half D was very impressive.
Other than the 47 yard carry, Gaffney averaged ~2ypc. Obvsly you can't exclude the long carry, but he basically got nothing all night except for 1 play.
Sparty's defense was excellent, and Stanford played to tendency all night, which made it that much easier for MSU.
I didn't care at all for the Stanford's playcalling. Maybe they just didn't have the personnel to be creative but I thought that much of their plays made it easy on MSU's D.
they played right into the strength of MSU's defense and went away from the pass game that I thought was working pretty well for them...MSU has been killing teams all year that try to run on them, I have no idea why Shaw thought that his team could be the differnce maker...I am prediciting that Standford will go back to mediocrity once Harbaugh's recruits are all gone
Every offense that didn't flat out beat up on a defense went "conservative" and had terrible play calling. This is what I mean when I say the OCs are the easiest scape goats in all of sports, people think they know better, and they understand the problems, etc. The next time I actually hear someone talk about the adjustments the defense made to stop some of the things that the offense was doing well originally will be the first. But it's always easy to complain in hindsight. If it worked once and they tried something else, they should have stuck with what was working. If it worked once and they kept doing it and it didn't work, then they should have gone to something else. That's the simplicity with which a lot of the fans that think they know better than OCs works.
I just find it funny that there are so many people that know so very little about something that can be so critical and act like they do know more. But apparently every OC that doesn't have great offensive output every game is just terrible and forgets how to call plays and things.
I just wonder if Michigan fans would still love to have Shaw, who called for a FB dive on the moat critical play of the Rose Bowl?
Is the grass, in fact, always greener?
I still like Shaw a lot. I don't see Stanford as a team loaded with talent all over the place, outside of perhaps the OL. I think they did very well to win the Pac-12 this year.
A few playcalls weren't the best (which can be said for just about any coach), but still, they had the ball with a chance to win the game with 2 minutes left - hardly an embarrassing performance.
So you don't see the comparison? Other than say the insistence on running into the line over and over again when its hardly gaining you anything positive (Stanford's longest run in the second half was four yards), similar to Michigan against Nebraska or Penn State? At least in our bowl game Al Borges acknowledged that he (and lets be honest you were as well) was wrong earlier in the season to continue slamming backs into the line when it was never going to yield anything but a yard or two.
Meanwhile, according to you, the OC is almost never at fault for anything that goes wrong on offense and his entire gameplan is usually flawless, with perhaps one or two plays being questionable, but on second thought, yeah I see what he was doing there. Execution! Youth!
But I can exaggerate your position on this as well, you just want every team to go to a spread air raid offense in-game if they aren't running the ball successfully, because it's as easy as changing the playbook in a video game. See, exaggerating someone's view is rather easy.
Stanford has a style of play, they run the ball and set up play action. You can't simply abandon it completely. I wasn't in love with Stanford's play calling, but people using it as a complete scapegoat for why they lost are fooling themselves.
I'm not getting into the Michigan stuff with you again, because I'm annoyed with debating you and I think others on this blog are as well. I never said the OC is almost never at fault for anything that goes wrong on offense, or that the gameplan is usually flawless. I never said anything close to that, actually. But it's much more complicated than people make it seem. It's not as simple as "pass is working, let's pass". There are other things teams see, and they try to attack things within their scheme. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but no college OC is going out there and calling plays without reason.
Yup, execution is a big part of it. Youth sometimes is a reason execution suffers. And all that is on the coaches too (God I hate the fact that I have to reiterate that in every post I make about execution). But I'm done having this conversation with you. You have your style of debate which I find annoying, and frankly I don't enjoy talking with you. I think you're an overreactive troll that is rude to people with differing opinions and you continue to use strawman logic and continue to be a debbie downer, negative nancy poster in everything you write, as if by you saying something more and being more negative and spitting the same things time and time again is anything but annoying. We get it, you don't like the OC. You can move on to filling your posts with other things now.
And before you respond, because I know you love to talk about word count in my posts because frankly I try to explain things instead of use poor logic or unfounded information, the word count before this sentence was 353.
That's been your whole tired, defense of our OC all season: Read my column/long response! See how I break down the plays! See how they make sense in a textbook sort of way! Now that's why I think we should keep Al Borges! (Yes, you bring up execution, but this doesn't seem to matter as much to you because you come to the same conclusion here that you do with the playcalling).
Honestly, as long as you continue to post the nonsense you do, I'll continue to respond (I actually enjoy some of your columns, I just find your conclusions to be silly).
Stanford backs had 14 carries for 13 yards in the second half before the pivotal, final play. Before the final drive Stanford had 11 carries for four yards in the second half.
So on the pivotal final play, they plowed into the line and were stuffed. And before that, they decided to run the ball three times.
So in this case it goes beyond simple execution and into coaching: Why continue to do something that simply is not working? Because that's what the coach/OC decided and thus the failure is his fault.
So that's nice.
And you way over-simplify the things I say, just like you over-simplify most of the things you talk about. You continue to claim I speak in a vacuum ("textbook sort of way"), despite the fact that I have a better understanding of how things work outside of that than you do. You take parts of my post and act like it's all I've said, and do it time and again. You talk like I only speak of specific plays, which is inaccurate. And then you insult. Rinse and repeat, there is a response from you.
I didn't agree with Stanford's handling of the final drive, but I do understand it. They were trying to get a first down with a defense that was playing back (until the final play) before getting into a quicker paced offense, it's how they work. They weren't going to do something completely new and foreign right there. They went to their bread-and-butter against a defense they thought was playing the pass. When MSU knew teams were passing all year, teams not only failed to convert, they got killed, Stanford just wanted to get something going first and maybe pop a long run, I understand it even if I don't necessarily agree with it.
What happened so far the rest of the half is only part of the equation as well. There is a lot more information that goes into what a team calls in certain situations, and it's far from all on the play calls, as you want to make it seem.
