UFR Errata: Indiana 2010

UFR Errata: Indiana 2010

Submitted by Brian on October 8th, 2010 at 2:40 PM

It's back. Sorry for the two-week interruption, but Forces Beyond My Control intervened.

Offense

Dorrestein love. GS put up run charts for UMass, Bowling Green, and Indiana. In sum:

  • UMass: Molk excellent, everyone else solidly positive, Lewan goes donkey, Dorrestein majorly positive.
  • Bowling Green: candy for everyone. Omameh gets the gold star.
  • Indiana: everyone positive, numbers depressed because they scored too fast, WOO DENARD, Lewan gets the gold star.

The major difference between my charting and The Other Brian's is a difference of opinion on Dorrestein. I evidently think he's treading water and just okay; TOB has him approximately equal with the other four guys on the line. Also he was quicker to catch the effectiveness of Michigan's TEs.

Devin zone read issues. After the BGSU game, BWS put up a post about Devin Gardner's zone reads and how they are "rough" if you're being nice and "sucky" if you're not; this was in agreement with the UFR's assessment. Michigan's coaches probably saw too; it appears Tate has reclaimed the backup job. Or maybe Gardner has tendinitis.

I don't hate Vincent Smith. Most of the offensive UFR comments were taken over by the comment war about Vincent Smith. To clarify:

  • Smith is a good pass protector and reliable run blocker, though his size makes his run blocking a little sub-optimal.
  • He's a good option out of the backfield but the way Michigan's offense is going this year throwing to the tailback is almost pointless.
  • He seems to have lost a significant amount of shake-and-bake because of the ACL injury.
  • He does not make a lot of yards himself, but he doesn't miss reads often either.

This adds up to an average back.

Finally. BWS has an excellent breakdown of the final drive and the importance of this moment:

sideline-check

This offense is not only explosive but S-M-R-T, kids.

And now on to the WARZONE:

Defense

Rollout mitigation strategies. Our Helmets Have Wings has a post based on this previously-linked BWS piece about defending the copious rollouts Michigan has endured. It evades easy summary but the idea is to take someone out of a deeper zone and have him play a flat zone close to the area the rollout is intended to go so he can pressure the QB.

Crab man. The Indiana UFR did not pick up a whole lot in the way of disagreements that are supposed to be the reason for this series, but this is an informative comment for doubters about Roh's DE potential from ironman4579:

While Roh has good athleticism for his size, the key term is "for his size."  His hips are fairly stiff in coverage.  He has great speed for a DE, probably average at best for a LB. He's not great in space. He has elite athleticism for a DE. He has below average athleticism for a LB. He's just too stiff.

I'd also disagree that he's undersized. Yes, he's a little light (I'd agree that he's definitely lighter than I'd like to see my DE's, but there's enough successful, disruptive light DE's out there in a 4 man line that I think he'd be fine. He might struggle a bit against the run, but I'd give up some in the run game to get an, IMO, vastly improved pass rush), but a guy like Aaron Maybin of Penn State had 12 sacks and 20 TFL's at 235 pounds. O'Brien Schofield was 248 pounds when he went ahead and got 12 sacks and 24.5 TFL's. That's just two recent examples. There are many, many others. Leverage plays a huge part, which actually leads to my next point.

craigrohcrazyninjastance_thumb5 I want people to watch Roh this week when he's at DE and when he's at LB. When he's at DE, he's what scout's call a "flatback." He's incredibly low in his stance. When he comes out he stays basically in the same stance, getting very low with great leverage.  He gets his hands out and keeps guys away from his body, and has a great initial punch. He shows a variety of pass rush moves.

When he's at LB, he gets very high.  He goes into blockers almost straight up. He lets guys into his body and almost seems to forget his hands until he's already engaged and the blocker is into his body (this is especially evident last year against ND on the Armando Allen hold run at the end of the game, but throughout the season this was a problem). He loses leverage regularly. When he rushes, it's almost always a straight speed rush. He gets lost in space.

The difference between Roh as a DE and Roh as a LB are night and day.  He has flashed the potential to be a fantastic DE. As a LB, I don't think he's going to be much more than an average to slightly above average player

I added the picture demonstrating Roh's crazy leverage stance before the snap. I'd like to see a lot more four-man lines this week.

An aside: the debate that's raged between what people are calling a 4-2-5 but is really just last year's defense and the 3-3-5 that's Michigan's run most of this year is really just debating what Craig Roh should do.

Cam Gordon confusion. I solicited opinions on whether or not Cam Gordon should have been able to do anything more than tackle on that corner route

 

corner-7

…picture-paged yesterday. Many people said yes. Many others said no. Upon review I do think that Cam should have been a lot closer since there was no vertical threat from the inside. That probably wouldn't have let him make a play on the ball but he might have been able to tackle at the 25 instead of the 15. The counterargument:

The problem is, jumping the route too quickly can lead to long touchdowns.  Gordon does in fact make the right play here. If he jumps up, the experienced receiver will skinny his route and the 5th year QB will loft it over the crashing safety.  In a cover 2, the corner route will almost always beat the safety to the soft part of the zone; it's only when the corner drops back enough to disrupt this spot that this pass fails (and then the QB checks down to the out).  In a 3rd and long situation, the CB should focus on the deeper part of his zone, as it's always easier to stop a first down if the catch is made in front of the sticks.  A more experienced corner, or one that is just less hesitant to react, makes this a much more difficult play to complete.

As always, pass defense and linebacker play are mysterious since who's at fault can vary wildly based on assignments you're not privy to.

The larger point stands. Michigan's inexperienced secondary is not reading the opponent's routes at all (underneath) or quick enough (deep). Hopefully they develop this with time. Also, Chris Brown pointed out this is another variation on the snag concept that Michigan was running elements of earlier this season.

BONUS: Misopogon suggested that the issue was with JT Floyd not getting depth and letting Gordon out to the sideline, but I disagree. Sometimes I fail to explain things I picked up over the course of the game and people disagree based on the individual play, and that's the case here. Most of the time when Michigan went to this coverage, JT Floyd was acting as a Tampa 2 middle linebacker with responsibility in the deep seam. That's why he was at fault when IU hit a deep seam to the TE in the first half

Does the "J" in J.T. stand for Journeyman?

Floyd spent his second week in a row being moved all over the place.  I can understand why they're doing this (he's probably our best DB and we need to get our best athletes on the field.) But with all this moving around, you expect him to get confused occassionally.

floydLBzone

On this play he gets caught looking at the underneath crossing route when what he needs to be doing is getting depth in his zone to squeeze off the seam route.  The cross will be picked up by the other linebacker, so his false step here was not going to help anyone.

… later in the game when Michigan had covered this bunch snag route a few times they went to a different variation where the vertical receiver ran a post and Floyd dropped right into it. He is not playing a deep half; he's playing a robber. On this pattern he will be of use when the receiver running a dig to the top of the screen clears the CB.

Zone! Man! Fight. BWS's thing this week is advocating more man coverage, complete with a chart of the results when Michigan ran man:

So in 12 attempts, Indiana had six incompletions, one sack, and five completions for approximately 69 yards. Is this statistically significant or proof that Michigan should use more man coverage? Probably not and no.

I'm not sure all of those were man, as BlueSeoul's continuing epic game breakdown series touches upon: 

Combo Coverage

When you're facing 4 or 5 WR, a 3 man rush is not a bad idea because it allows you to run combo coverage behind it.

combocov

2 Deep, looks like man coverage underneath, but really it's zone.  The man on the slot has good position for run support. The near cornerback is in bump n run with the tall and dangerous, but not necessarily quick, Belcher.

combocov2

Everyone is covered, Rodgers even manages to stay close enough to his man to dissuade a throw against the confusing look, the 3 man rush gets pressure because Martin beats a double team. Plus we've got 4 extra men in coverage that are just waiting for Chappell to misread it as man coverage and try to force a ball in, so they can get an interception.

combocov3

Chappell coolly throws it away.

