The Story 2012: The Real William Carlos Williams

The Story 2012: The Real William Carlos Williams Comment Count

Brian August 27th, 2012 at 11:23 AM

Previously: The Story 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008. Preview 2011.

Sometimes there's a man... I won't say a hero, 'cause what's a hero? But sometimes there's a man … and I'm talkin' about the Dude here… sometimes there's a man, well, he's the man for his time and place. He fits right in there.

-The Stranger, The Big Lebowksi

I construct the preview every year from the bones of the previous one, and when I took my first stabs at organizing what I was going to say about the secondary I ran across this, because obviously:

death6.2

How long ago was that? A hundred years.

Joe Paterno was still Penn State's coach, and wonderful. JT Floyd was unable to stay within ten yards of a receiver. Michigan's football program was riven with factionalism. Craig Roh was some sort of linebacker and Kenny Demens was lining up an inch from the nose tackle. Rich Rodriguez had hired Greg Robinson, and this was Greg Robinson burning the world in response.

How long ago was this?

kenny-demens-beaver

Bathrooms had not yet been invented. Top hats were all the rage. Punting was a good idea. Pterodactyls were the hot new species. It was a long, long time ago, October of 2010. A long time ago.

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It was college, so we did ridiculous things. In my sophomore year one of those was having a fight about who the "real William Carlos Williams" was. William Carlos Williams was obviously the real William Carlos Williams but somehow Kit and Sunil contrived to have a dispute about which one of them really was the real William Carlos Williams anyway. This was settled the way these things always are: with a poetry-off.

We met with great solemnity in Ryan's dorm room. One of us had found a recipe for a drink that supposedly tasted like apple pie. I was still in the phase where changing my state of mind with alcohol was something beneath me and did not partake. I do remember there being whipped cream from a can. It was drinking in a dorm room. Of course there was whipped cream.

Embarrassingly sweet drinks were consumed as the festivities progressed until the poetry-off. Kit and Sunil would be given a topic and asked to compose a poem on that theme in the style of William Carlos Williams. The topic—revealed with the allez cuisine flourish of an Iron Chef ingredient—was red-haired women.

When the allotted minutes had passed and time was called, Kit went first. Kit had prepared. His poem was a mélange of repurposed WCW lines that he'd memorized and crammed together into a surprisingly coherent Frankenstein of a poem.

Sunil was next. He'd had far too much to drink and was showing it. Sitting on Ryan's bed slumped over, he roused himself. He looked down at what he'd written, and started.

"I love red haired bitches
they say 'whatever' and 'like'
how easily we imbibe their terminology
…"

At this juncture Sunil toppled over backward on the bed and said no more. The panel of judges unanimously declared him the Real William Carlos Williams. Sunil celebrated by throwing up into the trash.

-----------------------------

I think about Sunil's poem whenever someone other than Brady Hoke calls the Great Eye of Columbus "Ohio." This is all the time. Kit assembled a frankenpoem from someone's else's mouth; Sunil just said stuff. One of these things stuck. There's an "imbibe this terminology" tag on this blog.

hokesmugBrady Hoke dropped the "State" from Ohio and drove the Buckeyes to distraction to the point where the program—not just the fans—celebrated the return of "that school up north" like Terrelle Pryor welcoming an auto dealer into his tattoo-artist-sponsored apartment. Hoke dropped "This is Michigan" in his introductory press conference and tacked on the "fergodsakes" that made it immortal. He called last year's outfit Team 132, and now this year's outfit is team 133 and the ridiculous recruiting class that will enroll next year is shooting #team134 hashtags back and forth across twitter.

Hoke didn't seem to mean anything by any of it. He just talked, and though he tried to press-conference it things slipped out sideways. We imbibed them.

That's marketing. The rest is just repetition.

A year ago—or a hundred, whatever, I can't tell anymore—I wrote a story about the 2011 season that focused on how it was a damn good thing that Denard and Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen and Kevin Koger were around because I'd been in the stands when they were losing to Purdue and some guy kept screaming "they don't have any HEART" and heard tale after tale of shameful behavior directed at Rich Rodriguez—if you can't recall, he was the head coach at the time—by program alums.

A year later, Brady Hoke has every last Michigan fan marching behind him, not to mention Greg Mattison and a heaping handful of the country's best high school football players. This has just happened, you know? It is of course planned and difficult and meticulousness is required, but on one level Hoke just vacuumed everyone up because he is who he is.

Last February I was in a hotel in Grand Rapids where people had gathered to talk about football. I'm in the very corner of this room and I've got longer hair than any five other people in it put together and a goatee and I look like I do, you know. Like a guy who has trouble crossing borders sometimes. I could have been wearing a sequined dress and heels and not have looked less like a football coach than I did.

Hoke is standing two feet in front of me.

I have this completely insane fear that somehow Hoke will recognize me even though he knows nothing about me. He may not even know what the internet is. But this is an insane fear, remember. I don't want to make eye contact in case he says "you're the one who wrote a post called 'Profiles In Cronyism' about me, and several other uncomplimentary things besides" and this will spur the rest of the room to toss me bodily out of this hotel. But I'm staring at him all the same.

Borges is there, too. He's talking a couple rooms down but has stopped in for a visit. In an hour I'll sneak over to his talk and listen, enraptured, for an hour as he describes Michigan's passing concepts, and feel embittered when he has to stop instead of continuing on for another four. Before he gets into it he'll tell the room that it is great working for "Brady" because he trusts you to do your job, unlike some coaches he's worked under. When he says it, it sounds like he's saying no one will ever leave him, because why would you?

Right now Borges is surveying a room packed from stem to stern for Hoke and making a self-depreciating comment about the lack of people in his much smaller room. Brady grins, and says "Nobody cares about offense, Al. Who cares about offense?" He says it again. He laughs, and is completely at ease as myself and a half-dozen other star-struck folk file this interaction away in our brains. He walks away and we fall into line behind him, like so many others.

Comments

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs Wisconsin

Upon Further Review 2010: Offense vs Wisconsin Comment Count

Brian November 25th, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Formation notes: Nothing fancy from Michigan. Wisconsin mostly went with the linebacker-over-slot stuff ND and others have run all year. Most of the game they paired this with safeties 6-8 yards off the LOS like so:

nickel-4-3

Occasionally they would shift into a cover-zero 4-4 look but mostly it was this. On Michigan's final charted drive they went with the slot LB look with their safeties at real safety depth, whereupon Michigan passed all over them. 

Substitution notes: Lewan missed the game so Michigan went back to its earlier configuration with Huyge at LT. The rest of it was as per usual, except Shaw missed the game with a concussion and Smith got the vast bulk of the time as the number one back.

