UFR Errata: Iowa, Defending Kenny Demens

UFR Errata: Iowa, Defending Kenny Demens

Submitted by Brian on October 27th, 2010 at 4:58 PM

taylor-lewan-michigan Offense

Lewan moving. Complaints here are always less strenuous, likely because it's way easier to tell what everyone's supposed to be doing. A few commenters noted that Lewan's been moving early, Jerel Worthy-style, for chunks of the year. Kilgore Trout:

From my vantage point on the east side of the stadium, it looked like he pretty clearly moved early.  I think he was doing it a lot against MSU and not getting called.  Either he's got considerably faster reflexes than everyone else on UM's O-Line or MSU and Iowa's D-Lines, or he moves early a decent amount.  To be honest, I think he's lucky to only have had two false starts called on him.

In retrospect I do remember Lewan getting a slight jump on the opponent; it's possible refs are now watching for this and Lewan got nailed.

Denard's accuracy. FWIW, this seemed interesting:

Looking at replays of his throws, he is not stepping into them.  His front foot is stepping to the side, causing him to open up his body when he throws.  This is causing him to be less accurate and also neutralizing his arm-strength.

All the passes where he throws the ball just short or one-hops the ball to the receiver is a function of not stepping into the throw.

He obviously looks great otherwise.

There was the usual war about Vincent Smith in the comments, but I've said my bit on that.

Defense

Demens defense. Most complaints center on the enigmatic anointed Kenny Demens, his +8, and the assertion that Demens is a clear upgrade over Ezeh worthy of a "wow." The general theory from His Dudeness:

Biff,

I know you watch a TON more game video than I do and that you have a TON more experience grading out players than I do, but I have to fear that sometimes you overrate guys based on a single game. I do hope Demens turns into a great MLB, but to say he is going to be a quality MLB from here on out until he graduates may be setting the bar a little high based on one game? I certainly hope you are correct in your assessment, but I will hold off on my expectations that he will be our MLB savior Christ child. I like to expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised by what I get though, so that's my thing.

That's fair; I've tried to assert that Demens's performance was not necessarily replicable against teams that have seen him play and can identify some weaknesses. But he's a clear upgrade on Ezeh. Magnus suggests that Demens pluses would be Ezeh minuses:

I remember Ezeh being dinged for taking on blocks rather than getting around them somehow to make the tackle.  Now it seems that we're celebrating the fact that Demens took on a block from a lineman, even though he was pancaked after he plugged.

This is probably in reference to this play featured in part of the OMG Demens section:

As a couple responders said, the difference between Demens running up into an offensive guard here and eventually getting pancaked and Ezeh getting whacked while motionless is self evident from the result of the play. This was my thought process here:

  1. This is a zero yard run without an obvious Iowa error so the net should be somewhere around +2.
  2. There are no creases in the line. Why are there no creases? Well, the three guys on the frontside all stand up to blocks at the LOS but don't disengage so that's half-points for Kovacs, Banks, and Mouton.
  3. On this one Patterson is done instantly and the G has almost a free release at Demens; there should be a gap. There isn't because Demens hits the G right at the LOS. –1 Patterson, +1 Demens.
  4. Floyd comes up and contains unblocked. Half-point.

Net is +2. On a play where Ezeh consumes a block with gusto and the opponent gets a big gain the play is going to net out at –2 or –3 and he's going to take some of the blame. Iowa had almost no success running between the tackles, so plays on which Demens was involved in were usually + plays and usually he got a share of the +.

On the other hand, BWS took another look at the National Lampoon's Zone Vacation picture pages and suggested the blame was largely on Demens:

averyguh5.1

I disagree somewhat. Asking a middle linebacker to cover a receiver moving into the flat is either an incoherent defense that will get you killed long term or one of those pattern reading systems that require a ton of drilling. By appearances (and necessity) Michigan does not run fancy stuff; this was three-deep zone with four underneath defenders, except one of them was way, way out of his zone. One of them was somewhat out of his zone.

Avery needs to re-route the slot guy but once he does that he has to get back out into the flat, whereupon the WR gets forced back into Demens and Iowa kicks a field goal and Michigan has a chance to win the game at the end. BWS says "Avery wasn't in great position here, but he also wasn't in terrible position. If he hadn't fallen, he might've had a chance to make the play." The reason he fell is he was playing with his back to the quarterback and running at full speed inside in an attempt to cover a receiver he has no prayer of helping on. Physics is relentless.

It is likely that Demens wasn't supposed to re-route the TE because he wasn't going vertical, and he did drag out of his zone. The reason that's a fifteen-yard error instead of five isn't on him. I should have given him a –1; Avery still is the primary culprit IME.

Black to the future. An email on Black:

Hey Brian-

I was really surprised by your rating of Black's play. I've watched the every defensive snap footage a few times, and to me it looks like Black is out there on about half the snaps, not barely playing as you indicated in the UFR. I also felt like he was a major culprit on a few of the big running plays. I feel like you may have mis-attributed  some negatives to either Banks or Sagesse that were on Black. I don't think Sagesse really played at all except in a few relief appearances for Patterson in the second half.  I'm not a coach or anything, but I played DL (and OL) in high school, and I'm fairly sure that Black had a fairly negative day. Looks to me like he only knows how to pass rush, and gets killed on run plays.
Thanks for all the hard work, as always.

Best,
Daniel

I don't think I've mis-identified Black much; 55 is sufficiently different from 92 that I feel aware when he's in. Sagesse has not played much and I believe I've said that. But I agree that Black is a liability against the run. Michigan State glided down the field on a series of cutbacks he was on the ground for and a couple of runs that Iowa busted outside were partially (possibly largely) his responsibility.

Mouton defense disagreed with. Mouton came in for criticism on a number of runs outside the tackles including a Picture Pages dedicated to Iowa's fourth touchdown, and that criticism was criticized by people who sound like they know what they're talking about. MightAndMainWeCheer on the Iowa TD:

Banks gets hooked by the tackle (which is understandable considering he was lined up a shade inside of the tackle).  The tackle then executes a scoop with the guard; the tackle then releases and blocks Mouton.  Again, Mouton can't bail to the outside at the snap of the ball because there is a huge cutback lane between the B gap.  Kovacs is blitzing but predictably gets kicked out by the FB; in this case cutting the FB and making a pile in the backfield would have been useful in getting the RB to cut up in side or take the ball wider to the outside thus allowing help to arrive.  Again, Mouton is flowing down the line but gets blocked by a tackle (you can see a good view of it from the behind-the-offense replay in the youtube cutup).  Also Demens does a good job of escaping the wash at the beginning of the play but he doesn't take a very good angle to the ballcarrier at the end.

I totally disagree. I missed Kovacs's blitz getting picked off by the fullback and hadn't considered whether he should get minused there; I'm not convinced but I can see the argument. However, defending Mouton not getting outside the tackle just doesn't fly. Mouton knows Kovacs is gone. Banks is in front of him getting shoved inside. He knows he has no help to the outside, so his first priority must be to funnel the ball inside. If he doesn't it's an auto touchdown. He doesn't, auto touchdown. There is a big damn B gap, true, but his choice is between doing what he did and hoping Robinson doesn't run into the wide open field outside or keeping contain and hoping help comes. Also, criticizing Demens because he didn't take a good angle to the ballcarrier seems insane to me. He hit it up in the hole to get a third down stop and the play went outside.

There's another guy saying similar things on the Picture Pages post itself but Bo Schembechler himself could call down from heaven to say Mouton was innocent and I wouldn't believe him. He expected to have to do it all himself, tried to, failed, and gave up many yards. He has done this throughout his career. There are other problems on the play—Banks did get a minus—but thanks to Sagesse taking two blockers and Demens getting to the hole Mouton is the most obvious reason the play blew up.

I'm slightly more receptive to the idea that I should have been harsher on Black on the other run outside the tackle, as Mouton was given a difficult task:

Black got crushed but Patterson actually stayed playside of his attempted double and is flowing down the line into a gap that Mouton also attacks. Mouton running up into that gap doesn't help; if he flows down the line the gain is held down. Kovacs didn't make a heroic play but I'm not sure what he's supposed to do there. I give minuses to linebackers who hit already filled gaps, and Mouton hit one and let a guy outside again.

Picture Pages: Losing Contain, Again Again

Picture Pages: Losing Contain, Again Again

Submitted by Brian on October 25th, 2010 at 11:20 AM

Promised last week but Wife Day occupied the designated space.

This week's great linebacker debate is about how I'm sitting in a tree with Kenny Demens, finding reasons to posbang him that would not be reasons to posbang Ezeh or Mouton. That's not really how UFR works on defense. A three-yard run is a usually a +1 for the D, a zero-yarder +2, and a TFL +3—though it's context dependent—and I try to assign credit and blame to get to those numbers. There is wobble when the other team makes an error or there's a rock paper scissors play. If I was going to give Demens positive he didn't deserve they'd be coming off his teammates in the front seven and the only guys to suffer relative to expectations were Rotating Ineffective Nose Tackle and the Banks/Black combo.

Mouton also come in for a big minus and clucking, but I thought that was easily justified by the clips provided. If it's not here's another one. It's late in the third quarter and Iowa has third and three from the Michigan eleven. They come out in an unbalanced formation with a covered TE; Michigan responds with a 4-4:

moutong-ugh-1

Iowa will run off the right tackle. At the snap Kovacs blitzes. Banks, the DE to the bottom of the screen, takes on a double team from Iowa's LG and RG; Renaldo Sagesse is getting single blocked by the center:moutong-ugh-2

A moment later Banks and Patterson have both gotten in bad situations. Sagesse is a yard downfield and sealed to the inside. Banks has managed to stick at the LOS but he's about to be effectively comboed and sealed to the inside:

moutong-ugh-3

Kovacs gets picked off by the fullback. Roh's gotten a cut on the backside but Gordon is flowing behind him; RVB has gotten down the line to cut off a hole; Sagesse is getting buried by a double downfield. Mouton has set up on the Iowa RT as Banks just kind of sits there at the LOS:

moutong-ugh-4

Here's an endzone angle of the last moment:

mouton-angle-2

That's a lot of grass to Mouton's right there. I wonder what he's going to do about that:

mouton-angle-3

Dios ffuuuu, man. This will be clearer on the video but this was not some crazy block by the right tackle here—Mouton fought inside of the guy, sealing himself. The sad thing is that Kenny Demens has cleared the trash from the Sagesse double and is showing up in the hole:

moutong-ugh-6

If Mouton is outside the guy he's almost certain to tackle short of the first down…

moutong-ugh-7 

…but he's not:

mouton-angle-4mouton-angle-5

Another third-down touchdown from the ten given up by a combo of players but especially one in particular; another four points on the board because of a basic mental error from a Michigan defender. This one is ten times more frustrating than Courtney Avery's because Mouton is a fifth year senior who's been doing this his entire career, including earlier this year against UMass on another egregious play that was picture-paged.

Video:

Object lessons:

  • Either Mouton has suffered the worst kind of coaching malpractice during his career or he's just not all there. Or both, I guess. He should not be making this mistake. He has made this kind of mistake dozens of times. Maybe there's something in the scheme that makes it confusing as to when he's supposed to be the contain guy, but I don't think so. WLBs should know this as part of their DNA. There's a theory floating around that Mouton has gotten used to playing next to Ezeh and now assumes he has to do everything himself and may get all clueful now that he's playing with a linebacker that usually shows up in the right spot at the right time, but I don't think so. It doesn't matter who you're playing next to since hopping inside that tackle is guaranteed doom.
  • The defensive line didn't do the linebackers any favors… Other than some sporadic help from RVB and Roh this was par for the course. Here the NT is Sagesse instead of Patterson but the end result is similar to what happened all day: effective combo on Banks gets him passively single-blocked and gives Mouton a tackle to deal with. Combo on whoever the NT is crumples and/or seals the guy.
  • …but could this actually be something resembling okay from Sagesse? It's not good by any stretch of the imagination but the reason Demens is flowing into the gap unblocked is because the C could not pop off of Sagesse after shoving him downfield. That mess falls in a heap, meaning that the nose has taken out two blockers. I didn't plus the guy because I thought it was more luck than anything and ending a play on your knees two yards downfield doesn't seem like a strategy sustainable in the long term. I didn't minus him either because he kinda sorta just managed to do his job.
  • More good Demens play. He doesn't get blocked but because Sagesse is blown off the LOS this isn't the world's easiest scrape. He makes it and should have an opportunity to tackle if everyone else does their job. It's impossible to say whether or not Ezeh would have made the same scrape, but we've seen enough of him to know that he doesn't do it consistently. He might be standing right where he was at the snap, or he might not have the agility and recognition Demens does to get around the garbage. (FTR, Demens did not get a plus here; Mouton was –2, Banks –1.)

We don't know whether or not Demens does execute this consistently, or whether his run-fill gusto is exploitable with misdirection or play action. His Iowa game was promising, though. I'm sure he'll have some wobbly games during the second half—Iowa was not one. I repeat my stat of wonder and alarm: when Demens was on the field runs that did not pop outside contain because of mistakes by Mouton, Black, and Banks averaged under 2.5 YPC. This happened essentially without Mike Martin. Whatever problems existed with the run D had nothing to do with him.

Mouton, meanwhile, is incredibly frustrating. This year he's turned "big positive, bigger negative" into "big negative, bigger positive" but I'm not going to spend 2011 pining for him. Michigan can't and shouldn't pull him since he makes a lot of good plays; I don't think Michigan's run defense is going to suffer greatly without him.

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs Iowa

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs Iowa

Submitted by Brian on October 22nd, 2010 at 2:43 PM

Substitution notes: Obviously Tate came in for Denard. I think the injury Denard went off with was not one that would have prevented him from returning, but more on that later. On the line, Khoury came in for Molk when Molk left injured on the first drive; Huyge played about a third of the game after the Lewan penalty exhibition. Lewan returned late in the third.

Shaw continues to be limited, so Smith was the primary back. Hopkins continues to get more carries as the season progresses. At receiver, Stokes got more time in Odoms's absence (but not nearly as much as Odoms would have) and Gallon appears to be eating into Grady's playing time.

Formation notes: Iowa spent most of the day with one of their linebackers lined up over the slot. Since I am an idiot I did not take a snapshot of this, but that's "slot 4-3": two deep safeties with a linebacker outside the box on the slot guy. "Base 4-3" in this case was a 4-3 in the box with one of the safeties moving up on the slot guy and Iowa showing one-high. "Split 4-3" was a pass defense with the linebackers spread out; it was mostly featured late when Michigan was in pass-only mode.

Michigan didn't do anything new other than show a lot of I-form featuring one of the tight ends as a lead blocker.

