Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Michigan State

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Michigan State

Submitted by Brian on October 14th, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Substitution notes: Black got some more playing time this week, seeing passing downs. He also got an entire drive in the third quarter. It was MSU's last touchdown drive and he was a big reason it happened, unfortunately. The rest of the line was as normal, with Patterson sometimes spotting Martin and RVB a constant. Roh was more DE than LB this week and played most of the game; Fitzgerald had maybe half a dozen snaps. At linebacker it was Gordon, Ezeh, and Mouton the whole way.

In the secondary, Cullen Christian came in for Rogers when he went out with a cramp. After Christian gave up an easy long touchdown they replaced him with Talbott. Avery saw time in the nickel and dime packages.

Formation notes: A significant shift. After playing almost no four man fronts against Indiana they played mostly 4-4 against MSU. The defense looked a lot like last year's. Michigan went to a nickel package early, replacing Thomas Gordon with Avery, but later they just left Gordon out there.

MSU did this thing:

full-house

I called that "full house," FWIW. I'm pretty sure that's not right but whateva, I nomenclature how I want.

Show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-4 Run ? Zone stretch T. Gordon 4
Eight man front with a standard 4-3 even alignment for the LBs and Kovacs hanging out on the backside; MSU runs at Roh and Thomas Gordon. Some three guys sort of block RVB, getting slightly down the line and then popping a guy out on Ezeh. This leaves T. Gordon totally unblocked but he overruns the play(-1), allowing a cutback; Martin(+1) had avoided a cut and comes from behind to tackle as the RB crosses the LOS. They fall forward.
O24 2 6 Ace 3-wide Nickel Pass N/A Bubble screen Rogers 7
Avery in for Gordon as MSU goes three wide; Michigan shows man coverage and one-high with Avery tracking the WR across the field when he goes in motion. Rogers is focused on his man so does not see the play developing and sucks inside on the WR until he blocks Avery, at which point he chases down Martin but not before the first down. (RPS -1, Rogers -0.5)
O33 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-4 Run ? Power off tackle Roh 0
MSU pulls a TE across the formation to overload the short side. Dangerous as T. Gordon is going with the TE to that side in man coverage and he gets a block on Ezeh, effectively getting a 2 for 1. Roh(+2) takes on a block from the motioning TE and comes through it, grabbing the back at the LOS and tackling there; Mouton(+0.5) attacked the play and got his guy back far enough that there's no way for the RB to fall forward.
O33 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Out Floyd 14
Okay, so Kovacs doesn't quite get out in the flat fast enough to prevent this throw from being completed but with Floyd in a cover three behind it this should be five yards and a third and medium. Floyd(-2, cover -2) instead starts chasing inside against a TE he has no shot at and opens this up for an easy first down.
O47 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-4 Run ? Power off tackle Ezeh 3
Er. This is dangerously close to breaking through the line because Ezeh(-1) reads the play wrong and ends up running right into the last lead blocker; Mouton had hopped out to close off a gap further outside. Banks(+0.5) had managed to fight through his double and caused some linemen to fall; Ezeh gets pancaked but the hole's narrow enough that the RB trips over a mess of bodies. Video clipped for Ezeh complaint complainers.
50 2 7 Ace Base 4-4 Penalty ? False start ? -5
Oops
O45 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Mouton -1
Michigan blitzes right into the run play, sending Banks on a slant past the playside T and blitzing Mouton and Kovacs from the backside. Martin(+1) zips past the center and bumps the pulling G, knocking him back into the RB and allowing Mouton(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) to converge and tackle, though they do allow the RB to get two almost impossible yards. This is the kind of stuff our tailbacks have not done this year. (RPS +1)
O44 3 13 Shotgun trips bunch 3-2-6 dime Pass 4 Throwaway Martin Inc
Michigan aided by Cousins momentarily fumbling the snap. Michigan uses Roh as a blitzer up the middle on a stunt, which gets Martin(+1, pressure +1, RPS +1) around the C. He then makes the back miss and forces Cousins to scramble and throw the ball away. Black(+0.5) also drew a holding flag, though it was more poor play from the MSU OL than dominance. BWS picture paged this.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O28 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 PA TE seam C. Gordon 34
Plenty of time with the PA and a three man rush(pressure –2); Mouton(+1, cover +1) gets a really good drop that forces Cousins to toss a lob over his head and should set up a Cam Gordon INT or killshot; instead he takes a looping route too deep, allowing the TE to catch the ball just in front of Floyd. He hits Floyd, but Floyd(+0.5) does bang him to the ground, preventing a TD. Gordon gets -3. The coverage stays +1 since because of the good drop from Mouton this window was really tight and could have been nonexistent.
M38 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel Run ? PA power off tackle Martin 3 (Pen -10)
M shows man. MSU fakes a bubble and runs an off tackle power play from the shotgun. Martin(+1) shoots into the backfield as there's no one blocking him—guard pulls—and he doesn't buy the fake. He shoves the G and forces the RB outside of the intended hole. Roh(+1) sets up outside and would be in position to do something about the bounce but is thrown to the ground, drawing a holding call. This opens up the corner. Ezeh is out there--not sure if this is good play or good fortune that the intended hole is gone because he gets blasted pretty good. He does force the RB inside where Martin cleans up from behind.
M48 1 20 Ace trips TE Nickel Pass 6 Sack Van Bergen -12
MSU goes play action and Cousins sets up deep in the pocket; Van Bergen(+3) beats an offensive tackle and shoots straight up the middle of said pocket, sacking Cousins for a huge loss. (Pressure +2)
O40 2 32 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 6 Out Rogers Inc
PA rollout. Ezeh(+1) is in man coverage on the TE, I believe, and when Kovacs attacks upfield, drawing him inside, Ezeh attacks, forcing a quick throw (pressure +1). Rogers(+2, cover +2) is there to break it up.
O40 3 32 Shotgun 3-wide 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Slant Mouton 11
Dangerous pass from Cousins just in front of Roh but on the money. It's ten yards downfield, though, so BFD. Mouton(+1, tackling +1) delivers a big hit to finish it.
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-0, 14 min 2nd Q. What a quarter. I bet the rest of this game goes just as well.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O16 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-3 Run ? Zone stretch Ezeh 8 + 15 pen
Triple guh on a stick. Roh(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5) do a good job of stringing this out; Ezeh is fast enough to prevent the C from sealing him. He takes a hit and stays on his feet, flowing down into the hole Baker is about to hit. If he just runs parallel to the LOS he has the guy or he has him cutting back into Mouton; instead he takes an upfield angle and whiffs a tackle, but not before he yanks the facemask(-2, tackling -1). C. Gordon(-0.5, tackling -1) comes up for a killshot after four yards but doesn't wrap up; Baker bounces off. The delay is enough for Kovacs and Rogers to combine to tackle; Baker drags the pile four yards. Michigan has just failed to convert on a third and one because Vincent Smith couldn't drag one guy one yard, FWIW. The difference here is stark.
O39 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run ? Zone stretch Martin 61
Man, I don't know. Martin(-2) heads upfield, which allows MSU to easily scoop him and get a center out on Mouton unmolested. Mouton takes a shove from him, then another shove from a second OL who has messed up his assignment and is just pushing the nearest player. He gets shoved backwards and out of the play but this is not his fault at all. Banks(-3) is getting way too far upfield; on a stretch like this when you realize you are backside you flow down the LOS, disengaging from the OL and giving up ground if you have to so that on a cutback you are in position to make a tackle a few yards downfield. Banks does not do this, instead getting upfield and falling. Doom. Baker sees the unblocked guys on the frontside and slams it up in the hole Martin and Banks provided, and then he's gone. I guess I blame Gordon(-2) for not getting the cutback angle here but Baker got through a big hole immediately and is gone; he's not the main issue. (RPS –2; I'll explain later.)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 3-7, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O22 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run ? Power off tackle Van Bergen 3
MSU blocks down on RVB and tries to hit the gap by kicking out Roh and pulling the backside H-back around to pick off Gordon. RVB(+0.5) comes under a block and forces the back a little further outside, where T. Gordon(+0.5) has fended off the TE who was attempting to block down on no one and then peeled off on him, tackling as the back approaches the LOS.
O25 2 7 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Screen Floyd -3
Bell initially split out, then motions into the backfield. MSU runs a screen that JT Floyd(+2, tackling +1) reads and attacks, arriving as the ball does and tacking Bell down in the backfield. Martin(+0.5) was also there as he'd read it and flowed with the interior OL. (RPS +1, MSU was banking on man I think.)
O22 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Penalty ? False start ? -5
The false start on which Michigan sends the house and gets a dumpoff that Kovacs tackles on.
O17 3 15 Shotgun 3-wide 4-1-6 dime Pass 4 Slant Talbott 18
MSU throws a give-up-and-punt slant that MSU's Martin turns into a first down by cutting all the way across the field. I'm not sure who or what to blame. I guess Mouton(-1) gets too far downfield and allows the first cutback and then Talbott(-2) does the same thing but it's even more damaging because he's the outside guy and has to force Martin into his help. Once Martin goes around him upfield Kovacs is easy prey for blockers and Martin has room to pick up the first on the corner. Woo freshmen cornerbacks. (Tackling –2)
O35 1 10 Ace Base 4-4 Pass 7 PA Fly Rogers Inc
Receiver with a step but Rogers(+1, cover +1) is in pretty good position so this ball has to be perfect. It's not. Michigan sent so many because they were in man free and two guys stayed in; T. Gordon(+0.5) took a good run at Cousins and may have caused the long throw. (Pressure +1)
O35 2 10 Shotgun trips TE Base 4-4 Pass N/A Bubble screen C. Gordon 11 + 15 pen
Rogers(+0.5) attacks this quickly and gets walled off by the receiver but his reaction has pulled the blocker upfield and created a lane for Cam Gordon to flow and finish the play. Gordon(-1, tackling -1) whiffs the tackle, turning 3-4 yards into a first down; Rogers then gets a facemask penalty on top of everything.
M39 1 10 I-form Base 4-4 Run ? Yakety sax ? -2
Fumbled snap. MSU recovers.
M41 2 12 Ace 3-wide Nickel Run ? Inside zone Patterson 41
So on this play Fitzgerald is in for Roh at DE and Patterson in for Martin. RVB is between them. Patterson(-3) is completely obliterated, getting sealed and kicked down the line by a scoop block; Mouton is cut off by a guy who had an easy release at him. Ezeh is again shooting into the outside gap. He did that on the 61 yard run, the first snap of this drive, and on this. Alternatives: Ezeh is a total idiot who keeps doing something he's not supposed to do or this is the scheme because of man coverage. I know I called this clever when Martin was in but here you've got Adam Patterson, who is very liable to have this happen, in and it seems obvious that you should play this way more conservatively. RPS –3.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-14, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run ? Power off tackle Mouton 13
Banks(-1) blown out of the hole and does not require a double so a TE has an angle on Ezeh and blocks him. Kovacs and Mouton are on the edge and Mouton(-1) takes the wrong shoulder of his blocker; with Kovacs outside of him he needs to funnel the play to that guy instead of getting locked out of the play and giving MSU a crease. He's through into the secondary, bowling over guys for some YAC.
M46 1 10 Shotgun H-back Base 4-3 Run ? Counter off tackle Mouton 2
Counter step from the back then they run a power play off the right side of the line. Banks(+1) reads the guy blocking down on someone else and gets into a pulling G, forcing the play outside. This time Mouton+(0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) come on opposite sides of the lead blocker and give the RB nowhere to go, tackling him at the LOS.
M44 2 8 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Pass 4 TE flat Kovacs Inc
Three step drop pass to the TE in front of Kovacs in the flat; dropped. Probably turned up for five-ish if caught before Kovacs knocks him OOB.
M44 3 8 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass 4 Dumpoff Ezeh 5
First read is covered(+1) and then Black(+0.5) vaguely threatens Cousins, causing him to start moving around, at which point Martin is going to get to him so he has to dump it off to a covered(+1) RB. He's covered by Ezeh(-1, tackling -1) who misses a tackle at the LOS. Secondary converges to tackle short of the sticks, but the five yards given up allows MSU to go for it on fourth down.
M39 4 3 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Hitch Mouton 10
Mouton(-1, cover -1) gets too deep and opens up a quick hitch MSU takes. Kovacs was in the area but had to drop on the outside receiver.
M29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Hitch Kovacs 4
Hitch at the sidelines is open and complete. The receiver is taken OOB by the throw with Kovacs coming in to tackle. No +/- on four yard passes.
M25 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 7 Sack Martin -10
Martin(+2) blows through the center's attempted block and comes right up the middle just as Cousins tries a pump fake. Cousins has to roll out, at which point Roh(+2) comes around the tackle to sack. (Pressure +3)
M35 3 16 Shotgun empty 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Bubble screen Rogers 14
Michigan playing way off to get the stop so plenty of room. This gets dangerously close to the first down because Rogers(-1) let Martin outside of him; could have been a longer field goal if this was played better
Drive Notes: FG(38), 10-17, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Ace Base 4-4 Pass 6? PA TE cross Kovacs 15
Kovacs(+1, pressure +1) is blitzing off the edge to contain the QB and prevent play action from hitting deep. He does contain Cousins, forcing him to throw a looper off his back foot that's way high of the tight end. TE gets a hand on it and deflects it high enough for Keshawn Martin to catch the deflection on a ball that would have one-hopped to him. Rogers literally eight yards off of Martin as he catches it, but that was because of a cramp. Cullen Christian replaces him after the play.
O47 1 10 Full house 3-3-5 stack Run ? Counter off tackle Roh 6
This is an I-formation with another tailback next to the FB; probably not what this is actually called. MSU fakes an outside pitch and pulls a guard around to run a conventional power play. Martin gets a good push but is momentarily sealed away from the ball; guard gets a free release on Ezeh and blocks him, though Ezeh's in pretty decent position. T. Gordon(+0.5) comes up and hits the outside shoulder of the lead blocker, leaving the tailback for Roh, except Roh(-1) got suckered by the fake and went the wrong way around Ezeh. C. Gordon comes up to make another tackle, this one somewhat iffy.
M47 2 4 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run ? Zone stretch Ezeh 6
An aggressive RVB(-1) is cut to the ground on the backside, opening up a large cutback lane when nothing opens up on the frontside. This time Ezeh scrapes down the line gently and tackles the back. No plus since he's stationary and accepts a blow; he could have gotten more aggressive and held this down? I'm happy enough that he just makes a tackle, I guess.
M41 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Pass N/A Bubble screen T. Gordon 0
T. Gordon(+2) is the slot LB as Michigan shows zone. He gets out on the WR at the LOS, tackling(+1) for no gain.
M41 2 10 Full house Base 4-4 Pass 6 PA Fly Christian 41
Why the hell is Cullen Christian the guy in man coverage on a receiver running a fly route? Why isn't it Floyd? Christian(-3, cover –3, RPS -2) is smoked crispy as he bites on an out and up gives up the touchdown. Roh was about to hit Cousins but no matter.
Drive Notes: Touchdown,10-24, 12 min 3rd Q. For that matter, why is Christian in the game instead of Avery?
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O7 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-4 Run ? Zone stretch Black 11
Another cutback lane opened up by the backside DE not flowing down the line properly. Black(-2) is playside of his blocker but instead of heading along or slightly off the LOS he heads a yard into the backfield and can only wave an arm at Bell. A yard downfield and he's forcing a cutback all the way behind the backside tackle into an unblocked Kovacs. Floyd keeps contain and forces the tailback into Gordon(+0.5), who makes a good tackle(+1).
O18 1 10 I-form twins Base 4-4 Run   Zone stretch Martin 4
MSU tries to scoop Martin again; this time he does not get sealed by the guard and flows down the line; the C pops out on Ezeh and cuts him. Martin(+0.5) is fast enough to tackle(+1) after a few yards. Black(-0.5) was unable to get off a block to help.
O22 2 6 Ace trips TE Base 4-4 Run   Zone stretch Martin 4
Martin(+2) owns the center and is going to blow this up in the backfield when he's tackled from behind. No call. As a result there's a gap. Mouton(+1) stands up a guard and sheds him to the playside, forcing the back into Floyd, who makes a tackle but gives up a yard or two after contact.
O26 3 2 Ace twins Base 4-4 Run   Zone stretch Black 4
Michigan completely crushes the frontside of this play with RVB(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) getting playside of guys but Black(-2) is hurled to the ground on the backside, opening up yet another cutback lane. Mouton(+1) does a valiant job to shut it down but the RB has all the momentum and the pile falls forward.
O30 1 10 I-form unbalanced Base 4-4 Pass 4 PA throwaway Kovacs? Inc
First option covered(+1) with M in zone. Kovacs, Ezeh, Roh all +0.5 for good drops. The DL then drives through the OL and gets to Cousins somewhat quickly, causing a throwaway.
O30 2 10 Ace Base 4-4 Run   Zone stretch Kovacs 8
RVB(+1) slants into the play, blowing it up and forcing a cutback. Black(-1) is yet again blocked to the ground, leaving a cutback lane; Kovacs(-1) still has an opportunity to make a tackle(-1) at the LOS but misses it. Bell then runs through another tackle from Floyd(-0.5, tackling -1), turning four into eight.
O38 3 2 Ace Base 4-4 Run   Power off tackle Ezeh 11
Ezeh guh. This is supposed to go the TE side of the line, MSU brings the other TE in motion for use as an H-back but RVB(+1) stands up the OL and comes through as Bell approaches the line, forcing a cutback that's there because Martin(-1) got pushed out of the hole. Still, because Black(+0.5) slanted into the backside and occupied two blockers no one is blocking Ezeh(-2) at all, but instead of running through the window in the line and meeting Bell at the LOS he does the Ezeh sit-and-wonder. He's so slow here that not only does he not prevent a first down, he doesn't even touch Bell as he shoots through a tiny gap on a cutback, leaving C. Gordon to make a desperate tackle in a ton of space against a tailback who wasn't even delayed when he shot upfield.
O49 1 10 Wildcat Base 4-4 Pass N/A Reverse trickery C. Gordon 42
Cam Gordon(-3, cover -3) sucks up despite the fact they're pitching a reverse to THE QUARTERBACK. Floyd(+0.5) does manage to track the guy down.
M9 1 G I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Sagesse 2
Sagesse(+1) slants under the tackle and into the path of the play, absorbing a pulling blocker and still popping up in the hole. He causes a delay that Mouton(+0.5) picks through the wash to finish; Ezeh was also there but a step slower.
M7 2 G I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Banks 7
Banks(-2) obliterated in one on one blocking by the Spartan RT. Ezeh(-0.5) accepts a block from the TE and doesn't come close to shedding it. C. Gordon(-1, tackling -1) makes contact at the four and his tackle is run through as he tries to drag Caper down.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-31, 4 min 3rd Q. This is totally demoralizing and almost entirely the fault of Black and Gordon, two freshmen.
O18 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-4 Run   Zone stretch Martin -1
Hey, they adjust, probably after getting chewed out on the sideline. Martin(+1) slices through blockers and forces a cutback; T. Gordon(+1) also shot past a blocker and into a gap. Mouton(+0.5) and Banks(+0.5) have not been blocked into oblivion this time and converge to tackle.
O17 2 11 Full house 3-3-5 stack Run   Zone stretch Mouton? 2
No holes with Banks(+0.5) holding up to a double and Mouton(+0.5) slamming into the playside TE. No cutback available with RVB(+0.5) avoiding a cut and Roh hitting it up into the B gap; the play is strung all the way out to the sideline where Floyd boots the RB OOB.
O19 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 6 TE slant Kovacs 6
Replica of the play that Michigan got MSU off the field with except for a false start: M bring six, Cousins has to get rid of it, Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) allows the catch but tackles three yards short of the sticks. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-31, 1 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 PA throwaway Van Bergen Inc
Van Bergen(+1) isn't buying the run fake and is instead heading directly upfield at Cousins. When he turns around he's got DE in his face and chucks it away. Could be grounding but there are receivers vaguely in the area. (RPS +1, pressure +1)
O24 2 10 I-form twins 3-3-5 stack Run   Iso Mouton -1
Martin(+1) chucks past the center ridiculously fast and gets playside of a guard, driving into the play. Mouton(+2) defeats a block and shows up in the hole. Martin means no cutback and Mouton tackles with help from Kovacs and his man getting into the RB's legs.
O23 3 11 Shotgun trips 4-1-6 dime Pass   Drag Van Bergen 7
Michigan runs the same stunt they did earlier in the game with Roh attacking in the middle and Martin pulling around; this time Black is also rushing through the same gap and a bunch of feet get tangled and everyone falls. RVB(+1) is coming around the outside, though, and Cousins has to throw short because deep options are covered(+1); a dumpoff to Dell is tackled short by Avery and Talbott.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-31, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 I-form Base 4-4 Run   End around Mouton 15
Actually a great job by Kovacs(+1) to see the end-around fake coming and get upfield; he ends up taking both blockers out of the play. Mouton(-2) is running at the tailback and sees that he doesn't have the ball but for some reason steps inside and then comes up too fast, losing leverage and allowing Martin the gap that he hits. Gordon(-1) comes up and misses a tackle(-1); the secondary manages to stop it after another six yards.
O42 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Mouton 0
Michigan slanting away from the play so Banks gets shoved way down the line; Mouton(+2) is blitzing. He manages to slide under the attempted down block of the TE. He's into the backfield quickly enough to take on the inside shoulder of the second lead blocker and push him back into the RB's path. Mouton can't make the difficult tackle but the delay is substantial; Martin and Kovacs get him at the line.
O42 2 10 Full house 3-3-5 stack Run   Counter Ezeh? 8
Same play as earlier with the off tackle fake coupled with a counter coming underneath. T. Gordon(-1) is blitzing and takes off after the QB. I'm not sure what the LB responsibilities are but I think they're in man on their guys and Ezeh(-0.5) does not read the guy coming across the formation fast enough, getting blocked; Roh(-0.5) splits the minus because he's the LB to that side and is no faster despite not getting blocked. (RPS –1)
50 3 2 Ace Base 4-4 Run   Power off tackle Ezeh 3
They double Martin and neither guy gets out; RVB is the playside DT and gets blocked out of a small hole. Mouton, Roh, and Gordon are cutting off the frontside so there's just one hole to take. It is taken. Ezeh is there, meeting him after a yard… RB gets two more. This isn't exactly a bad play by anyone but this is the difference between a really good LB and a guy who's just a yard or two worse on a consistent basis. Michigan had this set up for a stop. They didn't get it.
M47 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-4 Pass 6 PA Corner C. Gordon 45
Motion drops Floyd back into a deep safety spot as C. Gordon comes up to the line. He and T. Gordon end up playing almost in the same spot because of? I don't know. I don't know what the coverage is supposed to be but it leaves a guy on a corner route wide open (cover -2). Could be Cam's fault or Terrance Talbott. Talbott(-1, tackling -1) whiffs a tackle to get this down to the two.
M2 1 G Goal line Goal line Run   Zone stretch Demens 1 (Pen -15)
RVB(+0.5) holds up to a double decently and is flowing down the line in the vicinity of the POA when the RB cuts up. Guy pops out on Ezeh, delaying him; Floyd is taking on the FB, so there's nowhere to go. Momentum and thudding power might get this into the endzone but Demens(+1) has come from his deep LB position in the goal line package, shooting through the gap between RVB and Campbell to tackle. Chop block brings it back anyway.
M17 1 G I-form big 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Waggle Kovacs Inc
Kovacs(+1) reads the TE leaking out into the flat—similar play to the Webb touchdown—and covers it(+1); Cousins comes off his primary read. Ezeh(+1, cover +1) is all over the other TE; Cousins throws it high and basically away. (Pressure -1)
M17 2 G Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run   Edge pitch Kovacs 2
Kovacs(+1) avoids a cut and gets into Cunningham, which allows Floyd to run up hard to the outside and forces a cutback. A chasing Banks(+0.5) and Ezeh converge.
M15 3 G Shotgun empty 3-2-6 dime Pass N/A Bubble screen Talbott 2
Give up and punt; Nichol actually at QB on this play for whatever reason. Talbott(+1) does a good job of stringing it out, FWIW.
Drive Notes: FG(34), 17-34. Final drive is after game is over and is not charted.