So those numbers may not be right. It seems clear that whatever Michigan is doing in the dime they need to keep doing until they can do it right, at which point they can mix some stuff up. Man coverage is playing with fire every time because of…

James Rogers finally getting exposed. One of the main takeaways from BlueSeoul's post is something that was obvious in the Indiana game after Michigan managed to get away with it through the nonconference:

I've probably covered this enough already, but just to summarize, he is the weakest link.  No, that's not surprising given what's happened to the depth chart at corner.

It's so bad that it's hard to  tell who he's covering and whether he's supposed to be in zone or man.  He's just kind of over there on one side.  By the 2nd half, Indiana was actively targeting him on a large percentage of plays.  He's giving up the 7 yard out

rodgersugh

ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

I don't mean to beat up on him but I agree; he's Nick Sheridan out there. I'm half-expecting he gets replaced this weekend, probably by Avery, though I imagine he'll still have a job in the dime package. Whither Cullen Christian? (Blowing coverages against BGSU, is where.)

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Indiana 2010

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Indiana 2010

Submitted by Brian on October 7th, 2010 at 1:52 PM

Substitution notes: The base secondary was the same and played every snap IIRC. At linebacker Mouton played every down and Ezeh was the MLB but pulled regularly for the dime package; Carvin Johnson started the game but was pulled in the first half and replaced by Thomas Gordon. The line did its usual amount of rotation (mostly Martin, Banks, always RVB, a little Patterson and Sagesse) with one exception: Jibreel Black got a significant amount of time in passing situation, replacing Banks.

Formation notes: A heavy dose of the dime package that pulls Banks/Ezeh off the field for Avery and Talbott. Meanwhile, Indiana had all manner of weird stuff. I called this "Empty bunch quad":

empty-bunch-quad

This was "Pistol FB twins"; note that the TE is covered up on this play:

 pistol-twins-unbalanced

The FB is more of an H-back on this play; he was lined up next to the QB on most other plays of this variety. The rest of it was fairly straightforward.

