Crimes Against Manpanda

Crimes Against Manpanda Comment Count

Brian November 7th, 2011 at 11:24 AM

11/5/2011 – Michigan 16, Iowa 24 – 7-2, 3-2 Big Ten


Melanie Maxwell/

When Iowa punched in their final touchdown on Saturday the clock read 10:42 and Michigan had acquired 166 yards of offense. Forced into a hurry-up shotgun on their final three drives, Michigan matched their production from the first 50 minutes in the last ten. Denard Robinson ran 4 times for 23 yards; Vincent Smith had an 11 yard carry. Robinson was 10 of 18 for 126 yards* as Michigan scored, punted, and then wound their way down to the Iowa three.

You know what happens from there: with space compressed, no time to run, and Iowa blitzing up the middle on every play Robinson chucks one out of the endzone on first down, gets 49% of a touchdown on second, sees Smith drop 100% of a touchdown on third, and watches Roy Roundtree get interfered with on fourth. Ballgame.

Shifting circumstances make drawing judgments difficult… or at least they would if the late surge hadn't brought Michigan up to 323 yards, seventy-five less than Penn State, twenty-five less than Louisiana-Monroe, and better than only Tennessee Tech amongst Iowa opponents.

This now a trend. Michigan's played three games against BCS teams with winning records. In each they've fallen behind by multiple scores. Yardage in those games before entering desperation chuck mode: 130 (Notre Dame), 226 (MSU), and 166 (Iowa). Whatever the plan is, it doesn't seem to be working against teams better than Minnesota.

Better than Minnesota most weekends, anyway.


In retrospect, the red carpet laid out by the Purdue defensive ends was MANBAIT with Iowa City the trap. Running against Purdue was easy from any formation, in any direction. This naturally got Michigan's coaches thinking they had ironed out the issues from earlier in the year, so they did more of it. It even worked for a bit. When Michigan came out with a bunch of I-Form in the first half they got yardage on a series of pounding iso plays.

The outside stuff went nowhere, though, and eventually Iowa adjusted to the iso thumping. When the dust cleared Smith and Toussaint averaged 3.6 yards a carry between them. Sacks excluded, Robinson nearly doubled that at 6.6. He got 11 carries, just like he did against Michigan State.

I just don't get it, man. The next person to draw a contrast between how Rodriguez adapted his offense to Threet/Sheridan and Borges did to Robinson gets the mother of all eyebrows cocked at them. On a team with one reasonable tight end, half a fullback, and Denard Robinson, Michigan goes play action from the I-form… a lot. They run Robinson about as often as their third down back. Game over.

This was the fear throughout many (many) offseason columns full of fretting and spread zealotry. It was the fear after the delirious Notre Dame game:

The thing I really really hated about the first three quarters (other than everything) was the way the offense made Denard mortal. This extended beyond the usual reasons 90 yards of offense in a half make you homicidal. Not only were we lost and hopeless in our first serious game after returning nine starters from one of the nation's most explosive offenses, but the guy who didn't transfer when his offense got fired out from under him was busy playing out everyone's worst-case scenarios.

I don't think I can take football games in which I'd rather have Alex Carder than Denard Robinson. A return of freshman Denard looking like a sad panda is too depressing for a multitude of reasons but mostly because just look at him:


Shoehorning him into an offense that doesn't fit him is a crime against man and panda and manpanda. He had to be dying in the first half as he flung balls to Tacopants and ran waggles the entire stadium could predict. People twittered me about moving him to RB so Gardner can get on the field.

Iowa 2011 is to "Denard Robinson can't play QB for Brady Hoke" as Ohio State 2006 is to "Jim Tressel owns Michigan." It's the moment the premise goes from fear to fact.

There's still time to change this, like there was still time for someone, anyone, to beat Ohio State after Football Armageddon went the wrong way. But… man, it doesn't look good. Michigan has three games left plus a bowl of some variety. If they're going to avoid tailspin part three they'll have to figure out a way to pick up more than 200 yards in the first three quarters against the #6, #41, and #14 total defenses. The only way they've managed to crack 20 points against anyone of similar caliber is by closing their eyes and playing 500.

We've gone from a world in which Robinson is a genre-redefining All-American "back" to one in which the only reason there isn't a full-fledged quarterback controversy is because we've seen the backup go full Mallett whenever inserted into the game—this weekend it was usually after the actual offense picked up 20 yards. Robinson's legs have been relegated to sideshow, and the main event isn't pretty.

*[This does count the eight-yard completion that was wiped away by a defensive holding call. While you're down here in this aside I should explain that I picked the points at which to determine "chuck it" time like so:

ND: Michigan goes down 24-7 and gets the ball back at the tail end of the third. If you want to move that out a possession Michigan squeaks over 200 thanks to the 77-yard Hemingway catch and run and subsequent TD.
MSU: Pick six. Not that it mattered; M had 250 for the game.
Iowa: The hurry-up touchdown drive.]


Good thing we avoided that second-half collapse thanks to the toughy tough toughness instilled by Brady Hoke. Like the second-half adjustments, that meme isn't looking so hot. At least the second-half thing had something more than a win over Purdue arguing for it.

On playing 500. I took a lot of crap the week of the Notre Dame game for having reservations about the offense. Crap-throwers are wrong: a more experienced Robinson surrounded by returning starters has doubled his INT rate. He's dropped to 54th in passer efficiency, shed 0.3 YPC, and still has three of the five toughest defenses on the schedule to play.

Denard has limitations. They are severe. He has assets that offset those. They are not being used effectively. He was an All-American last year and is being derided as plain "not very good" on blogs; he won't sniff a Heisman vote. He's gone backwards. The question is why. Candidate answers:

  • Losing Martell Webb, Darryl Stonum, and Steve Schilling.
  • Losing Rich Rodriguez.
  • Aging backwards like Benjamin Button.

I'll take door B. [usual tedious disclaimers for people who aren't arguing with things I actually write anyway]

On whatever that was. BWS brings some ugly numbers on a day with plenty to choose from:

In the first three quarters against Iowa, Michigan had 20 first downs. They ran the ball on 14 of them and gained only 50 yards for 3.57 YPC, mostly because Iowa broke tendency and played a single-high safety defensive front, stacked against the run.

I don't know everything that's ailing the rushing offense but you can't live with that paltry return if you've got Denard at QB.

I'll have to hit the tape for a full breakdown but Rothstein($) says Michigan ran their three-wide shotgun set 31 times, which is not many when you consider the final three drives had 24 shotgun snaps on them. He doesn't appear to be counting four wide shotgun stuff in that number, because Michigan ran plays from the spread on more than seven of their other 51 snaps. Right? I don't even know anymore.