"I didn't agree with Stanford's handling of the final drive, but I do understand it."
I copied the template you wrote for me. Thanks, that'll come in handy.
From now on, instead of trying to understand football, how it works and doesn't work, etc, we'll just use hindsight and stats to tell us everything we need to know. And if it doesn't work: playcalling.
It's equally annoying when coaches seem to think play calling is never the problem.
In a game of relatively equally matched talent, it's usually somewhere in the middle between players unable to execute a solid game plan and coaches being unable to put forth a workable game plan.
People just put way more emphasis on it then they should, and discuss it without logic or real understanding of how the game works. Certainly, gameplans could be better. Certainly, with the benefit of hindsight, play calls could be much better. But there is logic and reason behind coaches calling plays. You don't have to like them, you don't have to agree with them.
I would personally do a lot of things differently than a lot of playcallers do, including different than Borges. But I also understand that he has a system, gameplan, scouting, philosophy, strengths and weaknesses - just like any other OC - and they have to play within those constraints. That's where most fan logic fails.
To honestly think fans are better fit than coaches that spend 80+ hours a week working with their team and scouting opponents and understand the nuances of football signficantly more than the vast majority of fans and know what to look for based on their play calls and their scouting and game planning, which fans do not because they aren't privy to that information is borderline asinine. The fact that so many people not only just question some of the things coaches do, which is understandable, but downright say it was wrong, is asinine. I disagree with many things coaches do, but acknowledge the limited scope of my knowledge of the things they know, not just because they know football better, but because of all the other things.
I guess this has always been my thing with your defenses of Borges. I get where you're coming from. You're a coach. You know that every play ever designed has some logical basis. And there is no OC who makes it to the D1 level that will put together a game plan without a reason for its ultimate design. So you only want to view through that prism of what was Borges' logic for that play design or that play's role in the overall scheme or game plan. This is a coach's mentality. I get it. I grew up around tons of coaches, I understand how they think.
So it becomes easy for you to sit back and listen to complaints about "play-calling" or a specific play that didn't work and simply reject the criticism as coming from someone who doesn't know what they're talking about. But what you miss is that you don't need to know the underlying logic of each and every play and how they fit together to recognize when something doesn't work. Borges and co have had too many utter failures on offense for there NOT to be play calling and scheme deficiencies. That you can identify a logical reason for why these failures occurred is almost immaterial. At some point you have to see the forest for the trees.
And that it is civil, seriously, so while I disagree with your conclusion, +1.
That said, I do disagree with your conclusion. The fact that there is logic to the play calling leads to the issue likely being something else. While play calls are rarely optimal for any team, and getting into more optimal play calls is a thin line that separates some OCs from others, rarely is that the significant difference, in my mind.
Take MSU's defense, which we have a thread on. If it was about play calling, Narduzzi's defense would get eaten up. Stanford's offense would have stalled all year. Both those units are vanilla, predictable, stubborn, etc. So then why do they have success? Because they teach the philosophy and the scheme and the techniques well. The playbook is the playbook, it's designed to work, the plays have logic, the coaches understand most of what's going on. From the start, where I have been critical of this staff if you go back and read my stuff, has been with their ability to teach. Now, I think there are underlying constraints and limitations to this as well, but that, to me, screams of the issue.
It is execution, but it's execution based on a number of factors that include the coaches properly instilling the knowledge of scheme and technique and then the players not translating it to the field. It's on both. I freely have and do acknowledge that. But it is my belief that execution, much more than scheme, much more than playcalling, is the issue. And I think there is significant evidence to prove that when it comes to every single system and team. That is my stance, and maybe I don't state the 2nd part enough, but that has been my stance from the start.
Now, all that said, I've been on the fence about the offensive staff (I said after PSU that I wanted Funk to be let go, so there's my apologist stance) for their ability to teach, but I think the mitigating factors are enough to let them play it out another year (with Funk, I wouldn't be upset if he sticks around, despite my personal belief with limited knowledge of the situation), because I put more weight on those things and beleive the coaching staff, Hoke especially, is there every day to have a better feel for what the actual reasons are. If they don't improve next year than yes, they need to go, but it won't be because they called bad plays.
I guess my question is do you believe a coach is ever simply bad at designing and calling plays? I seriously think you can't rise to the level of D1 OC without being able to put together plays and a game plan without some level of logical reasoning. Yet there are OC's that get fired every year because the offenses are outright bad. Is it your opinion that these guys are pretty much awlays fired because of the other reasons you listed and not because they just weren't very good at designing and executing a scheme?
To me, one element that I think you continue to deemphasize is that Borges has a frustrating habit of calling plays that we're bad at. Yes, it's easy to say those are simply execution problems or a failure to "properly instill the knowledge of the scheme and technique," but to me, when you continue to call plays we're demonstrably bad at, at some point that's also bad play calling. I think a lot of the complaints around here about "play-callin" are merely this.
I think player developement, fit with the staff, have something to do with it. I think, more so than not, sometimes you just need to change, honestly. I don't think what MSU is calling on offense now is significantly different than what they called under Roushar, not different schematically or the timing of the calls, but this year it works. But maybe MSU just needed someone different. Maybe that's the case with Michigan and Borges.
So, I have a hard time thinking it's merely about designing plays and schemes. Frankly, most schemes and plays are not original, everything, and I mean everything, is pretty much stolen and reapplied since the invent of progression passing by Gillman of the Eagles. Everything else has pretty much only been repackaging. The philosophies, schemes, etc haven't changed much.
Now, maybe that philosophy isn't where a team wants to go, maybe that scheme isn't what a team thinks is best, and in that sense, yes, maybe there is a change in philosophy that requires that. As almost everyone here knows, the spread-to-run that RR ran can work just fine, but there were reasons people wanted to go away from it, right or wrong. In that sense, Michigan wasn't going to hire a guy with that scheme.
that (outside of Gaffney's long run) 115 yards on 35 carries mostly up the gut was a smart game-plan that only netted them 13 points on offense????