Show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 11
Simple as Molk(+2) and Schilling(+1) momentarily double Klug and then Molk gets a tough seal as Schilling pops out on SLB Hunter. Lewan(+1) kicks out Clayborn and Smith has a crease with no one filling until the safeties show up. Actually think a pull would have been correct here too as the backside end was getting blocked and there was no scrape but this worked. I'm not sure this is a read so no ZR.
RUN+: Molk(2), Schilling, Lewan RUN-:
M36 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 4
Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) club Ballard out of the hole, cutting off SLB pursuit; Koger meets the MLB near the LOS and gets knocked back a little, allowing Dorrestein's guy to come off and tackle. Dorrestein -0.5 for a less than authoritative kick. Molk is injured and leaves.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh RUN-: Dorrestein(0.5)
M40 2 6 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Iso Hopkins 4
The FB in this package was almost always a TE, FWIW. MLB is screaming downhill at this and runs into Koger at the LOS, standing everything up. Omameh and Khoury did an eh job on Ballard this time; Hopkins(+1) runs into beef at the LOS and lurches the pile forward four yards.
RUN+: Hopkins RUN-:
M44 3 2 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Waggle deep comeback Hemingway 18
Inside zone fake with a rollout from Robinson. He's got Koger for the simple first down but also has Hemingway deeper so he goes for that, hitting it with perfect timing for a big chunk. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
O38 1 10 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Iso Hopkins 7
Schilling(+1) and Khoury(+1) again abuse Klug, bashing him out of the hole. MLB comes up to pop Koger at the LOS again but this time there's a crease because Lewan(+1) has kicked out Clayborn. The difference on this play and the QB lead draw and other iso is Lewan giving Michigan more room behind the DE. Hopkins is tripped going through the small hole and manages to fall through a tackle for a nice chunk.
O31 2 3 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run ? Hopkins 2
Watching a replay of the previous play; impossible to make out what happens.
O29 3 1 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Iso Hopkins 0
Once too many times: Schilling(-1) loses a prepared Daniels, who fights playside and crams the hole, forcing a Hopkins cutback that could get the first down if he was left one-on-one with a linebacker. He's not; Omameh(-1) also couldn't kick out Ballard. The two guys submarine the run for nothing.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling, Omameh
O29 4 1 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 8
High snap takes an extra beat to bring in, screwing up the play somewhat. So I'm not sure if Omameh and Dorrestein have gotten pwned or if it just looks like it because Robinson is a step behind where he should be. It certainly looks like this is designed to go up the middle with Khoury(+1) and Schilling(+1) killing Daniels; Khoury then pops out on the MLB to erase him. Denard(+2) then cuts past the two linemen flowing outside and has room for the first because of that Khoury block. An arm tackle a yard downfield changes his momentum and sends him past another linebacker, but he's been slowed significantly and the secondary gets there after decent yardage. I do think the right side of the line should have done better here.
RUN+: Khoury, Schilling, Robinson(2) RUN-: Omameh, Dorrestein
O21 1 10 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Waggle FB flat Koger 5
Iowa adjusts and runs a zone that has a safety coming over the top so the deeper route isn't there; Robinson checks down to Koger for a few. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O16 2 5 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 7
Inside zone looks just like an iso so the backside DT fights to what he think will be yet another run right in his face. The handoff is made on the other side of Robinson and all he's done is lock himself out. Schilling(+1) helps. Khoury(+1) and Omameh(+1) destroy Ballard and Lewan(+1) releases downfield to club the MLB, providing a lane for Smith to hit. He fails to see it and tries to cut outside, where there's is no blocking. Fortunately for M this is blocked by Dorrestein's ass. Smith comes to a stop, but the blocking is so good he can start up again in the same lane. Clayborn, given time by the missed cut, tracks down to tackle from behind.
RUN+: Khoury, Omameh, Schilling, Lewan, Dorrestein RUN-: Smith
O9 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 1
Safety moves down on the slot and all three LBs are in the box as Iowa shows one-high. I'm not sure what Michigan is doing with their backside reads here but since they're blocking the backside end (Clayborn) the guy to read is the SLB. He's not going anywhere and he's about to get a blocker in his face so there's a lane Robinson can take if he pulls; he gives (ZR -1). Because the interior OL has lost this round (-0.5 for Schillling, Molk, Omameh) Smith has nowhere to go and ends up cutting back into the hole Robinson could have hit if he'd kept it. He's there much later, though, and it closes off.
RUN+: RUN-: Omameh(0.5), Khoury(0.5), Schilling(0.5), Robinson
O8 2 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Yakety sax ? Inc
Snap fumbled. This isn't on Khoury; it's a perfect snap. Robinson recovers it and manages to avoid a tackle before chucking the ball. No idea where it's going or if he's trying to complete it because it's knocked down. (BA, N/A, N/A)
O8 3 G Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Slant Smith 8
Smith smokes a LB over and gets inside of him where there is no help; Robinson hits him for the easy TD. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 8 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 7 -13 pen
Webb's guy on the end fends him off and forces Robinson to head back inside, where he just has enough room to slice upfield because Schilling(-1) got a couple shoves on Daniels and fell in his path, knocking him off stride but not cutting him or seriously delaying. Khoury(+1) and Omameh(+1) have obliterated Ballard and Dorrestein(+1) has walled off a linebacker, opening up a lane. Robinson runs by Clayborn; Daniels grabs him from behind and manages to ride him to the ground. This was opening up big but for the Schilling mess. Lewan then gets a dumb personal foul afterwards. That's not going on the run chart but guuuuuh.
RUN+: Khoury, Omameh, Dorrestein RUN-: Schilling
M14 2 16 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 4
Fakes a flare screen. Indecision from Schilling and Khoury at first; Schilling then pops the NT, who falls, but falls well in the backfield right in Robinson's desired path. He has to improvise. Dorrestein(+1) does a great job of getting his guy back and giving Robinson the corner, but Hemingway(-1) whiffed on the outside and the charging corner forces the play back inside to help.
RUN+: Dorrestein RUN-: Hemingway
M18 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass TE flat Webb 3
No one open so Robinson checks down to a hopeless route and Michigan punts. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 5 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 7
Just six in the box for Iowa still so this is a play with a lot of room to operate; Robinson decides to cut outside since there's no linebacker over there and he can get outside Dorrestein's(+1) good block; Omameh(-1) lost Ballard on a single block, cutting off that hole. Webb has lost the playside LB because he was blocking like Robinson would head inside the tackle; Hopkins runs by the guy in an effort to get to the safety and the LB disconnects to tackle, but not before a good gain. (RPS+1)
RUN+: Robinson, Dorrestein RUN-: Omameh
M34 2 3 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 9
Okay, this is pretty much the same play but operates differently since both lead blockers are heading inside the tackles. Michigan thinks is is different; I'm just a blogger talking to laypeople. Schilling(-1) gets chucked away by Daniels—impressive strength display there--but Hopkins(+1) sees this, changes his planned blocking path, and clubs Daniels out of the play at the LOS. Webb(+1) hits the MLB and Lewan(+1) again kicks Clayborn out, giving Robinson a lane he takes.
RUN+: Hopkins, Webb, Lewan RUN-: Schilling
M45 1 10 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Iso Smith 2
Gurghelgasghas. Iso with Smith? Probably wouldn't have mattered if it was Jim Brown here because Khoury(-1) slips as he comes out of his stance and can't get the MLB; Omameh(-1) was beaten by Ballard. Both guys tackle downfield. Webb(+1) did help by getting a good block on the SLB, so this isn't zero.
RUN+: Webb RUN-: Omameh, Khoury
M47 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Rollout hitch Hemingway 3
Rollout catches Iowa by surprise and Smith gets outside of Clayborn, opening up the corner. Hemingway is open, though, so Robinson throws. Ball is short and well upfield, turning an easy first down into something less than that. Hemingway makes a good catch to dig it out. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)
50 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Penalty False start Lewan -5
ggrraaghrgahg
M45 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Fly Stonum Int
So this is pretty much terrible. Illinois stunts. Schilling sees it and picks it up; Khoury(-1) has been bowled over by the DT. Robinson could stand there and fire. Instead he shows his inexperience and rolls back, then sets up to bomb it deep. Underneath he probably had Smith with a 50-50 shot at the first. Instead he chucks it deep. 1) this is covered. 2) it is so far away from Stonum that the WR can't even tackle on the INT and turn this into a glorified punt. Given the three guys around Stonum I'm giving this the bad one (BR, 0, protection 1/2, Khoury -1)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 7
With Binns shuffling down the line to take away the cutback this is open and the keep is correct (ZR +1). Binns does recover enough to help out from behind when Sash fills.
RUN+: Robinson RUN-:
M27 2 3 Shotgun empty H-back 1 1 3 Split 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 7
Koger(+1) blasts the MLB and Lewan(+2) caves in Clayborn to give Robinson an easy decision to slash it outside. Khoury and Schilling had also destroyed the playside DT, FWIW.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Webb RUN-:
M34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass PA bubble screen Gallon 18
Iowa changes up their D and for the first time all day they do not have a linebacker over the slot to kill the bubble; Michigan goes with the bubble (CA, 3, screen). Stonum(+1) gets a good block on the corner and Gallon(+1) makes the most of it, smoothly cutting past the Stonum block and almost taking advantage of a falling safety before the slot LB manages to shut it down. RPS +1.
RUN+: Gallon, Stonum RUN-:
O46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 4
You can tell Iowa's cheating a bit with the slot LB, and he blitzes. Michigan still has a decent crease for Robinson up the middle but Robinson decides to cut back, screwing up all the blocking angles. He gets past one DT, has to cut up behind Koger on the backside DE, and then Hunter has a clear shot since Robinson's cutback screwed up the angles. Not going to offer plus/minus here.
O42 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 3
Again cheating the slot LB and blitzing him; this is not good awareness. Khoury(-1) is beaten by the frontside DT and Robinson has to cut back. Dorrestein had no chance to cut a slanting backside DT, and that guy tackles after a short gain. RPS –1.
RUN+: Robinson RUN-: Khoury
O39 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass TE cross Koger 13
Koger actually falls down out of his stance but gets back up and finishes the route. It's tough to tell if he's coming to Koger second or staring him down all the way. Either way he goes to him in a pocket in the zone, getting the ball over a linebacker covering Stonum and getting it into him just before the safety can close him down. For the record, Clayborn did get by Lewan eventually, though not enough to warrant a minus since Robinson had been sitting in the pocket a while and Clayborn still had to pull up lest he pick up a late hit. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 5
Schilling(+1) cuts the backside DT down, but Lewan misses his difficult cut and there's no cutback. Playside guys do a great job of stringing it out as Dorrestein and Omameh fight the Iowa OL to a draw. Shoving knocks both Omameh and the playside Iowa DT off the ball a bit, leaving Robinson a small hole to hit, which he does.
RUN+: Schilling, Omameh(+0.5) RUN-:
O21 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Gallon 4
Michigan notices the cheating LB and throws the bubble at it. For some reason they're not running the adjustment where the outside WR blocks down on the safety, so Sash has a shot at Gallon for a major loss; Gallon(+1) jukes him out of his shorts and is off... to the.... tripping four yards downfield. Argh. Seriously, nothing tripped him but his own feet here. (CA, 3, screen)
O17 3 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Run QB lead draw Robinson 3
Khoury(+1) does an admirable job of fighting off an attempted stunt by the playside DT. This gives Michigan a gap that a charging LB is filling; Smith(+1) pops him and gives Robinson a chance outside, where Lewan(+1) has blasted Clayborn's backup off the line two yards; Robinson burrows in for the first.
RUN+: Khoury, Smith, Lewan RUN-:
O14 1 10 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Penalty False start Lewan -5
This is straight up WTF. I don't see Lewan moving at all. If he does it's a millisecond early. Incredibly ticky-tack.
O19 1 15 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson -2
Iowa all over this with the playside DE moving outside before the snap and using that leverage to get outside Webb; Gallon(an unfair –1) is dealing with a LB who shifted right over him and gets owned, forcing Robinson back into the DE. (RPS -1)
O21 2 17 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Smith Inc
Both Iowa LBs on the slot guys to the playside get chucks on the routes, disrupting them. Smith tries to sit down in front of the safety and Robinson throws accurately to him but he's got such a tiny window that this would be an NFL-level throw. LB deflects it for the incompletion. Maybe Gallon had a better shot at a window here; the checkdown to Koger was available but probably not more than five or six yards. Excellent play from Iowa; if you can do this you are not going to have many QBs, let alone Denard, put it in your face. I have no idea what to chart this. I am going to go with MA; Robinson had a tiny window and missed it by a foot but this was probably his best option. (MA, 0, protection 2/2)
M21 3 17 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Slant Stonum Inc
A good throw into more excellent coverage; this is a deeper throw that's not going to pick up the first but will get them into chip-shot FG range or give them the opportunity to go. CB Hyde is right there and reaches into break the pass up. Throw was high but had to be so the LB didn't bat it. Stonum would have had to be a magician to bring this in. (CA, 1, protection 2/2) Stonum gets flagged for not being close enough to the LOS, anyway.
Drive Notes: Blocked FG(38), 7-14, 8 min 2nd Q. Last series is three impressive plays from Iowa D and, on the first, whoever's calling the plays absent Norm Parker. I'm not even mad. Except about special teams, of course. Note that next drive would have started at 25 minus irrelevant, dumb block in the back.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M7 1 10 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Iso Smith 1
Huyge has entered the game, FWIW. Playside DT fights through the initial double, getting playside of Schilling(-1) as the backside guy slides down the line because Omameh(-1) can't ward him off. Smith has two ugly options: run into nothing on the frontside of the play or cutback into an unblocked Hunter. He picks A.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling, Omameh
M8 2 9 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 2
Clayborn maintaining contain as Webb heads outside him for a lead block; looks like M was hoping Iowa would switch it up and crash the backside DE, giving Robinson a pull opportunity. They do not; handoff (ZR+1, RPS -1). Schilling(+1) gets an excellent block on the backside DT, sealing him, but Khoury(-1) and Omameh(-1) do nothing with their double, failing to move the playside guy at all. No crease; Smith runs into bodies for a limited gain.
M10 3 7 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Slot 4-3 Pass Deep comeback Stonum 9
Looks like cover two man from Iowa; Robinson drops back and surveys but doesn't have time because Huyge(-2) has been pancaked backwards and Clayborn is about to eat him. He has to hop back and throw off his back foot. The pass is to an open Stonum but is well short; Stonum digs it out for the first. The replay doesn't look like it's a catch but it's not clear so they let it stand. Given the difficulty of the throw I'll mark this MA. (MA, 1, protection 0/2, Huyge -2)
M19 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 6
Iowa fakes the one-high but backs out. Khoury(+1) and Schilling(+1) bash one DT back and then Khoury hops out on the MLB. MLB sets up in a spot that convinces Robinson to cut back, which he does; DT and MLB come off now-invalid blocks to tackle. Still a nice gain; think Robinson should have tried to shoot right up the middle instead of cutting.
RUN+: Schilling, Khoury RUN-:
M25 2 4 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 10
Same thing; this one sees Webb pull across the formation and meet the MLB right in the hole. Schilling(+0.5) and Khoury(+0.5) have again beaten the playside DT back, so the MLB has to attack; he cuts off the hole but is walled off by Webb. Robinson(+1) slices outside too fast for Clayborn to react as Smith(+1) gets a solid block on the charging Sash, giving Robinson a lane that is only closed down by a pursuing Hunter.
RUN+: Schilling(0.5), Khoury(0.5), Robinson, Smith RUN-:
M35 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout hitch Hemingway 8
Simple pitch and catch that's open; Hemingway grabs it for a decent gain and picks up a few more YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M43 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 6
Khoury(-1) owned, driven far into the backfield and closing off what looks like a well-blocked play otherwise. Robinson has to cut back, way back, which kills the blocks on both backside DL. He has to run outside. A corner comes up; he cuts back inside, dodging that guy and sliding past Binns. Binns tackles desperately.
RUN+: Robinson(2) RUN-: Khoury
M49 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Slot 4-3 Pass Long handoff Stonum 2
Ball thrown low on a play that had a chance to get six, eight yards. Stonum digs it out for a couple but is on the ground as he brings it in. (IN, 2, screen)