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Just look at the first quarter, man. Time ceased after that.

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Let's just get this over with, then? Chart?

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Chart?

Chartfffffuuuuuuu.

Chart.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 9.5 1 8.5 One impact sack, some additional pressure, solid against the run. Good player.
Martin 11.5 3 8.5 A good performance, but coming down from his ridiculous nonconference level.
Banks 3 6 -3 Didn't do well, pulled for Black, who did worse.
Sagesse 1 - 1 One good slant.
Patterson - 3 -3 Killed to bits on second long TD for MSU.
Black 1.5 5.5 -4 Pancaked multiple times on drive where he got most of his PT.
Campbell - - - One goal line play.
TOTAL 26.5 18.5 8 This week Roh was mostly DE so his +4.5 factors in here. Story: two good players and not a lot of help.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 2 6.5 -4.5 Sigh.
Mouton 11 5 6 At least he's turned it around.
Roh 6 1.5 4.5 Wasn't a liability in the run game against a pounding team.
Johnson - - - DNP. Has apparently lost out to…
T. Gordon 4 2.5 1.5 Doing fine for a freshman.
Leach - - - DNP
Moundros - - - DNP
Demens 1 - 1 Goal line only, again.
Herron - - - DNP
Fitzgerald - - - Did not get minus for long TD but I'm sure having him in couldn't have helped.
TOTAL 24 14.5 8.5 Actual LBs: Mouton good, Ezeh bad, Gordon neutral.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 2.5 3 -0.5 Not victimized.
Rogers 3.5 1.5 2 Theory about displacement: fail.
Kovacs 6.5 1 5.5 Such a weird player.
C. Gordon - 11.5 -11.5 Of course.
Talbott 1 3 -2 Martin third down conversion largely on him.
Christian - 3 -3 Crispy.
Avery - - - Didn't register. Yay?
Ray Vinopal - - - DNP
TOTAL 13.5 23 -9.5 Less grim than the Chappellbombing. Still grim.
Metrics
Pressure 11 5 6 Lot of max pro PA.
Coverage 10 11 -1 Big hits; underneath okay.
Tackling 6 13 -7 Very, very bad.
RPS 4 7 -3 Bad.