Insanely long show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Rollout throwaway Banks Inc
Roh lines up over the center. Martin and RVB flip positions. Indiana rolls the pocket away from Martin but lets him in free anyway; Banks(+0.5) drives through the tackle to force Chappell to pull up. He has to throw before his receivers can force Floyd(+1, cover +1) into a choice, so he chucks it OOB. (pressure +1)
M23 2 10 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Ezeh 6
Not to be that guy who hates Ezeh but this is pretty much Ezeh. IU brings Doss in motion and fakes an end around, then runs power at Banks. Banks(+0.5) fights inside and Mouton(+0.5) takes on the FB at the LOS, cutting off the frontside. Roh recognizes and attacks through a gap in the backside of the play and could get this at the LOS or in the backfield but slips, so no plus or minus. He does force the RB to head outside of Banks, where he finds room because Ezeh(-1) stepped towards the end-around and did not get back; Martin actually peels off a blocker and heads downfield to tackle.
M29 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 4 Slant C. Gordon 14
Michigan threatens blitz and does come, dropping Banks and Roh off into short zones; Indiana picks it up (pressure -1) and a slant comes wide open (cover -2) with Cam Gordon(-1) sinking on a route Rogers should have covered. Good tackle by Kovacs(+0.5, tackling +1).
M43 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass N/A PA WR flare Johnson 15
Fake end around, fake handoff, throwback to Doss after everyone chases after the fake. IU has acres of space since Roh(-1) chased after the fake even though he's the linebacker to this side and abandoning the WR means there's no one out there; Johnson(-1) gets sealed, Rogers(-1) never does get off his blocker, and it's an easy first down (cover -1, RPS -1).
O42 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Inside zone Mouton 2
Willis decides to cut this back despite no penetration; it looks like they were trying to scoop Martin(+0.5) but he knocked the C back and ended up occupying two blockers; still, Willis might have a crease on the frontside. Instead he cuts it back into a huge space because Banks(-0.5) was kicked out easily; Mouton(+1, tackling +1) reads and reacts to tackle.
O40 2 8 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Martin 24
Man, this should be easy to read: the pulling G starts pulling out before the snap, a dead giveaway. It doesn't turn out that way. Martin(-2) completely misses the pull, fighting into the space the G has just vacated. This opens a huge gap and allows the guy doubling him to get a release on Ezeh; pulling G hits Mouton and the two LBs just have too much space to shut down. Willis is through the crease between them as their waving arm tackles are unsuccessful. Floyd(-1.5) is playing deep safety here and comes up to make a tackle(-1) attempt after ten yards but almost misses it and allows Willis to drag him another 15 yards. This is an example of how useful Cam Gordon is as a run defender; this has happened zero times to him.
O16 1 10 Pistol trips 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Martin -1
Some redemption as Martin(+1) drives the C backwards and causes the back to hesitate, allowing Renaldo Sagesse(+0.5), unblocked on the backside, to close and tackle with help from Kovacs(+1), who read the play and shot the gap at the right instant, beating a block and getting in on the TFL.
O17 2 11 Shotgun empty bunch quad 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Slant Floyd 12
Terrible terrible coverage by Floyd(-2), who has one receiver to his side of the field and is in the redzone and lays off this slant to the point where it's unbelievably wide open on the world's easiest read (cover -2). Michigan had gotten a free rusher and if Floyd is up on this Chappell is running for his life. Terrible pairing of pressure, coverage, and game situation. I really hope this isn't how the play was drawn up. Floyd then compounds things by getting dragged past the sticks by Belcher(tackling –1).
O5 1 G Pistol twins unbalanced Base 4-4 Run N/A End around Kovacs 2
Kovacs(+0.5) is out providing contain and forces the play into Mouton, who helps tackle.
O3 2 G Pistol twins unbalanced Base 4-4- Run N/A Power off tackle Van Bergen -2
Fake end around, hand it off. RVB(+3) comes underneath a guy trying to downblock him, reads the handoff, and meets the tailback two yards in the backfield. He holds him up and help arrives.
O5 3 G Shotgun empty bunch quad 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Improv ? 5
Absolutely forevvvver on a three man rush that gets nowhere and doesn't even have Roh in it (RPS -1, pressure -2). Martin eventually comes through blockers to hit but it's too late as one of IU's receivers has separated from the coverage of Mouton and found an open spot in the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O39 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Throwaway ? Inc
IU runs a series of hitches that are all covered by Michigan's eight-man drop (cover +1), at which point Martin(+0.5) flushes Chappell and forces the throwaway.
O39 2 10 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 stack Penalty ? Delay ? -5
Oops.
O34 2 15 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Out Rogers Inc
Rogers in a three-deep zone and beaten badly for at a ten-yard completion but Chappell chucks it well OOB, then starts grabbing his hand. (Cover -1) Actually, I think the player most at fault here is Avery(-1) who sucked in on routes others were covering instead of sinking back into this one.
O34 3 15 Shotgun 3-wide 3-2-6 dime Pass 4 Scramble Roh 10
Floyd lines up as a deep safety, then runs to the LOS to threaten a blitz. Roh rushes! Chappell sets up but can't find an open guy(cover +1) at first, then moves up in the pocket thanks to Roh(+0.5) and Black (+0.5) coming around the end. He takes off to run, which works about as well as you might expect. Roh runs him down from behind. (Pressure +1.)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run N/A Power dive Ezeh 3
Martin again seems like he's about to get sealed and let his blocker out on a linebacker, and does cede a big hole here. He jumps back and flows down the line when he reads the play, though, so no minus. Ezeh(+1) reads the play and blasts into the pulling G, forcing the play back inside, where Martin and Mouton come off blocks to tackle after a moderate gain.
O29 2 7 Wildcat 4-wide bunch Base 4-3 Run Banks QB stretch Banks 0
They start out in one formation then motion all around and end up in the wildcat. Why? Who knows. They then run a stretch that Banks(+1) strings out, occupying two blockers and giving no ground. This allows Mouton(+1) to attack the edge when Doss commits to it, tackling for no gain. Roh flowed down the backside to help tackle.
O29 3 7 Shotgun trips 3-2-6 dime Pass 4 Slant Roh 14
Two blitzers up the middle (Black one of them) with Mouton and Roh dropping into short zones. Michigan again pairs a blitz like this on third and medium with a soft zone that sees a slant route open up as Roh(-2) sucks up on a two-yard drag that had no chance at first down. (cover -2) Chappell got wasted by Martin as he threw; just a second more in coverage and this is a stop, but I say that all the time.
O43 1 10 Pistol FB Base 4-3 Pass NA PA TE corner Kovacs Inc
Kovacs initially beaten on this but tracks the TE down by the time this ball gets there and has a chance to maybe make a play on the ball if it's in a certain spot. It's long. Floyd, playing FS here, had been sucked to the other side of the field by a roll away from the route—this is a tough throw. No coverage +/- since this is mediocre.
O43 2 10 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Out Rogers Inc
They're going high-low on Rogers and he sinks back so the out is open; Chappell misthrows it. (Cover -1)
O43 3 10 Shotgun trips 3-2-6 dime Pass 4 Drag Roh 6
Roh(+1) rushes. He sets the OT up outside, then dives inside of him to get pressure(+1) on Chappell, hitting him as he throws short (cover +1) to the drag route; Floyd and Mouton tackle.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 3 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O1 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run N/A QB sneak -- 1
They get a yard.
O2 2 9 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4? Rollout hitch Rogers 9
Okay, so this is going to happen sometimes but the thing that grinds my gears is that this is a five yard route that a good defense would tackle immediately and ours would give up a first down on, which they do. Rogers -1; his ability to change direction is not so good, and it results in stuff like this here. (Tackling –1)
O11 1 10 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass   Bubble screen Johnson 7
Johnson(-0.5) and Rogers(-0.5) both get blocked, opening up the corner.
O18 2 3 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run RVB End around Roh 7
Roh(-1) sucks in on the playfake and even though Johnson(+0.5) does a good job of funneling it back inside Roh's slow reaction opens up a crease for the first. This was the kind of stuff he was always going to be vulnerable to as a linebacker. C. Gordon comes up for a killshot that lands a glancing blow; Roh wraps up from behind.
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass 4 Hitch Johnson 5
Roh rushes; neutralized. Martin is coming in on Chappell eventually, forcing a throw. Chappell finds a guy open but could have had a better option to the outside; as it is Ezeh and Johnson(+0.5, cover +1) tackle immediately.
O30 2 5 Pistol FB twins Base 4-4 Pass N/A Waggle corner Floyd Inc (Pen +10)
Floyd does grab his jersey in a flamboyant fashion as the guy cuts outside and uses that to stay in contact and make a good PBU(-1, cover -1). I'd rather see this than Rogers not being within three yards of a guy.
O40 1 10 Shotgun H-back bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass   Long handoff Rogers 1 (Pen +15)
Rogers(+1) does react to this quickly, forcing the WR inside of him at the LOS and allowing Kovacs(+0.5, tackling +1) to plant the guy; Rogers gets flagged for a face mask. I don't minus stuff like this that's accidental instead of dumb.
M44 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Dumpoff Ezeh Inc
Good coverage downfield(+2, Ezeh +1 for a good drop in space that took away the primary read) induces Chappell to chuck a three-yard checkdown that he overthrows and nearly sees intercepted.
M44 2 10 Pistol 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass 3 Out Johnson 7
Another frustrating dink of a pass that should be shut down for little but ends up giving IU third and short. Johnson(-0.5) was too far to tackle right away and Roh(-0.5) was awkward in space instead of aggressive. (Tackling –1)
M37 3 3 Shotgun trips bunch TE 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Flare ? 5
With Mouton chucking the TE Chappell reads his flare is open and throws it on the money, giving the RB the opportunity to get the first despite Kovacs(+0.5, tackling +1) coming downhill and making a solid tackle almost on the completion. Excellent execution from IU and a conversion that would not have happened with better tackling on the previous play.
M32 1 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Tunnel screen C. Gordon 9
This is a bubble fake that counters into a tunnel screen and gets Cam Gordon(-1) shooting up to the outside of the play; Roh(-1) also headed outside despite watching the OL release downfield; there is much space. Gordon does recover to tackle solidly(+0.5). This is a clever play we should consider adopting.
M23 2 1 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Hitch Floyd Inc
