Upon Further Review 2014: Defense vs Rutgers

Upon Further Review 2014: Defense vs Rutgers

Submitted by Brian on October 8th, 2014 at 4:31 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Not a whole lot was different, but Michigan did line up in a number of under fronts…

4-3 under for M

…so that was frustrating what with Ross playing SAM and Ryan at MLB, neither of them doing particularly well.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Usual rotation on the line except Charlton got the start and played about the same number of snaps as Beyer. Hurst continues to get a few snaps, which is a change from earlier. LBs same; corners generally Lewis and Countess with Taylor coming in for the nickel, pushing Countess inside.

Wilson went the whole way; Clark was the other starter at S with Thomas coming in regularly.

[After THE JUMP: the center cannot hold.]

Hokepoints: Kick Out the Jams!

Hokepoints: Kick Out the Jams!

Submitted by Seth on October 7th, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Among this year's great disappointments has been the understandable, but nonetheless depressing, regression of 2013 Michigan's two best defensive players. Jake Ryan looks lost at MLB. Blake Countess is now the third or fourth best cornerback on this roster. Both appear to be a direct result of the offseason decision to switch from Michigan's 4-3 under/zone defense to a jam-man, nickel/4-3 over base.

I'm sure Brian is going to cover Jake Ryan with a picture pages, so I thought I'd zoom in on a play that's demonstrative of what's happening with Countess, and how that's hurting the defense. This is the first of Rutgers's many 3rd down conversions. Michigan had a backside blitz on with the front seven and was playing man-high pass D. Rutgers ran a pick route from the trips tight formation:


This is a standard thing you do against man coverage. The Y receiver will run his route directly in the path of the cornerback trying to guard the outside (Z) receiver. It works just a like a perimeter screen in basketball: the pick man and the defender following him create a wall between the target and his defender…


Voila: easy pass…


…which is unfortunate because a certain Rutgers lineman blew his MIKE assignment and Jake Ryan was about to turn Gary Nova into paste. Jeremy Clark then compounded matters by setting up too far inside and turned it into a big play.

To a degree you might RPS this, because Rutgers called a pick route against man coverage, and Nova pointed right at the matchups to show his guys they had what they wanted. But the way Michigan's defense is supposed to work is for man-tight to be a base play, and there is absolutely a way to defend this pass with Michigan's defensive call… [jump] [also if you're at work maybe put your headsets on because you know what's coming]

Monday Presser 9-22-14: Players

Monday Presser 9-22-14: Players

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 24th, 2014 at 9:04 AM

players 9-22

Blake Countess, Jake Ryan, Jehu Chesson

Blake, earlier this season I remember talking to you about the secondary being a strength. Are you guys still confident that the talent’s there? I mean, you guys have given up some big plays now and then. Are you still as confident in the secondary as you were four or five weeks ago?

BC: “Oh, no doubt about it. We’re a group that’s growing just like the rest of the team and we definitely have the talent to do it. It’s just about getting better every week and proving it, but absolutely. My confidence in my secondary has not wavered at all.”

Coach Hoke has been taking a lot of heat, obviously. What do you guys talk about in the locker room? Do you guys rally around him a little bit at this point?

JR: “Yeah, I mean, we’re just trying to stick together as a team. You know, we can’t let last week affect us. We’ve got to hold our heads up and move on. It’s Big Ten season.”

[Ed. Totally inaudible, sorry]

JR: “You can’t listen to that. You know, you can’t be affected by that. You just have to block it out and, you know, these people don’t know what we’ve done behind the scenes. They don’t know what we’ve done in Schembechler Hall, but we’re just going to keep taking those necessary steps forward that we need to take to improve every single day.”

Does it tick you off, though? When you read the tweets or…

JR: “You can’t- I don’t go on the message boards and read all that stuff. You can’t do that. That’s just people’s opinions.”

[More after THE JUMP]

Monday Presser 9-15-14: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser 9-15-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 15th, 2014 at 6:08 PM

hoke 9-15

News bullets and other items:

  • There were no injury updates, because we aren’t going to talk about guys that didn’t play. Essentially, the word “injury” has been scrubbed from Hoke’s vocabulary.
  • Matt Wile will be your short yardage punter, essentially because Will Hagerup kicks too hard.
  • Ryan Glasgow had one of the best practice weeks Hoke has had from a nose tackle in a long time last week.
  • Derrick Green had his best practice week last week.
  • Jake Butt was held to a predetermined play count last week.