Show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M1 1 10 I-form twins 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Iso Smith 2
Wisconsin LBs aligned to the backside of the play, allowing the backside DE to slant under the block of McColgan. Smith does well just to get a couple yards by picking his way through trash. RPS -1, though perhaps harsh since it's first and ten from the one.
M3 2 8 I-form twins 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout hitch Roundtree 14
…but they could have done this so the RPS stands. Michigan rolls the pocket as the two RBs run at the LOS like they're running another iso, sucking linebackers up. Slot safety heads out on the Hemingway hitch outside, leaving Roundtree wide open for the first down. McColgan(-1) got chucked by a DE and Robinson gets some pressure so he has to throw this awkwardly; the resulting pass is on target but inside and takes Roundtree off his feet. Borderline MA/CA, but with the pressure I think it's the latter. (CA, 2, protection 1/2, McColgan -1, RPS +1)
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone dive Smith 7
Eerily similar to the MSU game, where Michigan kept running it right down the throat of an opponent determined to let the backside DE contain on the read. Here he's even standing up with a big blinking sign that says "no scrape here, thanks." Dorrestein(+1) and Omameh(+1) destroy the backside DT, shoving him five yards downfield. This cuts off any LB angles and allows Smith a cutback lane behind the contain DE that he takes for a good chunk. (ZR +1)
RUN+:Omameh, Dorrestein RUN-:
M24 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone dive Smith 4
Same thing, same result, backside DE crashes faster and tackles better. Dorrestein gets a ding for not getting push sufficient to get out of the way of Smith as he tries to run past the DE. (ZR+1)
RUN+:Omameh, Dorrestein(0.5) RUN-:
M28 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Hitch Hemingway Inc
Batted into the air as M slides their protection and leaves Smith one on one with a DE. DE forms up, perceiving this is a quick pass, and leaps to bat it. Smith needs to go at this guy's knees so this doesn't happen. (BA, 0, protection 0/2, Smith -2)
M28 2 10 ? ? ? ? ? Run ? Robinson 1
We miss this play. Hate you director.
M29 3 9 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Pass Scramble Robinson 6
Protection is fine; Robinson can't find anyone open and ends up running for a gain well short of the first down. Reminder: these get put in TA if they are a clear second option instead of an obvious way to pick up the first. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 8 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Post Stonum Inc
So like Purdue, Wisconsin's 4-3 alignment has featured safeties 7-8 yards off the LOS with a bias towards charging forward. Michigan goes after it this time around with a play action inverted veer look. Safety 1 sucks up and is dead, safety 2 sucks up and is dead, Stonum gets inside the cornerback and gets yards of separation on a 15-yard post that's either a diving ankle tackle for 20 yards or a touchdown like the Indiana post... Denard overthrows Stonum by five yards. Sad face. (INX, 0, protection 2/2, RPS +3)
M28 2 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inverted veer keeper Robinson 4
Aiiigh. Michigan goes with the Cam Newton, and I think Perry Dorrestein(-1) does not get his assignment right. He's blocking down on the playside DT, which is also what Omameh is doing. This allows the MLB to scrape unmolested. The playside DE is headed upfield to contain the handoff so Robinson pulls (ZR+1). Schilling's pulled around and kicks out the OLB, leaving Robinson one on one with that unblocked MLB in a ton of space. With one safety screaming playside to contain Smith and the other headed around the outside Denard is gone--gone--if he gets through the first level. A diving arm tackle succeeds in getting Denard down. Sadface.
RUN+:Omameh RUN-: Dorrestein
M32 3 6 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 29
Safety in the box here for a seven-man front. Daring them to throw, except when M runs the QB draw it rips off a big chunk. Go figure. Schilling(+1) gets the key block at the line that gets a DT upfield and opens it up for Robinson. Omameh(+1) set his guy up well, allowing Smith(+1) to take a run at a linebacker not sure which side of the NT the play will go. Molk(+1) gets a block in space against the last linebacker and Robinson doesn't even have to cut until a safety attacks. He dodges the S(+2) and picks up another 15 before someone can run him down from behind when he cuts past the corner.
RUN+:Schilling, Omameh, Smith, Molk, Robinson(2) RUN-:
O39 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Pass Bubble screen Roundtree 3
Linebackers in the box and soft man on the edges for the first time. Michigan attacks it with the bubble. Robinson's throw is behind Roundtree, forcing him to spin around and robbing him of an opportunity to attack the charging safety. (MA, 3, screen)
O36 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone dive Smith 6
Same thing, other side of the line, with Huyge(+1) and Schilling(+1) doing the honors by blowing the backside DT yards off the LOS and giving Smith an easy six yards. Schilling peeled off the block to kick a charging MLB impressively, otherwise I'd think about knocking these down to halves. Backside DE again crashes to tackle.
RUN+:Huyge, Schilling RUN-:
O30 3 1 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run QB lead draw Robinson 1
Omameh(-1) gets slanted under by the backside DE, making this a difficult, hairy conversion that Robinson barely makes. Honestly it looks like the spot was a half-yard generous. (RPS -1) Huyge also slanted under so no cutback lane.
O29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 7
Backside DE contain; handoff (ZR+1). Wisconsin's playside DT too quick to get sealed and an attempted scoop on the playside DE gets run through. It's cutback time. Molk's block on the DT has driven him off the LOS. Huyge ran at the backside DT and kind of fell down in his general direction, which does not look like an effective block in any way but does force the guy about four yards downfield and opens the lane up further. Smith reads it, hits it, makes contact with the backside DT five yards downfield and gets tackled for six. Wow. So... um. Half points for Smith, Molk, and Huyge? Sure!
RUN+:Smith(0.5), Molk(0.5), Huyge(0.5) RUN-:
O22 2 3 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 5
Double by Molk(+0.5) and Omameh(+0.5) drives the playside DT back; he attempts to swim through and Omameh kicks him out of the play. Molk's release is awkward since he's coming from inside the LB, but he pushes the guy past the play and gives Robinson a cutback lane. It's a cutback lane directly into a linebacker but it's good for the first. If M hadn't released oddly because of the swim this could have opened up for more, thus the halves. Smith(+1) got a good pounding block on another LB.
O17 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Pass Bubble screen Roundtree Inc
In front of Roundtree by a yard; it glances off his fingertips. (IN, 0, screen)
O17 2 10 Shotgun empty TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 4
Offensive line has enough blockers to get Robinson one on one with a safety but it looks like Schilling(-1) loses his guy to the wrong side and forces a cutback; Omameh(+1) got a one on one block with the backside DT that got him on his butt four yards downfield and Robinson runs off that for a decent gain.
O13 3 6 Shotgun empty TE 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout out Smith Inc
Wisconsin goes with an aggressive look and sends six with man behind it. Smith runs an out past the sticks and is open for the first; Robinson sees it and throws it. This would hit any average-sized WR in the facemask but Smith is 5'6 and it glances off his hands. This is like throwing strikes to Eddie Gaedel. I can't give him an IN here, I don't think. (MA, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(30), 14 min 2nd Q. So… Robinson threw four passes on this drive, and all of them were IN or MA.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inverted veer handoff Smith 2
So the problem with this play is that Schilling ends up blocking no one on his pull. M leaves the playside DE unblocked, as you do on the veer, and pulls Schilling to the frontside as everyone else blocks down. Dorrestein releases into the MLB. Koger heads outside for the playside safety. This leaves the SLB. Schilling's pull actually has to go around the playside DE--he goes upfield of him, and as a result ends up chasing no one in space as the SLB runs out on Smith. Smith cuts it up, where the DE tackles. It was a correct handoff (ZR+1) with the DE biting inside but the inability of Schilling(-1) to block either guy kills the play. RPS -1.
RUN+: RUN-: Schilling
M38 2 8 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 0
Opens up but for Omameh(-2) getting smoked by a DT, which closes off the intended hole and forces Robinson to bounce it outside where Valai has ample time to fill for no gain.
RUN+: RUN-: Omameh(2)
M38 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Flare screen Smith 2
Smith runs out before the snap; Robinson pumps the throw, oddly. He still gets it out and accurate; Smith heads upfield. Roundtree's lost the guy inside but man there's a reason you don't go inside on this one; if Smith(-2) cuts it out he's got acres of space and the first down. He doesn't and Roundtree's guy collapses on him to tackle short of the sticks. (CA, 3, screen)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-10, 6 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M37 1 10 ? ? ? ? ? Pass Hitch Hemingway 3
We come to this play with the ball already in the air. Hemingway can't escape from the tackler this time and goes nowhere. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M40 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Pass Slant Stonum Inc
Open for the first down, zinged in accurately and on time. Stonum drops the ball. Corner came up to hit him but the ball was already coming out when he arrived. (CA+, 3, protection 1/1)
M40 3 7 Shotgun empty 1 0 4 3-3-5 nickel Pass Slant Hemingway Inc
Another well timed throw, though this one is a bit low. Hemingway does bring it in briefly, but the Wisconsin DB is right with him and rakes it out as they go to the ground. Nice play. (CA, 1, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-17, 3 min 2nd Q. Wisconsin scores, Gallon fumbles the kickoff, and M gets the ball back with 30 seconds left, running two QB draws and not trying to score. Not charted.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Post Hemingway Inc
A play action fake with just one receiver in the route; the same play Michigan tried and missed on with Stonum in the first half. This time the Wisconsin safety doesn't bite entirely--just mostly--and sits down in front of the route. Robinson overthrows Hemingway, which is better than throwing it to the safety. However, Robinson had time to let the play develop with good blocking and if he waits another second or two Hemingway clears the safety and he's got a 15 yard throw that's another hopeful ankle tackle or touchdown. (IN, 0, protection 2/2, RPS +2)
M29 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Pass Hitch Stonum 9
Simple hitch against a backed-off corner good for five and then Stonum tacks on a few after the catch by running through the corner's tackle. Refs blow it dead just as Huyge comes up to bang him across the first down line. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M38 3 1 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Inside zone Smith 3
Wisconsin runs a scrape exchange, sending the backside end in and running LBs over the top. Handoff made (ZR+1); Omameh(+1) and Dorrestein(+1) crush the playside DT off the ball and Webb(+1) cuts off the DE, giving Smith a window. He could cut for a big gain but trips coming through the hole.
RUN+:Dorrestein, Webb, Omameh RUN-: Smith
M41 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Robinson 12
This seems like an instant response to the scrape Michigan saw on the last play. They come out in trips with a TE to the other side, which drags LBs to the strong side and the slot LB way outside the hashes. Linebackers suck in on the inside zone fake and the DE crashes so Robinson pulls(ZR+1), finding himself in a ton of space. Rolled up safety is supposed to contain but good luck with that, dude. Robinson falls as he cuts past the guy and that's all that keeps this at 12 yards. RPS+1.
RUN+:Robinson(2) RUN-:
O47 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 4
Wisconsin DL sliding down the line well and keeping the holes to a minimum. Molk(+1) does eventually get his helmet across, though and Omameh(+1) drives his man back as Michigan stretches the line; Robinson has a seam. Seam is filled by the safety, who beat Roundtree(-1) and can fill as Robinson threatens the second level.
RUN+:Molk, Omameh RUN-: Roundtree
O43 2 6 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone dive Hopkins 4
Backside DT finally stands up to the double decently, though he gets pushed back. Schilling comes off on the linebacker coming up the middle and Hopkins cuts behind Huyge into the other MLB, who is unblocked. He falls forward for a few.
RUN+:N/A RUN-:
O40 3 2 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Inside zone Smith 0
We get to the play late so I'm not sure why but the playside DE is left unblocked as Dorrestein moves out on someone or another, which lets that guy tackle two yards in the backfield. Certainly looks like a bust on Dorrestein's(-2) part, especially because this is the exact same play they just ran.
RUN+: RUN-: Dorrestein(2)
O40 4 2 Shotgun 4-wide 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Pass PA rollout cross Grady 13
This is the same route pattern from Odoms Way Down In The Hole. Playside slot runs an out, playside WR runs a deep hitch behind it, backside slot comes on a crossing route for a third option. Here the CB goes with the hitch and the playside safety jumps the out, opening Grady up on the cross. Robinson reads it and zings it into the open Grady a second before the safety can get there. Pass was a little behind Grady and the catch was tough-ish with the safety coming. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
O27 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 3
Michigan checks, flipping the RB, and Wisconsin checks from a soft-ish base 4-3 to the quasi eight man front they've been running all day. Watt drives through Dorrestein(-1) and forces Robinson to cut behind him, away from the driving double on the playside DT. This robs Omameh of an angle to get a second level block and Robinson runs into a linebacker after a few yards.
RUN+: RUN-: Dorrestein
O24 2 7 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Stop and go Stonum 24
Corner bites on the hitch fake but blocks Stonum's path as he attempts to release and gets himself in with a chance. Handfighting down the sidelines gets Stonum open by exactly one step; Robinson sits and fires a gorgeous looping ball over the corner's head and directly into Stonum's hands. Could not be better thrown. (DO+, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-24, 11 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O38 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 2 0 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Post Stonum 34
Play action sucks the safety, who's already seven yards from the LOS, up a step and Stonum's gone. He's got a step or two on the DB; Robinson sees it and sets up to throw. He's getting pressure at his feet because Hopkins(-1) blew his chip on Watt. All he did was knock Huyge upfield and let Watt in. Robinson's throw is a little short, which is fine considering. Stonum then makes the best adjustment of his career by deploying a Manningham-quality move. He slows up, gets his body into the defender, and then releases at the last moment to haul in the over-the shoulder catch just over the outstretched arm of a cornerback he personally prevented from getting the half-yard he needed to break the pass up. Excellent. (CA, 1, protection 1/2, Hopkins -1)
O4 1 G Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 4-3 split Run Veer keeper Robinson 4
Robinson keeps(ZR+1) as he sees the playside DE crash on Smith. M doubled the playside DE, allowing the S to scrape over the top, though, since this is four yards from the endzone. Robinson jukes him, then shoots inside of the befuddled, spinning DE, breaking his tackle and lunging into the endzone, where Dorrestein, Omameh, and the playside DT await.
RUN+:Robinson(2), Omameh, Dorrestein RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-24, 9 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Roundtree 4
There's a linebacker right over the second slot WR who blows him up, forces the play inside, and tackles. Not sure why they're throwing this given UW's alignment. (CA, 3, screen) I guess I can't RPS-1 a four yard gain that Wisconsin had defended perfectly.
M47 2 6 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel 4-3 Run QB stretch Robinson 3
Michigan again can't seal the playside DT but does get the advantage on him as they run down the line. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) have two guys moving laterally three yards downfield as Robinson tries to find a hole; Dorrestein(-1) loses his DE to the inside and he tackles from behind. Cost Michigan 2-3 yards there.
50 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Zone stretch Smith 3
Linebackers slid heavily to the side of the line with the H-back and Smith, probably in anticipation of a Robinson run. Schilling(+1) delays the backside DT, allowing Huyge to attempt a cut; it's stepped over but does open a cutback. Molk(-1) loses the playside DT and he can tackle from the side as Smith cuts it up. Smith takes a shot from another linebacker and manages to spin for the first down despite having a DT on his back.
RUN+:Smith, Schilling RUN-: Molk
O47 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Post Stonum 32
UW corner is lined up with inside position on Stonum but he still gets to the inside. With one safety at LB depth and the other dropping to the other side of the field Stonum's position allows Robinson to toss a ball up about three yards inside the pair; Stonum again keeps the DB on his back and makes a good catch for big yards. (CA, 2, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O15 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 4
A similar story to previous stretches: Wisconsin DTs don't get sealed but in doing so give up a lot of ground and Smith runs to the sideline, gaining a chunk of yards but nothing explosive with the playside DT coming through Omameh about four yards downfield.
RUN+:N/A RUN-:
O11 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB off tackle Robinson 11
Michigan blocks down and pulls for the first time. Koger(+1) seals Watt. He gets chucked eventually but it's too late. Molk(+2) obliterates the MLB with a devastating cut. Playside LB and S have to contain, with Schilling(+1) kicking out the playside LB, and Robinson can cruise into the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-31, 3 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Rollout hitch Roundtree 16
This is now a staple of the offense: Denard rolls, Roundtree is singled up against a safety ten yards off the LOS, and he runs a ten-yard hitch the opponent can't cover without risking a big play as the linebackers are all in run mode. Easy first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS+1)
M44 1 10 Shotgun H-back? 1 1 3 ? Run Inside zone? Smith 6
We're looking at John Clay instead of the play. This may have been a veer, actually.
50 2 4 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run Zone stretch Smith 5
Safeties are now at regular safety depth FWIW. Wisconsin slants hard playside with the backside DT giving ground without engaging, as the Badgers have done most of the game on stretch plays. With the backside DE containing (ZR+1) the hard slant allows Smith a cutback lane. Huyge(+1) engages the DT as he cuts it up.
RUN+:Smith, Huyge RUN-:
O45 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass PA TE Flat Webb 9
Corner blitz to the playside is awkward, forcing Denard to pump and loft a touch pass over the guy that Webb leaps for and turns up for a good gain as he beats the UW LB to the sideline. Robinson had just this option and getting this pass with enough loft and getting it in a place where Webb isn't immediately tackled for two yards is impressive. (DO, 2, protection N/A, RPS -1)
O36 2 1 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Grady 0
Pass is too far in front of Grady and he ends up lunging forward to catch it, falling for no gain. (IN, 2, screen)
O36 3 1 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB lead draw Robinson 4
With a twist: the running back is Webb. I wonder what's coming? Oh. Watt beats Dorrestein(-1) inside. This happens sometimes but here Dorrestein is driven back, which means Webb can't cut outside and change the angle of his block. He bumps into the pair, sending Watt sprawling. He then bounces off that and does get a block(+1) on the playside LB, which allows Robinson to squeeze out the first.
RUN+:Webb, Robinson RUN-: Dorrestein
O32 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA Hitch Roundtree Inc
Wisconsin sends six and doesn't get there, giving Robinson his choice of open targets. Roundtree's open on that same hitch again; Webb has no one within ten yards of him on a flat route. Robinson picks Roundtree, puts it right in his chest, and sees 'Tree drop it. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
O32 2 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass ? ? Int
Robinson drops to pass and throws; Watt bats it and picks it off. (BA, N/A, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-38, 12 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Rollout scramble Robinson 2
Wisconsin covers both receivers and while Robinson has an opportunity to hit Koger by the time he does he's already decided to run up the sideline. (TA, N/A, protection 1/1)
M19 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Run QB down G Robinson 2
Watt destroys Koger(-2), running through his down block and losing him so quickly that Smith can't adjust; Robinson had a lane inside for decent yardage thanks to some cutbacks on the backside.
RUN+: RUN-: Koger(2)
M21 3 6 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Post Roundtree 28
This is a four verticals concept, I think, but run from trips that means Roundtree has to run a post to get to the seam on the far side of the field. UW has just one deep safety and the linebackers get lost, failing to drop back. They've been coached to defend four verts but probably didn't recognize it out of this formation. Roundtree breaks wide open; Robinson hits him with a touch pass that hits him in stride; safety does manage to cut Roundtree's legs out and prevent a TD. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
M49 1 10 Shotugn trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel 4-3 Pass Rollout sack ? -4
Spielman is spending the entirety of this drive bitching about the defense. Michigan rolls the pocket, with Dorrestein(-1) allowing the playside DT to run upfield outside of him without bothering to deal with it. Michigan's routes are all covered on the roll side except maybe Hemingway at the LOS, but that's going to get like three yards. DT comes in on Robinson as he sets to throw; he pulls it down and dodges the guy but takes a hit and falls as he does so. (TA, N/A, protection 0/2, Dorrestein -2)
M45 2 14 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB draw Robinson 14
Molk is going to double one DT and shove him to Schilling; as he does this the DT moves upfield himself in an attempt to get pass rush. This gets Robinson through the line. Downfield, Koger, Grady, and Molk(+1s all) get great downfield blocks. Robinson runs straight upfield to draw the safety and LB on Grady in, then tries to cut outside past them; safety manages to tackle before he can break it outside and threaten TD.
RUN+:Molk, Grady, Koger, Omameh RUN-:
O41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Roundtree 21
All day as the line gets Robinson a fantastic pocket. Wisconsin goes with zone, and unintentionally high-lows the MLB. The line opened up a big running lane for Robinson so the LB is naturally wary of dropping too deep and allowing him to jet, which means he's six yards off the LOS as Roundtree is running a hitch behind him at 15. Robinson sees the opening and hits it; throw is a bit high but not too bad. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
O20 1 10 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Yakety sax ? -8
Michigan going for a bubble when Smith runs by Robinson and knocks the ball out of his hands.
O28 2 18 Shotgun H-back 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Seam Roundtree 28
PA fake eliminates LBs in the middle of the field, leaving Roundtree against what must be zone from the slot LB and a safety. Slot LB chucks but leaves a window; Robinson zings it in as Roundtree gets between levels. That's a first down; Roundtree turns it into six by juking the safety and darting upfield before people can tackle him from behind. (CA+, 3, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-41, 6 min 4th Q. Forcier enters with Michigan down 20 on the next drive. EOG.