Open in front of Floyd for four yards; in this down and distance whatever, it's probably right to play it safe. Pass is a bit short and dropped.
M23 3 1 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Run N/A QB sneak ? 1
Chappell runs up under center and takes a snap; they get it. Very tough to stop this with how they've spread the field.
M22 1 10 Pistol FB twins Base 4-3 Run N/A Inside zone Johnson 22
So they've been putting Johnson(-2) on the interior on these plays right over the tackle. IU runs right at him and he makes a critical mistake by doing… something, I don't know what. He steps to the right for some reason, maybe because IU has an end-around fake; this allows an IU guard to seal him easily. Ezeh(-1) also stepped right, getting blocked out of the play, and Gordon(-1) moved over too with the WR motion. As a result there's a big hole right where the RB is hitting it up and three players who should be in the area are all gone because they moved to combat a playfake that was not their responsibility and they could do nothing about.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-14, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O31 1 10 Pistol trips bunch TE Base 4-3 Pass 4 Flare Roh Inc
Roh rushes. He draws attention from both the LT and the LG, giving RVB a free run at the QB despite no blitz. Chappell is forced into a quick swing that he throws wide of the tailback. This is pure bust by IU but Roh did run right by the tackle to pressure, as well (+1 Roh, pressure +1)
O31 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass 4 Flat Floyd 9
Roh rushes; LT fends him off. RVB(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) are crushing the pocket so Chappell has to get rid of the ball (pressure +1); Floyd(-2, cover -2) is jumping a slant route that is not open because Mouton is dropping into it(+1). This opens up a nothing pass in the flat for major yards.
O40 3 1 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Run N/A QB sneak ? 1
They get it.
O41 1 10 Pistol Trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass   Bubble screen Roh 8
Rogers(+0.5) and T. Gordon(+0.5), in for Johnson, recognize this, attack it, and cut off the outside, where Roh(-2) awkwardly overruns the receiver and turns 0 yards into eight. (Tackling -2, Cover +1)
O49 2 2 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Mouton 3
Linebackers on their heels here. Martin(+0.5) absorbs a double without giving ground or allowing a guy off on a downfield player but Mouton(-0.5) took his first steps into a zone drop and can't hit the hole before Willis is through for the first; he does come up to tackle after the short gain.
M48 1 10 Pistol trips 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Inside zone Martin -1
Martin(+1.5) takes a double and drives it playside by himself, cutting off any hole. Willis has to cut to the backside, where Sagesse is unblocked. He misses but delays the guy, allowing four Michigan players to come through the line and surround Willis; Mouton(+0.5) tackles for a loss; Ezeh(+0.5) had dipped past a blocker to cut off another lane; everyone else just had to run to the ball.
M49 2 11 Pistol 3-wide 4-1-6 dime Pass 4 TE Seam Floyd 27
Roh rushes, Stoned. Chappell is looking right down the center of the field where Mouton and Floyd are; both suck up on a little drag route and subsequently leave a TE seam wide open (cover -3); Cam Gordon comes over to bash the guy to the ground. I am not entirely sure what is desired here but I find it hard to believe that Floyd(-2) isn't supposed to carry the receiver deeper; Gordon may have been late as well.
M22 1 10 Shotgun empty bunch quad 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Slant Floyd 6
Fake blitz gets Banks in free (pressure +1, RPS +1), but there's no zone under the slant to the short side and it's an easy pitch and catch. Immediate tackle from Floyd(+0.5, cover –1).
M15 2 4 Pistol FB twins Base 4-3 Pass 4 Rollout corner Gordon Int
They roll away from the pocket to the wide side of the field and leave everyone in to block; Chappell makes a horrible decision to throw to a guy on a corner route that Gordon(+2, cover +2) has blanketed; he intercepts and manages to not fumble it back.
Drive Notes: Interception, 14-14, 6 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O28 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Run ? Draw Martin -3
Martin(+3) zips between the C and G with evil intent on the QB but has the agility to change direction and swallow the draw well in the backfield.
O25 2 13 Shotgun 3-wide 4-1-6 dime Pass 4 Flare screen Kovacs 12
Guh. Okay, Black(-1) does not recognize this and just runs at the QB. Talbott(-1) eats an OL and doesn't seem to even think about getting off his block. And Kovacs(-1) came up slow, didn't recognize where Mouton was coming from, and ends up making a weak ankle tackle that turns this from third and medium into third and two. (Tackling -1)
O37 3 1 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Hitch Floyd 7
DL tight in case of a sneak so not likely they'll get pressure; IU does not sneak, instead hitting a receiver in front of Floyd's soft zone (cover -1).
O44 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Hitch C. Gordon 17
Zone blitz sees Banks and Martin drop out as two guys come from the linebacker level, getting a free run on Chappell, but since it's backed with a three deep zone he has a wide, wide open guy on a hitch that he hits (cover -2, presure +1). C. Gordon(-1) was not in the deep zone and needs to react more quickly to this; another example of M giving up a ton of YAC. This could have been eight; it's seventeen.
M39 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Throwaway ? Inc
No pressure(-1) but the coverage(+2) is very good and Chappell has nowhere to go when Patterson eventually gets through and flushes him.
M39 2 10 Shotgun trips bunch 4-1-6 dime Pass 4 Corner Rogers? 24
NFW Michigan can defend this as aligned, as Rogers has a nasty choice between giving up the corner or the flat and chooses poorly by not sinking into the corner. (Cover -2, RPS -2); Gordon has no prayer of getting over in time and can only hope to tackle. Also, Avery(-1) appears to be abandoning his zone to ride the WR on a little hitch farther, which means the flat is wide open; Michigan is putting lots of guys in the same areas on their zone drops.
M15 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Slant Roh 13
Roh(-1) fakes a rush and then drops into a zone; his drop is not good and Chappell can just wait for the receiver to clear him on the slant; C. Gordon(+1) does read this and delivers a hellacious hit just as the ball arrives; receiver hangs on but that was a monster hit that could force an incompletion or fumble. (Cover... 0). Also this is an example of Indiana's pass offense being flat good.
M2 1 G Pistol FB twins Goal line Run RVB Inside zone Van Bergen 1
Van Bergen(+1) surges into the backfield, cutting off the RB's intended path and forcing a cutback. Martin(-0.5) has been shoved down the line and eventually collapses in a heap of bodies; Campbell(-0.5) is also on the ground, so no loss here; Mouton(+0.5) and others converge to tackle short of the goal line.
M1 2 G Pistol FB twins Goal line Run RVB Power off tackle Van Bergen -1
Van Bergen(+2) slants past the tackle into the play, absorbing the pulling guard and forcing the RB up the middle of the field, where Demens(+1) forms up and tackles, driving the tailback backwards with help from Mouton, who basically tackled Demens from behind to provide extra momentum.
M1 3 G Shotgun empty bunch quad 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Circle Talbott 1
Rush gets unblocked guys in (pressure +1) and Chappell has to get rid of it, which he does by throwing a circle route in front of Talbott, who is right there but can't do anything about a perfectly placed pass that required the 6-5 Belcher to lay out. Again: Indiana's passing offense is legitimately good.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-21, EOH. Indiana had 45 seconds and three timeouts when they got to first and goal and still would not have had a fourth down play here.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass N/A PA WR flare T. Gordon 15
A repeat of a play from the first drive. Roh(-1) hauls ass after the handoff fake despite RVB sitting there unblocked to handle any cutbacks, opening up space for Doss; T. Gordon(-1) also bit inside pointlessly and gave the IU WR a great angle to block him despite having no earthly way to do anything about a hypothetical run from this far outside. C. Gordon makes a solid tackle(+0.5, tackling +1) but not before the first down.
O39 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Hitch ? 11
Easy since M is playing the same soft zone behind their blitzes, giving Chappell plenty of opportunities to hit guys. Man coverage does not exist. (Cover -2, RPS -1). T. Gordon and Rogers tackle after the first.
50 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Bubble screen Rogers 3
Blitz caught(RPS -1) and leaves a ton of space since Michigan has sent it from the receiver-heavy side of the field.
M43 2 3 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Banks 1
Martin(+1) and Banks(+0.5) shoot through the line immediately, crushing the play's blocking and forcing the RB outside, where Floyd(+0.5) comes up to tackle. Banks let the RB outside, so no +1.
M42 3 2 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run RVB End around T. Gordon 0
Van Bergen(+1) sets up outside and maintains contain responsibly, stringing the play out. This allows T. Gordon(+1) to get outside his blocker and string it all the way to the sideline, with Rogers adding the final dainty shove OOB.
Drive Notes: Insane punt, 28-21, 11 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O39 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Fly Rogers 46
This is a cover two that Rogers(-2) immediately gets burned on, a step behind the receiver and unable to do anything about a good pass; Gordon(-1) was also late after not reacting to where the vertical routes were coming from. (Cover -2.)
M15 1 10 Wildcat 4-wide bunch Base 4-3 Run N/A Zone stretch Van Bergen -1
Indiana throws away a down so okay. RVB(+1.5) drives into the backfield, forcing a cutback into Banks(+1), who came under a blocker, and Kovacs(+0.5), who was free on the backside.
M16 2 11 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Flanker screen Mouton 5
So this is what I would like to see on this: okay, you gave up some yards but not that many. Floyd(+0.5) took on his blocker quickly and Mouton(+0.5, tackling +1) thumped the ballcarrier after a modest gain. Not third and one coming up.
M11 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide bunch 4-1-6 dime Pass 6 Out Talbott 8
Blitz does not get there in time (pressure -1) and Talbott(-1, cover -1) is smoked in man coverage.
M3 1 G Pistol 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Banks Power off tackle Banks 3
Banks(-1) tries to slant inside and gets shoved out of the play without taking out another blocker, leaving a lot of space and a lead guy. RVB has come all the way from the backside of the play and Martin is also there; they connect at the LOS but get dragged into the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-28, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O39 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Waggle deep cross Floyd 19 + 15 pen
Linebackers suck up to the playfake but recover decently; Ezeh(+0.5) is just a step behind the receiver and Chappell has to fit it in a tight window (cover +1) since Floyd is on the edge; Floyd(-1) then misses a tackle(-1) and turns this first down into a first down plus like ten more yards. Black(-0.5) shot into the supposed run play and gave up the corner, giving Chappell some time. He then gets a roughing the passer call(-1.5).