I think it bears remembering that 1) Stanford really wasn't a high-scoring team to begin with and 2) they were facing the top-ranked defense in the country.
Look at Stanford's season and you'll see lots of games where they scored in the 20's. They were a classic ball-control team that ate up the clock and got their D a lot of rest, but didn't actually light up the scoreboard. UCLA held them to 24, Utah held them to 21, Oregon State to 20, USC to 17 . . . should we have expected an offensive explosion from them?
i guess if i were the guy calling the plays that weren't working I would change them up to try to win the Rose Bowl...so to answer youre question, YES, i would expect my offense to put up more than 13 points in the Rose Bowl
So you basically wanted them to throw out the baby with the bathwater. What they called all game is what they do. Hogan's not the best passer; most of his success comes of play-action. The WRs aren't that great. Running the ball is their thing. Not to mention that 1) Stanford led this game throughout the first half and 2) ball-control teams often have more success as the game goes on and the opposing D gets tired. Why would they have decided at halftime, leading 17-14, to junk what they were doing?
Also, you're harping on them scoring 13, but you can't just throw out that defensive score. The score of the game affects how you playcall. Thanks in part to that TD, they never trailed by more than one score, so they weren't in an obvious passing context outside of perhaps the final drive.
The bottom line is that for all their "bad" coaching, they had the ball with a chance to win with 2 minutes left, at which point they turned it over on downs by a couple of inches.
reading comments from posters like you defending a failed game-plan and saying there is nothing that could have been done to change it....i wonder how that philosophy would work out in one's real life? I really can't imagine using that excuse for real problems like a leaking roof and not understanding why cardboard isn't stopping the rain from getting thru...but hey, you can't change the train of thinking so who am i to state the obvious!
MSU's defense came in averaging 12 points a game. Stanford hadn't played a defense of anywhere close to that quality during the season, but against the five decent defenses they played (Washington, USC, UCLA, Oregon, ND) they averaged 25. Computer projections coming in were something like 18-17 Stanford.
20 doesn't seem like a failure to me. It's pretty much what they could have expected. Not great, not a failure.
They scored 13.
Tthe projections and averages I quote include defensive scores, and 13 vs. 18 wouldn't count as "failure" in any event.
Some basic stats classes would do this board a world of good. There's a fundamental lack of appreciation for what is and isn't a statistically significant difference.
So do you think that opposing offenses averaged 5 points a game against Michigan State's defense and that they added a special teams/defensive touchdown each game to reach that 12 ppg figure? You know, since defensive/ST points were included?
I would hardly call 35% of Stanford's scoring output insignificant. 20 offensive points is significantly different than 13, as it means you managed to score - more than likely - twice as many touchdowns.
I get that you're mad MSU won (I'm not particularly thrilled about it either) but what Stanford did was nothing like what Borges & Co have done with our offense. In fact, you actually seem to be calling for them to follow Borges's example.
For almost the entire year, Stanford stuck to the same script, power offense and occasional play-action. One of the few games where they changed the script and tried to win through the air was Utah, and it backfired - Hogan struggled and their offense sputtered. Losing that game cost them a spot in the national title game.
Michigan, on the other hand, constantly changed things as the year went on. The OL was shuffled on a near-weekly basis and gameplans often bore little resemblance from one week to another. Most of these changes backfired, and after awhile, it seemed that we couldn't execute anything properly - probably because we didn't stick to one script.
If you think an OC can just snap his fingers at halftime and say, "OK guys, we're a pass-first team now," well, that's not really how it works. You can argue that Stanford should have made a few adjustments - change up a couple of blocking assignments, maybe run a few more QB draws, counters, etc., but ultimately, they were best off not deviating too far from what they've practiced all year. Good teams figure out what they're good at (or what they want to be good at) and practice that constantly.
i often like reading your analyses, but i too often disagree with your conclusions. i am a baseball guy but can see similarities in strategies, etc between the sports. for example, take this year's world series. the red sox were the best SB team in the AL (3rd in SB but great % wise). that said, they completely abandoned the run game when facing StL in the WS (with molina behind the plate). those top of the order guys wreaked havoc all year but attempted just one SB the entire WS and that was by a guy off the bench. imo, trying to continually steal on molina would be luck running up the middle over and over again w/o success. my two cents.
those same red sox were 5 out of 6 in SB against the tigers the series before, proving they adjusted their offensive gameplan to the other teams defense.
but MSU doesn't have some athletic freak at DT that takes away the opposition's ability to run power. They're a good defense that takes a lot of things away.
I think there's a different baseball analogy that's more appropriate, partly because it's a facet of the game that I think is closer in spirit to football playcalling and partly because it speaks directly to SC's point.
You're a flamethrowing pitcher, with a high-90s fastball and a straight change off of it. You don't throw a slider and while you learned to throw a curve ball it's not very good--you can't consistently throw it for strikes and when it is in the strike zone there's a pretty good chance you've hung it.
Two outs, bases jammed, late innings and you've got a one-run lead. The hitter's a dead red fastball hitter, he was lethal until people realized you had better luck getting him out with breaking balls, especially sliders. How do you approach the at bat?
OK, maybe you tried to get him with a couple of curve balls but it didn't work and he's run the count to 3-2. What do you throw?
"Don't get beat on anything but your best pitch" is an old baseball adage. I think it's overdone and I wouldn't mind it if you threw the change, but I'll bet you wouldn't throw the curve in that spot and you sure as hell wouldn't throw a slider.
Which I think is SC's point--sure, you change your playcalling somewhat depending on what the other team is doing and what their strengths and weaknesses are, but you have to choose from what's in your arsenal.
went complete Al Borges play-calling in the 2nd half
An Al Borges game plan would have been more like Hogan throwing 40 passes and Gaffney getting 10 carries.