DID YOU KNOW I AM A RAVING LUNATIC?

I suspected, surely.

I THINK THE MICHIGAN OFFENSE IS SECRETLY NOT GOOD BECAUSE THE TEAM HAS FALLEN BEHIND IN GAMES AND COULD NOT CATCH UP IN THE SECOND HALF.

Second half and first half points count the same and while I could see some sort of argument that Wisconsin had lightened up on the pressure because they were ahead by so much, they didn't do that. They remained very aggresive until the last drive I charted above, whereupon they backed the safeties off to safety depth… and Roundtree immediately caught three balls for 28, 21, and 28 yards. There's one play in the whole game you can chalk up to Wisconsin having a big lead: a QB draw that worked on Michigan's final TD drive.

BUT THEY DID NOT SCORE ONE MILLION POINTS.

This is true. There are a couple obvious reasons for this. One: Wisconsin grind time and the Gallon fumble limited Michigan to nine drives above. Remember being super excited about everything after the UConn game? That was a 30-point performance on eight real drives with a missed extra point. This was a 28-point performance on nine real drives with a missed 30 yard field goal. The other is in the--

CHART

--charts.

DENARD ROBINSON

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR ZR DSR
2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? - 44%
UConn 2 15(6) - - 3 2 - - 2 - 68%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - - 71%
UMass 4 10(3) - 1 1 - 1 1 - - 73%
BGSU 1 4(1) - - - - - - - 1/1 N/A
Indiana 2 8(2) 1(1) 5(1) - - - - - 9/11 66%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 N/A 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 3/4 64%
Penn State 3 12(3) 1 4 2 - 1 - - 6/10 63%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 3/4 60%
Purdue 2 12(1) 1 3 1 1 1 3 - 8/10 68%
Wisconsin 3 14(2) 2(1) 4(2) - 2 2 - - 8/8 71%

TATE FORCIER

Opponent DO CA MA IN BR TA BA PR SCR ZR DSR
Iowa 3 14 1 2 4 - - 1 1 N/A 74%
Illinois 2 11 - - 2 3 - - 1 3/4 72%
Purdue 1 - 1 1 1 - - - 2 N/A N/A

Well, maybe not obvious from this chart. But it's in there. Robinson had a bounce back day, completing 64% and averaging almost 10 YPA, but in the first half he racked up almost all of the MA and INs you see above, three of them on screens that may have been open but never had the opportunity to develop. Early his inability to hit Stonum deep allowed Wisconsin to continue pressuring the run game. In the second half he turned those inaccurate passes into complete bombs to Stonum and touchdowns resulted.

The other bit is hidden in this chart with the receivers:

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Stonum 1 1/1 1/1 2/3 9 2/7 7/12 19/19
Odoms : ( - - - 1 1/1 3/4 11/11
Hemingway 1 0/1 - 1/1 8 3/5 4/6 23/27
Stokes - - - - - - 1/2 -
Roundtree 1 - 1/1 6/7 12 2/3 6/9 37/41
Grady - - 2/2 - 4 1/1 5/5 8/9
T. Robinson - - - - - 0/1 - 2/3
Gallon - - - - 1 - - 4/4
                 
Koger - - - - - - 2/3 9/9
Webb - - 1/1 - 2 - 1/1 4/5
                 
Smith - - 0/1 1/1 3 - 0/3 13/13
Shaw - - - - 1 0/1 0/1 5/6
McColgan - - - - - - - 1/1
Hopkins - - - - - - - -
Toussaint - - - - - - - -

A couple of key drops added to the passing game issues in the first half. Consecutive accurate slants hit the ground on one of Michigan's three and outs, one a pure drop by Stonum, the other raked out by the guy on covering Hemingway.

On the other hand, this was probably the best game of Stonum's career. This is some Manningham-level stuff right here:

That ball is short and Stonum knows it so he slows up, uses his body to shield the defender so he can't break it up, then extends to make a great over the shoulder catch. He also did this:

And this:

He's got too long of a track record to dismiss his previous struggles, but hey, I'll take it.

GHLARGERAGERAGGG

PROTECTION METRIC: 31/37, Dorrestein –2, Smith –2, Hopkins –1, McColgan –1.

FLARBALARGALARGALARG

RPS: 10-4 = +6.

GALONGBALUNGGALAAAAARP

A sparse run chart, as Michigan only had about 28 charted:

 

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Huyge 2.5 0 2.5 Run game seemed to tilt the other way.
Lewan - - - DNP
Schilling 5 2 3  
Molk 7 1 6 No reaches but some good blocks otherwise.
Omameh 10.5 3 7.5 Surprisingly the focus of the run game. Executed a lot of grinding double teams.
Khoury - - - DNP
Dorrestein 4.5 5 -0.5 Pretty meh.
Webb 2 - 2 The usual
Koger 2 2 0 Also the usual.
TOTAL 33.5 23 20.5 Solid blocking day.
Backs
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 6 - 6 Perfect ZR day, even got a keeper.
Gardner - - - DNP
Forcier - - - Not charted.
Shaw - - - DNP
Smith 3 3.5 -0.5 Missed a cut on a third down conversion, just ok otherwise.
Cox - - - DNP
Toussaint - - - Like three snaps.
Hopkins - - - Did not score.
McColgan - - - DNP.
Jones - - - DNP
TOTAL 9 3.5 5.5 Not getting much more than the blockers give them.
Receivers
Player + - T Notes
Stonum - - - --
Odoms - - - --
TRobinson - - - --
Roundtree - 1 -1 --
Grady 1 - 1 --
Gallon - - - --
Hemingway - - - --
TOTAL 1 1 0 --
Metrics

Michigan averaged 5.2 YPC minus sacks, which is on par with the best performances on the ground against Wisconsin this year but does add in the two first half scrambles that were not charted. Without those that gets knocked down to okay, not great. The tradeoff for the Badgers was giving up 10 YPA in the air.

Heroes?

Stonum, second half Denard.

Goats?

First half Denard.

What does it mean for Ohio State?

Michigan should be able to move the ball but we've seen enough breakdowns over the course of the season to know this offense is not quite at the point where they can expect to run up and down the field against a very good defense. Drops, penalties, inaccurate throws, etc, all conspire to end drives. OSU's had some injury issues, especially at safety, and I'm expecting they'll put up points. Not enough to keep up, obviously.

Comments

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Wisconsin

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Wisconsin Comment Count

Brian November 24th, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Formation notes: Michigan had a gameplan and stuck with it, running the stack all day. In certain formations—mostly I—Michigan shaded the linebackers to the strong side and brought a guy up behind, which looked like a 3-4 except your OLB is Ray Vinopal instead of Lamarr Woodley; I called that a 3-4.

An example stack:

iso-no-1Or something, anyway. Michigan lined up Kovacs or Avery to the strong side and had Cam Gordon over the WRs, which is another way in which this isn't much like a stack. If Kovacs is the bandit he should be to the weak side of the formation, AFAIK.

I came out in this formation for most of the second half:

henri-the-otter-of-ennu

Substitution notes: Michigan platooned the entire line, sending RVB, Martin, and Roh out there as the first team and Banks, Martin, and Black as the second. When Roh went out in the second half Heininger took his snaps. Demens and Mouton went the whole way; Fitzgerald got some run behind Ezeh but not much. Gordon played most of the way at spur but Johnson got approximately three drives. Avery, Rogers, Kovacs, and Vinopal played the whole way except for a couple plays where Talbott replaced Rogers after a hand injury.