M27 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Run N/A Draw Martin -1
Another stupid wasted down. Martin(+1) pushes through the IU blockers; no one bothers to stay with him, and since he's so agile he can shut down even mondo space like this. RB does run past him but the blocking angles are screwed up and Ezeh(+1) can read it and move up to make a solid TFL(tackling +1).
M28 2 11 Shotgun trips bunch TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Angle Ezeh Inc
Mouton(+0.5) gets a free run but no RPS plus on this because Indiana has a hot route that looks like it will work since Ezeh(-1) is in man on the RB and flies out expecting a flat route only for the RB to dive back inside. Pass is too hot and dropped. First IU drop of the day. (Cover -1)
M28 3 11 Shotgun empty 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Throwaway Black Inc
No one open immediately (cover +1) and then Black comes around the corner with enough of an angle to force Chappell to start moving his feet. Black then comes around like he's taking another pass in a bomber, forcing Chappell to the sidelines, where RVB can help chase; they force him to chuck it OOB. +1 Black, I think, and pressure +1.
M28 4 11 Shotgun empty 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Cross Black Inc
Black(+2) shoots inside the tackle and is tripped by the guard, drawing a holding flag and forcing Chappell to start moving his feet; RVB(+0.5) takes advantage of this to start chasing from the outside. Chappell throws to a guy well-covered by Floyd(+2, cover +1) and the pass is broken up.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs,35-28, 4 min 3rd Q. Couple of nice plays by Black there.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Sack Banks -11
So this is pretty weird from IU, with the RT just sort of holding off Banks and expecting inside help that the G is not providing. This allows Banks to head upfield pretty much unmolested and sack. +2 for him, though that may be generous given the bust, and +1 for good coverage downfield.
O9 2 21 Shotgun trips 4-1-6 dime Pass 3 Dumpoff Mouton 5
Martin playing DE here and though there's not much pressure Chappell gets spooked and tosses a dumpoff (cover +1) that Mouton(+1, tackling +1) closes down.
O14 3 16 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Deep hitch Avery 17
BWS picture-paged this and I agree: Avery(-2) abandons his zone responsibility to essentially play man on the slot receiver and opens up a 20-yard completion. (Cover -3) Rogers(-1) was also passive here; he's never close to receivers.
O33 1 10 Pistol 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass 4 Long handoff Floyd 12
Floyd(-1.5) sucks in on play action and gives up an easy first down. (Cover -1)
O45 1 10 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Dive Mouton 3
Martin(-0.5) controlled and sealed though he doesn't give up too much room; Mouton(+1) slams into the lead blocker at the LOS and Black(+1) chucks his blocker away, forcing a cutback from the RB that Kovacs(+0.5, tackling +1) tackles on.
O48 2 7 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 7(!) Out ? Inc
Inevitable someone gets a free run here and it comes right up the middle; quick throw is wide of the WR. Rogers did not have very good coverage. (Pressure +1)
O48 3 7 Shotgun trips bunch 4-1-6 dime Pass 4 Hitch Avery 10
Roh(+1) spins inside the RT and nails Chappell as he throws (pressure +2) and Banks(+1) is coming around the edge; any hesitation and this is a sack. There isn't any because Avery(-2) has again totally vacated his zone in favor of chasing a guy across the field, providing a huge window in which to throw (cover -2). I can't believe they haven't ditched this package yet; Avery has no idea what he's doing.
M42 1 10 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Out T. Gordon 12
Plenty of time (pressure -2) but good downfield coverage(+1) leaves nothing but a short out; T. Gordon(-2, tackling -1) is there and whiffs, turning four into a first down.
M30 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass 3 Flare screen Floyd -1
No one out on Floyd(+1) so he rolls up on the RB and makes a solid open field tackle(+1) for loss. I assume the WR busted here?
M31 2 11 Pistol 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass 3 Sack Martin -15
Eight man drop sees no one open immediately (cover +1) and Martin(+3) shoves the center backwards, forcing him to trip over one of his linemates. Free, Martin consumes Chappell's soul.
M46 3 26 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Dig ? 10
No one gets near Chappell this time (pressure -1) and he has plenty of time to find a WR for about half of it; Roh(-0.5) overruns a tackle but Mouton(+0.5) makes up for it and they get him down about where he catches it. In this situation, fine.
M36 4 16 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Scramble Van Bergen 7
Coverage(+1) at first, then RVB(+1.5) chucks away a guard and threatens to come up the middle, flushing Chappell; Black(+0.5) comes from behind to chase and Chappell has to scramble fruitlessly. (pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 35-28, 12 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Dive Ezeh 2
RVB(+0.5) heads upfield and past his blocker and Ezeh(+1) thumps into the pulling guard at the line, causing the RB to head to the backside where Mouton(+0.5) is unblocked and makes the easy play.
O20 2 8 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Throwaway ? Inc (Pen +15)
Michigan blankets all three of the bunch receivers(cover +2) and then Martin(+0.5) fights through blockers to force the dumpoff. Michigan is hit with a borderline roughing the passer call as Martin bangs into Chappell after the throw (-2).
O35 1 10 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Zone stretch Banks 0
Banks(+1) takes the double but doesn't get sealed, leaving Mouton(+0.5) to slam up into the frontside gap before the OL can get out on him. This forces a cutback into Ezeh(+0.5), who is unblocked but in good position and tackles(+1) for no gain.
O35 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Hitch Ezeh Inc
Michigan has this bunch set down and has again covered(+1) the options. Ezeh(+0.5) drops right into the TEs route, and Chappell has to scramble as RVB(+0.5) comes free. He chucks it at one of the covered receivers; pass goes wide. (Cover +1, again.)
O35 3 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Post Floyd Inc
This same route package with one exception: deep receiver to the bunch side runs a post. Short guys covered, deep guys covered, and Floyd(+2) drops right into the targeted area. Chappell throws it well long, which is fortunate for IU (cover +2).
Drive Notes: Punt, 35-28, 9 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Pistol FB twins 3-3-5 stack Run Banks End around Kovacs 13
Kovacs(-1.5) is too focused on the dive playfake and gets thunderously cut to the ground; Banks(-0.5) also sucks inside, leaving Doss wide open on the corner; Floyd(-0.5) comes up and gets run over without so much as an attempt to wrap up; he doesn't force the ballcarrier back into help, either.
O33 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 PA WR flare Rogers 8
Third time for this play; this time T. Gordon(+0.5) gets into his blocker and forces a choice, which is outside; Rogers(-1) beats his blocker but overruns the play to the point where he runs up between Rogers and the guy trying to block him. Cam Gordon makes a solid tackle after all that.
O41 2 2 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Martin 2
Martin(+1) jams up the frontside, forcing a cutback with help from Banks(+0.5); IU G attempting to block Martin successfully diagnoses that he's screwed and makes a really smart play to peel off and hit Ezeh just as he's about to hit the RB at the LOS, allowing him a tiny crease for the first.
O43 1 10 Pistol trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Bubble screen Roh 9
T. Gordon(+0.5) does zip past his blocker and get into the WR at the LOS. He could/should have this for nothing but the throw is a ltitle bad—inside and upfield—which gives the WR some momentum away from where Gordon expects him to be and he ends up missing the tackle. He's still disrupted the play, but Roh(-1) bit on the run fake and is late, and Rogers(-0.5) makes a really weak tackle(-1) that sees the guy pick up 4-5 YAC. Our corners don't tackle well.
M48 2 1 Pistol FB twins Base 4-3 Run N/A Inside zone Patterson 8
Patterson(-1) sealed easily enough for the C to pop out on Mouton(-0.5) who had a tough job but had help in the box from Kovacs and should have attacked the hole here more aggressively. Ezeh had another gap that was open to sit in.
M40 1 10 Pistol FB twins Base 4-3 Penalty   False start ? -5
Oops.
M45 1 15 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Hitch ? 5
Open. T. Gordon and Rogers are running out on it but it's upfield and the WR can't catch it and stay on his feet. M has pulled Roh for Fitzgerald on this play.
M40 2 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Dumpoff Roh 5
Roh's absence was very temporary; he's back. Good coverage(+1), no pressure(-1); Chappell dumps it off, where Roh(+0.5) does make a good tackle(+1) after little gain.
M35 3 5 Shotgun trips bunch 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Hitch Roh Inc
Chappell misses an open out in favor of throwing a deep hitch that Roh(+1, cover +1) is right in front of. Chappell throws it really high and uncatchable; if not this high could have been deflected/picked.
M35 4 5 Shotgun empty bunch quad 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 In Roh 11
Man. Black(+2) smokes the LT and gets inside of him, nailing Chappell as he throws (pressure +2) and forcing a throw short of the sticks. This is a little in that Roh(-1, cover -1) is just a yard or two too deep on but there was a route behind him. This is just outstanding from Chappell to get this pass off and get it to the right place. I do think Roh took his eyes off the QB for a moment for whatever reason and that's why this ends up in a first down.
M24 1 10 Pistol FB twins Base 4-3 Run N/A Dive T. Gordon 0
Mass of bodies, no creases in the line, and T. Gordon(+1) moves up into the gap, hitting the lead blocker in the backfield and forcing a cutback. Kovacs peels back and Mouton(+0.5) stands up the RB at the line.
M24 2 10 Shotgun empty bunch quad 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Dumpoff Patterson Inc
Time(pressure -2) but good coverage(+2) and Patterson(+0.5) bides his time, coming through blockers as Chappell starts moving around the pocket to force an inaccurate throw on a dumpoff.
M24 3 10 Shotgun trips bunch 4-1-6 dime Pass 4 Middle screen Martin 5
Just one LB in the middle of the field and Indiana runs an RPS+2 play against it that could/should obliterate this D except for Martin(+2) peeling back and tackling the RB from behind. How many DTs can do this? That saves Michigan's bacon temporarily.
M19 4 5 Shotgun trips bunch 4-1-6 dime Pass 4 RB flat Talbott 19
This is another clueless freshman essentially playing man in zone; do not listen to the man with the telestrator blaming Mouton. Talbott(-2, cover -3) runs with the slant way too far, opening the RB flat wide open and giving up the first down. Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) makes a heady, gritty play by missing the tackle and giving Denard time to work with. That's the ticket!
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-35, 1 min 4th Q. Last drive happens with 12 seconds and is not charted, but Talbott does make a good play on the slant that was play 1, FWIW.

