Picture Pages: UMass Counter Reconsideration

Picture Pages: UMass Counter Reconsideration

Submitted by Brian on September 23rd, 2010 at 5:09 PM

Normally in these posts I've noticed something or understood something or am trying to explain something. No so much on this one. I grabbed this because it's a play where it seems like four different things could go right or wrong to turn it into a better or worse play than it ended up being, which is a five-yard run on first and ten.

It's the beginning of UMass's first drive of the second half; Michigan has just put up three touchdowns in four minutes of game time to surge into an 11-point lead. UMass starts off in an Ace formation with twin WRs to one side of the formation and twin TEs to the other. Banks and Kovacs are to the top of the screen, RVB and Gordon to the bottom:

ezeh-nt-right-1

At the snap the tailback starts running to the left side of the line. Martin gets under the center and starts pushing him back. Michigan linebackers start stepping to the playside, and Kovacs starts burrowing into the line:

 ezeh-nt-right-2

A moment later the action has continued but the tailback has started coming back to the right. The move left was a feint; this is a counter. It's pulled the Michigan linebackers to the right:

ezeh-nt-right-3

A couple things on the above frame: it certainly looks like Martin is in a position to tackle in the A gap if the play ends up there, and he has gotten into a position where he is useful. But: I +1ed him on this play I shouldn't have since the defense is trying to seal him to one side and has. I don't think this is a negative play since he hasn't gotten blown off the line or anything, but it's not a win for the D.

The confusing thing about the linebacker play to me is if Martin is going to go to one side when the play starts it would make sense for the MLB to immediately go the other. This is "making the nose tackle right" if the nose can cut off that gap, which it certainly looks like Martin has.

HOWEVA, in the UFR comments, Steve Sharik made a point I hadn't ever thought of: when you pull linemen you are putting more blockers in a gap than there are defenders if everyone just takes a gap. So it makes some sense that Michigan LBs were in a read-and-react mode against UConn, which was pulling linemen all over the place. ND also makes heavy use of pulls, and frankly I'd be surprised if Michigan bothered to change their gameplan for UMass. The Minutemen did their share of pulling, anway. So it's more complicated than that. If Ezeh hammered it up behind Martin on this play and the opponents were pulling around into Martin's gap they would find a lot of space.

By the next frame the tailback has taken the handoff and the defense realizes it's a counter. Banks and Kovacs are engaged in a shoving match with the OL on the right side of the line that is going nowhere, which is usually a +0.5 in my book. It won't be here, as we'll see.

Mouton and Ezeh are free, though Ezeh is about to get a guy peeling off Martin:

ezeh-nt-right-4

Mouton sitting in that gap dissuades the RB from trying to hit it up; a step later he's still moving outside as the center attempts to get out on Ezeh:

ezeh-nt-right-5

Ezeh gets his face across the blocker and Martin is fighting through his guy; no place to go (except maybe cut behind Martin for a big gainer, but RVB seems like he'll shut that down):

ezeh-nt-right-6

A moment later this is obvious. Mouton is nearing the second TE, giving M three defenders on three blockers and Floyd ready to handle a bounce:

ezeh-nt-right-7

Here is some confusion. The RB fakes outside…

ezeh-nt-right-8

…which causes Mouton to hop outside the TE and surprises Floyd; Kovacs has finally yielded to the physics of his leetle body, giving the tailback a crease:

ezeh-nt-right-9

Kovacs and Floyd close the crease down, but it's six yards:

ezeh-nt-right-10

Video; watch how the tailback's little juke outside gives him the crease:

I misidentified this play as an inside zone, which it kind of is but that does not take into account the counter action. These are the things I think about it after some consideration:

  • I should not have given Martin a plus nor Ezeh a minus. Both plays are fine. Ezeh did react in time to get across the center and Martin cut off his gap, then fought back through his blocker in time to help close down the play's intended hole. But Martin did not force a cutback—that was the play design—and didn't help on the tackle.
  • On a later edition of this same play Banks should have been minused for flowing down the line too hard and opening up space for the tailback, but I still think Ezeh is slow to read and react, thus allowing him to be "blocked" by a center who's falling to the ground because of Martin's violent burst into the guard; I'd rather run the D like Martin is going to able to slant into the gap he wants against most teams and watch the cutbacks. Kovacs's ability to pursue hard when he has a gap to one side of Mouton to fill, then redirect and make a tackle when the RB cuts inside of Mouton is impressively aware.
  • This was the story of Banks's day: I'm not doing much but I'm not going backwards either.
  • Kovacs is small and this hurt him here as he tried to stand up to blockers, but really if it takes this long for help to arrive it's not his fault.
  • Mouton and Floyd are confused when it comes to edge play; here it seems like Mouton should make sure he bounces the RB to Floyd and instead he hops outside, creating a gap that the RB can use. If he bounces it to Floyd he should be able to tackle; if Floyd expects that Mouton will funnel it inside he should be able to tackle. Neither happens. More of this deficiency can be seen in the earlier Mouton picture pages and the easy touchdown UMass scored when Floyd let the RB outside.
  • I think I would prefer a chancier scheme that said "aww, the hell with it" and blasted linebackers into open gaps once they read run. If Michigan's going to get ground like they did attempting to play read and react—a lot of should-be-zero-yard runs like this one turned into four or six—they're going to give up a lot of drives like we saw Saturday. Getting those zero- and negative-yard plays on early downs seems more likely to get the defense off the field. This will put more pressure on the safeties when this doesn't work out, but they seem like good tacklers and guys who take good angles.

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs UMass

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs UMass

Submitted by Brian on September 23rd, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Formation notes: Nothing unusual from Michigan. UMass did not appear to do any substitution, staying in a 4-3 the entire game. They did occasionally shift their front to a 3-4, for what it's worth. This was usually what M went up against, with the standup DE sometimes up, sometimes down:

umass-4-3

Substitution notes: The only major change is the one you've already heard plenty about: Taylor Lewan came in on the second series of the first half at left tackle and played the remainder of the game. Shaw and Smith again got all the RB snaps. Junior Hemingway came back and rotated in regularly; you could consider him a co-starter with Odoms and Stonum if you want. The slots were the same rotation between Roundtree, Grady, and Robinson.