O49 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Hitch Webb Inc
Good route package gets Webb wide open on a short hitch he'll be able to turn up for a first down, but Robinson inexplicably pumps and then wings it well high. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
O49 3 8 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Scramble Robinson 4
Robinson's looking at the left side of the field on which two Michigan WRs are drawing zone defenders deep; he should throw the out to Smith, who is probably going to have the first if the ball is thrown. Then he should hit Grady on the improv but doesn't, instead scrambling for a few yards. This was an easy read he biffed. (BR, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, EO1H. Give Michigan an extra 18 yards here and they can go for it. Penalty is a killer. I can see why they punted: hard to have a ton of faith in Robinson at that exact instant after he'd blown three straight plays.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 1
I don't understand what they're doing with Webb here. They send him out to block no one; if he just blocks down on Clayborn, Robinson is in a ton of space running away from a MLB. Instead they just send him down to block no one at all. So Robinson hands off (ZR +1, RPS -1). Omameh(-1) and Khoury(-1) get killed by the playside DT and Shaw has nowhere to go. Schilling(-1) falls over so there's no backside block.
RUN+: RUN-: Omameh, Khoury, Schilling
M25 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Roundtree -1
Webb(-2) is owned by the slot LB. Just make him go inside of you and this is good yardage; instead he gets beat outside and Roundtree is tackled for loss. (CA, 3, screen)
M24 3 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Slot 4-3 Pass Drag Hemingway 4
Same patterns they ran on the third and eight before the half; this time Robinson checks down to the inside drag, which is caught but has no chance. Maybe should have looked at Grady deeper, but had to step up in the pocket because Clayborn beat Huyge(-1) around the corner and probably felt he had to dump it. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Huyge -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, 13 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Scramble Robinson 12
Show one-high and back out. Michigan rolls out and tries to hit a pass but Iowa has covered everything reasonably well and Robinson doesn't feel comfortable throwing. He cuts up just as Omameh(+1) gets an open-field shove on Clayborn, using his speed to pick up the first down. He takes a hit as he goes down and comes up holding his hand; he is done for the day.
RUN+: Robinson, Omameh RUN-:
M27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass PA Hitch Koger 8
Forcier in; inside zone fake to a short hitch to the TE. PA had drawn the LB; open, hit with good timing; good YAC. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
M35 2 2 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Iso Shaw 5
Playside double gets the DT blown back (+0.5 Schilling, Khoury), but Omameh(-1) lost the DT to the inside and there's no hole. Shaw(+1) reads it, leaps over the fallen Omameh, and hits a cutback hole; Khoury gets the other half of his plus for shoving Hunter along the line and giving Shaw a gap for the first.
RUN+: Schilling(0.5), Khoury, Shaw RUN-: Omameh
M40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Scramble Forcier 5
Hitches on this play covered, partially because Koger blocked Clayborn before releasing and knocked him back into a perfect accidental zone for his route. Forcier starts scrambling as Omameh lost Daniels on the interior; Khoury does well to pick him up but Forcier's moving. He cuts upfield into space, diving forward for a decent gain. (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2)
M45 2 5 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Slot 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 0
High snap Forcier manages to corral; this looks like a stretch but they're not blocking it like one so I guess it's inside. Omameh(-1) can't seal the playside DT; Khoury(+1) does a great job of getting control of and blocking the backside guy downfield. Shaw cuts back and would have a lane but for Schilling(-1) falling, providing a lane for an unblocked LB to force Shaw upfield and into traffic.
M45 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Hemingway 4
This is very well covered but Forcier chucks it anyway, away from the defender and in a spot only his receiver can get it. Hemingway makes a diving grab to set up fourth and inches. (CA+, 1, protection 1/1)
M49 4 1 I-form twins 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Iso Hopkins 15
Iowa tightens the line so there are two 1-tech guys right over Khoury; the backside guy is unblocked and lunges for Forcier, tackling him as he makes the handoff. He does make the handoff. Schilling(+1) and Khoury(+1) pick up the other NT and deposit him a couple yards downfield; Huyge gets an okay block on Clayborn and then McColgan(+1) thumps him backwards, opening up a crease; Hopkins sails through it.
RUN+: McColgan, Khoury, Schilling RUN-:
O36 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass PA Hitch Stonum Inc
Corner blitz on Stonum's side of the line finds Stonum open after he forced the safety to respect the vertical route; Forcier wings it wide. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O36 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Improv Stonum Inc
Iowa again covering these short hitches so Forcier starts wheeling around; Michigan is not switching their routes and Iowa is dropping into three deep (RPS -1). Forcier wanders around and tries to find Stonum at the sideline for a few; throw is high and at the sidelines and isn't brought in. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)
O36 3 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Drag Stonum 9
Same route set from before; why no ever the outside drag that actually has people dragging defenders too deep? Stonum has a step on his guy and Forcier hits him right in stride, allowing him to turn it up for near first-down yardage. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
O27 4 1 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Waggle inside hitch Roundtree 12
Iowa way less aggressive this time, probably because M tips pass by bringing in a TE at FB instead of McColgan. Roundtree sits down inside as Iowa players fly out towards Koger on his little flat route (which was open and I thought he should have taken). Forcier sees it and throws a nice catchable pass high so no one knocks it down en route; Roundtree goes up to get it. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
O15 1 10 I-form 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Iso Smith 0
The fumble. Schilling(-1) gets chucked by Klug and then Koger(-1) just runs right by him, allowing the guy to kill Smith in the backfield; Smith fumbles.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling, Koger
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-21, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M35 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Deep slant Hemingway Inc
Corner blitz; Forcier looks to the other side of the field and finds Hemingway open on a deep slant since a shallower one sucked in Hunter. Throw is high to get it over hands but catchable; it is dropped. Hopkins whiffed on his block on Clayborn as M slid its protection. (CA, 3, protection 1/2, Hopkins -1)
M35 2 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Run Belly Hopkins 5
Omameh(+1) blasts the playside DT down the line. Dorrestein(-1) is moving to the second level but gets a push from the playside DE that makes him also block the already blown-out Iowa DT, leaving the playside LB free. Webb(+1) kicks that DE out and Hopkins runs directly upfield for decent yardage. Unblocked MLB does tackle.
RUN+: Omameh, Webb RUN-: Dorrestein
M40 3 5 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Improv ? Int
Forcier drops back and can't find anyone on his first read, at which point three Iowa DL come through the line, with Schilling, Omameh, and Huyge all picking up minuses. Forcier rolls out and throws a completely terrible INT right at an Iowa defender. (BR, 0, protection 0/3, Omameh, Schilling, Huyge.)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-21, 4 min 3rd Q. That interception is a swing of 60 yards of field position relative to an average punt, or would be but for a personal foul on Iowa that brings it back to about the spot of the INT.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Slot 4-3 Penalty False start Schilling -5
Lewan returns. He does not cause the crowd to ask for his doom by false starting here.
M10 1 15 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Deep slant Hemingway 11
Again the slant opens up with an interior slant dragging a zone defender along. Pitch, catch, tackle. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M21 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Hitch Hemingway 9
Easy again; thrown with great timing as Hyde plays conservatively. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
M30 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Slant Smith 14
Virtual replay of the first TD with the three WR side drawing a lot of attention and Smith beating the LB over him on the slant despite the guy having inside leverage; he bites on the out step. Good route. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
M44 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Slot 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 4
Just five guys in the box as the trips drags two LBs to the outside. Michigan runs right at the five guys and can't get much because Klug beats a double from Khoury(-1) and Schilling, hopping inside and forcing Smith to bounce it behind. Khoury didn't get enough push on him to seal him before releasing. Smith does cut behind Klug as Schilling pancakes him but this robs Khoury of his angle on the LB in the box and forces Smith to the side with all the dudes on it.
RUN+: RUN-: Khoury
M48 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Improv Hitch Stonum 7
Forcier looks for Hemingway but decides that hitch at the sticks is covered, at which point Lewan(-1) gets run around by Clayborn; Forcier has to roll out. I'm going to toss in a bonus point for the protection because Forcier has all kinds of room to roll because Dorrestein walled off the playside DT and Webb and Smith took turns on the DE, giving Forcier a relaxing amount of time to survey. Stonum comes back to the ball and Forcier hits him with a hitch for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 2/3, Lewan -1)
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Rollout stop and go Stonum Inc
Michigan rolls the pocket, then Forcier stops as he pulls up and tries to exploit the safety over-reacting to the roll. Stonum suckers the CB in and gets open deep; the half roll has gotten the safety out of position to defend this and Michigan has an opportunity. Throw is good but Stonum seems to lay out unnecessarily (trip?) and the pass clangs off his hands. Would have been incomplete anyway because of the dive. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
O45 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Slot 4-3 Pass Post Roundtree Inc
Max pro and a three-man route. Schilling(-1) gets beaten by Daniels and Forcier has a guy coming at him up the middle; must throw. He's got a window to hit Roundtree on a post, but it's a small one. He's close but it's in front of him. Good timing, tough throw to see and make, but did not quite execute. (IN, 0, protection 1/2, Schilling -1)
O45 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Improv Hitch Stokes 11
Forcier gets happy feet here and starts rolling around when protection is decent. His roll puts a stunting DT in his face but Stokes is breaking open on a hitch anyway, so Forcier chucks it accurately. Stokes spins through one tackle then drags Hunter two yards past the sticks. Nice play. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O34 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Deep slant Stonum 17
Iowa adjusting to this but it's not enough. Sash is sitting down in a robber zone and attempts to blow Stonum up, but the ball's already in and caught by the time he gets there; Stonum runs through that hit and almost breaks into the open field; corner drags him down by one foot. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
O17 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 6
Iowa with a late shift and stunt that gets Klug through Khoury(-1) and the other DT almost past Schilling(+1) before he reacts and knocks him out of the hole. Khoury then tackles Klug and gets away with it. Lewan is doing a good job on Clayborn but he manages to get a handful of jersey as Smith passes. This slows him and ends up being beneficial, allowing Dorrestein(+1) to get a bizarre but effective block on the MLB; Smith(+1) runs through the tackle and picks his way for decent yardage.
RUN+: Smith, Schilling, Dorrestein RUN-: Khoury
O11 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Fade Stonum Inc (Pen +6)
Slant fake to a fade from Stonum fools Hyde. Hyde bangs him and then continues impeding his progress with the ball in the air; the flag is obvious. Probably should have been a PI with the ball at the two but was called holding so it's half the distance. Not charted.
O5 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Hopkins 3
Hopkins displays surprising agility here. Interior double kicks out the DT but Iowa is slanting Binns inside of Dorrestein and there's not going to be a hole. Dorrestein starts driving Binns further inside, turning a nothing play into an opportunity and actually gets +1 here. Webb(+1) heads outside to block a scraping LB and Hopkins shows good agility for a beef machine to follow him, getting sliced down by that LB making a nice play. Yes, you can get +3 for a 3 yard run if it's from the five.
RUN+: Hopkins, Dorrestein, Webb RUN-:
O2 2 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Hopkins 2
Same play. This time Hopkins says eff it and just goes straight upfield; a gap-shooting Iowa LB has a narrow lane and a slight adjustment in Hopkins's path results in Hop running through an arm tackle. From there Omameh(+1) pancakes Ballard and Khoury(+1) improvises, pulling around the falling pair to pop Hunter; Hopkins is untouched into the endzone.
RUN+: Hopkins, Omameh, Khoury RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-28, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Deep hitch Stonum 18
Deep in the hole again; Iowa gets a delay on Stonum and the safety is coming over to club. Forcier pumps and then lays a ball in that takes Stonum off his feet just as the safety comes over to nail the guy; Stonum avoids the hit thanks to the throw and makes a moderately difficult catch. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
M43 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Slot 4-3 Pass Out Grady 8
Grady catches a quick out and then makes a linebacker charging out miss, turning five yards into eight. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O49 2 2 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 3
Another stunt from the DTs. Schilling(+1) seals off Klug, preventing him from getting into the backfield, and Lewan(+1) kicks out Clayborn; Smith does have to deal with a DT right in the hole but manages to fall forward for the first.
RUN+: Lewan, Schilling RUN-:
O46 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Fly Hemingway 46
Slot LB blitzes and it looks like Hyde massively busts a coverage on what should be three-deep. Forcier recognizes and tosses a soft floater that hits Hemingway in stride at the five for a touchdown. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-35, 10 min 4th Q. This color guy is outstanding, by the way.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Deep slant Stonum 13
Same story, no adjustment this time from Iowa: double slants and Forcier hits the deeper one when the inside zone is cleared. Disadvantage of running a 4-3 all the time. At this point it's RPS+1 time. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
M44 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Hitch Stonum 11
Hyde bails out deep and Stonum pulls up; Forcier nails him with excellent timing. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
O45 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Deep hitch Stonum Inc
Hyde makes a good play to force Stonum OOB; this is a quick throw that Forcier thinks he has but doesn't because of the chuck. Not sure what to chart this as. He had an out he could have gotten a few yards on, but this isn't a terrible read or throw even though it has no chance. I guess this is a very weak (BR, 0, protection 1/1)
O45 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Split 4-3 Pass Deep slant Stonum 11
Same thing, man: double slants. What does it mean? (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O34 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Fly Hemingway 31
Adjustment, as Iowa goes to a three-man line and rushes only those three. Michigan slides the protection, which is dumb because that leaves a DE one on one with Smith. Smith does what he can but that's only "delay the guy." Forcier pump fakes, then rolls away from the pressure a bit. He pulls up and launches a bomb to Hemingway on the other side of the field. Hemingway's beat his guy but the pass is well short; Hemingway adjusts to the ball much better than the corner and since it's short the safety is not a factor. Hemingway high-points the ball and brings the catch in. Uh... (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
O3 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 5-3 Run Zone read keeper Forcier 3
Forcier pulls. Not sure why since the backside DE is getting blocked but he does seem to have a lane up the middle. That lane closes as Clayborn comes off Lewan (a yard downfield so no minus); Webb(+1) is blocking a LB and has control of him, pushing him downfield as he tries to fight inside and banging him into a filling safety; Forcier(+1) bounces outside as Clayborn dives at his feet and lunges for the endzone. Not Denard, but shifty.
RUN+: Forcier, Webb RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-35, 6 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M37 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Tampa 3-4 Pass Fly Stonum Inc
This is very well covered by both the corner and the safety coming over and should not be thrown. Inaccurate anyway. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)
M37 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Tampa 3-4 Pass Sack ? -9
Lewan(-2) smoked by Clayborn on a three man rush, forcing Forcier to scramble around. He slips during this yakety sax exhibition, but this was going to end badly either way. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2, Lewan -2)
M28 3 19 Shtogun trips 1 0 4 Tampa 3-4 Pass ? ? Int
Dorrestein(-2) smoked by Binns; Forcier steps up and throws to? no one. This is some kind of miscommunication or insanity, because only Iowa players can catch this ball. (BR, N/A, protection 0/2, Dorrestein -2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 28-38, 2 min 4th Q; EOG.