This is the UFR that never ends / it just goes on and on my friends / some people started charting it not knowing it was the 2010 Indiana game / and they'll keep on charting it forever just because…

Michigan gave up a lot of first downs, yes, and many of them were on stuff like this:

That should be two yards, and then it should be four yards, and then it is six. The next play is a little flare that Kovacs tackles on immediately:

That's about as well as you can play that and if Michigan had held two yards to four it would have been fourth down (and Indiana would have gone for it). This happened a lot. When you're playing against Indiana a lot of defensive execution is keeping dink passes dinky, and Michigan did not do this well at all. This is because of crappy tackling, the lack of defensive backs athletic enough to tackle on the catch, and…

This is the UFR that never ends / it just goes on and on my friends / some people started charting it not knowing what it was / and they'll continue charting it forever just because…

I mentioned this in the game column and saw it when I reviewed the game: Craig Roh is oh exploitable in space.

As we'll see in a bit, this was not a good day from him and it was mostly stuff like that; you'll note that the clip in the first section above also features Roh being uncertain about attacking the guy with the ball.

I'm confused by the decision to play him at LB in this game after we saw him be effective against a passing spread at DE in the Notre Dame game. Okay, Brandon Herron is out, but how much worse than Herron can JB Fitzgerald be? And isn't the passing-down upgrade from Banks to Roh worth it?

The only thing I can think of is that Roh is not a guy who is going to beat two blockers and Michigan was addicted to the three-man rush, but even that's weak.

This is the UFR that never ends / it just goes on and on my friends / some people started charting it not knowing what it was / and they'll continue charting it forever just because…

The natural effect of the three-man rush is to not give up anything long—Indiana's long reception on the day was a 46-yarder to Doss on one of the few instances where they tried to play man and Rogers got burnt. The next longest was a 24-yarder, again to Doss. It also does a crappy job of getting negative plays and booting people off the field, yielding lots and lots of long drives.

This is the UFR that never ends / it just goes on and on my friends / some people started charting it not knowing what it was / and they'll continue charting it forever just because…

Denard.

This is the UFR that never ends / it just goes on and on my friends / some people started charting it not knowing what it was / and they'll continue charting it forever just because…

This is going to sound like the self-serving thing fans do where the opponent is total crap that will fall weakly until they actually do, at which point they were a colossus overcome by derring-do and iron, but you can check the game preview to confirm this is what I thought after taking in the Western Kentucky-IU game: Indiana has a legitimately very good pass offense. They had 41 opportunities to make catches and made 40. Chappell almost never went to the wrong guy and missed on maybe five of his 65 attempts. Their receivers are tall and fast and shifty. One dollar they're the most productive pass offense in the conference at the end of the year.

This is the UFR that never ends / it just goes on and on my friends / some people started charting it not knowing what it was / and they'll continue charting it forever just because…

Chart. Keep in mind that the numbers for DL will be inflated to the positive simply because of how many plays they got; similarly, the defensive back minuses will be larger than usual.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 12 - 12 Excellent against the run, got some pass rush, mentally round this down to a +8.
Martin 16 5 11 Actually got beat out by someone, also round this down to +7 or so.
Banks 8 2.5 5.5 Still adequate, though his sack was a gift.
Sagesse 0.5 - 0.5 Hardly used.
Patterson 0.5 1 -0.5 Also infrequent.
Black 7 3 4 Nice performance for a freshman.
Campbell - 0.5 -0.5 One short yardage play.
TOTAL 44 12 32 Or around +20 for three DL, which is a decent, not great day.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 6 3 3 STILL VERY HOPELESS I HATE HIM THIS IS NOT AN ANTIJINX
Mouton 9.5 1 8.5 Er?
Roh 5 12 -7 I totally took clips off all his bad stuff so people wouldn't yell at me. Not deployed properly; this is hardly his fault.
Johnson 1 4 -3 IME the primary guy on the long Willis TD..
T. Gordon 3.5 3 0.5 I think he's the starter here for a bit.
Leach - - - DNP
Moundros - - - DNP
Demens 1 - 1 Goal line only.
Herron - - - DNP
Fitzgerald - - - One play IIRC.
TOTAL 26 23 3 Players other than Mouton struggled tackling in space.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 7.5 11.5 -4 Busy day came out to the negative mostly because of bad tackling.
Rogers 1.5 7 -5.5 Beat up pretty good for the first time.
Kovacs 3.5 3.5 0 The king of moderate-moderate-0.
C. Gordon 4 5 -1 More on him later.
Talbott - 4 -4 Zone vacancy.
Christian - - - DNP
Avery - 6 -6 Zone vacancy II.
Ray Vinopal - - - DNP
TOTAL 16.5 37 -20.5 Chappellbombed
Metrics
Pressure 14 11 3 I'm still having a hard time judging what is reasonable in the three man rush.
Coverage 28 34 -6 Possibly too kind.
Tackling 11 11 0 I should change this to a percentage: 50% on this sample size is not good.
RPS 1 8 -7 Chappell found holes in the zone all day.

[RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]

Again, there are a lot of factors throwing off the numbers: a vast number of plays. The reliance on the three-man rush. The 3-3-5. I'm still searching for my footing in a new environment. These things are just supposed to be guides surrounded by plenty of context, though, not gospel.

