Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs CMU

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs CMU Comment Count

Brian September 5th, 2013 at 3:09 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan played this one vanilla, opting for either their traditional 4-3 under…


…or a 4-2-5 nickel package…


Furman is offscreen on the right hash.

…with the occasional insertion of a 3-3-5 on passing downs. There was no okie stuff with seven guys at the line of scrimmage, and it was very rare to see a safety walk down. With the line ripping through Central's pass protection there was little need to do anything else. If Michigan could manage that against a tough opponent that would be nice.


Right. Seth has already covered this in exacting detail. In brief: the secondary was consistent, with Furman and Wilson at safety and Taylor and Countess the starting corners. When Michigan went to the nickel, Stribling and Hollowell were about even, with Stribling getting the first at-bats.

Inside linebacker was split almost evenly between Morgan, Ross, and Bolden, with Gedeon getting some reps later and RJS right at the end. SAM was about 50/50 Beyer/Gordon, except that a lot of that was at DE in nickel packages.

Okay. The line. Okay. Your nominal starters were Heitzman, Washington, Black, and Clark, except there was so much nickel that the nose was lifted half the time. Wormley, Pipkins, Glasgow, and Ojemudia got a large amount of time backing up the starters. Godin, Ash, Henry, and Charlton got in later. Godin actually split snaps almost equally with the other two SDEs; at the other three spots the third guy was definitively third.

[After THE JUMP: rotation, rotation, rotation. Pass rush! Safety assessments!]


Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs CMU

Upon Further Review 2013: Offense vs CMU Comment Count

Brian September 4th, 2013 at 1:29 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan didn't do anything particularly weird that I had to call out. Hey, look, it's an I-Form.



I called this 4-4 for Central Michigan, FWIW.

No idea if the prevalence of under-center stuff after the opening couple drives means anything in the long run. This one was out of hand fast, and Michigan did use shotgun on downs like second and six on occasion.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Gardner, then Morris at QB. After Toussaint went out the first carries went to Drake Johnson (Rawls got in to hand off on the reverse), then Green/Smith, then Hayes/Rawls. At WR, Gallon was the main guy with Jackson, Reynolds, and Chesson rotating outside at the other spot and Dileo/Norfleet in the slot. Norfleet got more playing time than I expected.

Butt/Funchess/Williams at TE; Kerridge was followed by Houma at FB. The line was Lewan-Glasgow-Miller-Kalis-Schofield until late, when it first read Braden-Glasgow-Burzynski-Kalis-Magnuson, then Braden-Bryant-Burzynski-Bars-Magnuson.

[After THE JUMP: OL puts on a clinic, Gardner puts on a clinic (mostly), running backs… do not. Chesson escalates quickly.]


Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-3-13: Al Borges

Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-3-13: Al Borges Comment Count

Heiko September 4th, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Opening remarks:

"Wait, I just looked at Mattison. He had about three or four of these [tape recorders] here. Can somebody explain that to me? I get up here and [omg there are so many.]"

You talk softly. Honestly. 

"I don't understand."

Speak up.

"Speak up!? I've never had anybody tell me that was a problem."

What did you like from the first game?

"Well, we had some very nice plays. We ran some plays that were executed very very well. We had a reverse that was done pretty well. We had a couple play-action passes that were nicely done. We had some outside zone plays that got the corner nice, and we [were able to make] one-cut and run. I think those things were good. The biggest issues were interceptions. That's got to go away, because that's going to come back and haunt you, and then we had some penalties. Most of them were from first time players. Not all of them, but some of them were first-time players. We had a false start. We had a premature snap one time. So, you know, I hope that's first game stuff. It'll go away as we play more."

How does Drake Johnson's injury change the running back position?

"Well it's just one less guy. He was the first guy up after Fitz [Toussaint]. He was playing well and he was really learning our offense from the perspective of protection. He was a guy that was able to do some of the things Fitz could do, [Thomas] Rawls could do, guys that have been in our system for a while. So that hurts. That hurts. He's a good player who's going to become a better player as he plays more. Hurts our depth and we lose a guy that's not only a good offensive player but a good special teams player, too."


Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-3-13: Greg Mattison

Tuesday Presser Transcript 9-3-13: Greg Mattison Comment Count

Heiko September 3rd, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Opening remarks:

"All right, here we go. It's a big one. This has always been a big game. I probably know this game better than most people, having been on both sides of it. This is a rivalry game. This is a big game. We're looking forward to it."

Does it mean more to you since you've been on both sides of it?