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M34 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 1
Correct handoff with two guys watching Robinson. Schilling(-1) and Omameh(-1) both get beaten by their OL, forcing Smith outside and allowing UMass time to shuck blocks; he's eventually run down by three guys. (ZR+1)
RUN+ RUN- Schilling, Omameh
M35 2 9 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Pass Skinny post Roundtree Inc
Linebackers bite without so much as a run fake and the OL locks out four rushers, giving Robinson a ton of time to throw. He stares down Roundtree, allowing one safety to come underneath his pass as he tosses it. He deflects the ball and the other guy, badly beaten by Roundtree, picks it off. This is exactly what happened on the pass Te'o broke up against ND: Roundtree is open for a TD but Robinson throws it on a line, allowing an underneath defender to bat it. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-3, 9 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M7 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 9
Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) crush the playside DT backwards so far the MLB gets caught in the wash; Shaw gets a meh but good enough block on the SLB and Robinson has a crease he takes for near first down yardage.
RUN+ Molk, Omameh, Robinson RUN-
M16 2 1 ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 5
We're watching OSU beat up Ohio. Thanks, BTN, I hate you. It was a short completion to Roundtree for the first. Guess: (CA, 3, protection 1/1) It's taken off the board with an illegal substitution penalty.
M21 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Shaw 6
UMass shifts the line and uses the slot LB to the field side as a blitzer; correct handoff with the weakside LB scrape exchanging with the blitzer. Molk(+1), Schilling(+1), and Omameh(+1) completely destroy the NT and the single MLB, opening up a ton of room for a potential big gainer; Shaw does not perceive the backside guy and heads upfield before cutting out into the space, which gives the blitzer an angle to tackle from behind. He does get upfield quickly and drag the tackler, FWIW. (ZR+1)
RUN+ Molk, Omameh, Schilling RUN-
M27 2 4 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Pass Yakety OMG Roundtree 73 (pen -5)
Get to this play late, too. This is Michigan's double screen play; Robinson fumbles the snap, then improvises, chucking it deep to Roundtree, who got open behind everyone just as he gets crushed; Roundtree jets for the endzone. It comes back for two separate penalties: not getting set before the play and Schilling ending up a few yards downfield. I thought you got some leeway with the latter, not that it matters. Uh... (CA+, 3, protection NA)
M22 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA circle TRob Inc + 15 pen
Half-roll after the zone fake and Robinson wings it too high for TRob on a pass that would have gained maybe five and then gotten him blown up. He still gets blown up and UMass gets a penalty for going helmet to helmet against a defenseless receiver. From the stands this looked pretty bad, FWIW. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)
M37 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA slant Odoms 16
Zone read fake and then a bubble fake and then Michigan hits the slant behind it; UConn in tight man so Odoms has very little room in front of good coverage; Robinson zings it in right on the money. I'm still in a bit of disbelief when he does stuff like this. (DO, 2, protection NA)
O47 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson -1
Robinson gives a hard count and appears to get UMass offside but no call. The SLB blitzes with great timing at the snap, coming through the line, picking off the lead blocker, and forcing Robinson to cut to the backside of the play, where everything falls apart because the blocking angles are busted. (RPS-1)
O48 2 11 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Flat TRob Inc
Curl-flat combination against man; Robinson reads it right and hits TRob about three yards downfield with plenty of room to turn it up; TRob drops it. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O48 3 11 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Fly Grady 43
With the safeties rolled up and a linebacker transparently in man on Grady this is a pretty easy read for Robinson. UMass loads up and sends six, with an unblocked guy coming right up the middle. Robinson steps back to give himself just enough time and chucks a 40-yard pass that basically hits Grady in stride; Grady brings in an over-the-shoulder catch and stumbles at the five. Super impressive. (DO+, 2, protection 1/3, team -2)
O5 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 4
Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) seal the playside DT and Omameh has an easy job of sealing the MLB since he's running up behind said DT. Dorrestein(+1) locks out the DE and it's Shaw one on one with a safety in a ton of space; he makes a good cut and falls forward to the goal line.
RUN+ Omameh, Molk, Dorrestein RUN-
O1 2 G I-Form Big 2 2 1 Goal line Run Iso Shaw 1
Hurray touchdown. Molk and Omameh blow up the same DT; McColgan gets a good block on the LB, and it's easy.
RUN+ Molk, Omameh, McColgan RUN-
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, 3 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Shotgun 2-back H-back 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 20
We get to watch Smith not have the ball as Robinson(+3) beats a DE set up to contain him, then beats a safety to the outside, then gets a good block from Odoms(+1) to the corner. This ends 20 yards downfield. We don't even get a replay. WOO BTN. I'd ZR-1 this but it kind of went 20 yards.
RUN+ Robinson(3), Odoms RUN-
O40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Sack ? -7
Looks like they're going with the zone read fake to seam combo and looks like they have Roundtree wide open; Robinson bobbles the snap and gets sacked by the blitzing LB. Not charted. This is all on Robinson; snap was perfect.
O47 2 17 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 Base 3-4 Run QB draw Robinson 7
Stunt opens this up big time and this could go for a lot of yards if not for a great reaction from the MLB and Molk(-1) whiffing the block, allowing said MLB to come around and make a diving ankle tackle. (RPS+1)
RUN+ RUN- Molk
O40 3 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Sack ? -6
Robinson rolls out. UMass is blitzing a LB from that side of the field and scrapes another guy; first LB is picked up by Smith but there's no one to block the second. A pump fake from Robinson gets the guy in the air but he manages to crunch DR for an impressive sack. (PR, 0, protection NA, RPS-1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 13 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Pass Zone read bubble Roundtree 5
First time this year they've actually thrown this, as Robinson pulls the ball with apparently no contain. A safety is coming up hard as the scraper though (first time I've seen that) and Robinson bails out into the bubble, which gets a few. (CA, 3, screen)
M21 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel Run QB off tackle Robinson 16
Opens up big as UMass slants the wrong way. Koger(+1) crushes the playside DE out of the play on a down block as Dorrestein pulls around. Shaw(+1) kicks out a LB, Dorrestein(+1) does the same, and Schilling(+1) shields the MLB out of the play. Omameh(-1) got turned around on the same guy and did not move to the safety, which is probably the only thing preventing a touchdown here. (RPS +1)
RUN+ Robinson, Koger, Schilling, Dorrestein, Shaw RUN- Omameh
M37 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Roundtree 8
Not a read this time but does come with the zone fake. Stonum(+1) gets a great cut block, opening up the edge; Roundtree can probably get more than he does if he just runs up the sideline. (CA, 3, screen)
M45 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Flare Shaw 5
Snag concept minus the corner route, but the same slant/flare combo we saw a lot earlier this year. This time Robinson should probably hit the slant but chooses the flare, which he impressively drops over a retreating DE and right to Shaw, who has to deal with a LB charging at him immediately. He spins by for the first. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
50 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run QB stretch Robinson 8
Playside DE crushed back by Huyge(+1) and gets caught in wash behind Koger's(+1) block of the slot LB. With those guys giving ground the outside is where it's at and Robinson takes it out there, where Shaw(+1) takes out that playside LB once and for all and gives Robinson the corner.
RUN+ Shaw, Huyge, Koger RUN-
O42 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 0
DE has contain and doesn't crash so I guess this is a correct read but I'd like to see Denard pull since he's got a ton of space and can probably pwn this guy. But technically correct. So Shaw gets it. Interior line does its usual blow-back job on the interior UMass line but Dorrestein(-1) gets slanted inside of; no hole. Shaw(-1) should just run up the backs of the interior OL on second and two but attempts to spin by the backside DE and gets swallowed.
RUN+ Molk, Omameh, Schilling RUN- Robinson, Shaw, Dorrestein
O42 3 2 ? ? ? QB off tackle Robinson 17
Guh: let's watch a play from last week instead of one from this week. On replay we get some details, but the replay is a field-level view. PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH. Anyway: downblock and Omameh pulls around. Shaw(+1) gets a good block on the edge, as does Odoms(+1) and the corner is assured. No idea about the line. (RPS+1)
RUN+ Shaw, Odoms, Robinson RUN-
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 5
Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) crush the playside DT, providing a crease, with Omameh getting out on a LB and attempting to seal him to one side only to see Smith cut behind the block. Dorrestein has only done an OK job on the backside DT, who tackles. Smith(-1) could have done better here.
RUN+ Molk, Schilling RUN- Smith
O20 2 5 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith -1
UMass slants under the blocking (RPS -1), with Molk(-1) completely whiffing a DT and getting Smith nailed in the backfield. Handoff seems okay. Run minus: Molk(2)
O21 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA rollout Roundtree Inc
Rollout cuts off most of the field and a charging DE gets cut off by Schilling but still eliminates the outside and forces Robinson to pull up and throw to Roundtree, open-ish in the endzone but covered by the safety; he makes an excellent play to break it up. (CA+, 0, protection 1/1) I guess he got there a tiny bit early but i would hate it if this was called PI if I was a neutral fan.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(39), 7-10, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Tunnel screen Stonum 67
This is mostly set up by the coverage, which is tight man on the edges. This gives Grady(+1) an easy block of the corner. Omameh(+1) comes out to plant the safety, Molk(+1) was out fast enough to make the MLB come upfield of him despite slipping, and Stonum(+3) has the speed to just plain outrun the one remaining deep safety, running through a tackle as he goes. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-17, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M45 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Run QB draw Robinson 4
Opens up big time with UMass only rushing three and dropping everyone else. Grady(+1) gets a good block on a LB; he sets up outside to keep contain. Omameh and Schilling end up double-teaming another linebacker; there's a crease between them and one UMass player trying to fill it, but Robinson slips as he tries to cut and eats the turf.
RUN+ Grady, Omameh RUN- Turf
M49 2 6 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Dig Hemingway 36
Three man rush is stoned by the OL; Robinson has all day to find Hemingway, who got deeper than the first wave and then cut inside about twenty-five yards downfield in front of the safety. Denard hits him in the numbers with perfect timing and Hemingway can pick up some YAC because of a poor angle by a safety. (DO, 2, protection 2/2)
O15 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA circle Grady 6
Looks like cover two and this is either a checkdown or a missed read, but the timing's good enough for Grady to pick up five, though he doesn't get OOB. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O9 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Slant Grady Inc
Molk(-1) fails to cut the UMass DT here and he leaps to bat it down; probable touchdown otherwise. (BA, 0, protection 0/1, Molk -1)
O9 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass Circle Stonum 9
Confusing set of routes here since Grady is running another circle and Stonum is doing the same thing except deeper. I don't know if I've seen this before. Stonum's route gets the CB to bite to the inside a bit, at which point he looks at Robinson and loses the plot; Robinson nails Stonum (but not before the ball flashes by Grady, who gets tackled and momentarily makes me think this is a disaster) for a touchdown. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-17, EO1H.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel Run QB lead draw Robinson 2
Only six guys in the box so Michigan naturally tries the lead draw since they hypothetically have no one to defend it. The UMass LB to the playside makes a great play to shoot into the backfield and hit Shaw a yard behind the LOS, cutting off a hole and forcing Robinson to cut back behind him, where Huyge(-1) has gotten chucked by the DE. DE tackles, Robinson manages some YAC. (RPS –1)
M33 2 8 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Reverse Grady 15
Robinson stretch fake sucks six guys to the frontside and the playside LB hesitates. Shaw(+1) gets out on him to cut him. Dorrestein gets out and bothers but does not get a safety down; Stonum(+1) maintains a stalk block a long time, providing Grady an alley outside; safety runs him out. (RPS +2)
RUN+ Shaw, Stonum RUN-
M48 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 9
Correct handoff (ZR+1) with the DE maintain contain; Webb was headed outside to provide a lead block on a scraping LB if the DE crashed. MLB is charging inside to cut off holes; Huyge(+1) walls him off and pushes him far enough inside that Shaw(+1) can make a decisive cut behind the entire OL, in which there are no holes, and burst into the second level.
RUN+ Huyge, Shaw, Schilling RUN-
O43 2 1 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 3
Schilling and Molk(+1 each) crush the NT back; Huyge(+1) shoves the DE back a couple yards and cuts him off as he tries to slant inside. Robinson is cutting outside, but a weak block from Shaw(-1) on the edge gives his man an opportunity to hit Robinson. As he's being driven back he makes a pitching motion to Shaw, causing the entire stadium to go noooooo, so he doesn't.
RUN+ Schilling Molk, Huyge RUN- Shaw
O40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 7
TE is on the backside of the formation and blocks the DE out there so it appears Robinson is reading the playside LB. He comes inside, so he pulls (ZR+1). The slot LB comes in to provide belated contain; Robinson jukes upfield and darts behind downfield blocks from Webb(+1) and Huyge(+1)
RUN+ Webb, Huyge, Robinson RUN-
O33 2 3 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Shaw 33
The longish Shaw touchdown on which he comes to a complete stop in the hole despite there being an obvious lane in front of him. Schilling(+2) gets a driving, sealing block on an NT lined up well inside of him. Omameh(+1) fights off the DE to that side of the field; Molk(+1) gets a downfield block on the MLB and Webb(+1) stones a player coming off the edge that would have crushed Shaw because of his hesitation. When Shaw finally decides to run up in the gaping hole in front of him, he is fast and cruises into the endzone easily because the safety to his side of the field tore after a Robinson keeper or something. Can you minus a tailback on a 33-yard touchdown? (BTW: ZR+1; Denard had a guy blitzing directly at him.)
RUN+ Schilling(2), Molk, Omameh, Webb RUN-
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-17, 12 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M6 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 4
Enter Taylor Lewan. UMass linebackers screaming downhill past the double of Schilling and Molk right in the frontside C-T gap. (RPS -1) On the backside Dorrestein(+1) gets enough of the backside DT to push him back and seal him, providing a tiny crease that Smith can dart into; that LB dives and ankle-tackles from behind, causing Smith to fall.
RUN+ Dorrestein RUN- Schilling
M10 2 6 Shotgun Twins 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 9
Omameh(+1) gets a reach block on the playside DT, opening up gap between himself and Webb(+1), who is crushing the DE out of the play. Dorrestein gets a free release. He walls off the playside LB(+1), but Smith(-1) does not get a good block on a crashing corner and he tackles, though Robinson runs through it for some bonus yards. Also: Taylor Lewan(+1) latched on to the backside LB and blocked him 15 yards downfield.
RUN+ Omameh, Webb, Dorrestein, Lewan RUN- Smith
M19 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB counter Robinson 4
Inside zone fake but this is not a read, it's just a called play. Playside DE slants between Lewan and Schilling without either of them picking up on it. Think this is on Lewan(-1) since its his third snap ever. This means there's an unblocked guy in the middle of the play and Robinson has to improvise, which he does by dodging the contain guy, getting out to the edge, and picking up a few by slinking past a corner.
RUN+ Robinson RUN- Lewan
M23 2 6 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA Fly Stonum 46
Michigan does a PA fake QB stretch and then Robinson pulls up after a slight roll. The playfake has erased the safety to Stonum's side of the field and the corner there is in tight man coverage. Ball is very slightly underthrown, which causes Stonum to slow up and should draw a PI flag on an early-arriving corner who's not even looking for the ball, but Stonum brings it in anyway. Maybe they throw it if he doesn't catch the ball? Anyway: this is a 40-yard deep ball and is accurate enough for the DO despite being a tiny bit short. If he can do this consistently, jebus. (DO, 2, protection 2/2) Credit to the corner: this is pretty good coverage given the situation.
O31 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 4
Molk(+1) reaches the playside DT, sealing him off. Lewan(+1) has driven the playside DE back—something that has almost never happened on M stretches in the RR era, or for that matter the Carr era—so Koger and Smith head outside, where there should be green pastures except for Schilling(-1) essentially whiffing on the OLB, who reads the play and makes a great tackle as Smith approaches the LOS. I would so trade our MLBs straight up for theirs.
RUN+ Lewan, Molk RUN- Schilling
O26 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 11
UMass line is slanting to the right and pushing the LBs left to compensate, but Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) successfully control the playside DT and Lewan(+1) locks out the DE, giving Smith a lane and no linebackers. He takes it, but slips as the safety comes up and is not able to make the man miss.
RUN+ Lewan, Molk, Schilling RUN-
O15 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 7
Complete obliteration of the same guy by Molk and Schilling(+1 each); Schilling then pops out on the playside LB. It's only a corner blitz that provides anyone who can stop this; Smith runs through a terrible shoulder block of a tackle(+1) to pick up good yardage. Lewan dangerously close to a holding call here.
RUN+ Molk, Schilling, Smith RUN-
O8 2 3 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 8
No contain so Robinson pulls(ZR+1) and then beats a late-reacting DE to the corner, zipping up between him, a corner, and a safety for the TD.
RUN+ Robinson(2) RUN-
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-17, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 50
UMass does pretty well on the frontside of the play but on the backside Lewan(+3) completely destroys a DT. Turns him into goo. Massive cutback lane seen and taken by Shaw(+1). Shaw then breaks a tackle(+1) and takes off, with Grady, Webb, and Robinson(!!!) acting as downfield convoy. Webb(+1) kills a DB but the cutback forced allows the playside DE to ankle-tackle Shaw. Robinson should have peeled back.
RUN+ Lewan(3), Shaw(2), Webb RUN-
O22 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 3
Another big cutback lane as Omameh(+1) shoves the backside DT well out of the play, but Smith(-1) does not cut back enough and ends up running directly into Omameh's guy.
RUN+ Omameh RUN- Smith
O19 2 7 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 8
This time it's Schilling(+1) and Molk(+1) doubling and shoving back the playside DT with Lewan(+1) kicking out the DE. Schilling can't get out on the MLB and he and a crashing slot LB tackle.
RUN+ Lewan, Schilling, Molk RUN-
O11 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 7
Molk(+1) blasts the playside DT, this time not attempting to reach him but content with pushing him back. This provides a cutback lane as Schilling(+1) and Lewan(+1) scoop the backside DE and Schilling pops out on the WLB. Shaw(+1) makes a good cut but can't shake the safety.
RUN+ Lewan, Schilling, Molk, Shaw RUN-
O4 2 3 Ace 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Shaw 4
Frontside totally jammed up; Koger(+1) drives the backside DE far, far inside, giving Shaw(+1) a cutback lane he takes for the TD.
RUN+ Koger, Shaw RUN-
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-24, 12 min 4th Q. Michigan has passed once in the second half and I hadn't even noticed until this drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M37 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 4-4 Run Inside zone Smith 1
Schilling(-1) does not dominate his man and there's no frontside crease; Smith(-1) misses a cutback lane behind Omameh, who got a decent block on the DT. Cutback open thanks to Dorrestein's(+1) excellent LB block and McColgan cutting off the backside DE.
RUN+ Dorrestein RUN- Schilling, Smith
M38 2 9 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 8
Heading way outside here. Koger(+1) gets enough of the playside DE to give the corner. Roundtree gets enough of a CB to force him inside; Jackson(-1) gets discarded by his guy but Robinson(+1) shoots past him and nears the first down.
RUN+ Koger, Robinson RUN- Jackson
M46 3 1 I-Form twins 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Iso Smith -3
Unblocked backside LB blitzes and owns Smith in the backfield (RPS -2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 42-30, 3 min 4th Q. Punt is blocked as Hagerup drops it.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 I-Form big 2 2 1 Base 4-4 Run Iso Shaw 7
Omameh(+1) and Molk(+1) blow the NT off the ball, allowing Omameh to peel off on the MLB and giving Shaw a fairly large gap for a last-minute iso up the gut against a stacked line. He duly slams it up.
RUN+ Omameh, Molk, Shaw RUN-
O28 2 3 I-Form big 2 2 1 Base 4-4 Run Iso Shaw 2
Same deal, with Dorrestein more important since the play cuts back a little bit due to faster-reacting UMass LBs. Shaw does a crappy job of getting YAC here.
RUN+ McColgan, Dorrestein RUN- Shaw
O26 3 1 I-form big 2 2 1 Base 4-3 Run Iso Shaw 2
Hurray they get it runing behind Lewan(+1) and Schilling(+1)
RUN+ Lewan, Schilling RUN-
Drive Notes: EOG, 42-37.