As for the guides: I thought Mouton was good, Kovacs and Gordon okay and reliable, and all cornerbacks not good. Floyd is the best of the bunch right now and he has major issues tackling; his coverage is much better than last year but still only brushes up against adequate. Rogers plays it safe because whenever he doesn't he gets burned. Roh was covered above: he's not being done a favor by this D.

Any bright spots?

I like Cam Gordon. He imploded magnificently against Notre Dame but this week very little of what went wrong can be put on his head. There was the interception, of course. And he did this:

I know he didn't get a PBU or wrap up but that's a hit with the potential to jar a ball free. When was the last time a Michigan safety did that? In contrast, this is JT Floyd moonlighting at safety:

That stuff happens all the time with defensive backs trying to tackle, but so far Gordon has not fallen victim. Through five games the longest run an opponent has had on Michigan was the 29 yards Armando Allen picked up on an edge pitch that Michigan was doomed on because they were blitzing Kovacs right past it. While he took a dodgy angle on that one it's hard to remember another run on which I thought "argh Cam Gordon." The run minuses have been few and far between for him.

He's off to a good start for a redshirt freshman who just flipped to defense. As he gets more comfortable the wood will be brought with more regularity.

Elsewhere, the linebackers who are actual linebackers did little that was objectionable, though the big tests for them come the next two weeks. And Jibreel Black got a +4 in limited time, showing good pass rush ability against an Indiana line that is at least competent at protecting the passer. That seems like the first step on the way to a productive career; if he can push through a competent Banks into the starting lineup that will be encouraging int the same way Lewan's emergence has been. Even if he just ends up in heavy rotation and does fairly well with it that will probably plug one of the three holes in next year's starting line up with an upgrade.

Heroes?

Martin, Van Bergen, Mouton. I thought Kovacs and Gordon had a lot of opportunities to make big errors and did not, as well.

Goats?

Any of the four cornerbacks, and the linebacker version of Roh. I think all save Rogers (who is what he is as a fifth year senior) can and will get better, but in this game they were the guys most responsible for giving up 35.

What does it mean for Michigan State and beyond?

Maybe not that much since Michigan is done playing passing spreads until they meet Purdue; I'm actually more worried about what happened in the UMass game re: MSU, Iowa, PSU than anything that happened against Indiana. Okay, a veteran, accurate quarterback and his band of tall, excellent receivers burned Michigan's secondary. This is not shocking. Michigan State is not likely to come out throwing on 80% of first downs anyway.

I think this dime package can work once the freshmen get some more experience; many of the errors were correctable. If guys start dropping into the right zones Michigan's front three has shown enough pass rush to get opponent offenses off the field somewhat regularly, and "somewhat" should be enough.

Roh should and probably will play way more defensive end against the rest of the schedule; at the very least when he's a linebacker Michigan should be sending him on blitzes at least 70% of the time. The extra guy in coverage just isn't that useful compared to the extra pressure he can bring. 

Some issues are fixable, but the lack of raw talent in the secondary isn't. Roh's inability to move like a linebacker and the lack of pass rush from the starting DEs are also issues that will persist throughout the year. The best I can offer is that I'm not 100% sure that State will shred Michigan's D for 500 yards because the linebackers have picked up their play and this could turn out to be an all right run defense and Indiana could turn out to be the best passing offense in the league by some distance. I don't think it's quite as bad as it looks right this instant.

I will reserve GERG bashing until I see what happens the next two games. There are clear problems that can be addressed by player development or scheme adjustments; hopefully Michigan can get the ship somewhat righted.

Picture Pages: Cover Two Corner Route Doom

Picture Pages: Cover Two Corner Route Doom

Submitted by Brian on October 7th, 2010 at 10:53 AM

Why so the suck against Indiana? A few things leapt out on the tape. One was YAC given up by a physical inability to be close enough to the receiver to tackle on the catch. This is the James Rogers problem, and it isn't going away. Another problem might: freshman defensive backs think "zone" means "man." BWS caught an instance of this and picture-paged Courtney Avery giving up a big gainer on third and sixteen because he dragged out of his zone.

That was an excellent example of cover three. Here Michigan will run cover two and get nailed on it. However, it's not Avery's aggressive coverage that's the problem here, it's the Michigan zone's obviousness and inflexibility.

The setup: Michigan is trying to keep Indiana out of the endzone on the final drive of the first half. IU's driven it just inside the Michigan 40 and has a second and ten. They come out in their bunch shotgun set. Michigan shows two high safeties:

corner-1

At the snap four guys rush and Michigan is obviously in zone. They have JT Floyd and Mouton in the middle of the field, Courtney Avery playing in the slot, Terrence Talbott and James Rogers on the outside, and Kovacs and Gordon as deep safeties. Mouton drops into a zone to cover a potential slant and Floyd is sitting in the middle of the field about ten yards deep:

corner-2 

A split second later we see what's going on with this bunch at the bottom of the screen: two short routes breaking inside and out with one guy headed deeper. Rogers is essentially motionless as Avery starts moving with the interior WR: corner-4

Avery follows… Rogers is motionless…

corner-5

Avery follows… Rogers still not going anywhere… IU receiver still running to the sticks… Chappell throwing…

corner-6

Alert: someone done failed.

corner-7

Gordon comes over to clean up:

corner-8

Indiana gets a first down inside the 20.

UPDATE: duh forgot the clip.

Who's at fault here? I don't know. I don't think anyone, really. Some guesses at object lessons:

  • This, like Odoms sitting way down in the hole, is a pass that takes advantage of cover two. The sideline 15-20 yards downfield is always a weak spot. Not a lot of quarterbacks can exploit that as ruthlessly as Chappell can, though in this instance it's so open a lot of QBs could make the play.
  • Michigan made this read easy by showing cover two and running it. Chappell knew it was zone because Michigan just about always plays zone and did not put another guy over the bunch, and as soon as Rogers sat down on the out he knew the corner was going to be open.
  • Advanced zone defenses that use pattern reading can adapt to these routes better. I'm not sure about this, but the key is that someone has to be responsible for #2 going vertical and go with him. That would be either Avery or Rogers. The other would come up on the out, leaving the drag to Floyd. Michigan doesn't do this here and probably doesn't ever do it because they've got a secondary with three sophomores, two freshmen, and positional vagabond James Rogers. Also some defensive coaches think pattern reading is suboptimal for reasons I'm not 100% clear on yet.
  • Avery seems like he's in great position if this was man coverage. He also broke up a slant against BG impressively. If Michigan ever ran man I bet he'd be pretty good at it. Can they do that? Eh… maybe against teams that don't spread the field. Here I think his coverage is good given the situation and the assumption Michigan is not pattern reading.
  • But it's not man and the freshman corners do this all the time. There's the BWS post with an example, and Indiana's last touchdown was Terrence Talbott in great man coverage on a slant… when he had a zone to the short side of the field that held Darius Willis and no one else once he covered the slant.
  • Can Gordon do anything more here? I don't think so, but I'm asking anyone with the knowledge. Is the safety's role here tackle and live to fight another day? What if this was Reggie Nelson?

There is some good news: Michigan did adapt to this route pattern, stoning it several times late. Indiana adjusted by sending the deep WR on a post and Floyd dropped back into it, forcing Chappell to chuck it high.

Player Presser Notes 9-20-10

Player Presser Notes 9-20-10

Submitted by Tim on September 20th, 2010 at 5:45 PM

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Darryl Stonum

First: Look at those glasses! He says they're not prescription.

When he made two big plays late in the first half "I just felt like it was the momentum changing." The offense started poorly, and he needed to provide a boost. "I don't know if 2 touchdowns in 45 seconds is quite the dream," it might be better. "I was always the big-play guy in high school, I was always the deep threat in high school. I've always wanted to get that transition over to Michigan."