On with show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O8 1 10 I-form twins Base 3-4 Pass 4 PA TE corner Ezeh 16
Bizarre that Michigan will spend a good chunk of the game backing Cam Gordon out onto the slot receiver and let Ray Vinopal play run D. That's what they do here, with a 3-4-ish formation and Kovacs overhanging to the short side. Tolzien has all day (pressure -2) and finds his TE settling in the space between Ezeh(-1, cover -1) and Kovacs. Ezeh sucked up on the PA fake and was a yard or two away from batting the ball down. Kovacs escorts OOB immediately.
O24 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Run   Down G Ezeh 14
TEs block down on playside DE and SLB. Ezeh(-1) sealed. RVB(-1) sealed. Two blockers on Kovacs and Mouton; Mouton(+1) slams into the pulling G and forces the play back inside, where there's no one since Demens(-2) got slashed to the ground instead of flowing hard down the LOS. Ezeh getting turned and shoved so badly opens the play up. Kovacs(-1) was pancaked easily by the pulling C to the outside. Ball squeezes through the hole and has no one until Avery(+0.5) comes up to make a solid tackle(+1) past the sticks.
O38 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Roh 1
End around fake to the run up the middle designed to attack that backside gap where people are freaking out about the end around. Roh(+2) slants underneath the TE and is into the intended running lane. Demens(+0.5) slid past a blocker by hitting a frontside gap hard, but it doesn't really matter since Roh's tackling from behind.
O39 2 9 I-form 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 PA Post ? 26
All day (pressure -1) and Tolzien sits back, firing into a gap in the zone about equidistant from literally five Michigan zone defenders. (Cover -2) Caught, first down, etc.
M35 1 10 Ace twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Mouton 0
Mouton lined up at MLB on this play four yards off the LOS, with Demens to the strongside and Obi weak. Badgers run the same down G play, blocking down on the playside end and LB, in this case Vinopal. Cam Gordon is lined up tight to the playside as well, so he takes on one blocker to the outside. Demens(+0.5) flows down the line to get outside the second blocker, allowing Mouton(+1) to come from the inside and tackle. Mouton was free because of his alignment--here two yards deeper and a yard or so playside compared to the first one--and the inability of the C to release immediately because of traffic in the middle; Black(+0.5) slanted in and impeded his progress. Intentional? Don't know. Results based charting.
M35 2 10 Ace twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Martin 1
Looks like a designed cutback aimed at the backside; Vinopal rolls up to be the bandit as Michigan shifts strongside, making Ezeh the spur-type-object. Martin(+3) shoves the center back and reads the vertical path of the RB as he approaches the handoff point, cutting back behind the center, swallowing the play by himself.
M34 3 9 Shotgun trips Okie stack Pass   Sack Kovacs -11
Stack personnel; DL aligned as if it's a 4-3 with Demens lined up as an NT. Shafer used to do this on passing downs. (And third and one!) Zone blitz. Martin and Demens come, then back out; Mouton, Kovacs, and Ezeh come. It works as Kovacs(+2) gets a free run up the middle and sacks Tolzien to end the drive (RPS +2, pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 11 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Roh 7
Same play Martin swallowed last time. This time Roh(-1) gets washed too far down the LOS and allows a cutback behind him. Fitzgerald(-0.5) is in and the backside LB; he can't get off a block. This allows a big backside lane that Gordon(-0.5) can't cut down because he went with the end-around.
O32 2 3 I-form twins 3-3-5 stack Run   Iso Van Bergen 9
Huge cutback lane as RVB(-1) is crushed out of the play on the backside. Demens is again lined up a yard behind his center and has no choice but to take a step playside and get blown up by a guard so when Mouton funnels the play back to him he's busy getting hit by a guy with his arms wrapped behind his back and can't get back. This is *exactly* why the 3-3-5 has MLBs way off the LOS. Here Martin had gotten playside of the C, cutting off the A gap and if allowed to flow Demens could have hit it backside easily. Here he's got a guard in his face after one step. RPS –1. Picture paged.
O41 1 10 I-form 3-3-5 stack Pass   PA scramble ? 7
Back to the Mouton MLB at reasonable depth thing. Tolzien looks, can't find anyone (cover +1) and then Martin(-1) and Roh(-1) get some vague pressure that forces him to step up. He's got a big lane (pressure -1) and takes it for good yardage. Coverage due to linebackers being three or four yards further off the LOS and able to get deeper?
O48 2 3 Ace twins Base 3-4 Run   Down G Patterson 2
Slower developing. Downblock on RVB sees him shoot upfield and vacate a bunch of space as his blocker goes with him. Mouton(+1) comes up to hit the pulling G at the LOS and forces it back inside, where Patterson(+1) has time to get cut, get back up, and tackle as the cut is awkward thanks to Mouton. I'm not sure if RVB's play is good or bad; it did get rid of the trash and allow Patterson to flow but it doesn't seem very sound.
50 3 1 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Iso Gordon 4
RVB(+0.5), Martin(+0.5, and Roh(+0.5) and control single blocks and stand up at the LOS ready to tackle in their gaps. Gordon(-2) gets locked outside really easily by a backside TE when he needs to be in the gap behind Roh, Roh gets shoved past the play just barely, and there's a cutback lane for the first down.
M46 1 10 I-form twins Base 3-4 Run   Iso Martin 1
Black(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) slide together and block any possible release for a guard trying to get out on the linebackers. This opens up a backside hole that the RB does not take ; Kovacs may have filled it. Vinopal blitzes and peels the lead blocker, allowing Demens(+0.5) to tackle unmolested.
M45 2 9 I-form twins 3-3-5 stack Pass   PA deep cross Fitzgerald 21
Ton of time (pressure -2) this time the WR is wide open (cover -3). On replay it's clear Fitzgerald(-2) blew his drop.
M24 1 10 I-form big Base 3-4 Run   Power off tackle Kovacs 4
Michigan should have this dead as Kovacs is in overhang mode. Fitzgerald takes out a lead blocker and Mouton(+1) thumps the pulling G at the LOS, removing any lanes inside and funneling the back right to Kovacs. The Mouton blast has made the hole so small that the back has to slow up as he cuts. Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) tries to take down a guy 50 pounds heavier than him up high instead of taking out his legs and gives up a full 4 YAC.
M20 2 6 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Run   Down G Fitzgerald? 19
Fitzgerald(-2) is doing something strange. He steps back and away in an attempt to get outside the downblock. This really does not work; he gets blown off the ball. Mouton(-1) avoids a cut but took an angle too shallow and allows the back outside of him. Fitzgerald is gone; Demens got crushed because the C released free on him instead of dealing with the NT, Patterson. Patterson(-1) has avoided a cut but was slowed by it and then takes a bad pursuit angle that's too aggressive and sees Ball run by him; Demens(-1) also gets a ding for getting so comprehensively owned; he should probably slow up at some point so that this cutback isn't so smooth.
M1 1 G Goal line Goal line Run   Power off tackle Anderson 1
Michigan actually does a good job defending this play with Quinton Washington(!) getting under the pads of the C and driving him back into the path of a pulling guard. Delays him and allows Tony Anderson(-1, tackling -1) to plug Ball behind the LOS, but this is a walk-on cornerback we're talking about and Ball just goes "I am made of ham" and falls into the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 3 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Black 5
They're doing that thing where Mouton is five yards off the LOS as the WLB and the other LBs are super close to the LOS. And the second team DL is in. Black(-1) is destroyed by a single block, giving the TE a really easy angle to block Demens since Demens is close to the LOS and can't avoid the traffic. Ezeh takes on the pulling G and forces the play inside, where Demens shucks his blocker and tackles. Freshman DE against Gabe Carimi. That's life, I guess.
O25 2 5 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Patterson 10
Patterson(-2) blown down the line and off the ball by the C. The center gets a tiny bit of guard help but it's more like 'can you get this guy' and since the answer is yes the Gs get free releases. Demens is trying to cut behind Patterson, now mashed three yards downfield, when he gets plowed by a guard. He does what he can, which isn't anything. Ball cuts between the two guys. Vinopal comes up and can't tackle but with people getting blown downfield he's got a tough job. He causes the TB to stumble and Rogers finishes the play. RPS -1; this is a play with one WR and a three-deep umbrella.
O35 1 10 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Mouton 3
Banks(-1) crushed back by a double and puts the LBs in a tough spot. Obi(+0.5) is scraping over the top and does a pretty good job of constricting space. Mouton(+1) attacks the Black block, hitting the outside guy before he can release into the second level and driving him back, messing up the other pulling guard's flight path. This allows Demens(+0.5) to scrape through the line without getting clubbed and tackle near the LOS.
O38 2 7 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Martin -3
A stunt by Michigan frees Martin. RVB(+1) crashes inside, taking his blocker and smashing into the C who's supposed to deal with Martin. This allows Martin(+1) to run down the line, and since Avery(+1!) was the functional spur on this play and bashed the TE he's in a great spot to force an uncomfortable bounce that Martin swallows. (RPS+2)
O35 3 10 Shotgun H-back Nickel Pass 4 Dumpoff Mouton 10
Four man line with Carvin Johnson hanging out as a linebacker in a middle zone. Black(+0.5) gets enough of a rush to push Tolzien up in the pocket and force a checkdown to the RB (cover +1). Mouton(-1) overruns it and while he can recover to tackle he can't do so before Wisconsin converts.
O45 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Wheel Ezeh 24
Vinopal rolls up as an OLB. Why? I don't know. He rushes as others drop off on play action; Tolzien has all day (pressure -3) and can comfortably zing in a wheel route to Kendricks that Obi(-1, cover -1) can't keep up on. Not really his fault, he's just too slow. (RPS -1)
O21 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Pass N/A Bubble screen Rogers 1
Kind of an odd playcall as Michigan has Gordon lined up right over the slot. Rogers(+1) attacks the corner trying to block him and ends up running him over. He's prone at the LOS, where he forces Toon to jump over him. Gordon falls over the mess but Toon's elbow hits and he doesn't get a killer gain. Still dodgy.
O20 2 9 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Pass N/A Waggle TE flat Ezeh 13
Rollout to the two TE side with one guy releasing right downfield into a pass pattern and the other blocking down on RVB to force him inside before releasing into the flat. Ezeh(-1, cover -1) rides the instant release guy downfield and then cannot get out on the edge to cover the flat guy--he can't even get over to tackle on a five yard catch. TE turns it up and it's first and goal.
O7 1 G I-form big Base 3-4 Run   Power off tackle Banks 2
Banks(+1) takes a double and holds at the LOS. He threatens to slant inside and takes both blockers with him. Mouton(+0.5) runs up to the LOS to take on the lead guy and with Martin(+0.5) taking two himself Kovacs and Demens are unblocked and can tackle.
O5 2 G Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Run   Down G Mouton 5 (Pen -15)
Mouton(-1) attacks a lead blocker well until he reaches the contact point, where he fails to get outside. All he has to do is turn it up and Demens and or pursuit will take the play out since Demens(+0.5) read and reacted too fast for the releasing G and turned him into a spectator. Touchdown comes back on an irrelevant chop block.
O20 2 G Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Dumpoff ? 7
Coverage(+1) is good deep and Tolzien checks down for a decent chunk. In the situation I think this is fine.
O13 3 G Shotgun trips Nickel Pass 4 Hitch Rogers  
A give-up-and kick since this is a three yard hitch. Guess he didn't like his other options(cover +1). Rogers(+1, tackling +1) is there to shut it down immediately.
Drive Notes: FG(25), 0-10, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-form twins Base 3-4 Pass 4 PA post Avery? 30
Tolzien gets lit up by Martin(+1, pressure +1) as he throws but gets the ball off on a deep post that's behind Mouton and Demens and in front of Avery. No idea who's responsible this time, but lean towards Mouton or Avery since Demens was well inside of where the ball went. (Cover -3)
M45 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Hitch Mouton? 10
Plenty of time (pressure -2) and Tolzien zings one in to Kendricks at the sticks. Mouton with an immediate tackle.
M35 1 10 I-form twins Base 3-4 Run   Iso Van Bergen 8
Another massive cutback lane as RVB(-1) is easily kicked out and removed from the play. He ends up pancaked outside the hash. The linebackers flow to the frontside, which just gets Mouton erased by a guard; Kovacs(-1) is in overhang mode and is late to react; Fitzgerald comes from behind to ankle tackle.
M27 2 2 I-form 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Martin 0
Attempted single block of Martin(+1) ends up with the C getting stood up two yards in the backfield. Roh(+1) slanted under a kickout block at first, then that guy gets his position back. He's given up too much ground, though: Roh spins off him and the two DL meet the RB in the backfield.
M27 3 2 I-form big Base 3-4 Run   Power off tackle Vinopal 27
Vinopal(-1) is an eighth guy in the box and doesn't react appropriately when he sees the down block. He should shuffle down the LOS and cut the pulling guard to create a pile and bounce the play. Instead he runs into the FB and physics owns him. Carvin Johnson is at spur; he runs unabated from the outside and gets a diving arm tackle attempt on Ball; Ball runs through it. Demens(-1) and Mouton(-0.5) got eaten by blocks and couldn't help despite the slowdown; Demens was closer to the play and didn't read it fast enough to get in the hole; he also loses it to the outside. Two UW guys are now running downfield to pick up Avery, the FS; he gets run out of the play. Rogers(-1, tackling -1) is unblocked and can stop this after about ten; he whiffs.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-17, 3 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O16 1 10 I-form 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 PA Dumpoff Mouton 9
Vinopal sent as the fourth rusher as he was lined up as an OLB. He actually does a decent job to get around the RB and with a little help from Martin pressures Tolzien into a throw. It's a dumpoff to the tailback, but Mouton(-1, cover -1) is so far off the TB can turn upfield and get five YAC. Frustrating when the dumpoffs are almost first downs.
O25 2 1 Ace twins Base 3-4 Pass 4 PA quick out Gordon 14
Coverage(+1) good deep and Tolzein has to check down after again being given all kinds of time (pressure -2). This will get the first and a few more until Cam Gordon(-2, tackling -2) gets depressingly run over by Kendricks and gives up ten extra yards.
O39 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Run   Down G Mouton 61
We get like no good camera angles. Mouton(-2) again gets inside a blocker and lets his guy outside. Demens(-2) was thunderously chopped by the center; RVB(-1) and Fitzgerald(-1) were easily sealed by down blocks. Alignment of the LBs was such that this was easy, I think. You're shifted away from the strength of the formation here so if they can downblock our guys on the line you're screwed. RPS -2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-24, 2 min 2nd Q. Gallon fumbles the ensuing kickoff.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M27 1 10 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Banks 5
Banks(-1) crushed and pancaked by a double. Mouton(+1) gets upfield into the pulling G quickly, hitting him at the LOS and getting outside. This picks off both lead blockers. Demens had no chance to scrape because of the Banks pancake, leaving Avery(-0.5, tackling -1), the overhang guy, alone in space; his ankle tackle is run through and Wisconsin grabs five.
M22 2 5 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Mouton 3
Patterson(-1) blown off the line, allowing UW to crush Demens, again lined up about a yard off his NT. Mouton(+2) evades his blocker and scrapes past the Patterson mess to meet the RB in the hole, standing him up with help from Demens.
M19 3 2 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Pass   PA corner Roger Int
Good coverage(+2) all around, with Gordon maybe intentionally bashing a TE heading for the flat so Kovacs can get out on him. Tolzien makes a terrible decision to throw to a bracketed WR on a corner route that Rogers(+2) attacks to intercept.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-24, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Mouton 4
Michigan late getting aligned and this shot is way removed so it's hard to tell exactly what's going on but this is an adjustment, with Carvin Johnson farther outside. This prevents him from getting down-blocked. The TE can't do much with him and the pulling guards end up neutralized at the LOS. RB has to cut inside. Black shot directly upfield and gave up a big hole but I think that's on purpose since if he gets downblocked he's useless and he might as well terrorize the QB on play action. Michigan will do this most of the half. Mouton(+1) evades a releasing OL, coming upfield of him and flowing down the line to tackle. Pile falls forward.
O31 2 6 I-form twins Base 3-4 Pass   Rollout scramble Johnson 2
Seems like a UW bust as they have two WRs within a couple yards of each other and Johnson covering(+1) both. Vinopal charges in and gets uselessly chopped; Demens(+0.5) is out on the edge and shoves Tolzien OOB as he nears the LOS.
O33 3 4 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass   Cross Demens 6
Zone coverage looks coherent on this play as Mouton gets drawn deep by a vertical release from the single receiver. Avery has a wheel coming out of the backfield. Both are covered, so Tolzien's third option is a drag that Demens correctly diagnoses is his and follows, but follows a step too late. Receiver catches and turns it up for the first down; Demens(+1) and Avery(+1) combine to jar the ball free as he does so. Mouton jumps on it.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-24, 9 min 3rd Q. IT'S PEANUT BEAVER JELLY TIME
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O31 1 10 I-form big Base 3-4 Pass   Scramble Mouton 5
Good coverage(+2) forces Tolzien to scramble as he rolls to the sideline, but Mouton(-1) doesn't realize he needs to attack and gives up six yards that could be two.
O36 2 5 I-form big Base 3-4 Run   Inside zone Mouton 5
Line and LBs not on same page, as the line slants its way to the left, which is good. There's nothing on the frontside and Martin(+0.5) got a quick attack that got a releasing G off balance so Mouton(-1) is totally unblocked as the RB cuts it back; Demens absorbs the FB heading backside. Mouton hesitates and only gets a weak ankle tackle. I guess you could get on Black for getting pushed down the line too far but here there's one place for the RB to go, no one blocking the LB filling, and they still get five yards.
O41 1 10 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Avery 4
Van Bergen(+0.5) takes a momentary double and holds; Demens again close to the LOS and threatens to shoot into the backfield so the interior guy has to peel off quickly. Kovacs(+0.5) sets up well outside. Mouton(+0.5) takes on a pulling G at the LOS and the RB almost trips as there's not much room at all; Avery(-0.5) misses a tackle(-1) and Wisconsin gets a decent gain.
O45 2 6 I-form twins Base 3-4 Run   Delay Mouton 14
Martin(+0.5) again absorbs a double long enough to delay the release of the C, so no one is on Mouton. Heininger is slanting inside and gets sealed away, so the play is going outside. Vinopal avoids a cut block but runs upfield; Demens(+0.5) gets outside his blocker and forces the play back into Mouton(-2), who completely whiffs the tackle(-2) and turns like three yards into a big gain.
M41 1 10 I-form twins 3-3-5 stack Run   Iso Banks 2
So this is how I think the earlier iso wants to be defended. Line slants playside hard, with Banks(+1) getting under the TE. Tackle released downfield but on the previous play the DE was just sitting outside, not driving down. Patterson(+0.5) gets a good push and stays at the line; Demens plugs a guard in the hole thanks to his position. No holes; Black(+1) swam past the tackle and the two DEs swallow the RB at the LOS.
M39 2 8 Ace twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Johnson 12
Again Johnson is outside the TE and he has to go downfield to find someone to block, but this time Johnson(-2) kind of hangs out casually on the edge, waiting for the pulling OL to get there. Given the sizes involved he needs to run up and cut the lead guy to the ground, making an ugly pile. Instead he stands up, gets inside the lead guy, and ends up sealed off five yards downfield. Demens charged up between the two guards and got cut by the second but because of the Johnson error it didn't really matter what he did; that could have actually been good. Ezeh's getting out on the edge; he gets pushed past the play via no fault of his own. A note: Black had not accepted the down block this time and was fighting to the ball. Mouton(-0.5) also sucked up oddly, though he recovers to tackle; could have been short of the sticks maybe otherwise.
M27 1 10 I-form big Base 3-4 Run   Power off tackle Mouton 4
Well defensed, with Mouton(+1) and Ezeh(+1) attacking and getting to blockers at the LOS; no creases. RVB(-1) had been doubled and tried to fight through it but just ended up getting blown off the line, so momentum allows Wisconsin to lurch forward for a decent gain.
M23 2 6 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Heininger 23
This is odd and I think Mouton does something fairly right that ends up being terrible. UW blocks down on the one guy they can, RVB, who does the thing where he tries to shoot upfield for play action. Two blockers release downfield to get Demens and Mouton; M is playside of both. Mouton suddenly takes a vertical flight path past one and shoots upfield, where the second pulling guard stops to wall him off. This leaves Demens dealing with two guys; the guy who's supposed to get Kovacs, the overhang guy, has now been removed by Mouton. RB has to cut back as Kovacs attacks, leaving the backside pursuit to run the play down. This is Will Heininger(-2), getting his first action of the year. Heininger is rusty, coming off an injury, and a walk-on. His angle is too close to the LOS and he doesn't have the athleticism to make up for it, diving at the RB's legs and getting his tackle(-1) run through, at which point White is off to the races. Vinopal(-1) is late getting to the POA at the sticks; Heininger did slow him down but no one could get there.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-31, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M45 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Run   Down G Mouton 1
Somewhat similar but Michigan's LBs are not running down the line as far; Mouton is inside this time and again goes upfield of his blocker as Demens heads out. Mouton(+2) swims past the pulling G and tackles for a minimal gain by himself.
M44 2 9 I-form twins Base 3-4 Run   Iso ? 18
Banks slants inside the G, which I assume is what he's supposed to do. Play ends up going directly outside of him. Vinopal(-1) is blitzing from the outside and just runs way upfield out of the play uselessly, opening up a huge hole. Demens is getting blocked by the tackle and Mouton hangs back because another massive cutback lane has opened with Van Bergen again getting sealed out of the play. Martin can't quite get to the RB to close off the hole. With Mouton seriously delayed Demens(-1) and Martin(-1) get split for a big gain.  RPS –1.
M26 1 10 I-form twins Base 3-4 Run   Iso Mouton 1
Good God. RVB shoots upfield immediately outside of the tackle. With Martin slanting playside and Demens headed there too this opens up a cavern for the tailback. Fullback does well to read the jammed up frontside and cut back; Mouton(+3) sets him up inside, gives the back the impression he should cut it out, dodges the FB block, and tackles for a one yard gain. All in a days work. RPS -1.
M25 2 9 I-form big Base 3-4 Run   Inside zone Martin 3
Van Bergen is left unblocked and flies upfield as linebackers fill behind him. I'm not sure what he's doing in this game but either he's confused or someone else is because it doesn't make sense. He's upfield, preventing a cutback. Ezeh gets blocked by a guard; Demens is free behind him but has to cut one way or the other; tough. Fortunately, Martin(+1) shoves the center back and the RB trips.
M22 3 6 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Avery 15
This actually looks like a WVU stack with the MLB six yards deep. This is irrelevant to the play. Mouton(+1) gets playside of a releasing TE and avoids a cut. He's there to absorb a block, so Avery(-2) just has to keep contain and Kovacs can clean up for a FG attempt. He gets obliterated and gives up the corner. Kovacs(-1) has a shot but whiffs a shoulder tackle(-1), and blah blah blah.
M7 1 G Ace twins twin TE Base 3-4 Run   Down G Mouton 4
Same thing. Mouton(+1) gets playside of the TE again and forces an awkward bounce; Kovacs(-1) stops dead for some reason and gives up the corner.
M3 2 G Goal line Goal line Run   Power off tackle Kovacs 3
Bounced out to Kovacs(-1) and if he was attacking could be a no gain; instead he is slow to react and it is three yards.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-38, 14 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Ace big 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Heininger 8
Demens aligned behind Patterson as this line is unbalanced, two yards off the LOS. Patterson(+1) does a good job to get playside of his blocker, forcing a cutback. Demens gets blown up by the guard; Heininger(-1) got scooped on the backside; Ezeh(-1) also is walled off and well out of the play. Cutback lane, yards, etc.
M32 2 2 Ace big 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Mouton 2
Patterson(+0.5) stands up his blocker and pushes outside, which cuts off the space between himself and Patterson. Running lane is now further inside and it's filled by Mouton(+1), who darted past the OL assigned to him and doesn't get burned because of the Patterson play. Ball still gets the two he needs.
M30 1 10 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Banks 1
Banks(+0.5) takes a double and gets pushed down the line but slowly and doesn't get blown off the ball. Hole is pretty small. Kovacs takes the outside. Mouton(+0.5) turns it inside at the LOS. Ezeh(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5) scrape to the ball, with Ezeh getting a break when UW's OL stumbles as he tries to get out on him. He takes on the last lead blocker and Demens tackles.
M29 2 9 I-form twins 3-3-5 stack Run   Iso Kovacs 3
Same story here: DT and Demens both hit the playside A gap hard; Mouton flows, too, leaving a huge cutback lane. Kovacs(+1) fills relatively quickly.
M26 3 6 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Down G Van Bergen 2
RVB(+1) refuses the down block, getting outside his TE and driving into the second of the pulling linemen. A cutback forced, RB is run down by Heininger from behind and Mouton(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5), who beat blocks.
Drive Notes: FG(42), 21-41, 9 min 4th Q. Wisconsin gets the ball back after an onside kick and goes down and scores but with the ball, six minutes, and a thirteen point lead it's academic. Not charted.