[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.]

So. That's a major falloff from the defensive line. RVB and Martin acquired above-average days and Roh was decent. The other guys combined for –9, which is really really bad. I think this bore out in the substitution pattern, too: Banks wasn't playing well so they tried out Black, who played worse, so they went back to Banks.

At linebacker, the usual. Thomas Gordon continues to impress by not doing anything particularly wrong. If Carvin Johnson was really good enough to beat him out before the season Michigan should be set at spur for a long time.

In the secondary, Kovacs is good, and the starting corners weren't a disaster. Everyone else… ugh.

Aaaargh GERG ffffuuuuuuu?

I don't know. I don't think I'll know at all this year. If you look at how Michigan State gashed Michigan the thing that jumps out is the shocking youth of the offenders. By touchdown drive:

  1. Ezeh takes bad angle on first play, tacks on facemask. On second play Martin and Banks fail; Cam Gordon turns large gain into touchdown.
  2. Talbott lets Martin outside of him on third and fifteen to give up a conversion. Cam misses a tackle on a bubble screen, robbing Michigan of an opportunity at third and medium. Patterson is destroyed on a 41-yard touchdown with a bizarre scheme that sees Ezeh fly out of the middle of the field.
  3. Fluke tipped completion, two six yard runs veterans are responsible for, Cullen Christian burned deep after Rogers goes out.
  4. Jibreel Black is a cutback-conceding machine on the drive he plays every snap of. Ezeh does his sit-and-wonder on a run of moderate length. Cam sucks up on the trick play. MSU finishes the drive by blowing up Banks and shedding another Gordon tackle.

Gordon was also responsible for taking a bad angle on the TE seam on MSU's second drive. That should have been an interception but he overreacted to his error from the Notre Dame game and played the angle too conservatively. We have one usual suspect in Ezeh. The other players largely responsible for the touchdowns are two freshman cornerbacks, a freshman defensive end, and redshirt freshman and position switch starter Cam Gordon. Oh, and Adam Patterson, a fifth year senior who's never played before this year.

I do wonder what the hell this was supposed to accomplish:

I know I called it "clever" in the picture pages when Martin was in but that's the same scheme with Adam Patterson in the game. I thought it was clever because it was relying on your best defensive player not to make a major error—Martin did that one time and Michigan got burned, okay. Doing it with Adam Patterson in the game is asking to get touchdown in your face, and Michigan got touchdown it its face. This was not Ezeh's fault. I watched him do this all day; he did it on the first touchdown, then went to the sideline and did it two more times on the next drive. If he had screwed something up they would have corrected it or benched him, right?

Michigan went away from this later but here's why you just tell Ezeh to do something and hope it works:

Maybe that's a cutback he's not expecting but good lord, find the gap in the line and hit it. Even if you're slow an arm tackle slows the guy down. For him to not even touch the tailback there is dangerous, as Gordon has to come up fast and almost misses a tackle with his dodgy technique. Here, and often in this game, RBs were untouched into the secondary, though, and when that happens your safety is under enormous pressure.

Something in the same vein:

Michigan has that stopped. They have a third and two and have forced the tailback to run through a tiny window filled with an unblocked middle linebacker, but Ezeh is hesitant like always and catches the tailback. He never hits anyone.

Demens any different?

I have no idea. Here's your sum total of Demens hope:

His job in the goal line package is to come from way deep and flow to the hole. This is of interest because look how WVU aligned their linebackers back in the day:

wvu-2007-inside-zone

That's way off the line. Michigan has not done this yet but it might be something to try since Demens has been doing that in the goal line package, and doing it well.

Other scheme complaints?

It was insane to put Cullen Christian on an island against BJ Cunningham in a one-receiver formation. JT Floyd was in overhang mode against a TE; why not put your non-true-freshman on the receiver?

So I'm not entirely happy with GERG. But I'm also not sure what the hell you're supposed to do when Rogers goes out and your five-man secondary reads freshman, freshman, freshman, sophomore, sophomore and your nickel and dime packages add in two more freshmen.

Didn't you just say you liked Cam Gordon?

Uh… yes. And then he was terrible against MSU. His shoulder-block style of tackling was something he got away with before he faced Michigan State but against MSU he was bouncing off ballcarriers because they were big and strong enough to take the blow. Then he would try to drag them to the ground, which only worked sometimes and always gave up YAC. He blew a chance to intercept that TE seam, or at least separate the guy from the ball. He took a very bad angle on the first touchdown and got burned on the trick play.

This is a guy who does not have confidence in his angles:

Too aggressive against Notre Dame, he was too conservative here; later he would get too aggressive again. This is what happens when you flop someone in spring practice and have him start at free safety. He has a long way to go. He was just as bad as Michigan's debacle at the spot last year, unfortunately, and while there are  good reasons for that the fact he's stuck at free safety when he's linebacker size and linebacker fast is just another symptom of the roster explosion.

Is anyone, you know, developing?

Ryan Van Bergen appears to be emerging into a player who makes an impact. He had a slow start but two weeks in a row he's been basically on par with Martin as Michigan's highest-scoring DL. If he can do something similar against Iowa it'll be time to ramp up expectations for him to fringe All Big Ten.

Also, Kovacs may have had his best game at Michigan. He's so reliable; on a day when Michigan couldn't find a tackle it didn't want to miss, Kovacs twice dragged down TEs in space to boot MSU off the field. Only one counted, unfortunately.

Heroes?

Martin, Van Bergen, and Mouton are all guys who would start on nine Big Ten defenses, and they're playing like it. Kovacs is the complete opposite of the rest of the team.

Goats?

Player retention, youth, the defensive end not named Roh (Banks and Black were collectively –7), Ezeh, the cornerback not named Floyd or Rogers (freshmen CBs collectively –5), and Cam Gordon.

What does it mean for Iowa and beyond?

Apparently that Kenny Demens is going to emerge from the boonies and try to tackle people instead of catch them. Keep telling yourself he's just a sophomore, try to ignore the redshirt bit or the Moundros dalliance, and tap your heels together. If Michigan can upgrade there they might have a chance to hold down the Iowa running game. Michigan State has somehow acquired the without-question best stable of tailbacks in the league; Iowa's Adam Robinson isn't bad but he's not the equivalent of Baker/Bell/Caper, and there's only one of him.

I'm not sure how meaningful Iowa's statistics are in this department. They had three games against totally overmatched opponents. A fourth against Penn State saw Iowa bash into the PSU line over and over because they correctly guessed that Robert Bolden was not going to score on the Iowa D. The fifth saw Iowa gaffe their way into a big hole and abandon the run game in the second half. But for the record, Iowa tailbacks had 17 carries for 35 yards against Arizona (which has a kickass run D) and 28 for 95 against Penn State (which has an okay run D). They could be sort of okay in this department.

That will likely mean Ricky Stanzi is called upon to rain fire on the Michigan secondary, which he will do with aplomb. The Rick Six is a thing of yesteryear, apparently. I have some vague hope that the MSU and Iowa passing games are about equivalent but the MSU run game is a lot better and Michigan can hold Iowa to like 24 points or something.

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs Michigan State

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs Michigan State

Submitted by Brian on October 13th, 2010 at 3:48 PM

Formation notes: nothing new.

Substitution notes: Hemingway, Stonum, and Odoms split outside reps pretty evenly until Odoms was injured. Stokes got a few snaps after that but it was mostly the two juniors. Shaw played some at the start and then his PT trailed off, likely because of the injury. Hopkins got one drive as the primary back, seeing two carries; he also got some time as the second back in a two-back set but did not see the ball. OL was the usual.