"Every game means a lot to me. Any time you go out on the field and represent the University of Michigan is big. I've always looked at this. I think everybody looks at this. There are some big games, and Michigan-Notre Dame in my eyes has always been a big rivalry game."

In what ways will this be a litmus test for this defense?

"Well, you're playing against a very talented opponent. Notre Dame has a lot of talent. They're a very good football team. Now it's the next step. In the second game, did you correct the mistakes? Do you play harder or do you improve? Every time you're a young team, you must improve every game. If you don't, then you're taking a step back. We're looking forward to improving."


One Frame At A Time: Central Michigan

One Frame At A Time: Central Michigan Comment Count

Ace September 3rd, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Football is back, and major props go to drum major—and Belleville native—Jeff Okala for nailing the traditional back-bend in his very first game:

I love that the BTN showed large portions of the pregame show; they had three(!) different camera angles of Michigan touching the banner. This one's my favorite:

Of course, I'm sure you want to see GIFs from the actual game. For Kyle Kalis and Devin Funchess setting their phasers to "kill", Taylor Lewan dominating with however many arms he pleases, epic ninja Hokepoint, and much more, read on below the jump.



Picture Pages: Return Of The Stretch

Picture Pages: Return Of The Stretch Comment Count

Brian September 3rd, 2013 at 12:04 PM


GOOD? I think probably yeah. [Bryan Fuller]

You know that basketball game column after the Wisconsin halfcourt shot game where I laid out a scenario in which Bo Ryan was the vanguard of the bug people from Rigel? I disclaimed any belief that was actually true but asserted that if it was, Wisconsin basketball would be exactly the same as it is today.

So… Al Borges's gameplan. Michigan came out throwing from the shotgun, and that caused me to tweet out that this newfangled offense looked a lot like the oldfangled offense. I didn't yet perceive that Michigan's first four handoffs to Toussaint were zone stretch plays, i.e. the very foundation of Michigan's offense under Rich Rodriguez. I'm pretty sure that Michigan ran fewer than four stretches all of last year. Al Borges isn't trolling me, but if he was nothing about Michigan's gameplan would have changed. (Bubble screens are now trolling Heiko.)

Evaluating the stretch is like getting back on a bike for me. It was also Michigan's base run play for the last two years of DeBord, so for the five formative years when I was learning to say more about runs than "that's a big ol' wad of bodies" the majority of plays I was looking at were stretches. I'm still much better at figuring them out than any other run play.

This is relevant in a credential-establishing fashion: I've seen a lot of these and now I'm going to say something that might be a little out there. I think Graham Glasgow might be quite good. He and Miller consistently crushed the playside defensive tackle on scoop blocks throughout these four carries, which is a good sign to begin with. And on one I think he did something advanced.

The setup: first and ten on Michigan's second drive of the game. They come out in a 2TE set with both TE's to the boundary—the boundary is the short side of the field. Central is in their standard 4-2-5 personnel.


Funchess motions to the top of the formation; Central slides to that side. The aggressive posture of the safeties likely indicates cover four, which sounds conservative but isn't really. For our purposes that means that either or both can charge hard at run action to his side.


On the snap, the telltale tilt of the center sideways that indicates a zone stretch. On inside zone the line goes more vertical, attempting to blow the DTs back with doubles. Here they're trying to shift their line a gap over.


Lewan immediately crushes the playside end inside, which is bad for defenders. Glasgow bangs the playside DT as Miller tries to scoot around him in time to pick him up when Glasgow leaves.


This is all working just fine. The situation:


  1. The end is bashed inside and has given up the corner. Toussaint will go outside.
  2. The backside DT is headed to the ground on a cut block.
  3. Miller and Glasgow have gotten some push on the playside DT and threaten to cut him off.
  4. Funchess is releasing downfield.

The issue is the red line. That is the middle linebacker on his horse, headed for the backfield.

Funchess is about to violate a fake cardinal rule of football that I made up: never turn upfield on a run play. When someone runs by you, they're gone. You may have screwed up, but you can't fix it by turning around. Go further downfield and hit someone else and hope to God it all worked out okay.

Well, go ahead and violate it.


And of course the thing is you can see in these stills that Graham Glasgow has seen this linebacker charging, disengaged from the scoop block on the defensive tackle, and successfully engaged him. That wasn't even Funchess's dude. Funchess can't feel the play like Glasgow did.

In the wider view you  can see that Michigan has a a hat on a hat except for one guy:


That DT that Miller's handling gets sealed away:


The upfield guy is actually a linebacker Kalis is chasing. Miller has stepped around to get his helmet playside of the DT, though, which means he's done.