Why did you do this?

I have responsibilities to people!

Seriously, there is something wrong with you.

I stopped before the last touchdown drive, at least. That was theoretically important still.

No it wasn't since everyone on the planet knew they would run and score.

Indeed.

Chart.

Yes, let's.

Chart.

Chart, you'll see this in numbers:

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 3 6 -3 Did not make many plays; seemed to give up big cutback lanes easily. Maybe an RPS thing.
Martin 8.5 2 6.5 One old-style I destroy this play plus a few more scattered good bits and some half points.
Banks 2 3 -1 Eh.
Heininger - 3 -3 Eh.
Patterson 3 4 -1 Eh.
Black 2.5 1 1.5 Less of an issue, I guess.
Roh 3.5 2 1.5 Basically one nice play and then not much.
TOTAL 24.5 21 3.5 This is very very bad, especially because the pressure metric is –10 on 15 throws. The DL did virtually nothing.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 2 5 -3 A couple minuses in coverage. Wasn't a huge problem on the ground.
Mouton 19 11 8 Made a lot of very tough plays. Blew some others but I thought he had an excellent day amongst a sea of bleah.
C. Gordon - 4.5 -4.5 Not involved much and didn't do well when he was.
T. Gordon - - - DNP
Johnson - 2 -2 Error on a down G was painful.
Leach - - - DNP
Moundros - - - DNP
Demens 6.5 6 0.5 Variety of half points, a couple of instances where he got cut like whoah.
Herron - - - DNP
Fitzgerald - 5.5 -5.5 Reason he's behind Ezeh.
TOTAL 27.5 33.5 -6 Nevermind about the linebackers when they don't have to defend passes.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd - - - DNP
Rogers 4 1 3 INT machine
Kovacs 3.5 6 -2.5 Did not tackle well.
Talbott - - - Not involved on his few plays.
Christian - - - DNP.
Avery 2.5 3 -0.5 Maybe should have been harsher on him in overhang mode.
Ray Vinopal - 3 -3 Questionable deployment.
TOTAL 9 13 -4 Also not so good.
Metrics
Pressure 3 13 -10 Owned.
Coverage 10 12 -2 Scrambles made even the good coverage bad plays.
Tackling 2 10 -8 Pwned.
RPS 4 7 -3 Right.

[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.]

Note that the "Pressure" metric was developed to get a sense for how the defensive line is doing at getting to the QB and most of the responsibility for making it not –10 in 15 throws is on the DL, so that vaguely positive number above should be taken in context. Also the system has traditionally slanted towards the DL and coming out even as a DE is not a good day.

So that's comprehensive.

Yes, it is. What is there to say?

Isn't it my job to ask questions?

What would you like to know?

Is this a reference to "questions" from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?

Are you suggesting that I am emphasizing the foolish pointlessness of this exercise?

Why, God, why?

You win. Seriously, folks, I'd like to have something new and interesting to say about the defense at this juncture but I don't. I don't really understand what the defense is supposed to be doing, the players can't execute in any case, and the whole thing is such a shambles it's hard to figure out who did something bad on most plays. Like… I can tell what goes wrong here:

Demens doesn't react fast enough to the crossing route to tackle it. Okay, fine, that's tough and it happens to defenses all the time. Good conversion, six yards, okay. Fumble tacked on the end is a bonus for the D but fundamentally they got beat and I know why.

This?

Okay, Will Heininger misses a tackle and takes a bad angle, but even if he tackles it's like five to eight yards. Mouton's all jetting up into the play and Kovacs is slow and I could say that but I saw Wisconsin succeed on this play in five different ways. I'm not really sure what they're trying to do or why it's not working.

Heroes?

Mouton was doing valiant work most of the day. Martin had the best day other than him.

Goats?

Everyone else.

What does it mean for Ohio State?

Super fun times.

Comments

Picture Pages: Lack Of Massive Cutback Lane

Picture Pages: Lack Of Massive Cutback Lane Comment Count

Brian November 24th, 2010 at 11:55 AM

Yesterday I put up an analysis of a simple iso that cut back behind Mike Martin and picked up ten yards. In the comments Magnus mentioned he thought this must be a mistake on someone's part because when you have the DT and MLB both heading to the playside A gap your defense is no longer "gap sound"—ie does not have one guy in every place a tailback can go—and things like ten yard iso plays result.

This resulted in some discussion about how the MLB's job in the 3-3-5 is to "make the nose right", IE fill the other A gap depending on what the nose does. This is a phrase unleashed to the world by Jeff Casteel's 3-3-5 DVD, and I think it's what West Virginia does with its middle linebacker. It's evidently not what Michigan is doing with Demens when he's aligned in what I've come to think of as the Gergbacker position. Demens doesn't have time to make anyone right because he's too close to the play; he picks a side of the line and goes into the guard.

Another commenter complained that I shouldn't criticize Van Bergen for getting locked out upfield on this particular play because I can't be sure what his assignment is. That's true and a frustration I often have but amongst Wisconsin's brain-melting array of second half runs there is a serendipitous iso that Michigan stops that demonstrates the trends from yesterday's post and suggests that the key guy on a cutback is indeed the backside DE.

It's first and ten on the Michigan 41 in the midst of Wisconsin's first soul-crushing ground based touchdown drive of the second half. Wisconsin comes out in the same I-form they showed on the play featured yesterday. Michigan goes with basically the same stack look as well, though they've flipped Kovacs and Avery. The backup DL (Banks, Patterson, Black) is in:

iso-no-1

A moment after the snap we see a difference: the backside tackle is releasing downfield instead of blocking Banks out of the play. That's left to the TE. He gets slanted under:

iso-no-2

A moment later we see that Patterson is getting playside of the center… and Demens is shooting into the same gap to take on whoever shows up. Banks is sliding down the line behind them; also note that Jibreel Black has beaten the block of the RT and is coming upfield.

iso-no-5

At the handoff point Patterson is beating his guy and Demens is about to slam into a guard at the LOS. In doing so he halts all progress from both the G bubbled over him and the FB. Massive cutback lane would result, except Banks is right on the center's hip. Black is now through the tackle totally and converging; tailback has nowhere to go:

iso-no-4

Wad of bodies…

iso-no-7

…and two yards.

iso-no-8

So. To continue the Week of Defensiveness, usually these plays are picked because they illustrate a larger trend—Kenny Demens runs at the playside guard all day and eats facemask, and I'm pretty sure the design of this defense has a backside DE assigned to an A-gap. My choice here was between criticizing Van Bergen for getting locked out so easily or Greg Robinson for putting him in a tough position. The right answer is some of both, probably.

Object lesson type objects:

  • This is a slight variation on the play yesterday. Yesterday Wisconsin kept the backside T in to block Van Bergen and ended up blocking Mouton with a guard. Here the guard attempts to slide over on Patterson and the T is assigned Mouton. These seem like subtly different playcalls with the first designed to cut back and the second to go straight upfield.
  • Kenny Demens really does just run to the playside A gap all game, where he enjoys a scone with the DT. Here it works, though the next play is a 12 yard Down G run, the play after a four yard power play, and the play after that a 23-yard Down G touchdown.
  • So that means your options on the cutback are backside DE or no one. Here Banks gets a relatively easy task since the guy lined up over him heads downfield and he can just slide along the line; Van Bergen had that guy blocking him. Still, the results were not so good and were repeated on a number of other runs.
  • I'm pretty sure this is a bad idea. And not just on general principles! Having the backside DE clean up behind the NT  seems like a thing that would work in the 4-3 where the backside DE is actually a DT inside of the tackle. In this scheme he releases downfield or he's got what seems like easy work to seal out a guy who's supposed to be an A-gap player.
  • How about Jibreel Black beating a block and being useful on a run play? Woo progress!

Comments

Picture Pages: Swallowing Kenny Demens

Picture Pages: Swallowing Kenny Demens Comment Count

Brian November 23rd, 2010 at 12:55 PM

So… Greg Robinson doesn't know how to run a 3-3-5. For whatever reason, Michigan is running a 3-3-5. This results in situations like this first quarter run for the Badgers that echoes several themes from the This Is Not A Stack post: by lining up his MLB just behind his nose tackle he dooms that guy to take one step to the playside, whereupon he is eaten by a guard who has no one lined up over him. Even if Michigan successfully plugs that hole they are crazy vulnerable to cutbacks and counters.