Opening remarks:

“Thanks for coming out. Saturday it was good to get back on the field and compete. It was good to win. The effort was very good from our team. We certainly always have things that we have to do better and we will do better but the hard-working aspect of it – thought some guys who stepped in to some critical spots gained some valuable experience and confidence. Excited for what they did.

“We had five minutes in the second quarter that would be five minutes we wouldn't like to have but I think coming through the adversity, coming out in the second half [the] defense shut them out. Offensively, I think we rushed for 7.9 yards per carry in the second half which is something that you want to do. I think from playing at home and the crowd, in the beginning of the fourth quarter their series that they had, it really had an impact. They had to call timeout. It's a fourth-down situation. They come back out, they false start, and then on the fourth-down play we get good get-off from our guys up front and get pressure and the ball is thrown out of bounds. But I think you can attribute that to the impact that it got a little louder. I'm on the field and I know you all aren’t and you could hear it so it was good and it made an impact.
”We've got Utah coming in this weekend. They are undefeated. Bye week last week. I think their second in the country in scoring offense. I think they average 309 throwing the ball, 268 running the football. Second or first in the country in tackles for loss and similar there in sacks. I think they have 11 in two games.

“I would say one thing we have to do a better job with in coaching it and executing it is the turnovers. We had a chance on Saturday to come up with three turnovers defensively. We got the one interception. We started fast as a team. First two drives on offense scored. First time defense was out on the field we got the interception but we had two other opportunities we need to capitalize on and then obviously communication on the pop kick. We need to do a better job from a standpoint of coaching it, the little things. Justice told me that he yelled ‘mine, mine, mine’ and Wyatt it just didn't hear him on that and that's something we've got to keep emphasizing as coaches. When you look at Devin’s interception, the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage and that made it flow a little higher so it was outs of Jehu’s reach and then obviously Darboh makes a great catch, gets the first down and as he is putting the ball away and trying to secure it the guy knocks the ball out. But those three turnovers in a quick period of time you don't want to have but I think the way the kids and the team handled it was very positive. That's probably the longest opening statement in the history of college football right there."

A lot of people who focus just on the offensive line think that your guys are targeting better this year. Can you talk about that and just what you've seen?
"Yeah, I think that's one way of putting it. There were a couple plays where we didn't target as well that could have been huge plays. That's one thing, watching the film with the offensive staff and Doug and talking about it, I think the target areas are better. I think the leverage is more consistent. Not where we want it when you talk about pad level and then on a couple of the outside zone plays we for some reason a couple times targeted them as inside zone. Now, you get your MIKE counts, you get a lot of things going on and either the communication didn't come all the way out or we just had bad target areas."

[More after THE JUMP]

Dear Diary Can Take Or Leave It If I Please

Dear Diary Can Take Or Leave It If I Please

Submitted by Seth on September 12th, 2014 at 3:40 PM


A brave man once requested me
To answer questions that are key
'Is it to be or not to be?'
And I replied 'Oh why ask me?"

It's Korea out there in user-generated content land, and it's my job to triage. The only way to make it through sane is Hawkeye-level satire, and making fun of people who take themselves seriously, and not looking too hard at the antics of certain people from Toledo. Okay Radar, state your business, in one word or less:

  • Reshp1: 289 yards for zero points.

One word or less.


  • Glewe: Mental toughness.

That is two words.

  • Glewe: Mentaltoughness.

Ah, you're a football coach I see. Try an English word.

Didn't you go already?

  • Dnak438: I wrote another one.

Oh. Well thanks. I'm still putting it in etc.

Etc. Worse. Students. Plays. Wallpaper.

[After the jump: the pain grows stronger, watch it grin.]

Upon Further Review 2014: Defense vs Notre Dame

Upon Further Review 2014: Defense vs Notre Dame

Submitted by Brian on September 10th, 2014 at 3:19 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan spent the entire night in a nickel package save for some short yardage/goal line snaps. Notre Dame was the same passing-oriented spread they always are. It was in fact eerie how closely the teams mirrored each other in approach. Michigan would frequently press the single X receiver away from NDs twins or trips:

M nickel even half press

This is the definition of on an island: on the LOS with the safety in the middle of the field. It did not go well.

Michigan also showed a number of two-deep looks, of course.

ND tight trips, M slid LBs

The Frank Clark MLB thing came up a couple more times, FWIW.

And maybe Brandon should grow a mean professor beard or something, ND dominated this matchup:

slight contrast


SUBSTITUTION NOTES: There was a lot less of it. In Morgan's absence Ryan and Bolden played just about every snap.