Now this looks like what should happen against a I-AA team minus those ever-increasing scores for the opposition in the drive notes section.

Yes. This probably would have been abandoned early if not for the defense's inability to get the Minutemen off the field. Michigan punted twice. The first time Robinson bobbled a snap and got sacked on a play that was wide open. The second came on a drive when they were just trying to run clock.

For a stretch in the second half they ran on 19 of 20 plays and I didn't even notice because those were three consecutive touchdown drives. Michigan threw once in the second half and put up 42 points that should have been 45 with a makeable field goal; it was a dominant performance after Robinson's oops-I-forgot-I'm-awesome-now interception.

It's just against a I-AA team, sure, but it is further confirmation that this offense looks like the best since Henson and Terrell were lighting it up in 2000. We won't be able to say for certain until they get through the Indiana-MSU-Iowa stretch.

Charts?

Charts.

Hennechart comes with a reminder that numbers in parens are screens!

DENARD ROBINSON

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR 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%

(I've added the Downfield Success Rate to the chart on the suggestion of a reader; hover over the column header for its definition.)

We all had a Letterman neck moment on that interception but Robinson recovered to have a very efficient day. The most important bit of his performance were the three deep balls to Grady, Stonum, and Hemingway. The first one was truly impressive since he had the footwork to hop a step back in the pocket, giving himself time to get the ball off:

Even after two games in which Robinson has established himself a quarterback who doesn't suck that's a stunning combo of poise, agility, and accuracy.

The second was a dead-on fly route of 40 yards; the third was Denard IDing a hole in zone coverage and throwing it to an area his WR would be in. All of that is advanced stuff, though standard quality of competition disclaimers etc. Another step forward in any case. Kid can throw:

He added one inaccurate pass to his brief gallery of misses but if those deep balls are hit consistently they take the offense from very good to napalm in cleats. Can this really keep up? As the weeks pass it becomes more and more likely. He is now 19th in passer efficiency against a tougher-than-average schedule.

Receivers?

Receivers:

This Game Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Stonum - - 1/1 2/2 1 - 2/3 10/10
Odoms - - 1/1 - - - 3/4 7/7
Hemingway - - 1/1 - - - 1/1 -
Jackson - - - - - - - -
Roundtree 2 - - 4/4 4 2/3 0/1 11/11
Grady - - 1/1 1/1 2 - 1/1 4/4
Robinson - 0/1 - 0/1 - 0/1 - 2/3
Stokes - - - - - - - -
Koger - - - - - - 1/2 2/2
Webb - - - - - - - -
Smith - - - - - - 0/1 4/4
Shaw - - - 1/1 1 0/1 0/1 2/2
Cox - - - - - - - -
Hopkins - - - - - - - -
Toussaint - - - - - - - -

Not a lot of action with the limited throws but the guys came through. Stonum catching that deep ball under duress is an encouraging item, and Grady pulling in an over-the-shoulder grab is also progress from last year. The other Robinson did have the receiving corps' first flat drop of the season. That's one in 43 opportunities. The receivers are officially exceeding expectations.

And PROTECTION METRIC: 15/18, Molk –1, Team –2.

Not much to see there.

Lewannnnnnnnnn!

Right, well, for the running stuff we need a—

Chart II?

Chart II.

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Huyge 4 1 3 In just over a half of play.
Lewan 9 1 8 Start the hype machine, yo.
Schilling 12 4 8 Bounce back from the meh ND performance.
Molk 15 3 12 Totally dominant as you would expect.
Omameh 11 2 9 Didn't pwn anyone downfield, still doing well.
Dorrestein 6 2 4 I might not be giving the tackles enough credit for locking out DEs.
Webb 4 - 4 Plus eight between the TEs is impressive.
Koger 4 - 4 Word.
TOTAL 65 13 52 Complete obliteration.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 11 1 10 Also check the ZR metric.
Gardner - - - DNP
Shaw 10 3 7 Didn't get a plus on the long TD but ran hard, found cutback lanes, and broke a couple tackles.
Smith 1 4 -3 Most of that is blocking but he did have some opportunities to pick up more yards than he has. I don't know if it's the injury but he certainly doesn't seem as agile as he did as a freshman. It's probably time to see some alternatives.
Cox - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - DNP
Hopkins - - - BEEF MACHINE, but DNP.
McColgan 2 - 2 Functional.
Jones - - - DNP
TOTAL 24 8 16 Shaw seems established as the #1.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Stonum 5 - 5 Broke that screen for the TD.
Odoms 2 - 2 Goatman.
TRobinson - - - --
Roundtree - - - --
Grady 2 - 2
TOTAL 9 1 8 Also a –1 from Jackson
Metrics
Zone Read 6 - 6 Dangerous for opponents if M and Robinson have figured out scrape responses.

Finally, the RPS number was 6-7=-1.

Those numbers don't seem that high to me; Michigan averaged 7.7YPC minus the kneeldown and Robinson's sacks (UMass was only credited with one but the bobbled snap play was a pass; in any case it's not representative of the line's performance). If you are averaging nearly 8 YPC and running 80% of the time your OL should come out +52 or so.

Another item in Robinson's development: no bad reads on the zone play except one he may have gotten away with but 1) gained 20 yards on and 2) faked out the BTN cameraman to the point where it's impossible to tell if he should have pulled or not. I'm a fan of the play where Michigan pulls the TE all the way around to the outside (detailed in a Tate picture page), which Michigan has been showing intermittently and will destroy the scrape exchange against teams who run it consistently. It's just a matter of time before Robinson rips into the secondary.

Well, then: Lewan?

I have to agree with the hype. Wow. This is his second snap from scrimmage:

"Hello. My name is Taylor Lewan. I am here to inform you that, while you believe you are a linebacker, you are actually a donkey. Let's go for a ride."

And then there's Shaw's 50-yarder:

"I hate you, donkey. Sincerely, Taylor Lewan."

The standard UMass disclaimers apply. However, you are in a good situation when a tackle who seems to be playing somewhere between adequately and well is getting pushed out of the lineup by a redshirt freshman who racks up a 9-1=8 in just under a half of play in his first extended playing time. This is good for this year; it is very good for next year, when it seems like Michigan will be able to plug in whichever LT loses the battle this year without missing a beat.

This is the exact opposite of the MLB situation. At LT, a hyped player is forcing his way through an experienced veteran who's playing well. At MLB, an experienced veteran is not playing well and there's no one to pick up the baton.

Tailback situation any clearer?

I also have to agree with the mounting Smith criticism. In this game he had a couple opportunities to add plus yards on runs that broke open and couldn't do it. He's not breaking or dodging tackles and he obviously lacks the raw speed of Shaw; Shaw is also heftier and seems less prone to missing blocks. I'd say he's earned the first shot at the Big Ten schedule and Michigan should start rotating in Cox, Hopkins, Toussaint, and even Teric Jones to see if they can find something there.

Shaw, meanwhile, was making decisive cuts for the most part. The primary exception was the 30-yard touchdown, on which he came to a total stop in the hole and then burst upfield when it was pretty obvious there was going to be room directly in front of him. I can understand slowing up a bit to set up the blocks, but it looked like Shaw was considering a cutback. I think he's the best Michigan has right now but am hoping Toussaint lives up to Fred Jackson's hype. Or, like, 10% of it.

What about the I formation runs at the end?

It seems like a waste to have a running QB and then line him up in the I-form to hand off when everyone knows you're running. While you should expect to get it anyway against a I-AA team you are vulnerable to that guy tearing off the edge that might get blocked if you just had the QB take it ahead.

I mentioned this in the game column but to repeat: with two veteran TEs who are blocking well and a fullback who exists I'd like to see a Wolverine version of the Gator Heavy formation in which Tim Tebow tanked his way to the promised land. I can't find a shot of it except from NCAA players who complain about how it's an exploit:

gator-heavy

Here the guys are using it as an exploit by shoving the leetle tailbacks in instead of the beef, but it seems like M's short yardage formation should be a 2TE set with McColgan and whichever other back is the best blocker (hypothetically Hopkins but probably Shaw right now). Robinson isn't Tebow but he's probably going to be about as effective in heavy since he can dart into any crease that opens up.

OTOH, they're doing pretty well right now without trying this.

Heroes?

Essentially everyone. Special praise for the interior OL.

Goats?

Smith is about it.

What does it mean for Bowling Green and beyond?

Tackle, thought to be a potential weak spot going into the year, now has a competent or better player on the bench. I'm still waiting for the Iowa game to declare Frey a miracle worker; initial returns are excellent. The offensive line is meeting high expectations.

The receivers are catching everything and Denard flashing an accurate deep ball is the second to last thing he needs to add to his arsenal to be virtually unstoppable (the last: a seam with some touch). His progression continues to be remarkable, and while there will be at least a couple bumpy roads in the Big Ten we're nearing the point where Denard is just Denard and we're all lucky for that.

Tailback is the only spot at which it seems Michigan could improve. I'm trying to keep expectations in check after last year but this feels different; this feels like the best offense at M in a long time.

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs UMass

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs UMass

Submitted by Brian on September 22nd, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Substitution Notes: Starting secondary, Kovacs, Mouton, and RVB went the whole way. Patterson and Black got some time on the DL; Leach substituted in for Banks on passing downs and for Gordon a little bit. Moundros got one series at MLB; Fitzgerald came in for Roh a tiny bit.

Formation notes: More of the same, with Michigan spending most of the day in a stack but occasionally shifting to a 4-3 front (sometimes Roh did not put his hand down in the front but it was a 4-3) and using the same nickel rush package they've shown in the first two games.

Against the twin TE formation Umass showed a lot the stack looked like this:

 ezeh-nt-right-1

Kovacs is rolled up tight to the line there. Michigan appears to be aligning based on pass strength, so whenever they saw a formation like this it was Banks and Kovacs to the run strength.