It's second and three on Wisconsin's second drive of the day. they come out in an I-form with twins to the field side. Michigan aligns in its stack formation with Jordan Kovacs—supposedly the bandit—aligned to the strong side of the formation, with Cam Gordon hovering over the wide receiver stack to the outside:

 cutback-1

Wisconsin's going to run a simple iso play that's designed to go off the right side of the line. You can see in shot two Demens's alignment just three yards off the LOS:

cutback-2

Martin's getting momentarily doubled in the shot below but the G peels off quickly to block the rolled-up Demens. On the backside Ryan Van Bergen has gotten kicked out and Mouton is staring down a free release from the backside G:

cutback-3

Demens is swallowed. I think the idea here is to force Wisconsin to come off their double of Martin quickly, allowing him to run free and eat people, but don't quote me on that. Ezeh is attacking the FB, and there's nothing on the frontside:

cutback-4

Because Martin has slanted past the center and Van Bergen has gotten kicked out there's a big cutback lane. Mouton is in a bad situation, essentially standing still as a guard comes out on him. Demens is getting blocked; the OG has his arm around his back. This never gets called holding but he's being held:

cutback-5

Mouton gets blasted three yards downfield and gives up the inside. Courtney Avery was filling from his overhang spot and could have maybe held this under three yards but once Mouton gets hit in that position the RB cut past him and it's up to Demens and/or Martin to spin of blocks and close it down.

cutback-6

They can't. Vinopal is forced to tackle ten yards downfield.

cutback-7

Video:

Object lesson type objects:

  • Theory as to the deployment of Kenny Demens two feet from his NT. Demens threatens to shoot into the backfield immediately on plays like this, which seriously reduces the time Wisconsin guards have to double Mike Martin. This allows Martin to use his quickness to slant under the center, get to the playside, and close off holes.
  • Problem with the deployment of Kenny Demens two feet from his NT. Once you're engaged with an OL he is going to grab you and delay you and let go before he gets a flag, so you can attempt to get off him and close down the massive cutback hole you've opened up by shooting both your MLB and NT to the playside but you're probably not going to make it.
  • Second problem with the deployment. I imagine it has something to do with opponents' consistent ability to hit balls over the linebackers and in front of the safeties; having your linebackers five yards off the LOS gives them more time to reduce throwing windows. I've charted basically all of Tolzein's throws and three or four could have been shut down if the linebackers had been a yard or three deeper.
  • WTF Van Bergen? When Michigan is aligned in this fashion the overhang guy—in this case Courtney Avery—is in great position to shut down anything that bounces all the way outside to the short side. With both Demens and Martin headed playside RVB should be flowing down the line, relying on Kovacs to bounce anything that gets behind him and Avery to clean up. Instead he gets upfield and seals himself, basically, leaving Mouton in acres of space with a guard bubbled over him.
  • Mouton could do better here, too. It's never good when you're taking on an OL three yards downfield and that OL is moving while you're not.

Ironically, I think this MLB deployment would have worked out okay for Ezeh, who's a big guy with some pop but terribly indecisive. Here there's not much of a decision. Line goes one way, you pound the playside guard ASAP. It seems like a waste for Demens, who has displayed good read and react skills in his brief career as a starter.

I was looking for an adjustment here where Michigan would defense something like this by not having Demens right at the LOS but haven't found it yet. I've seen a lot of small guys getting battered and crappy pursuit angles. I'm not sure if my haziness on what the appropriate play is is my fault or the defense's fault; it seems like Michigan players are making basic errors but it could be a shifting scheme in which a guy like JB Fitzgerald's attempt to defeat a downblock sees him go from the LOS at the snap to six yards off the LOS outside the hashmarks.

More than anything this seems like another example where the scheme is either incoherent or the players don't know what they're doing. Van Bergen getting upfield is the killer here and makes no sense given the alignment of the D.

Comments

Monday Player Presser Notes 11-22-10

Monday Player Presser Notes 11-22-10 Comment Count

Tim November 22nd, 2010 at 4:53 PM

Steve Schilling

IMG_1591.JPG

This game means a lot to the seniors, but also the last couple classes that never got the chance to beat OSU. "If we could put a stop to that streak too, maybe start our own streak of beating them" would be a big deal to the team. "It's not really a rivalry when one team wins every year. We've gotta get back in the win column."

"These last few years have been a little different Michigan, I guess, than the previous years." This win would be huge. "In a way, it could help rectify the four losses we've had. Obviously, it doesn't make up for them."

Never played in Columbus - he was injured 2 years ago. "It seems like a fun place to play." Jealous he didn't play last time.

Shown progression last three years, doesn't think about playing for Coach Rod's job this season.

The team has been trying to play catch-up in all four losses. Want to try for an early lead, maybe run some clock "especially in Columbus."

"We definitely think we have the ability to play with anybody when we're playing at our best."

Different intensity in Schembechler this week. "Put some band-aids on your wounds and get after it. Leave it all out there this Saturday."

The many good DL they've faced lately bring different skills to the table. "Arguably the top 4 defensive ends in the country play in our league." Heyward's great, played since he was a freshman. He has the whole package, and will be a big-time NFL prospect.

Don't want to see turnovers, protection from the OL has to help avoid it.

Denard has played well, set some records, but the team has struggled at times. Schilling doesn't worry about whether Denard is B10 player of the year. Denard's always got a positive attitude, no matter what's going on in the game. He loves playing football, always smiling. "You can tell he loves to play the game, and it's exciting to be able to block for a guy like that."

Jordan Kovacs

"Obviously my blood always ran Blue. My dad walked on here." Exciting rivalry, surreal to be a part of it. He was at the game the last time Michigan beat OSU. Sitting in section 27 with his parents and brother. Been to several games in Columbus, 2002 Game. Several M-OSU games. Didn't go to 2006, but that was the first one he missed.

Converted a couple buddies to M fans, some of them are still diehard Buckeye fans. "I do have some friends who go to Ohio State, and we're excited to go down there." Expects to hear from his buddies, win or lose. "Hopefully I can shut them up for a year, but we'll see."

Thrown in the mix early last year, gradually has become more comfortable with the defense. One of the more veteran guys on the defense already. Excited about the development of the young guys.

Pryor - "He's very versatile. He's a big guy... he can run and throw." The offense has a lot of different packages. They should be a great challenge.

"Anytime that you can make an offense one-dimensional, you've got a good chance of playing some good defense. If we can stop them on first and second down and put them in third-and-long, obviously we can create turnovers that way. But that's much easier said than done, and we've struggled with that so far."

Lost to Dane Sanzenbacher both times they played in HS. "I'm still looking for my first victory against him." He's not a big-name guy, but makes huge plays for the Buckeyes. "I wouldn't say that he does anything great, but he does a lot of things very well."

"We know we're going to have to play a flawless game." Guys are looking forward to getting into the film room. "We're confident. We're excited about this challenge."

Craig Roh

"I'm playing this week, no matter what." Had "a little head trauma," wasn't cleared to play in the second half. "It doesn't matter for this week, because I'm going to be playing."

Defensive players draw confidence from each other, looking at each other's work ethic, etc. Defensive struggles are a mixture of several factors, but everyone on D is working as hard as they can to fix what they can contorl.

"Our defensive goals each week are six 3-and-outs, three turnovers." If they can pull that off, the team will have a pretty good chance of winning.

Didn't know too much about Michigan or Ohio State in 2003. "I was just in Arizona, you know, chillin'." Can't take M-OSU rivalry away from college football. Glad they'll still play when the B10 goes to divisions.

The mentality of each guy on the team shows how important the OSU week is. Everything encompassed into one is what makes this game so important.

Has only heard about going into Columbus from a fan's perspective "I'm expecting the worst, and it's going to be exciting."

On the stuffed whatever: "Are you saying there's an animal on the sidelines? Next question."

Playing for RR's job? "No. We're playing for each other... It would be a great win for Rich Rod, for the team in general."

"I love Rich Rod as a coach. He's just a tough working guy." Has a positive attitude, despite what he's been through. That positivity wears off on guys.

Ryan Van Bergen

"I don't remember that one. I would have been 14." Probably just playing BBall and chasing girls in 8th grade. Charles Woodson with the Rose in his mouth is one of his first Michigan memories.

From the West side of the state, his mom is always heckled by MSU fans. This week, people are coming in to offer her encouragement. She's now realizing their ulterior motives, as Michigan can help send State to the Rose Bowl.

"A lot of the guys in my class, it's their last year. One of the big things for seniors is you never want to leave this program without beating Ohio State." Guys who have left say there's a feeling of emptiness. When you come to Michigan, you know your performances against Ohio State will make your reputation. "If you come out against Ohio State and have your best game, a lot can be forgiven."

Some criticism of the team is unjustified: they've been able to play with some of the top teams in the league. "For some reason, we haven't gotten that attitude to come out on the first play." Need to be able to come together and do that throughout the full game. Older guys, RVB included, need to help motivate everyone.

The defense's performance against Wisconsin - "Most of it was schematic. I mean, They schemed us really well. They had a play where they pull the tackle and a guard and the tight end blocks down. They scored 2 or 3 touchdowns on that one play. All of those were explosive plays." It's not a good thing, but there were positives to take from it, some guys played with a physical edge. "We can adjust our scheme and be ready for Ohio State X-and-O-wise. I think we can definitely play with them."

Terrelle Pryor, canon for an arm, fast, big, has a bunch of talented, fundamental WRs, good running backs. "They're a very dangerous and explosive offense, but I wouldn't want it any other way."

Team and program are making some big strides. "I think that next year, the guys we return, there's definitely going to be a chance that we're gonna be big-time contenders."

Mike Martin - Aggressive, relentless. Off the field, he's... "cuddly."

Mike Martin

"Lot of time in the training room and rehab. I've been struggling a lot with my ankles this season, which is a pain." Trying to play through it, doing as much as he can. Tough to push off with his ankles. Big mental thing, trying to play through it. "Hopefully that adrenaline kicks in, you know?" Only one of them is a problem at this point. Trying to be a leader when he's been unable to make an impact on the field. Adam Patterson has stepped up well in Mike's absence.

"It's tough, obviously, being on the team and being a fan. Any fan doesn't like that." Doing whatever they can to reverse OSU's dominance. No matter what each team's season is like, they'll both fight hard.

Has talked to guys who played in the 50s and 60s about the game. "We're just gonna play as hard as we can and make those guys proud."

Would feel really good to stop he streak. Overcome a lot this season, trying to improve each week. Anything is possible. "It's not about Ohio State, it's about us and what we do." Not looking to be spoilers, looking to win for themselves. "We're gonna control what we can control."

"It's gonna start with us down in the trenches." Need to force Pryor to move his feet, get him off-rhythm. Need to get pressure, wreak some havoc.

"I think they hate us, we hate them. That's just how it is, that's what it is." That leads to getting each team's best shot, no matter what. Different sense of intensity in the air this week. "You don't really need a motivational speech to get excited for it."

"We're not gonna get ran off the field. That's not gonna happen." They'll play hard to the final whistle. "That's not us, that's not our team, and we won't allow that to happen at all."

OSU might have a couple tricks up their sleeve, but this game is more about going straight at each other.

Not worried about what their impact is on MSU, just want to win for themselves.

Stuffed animal - "That's the defense's thing. We're not gonna talk about that."

Kevin Koger

"I don't really remember the game" last time M beat Ohio State.

Gave OSU a serious look in high school, but felt right in Ann Arbor. Talks to Roundtree about it. OSU wanted him on either side of the ball. His dad was a Michigan fan, that played a role in his decision.

Split in Toledo between OSU and M fans among his friends. Hears "I'm an Ohio State fan but I'm also a Kevin Koger fan" from most people he knows.

Have to take care of the ball to have a chance to win. Can't turn it over 5 times against OSU and still win. Need to pay attention to details. "It's not anything the coaches can do. It's definitely on us."

"It'd definitely mean a lot to us. Every game means a lot but this one means a little more."

Rivalry hasn't lost its luster even though OSU has won a lot. Streak is a bit embarrassing "It's on us to stop it."

"Hate? That's such a strong word." Respects, but does not like them.

Denard Robinson

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"I guess I have to agree with Koger. Got respect for them, but don't like them." Wasn't aware of the rivalry that much in HS. Looked at the FSU-Miami rivalry, and heard that M-OSU was a bigger deal. "You expect a physical team, a great coached team, and a great team." against OSU. You have to be even more prepared than past games.

Knew last year's game would be intense when he saw Shaw's altercation with an OSU player going into the tunnel. He's also seen video of the famous Woodson/Boston battle. "It's a big game. It's still a football game. Still a game."

1500 rush yards: "That's a great accomplishment, but I don't know what to say about it."

It would be a big deal to get invited to NY for the Heisman ceemony, but can't worry about it while there are still games to play.

"We can't come out flat like we did against Wisconsin. We've gotta perform all four quarters." Need to protect "the program" the ball. They've been making a few more mistakes lately, and that can't continue.

"I think our defense is one of the best defenses in the nation. I don't care what nobody say. We face them every day, and they just help us get better."

Pryor reminds Denard of Devin Gardner. Big, and he can run and pass.

He's going to ask Falk about the 'Shoe once he gets the chance. Iowa and Penn State were also tough environments.

Felt fairly healthy the past month. "90%, pretty good." Doesn't know when he got dinged up, but he's healthy enough to be as fast now as he was in the first few games. "I thought I was gonna break a couple of them, and I just fell" against Wisconsin.

Comments

Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 11-22-10

Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 11-22-10 Comment Count

Tim November 22nd, 2010 at 3:50 PM

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

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Injuries and Actual News

Multiple guys had headaches, their status is unknown until he talks to the doctors. Not sure about Stonum - he'll try to run around a bit the next couple days [but is in a boot].Gallon's shoulder will have to progress.

"Mike [Martin] should be OK. He'll be a little limited probably, he and Jonas [Mouton] both." Martin is the most dominant defensive player when he's healthy. "When we've got a healthy Mike Martin in there, it's different for us... He's one of those guys that can stand up to anybody." He gets treatment every morning, but he still won't be 100% this game - maybe by the bowl game.

Special teams have been pretty good outside of the inability to make a field goal. Drew Dileo and Fitz Toussaint will do more returning with the injuries to other guys. Fitz was on returns for the first time all year against Wisconsin because they were running out of capable bodies. "I think he's still getting back into the groove. There's so much time, it's like starting all over again. I think you'll more likely see him more often this weekend."