The bipolar defense. Usually a 300 yard day will not see the opponent put up 24 points unless there's a ton of turnovers or a non-offensive touchdown or two. Michigan managed to cough up that many points despite the yardage because all other drives went nowhere. Drives in rough categories:

  • Long touchdown marches of 76, 78, and 62 yards.
  • 17 and 28 yard four-and-outs (ie: first down on a chunk play on first play of drive, then bupkis).
  • Five drives of nothing. One ends in a FG after the fumble.

Not a whole lot of in-between. This has no significance, it's just weird. If Michigan had been able to move the ball at all the defense's ability to boot Iowa right off the field would have set them up with some short stuff eventually. We've come full circle when the offense's ineptness is making the defense's performance look worse than it actually was.

I guess no turnovers is a bummer.

The first thing I loathe about the Hoke era. Second-and-long I-form big play action. So unbelievably predictable it hurts. Last week it ended up in a sack that put Michigan in third and twenty; this week no one was open and there was an end in Robinson's face because everyone in the state knew it was coming.

Devin package. If Michigan can't run a straight dropback pass with Devin Gardner in the game because they don't trust him to throw and don't trust Robinson to be a real receiving threat, the Gardner package—which has devolved from a potentially confusing Mad Magicians reincarnate to "watch us run or not run this jet sweep"—is no longer viable, if it was ever viable at anything other than throwback screens.

Since when do you know how to gamble? I do not like the version of Kirk Ferentz that realizes it is not 1960. I was counting on Ferentz spurning expectation three or four times in this game; instead he goes on fourth and one from the Michigan 39 (the unsuccessful sneak), goes on fourth and seven(!) from the Michigan 34, and is about to go for it on fourth and one on the Michigan 43 when his kid picks up a false start. His profit from the two decisions to go: the game-winning points. Boo.

If Zook goes on fourth and three from the Michigan 40 I'm going to have a fit.

Wither Jake Ryan? I don't know what to make of Jake Ryan's absence. Michigan went with Beyer (SLB) and Clark (nickel DE) instead early, then worked Ryan in a little bit as the game got late. He didn't seem injured—he made the play on the late third-and-one that set up Michigan's unsuccessful last-ditch drive. Suspension? There has to be some external factor.

Second alarming thing: even with Ryan limited, Cam Gordon did not appear. That's a precipitous drop. He is moving towards Bolivian.


Des Moines Register

Martin. Balling. Pretty much the only thing Iowa fans were mad about was the play of a particular guard of theirs; this was because Martin was lighting him up all day. If the linebackers had played well Coker would have had a 3 YPC day because so many plays hardly got to them.

Linebackers did not have a good day. There is a downside of having Chris Spielman doing color for your game when you are a person who purveys football analysis for a living: he steals your thunder. About two seconds after I declared that Desmond Morgan was "killing" Michigan, Spielman was pointing it out in telestrated glory. A big chunk of Iowa's second touchdown drive was on Morgan. He was pulled shortly after for Hawthorne and returned later, presumably chided.

That's life with freshmen. Good thing we won't be starting any next—aw, hamburgers. /shakes fist at Rodriguez

Scrambling. The universe believes Denard Robinson should be very good at scrambling and thus asserts he is. Unfortunately, repeating this enough does not make it true. However, in this game it seemed like there was nowhere to go. With certain limited exceptions Iowa was barely pretending to rush Robinson, instead sitting their defensive linemen around the LOS in a picket fence. In that situation Denard should have surveyed and hit his checkdowns, which he did on Michigan's first-half touchdown drive and would have a few more times if the Iowa DEs weren't so intent on this contain business that they can leap up and bat down floaters to Smith.

Going for two. A not-very-important game theory note: Michigan should have gone for two when they scored to cut the lead to nine. You have to go for two sooner or later; going earlier allows you to adjust your strategy based on the result. There were a couple people arguing that you need to "keep it a one score game" by kicking the extra point, but it's not a one-score game if you're down eight. It's a one-score game 40% of the time and a two-score game 60% of the time. Knowing which one helps you play correctly when you get the ball with five minutes left, for example.

Second game theory note. Ace and I had an argument on the podcast about the playcalling on the last series, with Ace taking the same position MGoFootball does:

What you do with :16 to go after getting a first down at the 3 yard line…

Hindsight, just sayin’, etc., but I don’t think the timeout should have been used before you give Denard a shot to either run a power play or rollout and find a running lane on 1st down. Ideally, Michigan hurries to the line of scrimmage, gets set faster than the defense, and off Denard goes.  TD’s may have ensued. So, as the day would have it, Michigan calls their final timeout with 16 seconds left on the clock.

I side with the coaches here. The fourth down play came with two seconds left. Unless you are snapping the ball on the ready for play—not feasible—you are giving away your fourth down. I'd rather keep it than have the ability to run once in three downs instead of four. YMMV.

The thing that rankled was watching Michigan run 10 to 15 seconds off the clock on a play earlier in that drive. If they get that play off quickly Michigan can save their timeout and threaten Iowa with a run.


Obligatory ref section. It's never good when you lose and Mike Pereira is featuring your game above the fold. Pereira says "punt" on the Hemingway catch:

I love it when replay stays with the call on the field when there is judgment involved, along with facts. In my mind, whatever ended being called on the field — incomplete or a touchdown — would have stood in replay. That’s how close this play was. …

The call in Michigan-Iowa game Saturday involved more than just facts. It involved the issue of control, before and after the ball hit the ground. Adding that element makes this ruling far more difficult than just a ball just breaking a plane. It’s questionable whether Hemingway had total control of the ball when his arm hit the ground. And it’s also questionable if he maintained control after the ball contacted the ground. If 50 people were in a bar watching this play, half of them would rule it an incomplete pass and the other half would rule it a touchdown. That’s reason alone to leave the call the way it was called on the field, and I agree with that decision 100 percent.

You can replay that until the sun expands and it's still going to be too close to call. It was going to stand whichever way it was called on the field. That's life.

But I totally disagree with Pereira about the fourth down play…

And, by the way, forget the notion of pass interference on this play — either defensive or offensive. There was not enough to make either call. Same thing on the final play of the game on the slant pattern. The contact by the Iowa defender was not enough for pass interference, no matter what time of the game it was — the first quarter or the fourth quarter.

Bull. I mean:


Wrapping that hand around the back of the player is a call all day, every day.

So that sucks. As ref screwage goes it's only a 3 out of 10 since it probably wouldn't have mattered. Even if the call is made, Michigan still has to score, get a two-point conversion, and win in overtime to make it matter. That's a 10-20% shot.

I'll have to look at the interception more closely but I didn't think that was egregious. Guy did get there early but that's the kind of play that often gets let go.

McNutt. Pimp.