That was schizophrenic.

Yeah, no kidding. Michigan went from ground-based to lighting up the sky with Denard's exit—I didn't even register a Zone Read +/- for Tate. Iowa didn't cope well with the change, unless they did by picking Tate off twice. –7 turnover margin over two weeks makes evaluation difficult.

I heard on the talk radios that Tate should start now.

Riiiight. About that, first we're going to need—

Charts.

Yes, with a z:

DENARD ROBINSON

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR ZR DSR
2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? - 44%
UConn 2 15(6) - - 3 2 - - 2 - 68%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - - 71%
UMass 4 10(3) - 1 1 - 1 1 - - 73%
BGSU 1 4(1) - - - - - - - 1/1 N/A
Indiana 2 8(2) 1(1) 5(1) - - - - - 9/11 66%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 N/A 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 3/4 64%

TATE FORCIER

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR ZR DSR
Iowa 3 14 1 2 4 - - 1 1 N/A 74%

Tate's number is justifiable since he averaged 9.2 YPA on 26 attempts; again, since the system doesn't weight things like throwing an awful interception more heavily the first Tate INT is not anything more than a single BR. (I'm not that concerned about the second INT. If you don't try something there you're facing fourth and nineteen and you're pretty much done anyway.)

Robinson, meanwhile, completed a lot of passes but didn't get many yards on them. He ended his day with a Scheelhaase-like 7.3 yards per completion. So the CAs there aren't inspiring, and neither is the DSR, a season low. For the second straight week Denard killed his own drives. On Michigan's third drive he threw an easy hitch well upfield and forced Hemingway to dive to catch it. That turned a sure first down into three yards. Lewan false-started and then he threw the ugly interception on the next play. On Michigan's final drive of the first half they were moving the ball, the drive stalled entirely because of Denard:

  • First down: long handoff to Stonum is thrown in the dirt and Michigan only gets two yards.
  • Second down: Webb is open on a hitch he can turn up for a first; Denard pumps for no reason and then throws it over Webb's head.
  • Third down: Denard misses a read and does not dump it down to Smith, then does not see Grady as he rolls, then scrambles for four yards.

He was off.

Tate start?

Come on now. I think Michigan could have put Denard back in the game but given his shaky performance throwing and the score they decided to roll with Forcier after he drove them down the field on the Smith fumble drive. In the press conference afterwards Rodriguez said he'd re-aggravated a shoulder injury he'd been dealing with. If that's healed and he returns to the accuracy levels he displayed in the first few weeks of the season he's the guy.

Michigan might be more confident they can turn to Forcier if Michigan's offense isn't doing anything, but that doesn't seem particularly likely.

How did the offensive line do?

For that we'll need another chart:

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Huyge - - - Did not register a run plus minus, which is probably a win against Clayborn
Lewan 8 1 7 The biggest part of limiting Clayborn to one solo tackle and two assists.
Schilling 10.5 8 2.5 Won his battle but not by much.
Molk 3 - 3 Good start, then sideline.
Omameh 6.5 9.5 -3 Struggled in a fashion similar to his first start against a beefy UConn tackle. Probably still progress since the Iowa guy is probably better.
Khoury 10 7.5 2.5 Had his share of issues but was not a liability; backup situation this year so much better than the Moosman shuffle last year.
Dorrestein 6 2.5 3.5 Binns also had one solo.
Webb 5 2 3 Opportunities reduced.
Koger 1 1 0 Eh.
TOTAL 50 31.5 18.5 A solid day against a very tough line.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 8 1 7 Could not find space often.
Gardner - - - DNP
Forcier 1 - 1 Shifty TD.
Shaw 1 - 1 Heal, MFer
Smith 3 1 2 Okay, but still averaged 3.9 YPC.
Cox - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - DNP
Hopkins 4 - 4 Effective in short yardage, getting more trust, led backs in YPC, good blocker.
McColgan 1 - 1 One play but made it count.
Jones - - - DNP
TOTAL 18 2 16 Did what they could, with Hopkins grinding in short yardage and .
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Stonum - - - .
Odoms - - - --
TRobinson - - - --
Roundtree - - -  
Grady - - - --
Gallon 2 1 1 --
Hemingway - 1 -1 --
TOTAL 2 2 0 No screens, no long ones, no numbers.
Metrics

Also while we're talking line we should throw in the PROTECTION METRIC: 54/68, Lewan –3, Huyge –4, Schilling –2, Khoury –1, Omameh –1, Dorrestein –2, Hopkins –1. That's about 80%, which is good, and on the last drive-type substance when Iowa was all out of GAF and could rush like madmen Michigan was 1/5 with Dorrestein and Lewan picking up –2s.

This would be a good point to explain Taylor Lewan, the beginning and end of all things.

After the third Lewan penalty Michigan Stadium was ready to throttle the guy. (Good thing it's impossible to get guns in the stadium!) It would have taken most of the stadium to do so, but the "AWWWWWWWWW" coming from the stands suggested it was possible.

Huyge came in, and everyone thought that was a good idea to settle Lewan down. This provided a window in which the Huyge/Lewan battle—such as it is after Lewan cemented a place in the starting lineup—was once and forever resolved in the exact same way the Demens/Ezeh battle was: by some Iowa guy running over the backup. In Ezeh's case this was Iowa OL Julian Vandevelde. In Huyge's it was Adrian Clayborn.

Huyge wasn't terrible but when you play a third of a game and you don't get a single +/- on the run chart you're being avoided to some extent and just doing okay at when you're not. He's got a –4 in pass protection; Lewan has a –3 in twice the time. Lewan was +7 on the ground, tied with Denard for the best score.

He's good. The Clayborn line: one solo tackle, two assists, a half sack on the last desperate Michigan drive. Last year Clayborn had 70 tackles, 20 for loss, and 11.5 sacks. Against Penn State earlier this year Clayborn had ten tackles, three TFLs, and a sack. He's a holy lock first-rounder, and Taylor Lewan all but erased him.  Also, his second false start does not seem to exist. Presenting the first and only clip of a false start penalty in the history of football:

Pinky twitched or something.

That was a star-making performance. Lewan == Long has gone from optimistic ceiling to serious possibility.

And the rest of the guys?

I thought they were "dominant" in the game column at the beginning of the week; they were not. The rest of the line settled in an area around +3 each save Omameh, who again had difficulty with a big strong DT and finished in the negative.

Losing Molk was a chunk of that. While Khoury didn't seem out of place he's the backup for a reason and his lack of experience contributed to a couple of screwups; the occasional iffy snap that threw timing off was not included in the numbers. I don't think I saw him get a tough seal like this all day:

Even so a redshirt sophomore backup notching a positive number against Iowa's veteran, deep line is encouraging.

However, Michigan's inability to crease those guys consistently was key until Forcier came in. Iowa bent but did not break because their defensive line afforded them the ability to put a guy over Michigan's slot receiver to erase the bubble screen and keep two deep safeties; Iowa spent the bulk of the day with six guys in the box against Denard Robinson and did not get crushed. That's why Iowa's defense is so tough: they can do that when in theory it should get you crushed against up to seven blockers.

For a given definition of "crushed," anyway. Thanks to turnovers, bad field position, and the &#*$ing field goal kickers Michigan exited the first half with 223 yards and 7 points. That's bend but don't break. We've got break sooner or later. Also when the Tate Forcier Air Show started going off, it was not seriously bothered by pass rush until the last drive. That's an accomplishment.

Weekly plea for Hopkins.

Weekly plea for Hopkins, except he's clearly getting more run as the season progresses. I like his vision and surprising agility. A lot of beef machine types would not be able to make this cut:

And a lot of freshmen would not peel off to effectively block a guy who's just chucked away Schilling:

Rumors about fumbling in practice dog him—Rodriguez said Smith is "not a fumbler" after the game, thereby implying that some other guys were—and that's a good reason for his time to be limited. I'm anxious for those problems to recede.

His size makes him a far more effective blocker than anyone else Michigan has available. Unless Brandon Moore emerges (possible), I think we're going to see a lot more two tailback sets in 2011. Webb will be gone and Hopkins brings that kind of blocking.

Are you forgetting something?

Oh, right. Receivers:

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Stonum 3 1/3 3/4 4/4 6 1/3 6/9 15/15
Odoms : ( - - - 1 1/1 3/4 11/11
Hemingway - 2/2 1/1 6/7 3 2/2 3/3 13/16
Jackson - - - - - - - -
Roundtree - - - 1/1 7 2/3 3/5 26/27
Grady - - - 1/1 4 1/1 2/2 7/8
T. Robinson - - - - - 0/1 - 2/3
Gallon - - - 2/2 1 - - 3/3
                 
Koger - - 1/1 2/2 - - 2/3 6/6
Webb - - - 1/1 - - - 2/2
                 
Smith - - - 2/2 1 - 0/1 8/8
Shaw - - - - 1 0/1 0/1 4/4
McColgan - - - - - - - 1/1
Hopkins - - - - - - - -
Toussaint - - - - - - - -

The receivers had a great day, with just one drop, that by Hemingway, and three very tough catches on poorly thrown balls. (Stonum's may not have actually been a catch but it was ruled one.) Hemingway bailed Forcier out on the late bomb and made up for his drop with some key conversions on tough balls. With the screen game limited and downfield runs almost nonexistent, all they had to do was catch and they did.

Also Rock Paper Scissors was 5 – 5 = 0, though it could have been slanted more heavily in Michigan's direction if I'd started dinging Iowa for giving up all those identical slants earlier.

Heroes?

Lewan turned Adrian Clayborn into just a guy. Stonum and Hemingway were major positives in the second-half comeback.

Goats?

Lewan helped kill two drives with actual penalties and may have killed a third if that false start wasn't phantom. And… yes… Denard's two-week streak of playing like a sophomore was extremely harmful.

What does it mean for Penn State and beyond?

Penn State's injury situation will have a lot to say about that, but Michigan has to get Robinson healthy and find enough of a tailback rushing game to force teams out of two-deep coverages. If anyone can do what Iowa did—which not only removed the bubble but removed all those games Michigan plays with it for good yardage—Michigan's base offense is going to have to slog downfield and will be vulnerable to the kinds of mistakes that have plagued them these last two weeks. (Aside for TOP junkies: Michigan won TOP against Iowa because their drives weren't two-play TDs. Was that helpful to either offense or defense? Not so much.)

I'm not sure whether this Denard shoulder injury is a good thing or a bad thing. Will it heal? Is it just an excuse? Is it more evidence that he will shatter into a thousand pieces? If his inaccuracy the last couple weeks was a temporary shoulder thing that will heal and he can get back to his earlier sharpshooting—even chucking short routes was a problem this week—it's good, I guess.

The other skill positions are getting better as the season progresses. The outside receivers are establishing themselves as good options and if Hopkins and Shaw can get an even rotation with Smith Michigan will have a variety of different looks they can go to depending on what's working well. Smith showed he's an asset as a quasi-slot in this game, as linebackers have difficulty covering him in man and zone opens up those double slants.

On the line, Lewan showed he should be able to neutralize any defensive end in the conference if he can just keep from going Yosemite Sam on the world and the rest of the line showed itself slightly inferior to Iowa's excellent DL. I'll take it.

MGoPodcast 2.2: Bye Week Excitement

MGoPodcast 2.2: Bye Week Excitement

It's back! Again! A wedding kiboshed the post-Indiana podcast and depression did in the MSU one, but we're back and kicking with a review of the Iowa game, a discussion about what qualifies as "rock bottom" when talking about basketball expectations, and a desultory tour of the upcoming Big Ten schedule, this one without Jamiemac and just Just Cover gamblin' ways. We do plan on bringing in opponent bloggers again, but this week we had the bye.

UPDATE: This post was pointing to podcast 2.1, not 2.2; fixed.

The usual links:

Go:

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Iowa

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Iowa

Submitted by Brian on October 21st, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Substitution notes: Patterson played the entire second half and big chunks of the first as it was clear that Mike Martin was not recovered from the late MSU cheap shot. RVB never came out; Black cycled in for Banks, mostly on passing downs. Fitzgerald got a few snaps as Roh's backup. At LB, Demens played the whole way except for the first few plays of Iowa's third drive; Thomas Gordon and Carvin Johnson rotated with Gordon appearing to get most of the time.

Formation notes: Okay, Greg Robinson, I believe you. This defense is indeed "multiple." Michigan played a little stack, a lot of it with two deep safeties:

stack-two-deep

That's a stack with the bandit in a deep half. I called it "stack two deep."

Michigan played some 4-3, and they played a lot of a 3-4:

base-3-4

This is different from a 4-3 with a standup DE because of the alignments of the DL, who are head up on the C and Ts. That's just a 3-4, straight up. Early in the game they were using Floyd as the WLB, but after a couple issues with that they put Kovacs in the box and used Floyd as the overhang guy. This appeared to be a response to Iowa's heavy use of twins.

The past two weeks the defense has used more 3-4 and 4-3 than stack, FWIW, so its heavy deployment in spring and fall may be an artifact of the team it's going against. Against spread outfits Michigan has been almost all stack.