Lewis rotated in early and played the rest of the game after Taylor's early ankle issue; Hollowell played just about every snap. Countess was briefly yanked for Stribling after a couple of Will Fuller receptions, but Stribling was little better and Countess came back in.  Clark and Wilson were your safeties almost he whole way; Hill got some playing time after the game was decided.

The line did see rotation, but again less than usual. The Clark/Henry/Glasgow/Beyer starters were in most of the time. Ojemudia got some early PT. Wormley spotted Henry but by the end of the game it was Godin getting snaps as Wormley tended to fall over; Glasgow went far more snaps than NTs usually do and was spotted primarily by Mone, with just a couple Pipkins snaps. IIRC Hurst did not play. Charlton got sparing time spotting Beyer.

[After THE JUMP: Somebody stop Will Fuller. Seriously. Someone put a hand on him.]

One Frame At A Time: Appalachian State

One Frame At A Time: Appalachian State

Submitted by Ace on September 1st, 2014 at 2:19 PM

and thus ended a really stupid debate about jersey number deservedness

I keep trying to put words here but the GIF is just looping endlessly in the editor and I no longer feel words are really necessary.

Gleeful cackling, on the other hand, seems totally appropriate. The rest of the ASU game in GIFs, which I swear isn't entirely devoted to Devin Funchess, is after the jump.

[JUMP, but probably not over two defenders because that's really hard unless, well, you're Devin Funchess.]

Preview 2014: Cornerback

Preview 2014: Cornerback

Submitted by Brian on August 28th, 2014 at 3:17 PM

Previously: Podcast 6.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Line. Defensive End. Defensive Tackle. Linebacker.

Rating: 4.5.

Boundary Corner Yr. Field Corner Yr. Nickelback Yr.
Blake Countess Jr.* Raymon Taylor Sr. Jabrill Peppers Fr.
Jabrill Peppers Fr. Jourdan Lewis So. Blake Countess Jr.*
Delonte Hollowell Sr. Channing Stribling So. Dymonte Thomas So.

Michigan returns their entire cornerback corps and adds Jabrill Peppers, which is kind of amazing. The top guy on the depth chart is… uh… well, it is one of four guys. Which is amazing.


This happened a lot. [Bryan Fuller]

I guess we'll start with BLAKE COUNTESS, because he's first alphabetically. Countess was on the Michigan Star Corner track after emerging as a freshman starter, and then he blew his knee up in the 2012 opener against Alabama. One medical redshirt later, Countess returned with a bucket of hype (Jabrill Peppers has a firetruck) and just about made good on it.

Countess's six interceptions were the most by a Michigan corner since Todd Howard in 2000 and are in a multi-way tie for third all time (Tom Curtis had 10 in 1968; Charles Woodson had 8 in 1997), and he led the way for a good pass defense that got little help from its pass rush and was so dissatisfied with its safety play that it started swapping them around midseason.

So why does it feel like he's been kind of a disappointment? One Tyler Lockett facecrushing will do that to you.

Countess was also just about run off the field by Devier Posey as a freshman and one of the reasons people are so hype about Freddy Canteen is that he pulled the same on Countess. He seems more vulnerable than a star should be.

But this feeling is probably not an accurate feeling. I mean, six interceptions, and again these were earned. He is a crafty gentleman well versed in baiting a quarterback to throw the deeper route in cover two only to pop up, twirl his dastardly mustache, and make off with the dame ball. His pick at the end of the first half of the Notre Dame game was the thing preventing the later Gardner pick six from being a face-melting event:

His interception at Iowa was a virtual replay, and it's something that Anonymous Big Ten Opponent noted:

"I thought Blake Countess was tough to play against. He's not real physical but he's one of those guys that knows what he does well and what he doesn't. And he sort of lulled us to sleep. We kept thinking that we could go at him and I think that's what he wanted because he stepped in front of two balls, picked one, and we didn't throw at him very much after that."

Opponents hate quarterbacks who feel dangerous to throw against. Countess was definitely that. If he feels like a disappointment that's because our expectations were way too high. I admit some guilt in this department. Post-Indiana:

Other than that he was probably the best guy out there. I said he'd gotten burned in the game column, but the longer Wynn touchdown was not on him. It was more on Wilson and a defense that was vulnerable to that particular play given how they aligned. He got a PBU on a corner route that was straight out of pressing Michael Floyd and living; he was close enough to bother IU receivers; he is pretty good. He's not the crazy star we thought he'd be, at least not yet.