Chartin' note: the "Rush" column contains the number of pass rushers on a pass; on a run I attempted to determine to which side of the line it was run, doing this by the Michigan DE that was nominally run at. "Banks" is a run at (surprise!) Banks. NA is for something that went either right up the middle or the DEs weren't relevant.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Mouton 9
This is supposed to go right up the middle by the looks of the blocking scheme but Martin(+1) tears through the center's block and Ezeh(+1) shoots past an attempt to get him on the second level, forcing a cutback. Kovacs has cut past his blocker too and the RB has to head way outside, where Mouton(-1, tackling -1) is unblocked and has an opportunity to tackle for loss but overruns the play, which lets the RB dart upfield because Banks(-1) was easily single blocked and controlled. Floyd is also out there with Mouton but his weak diving tackle attempt (-1, -1 tackling) is run through.
O44 2 1 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Down G Roh 0
TEs originally split but one motions over the other as they test the other side of the M DL. Roh(+2) slants past the TE's attempted down block, sliding in between two guys and meeting the RB in the hole a yard behind the LOS. He comes around to tackle, but the RB can fall forward because of the OL blocking Roh. Ezeh took on a blocker in a way that would have funneled the RB to an unblocked Gordon, FWIW, if that was necessary.
O44 3 1 I-Form big twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Iso Banks 4
Martin(+1) blows through a double and occupies two blockers; Banks(-1) is bashed back and sealed by a momentary double, opening up just enough space for the RB to run through a Mouton tackle. No minus because he had to fight through a FB block and did well to slow the RB; Floyd(-1) is slow recognizing and can't clean up in time. His tackle(-1) is run through but the RB falls afterward; Michigan fortunate.
O48 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 PA waggle Rogers 12
First of the many rollouts. Gordon covers the short guy well enough but Rogers(-1, cover -1) has his hips turned way early on the play, even before people scroll offscreen, and is easily beaten on the hitch. Roh(-0.5) sucked into the PA and gave the guy a wide open corner (pressure -1)
O36 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Down G T. Gordon -2
UMass center stumbles as he gets out of his stance and Ezeh(+0.5) reads the direction of the play, flowing to it under control. They've only got two guys blocking three defenders as a result; Ezeh takes the correct shoulder of his blocker and T. Gordon is the free hitter. He makes a solid TFL in some space (+1, tackling +1). Lower than normal plus for a TFL because Ezeh had it easy on the stumble.
O38 2 12 Ace trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run NA PA draw Mouton 5
Bubble fake to a draw. Martin absorbs a double, getting pushed a few yards downfield but occupying two blockers for the duration. This gives Kovacs and Mouton free runs at the carrier; Mouton(-0.5) makes a dodgy tackle after slightly overrunning the play, turning 3 yards into 6.
O33 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel rush Pass 4 Slant Ezeh 14
The reason this simple slant on third and seven is wide open is Ezeh(-1, cover -1) bumping a tight end two yards from the LOS instead of getting a zone drop. A senior four-year starter doesn't know to drop to the sticks on third and seven.
O19 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass NA PA waggle hitch Floyd Inc
PA fake is to the backside of the play so the LBs are there; Mouton(+0.5) gets a bump on the releasing RB, forcing him into Ezeh and forcing a throw from the QB that Floyd(+1, cover +1) breaks on to break up.
O19 2 10 Shotgun twins 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Zone read inside Mouton 2
Center again stumbles. We'll give some credit to Martin(+0.5) since he's occupying those guys. RVB(+1) has also flowed down the line, occupying the hole; the RB cuts back all the way to the backside where Mouton(+1) has scraped and tackles with T. Gordon. RB does a good job of getting YAC.
O17 3 8 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Drag Leach 5
Leach blitzes from a slot LB spot as the other three DL and no one else come; QB has to roll out away from Leach(+0.5, pressure +1) and away from his trips bunch. One of those guys is on a drag route and the QB hits him; Mouton(+0.5, cover +1) is there for the immediate tackle.
Drive Notes: FG(31), 0-3, 10 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O49 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Inside zone Roh 1
Martin(+1) shoves his blocker back into the path of the RB, forcing a cutback into an unblocked Roh(+0.5), who closes from the backside to tackle for minimal gain.
50 2 9 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Hitch T. Gordon 3 (Pen -10)
T. Gordon(+0.5) gets out on the edge, forcing a throw on a short hitch that Rogers(+1, cover +1) can tackle on immediately. UMass gets a holding call but I have no idea who draws it because of crappy BTN production.
O40 2 19 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Down G Mouton 1
Banks gets doubled and blown back but does absorb two without crumbling. Mouton(+1) reads the OL pull and shoots into the play, cracking into one of the pullers in the backfield and drawing attention from both. This creates a pileup in the backfield; RB comes through the mess; the delay has allowed Kovacs(+0.5) to fill and tackle at the LOS.
O41 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel rush Run NA Draw Roh 3 (pen +5)
A give up and punt; Roh(-1) jumped offside.
O46 3 13 Shotgun 2-back Nickel rush Pass 4 Scramble Martin 6
Martin(+2) shoots past a double and is then flagrantly held, preventing a thunder-sack. He does force a rollout; no one is open and Havens has to run, whereupon the DEs converge. (Pressure +1, cover +1.)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Ace Base 4-3-ish Pass 4 Improv Roh 7
Moundros in for Ezeh. Roh as a standup DE with Gordon playing back; more of a standard 4-3 look. Roh pwns the TE(+1, pressure +1) but is almost literally dragged to the ground by the guy; no call. Very frustrating. He gets up and forces a scramble from the QB; as he rolls out he finds a TE open for several. He's immediately booted OOB. This drive likely ends immediately if the refs get this obvious call right.
O40 2 3 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Moundros 4
Backside G pulls around but is tripped because Martin(+0.5) is slashing into the backfield and pushed his guy back a little. Banks is cutting inside, as is Mouton, so this should provide an opportunity for Moundros to get a free hit if he hits the hole fast enough. Instead he sits around the first down marker and accepts a block(-1). Mouton rolls off a block and Kovacs comes up to tackle just past the first down sticks.
O44 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Banks 4
TE covered up and can't go downfield, so I'm a little disappointed Mouton isn't more aggressive here since he won't be threatened by the TE. Banks is sealed and bashed back a bit, allowing the RT to get a hat on Mouton and opening up what looks like a crease, but Banks(+0.5) fights through and sets up to tackle after a few yards. Cutback lane was there but untaken because Moundros(-1) immediately went into a pass drop without even checking a key.
O48 2 6 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-3-ish Pass 4 PA deep hitch Rogers 15
Covered TE. Martin is coming around on a stunt and is going to get there somewhat fast, but not fast enough if the primary read is open, which it is in front of Rogers(-1, cover -1) and behind Gordon(-1, cover -1) as he came up on a shorter receiver.
O33 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Power off tackle Van Bergen 1
RVB(+1.5) surges into the backfield past an attempted down block, cutting off the hole in the center and picking off the pulling guard. RB has to cut way outside where T. Gordon and Ezeh(+0.5 each) are waiting; they tackle.
O32 2 9 Ace 4-wide bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass NA PA drag Mouton 12
Pretty slick with the RB motioning in from an empty set and UMass faking a pitchout to him. This sucks in Mouton(-1, cover -1), opening up a drag route, though to be fair to the D the window here was not enormous because Kovacs was in decent position and this is just a good play. Catch is turned upfield for good yardage.
O20 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Flare screen Mouton 5
Mouton(+1) appears to be pass rushing. He bumps an OL and then reads the flare screen, getting out between the releasing OL and running the RB down for a minimal gain despite a corner blitz that could have made this very bad. RB does fall forward so no tackling +1.
O15 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3-ish Run Banks Reverse Banks 5
End around coupled with a reverse gets Michigan confused as the motion sends Michigan into a check they never get completed. Mouton gets chop blocked by a guy coming upfield of him, which was apparently a penalty on Kelvin Grady last week but isn't here... which is it? Kovacs bit; it's Greg Banks(+2) who sets up outside in a bunch of space, positions himself so the WR cuts inside of him, then disengages to tackle and possibly prevent a TD. (RPS -2)
O10 1 G I-Form Big 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle 10
They load up the short side with two TEs and pull a guard around to go with the FB: 4 blockers. TE blocks down on Banks. Kovacs and Mouton both attack, getting caught in the wash but also jamming up the LOS and wiping out the last TE and the two lead guys, leaving Floyd(-2) totally unblocked on the edge with a RB; he lets the guy outside; touchdown. Good lord, if you're going to get beat get beat to the inside. Turrible.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-10, 14 min 2nd Q. Floyd's run support: very bad.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O15 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run NA Inside zone Mouton 16
Ezeh back, Patterson in, and as always the opponent goes right at him. Patterson(-1) goes behind the single block of the center, which might work if the linebackers were making him right but Mouton(-1) starts flowing away from the play instead of attempting to fill his gap, which is a shame because Ezeh had gotten playside of his blocker and could have held this down to a few otherwise. I do not understand the gap integrity here, but what it looks like to me is Mouton thinking this is play action. Kovacs(-0.5) does just manage to tackle(-1), but it's very tenuous and gives UMass another 5 yards. Given the blocking scheme I don't think this is a good play by Patterson.
O31 1 10 I-Form 3-wide Base 4-3-ish Run Banks Quick pitch Mouton 7
The FB-dive/quick pitch combo suckers Mouton(-1), who should at least be looking at the tailback on a running play, and Banks, which is more understandable. Mouton closes it down fairly well but misses a tackle; Floyd(-0.5) wasn't much help on the corner.
O38 2 3 Shotgun twins Base 4-3-ish Run NA Inside zone Gordon 12
Guh, come on, you're on the backside of a run play that happens to have 2TEs to the backside, maybe a cutback is coming? Roh(-1) is ridden down the line out of the play; T. Gordon(-1), crashes down way too far, opening up the cutback, and Ezeh(-1) just eats a block as per usual. Mouton was free and could have finished a play if someone had funneled to to him, but no one did.
50 1 10 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Sack Martin -12
Martin(+3) tears through a double team and authoritatively sacks. Beast mode. (Pressure +3)
O38 2 22 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Down G Mouton 3
Mouton(+1) flashes to the hole immediately, blasting the pulling guard and forcing the play inside where Banks(+0.5) and Floyd can combine to tackle.
O41 3 19 Ace trips 3-3-5 stack Run NA Draw Martin 1
A give up and punt, but Martin(+2) still blazes past blockers and then forms up, having read the play, to tackle for no gain.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Banks 4
Leach in for Gordon. UMass runs power at Banks(+0.5) and he seems to get doubled out of the play but comes around it to help tackle with Floyd(+0.5), who set up well and came off a block to deal with it.
O25 2 6 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 PA rollout flat Roh 13
Roh(-1) sucks up too far after the play action instead of taking an angle that goes straight outside; Leach(-1) overruns the play and allows the receiver inside of him for big yardage. (Cover –1.)
O38 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Pin and pull zone Roh 10
New play sees three UMass players pull around. RVB(-1) gets pushed out of the play pointlessly, leaving Roh and Leach and Ezeh on three blockers. Play goes outside so Ezeh has no chance. Leach has to turn it inside and does. Roh? I think he's held, personally, but I'll leave the question open: is this is egregious or not? I am going to -1 him for not forcing it back inside. Michigan was caught in a slant away from the play, too. (RPS -1) Rogers(-1) was weak on the corner.
O48 1 10 Ace Base 4-3-ish Pass 4 PA Scramble Roh 3
Play action pass sees no one open at first (cover +1), at which point Roh(+1) spins off a blocker and charges in on Havens. He scrambles for a few yards. (Pressure +1)
M49 2 7 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Slant Leach 14
Leach's(-2) drop is terrible, opening up the easy slant because he took a step forward without so much as a PA fake (cover -1)
M35 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-3-ish Run NA Inside zone Mouton 15
More completely terrible outside angles reminiscent of last year. There is nothing inside thanks to RVB(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) shutting down running lanes and the bounce meets an unblocked Mouton(-2.5), who can force the play back inside to two unblocked LBs but instead lets the RB outside, turning nothing into a first down. Awful, awful, awful. Picture-paged yesterday.
M20 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-3-ish Run Banks Dive Banks 5
Backside G pulls; this is supposed to go more directly upfield. Banks(-1) gets rudely escorted out of the play like he's Kovacs, providing a ton of room the LBs can't shut down. Ezeh does force it back, where Kovacs(+0.5) tackles solidly.
M15 2 5 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Mouton 6
Sagesse(-0.5) gets pushed too far inside; Floyd takes out a blocker as the outside contain, leaving a guy one on one with Mouton and Kovacs coming up to help; Mouton(-0.5) doesn't really take either shoulder of the defender, instead plowing into him and giving the RB a lane to the inside that Kovacs can't close down.
M9 1 G Ace twins 3-3-5 stack Power off tackle Ezeh 9
Ezeh(-2) has a simple job: get the outside shoulder of the lead blocker and let unblocked Mouton pound the guy; he doesn't do it, instead letting the RB outside, where he scores a touchdown. His uncertain waddle to the line is incredibly depressing.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-17, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O36 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Rollout hitch T. Gordon Inc
Leach in for Banks with Roh playing DE. Mouton(+0.5) is blitzing from the backside and is fast enough to make this a problem; coverage(+1) is good enough for the QB to hesitate, then try to hit a drag route late that he ends up turfing. Rogers +0.5, T. Gordon +0.5, Ezeh +0.5.
O36 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run NA Inside zone Leach 20
Martin(+1) shoves his guy back and cuts off any holes in the middle of the play, forcing a cut outside. Leach(-3) is sitting approximately a thousand yards outside, sitting and waiting and watching the bounce here cut up for major yards. He should be there for a free hit, or at least a delay, on the back. Instead we again get a big gainer when the DL set the LBs up for a zero-yard run. Kovacs(+3) comes in from the side, strips the ball out, and recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-17, 50 seconds 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Ezeh 6
So in the 3-3-5 the job of the MLB is to make the NT right, which means when he closes off one A gap (between a C and G) you close off the other. Martin(+1) blasts the C back and cuts off one A gap; Ezeh(-1) flows into the same gap instead of shooting into the huge gap in the line on the other side of the center created because of Martin's disruption. This allows a G to come off and harass him and allows the RB to cut back. Banks and Kovacs are doing a meh job, standing up but not making any headway, and there's a TE out there to block Mouton. Mouton scrapes over; RB jukes out, Mouton cuts it off; Floyd's corner support does the exact same thing, meaning both guys head outside for a bit, providing a crease; Floyd and Kovacs tackle, but not before the RB plows for six. -0.5 Floyd, -0.5 Kovacs, though Kovacs's minus is simply because he's leetle.
O32 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide bunch Base 4-4 Pass 4 Out ? Inc
Roh hops down to the line and C. Gordon comes up in the box as a fourth linebacker. Simple out is open for the first (cover -1) but dropped. Pressure was getting there.
O32 3 4 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Out Floyd 16
Confusion from Roh as he flops over to the other side of the line only for Ezeh to point him back where he used to be. Doesn't really matter since six guys are rushing and Martin dropping off into one of those screen-destroyer zones; another quick out at the sticks is thrown, with Floyd making a great break on the ball but whiffing (cover -1), yielding a tackle and some YAC. Kovacs(-1) misses an open field tackle(-1); Martin is the guy who tracks him down. Actually, I won't minus Floyd here since he did deflect the ball and the receiver was just lucky it bounced off his facemask and into his chest.
O48 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run NA Inside zone Ezeh 4
Zone read look from UMass. Ezeh(-1) has another one of those plays where he just sits exactly where he is and eats a blocker as the line flows down, leaving absolutely nowhere for the RB to go (+0.5 Martin, Roh). T. Gordon(+0.5) maintains contain and then crashes down after the handoff, tackling the RB from behind as he passes the LOS.
M48 2 6 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Martin -3
Martin(+3) blasts through the line into the path of the RB, tackling for loss by himself. Banks(+0.5) had also fought through a block and was there to help if Martin couldn't get the job done himself.
O49 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Stack rush Pass 5 Out Mouton Inc
Mouton(+0.5) gets a free run on a Michigan blitz, with Martin again dropping out (RPS +1, pressure +1). This forces an errant throw, though it's depressing how open this is in front of Floyd(-1, cover -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-17, 10 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-3-ish Run RVB Off tackle Ezeh 4
Michigan slants, leaving Ezeh(-0.5) alone with a motioning TE. He takes the wrong shoulder of the defender, leaving a big gap between himself and Gordon, who's set up outside the slot receiver; Cam(+1) fills quickly and makes a good open field tackle to hold it down(tackling +1)
O34 2 6 Ace trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks PA draw Kovacs -2
Martin(+0.5) shucks the C to the ground and gets in on the G; RVB(+0.5) and Banks(+0.5) also do good jobs of driving into the backfield without vacating lanes. RB has to cut outside, where Kovacs(+2) reads the play, shoots the gap, and tackles(+1) behind the LOS, albeit a tiny bit shakily. He is a good linebacker. He should play middle linebacker. I am not kidding.
O32 3 8 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel rush Pass 4 Drag Leach 9
Leach(-1) and Ezeh drop super deep, leaving this simple drag route open for the first (cover -1)
O41 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Quick pitch Floyd 8
No idea what Floyd(-1) is keying on but his run read is way late given the single receiver to his side is obviously blocking from the snap. Kovacs(-0.5) also could have read this faster.
O49 2 2 Shotgun twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run NA Inside zone Roh 1
Roh(+2) slants into the backfield into the path of the runner and tackles at the LOS. Since he gets no help from the LBs the RB can fall forward near the sticks.
50 3 1 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Pass NA Waggle out Rogers 9
Michigan in man, biting on the fake. (RPS-1) Open in front of Rogers(-1, cover -1) and UMass converts. RVB charging down the QB, but for naught.
M41 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run Banks Power off tackle Banks 5
Banks(-1) doubled and blown too far back this time. Ezeh(-0.5) sits and eats another block; Patterson(+0.5) does an admirable job to eventually fight through his block and make an ankle tackle as the RB slashes past the LOS.
M36 2 5 Ace 3-wide Base 4-4 Pass NA Waggle hitch ? 8
An absolute ton of time (pressure -2, RPS -1) as Michigan is slanting towards a run play and needs Mouton/Kovacs in coverage (cover +1), which they do well. Havens comes off those two guys, finding a third open for the first in front of Ezeh. No blame there; just too long.
M28 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Power off tackle Fitzgerald 0
Fitz in for Roh. Not sure about this play since it looks like an off tackle play with a backside guard pulling but the RB's angle is kind of directly upfield. Maybe a bust by the RB. Anyway, Fitzgerald(+2) is being blocked down by the TE but gets in the gap, picking off the pulling lineman and causing the RB to try to bounce outside; he can't because Fitzgerald throws him to the ground. Possibly the best play by a LB all day?
M28 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Seam T. Gordon Inc
Michigan sends six and does not get there (pressure -2); T. Gordon is in man on the slot receiver and his man gets a step (cover -1); ball is low and tough to dig out and not dug out. Probably a TD if accurate.
M28 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel rush Pass 5 Tunnel screen 0
Man to man, tight man, and Rogers(+1, cover +1, RPS+1) is right there for the tackle. Maybe some credit to Martin(+0.5) for harassing the QB and forcing a suboptimal throw? Sure.
M28 4 10 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel rush Pass 6 TE corner Mouton 13
Five or six sent; not sure WTF Mouton is doing. He chips the TE and then starts moving inside, which is weird since that means there's no contain to the short side of the field, where the QB rolls and finds the TE, who's broken just in front of Kovacs in man coverage. (Pressure -2, RPS -1) Anyone with a theory as to what Mouton's assignment is here please inform. Man cover on the RB?
M15 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run NA Inside zone Ezeh 9
RB makes a quick cut to the backside as Martin cuts off the playside A gap. Mouton attempts to funnel the RB to help, which is Ezeh(-1), who stepped to the wrong side of the play and had to leap a cut block and is late. A desperate ankle tackle from Kovacs(+0.5) prevents a TD. Please tell me if I'm right and Ezeh is insane or not here.
M6 2 1 I-Form Big 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Iso Ezeh -1
Martin(+1) pounds the center back, allowing Ezeh(+1) a lane he takes, shooting up between the C and G and pounding the fullback. No room, RB slides along the line, meeting RVB(+0.5) for no gain.
M7 3 2 I-Form big 3-3-5 stack Pass Waggle scramble Kovacs 7
Kovacs(-2) bites like a mother on the run fake, opening up the corner wide enough for Havens to stroll in. Mouton(-1) also bit, and then passed up a chance to pound the guy at the two.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-24, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Ace Base 4-3-ish Pass 3 Deep hitch Floyd 19
Just bad luck and bad refereeing here. Play action sees RVB and Martin through the line, with Martin(+0.5) recovering in time to force a throw(pressure +1) that Floyd(+1, cover +1) deflects. Receiver steps OOB, is STILL OOB when he touches the ball, and somehow gets credit for a completion.
O46 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE Base 4-3-ish Run NA Inside zone Ezeh 4
I am really, really frustrated with Ezeh(-1) at this point. Here he is totally unblocked but just sits on his ass the whole play instead of hitting it up in a gap that opens behind RVB and in front of Roh. RB goes through a gap, Ezeh tackles, but it's four yards instead of zero.
50 2 6 Ace Base 4-3-ish Pass Waggle hitch Rogers 15
No pressure (RPS-1, pressure -2) and all day for Havens to hit his receiver in front of Rogers(-1, cover -1)
M35 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run NA Inside zone Martin 0
Martin(+1) blasts the C back and sheds to the playside, forcing a cutback. RVB(+0.5) got inside the pulling WR block and forces the RB into Mouton(+1), who zipped past a blocker. The trio tackles for nothing.
M35 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 C. Gordon Int, fumble
Corner blitz from Floyd is picked up; Banks(+0.5) gets enough pressure to force a rollout from havens once his first read is covered by Ezeh(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5, cover +1). As he rolls out he throws it to a drag route still pretty well covered by Ezeh(+0.5 again). Pass is way overthrown and intercepted by Gordon, who runs it back to the 30 and fumbles it because of course.
Drive Notes: Interception, 42-24, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Down G Banks 5
Patterson in. Banks(+1) holds up to a double team well enough to occupy two guys and get Mouton in clean on the tailback; he hits him, so does Kovacs, and there are like five M guys and three UMass guys as this tailback just drags a pile five yards. I'm not minusing anyone because who do you minus? Impressive by UMass; kind of depressing for M.
M21 2 5 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Slant Floyd Inc
Fake six, drop Ezeh into short zone, open up slant in man from Floyd(-0.5, cover -1) that is behind the WR and dropped.
M21 3 5 Ace Nickel rush Run NA Down G Martin 2
Martin(+2) shoves back the C, refuses to get sealed, fights off a hold, and runs down the tailback for nothing. Ezeh and Mouton were around but not needed.
M19 4 3 Shotgun 3-wide bunch Nickel rush Pass 4 TE out Leach 4
Wide open; totally lame coverage from Leach(-1, cover -1, RPS-1)
M15 1 10 Ace trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Run RVB PA draw Ezeh 6
Ezeh(-0.5) drawn out of position by the fake; RVB(-0.5) rushes upfield after the passer and vacates the lane.
M9 2 4 Shotgun twins twin TE Base 4-3-ish Run Banks Inside zone Ezeh 8
More zone read action. M slants the line again and totally destroys the play, with Martin and Roh ready to obliterate; Ezeh(-2) ran himself way to the frontside of the play, got sealed, and there's no one back there. T. Gordon blitzed at the QB, opening up a lane, too. (RPS -1)
M1 1 G Goal line Goal line Penalty False Start ? -5
Oops
M6 1 G Ace twins Base 4-3-ish Run NA Inside zone Martin 0
Martin(+2) flashes into the backfield impossibly quick and almost has a five-yard TFL but a last-second shove from an OL causes him to miss the tackle. Still, he's destroyed the play and Michigan just has to clean up. Ezeh(-1) overruns a stationary RB and Gordon has to clean up at the LOS.
M5 2 G Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Waggle cross C. Gordon 5
Man coverage as Michigan is going heavy after the run; Cam Gordon(-1) is beaten easily by the WR, opening up an easy TD (RPS -1, cover -1)
M3 2pt 2pt Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Improv Kovacs Int
Drop eight, covering everyone(+1) for the first read, at which point the QB starts scrambling because of good pressure from RVB(+0.5, pressure +1). He rolls out, finds no one, and chucks a hopeless pass back across the field that Kovacs(+0.5) picks off.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2pt failed), 42-30, 5 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass NA RB scramble ? 5
They try a halfback pass but it's covered(+1). RB decides to scramble and picks up five. Not charting this one too harshly since this is such an outlier of a play.
M20 2 5 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Out Rogers 7
Martin(+1) rips through the line instantly (pressure +1) on the roll but the soft corner (Rogers) opens up the little out for the first. (Cover -1)
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Dumpoff ? 6
Good coverage(+1) downfield forces a checkdown as Banks is collapsing the pocket; Ezeh tackles immediately.
M7 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 7 Fade Rogers Inc (Pen +5)
Michigan sends the house and gets there(Pressure +1) so the QB chucks one off his back foot that's too long; Rogers(-1, cover -1) is called for PI. Weak call, but they all are.
M2 1 G Goal line Goal line Pass 2 PA flare Kovacs 2 (Pen -5)
Kovacs(-1) overruns the play and the RB cuts past him into the endzone. This ceases to exist because of a false start but no one knew it when he scored.
M7 1 G Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 7 TE corner Mouton 7
Mouton(-2, cover -2) doesn't bother to cover the TE.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-37, 2 min 4th Q. M gets the onside kick and runs out the clock.