Des Moines Register

Iowa wide receivers are in a fertile period, aren't they? Someone should just follow Eric Campbell around offering whoever Iowa does. Sign me up for Amara Darboh.

BONUS Iowa skill player coveting! I remember Marcus Coker as a recruit who was vaguely on Michigan's radar in 2010 but things never got serious. Michigan grabbed Stephen Hopkins; Coker floated out there hoping for a single decent offer before committing to Iowa in August. Other suitors: Wake Forest, Minnesota, Kansas State, and Maryland.

I don't get that. Coker's the sort of physical package that should be drawing offers from most of the Big Ten and he played at Maryland power DeMatha. It's not like RR was the only coach to whiff on the guy, I guess.


I thought this was the most interesting bit about the press conference:

What went wrong on Coker’s last TD run when nobody even touched him? “Well they got to the edge and we were really trying to stack up the middle. It was a bear defense. Without seeing it, I have a feeling that the six probably got scooped out of his gap and then [Coker] got downhill pretty fast.”

Six == just outside the tackle and presumably the "bear" LB.

Inside the Box Score is oddly formatted but on point about a weird personnel decision:

Thomas Gordon had zero tackles. There was a board post on this topic yesterday. I don’t understand how you take your 2nd leading tackler out of the lineup. I get that his getting a lot of tackles is part of the position he plays, but he sure looks like one of our best 11 defenders to me. Additionally, Gordon is listed at 208 pounds on the roster, and Woolfolk is 191. When you are playing against Coker and those corn-fed hawkeyes, I want MOAR BEEF on defense. I’m not going to complain about Woolfolk. I understand wanting to get an experienced, 5th year senior, and team leader on the field, but if I was Gordon and lost my job due to intangibles I’d be “upset”. (The actual word is “pissed,” but I recently learned Mom is reading my diaries. If you notice a change in tone, that’s the reason.)

Gordon was upset, and posted something about "P O L I T I C S" on twitter/facebook/whatever his social network poison is.

I must disagree with Hoke for Tomorrow:

So that happened.  I had promised myself before the game that I wasn't going to get all emotionally invested in the outcome.  I could feel the disappointment coming all week.  Iowa was coming off of a loss that made them look much worse than they really are and Michigan was traveling to their house.  Michigan was coming off of a "validating" win over an overmatched Purdue squad, were already assured of a bowl invite, and had equaled last year's win total already.  There was no question which team had the most to play for and the game was sure to reflect that.  No surprise: it did.

Michigan had a good shot at a division title before the weekend. I award them 16 Wanting It points to Iowa's 13 in a totally made up exercise I just executed.

And the Denard slide started a long time ago.


Media. Photo gallery from I enjoyed Kevin Koger's Bruce Lee impression:


Melanie Maxwell/

Unwashed blog masses. MVictors:

My line lately to people who ask before the game is this—Denard’s going to get six to eight opportunities to really hurt the opponent with his arm.  He’s got to cash in on two, maybe three.   He didn’t Saturday and I’m getting more and more frustrated.   Despite Brian’s speculation, I’m sure they travelled to Iowa City and East Lansing with Borges’ head completely in tact but I don’t get the insistence to put Denard behind center.

Speaking of Denard, something not there with his wheels.  Michael Spath tweeted that’s he’s become a “cutter”, as opposed to just beating people to the edge.  I’ve noticed this too and since Michigan State I just haven’t seen that extra burst. 

The Iowa perspective is rapturous about their defense since we managed to score less than Indiana and Minnesota. The commenters deploy the usual defensiveness about the refereeing. This list of grievances is something:

i usually don't like complaining about the officiating, it's a part of the game, it is what it is

but them complaining is just not right when you look at the whole picture. we got one slight favor at the end of the game. there were a slew of terrible calls throughout the game that went in Michigan’s favor.

the refs lost track of what down it was while michigan was driving in the first quarter, effectively giving them a free timeout, the official threw a pi flag on the wrong receiver, which was thankfully called back, we got nailed on a questionable offsides that kept a Michigan drive alive in the third, and they got away with a pretty blatant chest bump on a fair catch that should have been interference. I can remember very few calls during the game that went our way unti lthe very end.

When your most outrageous outrages include a flag that was picked up and the refs resetting the clock you might be protesting too much.

Doctor Saturday:

There's a lot to question about this offense, specifically: Denard Robinson's run:pass ratio; the persistent presence of backup QB Devin Gardner, to no apparent effect; the persistent absence of an every-down tailback. But it all seems to stem from the basic uncertainty that follows a coaching change: How does a coaching staff with a specific, ingrained philosophy integrate a lineup built for a completely divergent philosophy? Before the season, coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges promised they weren't stupid enough to ask the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year — as a sophomore, no less — to be something he's not. For the most part, that's been true — especially when the offense has sputtered early against the likes of Eastern Michigan, San Diego State and Northwestern.

Against the best teams on the schedule, though, manageable second half deficits have been cause for a makeshift air show. Against Notre Dame, incredibly, heaving the ball almost indiscriminately after three stagnant quarters actually worked in the fourth. Against Michigan State, it didn't even come close. Today, at least, it came close before coming up short.

Various bullets from Maize 'n' Blue Nation, Touch The Banner, and the MZone. Holdin' The Rope has flashbacks:

It's hard to be mad when you've seen this story over and over again; if you're surprised by the ending then you should probably pay a little closer attention. This is what Michigan has done for years. In the interest of putting a name to it, we'll simply call this the Ben Chappell Theorem; that is, that if Michigan plays a team with multiple glaring weaknesses/an air of general incompetency that has already failed in the face of the opposition of other inferior teams, then, it must necessarily follow, that not only will Michigan not exploit those weaknesses (or what are ostensibly weaknesses, i.e. Michigan State's offensive line) effectively (usually not for lack of some trying, though), they will make certain players look like All-Americans in the process. An enormous shadow of a mouse becomes something much worse in the shifting tectonic plates of light and dark. Just as Michigan made former Indiana QB Ben Chappell look like the greatest thing ever on one afternoon, Michigan continues to make the mediocre look exceptional.


Upon Further Review: Defense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Indiana Comment Count

Brian September 30th, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Personnel notes: More of the same. Every DL has a backup who sees considerable time; the back seven does not substitute ever except when it's benching one corner for the other.