Pretty good is pretty good for a redshirt sophomore. Countess still has considerable upside. He's got two more years in the program—prepare for him to be the Big Ten's Brooks Bollinger Memorial 8th Year Senior next year—and had his quality 2013 despite an injury that required offseason surgery:

"It was lower abdominal pain," Countess said. "(I was somewhat limited), but I played through it. Just movement. Speed. Things like that. Not anything that you guys could probably recognize, but I didn't feel like myself completely on gamedays or throughout the week.

"I had a decent season last year, but it was definitely something I voiced to my coaches and trainers."

Countess probably won't be as prolific in the interception department; he should continue getting incrementally better; if the injury issue was a real problem he could even get to that Leon Hall level. It says here that he remains a bit short of that, and plays at a second-team All Big Ten level.

[AFTER the JUMP: no Peppers, he's in the safeties. BUT LOTS OF GUYS EVEN SO!]

Fall Camp Presser 8-22-14: Brady Hoke

Fall Camp Presser 8-22-14: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 23rd, 2014 at 9:02 AM


News bullets and other items:

  • Blake Countess and Ray Taylor would be the starting corners if the season started today
  • Ryan Glasgow would be the starting nose tackle and Willie Henry the starting three technique if the season started today
  • Jabrill Peppers will be returning punts
  • Dennis Norfleet is the starting slot receiver, though Freddy Canteen has gotten better as camp has gone on

Opening remarks:

“Number one, thanks for coming out. We’ll break camp tomorrow. We've had two really good practices after taking Wednesday just to get them a little back healthy and rest and all that kind of stuff. Guys have done a nice job. Those two practices were spirited obviously. We had some humidity which was good because that's really the first time and then yesterday we were inside because we were thinking that we were going to get the storm that we finally got and it was good because it was nice and hot in there so they got to work through that a little bit.

Their mindset has been awfully good and the competition level, competing in challenging each other every day I think has been really good for us and I think our coaches and players would say the same thing. The competition has been very positive at every position. I'm excited about how they've come out and competed. Today for us was a Wednesday, Tomorrow will be a Thursday in how we manufacture the practice time. Will give them some rest on Sunday, give them some rest on Monday. That would almost normal for what a school– getting them ready and acclimated to the school times of practice.

We should be healthy as we can be right now. Still don't know about Delano [Hill]. He's been practicing as far as no contact. He feels good. The doctors will still evaluate him one more time and let us know if he will be ready for Appalachian State or not. Jake Butt has come a long way but I would say were still on the timetable we talked about and we’ll get with the doctors on that a little bit more.

The leadership on this team has really been throughout the team. I think when they voted for guys out of each class it's been really a positive and those guys--you can see it just in how they've treated each other--came out and competed and the things you want to see. It's been really a good camp. We're going to finish that tomorrow morning. Most of that will be a lot of kicking up at the stadium and a little bit of some of the scout team work that we want to continue to do but we won't be there but an hour and 15 minutes. A little bit of a preview of game day. How we approach it, who goes out when, all the mechanics with that. We've done it once so far but this will give us another chance. We have new guys on the team who weren’t here before and we made a couple changes so I think those are all positives.”

We haven't talked a lot about special-teams. You talked about Matt Wile. How confident are you that he's going to go from being your long-range guy to being your every-field-goal guy?

“Well, you know, Matt was always consistent from long-range or from every-field-goal guy. He's done a nice job. We rushed him a little bit because he's been doing kickoffs and that the last two days but I'm sure that tomorrow we might not kick him just for the simple fact that he probably wouldn't be at his best. He had a little bit of a foot [injury] which wasn’t his plant foot but that's fine but we just want to make sure that we’re resting him enough.”

So it's his kicking foot then?

“Yeah, which I've never heard of. You'd think it would be a plant foot. I'd be more worried if it was the plant foot.”

Kyle Kalis – is he healthy now and which positions is he working yet and does he have a chance to start?

“Well, I think he has a chance. I think we're still going through that a little bit with him. He's practiced the last two days which is the positive. I think between him and the way we been running it over there, you know, we've got [Kyle] Bosch over there working some, Joe Burzynski has been over there working some but, you know, getting Kyle back out is a real plus. Gives you some more… a little more of different people that we can play with.”

Who's going to be returning punts?

“That would be Jabrill.”

[After THE JUMP: corner shuffling, your starters on the interior defensive line, and another non-answer regarding captains]

MGoQuestion: Who's competing at nose tackle and who's at three tech?