Down or across?

What?

Should I cut down or across with the razor? The former is just a cry for help, the latter is srsly.

Maybe on the diagonal?

I HATE YOU

Yeah, okay… chart?

Yeah.

If you'd like an answer to "what if Brandon Graham played every snap against Delaware State like his life depended on it," here you go:

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 5 1.5 3.5 Lots of half points for doing decently on run plays.
Martin 25 - 25 I just write the numbers down! More on this later.
Banks 6 4 2 Not great but not the big problem.
Sagesse - 0.5 -0.5 Very few snaps.
Patterson 0.5 1 -0.5 Not exactly Martin but seems okay.
Black - - - Did play, didn't record anything.
TOTAL 36.5 7 29.5 Hulk smash.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 4.5 12.5 -8 Hopeless.
Mouton 7 10.5 -3.5 Reversion.
Roh 7.5 4.5 3 Okay, not great.
Johnson - - - DNP.
T. Gordon 3 0.5 2.5 Doing okay.
Leach - 8.5 -8.5 Extremely poor performance spotting Gordon and acting as a passing down LB
Moundros - 2 -2 Poor on single series.
Herron - - - DNP
Fitzgerald 2 - 2 +2 play may have been in error but it worked.
TOTAL 24 38.5 -14.5 What the hell happened? This was +21 last week against ND!
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 2.5 8.5 -6 Major issues in run support..
Rogers 2.5 5.5 -3 Guys were open in front of him consistently.
Kovacs 7.5 5.5 2 Michigan's best linebacker.
C. Gordon 1 2 -1 Not tested much.
Talbott - - - DNP
Christian - - - DNP
M. Robinson - - - DNP
Ray Vinopal - - - DNP
TOTAL 13.5 21.5 -8 Corners were exploited for the first time.
Metrics
Pressure 12 9 3 Pretty mediocre.
Coverage 12 19 -7 Scary against a I-AA team
Tackling 3 5 -2 Dodgy.
RPS 1 11 -10 GERG fail.

[A reminder: 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.]

What didn't go wrong?

Mike Martin.

First a word on that number: holy pants. I don't even know if I can stand by that but what I saw is Martin either occupying two blockers or obliterating the blocking concept on almost every play. He tore into the backfield for +3 TFLs twice and got a a pair of +2 near TFLs. He was completely un-containable, and the number is just this side of literally incredible because what would happen if a ridiculously good player happened to be on a terrible defense that kept him on the field the whole game and saw the opponent put together multiple grinding drives on which to rack up points by destroying run concepts only to see the confused ducks behind you clack heads and fall over?

He would get a damn lot of points, is what. That's a UFR record.