Show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O38 1 10 ? ? Run   ? ? 1
My copy of the game does not have this play. It was a one-yard run on which Demens made the tackle.
O39 2 9 I-form twins Base 4-4 Run   Inside zone Demens -3
Iowa overloads the wide side of the field with a covered TE and another TE in motion to act as a lead blocker. RVB takes a double as Iowa looks to run away from Martin. Roh(+0.5) drives the playside TE back a bit, creating an obvious gap where the play will go that Demens(+2) reads and fills before the guy peeling off RVB can get to him. He sets up in the hole with that OL grabbing him around the waist; with Johnson(+0.5) set up outside in a spot to prevent a bounce and Kovacs coming from the backside Robinson is swarmed for a loss.
O42 3 12 Ace 3-wide Nickel Pass 4 Dumpoff ? 10
Happy feet from Stanzi here as he doesn't even let his receivers try to test the middle of the field before checking down to the tailback. Cover +1, I guess. Roh(+0.5) was sort of coming through the line, possibly forcing a throw. Rogers(-0.5, tackling -1) comes up to meet Robinson after about five yards and offers a dodgy shoulder-block of a tackle that does manage to get him OOB but does not inspire anything resembling confidence.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O44 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-4 Pass 5 Slant Demens Inc
Kovacs blitz; no one gets home before he throws on three-step rhythm. It's a slant that Mouton(+1) reads and arrives as the ball does about six yards downfield. Receiver has to leap to catch a slightly high ball and Mouton hits him into the air, exposing him to a Demens(+1) killshot that shakes the ball loose. Cover +2.
O44 2 10 Ace Base 4-4 Pass 5 Slant Johnson Inc
Martin(+0.5) gets some pressure but doesn't matter since Johnson(-1, cover -1) has screwed up his zone drop by sticking too close to Demens and his guy, opening up a slant. Should be a first down but McNutt drops it.
O44 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Penalty ? False start ? -5
Oops.
O39 3 15 Ace 3-wide 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 TE out Talbott 5
Stanzi checks down (cover +1) to a TE for five yards; Talbott(+1, tackling +1) is there to tackle immediately, no funny stuff.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O16 1 10 Ace twins Base 3-4? Run   Inside zone Ezeh 14
Ezeh comes in. I'm not sure what to call this formation since it's got Johnson on the slot receiver and a three man line with the guys aligned as 3-4 LBs, except the WLB is JT Floyd. Martin(-1) is single-blocked and doesn't do anything to disrupt the play. This allows a guy out on Mouton. I'm not entirely sure what the responsibilities are here, but though Ezeh(-1.5) is indeed humiliatingly pancaked by a guard, Kovacs(-1) is flowing hard to the frontside of the play and gets caught way out of position when the cutback comes. I think this is on him and not Mouton but I'm not sure. Without the rolled up S anywhere near the play Robinson shoots right into the backfield with just C. Gordon(+1, tackling +1) between him and the endzone; Gordon makes an important, solid open-field tackle.
O30 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass 3 Hitch Roh 11
Two deep safeties for the first time. Iowa goes straight dropback and Michigan drops eight; Roh(-1, cover -1) does not get a deep enough zone drop despite Stanzi looking at his receiver all the way.
O41 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Run   Inside zone Banks 8
Michigan's only got six guys in the box for this with two deep safeties and T. Gordon covering the slot guy. Again, I'm not sure who's got what here but I think this is because Michigan's blitzing JT Floyd(-1) from the corner and he's heading at an upfield angle and cannot recover to flow down the line for the cutback. Banks(-1) did get controlled and blocked downfield, giving the RB the angle to get by Floyd, and I do think Ezeh ran himself out of the play unnecessarily. There are three guys on the frontside and just two on the backside so a smart guy would figure this is cutting back. Kovacs(+0.5, tackling +1) comes up to fill well, though he had more time than Gordon to react.
O49 2 2 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Floyd 5
Banks(+1) gets playside of his guy and forces a bounce well outside where Floyd(-1, tackling -1) sees his tackle run through.
M46 1 10 I-form Base 4-3 Pass 4 Dumpoff Floyd 11
Demens back. I don't think this is on either linebacker since Demens(+0.5) and Mouton(+0.5) each have to carry routes to the safeties and end up dropping deep. Floyd(-1, cover -1) doesn't have anyone and still bails out, opening up the dumpoff for a bigger gain than it should be. No one anywhere near the QB (pressure -1) .
M35 1 10 I-form twins Base 4-4 Run   Off tackle Mouton 19
So the DL here is Black, Patterson, Sagesse, and Fitzgerald. Doom? Doom. They hit a gap outside of Black; Kovacs has to come up and fill the outside and takes a block. This is what he has to do to force it back to help but there is no help. I think M's alignment is messed up since they've shaded the line to the open side of the field and the linebackers are basically even(RPS –1). Sagesse(-1) is chopped to the ground immediately. This is bad. I think it makes Demens(-0.5) suck up into the gap that forms because he anticipates the cutback lane is open. He takes a block and bounces off it but is delayed. On the playside Black(-0.5) is walled off by a double. Mouton(-2) charges into a gap that Patterson has somewhat controlled, losing leverage. Once RB is through the crease he's gone.
M16 1 10 I-form twins Base 4-4 Pass N/A Waggle cross Floyd Inc (Pen +2)
PA rollout sees two guys in the route. Deep guy taken away by the coverage(+1) so Stanzi checks down to a TE cross that Floyd(-1, cover -1) is all over, but he grabs the guy around the waist and gets a legit call. For some reason the refs put the ball at the 14 instead of the 9 and no one notices.
M14 1 10 I-form twins Base 4-4 Run   Power off tackle Roh 0
Roh(+1) slants inside as the tackle moves to the second level immediately. He takes a blocker with him, sitting down right in the intended path of the RB and absorbing the FB's lead block. RB bounces into Floyd(+0.5), who read the receiver's attempted block and set up to contain. He's such a terrible tackler, though. Demens(+0.5) scrapes through two half-blocks to help finish.
M14 2 10 I-form Base 3-4 Pass 4 Fade Kovacs Inc
Corner blitz convinces Stanzi that he's got the guy who Floyd has just vacated so he tosses it; Kovacs(+2, cover +2) jumps it and gets both hands on what could be a 95-yard Rick Six but can't hang on. Pressure(+1) was coming so Stanzi had to get rid of it. (RPS+2)
M14 3 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel Pass 4 Drag Avery 14
Michigan in three-deep, but Courtney Avery(-3, cover -3) does the same thing he always does by chasing receivers all over the field, opening up this drag for a touchdown. Rogers(-1, tackling –1) could have stopped this at the sticks but loses leverage, etc. Stanzi had to throw because Roh(+1, pressure +1) was about to waste him. One freshman playing anything approximating zone and this is a FG attempt. Picture-paged earlier today.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M49 1 10 Ace twins Base 3-4 Pass N/A Rollout throwaway Demens Inc
Another two-man route covered(+1) well by Michigan. Demens(+0.5) perceives the lack of underneath threats and comes charging up on the edge to force a throwaway. Maybe I'm just not used to a routine play here to give a plus-half, but there it is. I like his decision-making.
M49 2 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass 4 Screen ? 15
Michigan rushing four and dropping into a zone as Iowa runs a middle screen. Zero DL come even close to reading it, leaving four blockers in space against… uh… Kenny Demens. He charges up and gets hacked down by one of them. About all he could do. Secondary converges after the sticks. RPS -2; no idea what any individual player could have done there.
M34 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Counter Black 3
Black(+1) does a nice job to slant through two Iowa OL and should draw a holding call as an Iowa TE yanks him from behind but does not. His presence in the middle of the play does force a bounce; Floyd keeps contain and Mouton(+0.5) gets free to help with the tackle and prevent any YAC.
M31 2 7 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Pass 4 Corner Rogers? 31
I am not sure if this is on Rogers or Gordon. I think it is Rogers because Michigan is running three-deep and Johnson(+1, cover +1) has the out to this side of the field blanketed. The pass goes to the deep corner of the endzone where a deep zone should be in cover three; Rogers(-3, cover -4) is not there. No one was anywhere near Stanzi (pressure -3). It looks like Gordon was burned over the top but he's in cover three so he should be jumping the post cut on the assumption Rogers has his back.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 13 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M48 1 10 Ace twins Base 3-4 Run   Inside zone Banks 4
So they've switched Kovacs and Floyd here, with Kovacs the nominal WLB and Floyd the nominal overhang guy. Michigan LBs hit it up quickly—they're probably depending on Iowa to run the max-pro routes on PA they've run before—and Mouton(+0.5) takes on a guard at the LOS. Robinson bangs into the mess; Patterson(+0.5) has actually come through and threatens from behind but Banks(-0.5) has been kicked out too far and Floyd(-0.5) is hesitant. He meets Robinson two yards downfield and gives up two more.
M44 2 6 Ace 3-wide Stack two deep Pass 5 Hitch ? 16
Kovacs in a two-deep instead of at the line. Michigan runs the Floyd corner blitz again and gets burned (RPS -1) as Iowa adjusts to the Kovacs near-pick on the last attempt to kill it by shortening up the route. Mouton(+0.5) got a free run but with the wide open guy on the sideline it doesn't matter. Stanzi hits him, Kovacs tackles.
M28 1 10 Shotgun twins 2TE Base 3-4 Pass 3 Sack Banks -4
Eight man drop does cover(+2) everyone this time but the pressure(-2) is nonexistent. Martin is out and this is sad minus Martin. Stanzi rolls out, Banks chasing him. Stanzi inexplicably runs OOB instead of chucking the ball away.
M32 2 14 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 5 Dumpoff Banks Inc
Banks(+1) gets inside the Hawkeye LT and comes right up the middle, with Roh(+0.5) providing supporting rush (pressure +1). Those two force a dumpoff to the tailback behind the LOS that Demens(+0.5, cover +1) probably has nailed for no gain; ball is upfield and bounces off Robinson's hands.
M32 3 14 Ace 3-wide 3-2-6 dime Run   Delay Mouton? 15
Michigan in a three deep shell with six DBs on third and forever, which okay. RVB(+0.5, seriously) slants inside his blocker and forces a cutback. Black is understandably way upfield. Mouton(-1) takes on the wrong side of his blocker with the cutback, and with just five guys in the box it's a long way to the next M defender. Those guys are Avery, Kovacs, and Gordon, and somehow the three of them give up the extra two yards for the first down. Alright. I'm not going to put my fist through anything. 1) Avery is 20 pounds too light to stiff the momentum. 2) Kovacs is physically deficient still and with a receiver pushing the pile can't stand it up. Both get -0.5s for being tiny. Gordon had little chance to do anything given the angles of the play. Michigan would have been much better off without the cutback, but what can you do? Argh.
M17 1 10 Ace 3-wide Stack two deep Run   Inside zone Martin 5
Martin(-0.5) back in and gets clubbed back. At this point it's clear he just doesn't have it. Thanks, MSU cheapshot. Demens(+0.5) does a good job to close the forming frontside hole and force a cutback; Banks(-0.5) blows his pursuit angle and is too far upfield to tackle at the LOS; Mouton(+0.5) did a good enough job with his guy to delay the back slightly and allow Banks to come from behind and tackle.
M12 2 5 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Van Bergen 2
Similar to the last play but RVB(+0.5) is slanting down the line along the line instead of two yards upfield so the cutback lane isn't there; Mouton(+0.5) perceived the cutback, hit his hole, and helped tackle.
M10 3 3 Ace Base 4-4 Pass N/A Rollout out Floyd 6
Motion reveals Floyd in man and eight guys on the LOS reveal a lack of crazy robber zones, so Stanzi can roll out and be confident he's got a window to hit on this out route. He does; Roh does okay on the rush but can't get past the RB instantly, and Stanzi's pass is accurate against good but not great coverage. RPS -1.
M4 1 G I-form big Base 4-4 Run   Power off tackle Mouton 4
Sagesse(-1) gets crushed out of the hole but Roh(+1) stands up his guy, shucks inside, and convinces Robinson to maybe bounce it. He decides against it since that's going to be closed off, cutting back inside. Mouton(-1) is there. Mouton *was* there until the feigned bounce saw him head way to the playside where he had no hope of doing anything. That combined with a guard crushing Johnson(-0.5) into the endzone is a touchdown.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-21, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Ace twins Base 3-4 Run   Inside zone Demens 0
Martin is out for the remainder. Nowhere to go this time as the M DL provides no gaps. +0.5 to Banks, who held up to a double well, Mouton, who took on a TE at the right spot to prevent a crease, and Kovacs, who took on a block and held. +1 Demens, who saw the gap forming when Patterson(-1) got scooped out of the play and hit the releasing center at the LOS, removing a developing cutback lane. Floyd(+0.5) contains, forcing Robinson back inside and allowing a gang tackle.
O29 2 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Out Rogers 8
Four yard out picks up a few YAC to set up third and short; Rogers(-0.5) in the area but not able to tackle quickly because of a general lack of athleticism. Avery actually dropped back into a zone well here, so there's that.
O37 3 2 Ace 3-wide Nickel Run   Draw Kovacs -2
Probably goes for the first here except for Kovacs(+2) blitzing untouched from the outside reading the draw, changing direction, and tackling for loss. Demens ate a block but I'm sympathetic here since this is a draw against what looks like man coverage and he has to respect the threat of the guy as a receiver. Mouton should have scraped faster, IME. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, 11 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O14 1 10 Ace twins Base 3-4 Run   Inside zone Floyd 3
Patterson(-1) scooped and sealed easily, allowing the Iowa C out on Demens, who's trying to scrape to the hole but now has lineman in his face. Banks(+0.5) holds up to a single block well and closes the hole down, giving Floyd(+0.5) a fairly easy job to come up and tackle after a moderate gain.
O17 2 7 I-form 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Mouton 1
Patterson blown down the line as they try another zone play; with both playside DL getting doubled Demens hits that gap hard, cutting off the frontside. However, Patterson(-0.5) getting washed down the line so far and Banks(-0.5) getting kicked out leaves Mouton(+2) in a ton of space against a lead blocker on a play likely designed to cut back right here. He avoids the TE but gets tripped; he was aggressive enough and under control enough to knock into the back. This delays him and eventually sends him down. Even if he didn't go down the hit was enough to allow Kovacs to tackle if necessary. (RPS -1)
O18 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide Stack two deep Pass 3 Fly C. Gordon Inc
Plenty of time (pressure -2) but the underneath stuff is taken away(cover +1) and Stanzi just decides to bomb it. C. Gordon(+1, over +1) is there on an underthrown ball, taking the right angle. He's got a better chance to make a catch than the receiver. Ball goes over his head.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Ace twins Base 3-4 Pass 3 PA post C. Gordon 34
No one near Stanzi(pressure -2) and there are five guys in a short zone with one outlet receiver; a huge gap opens up between the LBs and the secondary. -1 Demens, -1 Mouton. -2 Gordon for being too far off in a cover three with three deep guys; he should be jumping the post route instead of being literally ten yards off. His tackle is almost run through, too. This was easy. (Cover -2)
M29 1 10 I-form 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 PA dumpoff Kovacs 11
No pressure again(-2); coverage downfield is good but the little dump route to the FB releasing out of the backfield is wide open with Demens(-1) not reacting to get over and Kovacs(-1) getting pulled downfield by a deeper route. (Cover -1)
M18 1 10 I-form big Base 4-4 Run   Inside zone Roh 2
No gaps anywhere again. Roh(+0.5) has slanted past a blocker and absorbed an extra guy, as has RVB(+0.5), so there are defenders in the backfield and no gaps. RB has to bounce into Floyd, who could make a tackle at the LOS with a better angle but is conservative outside(-0.5); Demens(+0.5) has scraped over the top and dives back inside to tackle.
M16 2 8 Ace 3-wide Nickel Pass 5 Drag Floyd 5
I swear to god I'm not slanting this to Demens(+1, cover +1) but here he gets a chuck on a TE releasing downfield and causes Stanzi to come off his primary read. Second read is a drag Floyd(+1, tackling +1) is in man on. He tracks the pass and comes up to tackle immediately on the catch. Stanzi again had a ton of time (pressure -1).
M11 3 3 I-form twins Base 4-4 Run   Inside zone Mouton 11
No gaps inside; this is going outside. Kovacs blitzes and is picked off by the FB. Banks(-1) can't deal with a double and gets shoved inside, allowing the LT to come out on Mouton(-2), who makes a fatal mistake by fighting INSIDE of the tackle. He can get leverage on this guy, but instead fights inside and gives up the corner. Touchdown. Demens had scraped through and maybe could have tackled at the five if he had gone upfield instead of shot the gap, but in this situation I'd rather have a MLB who expects his guys to execute their assignments and hits that gap with authority than some guy who's always worried what might go wrong. Demens is playing better than anyone realizes.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-28, 1 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Ace twins Base 3-4 Run   Inside zone Banks 20 + 15 pen
Three-fold failure on a cutback after Patterson(+1) and others cut off the frontside. 1) Banks(-1) is blown down the line way too far. 2) Kovacs(-1) tries to hop upfield of the fullback, opening the hole up wider when he needs to squeeze down; 3) Mouton(-2) again reacts late to the developing play and loses the tailback outside of him. Demens was in position to tackle, albeit for decent yardage, if he got a guy funneled to him as he reacted to the cutback and again scraped properly. Floyd adds 15 on a facemask.
M25 1 10 I-form big Base 4-4 Run   Inside zone Van Bergen 1
Van Bergen(+1) pops through the line and forces another cutback. This time Mouton(+1) does get outside his blocker and heads outside to force the play back into the scraping, waiting, tackling(+1) Demens(+1).
M24 2 9 I-form twins Base 4-4 Run   Inside zone Mouton 5
I mean, Jesus balls Mouton maintain leverage for twice in a row. Here there's nothing because RVB(+1) has driven two guys into the backfield and provided Roh a free run into one gap. Kovacs(-1) takes on the FB and gets knocked back, but Mouton(-1) is flowing upfield too hard and lets the RB outside of him; Demens has flowed down the line to shove him OOB after five when this should have been nothing. Maybe this is on Kovacs for not getting outside the FB... but the success of a play jammed up by the DL is on one, the other, or both of the guys maintaining leverage to the playside.
M19 3 4 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 7 Slant Floyd 19
Michigan sends the house. Seven guys come and Gordon is trying to run man on a guy running a slant ten yards in front of him. Doesn't matter since Floyd(-2, cover -2) gave up a slant despite setting up with inside leverage, yielding an easy TD. Maybe someone busted and Michigan was going to drop someone or two someone's into short anti-slant zones?
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-35, 11 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twins Base 3-4 Run   Inside zone Demens 4
RVB(+1) drives playside, taking two Iowa DL into the backfield a yard. Patterson(-1) has been blown out by single blocking easily, allowing the C to nail Mouton. Demens(+1) is scraping into a lot of space, and forms up to tackle at the LOS as one of the RVB blockers tries to peel, but too late.
O24 2 6 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Black 5
Nothing obvious on the frontside as Patterson flows down the line and the linebackers are attacking the playside shoulder of their blockers, but it does seem more open. Black(-1) is cut to the ground on what kind of seems like a clip but isn't called. Mouton has to radically change direction and and can only get a bump; Kovacs flows in from the edge to tackle; C. Gordon comes up to prevent YAC.
O29 3 1 I-form big Base 4-4 Penalty   False start ? -5
Likely on the C since everyone moves and the snap is fumbled.
O24 3 6 Ace 3-wide Nickel 3-4 Run   Zone stretch Demens 1
Three wide for Iowa with seven guys against six blockers in the box so there's no one to block one particular guy: Demens. Banks(+0.5) flows to cut off the playside; Patterson(-1) and RVB(-1) have been blasted off the line by single blocking but Demens(+0.5, tackling +1) avoids the trash and comes up to tackle in the cutback lane. Asking for this if you run into a stacked box on third and six (RPS +1); would be frustrated here if an Iowa fan. Mets Maize picture-paged this.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-35, 8 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Pass N/A Waggle TE out Kovacs 25 (pen -5)
Entire world sucks to the run fake. I understand why, but this is just ludicrously open (cover -3) because Kovacs(-1) and Mouton(-1) the playside guys, went nuts about the run. Result is a big gainer but Iowa was in an illegal formation and it comes back. (RPS -2)
O35 1 15 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Pass N/A Waggle TE out Kovacs 10
Floyd comes off with a minor injury; Avery in. Same play; Michigan defending it better but does allow a short completion; Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) overruns the tackle and allows the TE to cut back inside for an extra five.
O45 2 5 Ace twins Base 4-4 Run   Inside zone Kovacs -4
Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) blitzes off the edge untouched into another inside zone, where he forms up, gets under control, and tackles in the backfield by himself. Unblocked, sure, but actually making the tackle here is a big deal since it's the difference between third and long and third and medium. RPS +1.
O41 3 9 Ace 3-wide Nickel 3-4 Pass 5 Slant Floyd 17
Floyd(-3, cover -2) again gives up an easy slant based on one stutter-step outside. Increased penalty for doing the same thing you just did like five minutes ago. Also he's still not even in position to tackle.
M42 1 10 I-form twins 3-3-5 stack Run   Zone stretch Mouton 2
Patterson(-1) scooped and sealed again; Demens eats OL. So does Mouton(+2.5) but he beats the block to the outside on the stretch and pops Robinson at the line. This is a great play, and one Mouton can make but doesn't too often.
M40 2 8 I-form big Base 4-4 Pass   Waggle scramble Mouton 0
Mouton(+1) reads it and *flies* upfield at Stanzi(pressure +1), forcing him to roll out further and eventually forcing him OOB slightly behind the sticks.
M40 3 8 Ace 3-wide Nickel Pass   Dumpoff Avery 26
Michigan stunts, getting Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) through on Stanzi and forcing him to dump it off really early. Avery(-2, tackling -2) comes up way, way too hard on a play where all he has to do is make a lousy ankle tackle and completely whiffs. Demens(-1, tackling -1) takes an angle too far upfield but maybe he's just doing what he does and knows a tackle eleven yards downfield is death and if he can't make it short of the sticks why bother at all? In any case, he's too far upfield after the whiff and Robinson runs through an arm tackle for a bunch of yards. This isn't even really a juke here, it's just... a freshman. I need a drink.
M14 1 10 I-form twins 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Mouton 1
Linebackers attacking hard given the situation; Mouton(+1) avoids one block and Demens(+0.5) comes up to pick off a guy peeling off Patterson. Mouton tackles.
M13 2 9 Ace Base 4-3 Run   Inside zone Sagesse 2
Two deep safeties as Michigan may expect pass. Sagesse(+1) at NT (finally) gets playside of his guy and drives him into the backfield, forcing Robinson outside. Demens(+0.5) is chasing from the inside, forcing it further out where Mouton(+1) has kept outside leverage against two guys and comes off to tackle. Banks had fallen here; dangerous without good play from the LBs.
M11 3 7 Ace twins Base 4-4 Pass 5 Corner T. Gordon Inc
T. Gordon tears off the corner unblocked(+1, pressure +1) and nails Stanzi quickly; Stanzi just chucks it long to prevent a sack. No one open, FWIW.
Drive Notes: FG(38), 28-38, 3 min 4th Q. Last drive not charted as it is irrelevant.