Zone read metric note: MSU defended the zone read simply, by having the backside DE keep contain all the time. Denard never kept it on the read, so I got bored and stopped tracking it, though I did give him a couple minuses more from irritation than anything else.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside power zone Smith 7
MSU DE keeping contain on Robinson(ZR+1) so the handoff is made. Michigan is doubling both DTs, with Dorrestein(+1) and Omameh(+1) driving the backside guy way downfield and providing Smith a cutback lane once Jones attempts to fill the hole created between the two DTs.
RUN+: Dorrestein, Omameh, Smith(+0.5) RUN-:
M32 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout out Roundtree 8
MSU in zone so the CB has to drop back with the outside receiver and Roundtree is wide open; Robinson reads it and hits it for an easy first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M40 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 8
This opens up wide as Dorrestein(+1) authoritatively kicks out the DE and the DT to that side of the field slants inside Omameh, but Robinson(-1) doesn't read it developing and ends up running almost straight into that guy instead of cutting outside in to a big hole that Smith(+1) has cleared with a thumping block on Gordon. If Robinson just runs right up this gaping hole he's one on one with a safety for six. Instead he almost falls trying to avoid the DT, manages to keep his feet, gets a second-effort block from Koger(+1), and still picks up decent yardage. Still minus because he gave up a ton with the bad read.
RUN+: Dorrestein, Smith, Koger RUN-: Robinson
M48 2 2 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run Inside power zone Smith 8
MSU keeping two deep safeties and inviting M to run here, so they do. Same play as last time and Michigan knows by alignment that the DE has to keep contain so they run the exact same play as the first on the drive, blasting the backside DT back with a double from Dorrestein and Omameh and having Smith cut back behind it before the backside DE can crash down.
RUN+: Omameh, Dorrestein, Smith(+0.5) RUN-:
O44 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 7
This is one block from a touchdown and that block is not even attempted. So: frontside scoop from Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) gets Omameh(+1) out on the second level, where he obliterates Gordon because he just does that in space. Smith and Shaw hit it up, with Shaw taking out the safety and clearing Robinson for endzone takeoff... except for Jones tackling from behind. I think this is on Lewan(-1), who did not release downfield in an attempt to block Jones, instead peeling off to block the backside DE. Schilling(+1) sealed the backside DT, too, in excellent fashion. This is beautifully blocked all around but for the screwup on Jones.
RUN+: Schilling, Molk, Omameh(2), Dorrestein RUN-: Lewan
O37 2 3 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 21
MSU doing a somewhat strange slant/stunt that sees the backside DT shoot outside as both linebackers attack the interior; Michigan handles this confidently. Lewan(+1) reacts to the stunting DT, kicking him out; Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) both get pieces of the linebackers, and Shaw(+2) makes a decisive cut behind Schilling to burst into the open field past the remaining linebackers, who cannot converge in time; a safety manages to make a lunging tackle to prevent six points.
RUN+: Lewan, Schilling, Molk, Shaw(2) RUN-:
O16 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 3
Unfortunate here as Molk controls and seals the playside DT; Lewan(-1) and Schilling are about to execute a perfect scoop on the backside DT and Jones when Lewan steps on Schilling, causing both to fall and forcing Shaw further inside, where Molk's guy does come off to tackle with help from the freed-up guys on the comical scoop.
RUN+: Molk RUN-: Lewan
O13 2 7 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside power zone Shaw 4
Less successful this time because Shaw can't cut back behind the double with Gordon waiting there. Shaw should just blast it upfield with the intent of meeting Jones four yards downfield, banking on his momentum plus Molk impacting him to have the pile fall forward for third and short. Instead he starts dancing a little bit and ends up getting hit by an unblocked Norman, who stops him for no YAC. Not a minus-worth offense but Hopkins probably gets six or so here.
RUN+: Omameh, Dorrestein RUN-: Shaw(-0.5)
O9 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Dig Roundtree Int
Yes, this is open with the DB trailing Roundtree by a good two steps. It's is thrown way behind him. Robinson pumps one way and then half-rolls left, pulling up to make the fatal throw. This has not been an issue so far this year and he's made a number of throws like this that have been right on the money. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 11 min 1st Q. Hard to believe this run game slows down given what they did here.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M10 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB off tackle Robinson 5
Omameh pulls as Lewan and Schilling block down on one DT. Schilling(+1) seals and crumbles him. Lewan trips getting out to the second level; Smith(-1) runs by first Norman and then the safety, blocking no one. Omameh(+1) does pop Norman, giving Robinson a hole between him and a good kickout from Webb(+1); Lewan recovers enough to get some push on Jones, allowing a crease for decent yardage and avoiding the dread minus.
RUN+: Schilling, Webb, Omameh RUN-: Smith
M15 2 5 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 13
This is the run I think Shaw takes to the house. Lewan(+1) kicks out the DE. Molk(+1) doesn't seal the playside DT but does kick him down the line, which allows a crease since the backside DT is again getting doubled; Schilling(+2) hits the second level and clubs Gordon to the ground, erasing him and delaying Jones. Smith(+1) bursts through the hole to the outside and is a step from setting sail because of a crappy fill from the safety but gets taken down by a desperation shoestring tackle. A step. A half step, and this is 85 yards gone.
RUN+: Schilling(2), Lewan, Molk, Omameh, Dorrestein, Smith RUN-:
M28 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA short seam Roundtree 15
Zone fake gets a step forward from Jones and opens up the quick seam to Roundtree. Robinson hits him in he hands; Roundtree catches it and attempts to juke the safety who is the last guy between him and a long touchdown. He can't jump through the desperate arm tackle. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 1
Norman either blitzes or just recognizes this immediately and is heading into the backfield; Smith attempts to cut him but fails. Robinson should still be able to cut it directly upfield for good yardage since Omameh(+1) has sealed and crushed his DE and Molk(+1) has reached the playside DT, leaving space, two linebackers, and Dorrestein that could result in somewhere between three and eight yards. He doesn't read it, though and tries to head outside where Norman keeps contain, jumping on Robinson's back for little gain.
RUN+: Omameh, Molk RUN-: Robinson, Smith
M44 2 9 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Roundtree 6
Linebacker in space does a good job of getting into Grady and cutting off the outside but that just holds the gain down with Roundtree running directly upfield. (CA , 3, screen)
50 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout hitch Hemingway 15
Wide open just past the sticks as it appears MSU is in cover three and Robinson takes the easy pitch and catch for the first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1) Good job by Hemingway to get considerable YAC.
O35 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone stretch Shaw 2
At first glance this seemed like Shaw being hesitant but on review he got the blocking exactly right. Playside DT slants and isn't sealed; Shaw initially looks for the cutback but Lewan(-1) doesn't attempt to cut the backside guy for some reason and does not get an effective block, At this point that DT comes underneath Molk; Shaw decides to pop outside, where there is now a gap. Omameh and Webb are there in space against a linebacker and filling safety; both go for the linebacker, leaving the safety to tackle at the LOS. I'm not sure who this is on, but Webb was behind Omameh and did not process his intent so he gets the minus.
RUN+: Shaw, Dorrestein RUN-: Webb, Lewan
O33 2 8 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 5
Quick snap catches MSU off guard; Omameh(+1) gets under and controls his guy; Molk(+1) gets out on Jones. Schilling only did okay with his guy, who fights under him to tackle a few yards downfield. Pile falls forward.
RUN+: Omameh, Molk RUN-:
O28 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout fly Stonum Inc
MSU sends both LBs up the middle and slides one safety into a cover-one. Michigan runs an out coupled with a fly route on the rollout away from the pressure; Denard has the easy out for the first down but he also has the fly for a touchdown. He picks the more ambitious route and overthrows Stonum badly. (IN, 0, protection 2/2, RPS +2)
O28 4 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout scramble Robinson 4
MSU LB rolled up on the LOS blitzes; they expected this. Smith(+1) cuts the hell out of the guy and Roundtree is open for the first but Robinson does not throw it, spooked by the blitzer. He's on the corner, then, with Jones running after him. He just gets the corner by a step and scrambles for the first. Uh... (SCR, N/A, protection 2/2) Also Smith gets a run plus.
O24 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA out Roundtree 4
A variation on the lead draw fake to the seam where Roundtree breaks it outside and the outside receiver goes deep. Robinson hits Roundtree in stride but he bobbles the ball momentarily, coming to a stop. This allows the chasing safety to tackle after a minimal gain. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O20 2 6 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Short bubble Roundtree 3
PA fake to the bubble but this is the one that goes straight upfield, hopefully the slot LB gets aggressive to the outside. Here Norman just shoves Grady back and sets up inside, convincing Roundtree he should try to cut it outside. This would work if Grady had actually blocked Norman, which he is in position to do now that he's fought inside. He doesn't so Norman can run him down. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN+: RUN-: Grady
O17 3 3 Shotgun 2H 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 0
Man, this is frustrating. Smith motions out again and absolutely no one goes with him. If Robinson just tosses him the ball this is possibly six, but that's not the call. Anyway: MSU shoots linebackers into the intended gap. Molk(+1) seals his guy; Omameh(+1) reads and reacts to the slant well enough. Webb kicks out a corner decently; Dorrestein(-2) runs right by two linebackers on an epic whiff, giving those two guys room to tackle at the LOS when a block is probably a first down and maybe lots more.
RUN+: Omameh, Molk RUN-: Dorrestein(2)
Drive Notes: FG(34), 3-0, 1 min 1st Q. Gahhhh. About five different plays on this drive could have been TDs if one more player had executed or Vincent Smith was fast. Getting three points out of these first two drives was doom.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O13 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 3
Robinson should pull with Koger coming out on the backside DE and the WLB sucking inside (ZR -1). Backside DT holds up much better this time against the double (Dorrestein -0.5, Omameh -0.5). Schilling and Molk(+1 each) seal the playside DT and make a mess that Jones can't get through so there's a crease; Omameh whiffs on the second level block, too, so that LB who should be containing Denard tackles. Michigan has not taken advantage of MSU's predictable scheme on the backside.
RUN+: Molk, Schilling RUN-: Robinson, Omameh, Dorrestein(-0.5)
O16 2 7 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA TE flat Koger 6
Instead of blocking the DE like Michigan usually does this time Koger releases into the flat. Open, and Robinson hits him. Koger turns up for decent yardage as he breaks a tackle and is pushed OOB. (CA, 3, protection N/A)
O22 3 1 Shotgun 2H 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 0
MSU walks a safety up. MSU slants past blockers, jamming up the play on the frontside. Omameh(-1) did not read the slant and let the playside DT in without helping Molk. Robinson(-1) is staring down a safety charging at him at a poor angle and should pull the ball but does not (ZR-1). Smith(-1) has no choice but to run to the backside of the play where the guy who's been contain previously is now just flowing down the line looking for him; he hits Norman with a head of steam and goes straight down because he's 160 pounds. This cries out for Hopkins, and this failure is a hidden reason Michigan lost. (RPS -2)
RUN+: RUN-: Robinson, Smith, Omameh
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-0, 12 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB off tackle Robinson 6
Webb(+1) blocks down and eliminates the playside DE. Schilling is pulling around but gets shoved back by the DT before Lewan can get a hat on him, which isn't anyone's fault. It does knock him off course and prevent him from blocking anyone, though. Hopkins(+1) is in and does a good job kicking out Norman, leaving Robinson in space with Jones; he makes him miss. Molk(+1) got a great cut on the WLB. Way on the backside Dorrestein(-1) does not cut or control the backside DE, who ends up tackling just as Robinson's about to head downfield. This was picture-paged.
RUN+: Webb, Molk, Robinson(2), Hopkins RUN-: Dorrestein
M46 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA out Roundtree 12
Same play as earlier, with the QB lead draw fake leading to the out. This time Roundtree does not bobble it and cuts right upfield for good yardage. Robinson got clocked on the throw as MSU slanted under Omameh(-1) and Molk, who was headed to the second level. Hopkins picked one off; the other nailed Robinson. (CA+, 3, protection 0/1, Omameh)
O42 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Belly Hopkins 7
This is our old friend the belly, which I used to call the zone veer and Brandon Minor made a living on. Schilling(+1) blocks down on the backside DT, kicking him down the line. Webb(+1) kicks out the contain guy on the LOS, who is crashing, and Lewan(+1) releases into the MLB. Hopkins slams it up, picking up two or three YAC.
O35 2 3 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA deep seam Roundtree Inc
Inside zone fake sucks up the safety and man free turns into cover zero. Grady runs a slant that sucks one guy up, Roundtree runs past a safety who's late reacting, and Denard throws before the contain guy can get to him. Throw hits Roundtree in the hands 25 yards downfield and will be an easy touchdown... dropped. (DO, 3, protection N/A, RPS +3)
O35 3 3 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 6
Pump fake and then go, with Robinson swiftly cutting outside when the hole opens up between Omameh(+1), who got a good block on the DT, and Dorrestein. Once in space the first down is academic.
RUN+: Robinson, Omameh RUN-:
O29 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Hopkins 6
I may be splitting hairs here but I think this is a different play since the backside tackle, Dorrestein, does not release downfield and instead tries to block the DE. He doesn't get sealed so Hopkins cuts behind the two guys and runs directly into an unblocked LB. Dorrestein releasing == belly. Doubling a DT == inside zone. I still think Denard should be pulling more often but will not ding him this time.
RUN+: Webb, Dorrestein RUN-:
O23 2 4 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA slant Grady 11
State blitzes the LBs and gets pressure. Schilling(-1) let his guy through; another guy comes through unblocked because of the blitz. Hopkins can't change direction fast enough after the fake to get a piece of him. Not his fault. With guys bearing down Robinson has to get rid of it immediately and nails Grady with a bullet he snags and takes for a first down. Excellent play all around. (DO, 2, protection 0/2, Schilling -1, team -1)
O12 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 0
Well defended by State but I think someone busted an assignment because M runs by the backside DE *and* the backside DT, so when Robinson cuts back that DT is right there to tackle. This is almost always the backside tackle's job so -1 Dorrestein. On the frontside, Lewan(-1) may be trying to turn his guy inside but lets him too far in and the DE shoots into Robinson's path, forcing the cutback that the DT swallows.
RUN+: RUN-: Dorrestein, Lewan
O12 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass TE counter flare Webb 12
New. Michigan does the half-roll away from the TE side; Webb sets up to block the blitzing LB to that side, then releases into the flat. Stonum has taken the corner to that side away from the play so Webb is wide open and can stroll into the endzone. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-7, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 1
MSU aggressively getting upfield here and Molk(-2) gets beat by the NT as Lewan barely gets a cut on the backside DT. Molk ends up three yards in the backfield and his man is still not sealed out of the hole. Smith tries to run up in the C-T gap anyway and gets dragged down by the guy who beat Molk; Dorrestein(-1) also couldn't kick out the DE and he helps tackle.
RUN+: RUN-: Molk(2), Dorrestein
M16 2 9 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Deep hitch Stonum Inc
M runs the same route combination we've seen work for them before in the ND game where they have an out and a hitch behind it. MSU shows two deep before the snap but is actually running three-deep so when the corner on the outside comes up on the out and Denard goes to the deeper hitch there's a safety coming over to defend it. The throw is good but the safety arrives with Stonum, breaking up the pass. (BR, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -1) Maybe the BR is harsh because his other options were pretty well covered hitches and maybe this had a chance; still threw it into coverage.
M16 3 9 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Scramble Robinson 1
MSU sends a delayed blitzer that Michigan does not pick up; Schilling ends up blocking air as this guy has a free run. Robinson is looking at covered guys and has to scramble once that blitzer gets in. He's about to break free in some space when a DL grabs him from behind. He runs through the tackle but trips shortly after. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, team)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-14, 3 min 2nd Q. I guess I will chart the last couple plays of the half, though they're weird.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Run QB draw Robinson 6
Opens up as MSU is expecting pass; Jones avoids a cut from Roundtree(-1) so Robinson has to set up a juke that allows the NT to come from behind and tackle.
RUN+: RUN-: Roundtree
M26 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Fly Odoms 54
Robinson looks one way then changes his target to the other side of the field and launches one to Odoms, who's got a couple steps on the defensive back. The pass is short but it's also in the air for 45 yards so it's hard to criticize; Odoms pulls up and makes a leaping grab with the DB's hand in his face, bringing it down. He's chopped down by the safety. (CA, 1, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(42, blocked), 17-10, EOH. Michigan let six seconds run off the clock before calling TO on the first play; could have had another play here.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 2
Contain; ZR+1. Smith(-1) misses his cut since the playside DT has fought through the attempted scoop attempt from Molk(-1) and Omameh(-1), who also missed a linebacker. Lewan(+1) had cut the backside DT and with Schilling shoving Jones a hard cut behind Molk finds daylight.
RUN+: Lewan RUN-: Molk, Omameh, Smith
M32 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 12
Omameh(+1) dominates the playside DT with a single block and Dorrestein(+1) kicks out the DE, leaving a big gap. Smith(+1) walls off Gordon and Robinson is through the gap; he's taken down from behind by a guy Shaw only got a weak shove on.
RUN+: Omameh, Dorrestein, Smith, Robinson RUN-:
M44 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout fly Hemingway 27
Robinson has to pull up with a DE getting out to contain; Michigan runs the out-fly combo and this time the safety is late getting over, allowing Hemingway the opportunity to make a leaping catch on a well-timed dart. (DO, 3, protection 1/1)
O29 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 16
Playside DE slants inside Lewan(-1), getting into the backfield; Hopkins(+1) has to use himself to get rid of the guy, which he does thumpingly. Robinson's now on the edge but Shaw is headed too far outside to deal with Gordon; Robinson WOOPs him, and then WOOPs a safety and Jones back to the outside, running through a desperate lunging tackle. The last DB chops him down as he nears the ten.
RUN+: Robinson(3), Hopkins RUN-: Lewan
O13 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run Broken play Robinson 1
Shaw does not come to the mesh point so Robinson takes off and gets what he can, which isn't much. Should have thrown the bubble but it's a broken play so whatever.
O12 2 9 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout hitch Odoms Inc
Michigan rolls away from blitzing linebackers and Odoms sits down in front of the zone on the interior; Robinson sees him and pulls up to zip it in for first and goal at the two… turfed. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O12 3 9 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Slant Hemingway Int
Robinson reads the coverage and does have window for Hemingway but again just throws it two steps behind his receiver, getting it picked off. (IN, 0, protection 0/2, Molk -2 for a chop block)
Drive Notes: Interception, 10-24, 10 min 3rd Q. And boom does not go the dynamite.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA slant Grady Inc
MSU has this well covered with Norman all over Grady's back. There is an opportunity to hit Grady for maybe five but Robinson throws it high. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M36 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Flare Shaw 7
Robinson is about to throw a slant to Odoms that MSU has covered as Michigan runs a snag concept but stops himself and then hits the wide open flare route. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M43 3 3 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson -3
MSU blitzing and slanting the DT M is running at, causing Molk(-1) and Schilling(-1) to end up blocking no one as three guys come right up the middle. Robinson can avoid one, but not two. (RPS -2)
RUN+: RUN-: Molk, Schilling
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-31, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Smith 9
Bubble screens on both sides with no linebacker covering Smith in the slot; MSU must be concerned with the draw. Smith has an easy nine yards. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
O32 2 1 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Smith 4
Blitz up the guy from MSU puts them in man so the safety is coming up hard and holds this identical play down. (CA, 3, screen)
O28 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Roundtree Inc
Too far in front of Roundtree. (IN, 0, screen)
O28 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout hitch Hemingway Inc
Hole in the zone has Hemingway catching the ball six yards downfield and probably picking up 3-4 YAC, except he drops it. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O28 3 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Stonum Inc
Tight window but Robinson throws it right on time, almost before Stonum turns around. This ball is a little in front of him but I'm not sure if that's on him or Stonum's route. Could be either. (MA, 2, protection 1/1) On replay, Stonum's pulling up a yard short of the ball and could easily be in the right spot. I think this is on the WR.
O28 4 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Deep hitch Grady 17
Four verts concept on which Grady sits down right behind the linebackers and Robinson throws a rope right in front of the safety. Grady gets nailed but hangs on. Good execution all around. Free blitzer meant Robinson had to get rid of it, too. (DO, 1, protection 1/2, team -1)
O11 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 7
Schilling and Omameh(+1 each) kick out the DTs, who appear to be thinking pass, and Molk(+1) gets a good second level block on Jones; Robinson hits it up and the safeties converge.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Schilling RUN-:
O4 2 3 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB power off tackle Robinson 4
Lewan and Schilling block down on the playside DT; Omameh pulls around and Hopkins is the other lead blocker. Webb kicks out the DE; everyone gets their block, and it's a touchdown.
RUN+: Webb, Hopkins, Omameh RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-31, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 3
An MSU stunt gets the DEs in and forces Robinson outside, where the delay takes him away from the downfield block of Molk and allows one of those DEs to tackle from behind. (RPS -1)
M23 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Scramble Robinson 8
MSU has a safety on the corner route and drops the corner back when Gordon gets over to cover the hitch so Robinson, who did get the edge thanks to some dogged blocking from Shaw, says screw it and takes off. (SCR, N/A, protection 1/1)
RUN+: Robinson, Shaw RUN-:
M31 1 10 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Post Grady Int
Depressingly similar to the Iowa INT last year, as a the corner covering Stonum's hitch at the sticks bails out to cover the deep post well before Robinson throws the ball. If Robinson reads this the throw to Stonum is a first down and lots of YAC, but instead he throws it deep. Grady has a step, two steps, on a safety who bit up on a hitch, but the ball is way too far outside and intercepted by the sinking corner. (IN, 0, protection 2/2) If this is thrown five yards further inside Grady has a great shot at a touchdown.
Drive Notes: Interception, 17-31, 12 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Sack ? -10
MSU sends a DT between the tackle and guard, occupying Dorrestein on a possible stunt, but just sends the DE outside anyway. Dorrestein pops out on him; Omameh ends up blocking air as the DT comes up the middle. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Omameh -2)
M19 2 20 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout bomb Roundtree Inc
Schiling(-2) pwned by Worthy and Robinson has to scramble out. He gets on the corner as a linebacker comes up and ends up chucking a back-foot punt that is actually to Roundtree, who's got a step on the last MSU defender. Ball hangs up but is fairly accurate. It's a little short but Roundtree's got a shot at it. He leaps and it clangs off his hands. (CA, 2, protection 0/2, Schilling -2)
M19 3 20 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Flare screen Shaw 11
MSU playing off so there's a lot of room once Roundtree(+1) shoves his block to the ground. (CA, 3, screen)
RUN+: Roundtree RUN-:
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-34, 6 min 4th Q. Lame.