Kickers - "Seth had a great week of practice then he missed the one... Brendan kicked the extra points, but they were low, so we're lucky they weren't blocked." Nothing looks wrong with Seth's form, so it may be mental.

"Hopefully Vincent's OK." He's been the #1 RB, but Stephen Hopkins, Fitz Toussaint, and Mike Shaw should be good to practice all this week.

"It's looking that way" for a medical redshirt for Devin Gardner. Muscular issue in his lower back, probably won't require surgery.

Wisconsin accusations: "Playing dirty? That's funny." Must have been looking for something controversial.

Rodriguez has played during Thanksgiving week in the past. "The routine really pretty much stays the same." Most teams are still playing this week.

Personnel and Team

Denard - "For a first-year starter, he's had a pretty remarkable year." Hasn't looked as young as his age a lot of the time. Very committed to improving his game, understanding everything better. Not worried about postseason awards "I don't think we have to trumpet anything." On top of the numbers, Denard's taken a bigger leadership role, he loves his teammates. "He's got the type of personality that you wanna be around."

Scrutiny in the media might have changed with bowl eligibility, but the attitude inside the program is no different. "We've kinda had to take a tunnel-vision type of approach as a staff, and as a team, and as a program." The focus can't change because of outside perception. Sometimes stuff is falsely reported - and being a coach is like being a politician in that way.

"I didn't get this job at Michigan by getting a lottery ticket that said 'congratulations, you're the coach at Michigan.'" There's more to building a program than what's written in the media. Some circumstances may come up altering timeframe, for better or worse. "Close in some areas, but still a ways away in others." Rodriguez is still positive that they'll get to where they want to be - he sees the progress. "It's sooner rather than later, but it's not overnight."

The program has come a long way offensively since last these teams played, not as much progress on D. "A lot of the other thing that I've seen that's maybe not shown on the field as much, I think has come a long way."

The perception that teams with spread offenses have poor defenses is incorrect. Northwestern won a Big Ten title with the spread, Florida and Oklahoma won national titles running a spread. West Virginia had top-10 defenses when Rich was there. "It was probably doubts because people just wanna doubt. There's a faction of them that love being negative." Way too much is made about running schemes. The execution, players, etc. are more important.

Have to continue doing some things well, and improve the areas in which they haven't done well. "It's a game that's easy emotionally to get your guys focused for." Need to worry about execution. "Defensively, we've gotta make some stops, it's as simple as that." You can make some steps during the season, but the D won't improve exponentially in, say 4 weeks.

The defense isn't just one thing, there have been different issues each year. "There's no question that it needs to get fixed." Getting healthy, recruiting, development, putting them in position to succeed. "We've gotta look at everything, just like we would on offense." Team will naturally improve next year with experience, it's just a matter of maximizing that improvement.

"I've seen us play outstanding football in all three phases at times." Been more consistent on offense, and if the defense grows up and a few things bounce their way, it's a winnable game. Last year, they played well defensively but the offense turned it over too many times. "The situation was right us to maybe sneak one out there." but they missed opportunities to make plays.

Jordan Kovacs has been one of the D's most solid players. Kevin Koger has been splitting time with Webb at TE. Those two will be some of the team's greatest leaders next year.

The offense has stayed healthier, the defense has been ravaged by injuries. The freshmen who are playing would normally be redshirted.

Ohio State

"First off, it means a lot because it's Michigan-Ohio State." Means a lot to the seniors. "This would be something for them to remember quite fondly." Ohio State may have at stake from a conference championship standpoint, but the game is important on its own merits either way. "We do a few special things different for Ohio State week."

Great for fans, seniors, coaches, families. "I don't think about the end result right now, winning or losing. Right now, I want my players, and my coaches, and myself, we're thinking about the process." Want to focus on what they need to do to achieve the end result, not the result itself.

"I don't think about point spreads. When I came to Michigan I thought about winning championships."

Slow starts in past few games haven't been the same cause, sometimes a turnover, bogged down in the redzone, etc. "I'll study all of that after the season and see if there's something that will help our guys get out of the gate faster."

Pryor - improved understanding of the offense, runs when he has to. "He's a great athlete, I think there's no question he's the leader of that offensive unit, and he's made a lot of big plays for them."

The Ohio State OL is good, tailback position is talented, Dane Sanzenbacher is one of the best WRs in the country. Best corner pair in the league, LBs as good as anybody - and they gave Michigan lots of trouble last year, especially Brian Rolle.

OL - "We didn't play as well up front last week on the edges as we have been." JJ Watt's talent had something to do with the struggles, and the guys know they'll have another challenge this week with Cameron Heyward and John Simon.

Ohio Stadium is a challenge, but the quality of the team is daunting itself. "As far as intensity level and all that, it will be unparalleled." History, intensity, make this the greatest rivalry in sports. "It's hard to match the intensity of this one." Playing at OSU will be loud, as Penn State was. Communication issues come with offensive guys, so the youth on defense hopefully won't be too affected by the road atmosphere. Last time at OSU, saw some stuff, old ladies giving the bird, but that wasn't anything new. "Playing with Pitt, we saw whole families of them."

"We're not practicing and going down there with the intention of 'let's just show up and see what happens.' We're going down there to battle our tails off and try to get the win."

"We don't talk about the past and what's happened last year, 3 years ago, 5 years ago, but you want to be able to have it on your resume that you beat Ohio State if you played at Michigan." Greatest rivalry in college sports "for us, we've gotta perform better and get some wins to make us feel better, make our fans feel better."

Even if you fall behind, the team should have enough confidence that they can make a comeback. "It certainly will help the atmosphere so to speak if we can at least get off to a better start offensively."

Might the coaches take more chances on offense or special teams to cover for the weak defense? "If I did think that, would it make any sense to tell you? Probably not. We'll probably punt on third down."

Comments

Robinson And Guildenstern Are Dead

Robinson And Guildenstern Are Dead Comment Count

Brian November 22nd, 2010 at 12:08 PM

11/20/2010 – Michigan 28, Wisconsin 48 – 7-4, 3-4 Big Ten

wisconsin-touchdown

Detroit News

During my illustrious high school quiz bowl career* I ran across a question about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the Tom Stoppard play about a couple of bit players in Hamlet. It started off "the first 47 words of this play are 'heads,'" at which point someone else rang in and answered. Later I'd find out via the miracle of DVR that the reason the first 47 words of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead are "heads" is because one of the characters flips a coin over and over again. It always comes up heads. Rosencrantz or Guildenstern—it's unclear who is who for the duration—arrives at the conclusion that they are "within un-, sub-, or supernatural forces."

This weekend I'm scanning the message board for threads to terminate with extreme prejudice when I run across something from Mgrowold about the events of Saturday's second half:

Wisconsin then proceeded to run the ball 32 out of 33 times in the second half of today's game.  As I sat in the stadium it occurred to me that if a running play was "heads" and a passing play was "tails" then the Badger's play calling went something like this: heads, heads, tails, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads and then heads.

Wikipedia describes Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead as an "absurdist, existentialist tragicomedy." This is Greg Robinson rubbing a beaver on Kenny Demens's face in the midst of a game where the Michigan defense gave up 560 yards and Scott Tolzien's only incompletion was a James Rogers interception, his third in two games:

At this point the column writes itself.

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Apparently this is not literally true and now I have to put words down.

This is disappointing; you always hope if you really, really nail it in the first couple paragraphs you can watch the words appear as if by magic and then you won't have to seriously think about what happened in a game where Wisconsin punted once for the second consecutive year. Not accurate.

Obviously that was awful. Michigan had no answer to Wisconsin's series of basic "hai guys we're Wisconsin" runs. They went back to the same stupid 3-3-5 with Kenny Demens lined up two inches from his nose tackle's butt that got Michigan obliterated against Penn State. Wisconsin's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern second half was immensely, grindingly depressive but did have a secondary effect: it mostly absolved the improbably young secondary from blame. The front seven/eight aren't universally freshmen and should be able to hold a team under, I don't know, 350 yards of rushing.

I said my bit on the job status of Rodriguez and Robinson already. Michigan put up 28 that would have been 31 if not for a missed 30 yard field goal. That's on par with Wisconsin's worst performances of the year—Michigan State put up 34 but got a punt return touchdown, Iowa put up 30. The defense was the same incoherent mess it's been the whole year. It was more depressing than I expected, but at this point whatever, right?

Saturday reinforced both positions. Our defensive coordinator literally rubs small stuffed animals on people's faces. Denard Robinson broke the I-A record for rushing yards by a quarterback and is the first guy in history to have 1500 rushing yards and 2500 passing yards in the same season. Michigan is the most dichotomous team in at least the last decade of college football, and while I won't be horribly upset if Rodriguez does get the axe I still think the best thing for the next year or two is to see what happens when Denard Robinson is an upperclassman and the defense isn't starting four freshmen and three more sophomores. Michigan did manage to achieve the modest goals set before it, albeit in unimpressive fashion.

-----------------------------------------

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are boyhood friends of Hamlet summoned to a castle undergoing chaos. They've got no idea what's going on, are used as pawns, stumble around cluelessly, and end up hanging by their necks until they are dead. Woefully underprepared and doomed from the start, their deaths are both unfair and unavoidable. The third act is set on the boat they take to England and their deaths; they discover the letter sent with them says to execute Hamlet, then discover the Hamlet's fateful switch.

Much of the last bit is devoted to a discussion of how the pair can be so important as to necessitate their execution. I wonder if that's how Rodriguez felt as he watched the half of his team he delegates to someone else ground into a fine dust, like Jeff Casteel had switched his defense with one that read "execute this man."

*(We were actually pretty good, the Wisconsin/Iowa of Michigan high school quiz bowl at the time. We'd own most teams we played but would consistently lose close games to Salem, CC, DCD, and a Henry Ford Harrison team that had lucked into the National Geography Bee winner. We prided ourselves on not having uniforms, at least.)

Existentialist, Absurdist, Tragicomic Non-Bullets

Jeremy Gallon special teams error limit: determined. It is ten billion. I'm obviously on the tolerant side of the scale when it comes to coaching errors (outside of obvious game theory errors, about which I have an Al Qaeda level of zealotry) but JESUS GOD RICH RODRIGUEZ WHY DID YOU LET JEREMY GALLON RETURN KICKS AND PUNTS FOR TEN GAMES.

On the bright side, Michigan's kick returns finally seemed like a net positive aside from the Gallon fumble. Which aaaaargh. The strange thing about those returns was that Wisconsin seemed to be putting them exactly where they wanted—right along one sideline—and still gave up big returns seemingly every time.

A note on how meaningless the NCAA's official kick return stats are: in one game Michigan went from a horrendous debacle to essentially average. They're 67th now. I'll ping Brian Fremeau for his fancy stats at the end of the year to see what the actual damage was in the kick return game.

Small move towards Pulaski. Hey: surprise onside kick that absolutely should have worked but for two Michigan players whiffing on opportunities to recover. Since Wisconsin was going to score anyway, the only tactical error was not doing this two additional times. Also, the last one was not a surprise but it was beautifully executed by the kicker. Maybe that's what they've been practicing all year.

If Roy Roundtree drops a sure first down the next pass will be batted skyward and intercepted 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Fact. Please stop doing this, Roy.

First half struggles. The offense didn't score in the first half due to a confluence of events. Event the second: field goal kicker durrr combined with coaching durrrr about the field goal kicker durrrrr. Event the first and many other bits: Robinson couldn't throw straight. Wisconsin shoved guys up to the LOS and dared Michigan to throw deep. Michigan threw deep. Robinson missed guys by yards and yards, including an open Vincent Smith on that third and six that eventually led to field goal durrrr.

In the second half Robinson hit a series of bombs, forced Wisconsin to back off, and Michigan went TD, TD, TD, fate induced post-Roundtree INT, TD. Again, the design of the offense is excellent and while Robinson's lack of accuracy is now an established issue this level of performance with two seniors on the field is remarkable.

God, this was awful. I hate to embed this and inflict it on the public at large, but this was awwwwwful:

I'm actually a fan of Old Hat Creative's work with Michigan's hype videos but Notre Dame fans would laugh at this treacly debacle. Athletic department: I will write sentimental stuff with 10% of the schmaltz for free. I will pay you if this is the alternative. Guh.

Things that were good. A fond farewell to drum major David Hines Jr., whose backbend will remain legendary, and various other band seniors. The MMB bounced back from a year in which they forced Carl Grapentine to say "the clown who laughs outside as he cries inside" and deployed a series of accessible halftime shows that did not involve various operas of the 19th century. The Wizard of Oz halftime was good, Lady Gaga translates to marching band in a shockingly effective fashion, and the hockey band just played the old Hockey Night in Canada theme. Thumbs up.

Bret Bielema: still a huge jerk. This isn't a surprise from a guy who saw one of his special teams scrubs attempt to injure Steve Breaston and then pretended it didn't even happen, but Bret Bielema said his team sent "a message" by chop-blocking one of Michigan's linemen on that first-half drive that didn't end in a touchdown. You know, that one.

Elsewhere

Michigan Exposures with a bunch of pictures, including the random F-15E wandering around the stadium before kickoff, a panoramic shot, and:

I should start regularly linking Mike DeSimone's comprehensive picture galleries, which collect everything shot on a game-by-game basis and act as a crutch here.

I made this facial expression at the exact same time!

Joe Stapleton says he feels sorry for Rodriguez. On RR's postgame mini-rant about the exceptional youth in the secondary:

It's an excuse and reality. As much as I would like to say it, the biggest problem with the defense isn't the abjectly awful coaching of defensive coordinator Greg Robinson (Though it certainly doesn't help — as gaudy as Wisconsin's offensive numbers were, they could have been a lot worse if the Badgers would've taken advantage of the WIDE-open middle of the field through the air). It's the youth in the secondary.