I did offer a new thing in the "D form" column, something I'm calling 4-4 under:


Here Michigan's in it's standard undershift but the SLB is Jordan Kovacs and Michigan's aligned three linebackers as you'd see in a normal 4-3.  You could call it a 3-3-5 stack except the LBs aren't stacked (lined up right behind the corresponding DL) and you don't have the right personnel (in a stack Herron would be a safety sort) so it's not. If someone's got better lingo for this let me know and I'll switch.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Pistol Twin TE 4-3 under Pass TE out Roh 7
Back motions out so this is then an empty look. Michigan zone blitzing and dropping Roh off; he takes off after a TE releasing downfield that Mouton is also taking, which leaves the other TE wide open (cover -1). Roh(-1) gets the minus one since it would be strange for his guy to be the inside TE. Cissoko yaps after making a tackle seven yards downfield. WTF, man.
O27 2 3 Ace 4-3 under Run Down G Ezeh 4
Roh(+1) slants inside, knocking his defender back and picking off the pulling guard. Mouton and Ezeh are both unblocked in the hole. Back cuts inside Mouton into Ezeh(-1), who meets the TB at the LOS and ends up making an ankle tackle that gives Indiana a first down. (Tackling –1.)
O31 1 10 Pistol 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Hitch Cissoko 6
Open in front of Cissoko (cover -1); Cissoko does an adequate job of escorting him out of bounds.
O37 2 4 Pistol Twin TE 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Woolfolk 11
Michigan blitzing and though this run appears to be headed to the other side of the line the gaping hole opened up by Brown and Ezeh flying upfield is too tempting and the RB cuts back into a ton of space. I don't know if Brown or Ezeh could have done anything given their assignments; I think Woolfolk(-1) is actually late reacting here as he's charging up to the LOS to provide the contain neither Ezeh or Brown will. He ends up arriving late, missing a tackle(-1) and yielding a bunch more yards. Kovacs does make a good open-field tackle on Willis, but after ten.
O48 1 10 Ace Big Base 3-4 Run Inside Zone Kovacs 0
Kovacs(+1) sent on the outside blitz he'll be sent on lots. He ends up right in the RBs face and tackles; Martin(+1) had also broken through the line and assists. Won't + the tackle because Kovacs gave up three after contact.
O48 2 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Pass PA Seam Ezeh 14
Two play action fakes on this as there is an end-around fake followed by a fake to the RB; Ezeh(-1, cover -2) sucks up and opens a crossing route behind him. RVB(+0.5) was getting some delayed pressure(+1); if the receiver here was covered a sack may have ensued. Good tackle(+1) from Woolfolk (+0.5).
M38 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Run Off tackle Ezeh 6
Backups now in on DL: Heininger and Herron. Indiana running at Michigan's tendency to slant here; Heininger(-0.5) slants inside and gets sealed. Ezeh(-0.5) gets stood up by a tackle, getting bowled over as the RB gets to the line and falling backwards.
M32 2 4 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Mouton 2
Heininger pinches in before the snap and this allows him to get playside of his guy(+1), forcing an important cutback since Sagesse(-0.5) had gotten blown back by a double team. An unblocked Mouton(-1) bizarrely decides that maybe Chappel has the ball just as the RB is cutting back into him and steps away from the tailback; fortunately he falls to the ground. Still picks up two that should be zero.
M30 3 2 Ace 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Graham 0
Graham(+1) and Banks(+1) burst past blockers and two yards into the backfield. Banks removes any possibility for the RB to avoid Graham's tackle.
M30 4 2 Ace Big 4-3 under Pass Flat Brown 4
They run a pick route and get man coverage; the pick delays Brown enough to open up the little flat route for first down yardage. (Cover -1)
M26 1 10 Pistol Twin TE Bunch 4-3 under Run Triple option pitch Kovacs 26

Michigan has no idea what it's doing against this formation, which has three guys lined up tight to the wide side of the field, one of whom is a covered tight end. Cissoko and Kovacs are pointing various places and Cissoko ends up running inside as the play snaps, apparently because he's just found out he's supposed to be in man coverage against the wideout to the near side of the field. He doesn't get there before the snap, ending up marooned midway.

This should actually be an advantage(!) since the WR is coming around on an end-around so he can act as a pitchman for Chappell. Roh comes inside of the dive fake; Mouton(+1) sees that the RB doesn't have the ball and does a good job of getting out on Chappell, forcing a pitch. I don't think that was his responsibility, I think that was just a good play. Kovacs(-2) fails to read this, sets up on the QB, and then fails to have the speed to get out on the corner. Cissoko(-2), meanwhile, has bit on the dive fake(!!!) that is definitely not his responsibility, which means once Kovacs can't get him no one can. Step one towards a benching. Replay.

Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O19 1 10 Pistol Trips 4-3 under Penalty False Start -- -5
O14 1 15 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Martin 0
Martin(+1) slants into a lineman, driving him back two yards. Graham(+1) does the same, cutting off the outside. And Mouton(+1) cuts through traffic, slicing past a blocker to meet the cutback in the backfield and tackling(+1). This was the kind of stuff Mouton was doing at the end of last year and hasn't been doing so far this year.
O14 2 15 Shotgun empty Base 3-3-5 Pass Hitch Cissoko Inc
Three man rush sees Chappell get plenty of time (pressure -1); he throws a hitch well behind the receiver; Cissoko(+1, cover +1) was in tight coverage and may have had a play even if accurate.
O14 3 15 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Dumpoff Roh 11
Four rushers this time; Roh(+1) gets outside of the Indiana RT and is thrown to the ground, drawing a holding call (pressure +1). Coverage is good(+1) downfield, forcing a checkdown that come up well short of the sticks. Also an offensive PI but it had no effect on the play.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Pistol Twin TE Bunch 4-3 under Run Zone counter? Banks -1
Indiana shoots the H-back into the backside like Michigan does but the running back doesn't attack there. Instead he heads to the frontside of the play, where Banks(+1) has knifed through the line, forcing the running back into a slanting Graham(+1) and going nowhere.
M41 2 11 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Penalty Illegal snap -- -5
M46 2 16 Pistol 2TE Base 3-4 Run Inside Zone Brown 0
Graham(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) drive blockers backwards, slanting at angles I'm betting Sharik likes better and forcing a cutback into Brown(+1, tackling +1), who's read the cutback and zipped past a potential blocker to tackle at the LOS.
M46 3 16 Shotgun empty Base 3-3-5 Pass Throwaway Banks Inc
Michigan backs out into a three man rush and Chappell.. rolls out? On third and 15? What? Compounding things: Banks(+1) shot past a blocker thanks to the rollout and pressured(+1) Chappel, causing a throwaway. This looks insane.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 4 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass Fly Cissoko 56
Ugh, max protect sees eight guys stay in to block against a four-man rush, so everyone's doubled and there is no pressure, though it's hard to blame 'em. Cissoko(-4) just gets run right by by an Indiana receiver, giving up a huge play without the guy so much as offering up a head fake. JT Floyd time. (Cover -3).
M11 1 10 Pistol Twins H-Back 4-3 under Run Dive Mouton 11
Weird formation where they use what looks like a WR as a sort of H-back, which has the strange effect of drawing Cissoko in as a sort of extra linebacker since he's in man coverage. Graham(+1) immediately sheds his blocker, however, blowing up the intended play and forcing a cutback. Mouton(-3) is on the backside and totally unblocked. He inexplicably sets up way inside, giving up the corner, and turning a zero-yard play into a touchdown (tackling -2).
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-14, 2 min 1st Q. Mouton's severe regression is the most disturbing development of the season.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Pistol Twin TE Twins 4-3 under Run QB Draw Ezeh 1
Motion out in to an empty set. IU blocks down on Graham and Martin, pulling two OL around that Ezeh(+2) shoots through, avoiding a cut block, staying on his feet, and tackling(+1) for little gain. Brown(+0.5) had cut off the outside, too, and Graham had fought through an initial seal to be useful.
O25 2 9 Pistol Twin TE Base 4-3 Pass Long handoff Floyd 13
Way, way too easy for IU here as Floyd is playing nine yards off the wideout and gets crushed backwards by the wideout, who bowls him over for a whopping eight yards after contact. (Cover -1, tackling -1, Floyd -1).
O38 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass Fly Floyd Inc
Stunt gets Graham(+1) in past the interior line; he levels Chappell as he throws. They're going after Floyd(+1, cover +1) on a fly; he's got good coverage and the ball is off target because of the pressure(+1).
O38 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Flare Mouton 9
Kovacs is blitzing and does read this. He turns to run, at which point an Indiana OL rolls over the back of his legs. That's a clip, but it's uncalled. Mouton is in man coverage on this but gets clipped by a pick (not an illegal one) from a receiver; IU's exploited man coverage a couple times and is late getting out. (Cover -1) They're in man so Mouton(-1) should be quicker to this.
M47 3 1 Shotgun empty 4-3 under Pass TE out Ezeh Inc
This is open and Chappell gets it to the receiver in a tight space—impressive timing—but Ezeh(+2) gets there and wrests the ball out. Could have been ruled a fumble, actually, though Michigan was lucky it wasn't: IU recovered. (Cover +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-14, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass Hitch Floyd 9
Wide open against a timid corner. (Cover -1, Floyd -1) Floyd not anywhere near this to tackle on the catch.
50 2 1 Pistol Twin TE Bunch 4-4 under Run Triple option pitch Ezeh 9
Same play as the earlier TD. Kovacs blitzing and takes out the dive fake. Floyd(-1) in man over the WR who will be the pitch man and doesn't go with him. This is basic, right? Then: Ezeh(-1) sucks in on the dive fake and Mouton(-1) does force a pitch but he should be the outside guy given the Kovacs blitz and he again gives up the edge.
M41 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-4-under Run Inside Zone Martin 3
Given the way the blockers on the second level attack the M linebackers I believe this was supposed to go to the other side of the LOS and was forced to a backside cut by Martin(+1). Mouton(+0.5) is unblocked on the backside in a moderately sized hole, which he fills; Graham helps tackle. IU RB did a good job of fighting for some YAC.
M38 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Cross Ezeh 11
Ezeh(-1) sucked too far one way by a crossing route, leaving the other cross wide open. (Cover -1)
M27 1 10 Crazy thing Crazy response Pass Out -- 14
Michigan gets confused by this formation and doesn't understand where the receivers they have to cover are lined up, so they leave a guy wide open and he runs for a bit. I'm not going to chart this because it's a trick play. I do think M should have used a TO.
M13 1 10 Pistol Twin TE Bunch 4-4 under Run Inside Zone Brown 0
Kovacs(+1) on the backside blitz. He times it well and gets an arm around the ankle of the tailback. Meanwhile, Brown(+1) sidesteps the H-back's attempted block and zips into the hole he came from, arriving to finish the job. (Tackling +1)
M13 2 10 Pistol Twin TE Twins 4-3 under Pass Flat Herron 5
Motion to empty. This seems like the exact same issue Michigan had on the first play of the game: the deathbacker drops off into coverage on the tight end on the line, leaving no one to cover the H-back in the flat. (Cover -1) Does this coverage make sense?
M8 3 5 Shotgun Trips Bunch 4-3 under Pass Flat Herron 0
Kovacs rolls up to the LOS and Brown used as a nickelback. Ezeh(+1) times a blitz well and apparently did not tip it because Indiana's pickup is confused, leaving Herron a virtually free shot at Chappell. (Pressure +1) Chappell just gets rid of it high; his receiver brings it in but falls as he was doing so. Michigan had this snuffed out anyway because of the disrupted timing. Oh, hell. +0.5 to Floyd.
Drive Notes: Field Goal(24), 14-17, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass Hitch Floyd 26
Much chaos and confusion in the D on this one, with people pointing and stuff as the ball is snapped. Hate the pointing. Slide protection picks up what looks like a stunt and gives Chappell a ton of time (pressure -1) to find a deep hitch that's open(cover -1) and Floyd(-1) overplays, unsuccessfully diving past the ball and turning 12 yards into 26. He did get a hand on it and could have had a PBU with some better luck, and I feel bad for giving him a minus when he actually made a sort of good play, but results-based charting.
M3 1 G Pistol Twin TE Bunch 4-4 under Pass Rollout scramble Mouton 0
Not actually Chappell, but WR Mitchell Evans, the wildcat QB. I actually think Mouton again got suckered and left the TE open on this for a potential touchdown but Evans disagrees, probably because he's a WR, pulling the ball down. When he does that Mouton reacts immediately and attacks him, preventing him from running it in. Dodgy on the coverage but the reaction to Evans bringing it down was good. +1. And a tenuous cover +1.
M3 2 G Pistol 2TE 4-4 under Pass Out Floyd Inc
Graham discards a blocker after a brief delay and is coming in on Chappell, forcing a throw. Not a + pressure but avoids a minus. Receiver is open for a probable TD on Floyd (cover -1); throw is high and hard and deflected OOB by the receiver.
M3 3 G Shotgun Trips Bunch 4-3 under Pass Hitch Brown Inc
Crazy zone blitz gets Mouton(+1) in (pressure +1), forcing an immediate throw to a guy in between Van Bergen(+0.5) and Brown(+1) in a short zone. Three players come together and Brown rakes the ball out. Diving stab by an Indiana receiver on the deflection is for naught. (Cover +1)
Drive Notes: Field Goal(20), 14-20, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O42 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Slant Warren Inc
Warren in good, not great position, on a play that will become important later. Chapel throws it behind his receiver.
O42 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Bubble screen -- Inc
Trying to exploit Michigan's tendency to not directly cover the slot, but here Brown backs out and probably has a good chance of holding this to a few yards. Throw is low and dropped anyway.
O42 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Flare screen Mouton 3
Our rock their scissors as Michigan overloads one side of the line on a zone blitz. This means Mouton and RVB back out into short zones on the other side of the field and are excellently positioned to snuff this out after a few yards. (Cover +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-20, 2 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M21 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Slant Floyd 14 (Pen -10)