We met a real defense and scored 17 points and our defense is tuberculosis in a uniform we're going to DIEEEEEE…

Aw, come on, you know Michigan left a ton of points on the field.

WE'RE GOING TO DIEEEEEEEEEE

It's not that bad, look at the—

CHAAAAAAART.

Chart. Hennechart:

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%

That success rate has to be wrong.

It's not wrong, it just doesn't weight passes based on how damaging the particular inaccurate ball is. Against MSU, Denard threw the following balls not to his receiver:

  • Endzone interception #1 on route Roundtree had two steps on. [Zero points]
  • Wide open Stonum on fly route about 20 yards downfield that's airmailed. [Three points]
  • Hitch to Odoms on second and nine from the 11 that would have been first and goal. [Zero points]
  • Endzone interception #2 on slant that Hemingway was open on. [Zero points]
  • Covered slant zinged over Grady [Zero points]
  • Bubble too far in front of Roundtree. [Seven points]
  • Other interception on route where Grady had plenty of room to the inside of the field but the ball was way, way too far outside, allowing sinking corner to react and intercept. [Zero points]

How big of a deal is it to throw a bubble screen a step in front of a receiver? One unit of big deal. How big of a deal is it to throw a makeable 20 yard touchdown over someone's head on third and three? Two, three units of big deal. How big of a deal is it to throw endzone interceptions when you have open receivers? Five units of big deal.

The reason the rate is the rate is because a bad pass is a bad pass; in reviewing a performance we're trying to strip out the emotion from the game and use it as a predictive measure. If Robinson had thrown those balls out of the endzone instead of behind the receivers Michigan would have had maybe seven more points but the QB play would have been equivalent.

So Robinson has been exposed?

Not enough data so you make big. The terrible horrible no good very bad off day against Michigan State is a data point, but so is this:

And this:

The numbers above speak for themselves—Robinson's overall accuracy was much better than he showed against Michigan State.

Did Michigan State have anything to do with this, then?

Not really. Robinson had open receivers on all of those throws except the Grady slant; that slant was the only throw on which he was pressured, as well.

He just missed.

So he's inaccurate?

Maybe? I pulled those clips above because that's what it's been like when Robinson throws those sorts of passes this year. Against Notre Dame his four downfield INs were:

  • an overthrown bomb on third and long,
  • a turfed hitch identical to the one he left short of Odoms Saturday,
  • a seam to Roundtree he threw accurately but on a line, allowing T'eo to knock it down, and
  • a seam on the next play that was well high as he tried to compensate.

Against Indiana it was three overthrown bombs and another hitch in the dirt. That and one overthrown out to Terrance Robinson against UMass were the sum total of his bad passes to date. He hadn't thrown many of the above zingers but he'd had at least a dozen, maybe two. The passes well behind players were unprecedented.

Robinson's early enough in his career that randomness plays a major factor in how his accuracy is perceived. The Michigan State game knocks expectations down several notches but they are still high; I'm willing to wager small amounts of money or pocket lint that MSU is Robinson's worst performance of the year.

Meanwhile, other--

CHARTDIEEEEEE

--chart. Receivers:

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Stonum 2 - 0/1 - 3 - 3/5 11/11
Odoms 1 1/1 - - 1 1/1 3/4 11/11
Hemingway 1 - - 3/4 3 - 2/2 7/9
Jackson - - - - - - - -
Roundtree 2 - 0/1 5/6 7 2/3 3/5 25/26
Grady 1 1/1 1/1 - 4 1/1 2/2 6/7
T. Robinson - - - - - 0/1 - 2/3
Gallon - - - - 1 - - 1/1
                 
Koger - - - 1/1 - - 1/2 4/4
Webb - - - 1/1 - - - 1/1
                 
Smith - - - 2/2 1 - 0/1 6/6
Shaw - - - 1/1 1 0/1 0/1 4/4
McColgan - - - - - - - 1/1
Hopkins - - - - - - - -
Toussaint - - - - - - - -

Robinson's disappointing day statistically was compounded by some errors by his receivers. Roundtree dropped a 30-yard touchdown, Hemingway an 8-ish yard hitch; Stonum and Roundtree did not come up with a couple coulda-had-its, one a long bomb on Michigan's last drive. He did get some help from Odoms and Roundtree, who both reeled in big gains in tough situations.

Protection metric: PROTECTION METRIC: 30/41, Omameh –3, Schilling –3, Molk –2, Team –3.

This number is much larger than most metrics to date, and it's not so good. 75% is pretty bleah, though before the final drive when Michigan was forced to pass it was 30/37, which is pretty decent. The suggestion is that Michigan's pass blocking is greatly aided by Denard's run threat and when that goes away so does a chunk of the assumed competence in the line.

And, finally, a running chart that is a step back but not off a cliff or anything:

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Huyge - - - DNP
Lewan 4 5 -1 Had some trouble.
Schilling 8 1 7 Excellent day.
Molk 9 4 5 Had a little trouble on stretches in the second half.
Omameh 12 3 9 The usual.
Barnum - - - DNP
Dorrestein 6 5.5 0.5 Fights guys to stalemates; could be vulnerable against Iowa.
Webb 6 1 5 The secret weapon.
Koger - 1 -1 Didn't play much.
TOTAL 45 20.5 23.5 Good, not great.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 8 4 4 Also left a lot of yards on the field on rushing plays.
Gardner - - - DNP
Forcier - - - DNP
Shaw 4 0.5 3.5 Injury limited, still seems like clearly the #1.
Smith 3.5 5.5 -2 Needs to make that 13-yarder 85.
Cox - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - DNP
Hopkins 3 - 3 Lot of beef back there to pair with Robinson.
McColgan - - - DNP
Jones - - - DNP
TOTAL 18.5 10 8 Line gave them some opportunities to bust big ones but they did not take them.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Stonum - - - .
Odoms - - - --
TRobinson - - - --
Roundtree 1 - -  
Grady - - - --
Gallon - - - --
Hemingway 1 - 1 --
TOTAL 1 - 1 Limited long runs so not really involved.
Metrics

This seems about right to me since Michigan averaged 5.2 YPC. In any other year people would be delirious that Michigan managed that against a non-pushover Big Ten team.

Why do you hate Vincent Smith? He's adorable and tough.

I don't hate Vincent Smith. It's weird being critical of running backs because at most other positions you can make obviously bad plays, like missing a block or a tackle or a throw. Other than fumbling and the occasional obvious missed cut, mistakes running the ball are rarely obvious. It's just that some guys are just guys. Barking Carnival described Texas's running backs as a "bunch of JAGs" a couple weeks back, and that popped into my head as the perfect way to describe a meh tailback. Smith is just a guy*. I can't think of a better example than this:

Carlos Brown? Touchdown. Shaw? Touchdown. Baker or Bell? Touchdown, possible touchdown. Minor? Good chance to rage through the tackle and possible touchdown.

Meanwhile, there was that third and one on which MSU did a decent job of stacking it up but Michigan had a running back hit at the LOS by a single linebacker and got zero yards. He doesn't fumble, he knows the plays, he's healthy… I can see why Michigan is using him. I just hope that they can get Shaw to 100% and get Hopkins on the field at least as much as Smith as the season goes on.

*(At least right now. I can't shake the impression I had from the tail end of last year when he seemed really quick and exciting. He could get a lot better next year as he gets back to 100%.)

Denard did not get a billion yards. I am confused. Why?

Michigan ran a lot of zone read and they defended it simply by having the DE keep contain. This was a major reason Michigan's early drives went right down the field:

Without a scrape exchange or something similar that gap is always going to be open, especially when you can get a double team on that tackle. Michigan was content to do that for a while and Denard was content to hand off; Michigan State was content to let Smith and Shaw run, especially later when Shaw exited.

I still don't like this. Michigan could have played a ton of games with the backside end since they knew how MSU wanted to defend the read. Here is the complaint about midline: where is midline? That DE is begging to get kicked out and MSU's DT's got crazy aggressive in response to the constant double teaming. Letting one of those guys go would have seen Robinson get an opportunity in lots of space. Want midline.

You want more things?

In general I'm dissatisfied with what seems like a tendency to have this cool new package in the first half that works and then when the defense adjusts Michigan doesn't have the next thing. In the second half Michigan tried some more of the double-the-DT thing on short yardage and got it blown up when MSU blitzed into it. They needed to have a different thing to go to in the second half before the defense even tried anything.

I should say that the RPS was 9-6 = +3, which is good, but Michigan spurned most of those positive chances with drops and misthrown balls. They ran out to a big lead in that category and then gave it back as the game progressed. Part of that was being so far behind and getting out of their gameplan, I guess, but that didn't really happen until late.

I do like that Michigan anticipated that MSU would have some answers for things they'd already run and changed it up. The PA fake where Denard fakes the iso and they throw a slant was changed into an out/fly combination that didn't have the big play potential but I assume the safeties for MSU were ready to deal with that.

Heroes?

The interior OL controlled the MSU DL for the most part, and Webb had a great day blocking.

Goats?

Denard, first and foremost and close to only.

What does it mean for Iowa and beyond?