Demens? Demens Demens? Is it really pronounced "Demons"?

Sounds like you need a—

Chart.

Chart.

demon-chart

Hahaha!

No, seriously.

You're no fun.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 5.5 1 4.5 Best performance on the day but that's just average.
Martin 0.5 1 -0.5 Clearly hurt.
Banks 3.5 4.5 -1 Is what he is. No pass rush.
Sagesse 1 2 -1 Wonder why he's not the backup NT.
Patterson 1.5 5.5 -4 Bled it slowly this time, at least.
Black 1.5 1 0.5 Did not play much except on passing downs.
Campbell - - - DNP
TOTAL 13.5 15 -1.5 Roh still mostly DE here so his plus also factors in here; the worst day for an M DL in a very, very long time. Pressure metric will confirm.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh - 1.5 -1.5 At least the humiliating pancake was the definitive last word.
Mouton 13 10 3 Frustratingly culpable for most of Iowa's cutback or bounce-out runs.
Roh 5 1 4 Okay, but not making a big impact.
Johnson 1.5 1.5 0 This is the life of a spur this year…
T. Gordon 1 - 1 see?
Leach - - - DNP
Moundros - - - DNP
Demens 11.5 3.5 8 A full and sumptuous conversation later.
Herron - - - DNP
Fitzgerald - - - A couple plays only.
TOTAL 31 17.5 13.5 Competency! And terrible loss of leverage!
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 2.5 11 -8.5 Oh my god the slants.
Rogers - 5 -5 Oh my god the 31-yard TD.
Kovacs 7 6.5 0.5 The usual.
C. Gordon 2 2 0 One good angle on a deep ball, one good tackle, some excessively conservative play.
Talbott 1 - 1 One tackle, little dime in this game.
Christian - - - DNP
Avery - 5.5 -5.5 The whiff, the zone vacation, etc.
Ray Vinopal - - - DNP
TOTAL 12.5 30 -17.5 It's dead, Jim.
Metrics
Pressure 6 13 -7 Loss of Martin gave Stanzi luxurious amounts of time.
Coverage 16 21 -5 Corners came in for a beating.
Tackling 7 5 2 Pretty decent until the 404.
RPS 5 8 -3 Typical.

[RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]

Losing Martin—even when he was in the game he was obviously not Martin—crushed the DL just like you would expect. With Martin out the only half-plausible rushers on the line are RVB and Roh, if he's coming, and since the other two guys can be single-blocked no problem all you have to do is leave one guy in to double the other two, and while they're not terrible they're not BG or Martin. Add in Patterson and Banks getting clubbed in the run game and it adds up to a very rare—possibly unprecedented—negative day for the DL to go with a –7 pressure.

The linebackers we'll get to in a sec; the secondary is just a debacle. Avery's a part of that but it's not like the starting corners are any good, either. The two slants Floyd gave up were incredibly frustrating, the second moreso than the first because you should be able to play off the receiver and tackle the slant for less than nine yards.

Demens. Wow.

Yeah. Watching the game live I thought that he was an obvious upgrade over Ezeh but expected that when I went over the game in detail I'd find he was at fault for some of the longer Iowa runs or third down conversions, or had messed up in some way that had gone unexploited. I didn't. I found little things that I thought were good plays I hadn't seen live, like this:

There Patterson gets insta-scooped and the center is going to club the MLB five yards downfield and the tailback will get a nice gain, except this is Demens and he reads the block. He attacks, turning the center into the clubee and turning the Iowa line into a mass of bodies without a gap in it. Floyd comes up to tackle.

How many times did Iowa RBs find themselves facing a line with no penetration and no holes in it? Several. How many times did previous Michigan opponents face this? Essentially never. Good DL play with crappy linebacker play yields a lot of penetration and a lot of lanes where the DL aren't. Crappy DL play with good LB play is this, a bunch of bodies on the line with no windows to squeeze through.

This doesn't look like much but he's there when Mouton forces it inside:

This was 100% consistent. When plays were turned back inside Demens was there.

Meanwhile, this was the only instance where it seemed like he was burned on play action:

Is that really on him? It seems like it's mostly on Gordon being way, way too deep. Demens was eight yards deep on his drop and I can't see any way that him being better at pass D stops this play. I minused him here, but I'm not sure if he deserves it.

He's the undisputed starter now. Not to pile on the guy, but this is the first thing that will pop into any Michigan fan's head when Obi Ezeh is mentioned for the rest of time:

Fair or not (pretty much fair), that's the coda.

So if Demens was such a ninja how did Iowa rack up all those yards on the ground?

Mouton. I know he came out +3 but I'm annoyed with that, and annoyed with him. There will be a picture pages later today or tomorrow discussing Iowa's 11-yard touchdown run on which Mouton fought inside a tackle and gave up the corner when Demens was scraping to the hole; most of Iowa's long runs were on plays where Mouton did not contain the ball and drive it back inside. Here's one:

Black didn't do Mouton a ton of favors but he can't get upfield and essentially block himself there. Force it back inside and it might be a big gainer; let him outside and it will be.

On the same play I gave Demens a minus half because he bit up, but I was torn about that since he sees Sagesse chopped and knows there's going to be a cutback lane, then doesn't get locked up by the OL. He seems like a smart player. Mouton doesn't; he makes a lot of great plays but he is still consistently making errors similar in severity to Avery's zone messes. Avery's a true freshman. He's a fifth-year senior. He is better this year, but he's still mistake-prone.

Another example:

Here a window opens up in the line. I know what Demens would do: hit it. Mouton gives up backside contain by attempting to scrape over the top on a jammed-up play and gives the cutback lane. The #1 answer to the question "why do we give up so many cutback runs" is Mouton.

Another example:

These four plays represent 54 of Robinson's 110 or so yards that came with Demens in the game. On plays where the rest of the D allowed him to be involved Iowa averaged under 2.5 YPC. This is how you get +8 as an MLB. Mouton came out positive because he made some impressive plays and blame on those outside runs was shared with the DL; he was obviously Michigan's second-best LB on the day.

Why the hell didn't they put Demens on the field before?

Man, I don't know. I assume part of it is disciplinary; I heard from a good source that he got in some minor trouble in the offseason. Not trouble enough to actually warrant a suspension or justify leaving him off the field for the first half of the year, but something that would provide some drag as he attempted to pass a senior returning starter. That's the only explanation for the Moundros dalliance. Obviously they were dissatisfied with Ezeh; to go to a converted FB walk-on when you've got Demens in your pocket there has to be something off-field, whether it's attitude or whatever.

And then Obi had a game or two where he was moderately okay, and GERG apparently really likes him, and oh hell, I don't know. As you're bitching try to remember that this is the vastly preferable scenario. For the rest of this year and the next two years Michigan will have an upperclass starter who looks competent instead of yet another freshman or position switch guy.

Isn't this all a little too good to be true?

Yes. I mean, Cam Gordon imploded as soon as I said "I like the kid!" I've just doomed Demens.

What about the other ten guys?

Right. Something more specific?

That's a horrendous performance from the DL, isn't it?

Yes. For most of the day Stanzi's experience in the pocket was this:

Martin is the Woolfolk of the defensive line and not having him made the line 70% as bad as the secondary. (The secondary doesn't have an RVB and the line isn't starting freshmen.) Patterson does well to not get blown up by a single block and Banks is reason 1B for all the cutback runs; neither can sack the quarterback unless given a gilded invitation (Banks got credit for one for Stanzi's inexplicable run OOB, FWIW). There's nothing surprising here given what we know.