Floyd(-1) playing way, way off (cover -1) and this is wide open, which ruins a protection screwup on IU's part that gets Herron in unblocked (pressure +1). Graham(+1) is basically tackled by the LT, drawing a holding call.
M31 1 20 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Hitch Floyd Inc
Wow, Indiana slides protection and ends up with a RB one-on-one with Graham; this goes about as well as you'd expect but Chappell is chucking a short hitch anyway that Floyd is is good-not-great position on (cover +1, +0.5). Irrelevant since it's airmailed.
M31 2 20 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Draw Brown 1
Linebackers dropping into zones and there's no one coming out to block them so it's a simple matter for them to contain it; Brown(+0.5) makes a good tackle(+1) to finish the play.
M30 3 19 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass Slant Brown 14
Michigan sends a zone blitz, sending all three linebackers and dropping the DEs into short zones. This gets Mouton(+1) through unblocked (pressure +1), but the coverage behind it is faulty with Brown(-1) getting lost to the outside of a guy he appears to be in man in (cover -1), which opens up a bunch of space that allows Indiana dangerously close to the first down before Floyd(+1) makes an authoritative tackle(+1). Minuses on a third down stop because this greatly improves IU's FG chances.
Drive Notes: Field Goal(30), 21-23, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O2 1 10 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Dive Graham 1
Oooh, Graham(+1) knifes past the RT and almost has an angle to crush this for a safety, but the back manages to cut just past him. The disruption causes him to fall for little gain; Ezeh was there unblocked to provide some variety of resistance if he didn't fall.
O3 2 9 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Dive Martin 3
Why are they running at Martin(+0.5) and Graham(+0.5)? Both stand up their blockers, with Martin delaying the second level block of the RG; the RB has a tiny crease to slam up into, where he's surrounded by those two and Ezeh. The pile lurches a couple yards.
O6 3 6 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Rollout sack Brown -1
Chappell gets outside the pocket on a designed roll (pressure -1) and has time to survey but can't find anyone for a long time (cover +2). Running out of time, he tries to cut it up and in swarmed under, with Brown the primary tackler(+1).
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-23, 10 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O13 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Run Dive Roh 4
Roh zips into the backfield after what looks like a bust by Indiana, but can't tackle(-1) for loss. He does force the tailback to cut into the backside, away from the blocking on the play, and this allows Ezeh(+0.5) to avoid any potential blockers, read the cutback, change direction, and tackle.
O17 2 6 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Corner Graham Inc
Again Indiana is sliding the protection to leave an RB on Graham. Graham(+0.5) is delayed but not taken out by a cut block and Chappell has to throw quicker than he'd like (pressure +1); he airmails a ball to a covered(+1) receiver.
O17 3 6 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass Skinny post Mouton 18
Linebackers back out and it's just a three-man rush. Graham(+1, pressure +1) is actually coming around to hit Chappell as he finds a receiver, who's cut inside of Mouton(-1, cover -2) for a 15-yard gain. This is where not having even one nickelback kills you.
O35 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-4 under Pass Fly Floyd Inc (Pen +15)
The preposterous PI call. This ball lands three yards out of bounds and six yards past the receiver; uncatchable as hell. CONSPIRACY. If catchable, a penalty. So: -1, cover -1.
50 1 10 Pistol Trips 4-4 even Pass Hitch Van Bergen Inc
Kovacs sent on a blitz that absorbs the RB, leaving RVB alone in the passing lane uncut; he leaps to bat the ball(+1, pressure +1). Downfield coverage looked decent.
50 2 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Run End-around Warren 7
Wildcat QB. Michigan strings this out pretty well, with Roh(+1) forcing this to go almost to the sideline, but there is zero outside support with Floyd(-1) getting crushed back and Warren(-1) appearing to let up instead of really run the play down, as he was in man coverage on the guy who ended up with the ball.
M43 3 3 Shotgun Trips Bunch 4-3 under Pass Circle -- 7
Ugh, they send four and drop into a zone on third and three and manage to not have anyone within five yards of a guy running a little route at the sticks (cover -2).
M36 1 10 Pistol Twin TE Bunch 4-4 under Run Zone counter dive Mouton 4
Wildcat QB. This is a version of Michigan's counterpunch, with zone blocking on the frontside of the play and a pulling H-back coming down to kick out someone on the backside. Heininger(-1) is in for Graham and gets crushed down the line, opening up a lot of space; Kovacs occupies the H-back, leaving Mouton(-1) all alone with a tailback; he misses a tackle(-1). Brown(+1) does a good job of scraping over and standing up the RB in his tracks, holding this down.
M32 2 6 Ace Big 4-3 under Pass PA TE Corner Woolfolk 18
Woolfolk(-1) and Ezeh(-1) both sucked up by the play action, leaving the TE wide open (cover -2). Plenty of time, too. (pressure -1). On replay it's obvious that Indiana had the post for a wide open touchdown.
M14 1 10 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Dive Graham -1
Graham back in; Indiana rushes to the line in an attempt to catch Michigan napping and basically do, but only in the secondary. Graham(+1) and Sagesse(+1) both blow into the backfield, forcing a cutback into nothing.
M15 2 11 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Throwaway Mouton Inc
Michigan sends the house: seven guys without any zone blitz droops. Mouton(+1) in free, gets his hands up and gets in quick enough to hit Chappell as he's attempting to get it away. (Pressure +2)
M15 3 11 Shotgun empty 4-3 under Pass Throwaway Brown Inc
Zone blitz sees both DTs drop out and Brown(+1) sent from the backside; Brown is in free and Chappell is just trying to get out of the pocket so he can get rid of it. He does. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Field Goal(32), 21-26, 5 min 3rd Q. Nice couple of blitzes drawn up by Robinson to kill the drive; Indiana could have, should have had a touchdown on that PA corner, as both safeties bit like whoah and Floyd had no chance.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Martin 1
Martin(+0.5) drives the opposing center back; Graham(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5) also slant into the play. No creases; so a cutback where Mouton(+0.5) and Herron(+0.5) are waiting to tackle(+1) at the LOS.
O25 2 29 Pistol 2TE Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Warren 14
Michigan sends the house, leaving the corners isolated, and Indiana actually goes after Warren. Warren's in decent coverage and has an opportunity to make a tackle after a five yard catch but misses it (-1, tackle -1), giving Indiana another ten yards and a first down.
O39 1 10 Pistol Twins 4-3 under Pass PA Rollout Throwaway -- Inc
Rollout gets Chappel plenty of time (pressure -1), but all his receivers are blanketed (cover +2), with Warren(+1) and Woolfolk(+1) providing the primary cover on the receivers. Chappel chucks it away.
O39 2 10 Pistol Trips 4-3 under Run Down G Mouton 24
Indiana line blocks down and pulls two guards around into the weakside of the defense, which is Floyd and Mouton. Yikes. Herron slants himself out of the play, and Mouton(-1) attacks upfield too quickly when he's got unblocked help in the form of Ezeh inside; Mouton should be aiming to get the RB inside of him at all costs but he doesn't, and then Floyd(-0.5) is crushed by an OL but you can't blame him too much for that. Ezeh pursues downfield and has an opportnity to tackle after eight or ten but misses it(-1, tackling -1). Kovacs finally cleans up.
M37 1 10 Ace Big 4-4 under Run Dive Sagesse 5
Simple straight-ahead run at Sagesse(-1), who gets down-blocked and kicked out of the hole by the LG as the RG pulls around. Heininger(-0.5) gets blown off the line by a double. Plowing ahead goes for good yardage.
M32 2 5 Ace Big 4-4 under Pass PA Flat throwaway Warren Inc
I dislike it when Michigan does not make the obvious matchup when Indiana is in their tight formation and leaves Floyd on the WR and Warren on the H-back. But they do; it's man as the H-back pulls across the formation; this time Michigan's linebackers ride the TEs downfield, jamming them all the way and preventing Chappell from hitting them. Both short guys are covered and Chappell just throws it away. (Cover +2, +1 for Mouton, Herron; +0.5 Floyd, Warren).
M32 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass Cross Mouton 6
Indiana running crossing routes underneath; Mouton(-1) goes too far out of his zone getting a bump on a TE and opens it up for the guy dragging the other way across the formation (cover -1); Chappel hits him for a first down.
M26 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass Scramble -- 1
Indiana goes max protect and sends two guys on fly routes; Michigan has bracketed both those guys with safeties (cover +1) and there's nowhere to go. Chappell rolls out and then attempts to get what he can; a bunch of guys tackle at the LOS.
M25 2 9 Pistol Trips 4-3 under Run Off tackle Van Bergen 1
Trying to run at the not-good side of the line; Michigan is slanting that way, though, and RVB(+1) gets playside of his guy, driving him into the backfield and picking off one of the pulling guards. Ezeh takes out the other one and RVB and Herron(+0.5) combine to tackle(+1) for no gain.
M24 3 8 Shotgun Trips Bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass Fly Floyd Inc
Michigan actually makes a late shift to a four man line; Graham is attempting to spin inside his guy, but he's getting doubled; he notices Sagesse's push and runs what looks like an impromptu stunt, shooting up the middle of the pocket and forcing a throw (+1, pressure +1) to a receiver in the endzone. Floyd(+1) is in excellent (coverage +1), forcing his guy to the sidelines. Guy makes the catch but it's well out of bounds, the only place it could be given the defense.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(42), 21-26, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O15 1 10 Pistol Trips 4-3 under Run Down G Van Bergen 85