I'm not that depressed; the overall impression I got from the game was that Michigan's offense set them up for many big plays and because of poor execution—unusually poor execution, unlike the defense—by one guy here, one guy there, and a lot of Robinson they couldn't take advantage. If Robinson throws those balls to his open receivers in the endzone Michigan is tied at 31 at the start of the fourth quarter and the game has an entirely different complexion. They didn't, but that doesn't mean they're headed to the bottom of the Big Ten scoring standings. I'm still confident this is going to be the best Michigan offense in a long time.

We'll see about Denard. I think he'll bounce back but there's a chance it was the early bits that were false. The preponderance of the evidence is still in favor of accuracy, however.

The interior OL seems like it's got a fighting chance against the Iowa DL. They stumbled a little bit in the second half but did not have much opportunity as Michigan got down and the clock got short. If Iowa is going to run the same vanilla scheme MSU did that could allow Michigan to option off Clayborn and maintain their run game. They had a good day in Iowa City last year and Michigan has upgraded probably a little bit more than Iowa did with returning starters and new players.

Picture Pages: The Total Lack Of Backside DE Pursuit

Picture Pages: The Total Lack Of Backside DE Pursuit

Submitted by Brian on October 12th, 2010 at 3:44 PM

What happened on the 60-yard touchdown? The opposite of the thing that MSU did to prevent a 60-yard touchdown. This is a zone stretch. Michigan State has just run a stretch that creased the line because of a poor pursuit angle from Obi Ezeh. They tacked on a 15-yard facemask and got the ball out from deep in their own territory.

On the next play they run the same play to the other side of the line. Setup: msu-zone-td-1

Michigan is a 4-4 front with the linebackers playing even. Kovacs is rolled up to the weak side. MSU was in a balanced ace twins formation but pulled the backside TE to be an H-back on an overloaded line. The snap:msu-zone-td-3

It's a zone stretch. By this point something bad and unusual has happened: MSU has successfully scooped Mike Martin. See Mouton right in front of the umpire? He's got the MSU C coming out on him. The backside guard has his helmet across martin and will get a cutback gap for his running back.

Note Kovacs above flowing down the line. He has to check on Cousins first, then flow down after the ballcarrier in case he tries to cut it all the way back. A moment later the handoff has yet to be made but we're at a critical point:msu-zone-td-4

Ezeh is headed to the front side of the play. Many people have criticized him on this play for not being around but this is his assignment. MSU has overloaded one side of the field and he is the outside force defender. This is hypothetically a great adjustment. The guard releasing downfield has no chance to block him and Gordon is hitting it up to absorb the TEs block. If Baker has to bounce Ezeh will be there unblocked.

Note two things: Martin is totally sealed now and this frame is just like a frame we saw on the last Picture Pages where the backside DE is about to disengage from his blocker and flow down the line for cutbacks. Here:backside-flow-3

Back to this play, on the next frame we see… wait, where the hell is Banks?msu-zone-td-5

Banks?

msu-zone-td-7

BANKS!?!?!?

Right now Banks should be directly between the two State linemen blocking no one downfield. Maybe he won't make a tackle. Maybe Martin getting sealed here makes this cutback a dangerous proposition either way. Maybe an excellent back like Baker breaks a tackle. But a the very least, 280 pounds of defensive end in a not-very-big hole slows Baker down significantly.

Instead of a 280 pound defensive end there is air:msu-zone-td-8

Note that poor Mouton has no chance here since he took a shove from the center who  got the scoop on Martin. Then the tackle who had no one to block because Michigan was shooting Ezeh outside decides he may as well block the one guy still in the area. Linebacker double team downfield and back running in to area equals death.

Cam Gordon comes up hard but is too far to the inside…msu-zone-td-9

…(and Banks is still at the LOS)…

msu-zone-td-10

…seeya, let's burn something.

[Video still en route.]

Object lessons:

  • NOT Ezeh's fault. He had an assignment. Would he have executed it? Eh… maybe. But he can't be blamed for following his assignment on a cutback run he had a frontside gap on.
  • Not Mouton's fault much, if at all. Martin made it hard on him by allowing the C something close to a free release and then the clever scheme Michigan ran got Michigan a free hitter to the frontside… and a doubled linebacker to the backside.
  • IME, this is 90% on Banks and Martin. Yes, Gordon came up too shallow and robbed himself of an angle but Baker's hard cutback wasn't impeded in the slightest and when someone shoots into the secondary like that to the backside of a play it's not surprising that the safety was caught off guard. If Gordon is more experienced here maybe he gets an angle and cuts this down to a 40 yard gain or something.

    But giving up that gap is on Martin, and not closing it down, or slowing it down, is on Banks. Banks's error is greater since he's not dealing with a double team and all he has to do is run away from his blocker into the gap. He doesn't have to beat anything. He just has to get in the way. Instead he falls on his butt because he does not get away from the LOS and gets caught up in the wash of Martin getting playside of his blocker.

  • The rest of it is Gordon. He's not that fast and took a poor angle. He was not going to be able to hold this down much but there's a big difference between 40 and 60 yards.
  • This is actually a clever scheme that takes advantage of Michigan's strengths and beats the blocking scheme. The shame of the play here is that its weak point so ruthlessly exploited is Mike Martin's gap. Mike Martin is Michigan's best defensive player and can almost always be relied upon to not do what we saw here. If Martin does what he usually does, Ezeh has a shot at a TFL on Baker as he tries to bounce it outside Roh. If fifth-year-senior Banks does not get caught up in the wash from Martin's attempt to rectify his error, Baker gets a decent run that probably comes up short of first down yardage. Neither of these things happened and Cam Gordon was subjected to tremendous pressure he did not roll double sixes on.
  • Man it would have been nice to be in two-high here. Kovacs coming downhill at this holds it down, too.

Picture Pages: Backside DE Pursuit

Picture Pages: Backside DE Pursuit

Submitted by Brian on October 12th, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Over the past five years I've watched a lot of football plays over and over until I understood them (or threw my hands up and asked the peanut gallery). The play I've seen more than any other in that time is the zone stretch. DeBord ran almost literally nothing else, and it was the most common play in the RR offense's first two years. Though Michigan's gone away from it with Denard, boy do I have the zone stretch down.

This is not a zone stretch. It's a power off tackle QB run where the nearside guard pulls (AKA "down g") and the guys on the outside block down. But it does demonstrate a key element of defending outside runs of any variety where cutbacks are possibly lethal.

It's the first play of Michigan's fourth drive of the day. MSU has just scored a 61-yard touchdown on a zone stretch cutback that we'll address later. It's first and ten; Michigan comes out in a three-wide package with Stephen Hopkins as the back. The first shot is a little early; Robinson drops back so Hopkins is at stretch depth.

The key guy here is somewhat unusual given the play: the backside DE. He's to the top of the screen: backside-flow-1

On the snap Michigan sends Robinson to the strong side of the formation:

backside-flow-2

Key bits in the frame above: Webb and Lewan are blocking down on the playside DE and DT as Schilling pulls around. Hopkins is sprinting out as a lead blocker, leaving Schilling and Hopkins taking on the two playside LBs; Molk has to cut the WLB.

In the next frame Molk has gotten out on the WLB. Schilling has gotten shoved back by that playside DT, which we can't see yet but will in the next frame. The backside DE has read the direction of the play and is in the process of releasing from Dorrestein:

backside-flow-3

Molk chops the WLB. He's dead. Webb has crushed the playside DE inside. There's major gap. Problem: Robinson has basically caught Schilling already because of the shove from the DT:

backside-flow-4

…he's now a yard in front of Denard and not moving forward. This is the equivalent of being behind Denard.

Meanwhile, the backside DE has totally disengaged from Dorrestein by giving ground and is taking a pursuit angle slightly downfield. Dorrestein is caught up in the wash closer to the LOS, demonstrating why you give ground in pursuit. You can watch him get slightly further and further from the LOS as he flows down the line:

backside-flow-5

In the next frame Hopkins gets a good block on the OLB. Schilling is now a yard behind Robinson and useless, leaving a one-on-one matchup between Denard and Greg Jones:

backside-flow-6

WOOP!

backside-flow-7

Robinson jukes past the over-pursuing Jones. He has room to do this because the playside DT is off the screen upfield and the playside DE is still trying to get off Webb's excellent block. He is one step from cutting back outside and turning on the afterburners when…

backside-flow-8

The backside defensive end, now four yards off the LOS and running his ass off, makes a desperation lunge. Robinson trips and the gain is held down to seven yards.

[No video yet since I'm still converting.]

Object lessons:

  • Denard: pretty good at running. The vaunted Jones looked like Ezeh here.
  • Backside DE pursuit is important. It goes like this: diagnose run play headed away from you. Get playside of your blocker by releasing from him and flowing down the line of scrimmage at an angle that takes you about three yards downfield by the time you hit the point of attack. Hope someone funnels the ballcarrier to you and tackle.

    Without the backside DE doing this correctly, Denard has 15, 20, maybe 60 yards.

  • Why no cut from Dorrestein? In frames two and three it seems obvious that Dorrestein can get an easy cut block on the DE, eliminating him. Instead he tries to flow down the line with him, gets caught up in the wash, and loses the guy who eventually makes the tackle. I'm sure he's coached to do this, but I can't understand why the play doesn't call for an easy cut block on this guy. Even one step of delay and Robinson is off.
  • Webb is a major component of the run game. He's got a fairly easy block since MSU is intent on the inside zone and the belly and whatnot so the backside guys are attempting to slant into the gaps inside of the blockers. Even so he drives the DE way, way inside and holds that block long enough for Robinson to make up for the shove that eliminated Schilling from the play.
  • This play is a counter to the inside zone. I stole my thunder on this one in the last bullet but to reiterate: Michigan was running a ton of inside zone on which the backside DE was contain and the backside DT was blasted off the ball by double teams. MSU made an adjustment on Michigan's previous drive—the three and out on which Smith was stuffed on an inside zone on third and one—and Michigan comes out on their next play with this. They get the playside linemen blocked way out of the play and the WLB cut; they should have two lead blockers for Robinson against two guys but for the shove on Schilling. Even though they lose one of the lead blockers the linemen have been bludgeoned out of the play to the extent that Robinson can juke Jones to the inside and still pick up a good gain.
  • Hopkins pops guys. This is not a surprise since he's 230 pounds of near-fullback, but Stephen Hopkins has displayed superior blocking ability in his brief cameos. He gets in people and shoves them back; Smith and to a lesser extent Shaw get in the way of people and hope it's enough. I want more Hopkins. He makes Denard better and provides a thunderous counter to all that dilithium.
  • This was the story of the first half. This is one of maybe a dozen plays on which one player fails to execute and costs Michigan a touchdown. Here it was Dorrestein and somewhat Schilling; Robinson made up for one of them but not the other. Other times it was Lewan or Robinson or Roundtree or Grady. I think this was just one of those days. So far I've seen mostly domination from the offensive line. I wonder what changes in a rougher second half.

Unverified Voracity Roots For Staee

Unverified Voracity Roots For Staee

Submitted by Brian on October 12th, 2010 at 11:49 AM

SON OF A. I should have read this message board post before I posted the game column. Here's some car vandalism from the weekend that would have been a perfect insert:

staee-vandalism

This is what happens when you drop your vandalism major.

Thanks, Les. The Les Miles misery machine managed to bump Michigan below the fold in TWIS…

…so thanks for that. The Michigan section is devoid of anything like dong-punching, but only thanks to this guy and his rageohol:

This is not me. I was in the stadium one row behind an adorable child. I swear it.

Penn State implosion explanation, implications. How did Illinois run for almost 300 yards against Penn State's normally tough defense? It was the second string D:

DIDN'T PLAY

  • Linebacker Gerald Hodges: Missed his fourth game with a hairline fracture but has begun running.
  • Defensive end Jack Crawford: Foot injury, spent game on crutches on the sideline, might need surgery, Paterno said.
  • Linebacker Mike Mauti: Missed game with a high ankle sprain.
  • Linebacker Bani Gbadyu: Knee injury.
  • [Ed: these two are my additions.] Defensive end Sean Stanley: suspended for violations of team rules.
  • Cornerback Derrick Thomas: suspended for violations of team rules.

LEFT GAME

  • Defensive end Eric Latimore: Sustained wrist injury on first play, could be out for an extended period.
  • Defensive back Nick Sukay: Possible torn pectoral muscle, also could be out for a while.
  • Defensive end Pete Massaro: Treated for dehydration symptoms and played with an injured left quadriceps.
  • Defensive back Andrew Dailey: Sustained possible stinger on helmet-to-helmet hit in second half.
  • Defensive tackle Jordan Hill: Aggravated previous ankle injury.

That's eleven guys from the two-deep, all of whom have seen significant playing time. Michigan plays Penn State in three weeks. It sounds like Sukay, Latimore, and Crawford will definitely be out. Mauti and Hodges could be out, too, and who knows what's with Stanley and Thomas. If it's serious enough for them to miss two games it's 50-50 they'll miss four.

While that sucks for PSU that opens the ever-widening window of opportunity Michigan has in Happy Valley. That will be a critical game for Rich Rodriguez unless Michigan pulls off the upset against Iowa, in which case it will only be a very important game.