“Oh boy. I’ll tell ya, Ryan Glasgow has had a really good fall camp, Ondre Pipkins has had a really good fall camp, Mone, Bryan Mone. There's all four of them at the nose, they’ve played really well. Ryan would be the starter. At the three technique I think Wille Henry, Chris Wormley, and Matt Godin and Tom Strobel have all really done a nice job but if we started today Willie would be the guy up first.”

You said you're working with Jabrill on punt returns. You guys haven't had much from the punt return. I mean, you had some sure-handed guys but is that an area that you need to get more out of?

“Well, I think that number one we’re putting a lot of our best guys out on the field and I think that's a plus. I think we've had some in the last three years that have been decent, some that maybe we haven't fielded the ball as well as we should have sometimes and I think that's all true – every special teams you want to get improvement.”

Is Norfleet still in at kick returner?

“Yeah. Oh yeah.”

What were the two or three things when you opened camp that you felt you absolutely had to accomplish and did you?

“I think yeah, we did accomplish it. The first thing which you guys all love to ask is the offensive line and I think that the progress that's been made there is really positive. Do I think that we're where we need to be as we get through the season? No, not yet but there's been a lot of progress. I think at the corner position we’ve had a great competition out there and I think all those guys have improved and that’s huge. I think up front defensively I think being a defensive line coach the noses and the three techniques, who is going to separate themselves and I think I said that the other day and Willie has done that at the three and I would say Ryan has right now at the nose position so those things were all – I think how the group of linebackers has worked together, and then the receivers. Who is going to come on and where Darboh’s health was. All of those things were part of what we wanted to see.”

You said you were going to work Jabrill more at the nickel but does Jourdan [Lewis] have that other spot? Is he a starter?

I think if we went out today it would be Ray [Taylor] and Blake [Countess]. Jourdan’s had a good fall camp. [Channing] Strib[ling]’s had a good fall camp, need a little more consistency. Delonte Hollowell’s had a good fall camp so I think that if we started the game today though it would be Blake and Ray.

Is that an experience thing?

“No, they've played well. The competition has been very heated.”

When you talk about the group of linebackers working together, how’s that come together with Jake [Ryan] changing positions and all of that and how are they working together?

“Well, I think that whole group has really worked well together and you can throw Ben Gedeon in there, Royce [Jenkins-Stone], James Ross, [Joe] Bolden, Desmond Morgan, and Jake. Mike McCray’s had a good fall camp. He's got to be a little more consistent but we like what we’ve seen of him so far. I think Jake had a little apprehension coming into camp even though he was over there all spring but I really think that he did a very good job of asserting himself in the position.”

You guys really liked Jarrod Wilson coming out of the spring. Has he solidified that free safety spot for you and what do you like about having him back there?

“Yeah, he has. I like his range, Like his intelligence, like his toughness, his ball skills and the abilities that he has.”

You mentioned the corners. What kind of rotating could you do at that point? You mentioned Ray and Blake but are Jordan and Jabrill going to be outside too?

“They can. They can. We haven't sat down yet to say we're gonna play this guy so many reps, this guy so many reps.”

But you don't mind shuffling them at those spots? I know Greg [Mattison] didn't like shuffling safeties...

“…as much last year. I think there were different reasons why. I think sometimes it’s just a comfort level with guys. You know everybody's going to get you in the right positions.”

So maybe there'll be more of it this year?

“Yeah, I would think so.”

What kind of weapon is Hagerup? We haven't seen him in a while. What does he add?

“Well, as far as Hagerup, what I like about Will is how he's come back, how he's taken some – that's hard to go through what he's gone through. I'm proud of him. You know, when he's on, which two years ago he was on most of the time, he's very effective in changing the field.”


“You know, we've got great leadership throughout.”

We heard a lot about Freddy [Canteen] in the spring and saw a lot of him in the spring scrimmage. Is he the slot guy or is Dennis [Norfleet] the slot guy?

“Dennis right now. I think one thing, Freddy, he started a little slower but he's finished very well.’

So you think that’s a shared position?

“Yeah, I think that personnel groups and formationally it makes a difference.”

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Iowa

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Iowa

Submitted by Brian on August 22nd, 2014 at 2:38 PM


A lot of big formations

Why did you do this?

Oh some attempt at achieving completeness or something. Without actually doing so, of course.

Please tell me you didn't do the other side of the ball.

I did! At least it was short.

Well then. You may as well detail what you discovered.

Ah yes, but let's put in a jump here.

[After THE JUMP: Clark against the best tackle in the league, inexplicable LB sub pattern, Washington falls off a cliff, corners are in your base]