Al is a lot of things but he's not a conservative play caller. Witness our true freshman QB throwing 38 passes on Saturday night in his debut.
Duh. We we were down 21-6 after halftime so you have to throw. While I commend Borges for going away from the run, acknowledging that it was a total failure to even try after the half, if the game had been close, he would have been slamming backs into the line with the same frequency in both halfs like he did against Nebraska, wasting play after play.
Our tailbacks carried the ball seven times all game against KSU. Shane was airing it out for four quarters.
When we played MSU, it was similar - our tailbacks only had a handful of carries. The large majority of our playcalls that day were passes, although Gardner was sacked so much that our total "rushing attempts" looks somewhat balanced.
The most valid criticism of Borges isn't that he's too conservative but that he grab-bags too much and doesn't have a set of bread-and-butter plays that we can reliably go to. Stanford, in spite of yesterday's game, has a pretty sound philosophy - they obviously practice the crap out of a smallish playbook and are very good at executing it, at least when they aren't playing the top-ranked defense in the country.
Eh, I suppose you're sort of right, but not all the way. It was 21-6 with 2 1/2 quarters to play and we had run the ball 5 times with our backs for -1 yards prior to their third touchdown. Had we kept it close, I imagine Borges would have kept slamming a RB into the line another 10-12 times for no yards.
Against Nebraska, we ran the ball 9 times with our backs for something like 16 yards in the first half and then 8 times for something like 1 yard (I'm too lazy to go back and check) in the second. Excluding the final drive in which we had to pass, we actually rushed on a higher % of plays in the second half. The Stanford - MSU felt more like that, especially in the second half, so I see the comparison to Borges being at least partially valid.
So, giving your running backs five carries out of 23 plays is just like Stanford-MSU?
No, what is like Stanford-MSU is going with a strategy that simply doesn't work for an extended period of time, a la the Nebraska game in which we continued to run our backs into the line with the same frequncy in both the first and second half, despite plenty of evidence that it would lead to nothing. Especially when you reach a particularly important segment of the game (our two straight runs after the turnover against Nebraska, Stanford's final possession).
I'm also saying that had the game been, say 14-6 throughout most of it, Al Borges probably would have ran the ball 17-20 times for 15 yards despite it being a completely useless endeavour. However, because we were down 21-6 midway through the second quarter, he was forced to abandon the run and try to catch up. I actually think that its a positive going forward that he didn't keep trying to force it.
So no, you don't see.
Michigan ran the ball with the RBs 17 times on 62 plays, for a total of 27%.
1st half: 9 times on 28 plays (32%)
2nd half: 8 times on 34 plays (23.5%)
All this while Nebraska's greatest weakness was stopping the interior run game and quick jet plays to the sideline (which Michigan did as well).
Take out the 5 plays on the final drive (had to throw) and you get nearly identical numbers: 9 out of 28, 8 out of 29.
Again, you've just displayed the same weakness you display over and over again: But I can explain it!
Here's my response:
It wasn't working. At all. So why keep doing it? The only reason you would keep doing it is if you were going by, again, a textbook way of thinking: But this is what Nebraska is bad at! It says so in the gameplan!! So why isn't it working??? These 36 diagrams and this 7 page essay I wrote says it should be!!!
Which isn't realistic either, Michigan would have at least had 3 more plays, whether they were losing or not, and odds are (8/29 = 27.5%) those 3 plays wouldn't have been runs under normal circumstances. And still, 17 runs, say 18 normally, out of 60 (30%) isn't something to go crazy about.
And it's not a "textbook answer". You run to keep defenses honest, which is what Borges was doing. Say you struggle in pass protection, a team is playing press cover 1 on the outside to take away the short/intermediate routes. Well, completely going away from the run probably isn't the best option. Running about 30% of the time is in a range that at least keeps the defense respecting the run instead of teeing off on your poor pass protection unit. But of course, that's all so "textbook". So besides it being Nebraska's weakness (hence, the game plan) and a way for Michigan to even try to open up other things, I see what you're saying.
And again with the strawman about lengthy posts and diagrams, when will it end? I find it funny that you attack me providing knowledge, information, and logic as a flaw, while you can't do that, and some how that makes your argument better.
Because long texts and diagram are how you attempt to explain away your incorrect conclusions. You seem to feel like if you can put enough of them together to explain away the failure, that will somehow make you correct, but you're arguing against simple logic: If something has no chance of success, why continue to do so? The only reason you would continue to do so is because you've bound yourself so tightly to the textbook that says what you're doing SHOULD work that you refuse to stop doing it.
Do you understand what a constraint play is?
Sure. So are you saying our offense is a pass heavy offense that needs to run 30% of the time to keep the defense honest? I understand that logic.
Here's my problem: Our trade-off for keeping those defenses honest is basically wasting a down. It means we go from three chances for a first down to two chances. With our running game, especially in the second half of a game like Nebraska or Iowa, running the ball essentially meant we had two plays to get 9+ yards. So I'm not sure its really worth it to try and make a defense think they have to defend the run when they aren't remotely scared of the run and the run isn't at all effective.
He called 5 runs out of 23 plays, and then he "abandoned the run"?
It's not that unusual for teams to run 20% of the time and it typically isn't viewed as a sign of some irrational stubborn attachment to a run game. Even if they aren't having success with it, they still call a few just to keep the defense somewhat honest.
Well, in the following 2.5 quarters, he called 3 RB runs on thirty plays over a longer period of time, so yes, he pretty much abandoned the run.
And I suppose that could be the case if you were averaging, say 2 yards a carry, instead of negative yards or .20 or whatever it is that Michigan tended to average this year.
I was wrong, we ran for slightly higher percentage in the first half (32% to 28%).
Is absolutely correct. They have a small playbook, a package of bread-and-butter plays, and they run them to death. Now, when those things get stopped, they don't have many other places to go, because they rely so heavily on the power run game.