The secondary?

Is the secondary.

Heroes?

Yeah: Kenny Demens. Also, RVB and Roh did yeoman work against extra defensive attention and still came through to the good.

Goats?

All cornerbacks save Talbott and Mouton, +3 be damned.

What does it mean for Penn State and beyond?

If Martin's not full go we're permadead, but you knew that. Secondary is dire, but you knew that.

Demens's emergence is huge. If he can maintain this level of play Michigan will have gone from some of the worst linebacker play in the league to average-ish, or even better, and they've filled a gaping hole in the 2011 and 2012 defenses with the upperclass years of an effective player. There is a nonzero chance that Michigan can kinda-sorta shut down Penn State's rushing attack. If Demens comes through the next three games unscathed Michigan just picked up a huge win.

Freshman quarterbacks ahoy!

Picture Pages: (More) Freshman DB Doom

Picture Pages: (More) Freshman DB Doom

Submitted by Brian on October 21st, 2010 at 11:33 AM

This one's not going to be a revelation. It's just more of the same from nickelback Courtney Avery, who you may remember from "aargh crippling third down conversion" and "I play man coverage always." But I'm grabbing it to show just how damaging it is to have these guys who should be redshirting running around on the field.

It's third and ten from the Michigan 14 on Iowa's third drive; Michigan has an excellent chance to boot Iowa off the field here. They come out in a three-wide set. Michigan responds with its 4-2-5 nickel package:

avery-guh-1

Courtney Avery is the nickelback and the key guy. Michigan's going to rush four and play three deep, leaving four guys in underneath zones. Avery is on the hashmarks to the top of the picture on the slot receiver:

avery-guh-2 

Iowa's underneath receivers run crossing routes past each other—a mesh route. the two receivers to the top of the screen are going vertical, with Rogers on the outside guy and Avery on the inside one:

avery-guh-3

Avery is dropping deep to cut off space but turns his back to the QB. Has anyone else turned his back to the QB? No:

avery-guh-4

Here you can see two things: 1) Avery actually did a good job of rerouting the slot. Iowa's receivers are running paired posts and they are a yard away from each other. Cam Gordon should be in position to make a play on a throw here; it's unlikely Stanzi will force it if the drag isn't breathtakingly open. 2) Avery is completely out of his zone moving inside with his back turned to the QB:

avery-guh-5

Stanzi sees it and throws just as Roh lights him up:

avery-guh-6

Avery is nowhere. He can't change direction fast enough to get back out to his zone. No one could:

avery-guh-7

Touchdown:

avery-guh-8

UPDATE: Video.

Object lessons:

  • Courtney Avery should be redshirting. He looks like a quarterback who played a little man coverage in high school, because that's what he is.
  • Courtney Avery is not redshirting. Never Forget.
  • Rerouting receivers is an important part of zone coverage. Avery changes the WR's route here and forces it deeper, into an area in which Cam Gordon is a threat.
  • …but you have to pass the guy off way faster than this. I can't imagine you're ever supposed to chase the guy this far inside, or totally turn your body away from the QB.
  • Demens is fine here, I think. Mesh is tough on LBs in zone. Here he lets the receiver outside of him but he has to expect Avery will be there. He also knocks down the other guy running a drag, which is a bonus.
  • This is four free points from a freshman DB after the rest of the team got a stop. Maybe if Avery pulls off the slot receiver Stanzi has a shot at him on the post but that's a tougher throw than the little drag route here and with the reroute and the pressure chances are Stanzi either throws the drag anyway and picks up five or eats a sack.
  • I would abandon the nickel. Thomas Gordon is almost exactly Avery—a high school quarterback switching to nickel-type DB in college—except he's got a redshirt year behind him. I can understand the desire to get another DB on the field in passing situations but Avery's been a huge liability so far; Gordon has not made similar mistakes.

So there's this and there's 404 Tackle Not Found—two huge swing plays that went against Michigan's freshman nickelback. Missing Troy Woolfolk is an enormous deal.

Life on the Margins: Michigan v. Iowa

Life on the Margins: Michigan v. Iowa

Submitted by Tim on October 20th, 2010 at 5:09 PM

stonumdrop.png

Based on Dr. Saturday's sadly extinct "Life on the Margins" series, this post breaks down the Michigan-Iowa game past the score and total yardage.

Michigan v. Iowa
Category Iowa Michigan
Total Yards 383 522
First Downs 21 29
Yards Per Play 6.38 6.07
Yards Per Possession 29.46 43.50
Average Start Own 34 Own 23
Turnovers 0 4
Penalties Against 3-36 8-66
Yards For Points 405 296
"Wasted" Yards 32 196
Final Score 38 28
Yards for Points and Wasted Yards include penalties; Michigan's 'assistance' to Iowa makes their scoring drives longer than their total yardage.

By total yardage and average drive performance, Michigan should have won this game, possibly comfortably. Without their starting quarterback for most of the second half, the Wolverines outgained Iowa by nearly 150 yards. However, it was the Michigan mistakes [ed: (tm)?] that killed the team.

Turnovers

On top of four turnovers - two by Tate Forcier, one each by Denard Robinson and Vincent Smith - the Wolverines also had a 38-yard field goal blocked and returned into positive territory for the Hawkeyes. That's a five-possession swing, more than enough to compensate for a two-score loss by the Wolverines.

Michigan's turnovers occurred at inopportune times as well. Vincent Smith fumbled in the redzone with the Wolverines down 14 points, and Tate Forcier offered up an interception around midfield on the following drive.

Those Damn Penalties

Drive-killing penalties (on themselves) or drive-extending penalties (graciously extended to the Hawkeyes) also played a major role. Though Iowa took a few penalties as well, Michigan's errors had a greater impact on the game:

  • A facemask on the opening kick return of the game gives Iowa the ball in good field position at their own 38. Thanks to a Hawkeye penalty (see above), the drive stalls. IMPACT: minimal field position swing.
  • The Wolverines had a 2nd and 3 until a Taylor Lewan personal foul pushed Michigan back 13 yards. Second and 16 led to a three-and-out. IMPACT: Loss of drive.
  • JT Floyd breaks up an Iowa pass in the redzone, but interferes with Allen Reisner on the play. The play only nets the Hawkeyes two yards and a free down. They go on to score a touchdown on the drive (after Jordan Kovacs can't reel in an interception two plays later). IMPACT: four points for Iowa since they would have been kicking on fourth and ten without the unnecessary hold around the waist.
  • Michigan has a 3rd and 5 at midfield, but a Stephen Schilling false start pushes it back to 3rd and 10. Michigan is forced to pass, and Denard Robinson throws an interception on the next play. IMPACT: partially responsible for turnover.
  • Michigan is threatening with a 1st-and-10 on Iowa's 15. A false start penalty leads to three straight plays for loss or no gain, and Seth Broekhuizen's 38-yard field goal attempt is blocked. IMPACT: significant. Most likely three points, maybe more.
  • After an Iowa score, Jeremy Gallon returns the ball to the 25. A block in the back brings it to the seven. Michigan is able to move the ball on the drive, but eventually punts to close out the half. IMPACT: 50/50 loss of TD. With the additional 19 yards Michigan would have been at the Iowa 25 and would have had an opportunity to go for it on fourth and one.
  • With Michigan in serious catch-up mode down 21 in the third quarter, a false start penalty on their first play of a drive doesn't prevent them from scoring a touchdown. It does take a little more time off the clock. IMPACT: minimal.
  • On the ensuing drive, JT Floyd pulls Adam Robinson down at the Michigan 40-yard line... by the facemask. The Hawkeyes are able to punch it in from the 25 in three plays, pushing their lead back to three scores. IMPACT: aided Hawkeye TD drive considerably.
  • Michigan kicks the ball out of bounds TWICE in the fourth quarter, giving the Hawkeyes the ball on their own 40-yard line. The Hawkeyes score on both ensuing drives (one touchdown, one field goal). IMPACT: argh.

Volume and timing of penalties conspired to doom Michigan on the day. Maybe a really good team can overcome those errors, but...

But What Does It All Mean?

Like Rich Rodriguez has been saying for the better part of three years, this team isn't good enough to play poorly and win. If "playing poorly" can include running up over 500 yards of offense, it should be happy times in Ann Arbor when they do finally play well. What's exciting is that we've seen that earlier this year, when Michigan had zero turnovers against UConn and Notre Dame.

So, can a bye week cure all the ills that plague Michigan? Probably not. But it can cure some. The coaches did an excellent job preaching discipline in fall camp, and the Wolverines committed very few turnovers and penalties to start the year. If they can drill that again in this two-week period, improvement is sure to follow.

Couple that with the healthy return of the team's best quarterback (and I don't mean to bag on Forcier, because he was mostly good, but the team's backup quarterback was responsible for 2 turnovers), running back, offensive lineman, and defensive lineman, and the future is maybe not as bleak as it seemed after Saturday's game.

[Ed: This shouldn't be construed as a "Michigan deserved to win" post. Errors are errors, and Michigan's were severe. The field position difference is enormous: 11 yards over 11 drives is 121 yards, or almost all of Michigan's yardage advantage.

We should distinguish between talent breakdowns like Denard bombing away to Tyler Sash and plain stupid crap like Lewan's PF and the false starts or the kicker putting two(!) kickoffs out of bounds. The former's more likely to recur than the latter, and Michigan made a number of their mistakes because they were forced into them in ways that Michigan's defense could not replicate. Some of the extra mistakes are a real trend... but how many?

The next three weeks will tell.]

Unverified Voracity Pulls Out The Durr Sharks

Unverified Voracity Pulls Out The Durr Sharks

Submitted by Brian on October 19th, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Too busy to read the message board? Watch it. So this happened. It is a NSFW postmodern message board conversation verbalized by xtranormal:

Listen to the British woman.

Lord of the flies. An injury update from Penn State has more bad news for the Nittany Lions:

"Latimore, I'd be doubtful if we get anything out of Eric the rest of the year, although he may be ready for a game or two. Crawford has not done anything yet. ... I doubt if he'd be ready this week. Crawford might be ready next week."

That would be Eric Latimore and Jack Crawford, the nominal starting defensive ends. Latimore will be out for Michigan, with Crawford either on the bench or gamely giving it a go. Sean Stanley's status is still up in the air after it was revealed his violation of team rules was a marijuana arrest. He's practicing with the team and I'd be shocked if a simple possession charge would keep Stanley out four games. He's already missed two. Unless there's something else going on he'll probably start in Latimore's place, with either Crawford or unimpressive journeyman Kevion Latham on the other side of the line.

If Michigan held Iowa's DEs in check, the rag-tag PSU DEs shouldn't be a problem. Michigan will have a test against Still and Ogbu on the interior.

Penn State has a bunch of walking wounded they hope to get back for Minnesota; we'll see how many do.

And now a random dumb thing a Penn State blogger said. Take it away, Some Guy At BSD:

I hope that Denard Robinson gets healthy during Michigan's bye week and starts at QB in Happy Valley Halloween weekend. Choir boy / line-dancer Tate Forcier may provide more visual fodder for the blog, but I think he's a bigger threat at QB than Robinson. Denard Robinson can run all over weak competition, but in the Big Ten, where every defense is designed to stop the run, a competent passer like Tate Forcier is actually more deadly.

This is not factually wrong so it's not Fiutakin' it, but good God. This is the worst bit about turning it over seven times in two weeks while racking up 900 yards of total offense against the #28 and #13 defenses in the country:

shark_derp_durr_hurr

"It doesn't work in the Big Ten" cannot die soon enough.

This is a disturbing indictment of nothing in particular. Will Campbell is going to get a look at guard:

“He may be better-suited to play guard,” Rodriguez said.

No decision had been made, but Rodriguez said he’d convene with his coaches tonight to discuss possible position changes.  …

“He’s not playing much on defense,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know if it’s possibly to switch and learn a position that quickly, but we’ll probably talk about him tomorrow. He’s got a good attitude. He’s working hard and is willing to do whatever’s best for the team.”

What does it mean? It means that ESPN was right to be skeptical of Campbell, who has a ridiculous physical package but doesn't play football very well. It was apparent to me the first time he got on the field against Iowa and immediately got gashed; freshman or not the passivity and inability to get under anyone's pads was alarming. This would be no big deal if Michigan had gotten either or both of Pearlie Graves and DeQuinta Jones a couple years ago, but since they whiffed on both the depth chart at DT is thin enough that one guy not working out leaves you a big hole after Martin.

It does not mean that Bruce Tall is an idiot who can't coach—Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen say STFU, please. Also Brandon Graham.

Not their fault, except for that one guy. The BCS computers come in for another round of bashing, this one in the New York Times. At least this time there are quotes from the guys who run the things complaining about the What About The Children decision to remove margin of victory from the metrics. That is a major source of computer rankings DERP. And this is a delightfully blunt assessment of Richard Billingsley:

“I’m not a mathematician,” Billingsley said. “I’m not even a highly educated man, to tell you the truth. I don’t even have a degree. I have a high school education. I never had calculus. I don’t even remember much about algebra. I think everyone questions everything I do. Why is he doing that? Does he know what he’s doing, a crazy kook in Oklahoma?”

The short answer is no. Billingsley’s ranking system is vilified by professional mathematicians and a subculture of amateur computer rankers.

I'm not either but I've already got my vilification in. Any attention Billingsley's inane system gets that might get it booted is welcome. I mean: "It is a simple formula, he said, because he is a simple man." This guy isn't fit to decide what to eat for breakfast, let alone who should be playing in the national title game.

Just a love machine. The MZone highlights a program from 1978 featuring the sex machine that is Mike Gittleson:

78 staff

You have to admire that dedication to facial hair: 32 years without even thinking about a change. Also, yes, that Jack Harbaugh.

Hail Zoltan! Zoltan just launched the punt of the year, nay the punt of the decade:

During the Patriots OT struggle with the Ravens last Sunday, punter Zoltan Mesko may have made the punt of the year. Facing a 4th and 6 from their own 16, Mekso was called in try to bail out the Patriots.

Typically, punts from that region of the field net about 39 yards, putting the Ravens at their own 45, and it looked like the Ravens were going to win the field position battle. From there, it only takes one or two first downs to move into striking distance for a game winning FG attempt. When Mesko trotted onto the field, the Patriots' win probability (WP) was 0.33.

Mesko’s punt went for 65 yards, aided by wind and by poor fielding by the Ravens returner. When the ball came to rest on the Baltimore 19 yard line, the Patriots had gained the upper hand with a 0.54 WP. The punt was worth +0.21 Win Probability Added (WPA), an impact extremely rare for a punt that neither results in a long return nor a fumble.

Hagerup did something similar—though it wasn't in such a high-leverage situation—when he bombed one past the Iowa returner midway through Saturday's game.