Toussaint hits the hole, getting hewed down by that filling safety as Funchess realizes his error, turns around, and tries to get downfield:


Glasgow's guy is on the ground. Safety tackles as Toussaint runs inside of the Jackson block; five yards is the return.



Items of interest

Man I like this play from Glasgow. I suspect this is a very bad player they're doubling here and blowing him up is no great accomplishment. Level of competition disclaimer applied. But as mentioned, I have seen an awful lot of zone stretches. It is very rare to see a guy with the speed of thought and fleetness of foot to both decide he needs to get on that guy right now and actually get there. That reminds me of David Molk.

I also liked Glasgow's immediate release on another stretch when Central's slanting away from the play:

That is decisive recognition of the fact that the DT has stepped away and he's free to climb to the second level. He goes out, he gets a block, he does not hang around wondering what he should do. It's not a miracle or anything; it is an easy thing to see a first-time player screw up. So far Glasgow has been consistently executing his assignments and throwing in flashes of serious promise like the play above. I don't think I could be any happier with his performance in this game so far.

That is a great, great sign. Obviously. It changes the entire tenor of the offseason competition on the interior of the line if Graham Glasgow is just good.

And he can pull! Should have sent a poet.

This was one play after Lewan pulled and ended up four yards behind the line of scrimmage. That is the fastest dang pull I've seen while doing this. This is saying very little, of course. Even so this is a good thing to see from a first-time starter at guard. He can zone. He can pull. He seems to be consistently executing his assignments. His skill level seems very high, and if he can physically match up with Notre Dame you should prepare for a barrage of Glasgow == Kovacs, "don't you dare call him a walk-on" stuff.

Funchess is still a work in progress. While he is trying his darndest with the blocking, he is just not a natural. Here he gets lost and blocks no one. Worse, on the second Gardner interception he does not pick up a guy that Williams is passing off to him, and that guy gets into Gardner's feet. As a result Gardner's throw is way long and intercepted. If Gardner understands the coverage and is trying to back-shoulder that throw, he could get a nice completion there, and FWIW he did mention that in the presser:

The next one, I got hit while I threw it, so it kind of went [farther than I intended], and you can kind of control that, but not as much as you'd like to. via Heiko

He did some good things with his blocking, but that wasn't a one-year reclamation project.

I do think this is an unnatural thing, for guys to let it go when dudes flash by them. But once you turn upfield you're done. If Funchess had gone 90 degrees and then continued downfield he probably still gets the block. It's not the thought he should take this guy that dooms him, it's how long he takes to decide that he actually shouldn't.

You're done now. The weirdest thing about these stretches was what happened on the end. He got obliterated inside by Lewan every time. That gave Michigan the corner easily. Bad player, surely. Also one unprepared for Michigan to run the stretch. I never saw that in the DeBord/RR days no matter who they were playing. Those guys were hauling ass to stay outside the tackle every time.

That's actually the easiest read in the book for a guy running the stretch. Rodriguez had three rules for the tailbacks that went by "bounce," "bend", and "blast." Bounce was the first one and that was simple: if the end gets sealed go to the corner ASAP. This was handled in about fifteen seconds because it never happens and if it does it's yards every time.

Why would they be running the stretch all of a sudden? Well, they seemed pretty good at it. Michigan was one block/step away from busting some long ones. It may be hard to remember this, but Jack Miller was a Rodriguez offensive line recruit more in the mold of agile bastard David Molk than someone that is going to excel at blowing guys off the ball. But I think the main reason is:


NOBODY fripperizes facemasks like the Notre Dame Fig Things

That's 322 pound Stephon Tuitt hanging with 340 pound Louis Nix, except this is probably a shot from last year's Michigan State given the background color. That's 15-20 pounds ago for each. Tuitt's backup is a somewhat touted redshirt freshman who is not Stephon Tuitt; Notre Dame lost Nix's backup to a season-ending injury and now the man behind him has a Notre Dame bio with an impressive set of accomplishments that happen to belong to Prince Shembo. Kona Schwenke is a senior with seven tackles to his name who was an obvious downgrade when Nix was out with the flu last year.

Stretch plays are good for getting rid of planetoid defensive tackles and making them run down the line in a futile chase to the ball. Notre Dame fans also apparently think their starters in the middle these days (Dan Fox and Carlo Calabrese) are uninspiring plodders after the Temple game, so Michigan would like to make them run, too. Hypothesis: the stretch is something Michigan thinks will beat ND.