It's the issue with many spread teams, just in the opposite direction. Things are simplified to a point that you hope to execute them so well and work within them so well that it will always work, but it doesn't always work. The only way to always have something work is to become more multiple, but then you don't execute anything as well.
There is a tradeoff to going in both directions with philosophy, and teams and coaches try to find the fine line in which to rest with respects to their team.
I personally think Michigan should have started with what they were working on over the spring and stuck with it. They realized they weren't very good at that thing and went away from it in fall camp and went to more of a zone stretch thing. Then the changes kept happening. In hindsight, that looks like an issue. At the same time, if we don't run what is pretty much a significantly different system vs ND, do we win that game? Do we beat Minnesota if we don't? Are we even competitive with PSU? We don't know. For all we know, the constant switches may have been the thing that gave Michigan as much of a chance to win their games as it did. I suspect it backfired, and the coaches regret that, but they had to work with what they knew to try to help the team win. Sometimes that works, sometimes not. And all we have to go on is what we know based on 3.5 hours on Saturdays and the eventual results, the rest is hypothetical and extrapolation.
but this has been my biggest problem with borges going back to denard. i'm guessing that every year since he arrived, borges has been working on manball each spring and summer. then low and behold come the actual games, it fails (you know personnel and all). in 2011 it was pro style until we fell behind, then it became "denard save us, or arm punt". borges just seems to "flail away" week-to-week far too often. this year was the worst of that sort of strategy. the OL flip flops is further support of just throwing crap at the wall and hoping something sticks. offensively, i think this year was practically a total waste. despite the playing time, i really doubt our OL gained much in terms of improvement going into next year.
Could not agree more. Stanford's playcalling in the 2nd half took on a distinct air of unreality. The whatever and short in which they ran up the middle into the MSU blitzes became so hard to watch after awhile.
for you to ponder:
What offense looks the ugliest when it isn't working? Spread or manball?
I'd say spread is uglier when it's not working.
Manball fail looks like bad playcalling and/or coaching. Spread fail looks like players are just getting owned.
It is a false proposition. Manball is not an offense.
But I'll play the game. The decidedly spread 2008 Michigan offense was the worst I have ever seen.
It looked to me as if the MSU secondary played more zone than I had previously thought they did - the interception by Waynes was either an amazing read/reaction or a zone...
The guy over the slot switched to the flat and Wayne's was assigned to the deep quarter
Im order to have 8+ guys in the box, you must have outstanding cover guys in the secondary. Which MSU has. They also get pressure which is obviously huge. Notice how our DBs play way off? Thats because our front doesnt get pressure and the DBs arent great in coverage. Our defense is not good. It's not terrible, but it certainly is not where it should be. Hopefully the dline improves a ton by next season.
If you do want to learn more about MSU's defense, I've written quite a bit on it:
In summary, they are almost exclusively a cover 4 defense, though in passing situations they'll run a lot of cover 3 behind their blitz package. Going by memory, MSU ran the Bear defense approximately one times this season (the last stop looked like it may have been a bear variant, but was more just a GL formation than anything), so no, they aren't a bear defense. They run a 4-3 Over with Cover 4 behind it.
For clarification, here's what a Bear defense looks like:
Note that it doesn't have to be the Strong Safety and SAM over the TE side, it can be two LBs over the TE, it can be a LB over the guards and SS at LB level, etc, this is just a basic Bear defense (that can also shade Over and Under).
The 4-3 Over looks like this (sorry for wonky picture, best I could find quickly):
4-3 Over is very standard for a 4-3 as it gives pretty clean reads for the LBs in their bubble and fairly nice ability to flow. In the link above, you'll find a post that goes into a lot more about the 4-3 Over and how MSU adjusts within it and what the advantages are.
The Bear defense relies on essentially covering every OL so that the LBs are absolutely clean to make a play. Notice how basically every gap is filled on the LOS. The 4-3 Over is a bit more versatile (you won't see many Bear defenses today because it can be exposed against the pass) and is more about LBs reading, though MSU doesn't really harp as much on leverage player, spill player, etc, as strictly run fills (if you went to a coaching clinic with Narduzzi, you'd hear him talk about this in more detail).
Now, MSU rarely actually puts 8 in the box (though they'll have essentially 8 in the box against a nub formation typically, as the CB checks into a cover 2 and plays the leverage defender). What they play is a quasi-9 man box, because the safeties tend to play flatter and tighter to the LOS at about 7 yards (Stanford) to 9 yards (traditionally). Their safeties essentially read the number 2 or the EMOL to tip run/pass and react accordingly. Front side safety has alley support, backside safety fits backside spill to backside leverage so LBs can flow off of first read. This is why most teams, including Stanford, OSU, and Michigan, attempted to attack the safeties over the middle with the #2 receiver off of PA. They were essentially trying to get the safeties in a bind for run/pass responsibility. But for the most part that takes some time because the routes need to develop over the top, so you need protection.
Hope this helped.
Do you think Michigan's corners are not physically able to play like this? It seems like we have consistently had smaller corners, so maybe that is part of it. From a risk reward standpoint, what do you think the breaking point is to run this type of defense. In other words, how many long passes can you give up and still come out ahead by shutting everything else down?
I don't think from an athletic standpoint that Michigan couldn't run it, though I don't think Michigan's players are as designed for the scheme as MSU's. The thing with MSU is it's pretty much what they run and that's it (outside of several downs) where as Michigan is much, much more multiple.
There are strengths and weaknesses to both philosophies, of course. If MSU doesn't have a Dennard type guy and has an average player in the secondary, that guy can and will be easily picked on. It's a scheme that takes time to develop and for players to learn the ins and outs of it, that is why MSU fans wanted Narduzzi gone in year 3, because the players still weren't up to playing the scheme, either they didn't fit or they still hadn't learned all the nuances of it. So it takes time to implement and frankly takes getting the right players for the system to play it well.