Really? Iowa guy who looks at a lot of film says this:

A couple of times Iowa made good audibles and a couple of others they missed their chance to hit Michigan where it hurt. It definitely seemed the crowd noise was a factor late in this one and it made it hard to change calls at the line. I would guess they'll make some tweaks to their audible calls this week, especially on their scripted series calls.

That would be something close to unprecedented. Woo luxury boxes?

Etc.: Entertaining WSJ piece on alumni cheerleaders focuses on Michigan's homecoming festivities. Hey let's fire Turner Gill already! (Note: it took all of two months for Gill to go from a molder of men to a "Victorian-era" fuddy duddy what with his rules against ladies and cell phones. Rich Rodriguez should start a support group.) Twelve pictures to sum up TRY FIGHT WIN. One of these five men will be Minnesota's next coach. (HT: Eleven Warriors.)

Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 10-18-10

Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 10-18-10

Submitted by Tim on October 18th, 2010 at 2:54 PM

Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press.

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News

"This week is probably coming at a good time for some of those guys." Mike Martin and David Molk should be 100% with a week off. Mike Shaw's been limited in practice with a sprained knee, but should be fine.

Denard sprained something in his rotator cuff; it gets aggravated or sore when you fall on it. Worried about the big guys falling on him more than anything. He's not as hurt as Tate was last year, and should be good with a week off. "Hypothetically, we won't talk," but Denard would probably be good to start if there was a game this weekend. He's still the team's starter, despite Tate's solid play on Saturday.

On Fitzgerald Toussaint: "I'm optimistic he can practice this week."

Not sure how long Odoms will be out. "That's a tough blow because he was playing pretty good football." If he can return by the end of the year, he could play a bit.

Defensive personnel moves "Kenny Demens we thought played pretty well... He's played well enough that Obi will have to beat him out in practice over the next week and a half."

"Carvin Johnson we thought did some good things at Spur." With Mike Martin's injury, Adam Patterson got a chance to step up and he did well.

The Bye Week

No practice Monday-Tuesday (players are on fall break), but the team will practice Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for sure.

Big recruiting week for the staff since they don't have a game. "Used to go out a lot on Fridays," but it's tough to get back from a HS game and be ready for a noon game the next day. Coaches are on the road recruiting today and tomorrow.

Get young guys a little better fundamentally. "We'll do a preliminary thing on Penn State as well, try to get a little bit of the game plan in."

No school today or tomorrow, get a break to refresh with no football either. The 12 or 13 true freshmen who have played maybe have hit a wall. Having a bit of a break might make them refreshed this week.

On the day off Saturday, RR will watch some film, maybe watch some future opponents' games. His son Rhett has a Pop Warner game on Sunday.

Iowa

Tate came in and made some plays, brought a spark. Had some bad habits come back as well. WRs helped him out, but Michigan has three pretty good, young quarterbacks.

Molk - "I think he didn't feel real good in warmups." After a couple plays, he told the coaches he was unable to compete at the level he wanted to. High ankle sprain, but not a severe one.

The coaches have talked to the field goal defense team about recovering blocked FGs, obviously didn't cover that well enough with the kick team. There was too much penetration on the block, but the kick was a little low, too.

Rocko Khoury competed well. He battled hard. "We were worried about his snaps some... and there were 1 or 2 a little bit off..."

Lewan was a little jumpy. Partially nerves going against Clayborn. Part of his troubles may have been unfamiliarity with Khoury's snapping rhythm.

Turnovers. "I think we pressed a little bit at quarterback some." Don't have to throw it 30 yards when you only need 10. The QBs know right after it happens. "Vincent Smith's not a fumbler."

As poorly as the team played, they had a chance to tie up the game, just couldn't make it happen.

Personnel and Schemes

On offense, they need to fix execution issues that lead to turnovers. "On defense, certainly the same thing. The same issues with execution and making sure we do that." On ST, kicking and returns have been bad, other units solid. "We've got a couple guys I think could be pretty good returners, we just haven't given them a chance."

All QBs are unique "As a runner, Denard's probably closer to what Woody was with burst." Speed more like Pat White. Denard is still a young guy, he's going to keep getting better, as will the young pieces around him. Offense has evolved to be more run-heavy over the years. "The designed quarterback runs probably started with Woody Dantzler in the late 90s." Nowadays, so many people have some version of it, so there's more defensive creativity to stop it.

"We're a little more multiple. We're probably simpler formationally than a lot of teams." Oklahoma, Oregon, Cincinnati, other spread coaching staffs get together and bounce ideas off each other.

The defensive staff all knows the issues, "I think they've talked about it at length, I know they have because I've talked with them." The players still believe in it. The team is close to playing good defense outside of a couple plays a game "but those two plays count." Need to work on some basics defensively, tackling, getting off blocks, etc. Will work on understanding scheme, which helps guys play faster. At times, tackling has been OK.

"At the end of the last couple drives it wasn't good." More disappointed in the (in)ability to get off blocks. Guys won't be coming free on every play. "Some of that's strength... some if it is technique and being able to see the play, recognize the play, get off your block and make it."

"Some of the issue we have defensively... the only way to get experience is to get experience." Some first-year players can play like veterans, but freshmen are going to have "freshman moments." The goal as coaches is to limit the impact if guys have those moments.

"If I still aspire to call plays and be involved in offensive planning and special teams planning, there's only so much hours in the day." The defensive coaches have expertise and they can devote their time to it. "Vince Lombardi could come too, and that's not going to fix some of the problems we have on defense."

The defense has gotten its share of criticism, but 4-5 turnovers in the past couple games and special teams are both issues as well. "With all that being said, we still have moments that we're playing pretty well against a couple pretty good teams."

Floyd thrust in as the "experienced guy" when Troy went down. Troy was the leader of the group, and will be again when he comes back. "When you look at those guys... you gotta remember most guys, their colleagues that age are being redshirted."

Hagerup kicking better because he's not as nervous.

"This is a really close team, there's no finger-pointing or anything like that."

Defensive concerns might affect makeup of the recruiting class. "Where are your numbers offense/defense, where do we need more help." Make sure you're looking for a particular position, etc. "We're looking all over the country" for a kicker worthy of spending a scholarship on.

Etc.

"No question" that having a player seriously injured on the field (like Rutgers lineman) is your worst nightmare. "That's certainly is something that's an inherent risk not just in our sport but in all sports, and you always worry about it."

Big Ten shaking out about as expected. "I think the reputation of our league is pretty good nationally this year. It should be." Quality of play throughout the depth of the league is good.

"The first two years were extreme disappointments." Inside the program, you can at least get an idea that the program is being built and the future is bright. "If nothing else I think we're fun to watch." WIshes that weren't the case sometimes.

Playing Alabama in 2012 - "Just looking at the road games... pretty tough road schedule." Denard will be a senior, some of the young guys on this year's team will be juniors, etc. "Our hesitation was giving up a home game to do that." The pros outweighed the cons. Can use the excitement of that future game for recruiting.

Haven't talked too much about other future OOC scheduling, because they don't know when the Big Ten schedules will be finalized.

404 Tackle Not Found

404 Tackle Not Found

Submitted by Brian on October 18th, 2010 at 12:05 PM

10/16/2010 – Michigan 28, Iowa 38 – 5-2, 1-2 Big Ten

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When Michigan needed a stop to get the ball back with a chance to tie and plenty of time on the clock they failed to get it, twice. The second time Michigan cut off Iowa's routes past the sticks, forcing a dumpoff to Adam Robinson. Courtney Avery was there.

imageLast year at this time Avery was in high school. He played quarterback, and basically only quarterback. Plans to have him play his college position were thwarted by an injury. In a presser earlier this year, Rich Rodriguez said in any situation short of the Bohemian Crapsody that is this secondary, the entire freshman defensive back class would redshirt. But File Not Found, man. File Not Found.

Avery did that thing you see above. It doesn't appear that he even touched Robinson, something Crapsody-projected starter Richard Nixon probably could have managed. My immediate thought was watching baseball highlights on Sportscenter during the Dan and Keith glory days. Dan Patrick's signature strikeout call: "the whiff."

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And so Michigan football falls into that old incredibly fun debate for the next two weeks before the Penn State game quiets it, one way or the other. Rodriguez proponents point to the shocking lack of talent in the back four and say it's not his fault; Rodriguez opponents point to the same thing and say it's his fault.

They're both sort of right, sort of wrong. Boubacar Cissoko has 99 problems but what to do on a Friday night is no longer one of them. Troy Woolfolk was struck down by Angry Michigan Secondary Hating God. These are cosmically decreed absences from the secondary.

On the other hand, it's hard to look at the addled underclassmen out there with cornerback Nick Sheridan and not wish Rodriguez had sucked a little face to get Donovan Warren or Justin Turner or Vlad Emilien to stick around. Emilien departed the Michigan secondary in an effort to find playing time. Something is not quite right with your roster management when you lose the only non-freshman free safety on the roster.

As he left he said something along the lines of "I'm the best safety on the roster."* He probably isn't, but this is the point at which a desperate Michigan would give it a shot anyway. They did with Kenny Demens and found out that Obi Ezeh is not the best MLB at Michigan; maybe that would have happened with Emilien. Instead there is a walk-on-sized true freshman and air backing up Cam Gordon and Michigan will ride and die with another guy who obviously shouldn't be on the field this year.

This is what Michigan football is these days—trying to figure out which incredibly inexperienced player has the least business being on a Big Ten two deep, let alone field. My vote is for James Rogers, but I get it if you're arguing for any other member of the secondary not named Kovacs. Srsly. Pick one.

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cigar-guyOf course, Avery's mistake was as far from an isolated an incident as possible. The reason it's emblematic of the game is that you could have picked a dozen other players if their incident had happened right at the end. Another field goal was blocked, with a bonus: team walks off field still featuring live ball, Iowa returns it a goodly distance. The Taylor Lewan Drive Killing Penalty and its sequels. Two(!) kickoffs sailing out of bounds. Facemask calls. A –4 turnover margin. It's all very grrraaarrgggh. The people on the internet who say "THAT'S COACHING" are saying "THAT'S COACHING."

Maybe it is, but how would anyone know when freshman quarterbacks are waving at Adam Robinson's feet? In one very limited way it would be nice if this was a Tim Brewster situation where galaxy-spanning incompetence met a total lack of a track record and firing the guy was obvious. That's not this. We have very good reasons to expect what is happening to happen but don't know if it's ever going to stop.

*(to someone in the media, but not to the public at large.)

Non-bullets.

To repeat. We've got five additional opportunities to find out whether or not the mistakes were just one (er… two) of those days or a systemic issue—or, more likely, a systemic issue less severe than it seems this instant—so no job talk. I will say that my position at the start of the year was that 7-5 was the expected result and that would be good enough for me since 2011 sets up as a perfect prove-it year, and that I don't see why that would change. If they can get a half-decent defense they should blow up.

Iowa's defense may have been something of a paper tiger but even so Michigan came up ten yards short of its season average against the #4 total defense in the country; they're now #3 in total offense. They have two seniors who start and three on the two-deep. As long as they don't tank the rest of the season that seems like a good enough reason to give it a shot in 2011.

Crap, I guess that's job talk.

Kenny! After two three-and-outs featuring Kenny Demens at middle linebacker, Obi Ezeh returned to the field to start the third drive. On his first play he was humiliatingly owned  by an Iowa OL, getting pancaked as Robinson whizzed by for his first real gain of the day. I started complaining to everyone in the vicinity about Ezeh's presence as Iowa marched down the field; Demens returned as Iowa neared the redzone. Ezeh's Michigan career is for all intents and purposes over, and Demens is the new king of everything.

How did he do? I don't actually know yet, but if you take out the three Robinson runs (14, 8, 5) when Ezeh was in the game Robinson rushed for 116 yards on 28 carries, 4.2 per. That's not terrible and for the most part it was done without Mike Martin, who missed the entire second half and was not effective when he did play in the first.

Last I said I was rooting for an inexplicable personnel decision here and it looks like that's the case: Demens is considerably better than Ezeh. That's a nice boost for the rest of the season and the next couple years. If Demens was really Ezeh's equivalent or worse we'd be facing down MOTS or freshmen at MLB next year; instead it looks like we'll get the upperclass years of a decent recruit who's already an obvious upgrade.

Ezeh epilogue. I will remember him as that guy from Memento.

Khoury! The most encouraging part of the game was Michigan owning the Iowa DL despite playing most of the day without Molk and a chunk of it without Lewan. Michigan averaged 4.8 YPC on the ground despite not breaking a run longer than 15 yards, gave up just one sack, and saw its quarterbacks go 30/44.

The lack of long runs is a function of the Iowa gameplan, which left six-ish guys in the box most of the day and gave Michigan a numbers advantage, but Michigan took advantage of that against a massively hyped DL. They did it without their starting center. At this point they've established themselves one of the best units in the conference.

Tate! Hell of a relief appearance there, and more indication that keeping Forcier in the program is an important offseason task. Also: pretty sure they ran the midline option for their last touchdown.

Lewan sad face. It's a good thing that late false start was on Schilling; if it was on Lewan blood vessels would have burst all over Michigan Stadium. I don't have to remind you of the three crippling penalties that ended Michigan drives, because you were doing your very best not to unleash a torrent of boos at the kid.

On the upside, I hear that Clayborn did nothing when Lewan was in the game; if that proves true on tape you can ramp your Lewan==Long hype up to maximum.

Turnover damage metric. Tate's last desperate chuck on third and nineteen == 0. Not completing a pass in that situation is almost a turnover anyway.

Robinson's interception == 2. It was third and ten and he didn't have underneath options apparently; in that situation a deep INT is basically a punt. The problem was with how terrible the throw was. When the receiver can't even get over to tackle that's a problem.

Vincent Smith fumble, First Forcier interception == 8. Guh.

Hagerup. At least the punting issues have resolved themselves spectacularly. Hagerup averaged 50.3 yards a kick and yielded no return yards. Net punting is now above average. It's just everything else that's terrible.

Elsewhere

Photo I was looking for found at Mets Maize, which focused in on that same moment as the tale of the game. BWS recap is a little down on RR's playcalling with Denard in the game; I just see third and okay turned into third and long by Lewan penalties. With Denard, Michigan is a team on a schedule, like option teams. Getting off that schedule is very bad. I should dig out my old third down code after the year so we can see the big red bits from third and seven out.

Meanwhile, In Rod We Trust kicks off its post like I wanted to:

Something, something, realistic expectations, something, something, glass half-full, something something, more experience needed, something, something, witch hunt commence, something something, life goes on.  Something, something, not 2009.

While it could have ended there, it continues. Meanwhile in the News, John Niyo says "OMG 2009," something only a Penn State win will fix. The Ann Arbor News launches "moxie" to describe Forcier's day.

Michigan Exposures has a pregame gallery. Also game and postgame. The Ann Arbor Chronicle has an MMB photo gallery:

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BTN highlights:

Michigan-slanted ones:

Via BitP. Finally, Lloyd Brady is sad:

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Melanie Maxwell/AnnArbor.com

I hate it when he is sad, and not just because I feel the same way.