Some say, without thinking, that this is Rodriguez's fault. He should've recruited more (and better) defensive backs. Here's the thing: he had defensive backs. They all just kinda ... left. That, or they got injured.

I'm at the point where losing Vlad Emilien, no matter how not good he may have been, is a strike against you, but by in large most of the departures were ordained like a post-Roundtree drop INT. Wojo's column is along the same lines as this one.

AnnArbor.com runs a poll of their own about RR's job security; the ones run around here earlier in the year by The White Tiger are more extensive but MGoBlog actively discourages people from the militant wing of the fanbase from participating so the numbers at AA.com are probably more representative. They've got 3300 votes in with 41% saying boot him, 22% saying "one more year," and 33% saying "I support him." A very strange 2% of people took the time to vote "I don't care." That's a majority saying keep him but it's vastly short of the 81% who voted "keep him" at 7-5 in the poll around these parts. (Michigan had yet to play Illinois and Purdue when that poll was deployed.)

Across various blogs the reaction seems to be mostly "not surprised." Touch The Banner:

This is a game that I expected Michigan to lose.  Almost everyone did.  That's not to say that I wasn't frustrated by some of the things that the coaches and players did - and the offensive production in the first half was somewhat embarrassing - but ultimately, this outcome is what most educated observers foresaw.

TTB does say the constant use of Vinopal as a blitzer was stupid, which yeah. Burgeoning Wolverine Star:

Wisconsin is that good. It's not surprising, then, that Michigan struggled so mightily against an oversized, veteran unit that is unquestionably the best outfit in the Big Ten. That doesn't make Michigan's complete inability to stop the run or their general defensive incompetence any less disappointing, but it does mitigate it somewhat.

Mets Maize:

My prediction--Wisconsin 45-28--and similar ones around the blogosphere was closer than the Vegas spread (-4.5 Wisconsin). We knew we were outmatched, plain and simple. Too many things had to go our way and JJ Watt's self-tip and pick was not one of them. The disparity between Wisconsin's physicality and Michigan's, uhhh, collection of 18-year-old biceps was worlds apart. I'm sort of glad the game flew by.

The Hoover Street Rag busts out Jefferson's inaugural address in a plea for people who think one side or the other of the Rodriguez debate is full of idiots. MGoFootball peruses the board for choice bits.

Comments

Dear Diary: A Tragedy, or Just a Comedy of Errors?

Dear Diary: A Tragedy, or Just a Comedy of Errors? Comment Count

Seth November 21st, 2010 at 9:53 AM

badger Balldammitball

MGoBlue.com

Dear Diary,

When he was doing his summer interview series, Six Zero asked how I became a Michigan fan. My answer (short version):

…when I was 11, I was invited to spend a long weekend with my cousin, then an engineering student in Ann Arbor. We had the best pancakes I ever tasted at this place just west of the Nickels Arcade, then went to watch Desmond Howard singlehandedly demolish Indiana. After the game we bought a used copy of Alice in Wonderland from that book dude on State St., then warmed up over hot cider at the Brown Jug. After, I splayed out on a sleeping bag next to the couch in his desmondindianaapartment watching his two female roommates walk around naked. And I was like "This is it; I wanna go to Michigan."

That cousin is still in Ann Arbor. His wife, who must be one of the 90 kindest people in the world, is a pediatrician and huge Michigan fan who spent the morning preparing her house for an invasion of some 25 family members, aged 14 to 70, all of whom were to have parking, tickets, and passes either to the new box, or at least the Crisler bathrooms. Their two kids, girl 11, and boy 9, had helped Mom by taping a large paper banner across the kitchen door that read "Hello Cousins! M Club Welcomes You!"

Adorable children have a way of appearing when Brian's about to hurl profanities, so I marched to Michigan's last home game of 2010 with an army of them. It does help with the profanity –- the worst thing I did at a game full of perfect exclamatory moments was to face the sky after the batted interception and yell "I thought you hated Wisconsin!"

The 14-year-old loved that one. He also loved his first view of MGoBlog, which I had him pull up at half-time on his smart phone (yes, 14-year-olds come with smart phones now). When Denard whooped a guy about to kill him then sauntered into the end-zone, 14-year-old was the one telling me the record had been broken.

The serendipitous presence of a kid is great for writers trying to capture something too profound to be believable from a cynical adult. Sometime MGoCommenter Glen Masons Hot Wife has a little tradition now of (kind of dickishly) telling me I can't write as well as Brian (or Johnny of RBUAS) after these posts. Don't think I don't know I can't (triple-negative!) use a rhetorical moppet with the aplomb of Cook; I wish I could. To be fair, Brian said he wishes he could moppet like DFW.

My actual recollection of childhood was that by the time I cared about sports I wasn't that innocent anymore. My world-test wasn't necessarily "is this awesome?" but "is this cool?" with the latter being something I didn't actually get to determine. I thought Desmond Howard was awesome, but I was almost as happy again when I learned that Desmond Howard fandom was really cool.

Much of my adult life has been about trying to recapture that which is genuine and awesome (I would argue that David Foster Wallace's magnum opus Infinite Jest, is about this too) after years of pursuing cool. The cynic who blamed God when a 6'0 quarterback kept having his passes batted right to defenders became so because when we're being honest, watching Michigan get crushed by Wisconsin just hurts.

Woodsonboston What makes it easier is knowing things will get better. For me, Greg Robinson will probably be gone, and hopefully the 3rd time will be the charm (if it's not, well…), and other than the few guys who walked with their parents under the banner this afternoon, almost all of the starters will be back next year.

Those kids: Greg Banks, James Rogers, Steve Schilling, Adam Patterson, Renaldo Sagesse, Jonas Mouton, Obi Ezeh, et al., moppets themselves when I was in school, stayed when most of their classmates bailed. Some were redshirting for '06, but their first day of eligibility was The Horror. A coach whom they might never have signed up for changed the program to something that's about trying harder, and they did it. They lost to Wisconsin today, and all those other times, not because of effort but because they simply weren't as good as Mark Messner, Charles Woodson, Steve Hutchinson, Alan Branch, Glen Steele, Jarrett Irons and Larry Foote. They never grew cynical because there was always another chance, an opportunity for something awesome to happen.

The injuries sustained today – Roh, Rodgers, Stonum, Smith – may make it impossible, but there's still a chance for awesome. That's why playing for Michigan is different than for every other school, because no matter how the season goes, that chance for awesome is always going to be right there at the end of it. For the seniors, it's the last one. For my 14-year-old cousin, there will be so many more that one loss to Wisconsin is nothing next to years of Denard Robinson and whatever amazing things are ahead.

But here's this kid who's 14 years old, knows what "Ndamukong" means, pulls up rushing stats on SportsTap more than I do, and he doesn't remember Chris Perry because he was fucking SEVEN the last time we beat Ohio State. I don't expect the 2010 Michigan team to play defense like '97, because they're not that good, the same way that this column will never be written as well as the Brian's post-game the next day, and that post-game won't be as good as DFW's tennis coverage was, and DFW's genius was not that of the bard.

For him, for the moppets who made the banner, for the seniors, for the fans, for the coach, for the team, to go into Columbus this year and beat Ohio State, well, that would just be awesome.

Much Ado About Nothing

The Grid of Expectation:

Diary Author Method Prediction Kick-Ass Graphic
Wisconsin Preview The Mathlete PAN-fried Wis, 38-37 image
Post Week 11: Yardage Analysis and Predictions + Score Predictor tpilews Weighted YPG M, 42-38
Week #11 National Statistics and Predictions for Wisconsin Enjoy Life Sagarin, Fremeau Wis, 41-30 (FEI) or W-4.5 image
Preview: Wisconsin 2010 Brian fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms Wis, 34-27
James_White

The Taming of the Overgrown Shrew

2010 Game 10 Wallpaper Preview

MonuMental's Weekly Wallpaper

In the last week of the normal Big Ten season the Diarists had to dig deep (get it?) to get up for a visit from the 10-1 Badgers. First, the Shred Dude, and his remake of Shakespeare's section title-referenced play: 10 Things I Hate About The F-ing Badgers.

Whats that shit on your face?

2. James Kamoku- You son of a bitch! You think you can put your god damn hands on Steve Breaston and get away with it? DO YOU!? This amateur during a 2006 UM vs UW punt return decided to try and rip Steve's ankle off. It was caught on TV. Karma is a bitch since last I saw you played for some fake football team called the "Wolf Pac". Guess what happened to this dirt ball for his bush league act? NOTHING!

Other things Shredder hates: suffocatingly boring, anti-points white-guy basketball, green giants, band camp, dirty campgrounds, letter people, candy canes, trucks, and the cast of That '70s Show except Red. Also: guys who switch positions mid-Paint:

Meanwhile, Coach Schiano visualized a motivational post-Wisconsin speech by Rich Rod. Denard, Kelvin Grady, et al. respond in a telling reminiscent of the random heroism of football.

Alls Well That Ends Well

UMTailgate.com

The funny thing about accomplishing something in sleety driving rain: you are miserable when you're in it, but afterwards you just love talking about it. True to form, the MGoStatisticians took to the spreadsheets to test all sorts of wild theories that indirectly might maybe possibly suggest we beat Wisconsin and Ohio State:

Hypothosis: The Defense is Approaching Average, by matt D.

Observations: Michigan is kind of but not quite comparable to Penn State, which is an average defense:

School

Yds/Drive

Stop %

Punt %

3 & Out %

Pts/Drive

Michigan 36.8 53% 39% 24% 2.81
Penn State 39.1 62% 38% 22% 2.22

Conclusion: You can judge for yourself. Matt says the defense is put in bad situations. Irish brings the sanity:

75th in rush defense and tackles for loss
86th in pass efficiency defense
91st in sacks
93rd in scoring defense
100th in total defense
103rd in turnover margin
114th in pass defense

Hypothesis: 'Tis better to play at home, by The Mathlete.

Observations: Teams seem to perform better against expectations when at home. And whoa last year:

image

Conclusion: Over these years Michigan is on the low end of home field advantage, in the Big Ten above only the polite and purpled few of Evanston, and Illinois, but it's still worth almost 2 points a game in PAN. Poor Notre Dame is worse at home than on the road.

Hypothesis: Michigan makes a difference, by TennBlue.

Observations: If you normalize our schizophrenic team (SCORE! INTERCEPTION! FUMBLE! SCORE! SCORE! MISS FG! SCORE! INTERCEPTION!) our opponents look a little different than the final score may indicate.

Opponent

M's affect on Total D Rank

M's affect on Total O rank

Result

Connecticut -10 1 W, Good O, OK D
Notre Dame -10 19 W, Good O, Terrible D
Bowling Green -17 0 W, Awesome O, OK D
Indiana -11 14 W, Good O, Terrible D
Michigan State -1 16 L, OK O, Terrible D
Iowa -10 -2 L, Good O, OK D
Penn State -8 4 L, Good O, Bad D
Illinois -20 14 W, Awesome O, Terrible D
Purdue -4 -2 W, OK O, OK D

Conclusion: Yeah, it kind of does. We underrated Penn State a bit, and maybe overrated Michigan State.

Hypothesis: Michigan is so good we can turn it over and suck at special teams and still win at football, by Enjoy Life

Observations: With a turnover margin of minus-7, a bad return team, a worse coverage team, and no chance of making a field goal, Michigan is amazingly unscathed.

image

Conclusion:

HOLD ON TO THE GOD DAMN BALL AND THROW THE GOD DAMN BALL TO OUR RECEIVERS!!

Also it seems the reason we can get away with this is that our offense is so radically good, and our defense is so generally bad unless we're facing an offense that's radically bad, that what's a few more radicals thrown into the mix.

Hypothesis: All you need to know you can learn from Revenge Movies, by bronxblue

Observations:

But as Chris Martin likes to say “That’s why Sweet 16 leaves presents for Superman on the field!”, or whatever line the inglourious-basterds-poster at BTN programmed him to say every 30 seconds.

Conclusion: Payback.

Hypothesis: Michigan could win another Big Ten game this year, by the Mathlete

The Mathlete's picture

Observations: We beat Purdue, and the PAN before the Wisconsin game said we were at 46% to finish at the 7-5 we expected, and the rest…well, nowhere to go but up, right?

Conclusion: Three excellent diaries this week again. Dylan can write songs, Gretzky can play hockey, Mathlete can write diaries.

Conclusion: The Mathlete is your Diarist of the Week.

As You Like It (Etc.)

Yes, another Moving Picture Pages of Chris, by Danger of Dangerous Logic. That one's the earlier throwing of rock. He has another from Friday night in which even more rock is thrown. Somewhere, DeBord is coaching in a city that doesn't have internet and thus missing this opportunity to nod in solemn approval.

For those (like me) who have to look more than once to comprehend what "Michigan+4" means, Blazefire and his bolded subconscious multiple personality* put on a little clinic to explain what the line actually means:

The line is not a means of picking a winner of a game, nor is it intended to do so.

The line is a form of handicap, suggesting that under given circumstances, adjusting the final score by X points (subtracting for the team expected to win or adding for the team expected to lose) would create a tie score. It is an attempt to put the teams "on par" with each other.

The line is a betting tool, and is not intended to predict the score of the game.

Betting with or against the line is an agreement or disagreement with Vegas, not a belief or disbelief in one of the teams.

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* How many people on this blog have bolded subconscious multiple personality disorder anyhow?

You try watching the last decade of Michigan football and staying sane, putz.

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Finally, oriental andrew's Opponent Press Conferences returned this week to interview "that big meathead … and his meaty Badgers."

That's enough of weeks past and Big Ten seasons concluded. It's Ohio State week.

Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit.

The game's afoot: follow that spirit t'ward dark Ohio
Cry "hail" for Michigan! For Rod! And Saint Bo!

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