RVB, again:

"I made the wrong check," Van Bergen said. "It doesn't happen very often, but it was independently on me. It almost cost the team a big loss, and I would have blamed that completely on myself." …

"We were supposed to be running blitz to the boundary and I checked to field," he said. "It's something very basic, and I shouldn't have made that mistake."

Michigan's shifted their line away from the short side of the field, and their linebackers; the short side of the field ends up with two TEs. This is not good.So this play is just about doomed from the start, but the degree of doomage is because of further errors from a couple players. Graham gets downblocked and a TE pulls around, leaving zero in the way of linebackers to that side of the field. Floyd(-1) just gets outrun, which is disturbing, and Kovacs(-2) takes a bad angle, getting outrun himself. I don't minus for alignment errors because unless someone comes out and says "my bad" in the aftermath, who's to know who's to blame?

Drive Notes: Touchdown, 33-29, 8 min 4th Q. God, Pam Ward is horrible.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-4 under Run Off tackle Van Bergen -1
Kovacs sent on the backside blitz as per usual. Van Bergen(+1) surges into the backfield, occupying blockers and getting in the way long enough for Kovacs(+1) to tackle from behind.
O23 2 11 Ace Big 4-4 under Pass Sack Van Bergen -12

Play action that sort of looks well-covered short but it's Floyd 1-on-1 with a receiver going deep and that's dodgy. It's not relevant since Van Bergen(+3) again slices through two blockers, gets his hands up, and then sacks Chappell for a huge loss. (Pressure +1, cover +1)

O11 3 23 Pistol 2TE 4-4 under Run Inside Zone Van Bergen 2
Dude. Van Bergen(+1) again through the line, slanting into the backfield and destroying the play. Cutback sees the tailback pick up a couple.
Drive Notes: Punt, 29-33, 5 min 4th Q. That's as atoned as you can get right there.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Slant Warren Int
Why would you throw this? I don't know. Note: Graham(+1) was coming in on Chappell(pressure +1), forcing him to throw the ball and maybe not reconsider this decision. Warren(+4) meanwhile, breaks on the ball and picks it off, killing Indiana's potential gamewinning drive before it starts. (Cover +2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 36-33, 2 min 4th Q.

Do you know what I did when Indiana had that 85 yard run?


I thought to myself "I bet Ryan Van Bergen missed a check and will spend the rest of the game personally destroying the Indiana offense."


No. I threw the cat at the TV and vowed to find Jim Herrmann and find a way to blame it on him.

Ah so.

Ah so. Chart?

Ok. Chart.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Graham 12 - 12 How does this man not have a sack? Poor coverage.
Heininger 1 2.5 -1.5 Has a tendency to get exploded.
Patterson - - - DNP.
Roh 3 1 2 Not really in on much.
Herron 3 - 3 Some good run defense.
Martin 4.5 - 4.5 Indiana could not move him.
Van Bergen 8 1 7 Did virtually nothing until the 85-yard run, then single-handedly killed the next drive.
Banks 2 - 2 Had a couple plays.
Sagesse 1 1.5 -0.5 Quiet.
TOTAL 34.5 6 28.5 I actually think this might be a decent DL. MSU will be interesting.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 5.5 5.5 0 Had a couple of key plays… both ways.
Mouton 7 8 -1 Surprised he came out this close to even. Major culprit on a few big plays.
Brown 6 1 5 Cutting through traffic to make plays and tackling with authority.
Fitzgerald - - - DNP.
Leach - - -- DNP.
TOTAL 18.5 14.5 4 Progress? 
Player + - T Notes
Warren 4.5 2 2.5 Won't be thrown at the rest of the year. Bring a book, kid.
Cissoko 1 6 -5 Yeesh.
Floyd 4.5 8 -3.5 Tries hard. Clearly physically deficient.
Turner - - - DNP
Woolfolk 0.5 3 -2.5 Lucky he wasn't a goat on play action.
Williams - - - DNP
Emilien - - - DNP
Kovacs 3 4 -1 Hardy, but slow.
TOTAL 13.5 23 -9.5 If we only had a second corner.
Pressure 17 4 13 Even when they went deep Chappell was eating linemen all day.
Coverage 18 25 -7 Not horrible, actually.
Tackling 10 7 3 Major step back from inagural week.