Froma risk/reward standpoint, it's really about philosophy. I think Narduzzi says something like 15% deep completions is the accepted number. That's a pretty low number, but that's their stated goal/or breaking point. That seems about right to me as well. But that also assumes you are taking away the short stuff and stopping the run. If you're average at the other stuff and giving up that percentage, you're defense is failing.
That was a great post. Very detailed and informative.
1. No, it is not a version of the 46 bear defense by alignment.
2. You do not need Jabrill Peppers type corners to be succesful. You just need to identify under the radar kids who can run and are big and physical.(not the midgets Michigan has recruited)
3. It is scheme and technique that allow them to play at a high level. Scheme-wise it is elite. It is crazy that it has not caught on more throughout the college game. The only way to take advantage of it is by hitting deep balls and those are even extremely hard to hit becasue of the constant pressure. On running downs both inside linebackers are blitzed making them essentially defensive lineman,building a wall at the line of scrimmage. The safeties are playing extremely close to the line of scrimmage effectively making them the linebackers to clean up any thing that breaks through. The key to the scheme is playing your corners on bump and run coverage, effectively making it so there is not enough space for a short passing game and not enough time to execute a long ball passing game.
It isn't really scheme elite, it's another scheme that MSU runs nearly exclusively. Other schemes can work just as well by making similar adjustments within it. Alabama doesn't really run a ton of Cover 4, in fact, they are very multiple in nature, but they run a lot more zone matching and single high schemes. Iowa was always a Cover 2 team. I can list a number of teams that do it differently.
It's very sound scheme wise, but if you aren't very good at it, if you aren't very good at run fills, if your DL gets beat at the point of attack, etc, then you lose your third level players because the safeties are so aggressive. It takes a lot of work and patience to learn the system correctly and execute it correctly. Those safeties filling the alley, if they're beat, then it turns into a big play because there is no 3rd level defender. Quick hitters like Indiana had leaves the defense in the dust if it isn't fundamentally sound.
In the pass game, it also tends to leave the short/intermediate out from the #2 open. Most teams aren't patient enough to take that, and MSU is one of the few teams this year to really hold it down. In the past they've had more issues with it, but this year they could do more with their safeties over the #2 than even they have in the past, making the defense a little bit harder.
Also, if you get protection, you can get torn up in the underneath zones, which is why Dileo had a great game against MSU 2-years ago when MSU couldn't get pressure on the QB. The LBs are tasked with covering a lot of area and also need to be run oriented. So it's not an infallible defensive scheme, it's just run very well at MSU right now. It's a good scheme, I like it a lot, don't get me wrong, but it's not something more teams can just pick up and run like MSU does.
As far as what you're saying about the ILBs, that's mostly false. Outside of a BCB overload blitz and the double A-gap blitz, MSU rarely blitzes. They just attack on first read rather than play read and react because the way they play their safeties allows the LBs to be very instinctive rather than playing certain support types (spill, leverage, etc). They just basically read clear/cloudy and attack the football, but they don't blitz making them DL.
Why aren't screen passes also affective against their D? Seems like it might help open up the deep ball too. Or does it not make a lot of sense since they don't blitz a ton?
Well, lots of different types of screens, so let's try to go through them. FWIW, before we start, MSU was very good against screens this year.
Bubble screens - these tend to be difficult because of the way MSU adjusted their cover 4, to pressing on the outside, especially to the field. By pressing and allowing them to press straight up (read: maintain the ability to pop outside and get leverage) along with how the OLBs and Safeties react to any slot receiver make that a more difficult proposition. Some teams had some success bubbling to the #3, but it's still difficult, and in certain situations where the CB lost leverage some teams got about 5 yards, but with the quick flow based off of quick reads, the bubble is difficult.
Tunnel screens - These can have success, but they require you to win over the top so that the CBs respect the initial vertical release first. Otherwise they just stick to the #1 receiver and that makes it difficult to get enough separation from him to get cleanly into the tunnel area. Combine that with the safety reacting quickly down field, it's difficult for the OL to get out and fill in alley support.
Slow screens - Again, it comes down to safety support and quick reads by LBs. Because the LBs don't often blitz, they are able to read and pick up RBs leaking out of the backfield. They are well schooled in how to defend it and have a good understanding of how each position is supposed to read it.
Throwback screens - Should work to some degree. Again, MSU is well schools in reading screens anyway, but with how they flow, throwbacks can be effective. A key issue though is MSU's length on the DL. You'll notice that they do have a lot of length at the DE and especially DT position, this slows down the play and allows the defense to react. The DL is also pretty good at feeling the release.
Flare screens - This is one of the ways a lot of teams found at least some limited success against MSU, because it gets to the edge quickly but still allows the #2 to release vertical to hold the safety. That means it puts the OLB immediately on the edge with a RB in space. You saw quite a few teams run that. MSU is still sound fundamentally and you'll see their DEs do a good job breaking off the pass rush and the rest of their team flow to the football if the OLB can slow the RB down, but that's a way several teams picked up good yards against them. Just can't run it too often otherwise those DEs and OLB will start quickly jumping it, and because it's a quick screen that needs to be thrown more on a line, if it's read immediately it's a very dangerous throw that both will have a clean run at the ball carrier, if not the ball itself.
The Chicago Bears defense was a cover two scheme (at least that is what every interview I have ever heard from Brian Urlacher said). MSU's main defense is Cover 4.
So I wouldn't say they are the same. Probably share some same aspects though.
And yes. Even in college your DBs need to be pretty damned good to be left on an island.
It's a single high defense. But you are correct in that the most recent Bear defense have tended to be a Tampa 2 defense while Urlacher was there.