Monday Presser Transcript 9-02-13: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 9-02-13: Brady Hoke Comment Count

Heiko September 2nd, 2013 at 4:30 PM


  • Boo boo watch: Joe Reynolds "feels better each day." I don't know what that means. Courtney Avery is "close" to being able to play.
  • Derrick Green is second on the depth chart.
  • Brady Hoke thinks depth charts are silly.
  • The Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry is a pretty meaningful one, yeah.
  • Interior line did pretty okay.
  • Erik Magnuson has gotten stronger to earn playing time.
  • Missed tackles vs. CMU were not so much the issue on defense. Cupping the ball was.


Televised Part

Opening remarks:

“Thanks for coming out. I know some of you would rather be on a boat on a lake, but it's football season so you don't have that opportunity. You know, as far as last weekend, I was pleased we won the game. At the same time there was a lot of things that we talked about as a football team, as a staff, that we can do better. There’s a lot of work. There’s no excuse for some of the penalties we had from a coaching standpoint and a playing standpoint. We had a couple returns that Dennis [Norfleet] did a nice job on, but obviously were canceled out. The turnovers -- can't have three turnovers. We lost five games a year ago, and we had 18 turnovers in those five games. 

“From a defensive perspective, we got two turnovers, but we need to get more. There were a lot of good things, but for us to be a championship football team, we have to do a much better job in how we play. I thought the tempo in the first half and a little bit of the second quarter from an offensive point of view wasn't really what we needed. I think they got a rhythm and they started to do some very good things. Obviously Devin [Gardner] has a great ability running with the football and throwing the football, so I think he helped us a ton some times in there. When we settled down a little bit, we got into the run game pretty well. I thought the defense stood up well in some sudden change situations. We got to play a lot of guys. There were 11 true freshmen and 14 redshirt freshmen who played in the football game. So that was good because they need the experience. 

“As you know and I know, this is a different week. It's a great rivalry game that's been played starting in 1887. It's a great rivalry game, and it's always a lot of fun. The atmosphere here, if you were here for the first night game, the second one should be just as fun. So with that, any questions?”


MGoPodcast 5.1: The Central Cannot Hold

MGoPodcast 5.1: The Central Cannot Hold


An hour and 22 minutes.


Bryan Fuller


Gardnerpicks, offensive line talkin', I mention Norfleet's near-catch from Morris twice, Gardner as Vince Young, Fitz lookin' good. Taylor Lewan's name is pronounced correctly... sometimes. 


All the rotation. Clark vs Beyer vs Ojemudia. Linebackers. Channing Stribling. Jarrod Wilson and Josh Furman.


Norfleet, Kenny Allen and what that means about the stability of the program. Punt blockage.


Big TENNNN? Big Ten. The entire league looked crappier than they should—Nebraska gives up 600 yards to Wyoming, Michigan State's offense is DOA, even Northwestern gets outgained by Cal. Purdue. Big Ten.


"Across 110th Street."
"Gardening at Night," REM.
"History Repeating," Propellerheads f/ Shirley Bassey. Because BIG TENNNN.

The usual links:

Rows Of Teeth

Rows Of Teeth Comment Count

Brian September 2nd, 2013 at 12:43 PM

8/31/2013 – Michigan 59, Central Michigan 9 – 1-0


oh yeah Kalis and Magnuson beardin' it up yo [Upchurch]

You may not remember this because of the recent history of Michigan football, but often after one-sided blowouts not against Notre Dame this space will throw up its hands at the idea of crafting an actual column and skip straight to bullets and highlights and whatnot. It's tough to narrate the emotional tenor of a humid August day against a team that never had a chance.


It was kind of boring, but on the other hand it was nice not to be terrified. It was hot and Dave Brandon smells like pee.


But, you know, at some point in the third quarter Michigan threw a second team offense out there, and it was thrilling. I know this is basically me saying "hello, I am freak. Freak talk now. Freak talk." But there it is. I actually felt excited when the second-team OL came out, possibly more excited than I had been for anything that was not Dennis Norfleet all day. Ben Braden was out there. Chris Bryant. Blake Bars. Erik Magnuson. Joey Burzynski. One walk-on (not four); no upperclassmen. The future. Magnuson even got in on the goal line and did well for himself.

Michigan loses Lewan and Schofield; they also get six more bullets in their chamber as the 2013 OL class comes off redshirts, chomping at the bit. The days when Michigan's depth chart reads "three to five guys, then a bottomless pit" are close to over. Might already be over.

On the other side of the ball the equivalent moment came too soon to even think about it: the second drive. Michigan threw four guys out there who hadn't played on the first drive, and switched up some linebackers, and I'm not sure fans who don't obsessively track the numbers of everyone in the game would even notice. They'd go three deep at many spots by halftime.