So, yeah, them's the numbers.

Shouldn't those numbers be considerably more horrible?

Well, from one perspective, yes: Michigan gave up 33 points and almost 500 yards to Indiana. From another… maybe not? Diarist The Mathlete maintains some cool statistics that take drive starts and quantity into account, and they have an interesting story:

Run Defense vs Indiana

Another win for Indiana here, obviously.  Despite Michigan poor job in previous games against the run, the Hoosiers still "beat the spread" going +2 against the Wolverine rush D while the D was 3 points worse against Indiana than the average team. …

Pass Defense vs Indiana

Indiana was actually below average passing against Michigan, with a -1 while Michigan was +4 vs the Indiana passing game. …

Field Position

Based solely on drive starts, Michigan should have lost the game 30-27, indicating that the offense overachieved by 9 points and the defense underachieved by 3.

If you go back to those pace statistics from Barking Carnival that I've referenced in the past you find that the offense-mad Big 12 averaged 11.4 possessions per game last year; Indiana got 15 cracks, three of which started in Michigan territory. All of those were legit scoring opportunities. This calculation is overly simplistic, but 11.4/15 is 76%. 76% of Indiana's yards in the last game is 355, which would have been almost exactly average last year*. You can do the same for the points.

*(This year's stats are inflated by a prevalence of cupcakes early.)

Even if I do believe your statistical witchery, is it good to give Indiana a national-average number of yards?

Well, no. Underachieving by three points based solely on drive starts against a team that was 3-9 last year is not good. But all I'm trying to do here is explain the numbers above, which are really positive for the DL, meh (meh-minus when you account for the LB-caused negs in the coverage metric) for the linebackers, and terrible in the secondary. It was close to an average day given the number of drives against and the spots on the field those started and the numbers reflect that.

Through a less defensive prism: I think the circumstances mitigate but do not excuse the performance turned in by the defense. It's a bad defense with some glaring holes and a maddening propensity to let tailbacks break contain. I don't think it's quite as horrible as 467 yards by Indiana suggest.

Was it actually a pick?

I don't know, man. I've seen the stills at Maize 'n' Brew and here are a couple high quality ones from UMGoBlog, and they seem to make a case, but nothing I saw in the video was particularly conclusive either way. My initial reaction live was "that's too bad, simultaneous possession" and my initial reaction when they reviewed it was "that's too bad, they'll overturn it if they can," which they could not. The only thing I can offer is that the referee who made the call had an angle no one else did, as he was running right at the play from the most advantageous viewpoint, so there's a possibility he saw what the stills suggest: Warren had possession first, at which point Belcher came in to grab the ball but only after Warren had established possession.

If you ask me, though: Bill Lynch was right to toss his gum. I'd be livid if that happened to Michigan.


Okay, even if it is a bad call let's not get all crazy with weird conspiracy theories. (What's that, Penn State fans? I'm ten years too late? Oh.) Michigan got called for an illegal formation on this:

illegal formation WTF

This knocked out a 20-yard third down conversion and is something I've never seen called ever. Also, Michigan pissed off the pass interference fairy something fierce this offseason. So save the CONSPIRACY theories.

What is the deal with all the outside runs?

I don't know. We saw this last week with JB Fitzgerald and thought "that's why he doesn't play" but here's Jonas Mouton doing virtually the exact same thing:

Indiana also got a 24-yarder when Mouton did not get outside of the Indiana tailback. Here he's got a blocker but he's got to know his #1 priority is to get that RB inside of him so that Ezeh can flow to him and tackle.

Elsewhere in questionable linebacker play, twice Michigan was sitting in zones that should be well-equipped to thwart or at least hold down Indiana crossing routes and overreacted to the first one coming through their zone. Here's one:

Mouton did a similar thing later.

It wasn't all bad, though. Ezeh ripped out what would have been a third down completion and also sliced up into a play to stone it for no gain; Mouton had a couple moments of slithering attack. They ended up near zero today, which isn't great against Indiana but it could have been worse. Can I suggest that there are the briefest embers of hope here? We're stuck with these guys for the next two years, so their improvement will be critical.


The two-headed non-Warren cornerback is a big obvious glaring hole, the biggest on the team. And Van Bergen's missed check was damaging, almost disastrous.


After the missed check, Van Bergen personally destroyed Indiana's penultimate drive, slanting into the backfield twice to crush running plays and then getting a critical second-down sack. It was a drive of atonement. Also, Graham and Martin were consistently excellent; Stevie Brown should always have been a linebacker; Donovan Warren missed one tackle but… uh… well… you know.

What does it mean for Michigan State and the remainder of the season?

Whatever lingering hopes you had that the corner spot opposite Warren could turn into a non-liability should be put in the corner and told to  be quiet for a while. JT Floyd did better than I thought he did live but still remains a timid redshirt freshman who transparently lacks the speed to be an elite corner. Michigan is going to have to cover up for him. Kovacs is okay but really slow.

Elsewhere… I'm coming around on the defensive line, at least the starters. Graham has had the quietest dominating performances ever, Martin is proving solid, and Van Bergen went all HULK SMASH after the missed check. Earlier in the year, Steve Sharik was complaining about the terrible angles Michigan was taking on its slants; I think that's something that's gotten repaired, as Michigan is slanting its ass off and leaving little in the way of creases for the opponents. When the back seven doesn't screw up magnificently, Michigan stoned Indiana all day. Yeah, yeah, just Indiana, but I'm happier with dominance interspersed with huge errors than the steady drip-drip-drip of physical inadequacy. Fix the errors and you could be okay.

Of course, physical dominance is easy against Indiana and will be tougher against most of the rest of the schedule, so this could just be a mirage. Michigan State will be a big test.

The linebackers are at least making some plays to go with their massive errors, Stevie Brown(!) excluded since he's not making massive errors.

Bizarrely, I have some hope yet for this thing to be mediocre once Michigan gets a better idea of what it's doing. The improved slanting is one step in the right direction and an indication that the defense is getting less confused as the season goes along. Like last year's offense, the youth and uncertainty of the group means they should improve more than the average unit as we go along; they could be functional against not great offenses. By my count, that's the entire league.

What did I just say? God help me.