They play very aggressively at the line of scrimmage. They'll load up and stop the run and send extra guys to get pressure. The CBs play tight to the line to disrupt timing and prevent quick passes, but also have the speed to keep up deep, but the key to their defense is to prevent deep passes by getting to the quarterback before the route can develop.
I don't think it's purely the system that makes them successful, they have a legitimately talented roster that allows them to play it as aggressively as they do. That said, Narduzzi does as good of a job as anyone making sure everyone is on the same page and ready for every offense they face, and state does a great job finding and developing players to fit their system.
It does require good, sound CB play because the CBs will tend to be on an island. But what it doesn't require is the CBs to learn a lot of different techniques. They have their press technique they starts off with an even leverage (meaning they don't try to force inside or outside at the LOS, they just try to wall off and force the WR to release anywhere but directly up field, plus the CB needs to jump outside on any bubble and has immediate inside help) and essentially rotates to a man coverage once the WR gets vertical (though this changes depending on the type of cover 4 call and if the CB will get safety help inside, if they're in MEG or MOD coverage, etc).
So what MSU has done is basically taught their CBs the hardest technique, but not much else. They do have very good athletes on the outside, don't let recruiting ranking fool you. These guys were very good athletes coming in, they were just very raw (or in the case of Dennard, he just didn't camp and went to a small school in Georgia that MSU didn't even know about until they were recruiting Mumphry and saw Dennard on tape). It's a fairly simple scheme though, in the sense that they aren't asked to do a whole lot of different things, but it does tend to leave them vulnerable over the top. And if teams get protection and they don't have as good of CBs as Dennard (Waynes is good too, but is vulnerable to getting beat once or twice a game), they will give up big chunk plays. But Dennard essentially shutting off half the field helped them significantly.
Instinctive safeties that make quick and fundamentally sound reads are required as well, otherwise they will really struggle when put in the run/pass bind
I agree with you that the stars don't really matter because MSU does a great job of talent evaluation for their system. Dennard was a 2 star WR and they recognized his ability and switched him to DB. The same thing this year with Langford who came in as a DB and they moved him to RB.
MSU doesn't really do anything special on Defense, they are just super aggressive. They have a pretty good seconday group that can keep up with recievers. They load the box and if your passing game is not up to snuff then you're fuc&%$. They also have a good number of seniors.
The annoucers kept saying that MSU begs the oppenents to throw over them. Stanford was unable to except for a couple of times, not enough for MSU to soften up.
I was unimpressed by Stanford's play calling and QB. They (Stanford) never really did anything all game to make MSU adjust their D. They tried a few deep balls but the rest of the play calling fell right into Sparty's hands. I knew before the ball was snapped on the 4th and 1 at the end of the game that it would never work.
Most of your posting is about MSU and/or running down our team and staff.
The Seattle Seahawks run a very similar scheme to MSU. It takes on another level of difficulty in the NFL though as your CBs can no longer hand fight after 5 yards, which MSU utilizes to their advantage to get back in phase and disrupt timing on deeper throws.
This feels like an unnecessary thread, since these questions could have been asked in any of the hundreds of other posts about MSU.
But I'll bite:
1) I'm not sure if it is a Ryan defense, but they do play their safeties particularly close to the line, which you can do if you have really great corners who can stay with receivers without help over the top. That is probably a part of the Bears defensive scheme, but I'm no expert.
2). Again, having great corners helps. Also, they haven't played particularly great WRs.
3) Stanford does not have receivers like OSU and UM had, and it didn't help that when those receivers did get open they dropped the ball. MSU is a great defense, but Stanford played right into their strengths (slow-developing running plays, limited speed outside).
IIRC, the '85 Bears CB's were conventionally thought of as the 'weak' part of their defense. Their only loss was to the Dolphins and Marino/Duper/Clayton in a classic MNF. I could be wrong, but I remember the Dolphins also breaking some counters on the ground for good yardage in the first half.
I actually have that game on VHS. My mom taped it for the old man because he was a 2nd shifter but also commuted an hour to work, so he would have missed most of the game by the time he got home.
Every couple of years or so, I go back and watch it. It's funny seeing the retro commercials and 80's sitcoms and cartoons that are on that tape as well.
Narduzzi bases his defense on the Miami of Florida glory day defenses. Google Narduzzi and Miami of Florida and there is an article about how he watched them and wanted a similar defense.
To answer your last two questions, I'd say they don't need elite DB play for their scheme. They have to be good, but you don't need to be elite if your run defense is stout and you get pressure on the QB when they're forced to pass. MSU's system is one giant gamble that their pressure, both on the QB and on the WR's near the line, will leave the offense unable to make the hard plays and take advantage when their DB's get beat. MSU's DB's get beat and potential NFL QBs can and have certainly taken advantage.
Currently, according to ESPN, there is one MSU secondary player seeing action in the NFL, and I don't think he's a starter. They haven't been elite in the back end (Dennard is obviously a good player) and it's shown. The only teams (with the exception of Nebraska) that have had success against MSU in this 4 year run have had the QB/WR combo to attack MSU through the air, or at least threaten them to keep MSU from fully attacking the run. Think Notre Dame, Indiana, Wisconsin with Wilson, Georgia in a bowl game, Alabama in a bowl game. MSU has a great defense. They've also been lucky that the Big Ten has been brutally bad in QB and WR play these last few years.
I think your assessment is on the money. The one thing that I would add is that intense pressure, especially in the college game often leads to turnovers and big plays by the defense. You can probably tell, I prefer the MSU style of defense because it is about imposing your will and causing the offense to adjust to you. I always think it is a mistake to allow a QB on any level to feel comfortable in the pocket and get into a groove.
i think you are correct on this. the first 5-6 years of this century fielded much better passing QBs in the BIG than the last 5-6 years. look at UM alone, but add in PUR, PSU, Iowa, ILL. it's really not even close.