Also, I went into the UFR after watching UMass go at Banks and Kovacs all day to good success and thought I would end up with big negatives for at least one of those two guys. I didn't. Neither exactly covered themselves in glory but both ended up on the positive side of the ledger, and on this day that makes you immune from criticism. RVB had a solid day. You'd like to see him do better than that against a I-AA team but he was not tested much what with all the running at Banks. For the record, I have ten rushes at RVB for 2.1 a carry and 18 at Banks for 4 a carry, so the intuition wasn't wrong: UMass ran at Banks a lot and did better than they did when they ran at RVB, but the defensive ends weren't involved in the big gainers much.

And that is all.

I trusted you! Linebacker GERG fairy theory! I HATE YOU

Yeah, man, hell if I know. A week after racking up thirteen tackles and getting talked up by the NFL risers and sliders guy, Mouton forgot seemingly everything he'd learned over the offseason, repeatedly getting lost. Ezeh, meanwhile, is back to that thing where he stands around until someone blocks him, whereupon he starts moving backwards and maybe falls over to make an ankle tackle:

And then:

And then:

At this point it's almost hopeless. What are the chances Obi Ezeh learns how to be a linebacker in the last ten games of his career if he's still making incredibly basic mistakes like that after starting for three years? This has nothing to do with scheme. This is basic play recognition/ability to remember how to make your legs go.

Mouton's mistakes, too, are things common to every defense like "don't let the tailback outside of you when you are a force defender," but at least he makes some plays to help with his deficiencies. The ugly fate foretold by the "Mark Moundros could start" preseason meme appears to be coming true.

Here is where I take up the shield of someone who knows what he's talking about to forestall the inevitable complaints that I'm not being very nice and we should really give Boubacar Cissoko a chance before declaring him not good at football: this is an opinion shared by former M LB Ron Simpkins, whose latest interview with Rivals($) has the word "inexcusable" in the title in re: linebacker play and is even less kind behind the paywall. These seniors are not good at football.

What are they so indecisive?

So I think what the coaches mean by "this is not a stack" is that in a stack everyone has a gap. The line will slant one way and from a combination of blitzes and other attacking bits all the non-DL gaps get filled. Usually the OLBs and DEs will have specific B and C gaps depending on the slant; the goal is to kick runs out to the spur and bandit or just fill your gap and tackle there. The MLB's read depends on the NT. The NT has to take a double, and then he has to slant into a gap, and the MLB has to figure out which gap he's covered and attack the other one.

Here's Ezeh not doing that even a little bit on a counter:

Ezeh does not key off Martin or he'd shoot the gap in the backside after Martin closes off the frontside A gap. He reads the running back, steps to the wrong side of the play, does not take the opportunity to shoot in a gap for a TFL, and allows the back to run up the backside of a bunch of blockers for decent yardage. He did this all day. He does not have a gap, he has to figure out what's going on and then try to close it down, usually with poo results of poo.

Why isn't it a stack?

Don't know. I think it should be because anything that gets Ezeh moving forward is good. Especially when you've got Martin, an incredibly active NT who is going to be able to close off big gaps frequently, I'd rather have Ezeh shoot gaps and get guys in the backfield or at the line than rely on all this reading business that the linebackers suck at and ends up bleeding the kind of yards UMass had on the ground last week. My complaint here is they didn't go far enough.

What can we do?

The worst part is that when Michigan got tired of Ezeh they put in Moundros for a series and Moundros proceeded to do the exact same things, except in his case it's obvious why: he was a fullback last year. He's no substitute, and he's the #2 guy on the depth chart! JB Fitzgerald and Kenny Demens: where are you? You are nowhere.

Everyone's got their crackpot theories of how to fix the defense with random positions switches or, in the case of a couple dedicated caterwaulers, overhauling the scheme to be more of a 4-3 to take an extra defensive back off the field, which makes zero sense because Michigan's 4-3 would have the exact same personnel as last year's 4-3 and this year's 3-3-5. None of that is going to do anything, and Will Campbell is not a useful football player right now.

My suggestion is going to sound utterly ludicrous but here it is anyway: replace Ezeh with Kovacs and bring Marvin Robinson in. This is nuts, I know. Kovacs is a leprechaun-sized walk-on. But I go back to the stack DVD Casteel put out back in the day. In it he made two things clear: the NT is by far the most important player in the defense and makes things go (check), and the middle linebacker can be spectacularly undersized as long as he is a heady, instinctive player who can put a hat on the right shoulder of the right guy at the LOS after "making the nose tackle right". Casteel specifically says that the player they had the previous year was 190 pounds. Raise your hand if you'd take West Virginia's 2002 defense right now. That's everyone.

I mean, Kovacs does this:

He is a decisive slasher. Mike Martin is peeling the faces off of people right now and Kovacs will have free runs to the ball plenty. It won't be good, lord knows, but it almost can't be worse.

Enormous secondary minus?

Part of that was the return of rollout doom reminiscent of that Toledo game. Midnight Maize tallied up the results of those:

  • Out of 11 Roll Outs or Moved Pockets UMASS hit on 8 of them. Two were good Michigan defense and one was a UMASS holding call.
  • UMASS gained 87 yards on Roll outs
  • James Rogers was to blame for 5 of them.

This is also a major source of the crappy RPS metric; Michigan had no effective response to these all day, though that may be due to the fact they couldn't consistently stop a I-AA team's running game.

Not sure what to do about that since M is in cover three a lot and the cornerbacks are so weak they have to play soft, basically. Floyd did make a few plays on the ball, though he had the misfortune to see two deflect to his receiver anyway; Rogers was not going to challenge anything. I might do more edge blitzing against QBs who can throw on the move, and though Rogers hasn't been a huge liability it might be time to start seeing some of the freshmen work in.

Goats?

Mouton and Ezeh primarily with assists from the corners. Especially Ezeh. Also Kevin Leach managed some impressive minuses in a brief window. Missing Herron and Jones is hurting; where is Hawthorne?

Heroes?

Mike Martin a thousand times. Not exactly heroes but okay: the Gordons, Kovacs, the DEs.

What does it mean for Bowling Green and the future?

It means the linebackers are going to either revert back to their decent form of the first couple weeks or it's happy-happy walk-on time again, at which point they'll basically play like the starters and we'll get a rotation and everyone's brains will explode. I do think this game was a perfect storm of crappy play by Michigan and excellent execution by UMass and that there will be a couple Big Ten teams that get Denarded this year and fill their message boards with threads like "but UMass scored 37, fire everyone!" Michigan did not see that level of offensive execution from their first two opponents and it's hard to picture some of these upcoming Big Ten foes matching it what with their freshman quarterbacks and stapled-together run games.

But, really: it's time to replace Ezeh once and for all, except they can't. Mouton will turn in up and down games but as long as Ezeh is on the field Michigan is going to get gashed, nice guy though he may be. Who do you do that with, though? Michigan's inability to see the enormous problem mounting here and have four kids shoehorned into the position who aren't former walk-ons is a failing on par with starting Sheridan over Threet. Fitzgerald and Demens should have been backing Ezeh all year; their failure to develop, and Michigan's failure to acquire and keep any reasonable linebacker sorts in the last three years, is killing the defense.

QB pressure does remain an issue, though against passing teams Michigan has used a series of blitzes that get free guys in because you have to deal with Mike Martin before outside threats. Play action and rollouts will be issues; passing downs will be okay if they can just get some zone drops.

Picture Pages: Someone Fed Mouton After Midnight

Picture Pages: Someone Fed Mouton After Midnight

Submitted by Brian on September 21st, 2010 at 11:42 AM

This is just pure aaargh right here, but how about a preview of why the Michigan defense was so terrible against UMass?

It's first and ten on the Michigan 35 on what will be UMass's second touchdown drive. UMass comes out in an ace set with two tight ends to the short side of the field:

 awful-mouton-1

Michigan is in a 3-3-5, basically, but the twins formation and the double TEs distort it. Roh's off the field momentarily, replaced by JB Fitzgerald. UMass is going to run it up the gut:

awful-mouton-2

There's no pull on this so it's an inside zone. There's nowhere to go with RVB shoving his guy into the backfield, Kovacs beating the second TE to the inside, and Leach blitzing unmolested off the weak side. Michigan has basically killed this play as the RB has no choice but to head outside, where…

awful-mouton-3

…Mouton is totally unblocked. You can also see Kovacs poking his head through at the top of the line and Van Bergen getting his shove on.

Anway, Mouton: with no one outside of him because of the alignment he's the force defender who must get the tailback inside of him, where Leach and a scraping Ezeh can deal with the tailback if he cuts back inside tackle. (For some reason, this is "keeping leverage on the football.") And he's playing against a I-AA tailback. So he runs up real fast…

awful-mouton-4

…lets the tailback outside of him…

awful-mouton-5

…and personally turns zero yards…

awful-mouton-6

…into 15:

awful-mouton-7

Takeaways:

  • AAAAARRRRRGH

Seriously, there's nothing else here except Mouton making an enormous mistake. The good news is that if they fix that stuff the scheme of the defense is fine. It's not like they're asking the players to do anything particularly difficult or novel: make tackle. If cannot make tackle, funnel RB to help. Do not let RB outside of you. This has nothing to do with a shift to a 3-3-5. Look, here's Mouton doing the pretty much the same thing last year, albeit against a blocker:

That's the bad news: if these linebackers have been starting for three years and are still making these mistakes, why would they stop now? GERG linebacker fairy theory is about it and that took a major hit against UMass.

Maybe it was just an off day, one on which the linebackers took it easy and reverted to old, bad habits. Yeah. That, too, is the ticket.

Rich Rodriguez Presser Notes 9-20-10

Rich Rodriguez Presser Notes 9-20-10

Submitted by Tim on September 20th, 2010 at 2:53 PM

IMG_7907.JPG

Note: The Indiana game on October 2 will be a 3:30 kick on ESPNU.

UMass

You worry about an emotional letdown going from Notre Dame to an FCS team. Typically, they're worried more during preparation, and it seemed like that wasn't a problem last week. "We did not play with the type of urgency defensively that we did the week before." Guys have to understand the other team has players too, whether it's UMass or BGSU.

UMass wakeup call? You hope you don't need that to be a wakeup call. "Maybe we're assuming we're more mature than we are, then I look at our guys and we've got a lot of young players."

With Saturday's performance, will RR get more involved in the defense? "I'll probably spend a little bit of time with them today. Our defensive staff I think knows what we've gotta do." Some of the problems will be longer-term fixes. "Some of our issues on Saturday have to be fixed immediately." They can't play good defense being so tentative. Wants people to be happy when they win, but the defensive guys weren't pleased with their performance after the game.

Is the defense's struggle similar to last year? It's a new year, and it was a different week than Notre Dame. What's important is to play better going forward. "Everyone felt fortunate with the win, but didn't feel that we played well."

Losing contain, some of the issues were fundamental, "some they got us on a call." They stressed keeping contain in practice and during the game, but the lack of execution cost them. "The good part is we can fix all the fundamental part, and the technical part we can fix."

Personnel

INJURIES: Mike Jones and Brandon Herron injuries have led to a revolving door with the nickel package. Brandon Herron probably won't be back this weekend. "Marvin [Robinson] will be back this week. Carvin Johnson is still questionable."

Denard doesn't worry about stats and that stuff. "He loves football" He doesn't worry about individual stuff. He doesn't have a personality where the hype will go to his head.

Rodriguez is not worried about getting Devin and Tate to get reps for conference season. Focused on them getting better every day. Pleased with Tate's attitude last couple weeks. Both he and Devin are improving. Either could play if Denard needs a rest. If they had gotten a stop up 35-17, one of the backups would have gone in.

Running back: "That's the one position we have not played enough guys and we have enough guys ready to play." Want to got Hopkins and Cox in, but they need to be able to run the whole offense with those guys. Toussaint practiced last week, but was not 100%.

Stonum - "I've sensed a more mature Darryl Stonum since camp started." Stonum's off-field maturity is related to on-field success. His good start on the field has carried over from camp. Seeing a guy grow and mature is good. Young people mature, that's what happens. Making a bad decision doesn't make you a bad person. "I think Darryl, hopefully, 'gets it.'" His dad and grandma came up for the UMass game for maybe the first time she'd ever flown. Stonum and Junior are the leaders, have to step up.

"Taylor [Lewan] played really well last week. He played well to the point where it's Huyge or Lewan is the starter this week... That's a definite 'or.'"

Omameh has played better last two games after struggling against UConn. He has some fundamental stuff to work on, like taking a good first step.

Hoping some young guys on D can get a shot to get on the field and make plays. "We've gotta make it competitive in practice for some of those young guys." Backups on D are really young, so they have to learn both fundamentals and scheme. The coaches don't want to play a guy before he's ready unless they have to. On the defensive side of the ball, some guys have had to play. "We have a few freshmen that frankly, if some of the upperclassmen aren't playing well or they're having a bad day, we've gotta try 'em."