The vault. MGoVideo has put a bunch of old newsreels from the 50s and 60s on the tubes. I linked one on the sidebar yesterday that didn't end so well. None of them actually end that well, though, since they're reels from the 50s, when Michigan was no good. The best I can do is a 6-2-1 Michigan keeping the Brown Jug in 1949:

Other hat-laden newsreels covering:

  • The 1951 Minnesota game, a 54-27 win over a turrible Gopher team.
  • Football yearbooks in 1957 (5-3-1, losses to very good MSU and OSU teams), 1958 (2-6-1 bler), 1959 (4-5), and 1965 (4-6).

Newsreels only covered mediocre to terrible Michigan teams, evidently.

While we're idling in the 40s and 50s, a reader sent along this 1947 Time article on Crisler's Mad Magicians that sounds strikingly similar to what's going on around these parts sixty years later:

Michigan's 1947 Wolverines are a good bet to be the second team in Michigan's history to play in Pasadena's Tournament of Roses. They have been rated the nation's best. They are as unlike Fielding ("Hurry-Up") Yost's old-time Michigan teams as modern design can make them. There are no roughcast iron men on Michigan's 1947 squad. It is a collection of chrome-plated, hand-tooled specialists. Some never get a chance to make a tackle, others never throw a block. Usually none stays in a game long enough to work up as much sweat as the radio announcer, who tries to keep track of them as they trot on & off.

Michigan's shrewd Coach Fritz Crisler has taken advantage of the unlimited substitution rule. In the first four games of the season, Crisler's team used everyone but the water boy, and averaged 55 points a game.

The way they did it was something to behold. Lacking brawn, they have to be nimble. And jack-nimble is what they are —and as well-drilled as the Rockettes.

And if they had sports talk radio back then someone would call in to grouse about how this team is soft and doesn't compare to what all they had in dickety-two when Michigan beat back the Kaiser and called it a day. It's crazy that Crisler invented platooning—that anyone had to say "hey, now, maybe I should get people off the field from time to time." Also he said this:

"Confound it, if you want to be sensational, bounce the ball, turn a somersault, then pick it up and run."

This is exactly what Rodriguez says to Mike Cox.

Also, things were slightly more relaxed in 1947 when it came to everything. 24 year-old star Robert Chappius is described as such:

At the Phi Delt house, where he is president for the second year, he is a sharp bridge player and a whizz at cribbage. His card sense helps augment his G.I. allotment and the $50 a month he gets from his dad, who is an executive in a Toledo, O., porcelain-products company. On the practice field, Chappuis is very "coachable," which is exceptional in a senior. Chappuis learns easily, just as he does in the classroom, where he makes a C-plus average seemingly without ever opening a book.

Gambling! C+ averages despite never opening books! Coachable despite being a senior! In 1947 anything short of stabbing a man was good, and even that might be okay if the guy seemed German.

Iowa injury bits. Starting MLB Jeff Tarpinian is questionable. He played a little bit early in the Penn State game but left with an assortment of stingers, sending senior Troy Johnson into the lineup. Johnson got a "minor" concussion and was replaced by freshman James Morris.

So who is it this week? The Hawkeye depth chart lists Johnson first and Morris second—no Tarpinian. Everyone else save the battered tailback corps, now Adam Robinson and some freshmen, should be ready to go.

Firin' talk moratorium notification. This was inevitably going to happen after the first loss and it has happened so a note to emailers and whoever else: I'm not going to speculate on whether or not Rodriguez should or will be fired when there are six important data points coming up in the next month and a half.

Etc.: MGoUser tomcat sits next to TX LB recruit Kellen Jones on his flight home from Houston, reports back that he's a nice guy serious about academics. More MSU postgame from Dreaded Judgment and Genuinely Sarcastic; the latter is seriously overheated. I'm not sure what the Hoover Street Rag is talking about in theirs.

Monday Player Presser Notes 10-11-10

Monday Player Presser Notes 10-11-10

Submitted by Tim on October 11th, 2010 at 5:42 PM

Kelvin Grady

Dropped passes: "We were frustrated, but it happens. Unfortunately it happened in a pretty big ballgame." They'll catch some extra balls this week, and avoid it happening again. "There's nothing that happened on Saturday that's not fixable." Even the best players drop the ball sometimes.

The offense has high expectations for each week, and had more mistakes Saturday than they've probably had for the rest of the year. "We had to make some changes, and unfortunately some of those changes didn't work."

Denard was poised, but got caught in a couple situations he's not used to being in. He spoke up in the locker room after the game, and got a message across to the whole team. Said that the team had to work to avoid feeling that way again. "In his eyes, you could just see it. He's hungry."

Iowa's a great team with a great defense. "We've gotta be ready for it and we are."

"We're 5-1, not 1-5. Even though we lost to a pretty good Michigan State team in a rivalry, we've gotta move on."

"Sometimes when you're winning and everything's going perfect, we don't see the things we need to work on."

Patrick Omameh

"I feel like we were doing pretty well early in the game, and they switched up some looks on us." Michigan adjusted, but wasn't able to execute as well. Being unable to get the pass game going hurt as well. "If we executed the way that we should have, it would have been more favorable on our side."

Team had grown accustomed to 500 yards of offense every week. They learned they can't just expect it, they have to work for it.

The team should respond well coming off a loss. "It's going to be something to grow from."

Iowa defense - "They have a talented front four. They have a talented defense overall." Big, strong guys on the front. "They're a sound defense. They won't throw a lot of different things at you, but they're really good at what they do."

Denard "was clearly upset after the game. We all were." He told the team that it's going to be unacceptable for them to play that poorly again.

Greg Banks

Resolve going into this week's game. "It's a learning experience." They'll recuperate and go into the week with the same focus as last week.

"Losing is losing. Every game for us is a big game." Trying to prove that they can accomplish their goals despite setbacks.

Leaders - seniors all have to step up. "There's some things I could have done better myself."

It was hard coming in as a young guy, the freshmen this year will get it soon enough. "You just gotta bring them up to speed. The game's gonna go how the game goes." Seniors need to help keep them up to speed on the field. Off the field, they lead by example in the weight room, etc.

"We have the players to defend anybody that we play. It just comes down to execution and keeping a clear focus."

"We aren't blind to the fact that we have some glaring weaknesses, but we're working hard to get on those."

Ryan Van Bergen

"We just didn't play gap-sound football" against the run. Guys were trying to make plays in the wrong gaps.

Hard for the young guys to come in without seniors to teach them the ropes in the secondary. "I think that as they grow, the defense is gonna get better and better." That improvement can happen from week-to-week. Once a couple different guys "click," the defense should be good.

In the locker room after the game, Coach Rod said that one loss can't deter the team from their goals. There's a lot of season left. "We still have a lot of opportunities to prove ourselves as a good team."

Fewer injuries than last year, losing Molk was a big deal. The losses started snowballing. This year, the seniors have made the underclassmen understand that there can't be a letdown.

Molk and Schilling, Roundtree, Denard are offensive leaders. All three D linemen, Jonas and Obi "try their best." And Craig. J.T. Floyd and Jordan Kovacs are the leaders at DB.

"I'm very confident in the gameplan." They knew what Michigan State was going to run, and that's what made it so disappointing, because they knew what was coming. "We were prepared for it all week, and unfortunately we just didn't get it done when it came time."

Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 10-11-10

Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 10-11-10

Submitted by Tim on October 11th, 2010 at 3:33 PM

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

IMG_7907.JPG

Injuries

Mike Martin and David Molk sprained ankles [Ed: PANIC!!!!], but both both should be fine [Ed: Cease PANIC]. Martavious Odoms broke his foot, no word on how long he's out other than "extended." James Rogers's injury against MSU was just cramps.

Carvin Johnson was a bit physically limited this past week, and his knee brace has been a hindrance. He'll be a bit better this week. "I don't know when he can take that brace off - I'm sure he wants to take it off today - but the trainers and doctors will determine that.

Shaw was still a little less than 100% against MSU. He should be 100% this week.

Toussaint - Won't be able to play this week. Rotator cuff injury, doesn't need surgery but does need rest. "I don't think it's mental at all. It's just bad luck." Reminds him of Brandon Minor.

MSU

Teaching Moments - "Probably we have a lot more teaching moments than I'd like, for sure, out of that ballgame." Team was just off in execution. State had something to do with that, but some were their own mistakes. D - "Our young guys are gonna make mistakes, but we've gotta get better fundamentally." Need to remember fundamentals, not just game prep, etc.

Didn't think there were more designed handoffs than there were earlier in the year. "They were playing us a certain way in the beginning, so there were probably more runs for the backs."

Dropped passes, a couple missed reads from Denard. Can't do that against a good opponent. More dropped passes in that game than there probably was the rest of the season.

Did MSU try new things to confuse Denard? "No. Not that I've seen and that we saw on film."

MSU D - "They've got good players; they played well. They moved their front some and they brought their safeties down. I thought they tackled pretty well and broke on the ball well."

Great support at the University, friends, family, colleagues. "Everybody wants the same thing here," and nobody's happy with a loss. "We lost to Michigan State, what, you wanna hang me off the building now? I mean, there might be a few people who want to do that, but that's the same people that probably wanted to do that after the first five games too, they just weren't saying it publicly."

After Denard's picks, RR talked to him about what he saw, and he got on the phone to coach Magee - but they do that on good plays as well.

"We didn't execute as well. They had something to do with that and we had something to do with that as well." Moving the ball on the ground.

Team

Mixing up defensive personnel - "In the secondary, our only change is more freshmen playing... ready or not, here they are." Mike Jones would have played a lot at linebacker if he wasn't out for the season. "We'll see what happens this week in practice" as far as personnel changes at linebacker - need more production.

Denard very competitive, may have been pressing too much. "This is his first year as a starter... in all reality, he should be a redshirt freshman but he he had to play some last year. We're not going to panic." He's made tremendous strides from last year, and he'll be even better in the next couple years.

Younger guys typically aren't team leaders, but Denard is one still. "I'm not overly concerned with guys taking charge in the locker room and all that." Only need to worry about weak leadership when effort and focus wane, which hasn't been an issue.

Cullen Christian, Courtney Avery, and Terrence Talbott would be redshirting if there were enough numbers: "No question." They've been forced into duty this year and are growing up. "To play this many true freshmen on defense at this level, it doesn't happen very often."

"Some of the issues we have aren't gonna get solved overnight. We've just gotta minimize them the best we can, so we can still win ballgames."

Talent issues on D - "We're not as talented maybe as we'd like to be or we're gonna be." It's not just about recruiting, but also development - 4-5 true freshmen in the secondary, plus Carvin Johnson, Jibreel Black. They haven't had a chance to be developed yet. "Our development part with them and development of them in the weight room, and the development of them learning the system in college football and everything that goes on with that" can't happen until spring.

Team is resolved after a loss - their focus has been good, they'll be resilient and move forward instead of dwelling. Sometimes younger guys can move on quicker. No new leaders develop after a loss like this. "I'm not too much worried about that. I'm worried about them fixing what we need to fix and executing better."

"We've gotta be able to be patient." Don't want to press too much if they aren't having immediate success on offense. Need to remember to take care of the ball and make better decisions. "You've gotta be more decisive in your execution, and not try to force things."

Talks with defensive coaches about schemes, and a bit of fundamentals. "I'm obviously a lot more involved with the offense." Doesn't want to get spread too thin with all three phases of the ball. The coaches are frustrated that they aren't making the progress they want, but there are little signs of improvement.

Scheme has been simplified as much as possible to help the young guys. "If you're too simple, they'll find a way to go against you." You have to be more multiple. Iowa is one of the few teams that's able to beat you using mostly one defensive scheme.

Recruiting

Recruiting class to develop needs "We feel that's going really well." Particularly on defense: "This recruiting class will help us get those numbers... to that end." There's another 9-10-11 spots in the recruiting class, looking at positions where they're lacking depth.

Recruiting - Last couple classes were negatively impacted by drama around the program, but the coaches did a great job. "There's a lot of negative recruiting that goes on - and we've got a great thing to sell - but you've still got to fight it and our coaches have done a good job."

Doesn't want his coaches to fight fire with fire in negative recruiting "I'd rather just sell all the good things we have here." Will compare things like schemes, but doesn't talk negatively about other institutions. "It's not as bad in our league, in the Big Ten, than it is in other leagues."

"Sometimes you have a guy that comes into your program and he's on scholarship and maybe he didn't turn out to be as good or able to play at the level you want, but he does everything else right. You're not gonna boot him off your team for that reason."

Iowa, Etc.

Iowa has a veteran D, they have had two weeks to get ready for M. They're a great defense. "Their front four is as good as anybody's in the country." They'll occasionally blitz, but they don't need to in order to get pressure.

"Big physical team, Stanzi's an experienced guy, they've got some really explosive wide receivers. They're very good, and I think they're a top ten team in the country."

"We've got two really good tight ends in Webb and Koger. They're experienced guys." They've been playing well. "Their toughest challenge [blocking] comes this week" against Adrian Clayborn and the rest of Iowa's front.

In addition to game prep, the bye week will be used a lot to work fundamentals, particularly with young guys. This will be a normal week of game prep for Iowa.

Will watch film of last year's game against Iowa. Iowa has had two weeks to prepare though, and gotten a head start on preparation.