In my opinion, MSU has shown you don't need elite talent to run their defense, so I fall in the scheme camp. With College QBs you can rattle them easier than seasoned professionals. In my mind, what you need are physical corners that can come up to the line of scrimmage and get physical with the WRs. It is about pressure and disrupting routes.
If you make a college QB rush their throws they struggle to overcome it most of the time. It is easier to get in their head.
read "Smart Football" by Chris Brown. Lots of talk about various defenses in there, and some nice pieces on how the Spread developed as a counter to such pressure.
I feel that the core of the questions regarding MSU's D is 'why can't we do that?' But before we ask that, you have to remember that MSU is in year 7 of he same HC and DC. Obviously very good coaches and game planers, but if you'll remember, Naeduzzi was on the hot seat after year 3. The D was the main reason they had a losing record in the third year. It wasn't until year 4 that their D took the leap to good, and it wasn't until year 5 that it became elite.
Yup, 6 of the starting 11 on thier D are Seniors who have went through their entire career under that staff. Stability is good.
And the other five starters were all in their third or fourth year in the program (two were redshirt sophomores). That's a luxury. There wasn't one super-young guy in there that opposing teams could go after.
I don't discount their scheme or coaching but it still requires a growth process to be effective.
it's Narduzzi and their DB coach. They would get the same results with UofM's DBs, given some time to coach them up and teach them the basics of their defensive scheme.
Does anyone believe that Sparty defensive athletes are that much better than Michigans?
It doesn't even look close
Yes. They have developed into much better athletes.
MSU is getting the reputation of being another Linebacker U, because their guys (LBs) are always in the action and tackles.
What I think is most impressive is that MSU's D-Line and coaching has learned the techniques to be able to stuff the run, get into the backfield, and CONTAIN the QB as well. This is all about STRENGTH and TECHNIQUE (S&T). Talent helps but only when it has the S&T behind it.
Comparing the Michigan D-Line from the KSU game to what I saw yesterday from MSU - our D-Line conveniently picked the wrong gap or got sealed off. Once MSU got over a shaky 1st quarter, Narduzzi's boys adjusted and stopped Stanford.
MSU's D last night reminded me of Michigan 1997, only Dennard is obviously not Woodson but still good enough.
This diary is from last year, but MGoBlogger colin wrote a pretty good primer on the Michigan State defense in the days before our game against them using step-by-step screenshots from their then-recent experience playing Ohio State.
The link is - HERE - and while it discusses many of the things that Space Coyote has mentioned above, it shows at least one example of their run defense being beat with a breakdown of how exactly it was done. I found the images most helpful when reading the analysis. It's still pretty current, of course, because this is still exactly what they do.
Our last quality D-Line was 2011, especially with Martin and RVB in the middle.
When those guys finished playing, where did they go to get ready for the NFL?
They went to Barwis, who had a business in nearby Plymouth. These guys had Brady's S&C coach for one year and probably could have relied on him for free, and went to Barwis instead.
MSU clearly has someone working with their D-Line to get off blocks and push back.
For all the talk of Funk and Big Al, our S&C coach is getting off the hook too easily.
is that the DL was even worse under RR for three years of Barwis.
specifically credited the coaching staff for the change in their effectiveness.
...may have been raised, but their corners are talented enough to play "on an island" with tight coverage. That frees up their safeties to assist in run support.
That may be the key, along with a decent front four.
Here are brief answers:
- No. This is not a Bear defense, though it looks similar because of the amount of pressure and numbers in the box that MSU brings. Actually, the way they play their safeties shallow, they can get nine in the box very quickly--the Bear had eight.
- Yes, but that depends on what you mean by "elite." MSU's corners MUST be able to execute press coverage extremely well, and they must be able to turn and run well. They are not elite at some other techniques and I don't think they'd be particularly effective in say, a Cover Two scheme.
- Some of both. These guys are athletes, but I don't think they're all running 4.3 40s. They are well-coached to disrupt routes and flip their hips; the idea is that if they can disrupt an early route and can flip their hips well, they can defend for the 3-4 seconds (max) before their D-Line or blitz arrives at the opposing QB. You saw them get beat over the top against Stanford several times. However, Stanford didn't always make the catch or the throw when the receivers were open. If a team can do that, they can beat MSU.
I will be curios to see how much success they will have in NFL. That is, if their skills transfer to other schemes when faced with more accurate QBs.
The key to any good defense is depth and it's no different with the Spartan defense, I watched that game and saw players all game on defense whose numbers I didn't recognize, they go 2 and 3 deep at every position and they play them all.
I saw a DT, #87, make a great TFL, I wondered, who the heck is that? Looking it up he's their 3rd string guy Brandon Clemens (A 4 star recruit incidentally). They haved their 3rd string players mking great plays in the biggest game of the season.
We're developing some depth ourselves, think we're a couple years from having that type of depth, but we'll get there. Really think we can have a top 10-15 defense in the country next season. MSU next year? Still think they'll have an elite defense, not top 5, but still top 10-15, I think they proved yesterday that they are capable of dealing with the loss of their good starters. Harris and Elsworth played great for Bullough and they did not miss a beat.
I've said it before, we can't expect MSU or OSU to come back to the pack, it's up to us to improve and get to that level.
MSU also takes advantage of the fact that you can chuck and grab receivers off the line and downfield. You can barely touch guys in the pro game. However, MSU is excellent at taking advantage of the rules in college football about how much contact is allowed with a receiver. The game they lost with all the PI penalties were pretty much all legit because they also hold a bit. This isn't to take away from what they do defensively. Actually, it's a compliment. It might be annoying, but it's probably the best system given how the game is officiated.
MSU's aggressive secondary tactics clamped down Ohio's passing game (only 100 yards), and did a similar number on Stanford's passing attack, relegating them to rushing the ball only.
Being overly aggressive like can bite you bad sometimes though.
Didn't realize it then, but their 10 penalties for 115 yards at ND probably cost them that game and an undefeated season.