"If we need them to help us win games this year, we're not gonna redshirt 'em." Terry Talbott and Ash "They're freshmen, they're ready to roll, they're practicing. Looks like they're headed for a redshirt."

Mike Martin has played well, but "we didn't give out a player of the game defensively, because as a unit we didn't think anybody deserved that."

Rodriguez has probably never had kicker questions this deep into the season. "Usually something is established more firmly once you get into games." It just comes down to guys doing it right when the opportunity arises, not just in practice. "They have the ability to do it. You know, it's a situation where they've gotta do it under pressure in game time... I think it's probably most frustrating for them. It's not because they're not trying."

Hagerup "I'm convinced he's gonna be phenomenal." He just dropped the ball once, but he'll be fine as he gets experience.

Bowling Green, Etc.

BGSU has good skill guys, especially the running back. They have big guys up front and both of their QBs have played well, even though one got hurt. Spread shotgun w/ unbalanced, no-back, a variety of stuff. Have good defensive speed. "Some of the problems we've had this season, we're gonna see that again this weekend." Hopefully, they'll be able to stop it this time.

Lacking game film of the opposing QB doesn't have much effect on preparation. They'll worry more about the scheme, because BGSU will continue to run what they've been running.

Former Michigan kicker Bryan Wright plays for the Falcons, but the coaches don't have a way to scheme against him, and familiarity is not an advantage. Could do it with a lineman or QB or something. Rodriguez is proud of him - he has his Michigan degree, and is playing well for BGSU. Would rather not have to play against him, but glad he's happy.

Going for it on fourth "Those are all in our thoughts right now" - different situations factor into fourth-down decision, including down-and-distance, momentum, weather, etc.

Having to outscore people? "That's insulting (laughs). I certainly think out defense has a lot more pride in their abilities... we can play a lot better defensively... in that last ballgame, we just didn't play well. We played tentative."

Dantonio's heart attack - "Most coaches have probably known this for years, that it's a different lifestyle and you have to take care of yourself." The job is more public today. You don't just work your job, you live your job. Hard to get away from your job, "you don't leave your office and go home and leave your job at the office."

RR works out 5 days a week. Has his own personal stairmaster, lifting weights a bit. "It's hard to devote the time, because you wanna watch the film, and you've got a lot of things to do, but you have to do it." He has probably not slept for three hours straight in years. Sleep a couple, then you're up for one. "When you get five, that's good."

Parachute Check

Parachute Check

Submitted by Brian on September 20th, 2010 at 11:28 AM

9/17/2010 – Michigan 42, UMass 37 – 3-0 

imageimage

Melanie Maxwell/AnnArbor.com

Well… at least it wasn't as grim as it looked a with about a minute before halftime, when my head was in my hands and I could feel the cave feces covering my body as I wished for a merciful death. Maybe an albino salamander would crawl down my throat or something. Then the offense did a large number of very fast things and the defense managed to stop the UMass offense like once or twice and then they managed to not quite blow it at the end.

And so here we are. If you ever wanted to know what it would have been like if Michigan had made that field goal at the end of The Horror you have your answer: not at all good but approximately a trillion times better than the alternative. The stanktastic defensive performance was exactly what Michigan fans feared was going to happen after every defensive back within hailing distance of the two deep exploded, except worse. I kind of expected Wisconsin might put up 37 points on a series of long, grinding drives. Not so much a team that launched a stirring comeback to nip William & Mary.

That combined with the pratfall by UConn against Temple and Notre Dame's admittedly delicious overtime punking leaves an uncomfortable taste in the mouth. Last year around this time I was surveying the outlook after Michigan got significantly outgained by Indiana but escaped by the skin of their teeth. The game column was sarcastically titled "The Soaring Majesty!":

Since we didn't [lose], we should all just breathe a sigh of relief, recalibrate expectations back down a little bit, and move on. Michigan's not at a point where any win against any Big Ten team is one to freak out about. The freshmen quarterbacks remain freshmen and it's becoming clear that the defense has about the same raw talent level that last year's offense had. The only thing keeping them from plunging off a deep, dark cliff is the fact that no position on defense is as singularly important as quarterback is on offense.

Michigan didn't win a game against a non-seal opponent the rest of the year. It was this much fun: no fun.

This is the point where I take a finger, insert it into the collar of my shirt, and make an uncomfortable facial expression David Letterman has mastered and is impossible to Google. (What do you type, "Letterman shirt uncomfortable"? "Letterman neck trick"?)Just imagine you're wearing a tie and your boss has called you into his office during a period of right-sizing and you're a big vaudeville buff. It's like that.

It's like that because of the following facts:

  • Jonathan Hernandez had 114 yards on 26 carries with a long of 15.
  • John Griffin had 96 yards on 17 carries with a long of 19.
  • Kyle Havens went 22 of 29 for 222 yards with a long of 19.

That is a complete demolition at the hands of a I-AA team without even blowing it big. UMass got two short fields when Michigan had a punt blocked and Cam Gordon fumbled an interception, but even dropping those out of the equation UMass drives went FG, punt, TD, punt, TD, fumble, punt, TD, INT; both of the short field drives started around the 25 and ended in Michigan's endzone. And at no point did they get a cheap touchdown due to a secondary implosion. They just ground down the field as if Michigan was the I-AA team. Given the level of competition, it's probably the worst defensive performance of the Rodriguez era, and that's saying something. If not for the Post-Apocalyptic Oregon Game we'd be reaching back to Bump's days to find something worse. The parallels to last year are scary.

I can tell you to look at the yardage and feel better, which still works for me to some extent. Michigan still didn't outgain a BCS opponent until the Purdue game in 2009 and they have a demolition of UConn to their name. I can tell you to look at what Purdue and Indiana and Illinois are doing and count to seven that way and then rely on someone else (MSU? Iowa? Penn State?) getting Denarded for the eighth win that would officially exceed expectations, and that helps too. I can point to Iowa's 2009 season, which started out with a one-point win over Northern Iowa in which the Hawkeyes were outgained and had to block two(!) field goals on consecutive plays to avoid the killer upset. Four games later Iowa survived 24-21 against Arkansas State; they ended the year by whipping Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

All of these things say football is weird and last weekend was probably an aberration and Michigan's defense will be bad but probably not that bad. But it's hard to shake the feeling of deja vu. We jumped out of a plane and went WOOOOOO because everything is fast and fun and now we're trying to ignore the feeling that the parachute might have transferred to West Virginia. Again.

But at least there's Denard, right? Right. The silver lining to all of this is that he's going to have insane stats because Michigan's got no choice. That's the ticket.

NON-BULLETS

Pulaski time. This has been kicking around message boards and my head since I was annoyed that Michigan threw the ball on third and six early in the game and then whiffed another field goal: given the situation, should Michigan emulate that Arkansas high school team that never, ever punts? Consider:

  • The offense is pretty awesome, making a successful fourth-down conversion worth more points than it would be if it was still 2008.
  • The defense is pretty terrible, making the loss of field position from an unsuccessful conversion less of an issue than it would be with a defense more likely to stop the opponent. A good defense is more likely to get you the ball back approximately where you booted it from; Michigan's is likely to get you the ball back via kickoff.
  • Will Hagerup spent the ND game shanking balls into the stands and dropped a snap against UMass, getting his punt blocked.
  • The field goal kickers are 1 of 4 and Rodriguez is openly pleading for any student, clueless or not, to try out.

So… yeah. When the Mathlete did a study with his enormous database of plays he concluded that 1) your defense has no impact on the decision (something I disagree with) and 2) that if your offense is good the light is almost always green:

4th-down-good-offense

Maybe some of the Mathlete's assumptions are wrong there (he gives an across-the-board 10% increase in conversion percentage) but even an average offense should be going on fourth and medium anywhere near midfield; Michigan is looking considerably better than average.

I'm hoping Rodriguez starts playing with going on fourth down in mind. If anyone was ever going to test the limits of Romer-ian game theory it would be this Michigan team. It's NCAA '11 time.

Probably no need to get alarmed for next week at least. Bowling Green is 1-2 with losses to Tulsa and Troy with a win coming last week over Marshall. In that game, Marshall's QB chucked four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. MGoUser BGwolverine13 has some information on their season to date. It sounds like the starting quarterback will sit out this week after suffering a concussion, which is doubly bad for BG since their rushing offense is currently 111th nationally at 2.7 YPC.

Is it sad that we're talking about this? Yes.

Yeah, pretty much.

What happened? Michigan's first two opponents went down to defeat over the weekend, too, seriously damaging their value when it comes to projecting the future. You probably know what went down in the MSU-ND game, but UConn losing to Temple 30-16 hurts.

How did that happen? Well, the Huskies did outgain Temple by 34 yards. (WOO!) They went from 16-14 up to 27-16 down via a fumble return touchdown and a four-yard touchdown drive after a big punt return. Zach Frazer appears to be pure awful (4.8 YPA) and their defense grim in all phases. Temple RB Bernard Pierce had 169 yards on 26 carries and his long was just 38; UConn is not good.

Meanwhile, the ND-MSU game was as dead even as you would expect an overtime game to be. Michigan State ended up outgaining ND 477-461, with the final 29 yards for MSU coming on the trick play that's going to make TWIS so fun this afternoon. Notre Dame's defense was thoroughly gashed by land and sea, giving up 203 yards on 43 carries and allowing Kirk Cousins to complete 23 of 33 passes. ND ran Armando Allen just 13 times despite the fact he is very good and was picking up 5.5 yards a crack; Dayne Crist was 32 of 55 for a bunch of yards, one INT, and 4 TDs. The teams had 13 possessions each.

Conclusion? Michigan State is about Michigan's equal and the game will be a shootout nailbiter.

Goals met? On defense obviously none. On special teams obviously none. Jeremy Gallon is on a streak of five straight terrible decisions on difficult punts to field and should either be replaced or given a return buddy who hangs out ten yards in front of him and fields the crappy ones.

On offense, we did see the healthy and productive return of Junior Hemingway. Taylor Lewan got in and was reportedly mauling people, which okay I-AA team but still that's an encouraging sign when your freshman tackle gets in to replace a guy who's played well so far. And Michael Shaw put up some of those yard things that Denard always gets. We did not get to see Cox, Toussaint, or Hopkins, unfortunately. (Toussaint may still be injured. He dressed but was only participating in some drills before the game.)

The one important thing that Michigan seemed to establish is the existence of a Denard deep ball. UMass was playing tight man coverage most of the day and Denard went deep twice to beat it, hitting Kelvin Grady on a deep seam and Stonum on a fly route. Both balls were well thrown. If you add that to the rest of the stuff Denard can do, hoo boy.

A note on the interception: he had Roundtree open for a touchdown but did the same thing he did against ND where he threw the ball on a line, allowing a safety to come underneath it and deflect it to the guy running a step or two behind Roundtree.

Lloyd-ballin' it note. Hated the third and one iso to Vincent Smith, though not getting it wasn't Smith's fault since there was an unblocked guy tearing in from the edge. But the whole advantage of having a running quarterback is that you get that extra blocker, which seems most useful on third and one. Michigan should have a version of Gator Heavy where Koger, Webb, and whichever RB they think is the best blocker line up to the same side of the formation and they just Tebow their way forward.

ELSEWHERE

Michigan Exposures has photo galleries from the pregame and game. You are also implored to check out UMGoBlog's gallery. MVictors catches Scooter Vaughn in a moment of extreme Scooterdom.

Mas mealer:

The Hoover Street Rag tries to maintain calm:

Now, all of the said, consider, if you will, where a Michigan fan might be standing right now.  Since September 1, 2007, you have seen your team play 40 games.  In that time span as of this weekend, you have seen your team win as many games as they have lost.  Twenty Saturdays up, twenty Saturdays down.  Twenty times happy, twenty times sad.  You have seen hope crushed in the waking moments of a new rising sun.  You have seen hope's corpse taken out back and burned repeatedly.  You've seen redemption come from unlikely sources.  You've seen a cold night in Champaign.  You've seen a darn near miracle in Orlando.  You've seen a comeback like nothing you've seen before in Ann Arbor.  You've seen another quarterback in orange and blue leave flame trails behind him like a time-traveling DeLorean.  You've seen a walk-on save the Jug.  You've seen a freshman led an unlikely comeback in a shootout.  You've seen all hope die on four chances from the one.  You've seen an invasion of red into the Big House.  You've seen a sophomore do things we only thought that other teams did to Michigan.  You've seen 20 wins and 20 losses. 
So maybe this is why Saturday's performance doesn't bother me.  It was a win.  The gap between "survives upset bid" or "gets a scare from an FCS school" and losing is a chasm visible from space.  We've been on the other side of that chasm, or perhaps more accurately at the bottom of it. 
Maize & Go Blue also says remain calm. Remain, maintain, calm. Britain stands alone.
 

"We were terrible on defense," Roh said. "We just didn't look like we were prepared to play and we didn't make adjustments during the game.

"I promise you'll not see another game like that from us again."