Will Iowa's run game mean more 4-man fronts? "We've got the ability to do that. We've done that a bit in every game." The key is to still be able to get off blocks, no matter how many linemen you have.

Boom, Tila Tequila'd

Boom, Tila Tequila'd

Submitted by Brian on October 11th, 2010 at 12:06 PM

10/11/2010 – Michigan 17, Michigan State 34 – 5-1, 1-1 Big Ten

jt-floyd-msu

This just popped into my head in the same way a chorus of angels singing hosannas delivered calculus to Newton: they were probably Juggalos.

There were two of them, and they were walking south down the train tracks just east of the stadium as Michigan State bled the final minutes off the clock. I was in the midst of a stream of mostly Michigan folk who'd had enough—my breaking point was the running into the kicker penalty—moving east with the intent of hitting State Street and parts beyond after following the pathway between the field hockey stadium and football's practice field.

I don't remember much in the way of Juggalo-identifying characteristics except the hats. They were those oversized baseball caps with an enormous, off-center Old English D surrounded by graphic frippery I'm pretty sure designers call "grunge." They were carefully placed on the head, maybe 15 degrees from straight. This has been scientifically determined to be the angle that communicates maximum defiance.

The hats, man. These were the hat equivalent of chrome skulls, because apparently the best way to destroy your credit rating is to buy a bunch of chrome skulls. Maybe this is an urban legend but it's too good not to be true: men in a tall building somewhere have determined that credit card purchases of chrome skulls are inevitably followed by default, and will cease lending money to people who make them. If defiant hat angles left a paper trail these guys wouldn't have been able to get a loan in Zimbabwe.

The rest of it was just a way of confirming the hats. These were guys who had thought to themselves "wait, how do fuckin' magnets work?" They may have been blazed out of their minds at the time but no one can tell the difference any more. The reader will be utterly unsurprised to find out that as these guys approached the intersection with the Michigan fans one of them shouted "who's the little brother now?"

juggalo-riderz

You. Still you. Always you.

Someone in front of me who was either a really pissed off 6'5" guy with a beard or the living manifestation of my id got into it with them. I get why. I mean, you're an adult with a family and a dishwasher. You've never thrown a rock at Tila Tequila. And these guys—who almost certainly didn't even go to the game because they couldn't afford it given the hats, the time and the direction they're walking*—start talking shit to you.

After the path to State Street intersects the tracks it jogs right to give the football field room. So there is this stream of slowly-moving Michigan fans including me and id guy separated from the Juggalos by just a few feet and a fence. For what was probably only a minute but seemed like forever, then, I'm listening to the back and forth between these guys. It's the usual—id guy is repeatedly asked where he went to school until he defiantly points in the direction of campus and says "here," then says his major is "FINANCIAL MATHEMATICS!!!" when pressed.

That was Saturday: financial mathematicians screaming at Juggalos, and the Juggalos winning. The State meathead directly behind me literally said "bitch! fuck you!" whenever MSU tackled Denard Robinson for less than five yards. On Friday, Tim came back to his apartment to find a trail of blood leading to a passed-out State meathead who'd broken in. The same guys who clumsily spray-painted a bedsheet in 2008 to declare their glorious victory over the worst Michigan team in 50 years reprised their genius. As I walked home every glassy-eyed Stiffler that passed me upped the amplitude of my anger/depression cocktail. Jesus, they were everywhere. They came to Ann Arbor cocky and stupid and left cocky and stupid. Enduring it was brutal. In their eyes, that was probably the point.

That's why Mike Hart's comment cut to the quick so much that three years later it's still the first, last, and only thing on the Juggalo mind. If coaching doesn't work out, Hart should start a consulting agency that visits bitter people on their deathbeds and devises things to say that just stick, nagging, sitting on your shoulder and telling you that's really not okay.

As for the current Michigan program, they took a grim step back against Stiffler U and are now poised on the edge of the same cliff no one knew they were falling from until the Illinois game last year. It is really hard to step back and say "it's just one game" after that travesty at Michigan Stadium, both inside and out, but long experience has taught me that gritting your teeth and just getting on with it is better than screaming the name of your major to the world at large.

*(The tracks are mostly fenced and anyone walking down them at that point is coming from well north of the stadium.)

Non-bullets

This guy. I'm about to double this guy's yearly traffic but oh well—this is exactly what I am talking about in blog post form:

And FUCK ROBINSON because it was more than him, Michigan State BEAT THE SHIT out of Michigan across the board, offense, defense, special teams, YOU NAME IT. WE BEAT THE YELLOW BELLY ASS UP AND DOWN THE FIELD.

I feel bad for the MSU fans I know, all fine people who don't own SHAGGY 2 DOPE jerseys, and the guys at The Only Colors but Christ, man. Normal-ish MSU fans were outnumbered ten to one.

Forgotten kindness. I meant to mention this in the aftermath of the Notre Dame game but it slipped my mind until the events of the weekend made me wish I was on the road in South Bend instead of at home against Michigan State: ND fans really are the nicest in the country. There are always Those Guys. In South Bend we had one in the row in front of us a few seats over who kept looking back at us and doing the usual dumbass fan taunting routine. The ND fans around us made fun of him for it. ND spawns the kind of pathology that makes ND Nation the most unintentionally entertaining message board on the internet but the vast majority of the fanbase are just nice people sad about their team.

With Weis gone, I'm not rooting against them in an active way until they're threatening for BCS bowls.

Also something I've forgotten to mention a lot. Drum major David Hines, Jr., probably has the best pregame back bend I've ever seen, and since I remember when the drum majors went from taking off the hat only for big games to doing it all the time, that's probably an all-time record.

This was always going to happen. People complaining about the defense, and there are many: WTF, are you surprised? Are you? Did you sit down at the beginning of the season and look over the post-Woolfolk secondary depth chart and think to yourself "boy, this looks like an average unit we've got right here?" This was already always going to happen last year, when the Decimated Defense Diaries and a simple count of available upperclassmen would have revealed that there was a giant gaping dropoff from the legitimate first-stringers Michigan had at maybe 8 or 9 positions to the second string. Then Donovan Warren, Justin Turner, and Troy Woolfolk departed Michigan's thinnest position. This was entirely predictable:

Plugging the enormous hole at safety would be great, but even if you make the reasonable assumption that Gordon/Kovacs/Robinson is going to be way better than Williams/Kovacs, the massive downgrade at corner means you're probably just treading water. Treading horrible, polluted, razor-blade-filled, despair-laden water.

The defense is off from hopeful expectations in that post but the reason is obvious. The depth chart is what it is.

The doom. I never thought Denard Robinson's problem throwing the ball would be a refusal to take off and run after the timer in the head expires. On all three interceptions he should have just run after he sat in the pocket for two or three beats. The second one was just death—pump-fake, hesitation, slant on the goal line? Guh. I think we all expected Denard would have some issues throwing the ball but three huge mistakes in one game is fatal unless you're going up against a team making those mistakes back at you. Michigan gained 263 yards in a half and had ten points from it.

FWIW, Touch The Banner suggests Denard's first two interceptions were just poor throws against man coverage. I haven't had the benefit of replay yet.

The frustration. The game's killer sequence occurred when Jordan Kovacs tackled an MSU TE three yards short on third and ten only for MSU to catch a break on a false start. On the ensuing third and fifteen Michigan couldn't tackle Keshawn Martin after he caught like a five-yard hitch and they converted. The ensuing touchdown drive was the distance that put Michigan in desperation mode. That's a ferret-puncher right there. Makes you want to go find a ferret, and punch it.

Also you can add many drops, a hopeless MSU pass getting deflected to a receiver, and another missed field goal.

Punt? I know you're down seventeen and it looks grim but a comeback isn't totally out of the realm of possibility… until you punt with like seven minutes on the clock. Apparently Rodriguez owned up to that as a mistake afterwards.

Long runs. I'm going to have a lot of fun figuring out the basic off-tackle runs that Michigan State hit for touchdowns. I'm just hoping Ezeh was not involved so that someone else can come in for the tsking. I do know that on the second one the right side of the line was Patterson and JB Fitzgerald at DE, which got run directly at and did about as well as you would expect. That one's probably on the DL at least somewhat. I'm sure Cam is at fault, too, because I said I like him and he would be important and that he was really good at filling on run plays. This is how the world works.

Cam also had an opportunity to undercut a receiver and intercept a long pass that he did not take; I believe that drive was the one on which MSU ended up in third and thirty-two, so it didn't end up mattering much.

The usual Vincent Smith complaining and counter-complaining and etc. You probably don't want Smith ever getting another third and one carry whether you're on Team Smith or Team Whoever Else. I couldn't believe Michigan 1) went with another inside zone to a back who almost never gets one yard after contact, let alone yards, and 2) didn't get it. Hopkins may have fumbling problems but at some point Michigan's fail on third and one is just as damaging.

Also, the difference between Smith and Shaw was painfully apparent and relevant on a run during one of Michigan's early drives when he broke into the open field with nothing between him and the endzone and got tackled by a linebacker coming from the inside. Shaw probably scores there; Michigan got a field goal on that drive IIRC.

Silver lining. Hey, Penn State looks winnable!

Elsewhere

Torrent if you hate yourself. Pregame and in-game shots from Michigan Exposures:

ricardo-miller-banner

In Rod We Trust with the default "everything is FINE do not PANIC" post. Postgame pressers from Robinson, Van Bergen, Roundtree, and Rodriguez. Parachute landing video:

Unverified Voracity Says Meet Perry

Unverified Voracity Says Meet Perry

Submitted by Brian on October 7th, 2010 at 3:55 PM

Podcast jonez. If you have it, I did talk to a couple of guys at The Only Colors about the game this weekend. It was their first go-round so be nice.

Boiler Tacopants. Meet Purdue's new mascot: perrycolor

Boiled Sports says it's just temporary, but we know better.

Just so you stop sending it. Yes, this is badass:

Hacker infiltration ends D.C. online voting trial

Last week, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics opened a new Internet-based voting system for a weeklong test period, inviting computer experts from all corners to prod its vulnerabilities in the spirit of "give it your best shot." Well, the hackers gave it their best shot -- and midday Friday, the trial period was suspended, with the board citing "usability issues brought to our attention."

Here's one of those issues: After casting a vote, according to test observers, the Web site played "Hail to the Victors" -- the University of Michigan fight song.

"The integrity of the system had been violated," said Paul Stenbjorn, the board's chief technology officer.

I'd sell a t-shirt that said "MICHIGAN INTEGRITY VIOLATIONS" but I'd get sued so I won't. J. Alex Halderman is the professor who unleashed hell on DC voting machines and explains his devious students' accomplishment:

The problem, which geeks classify as a “shell-injection vulnerability,” has to do with the ballot upload procedure. When a voter follows the instructions and uploads a completed ballot as a PDF file, the server saves it as a temporary file and encrypts it using a command-line tool called GnuPG.

For a UFR-level breakdown follow the link. Also that guy runs Drupal.

Onside kicking: no more defense ever. It says something about the state of the defense that there's a serious board thread, an extensive post at Denard for Heisman, and two emails in the inbox all wondering about whether Michigan should go nuts with the onside kicks. The blog post covers the math:

In the NFL, onside kicks are successful about 26% of the time.  When the onside kick is expected, the kicking team recovers the football only 20% of the time.  When the onside kick is considered a “surprise,” the kicking team historically has recovered the football 60% of the time.

The average NFL team needs to be successful at onside kicks 42% of the time for the strategy to work in a team’s favor.

Michigan wouldn't have to reach that level of success for it to be a break even strategy for the same reason that going for it on fourth down becomes a better and better idea the better your offense is. So… yes, I think Michigan should go for the surprise onside kick on a regular basis, around once every ten possessions. I also think zero coaches would actually do this in real life.

Michigan's kickers have enough to work on without onside stuff, anyway.

Yet another reassuring "one of these years is not like the others" post. This one is from the Mathlete and points out Michigan's statistically-adjusted improvement on offense from 2009 to 2010:

Based on the sets of numbers, Michigan initially has been 7 to 11 points per game better than year’s offensive unit. This represents a very high level of play.

The defense? Ask again later once we figure out whether or not Indiana's offense is actually good or not. Hey, you know what would be awesome? Winning this Saturday and killing this conversation forevermore.

Denard talking. You like it.

(Via Boyz.)

Hey, awesome. The Ohio State analogue of Hail To The Victors has been ridiculously sued by OSU:

The university accuses Maple Street Press Buckeye Battle Cry of a series of copyright infringements. It has sent the company a letter demanding that print and online copies of the publication be pulled by Wednesday.

"This product was not properly licensed by the university, and they are competing with our game-day program," said OSU spokesman Jim Lynch. … The lawsuit alleges trademark infringement, unfair competition and "passing off," or an attempt to mislead consumers that the magazine is being published by the university.

A preseason magazine that has no information about the current season is competing with a game-day program and OSU is suing because… they use the word "Buckeye" in the title? Copyright law as currently wielded by large organizations is pure evil.

Etc.: Stuffing The Passer is awesome. Brabbs celebrates one year of domination by unleashing a shirt commemorating the Washington kick. Off Tackle Empire scouts Greg Jones, concludes he is not actually eleven people. Daily slideshow on the M-MSU rivalry over the years.