They'll graduate three of the 20 players in the front seven who saw the field, and nobody from the secondary. Because of suspension and injury in the safety corps, yeah. But still.

Take this depth chart. Stack the 2014 depth chart behind it. Put 2015 behind that. You can even go to 2016, probably, what with Michigan's 2015 class approaching halfway done already. What do you get?


An infinite conveyor belt of shark teeth. It's coming. Might be here already.


Via Parkinggod:

There's also a shorter BTN reel.


Eric and Bryan posted their galleries on Sunday. A season-opening reminder: all photos on the mgoblog photostream are Creative Commons licensed and can be used on your blog or twitter or facebook or whatever (just not sold). We just ask for a link back.

Meanwhile Roy Roundtree is pretty great y'all:





Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Difficult to pick any one person here since no one had more than four catches or 14 rushing attempts and Gardner threw two ugly picks in 15 attempts. Meanwhile on defense, the heavy rotation meant no one except Desmond Morgan had more than five tackles.

But… Cam Gordon looked good and his two sacks are the most statistically impressive achievement on the day. And Brennen Beyer only got credited for one sack but really had two, a sack/strip and then a plain ol' sack, both of which appear in the highlights above. On both he beat blockers. Gordon got his on (well timed, effective, finished) blitzes. Since everyone is feeling much, much better about Not Jake Ryan, Not Jake Ryan gets the nod.

Honorable Mention. Jarrod Wilson (for a guy who supposedly lost his job to Courtney Avery he was lights out); Jeremy Gallon (a couple tough catches amongst his four, and two touchdowns); Devin Gardner (okay, yeah, but Vince Young); Fitz Toussaint (looked goooood despite lack of stats); AJ Williams (provisional based on possibility he was caving in the outside of the CMU defense.)

Epic Double Point Standings.

0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. The blocked punt touchdown set the tone, showed us the crazy explosiveness of Dymonte Thomas (Heiko and Ace point out that he blocked it before it even hit the punter's foot), gave us some faith that special teams might be a real asset this season, and was a Heartwarming Moment when former walk-on Joe Reynolds scored his first touchdown. So that.

Honorable mention: Desmond Morgan embodies his description in the season preview with a textbook stick of Zurlon Tipton; Cam Gordon invades the backfield to make us all feel better about Not Jake Ryan; ditto Beyer; Derrick Green rips off a 30-yarder; Reynolds brings in a tough 50-yard catch.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.


Burned redshirt watch

A first-game thing to do.

On offense: De'Veon Smith, Derrick Green, Csont'e York, Jake Butt, and Shane Morris.

All of these make sense to me. Playing one of the freshmen wideouts makes sense, one or both running backs could help Michigan win a game this year, ditto Butt, and Morris needs blooding.

On defense: Delano Hill, Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling, Dymonte Thomas, Taco Charlton, Ben Gedeon.

Despite previous complaints about burning either LB redshirt, if Gedeon is the backup WLB I'm fine with it. He appears to be. Everyone else is obvious save Jourdan Lewis, and even if that's a debatable decision M is still redshirting two corners this year and brings in Jabrill Peppers next year. I don't think they'll be moaning about a lack of a fifth year for Lewis.

Probably redshirting: All OL, Wyatt Shallman, Jaron Dukes, Khalid Hill, Da'Mario Jones, Reon Dawson, Ross Douglas,  Henry Poggi, Maurice Hurst,  Mike McCray. McCray is a bit of a surprise after the number change seemingly designed to get him on special teams with Dileo. I'm very much in favor of a redshirt to get some separation here. Everyone else is obvious save maybe Hill.

[Rest after the jump]


Central Michigan Postgame Presser: Players

Central Michigan Postgame Presser: Players Comment Count

Heiko September 1st, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Fitzgerald Toussaint and Devin Gardner


Fitz, how did you feel out there physically and mentally? You walked over to the spot you got injured last year. That was probably a meaningful moment.

Toussaint: "I would say physically, I feel great, but it was never really about the physical point. The mental point overtook all of that. I would say I feel really good mentally and I'm ready to play some more football."

Devin, there was a little bit of a hiccup with that interception, but otherwise you had a fast start. How important was it to get off to a good start?

Gardner: "I mean, it was very important. That's what the game is about early. Coach Hoke always talks to us about special teams and starting fast. You don't want to get behind, and you don't want to give a team like Central confidence where they would give you a really good game. They were a good team, but we kept on pounding away so they wouldn't have an opportunity."

[Rest after the jump]