From Roh's lips to Tebow's ears.

UMass Video of All Varieties

UMass Video of All Varieties

Submitted by Brian on September 19th, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Uh, well… hmmmm. You probably won't want to watch a ton of them, but yeah. Here's Denard's Gameday feature:

And the Big Ten Icons item on Charles Woodson, featuring Keith Jackson:

Somehow Woodson finished 20th, which like lol ok.

Sanitized highlights:

Press conferences and some other bits after the jump.

Post-UMass Presser Notes

Post-UMass Presser Notes

Submitted by Tim on September 18th, 2010 at 4:41 PM

Rich Rodriguez

Not pleased with the way they played, but happy with the win. All three phases of the game had letdowns. "As quiet a winning locker room as you'll ever see."

"I can promise our guys will look at the film, coaches will look at the film, I'll watch everything on all three phases." "Defensively we thought they would pressure us a little bit" so Denard couldn't run. Has to talk to D coaches to see if UMass did surprising stuff. "They're pretty good up front."

Nobody was injured outside of Banks, and his injury isn't serious.

Take what they give us. Stonum made plays, Shaw stepped up. Not worried about starters being tired because they only played 56 snaps.

3-4, 4-3 shift "We saw the same thing last week." Switch just about every other snap. "That's kinda part for the course. Our guys have seen that." UMass adjusted at the second half. UMass played a lot of cover-0, gave up lots of 1-on-1 opportunities. Maybe Michigan should have taken even more deep shots. Wanted to run to give the D a break.

"[Denard] was pretty sharp with his eyes and his decisions." Ball-handling was the problem. Denard not as sharp as he was first couple weeks. "Amost like a first-game feel." Execution wasn't clean. Denard made some great throws, a few good runs. "We didn't run him as much. We didn't want to." Shaw stepped up.

Offense is QB-centered, he has to run sometimes. More designed RB runs today to give him some relief. Shaw - "runs hard, got great speed, used his vision well today." Team's biggest homerun threat.

Lewan - "we should have played Ricky Barnum too some." They'll decide if a few more guys should have gotten onto the field. "If we'd have payed better, we could have played more guys. Didn't happen, so we've gotta play we've we've got to to win the game."

"We have some warts, that's still out there. Let's not pretend that we're the 1985 Chicago Bears." Have to play with passion, intensity, and intelligence in all 3 phases, but especially on D. Didn't get better today, but the guys know without being told that they need to work hard this week.

Some of D struggles lack of execution - missed tackles, losing contain, "there's a lot of things that we've gotta clean up, and everybody knows that." Going against a different scheme this week, made some mistakes. Has to watch film to compare where the breakdowns were. Losing contain to our left was bad, because they knew it would happen coming in. Lost contain 5-6 times at least.

Kovacs strip - scored quickly, then got the turnover for 2 quick scores. Momentum with the ball in third quarter. Didn't happen to shut them down and put the game out of reach. "They played well." Went into the UMass locker room to tell them that.

Special teams - The return game was OK, a couple times Darryl almost broke one. Missed only field goal, kick coverage needs to improve. Kickers make them in practice. Will just dropped the snap on the block.

Thought Seth Broekhuizen kicked better for kickoffs. Placekicking - "We had a student body tryout. Any student out there... we'll have another tryout for you.

Darryl Stonum

"You never know" how many points you'll need to win. UMass is a good team. "They gave us a run for our money." The D carried the offense last week, so in the team concept, it's time to pay it back a bit. "They'll make some corrections, and so will we."

Came out slow, but for the most part did a good job executing. Offense knew they were shooting themselves in the foot early, just started executing better.

"On that play, I'm usually a backside outlet" on the long TD reception. Omameh and Grady did a good job blocking to open the hole.

Last time he scored 2 TDs back-to-back like in the second quarter was in high school. Personal breakthrough game? "With all the talent we have at receiver, you never know who's gonna be the hot hand for the week." Just his job to show the coaches he's capable of making plays. He and Roy joking about who would be the guy this week.

On his long (non-TD) reception "Denard fakes the sprintout, and we knew that the whole defense is gona key to his running." Just had to run past the cornerback.

Denard throwing: "His accuracy and his... total quartebrack, just being a pocket passer." His accuracy has improved. Puts the ball where the receivers can run away from the defender after the catch.

Michael Shaw

"[Denard] told me on the sideline, mid second quarter, that he was gonna start giving up the ball a lot more." Denard's been getting yards because Ds are keying Shaw instead of Denard. Today was different. Other guys need to step up so the offense can click without Denard having to do it all. "We have playmakers, but now we're coming into our own as an offense."

There's no way to tell from film who the end is keying on. Had an idea they'd try to contain Denard (like ND, which didn't work out for them).

He was trying to hit the hole fast early in the game, but the DL was 2-gapping the OL, so he tried to hesitate on his long TD run to make sure he had the right read.

Offensive pressure opposite that D? "We added pressure to ourselves." Held each other up each of the past two weeks. Denard kept the team poised when they were down 17-7.

Special team struggles? "I don't really expect our kicking game to miss kicks. We all have faith in all of our teammates." Offense's job is to score TDs and not have to rely on those guys as much. "Those 40-yard kicks can turn into 2-yard extra points."

Jordan Kovacs

UMass held onto the ball well. Defense didn't do their job to get them off the field. "You've gotta give them a lot of credit they're a very good team. Maybe they caught us off guard." "They've got some big offensive linemen, I know it's nothing like we'll see in the Big Ten."

"We're happy that we didn't lose, but we're not satisfied with the way that we played defensively." Defensive play overall: "Clearly it's disappointing." Better to have that happen in a game that they still win, instead of have them cause a loss.

On his strip and recovery: "At that point in the game, they had a lot of momentum." Knew his team needed a big play, noticed the guy was carrying the ball low.

Losing contain - "Tough to see defensively. I'll admit that it happened to me a couple times." Need to get back to fundamentals and responsibilities. Would have been a different story if everyone executed well.

Mike Martin

"We never underestimate a team. We're not good enough to just walk in and get a victory." The team just has to play hard. "I think a focus that we needed" was lacking. Had a good week of practice. Need to get back to fundamentals this week in practice. "Michigan came out with a victory, and that's all we can ask for."

UMass offensive line - "They had a good line. They were smart and they did a good job with positioning their bodies a certain way." Called some plays to keep UMass unbalanced, disguise some things. They did a god job reacting.

Fighting through doubles. "It feels good as a nose guard because you don't get a lot of chances to be free." If you hit a rock over and over and it breaks after 100th hit, it's not the 100th hit that breaks the rock, it was the 99 before that.

Fewer sacks - "We've just gotta keep playing hard." Last year, it took BG 4 games to get a sack, there's still a lot of football to play.

Cam Gordon int/fumble "That's tough. I think it's just one of those freak things." The way it happened, they didn't complain and just went to go play the next play.

The team has done a good job not getting worried, pointing finger. "That's what we did in the past and we've done a better job this year in that aspect." Just do your job to win.

Coach went over a few things on the drawing board, and the halftime message was to go out and play as hard as they can for the final 30 minutes.

Make sure guys buckle down and get ready for Bowling Green.

Denard Robinson

UMass is a good team on both sides of the ball. "We watched film and knew they was pretty good." The team just came out sluggish. Can't come out sluggish and expect to win. That was the lesson they learned today. Have to re-focus to make sure this doesn't happen next week.

"We just had to focus and everybody had to play as one, play as a team, play smart" when they were down 10. Team started slow, and everyone needed to whole team to play.

"They really didn't contain me, I guess. That's why Shaw had a great game." UMass made that decision, not Denard. "It was great to have [Shaw] running the ball like that." All the running backs are threats, they just needed a D to give them a chance to break out.

"I'm all in for Michigan. Whatever it takes to win. We winning for Michigam, we're not just winning for me." Doesn't care about his stats if they win. "If we get a W, that's good." Nobody's perfect. He knew he wasn't going to go a whole season without throwing a pick. "We're gonna face adversity the whole season."

He thought he would play the whole game, until the coaches tell him otherwise.

On the long Stonum touchdown, "It was designed, he read the blocks perfectly, he made one guy miss, and got going." It was a big shift in momentum before the half. The offense just had to make the plays happen. Everybody knew they had to step it up.

"We've moved from that Notre Dame game, that was last week. And will move on from UMass after we watch film tomorrow to Bowling Green."

UMass Liveblog

UMass Liveblog

Submitted by Brian on September 18th, 2010 at 9:20 AM

While you're waiting for the game to start, check out a Never Forget post from Dreaded Judgment and the triumphant return of Notre Dame puppet extravaganza Stuffing the Passer, which contains the immortal line "ow, my throwing eye."

As always, Liveblog Chaos Mitigation Post is your friend.

Unverified Voracity Gets Served

Unverified Voracity Gets Served

Submitted by Brian on September 17th, 2010 at 2:50 PM

disregard-shoelaces

Shirtpocalypse. So if you've gone to the MGoStore you've noticed that there isn't much of it left. This is why:

We have been ordered to remove many MGoStore designs by the University of Michigan. They feel that these designs violate NCAA compliance rules as well as certain University trademarks. As a thank you for your support of Brian, MGoBlog, and the MGoBlog Store, receive 10% off any purchase at www.moesportshops.com by using the code: mgoblog10

Thank you for your understanding and support and we appreciate your patience as we figure all of this out and continue to provide you with unique apparel. Go Blue!

This is extremely frustrating, but Underground sells licensed apparel and has no choice but to comply. It's not quite as bad as it looks since they threatened but did not actually C&D a number of designs that were pulled yesterday, including stuff like "Worst State Ever"; these will return shortly. Anything player-specific, no matter how oblique, is out unless it's an officially-licensed #16 jersey. We can't do anything but stew about it, unfortunately. Sorry for the lack of warning.

The one thing you can do is take pictures of those stupid t-shirt stands (you know, the ones with "MICHIGAN DRINKING" shirts) that ripped off several MGoDesigns when they have player-specific merch and send it to the U. They deserve pain, too.

Big Ten Hockey less a possibility, more a certainty. Barry Alvarez, always the first guy to tell the world about potentially seismic changes in conference realignment, on Wisconsin's position:

“I don’t know the logistics — how long it takes to get out of a league, all of that — but I sense that we will move in that direction,” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said Thursday.

Madison.com also cites a source close to the process saying the same thing:

“There’s going to be Big Ten hockey,” assured a source with intimate knowledge of the process, adding that 2014-15 is the target point for introducing the new league although he said “it could happen sooner than that.”

College Hockey news says it's "nice" Penn State made noises about cooperating with college hockey but the tea leaves were easy to read: "BTHC is inevitable in 2014."

A six-team league would presumably play 20 conference games, leaving 14-16 nonconference games for the defectors to spread out amongst former league-mates. A ten-team WCHA featuring Denver, Colorado College, and North Dakota would still be a power conference, and a nine- or ten-team CCHA (depending on whether they reconsider Alabama-Huntsville) would still have new arenas and elite coaches at ND and Miami to guarantee themselves respectability. Hopefully any move to Big Ten hockey will make an effort to preserve existing programs with scheduling agreements and guaranteed home games for the Ferris States and Northern Michigans of the world; the last thing college hockey needs is more programs folding.

One thing that's being kicked around that you probably won't see: Notre Dame in the BTHC. The Big Ten is not going to throw Notre Dame a bone if they don't have to, and making that move would further damage the leftover CCHA schools I assume everyone wants to protect. I bet Michigan still has a home-and-home with them most years, but they aren't going to be in the conference.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Steve Breaston in two questions. Via the Arizona Republic:

Question: Do you have any hidden talents none of your teammates knows about? You know, like can you play jazz flute?
Breaston: I can write. I'm a writer. I post a lot of stuff on my fan page on Facebook. Oh, and I can bend my thumb behind my knuckles like this. Look.

Q: Pretty cool, but that's a little creepy. Did you have some sort of freak accident as a kid or what?
A: No, no. My thumbs are just like that.

Also, Breaston's favorite baseball team is Pittsburgh. Jeez.

Optimism from Massachusetts. Except not really:

Q: What's the best case/worst case scenario for UMass? In other words, what needs to happen for the Minutemen to win? How does a blowout happen?…

A blowout seems more plausible. UMass hasn't faced a good dual-threat quarterback in a while, and if Robinson gets going early, things could unravel fast. The Minutemen can't afford to turn the ball over. Naturally, if they can avoid falling behind early, their confidence goes up. An early hole could drain their belief in their ability to win pretty fast.

It's so nice to have people saying things like this, even if they're a I-AA beat writer.

Etc.: The MZone's Know Your Foe returns! This is just like when we used to go to bowl games! FSD talks to Denard's mom, who says he runs like Grandpa, which is a terrifying thing to think. Tom reports that 2011 OL Chris Bryant and his 2012 teammate Jordan Diamond will be unofficial visitors tomorrow. I will remind you about this again but Phil Brabbs is having a fundraising event in Chicago for the Indiana game.