In the third year of the offense with Denard throwing well, it's not just Stonum that's blossoming. Everybody knows stuff so can go out there and play fast.

"I try to lead by example most of the time. I'm not really a vocal screaming yeling in the huddle type of guy." He lets his work ethic speak for itself. Always works as hard as he can in weight room, in class, and on-field.

Patrick Omameh

Defenses play differently with Denard in the game. They'll contain instead of trying to sack Denard. He's making the right reads and is pretty dangerous. "We knew we didn't want him carrying the ball 30 times a game every game." They were able to get the ball to some RBs and establish something else on the ground.

"We've got some pretty athletic offensive linemen." They relish the opportunity to show off that athleticism by getting downfield and making plays. "I knew we had playmakers, it was just a matter of us getting the ball into the laymakers hands and setting up opportunities for them through our blocking."

The OL is coming together each week, as they have pretty good experience. Molk jumped back in where he left off with his injury last fall and spring. Taylor Lewan - "I watched the whole game yesterday, and he seemed to have a pretty good game." He and some others have been performing well in practice, even if they haven't seen the field much.

"There's absolutely more [offensive improvement] to come. The offense is clicking but we're still not performing to our full potential and capability."

Craig Roh

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UMass was a "mini wakeup call." Seniors have been good at getting them pumped, but they need to do better than last week. "I'm frustrated now and I was frustrated then. You just can't do anything about it now." The defense needs to prepare better and be more hungry going forward.

The first two games were good for the defense. Against UMass "looking at the tape, we just didn't tackle well." Were surprised by a few schemes as well. Have to have a certain persona to tackle well. "I really did think every guy came in with that" and it just didn't work out for some reason. They'd hit guys in the backfield, or allow 5 yards to be stretched into 10. Don't want to let guys get more than they should.

"With our training from Mike Barwis, we don't get very tired ever." The fourth quarter points for UMass were not a result of that.

Taylor Lewan played well. Proud of him because they've been buddies for a couple years. "He's finding a happy medium between being aggressive and holding a lot." That style will work well in the Big Ten.

Mike Martin "he is the strongest person I' ve ever seen in the weight room, and it's really showing on the field." Beat a double team to sack the QB.

It won't be tough to get up for BGSU. "From our performance this Saturday, this team is definitely going to get up for this game."

"The offense really helped us out this past Saturday, and that's why it's a team." One side will have to rely on the other from time to time.

Craig doesn't listen to music before games to get pumped up - reads a bit of the Bible.

Jordan Kovacs

Being a hometown guy, it'll be a different experience to play BG. He doesn't know anybody on the team though, outside of Bryan Wright. "It's gonna be weird" being on opposite sidelines. Knows him well, good kicker. They keep in touch a little bit, but haven't been trash talking yet.

Defense mindset - "Obviously we aren't satisfied with the way that we played defensively." It's much nicer to get that out of the way early in the season, and with a win. "I expect it to be a 1-game slip-up. I'm sure we'll make our corrections today."

Feels different than last year's struggles. They'll move forward. "I think they're pretty simple things." Technical errors and a couple missed assignments. Players might have been hesitant after giving up big plays to Notre Dame "maybe guys are just inexperienced and aren't feeling comfortable in their zones yet."

Obi and Jonas are the senior leaders on D. Each said a few things after the game in the locker room, as did Craig Roh.

"If you can control the ball, you can wear out a defense." The D didn't do their job to get themselves off the field.

Cameron Gordon

Interception - "The first thing I was thinking is 'yes I finally got one.' Sometimes, you don't want to do too much." He should have tucked the ball better.

The team will be very focused after a letdown against UMass. "Last game was a reality check for many games to come. Of course, it's a good thing that we still got the win." There's a small margin for error at this level. The other teams prepare, too. "You have to prepare even better. It's not like high school."

The defense wants to do their part like the offense has been doing. "We're still not as good as we need to be or want to be." Both sides of the ball can improve, but there's only been three games.

Going against Michigan receivers in practice helps prepare for other teams' best receivers.

Transition to safety is good. Still room for improvement. "What's the best room in the house? That's room for improvement."

Choosing Michigan - "I love it here." Everyone will face adversity growing up, and he's learning at Michigan that working hard and staying in the fight will help you through.

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Notre Dame

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Notre Dame

Submitted by Brian on September 15th, 2010 at 3:12 PM

Formation notes: there are none. The "formation" column in this week's UFR has set a record for boringness that will never be topped: every single row says "3-3-5 stack." So, yeah… it's a stack.

Substitution notes: Michigan started the game with Craig Roh at defensive end with the Sagesse/Banks platoon on the bench. They brought in Herron to be the SLB. When Herron got hurt they moved Roh back to LB and brought in Bangesse. Kevin Leach got a few drives at spur, and Adam Patterson came in for Martin occasionally. That's it as far as substitutions.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Run Jet sweep Roh 3 + 15 pen
Michigan shifts the LBs away from the direction of the sweep because of the trips alignment and does not react quickly enough to the motion to adjust, so it's basically Roh on the edge 2-on-1 vs the left tackle and RB Allen. Roh gets outside the tackle, gives ground when Allen comes to hit him, and fights through the block to get a diving tackle attempt at the sideline that forces Allen out after about four(+1 Roh). Kovacs(-2) comes up well late and picks up a dumb personal foul.
O47 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Hitch Van Bergen Inc
This looks like four verticals to me, with the outside receiver on the trips side sitting down at about the first down marker since he's super open; T. Gordon ran into the #2 WR on his zone drop; can't tell if he got rubbed or if he was just bashing the guy intentionally. Crist fires but RVB(+1) bats it down (pressure +1, cover -1). Martin was coming through the line and threatened to sack; kind of looks like Stewart's got his hand around him but not flagworthy.
O47 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone stretch Martin -1
WR motions in to act as an H-back and ND runs what seems like a zone without doubling either Martin or Roh. Both of them(+1 each) tear through their blockers, forcing Allen to cut back, where Mouton(+1) has read the disruption in the play and shoots past blockers with no angle on him to tackle for loss.
O46 3 11 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Skinny post Floyd 15
Michigan sends five; ND has three guys on deeper routes and one guy curling underneath the coverage. Roh(+0.5) is spinning into Crist's face as he throws and the pass is bullet to Rudolph at the sticks; Floyd(-0.5) is right there but Rudolph has his body between him and the ball and all he can do is tackle. I really question what Mouton's doing here, as he's in a very short zone and starts a delayed contain blitz late; if he drops to around the first down marker this throw isn't open and ND probably has to exit the field. (RPS-1.) I think it's the call, not the player.
M39 1 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Tunnel screen Van Bergen 2
Zone blitz sends all three LBs and drops off the DEs, which puts Van Bergen right in the path of this play; T. Gordon(+1) has also zipped by Rudolph before he can get a block and C. Gordon is coming down to fill the outside lane. Screen has nowhere to go. (RPS+1)
M37 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read keeper Van Bergen 19
This is more of the midline stuff Oregon runs where they read an DT or DT-like substance and block the outside guy; RVB(-2) tears off after a zone play that Martin(+1) is going to crush at the line for nothing, opening up a huge hole for Crist. Mouton is doubled and has no chance, and Ezeh(-1) doesn't ever realize Crist has the ball, chasing Allen until it's way too late. This means there's so much room that all CGordon can do is funnel Crist to Kovacs, the last guy.
M18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Corner Martin/Rogers Inc
Martin(+2) tears through a double, even sort of a triple, team and is in the backfield, forcing Crist to throw as he slips at his feet. Crist's ball is a pop-up that James Rogers(+1) reads and attacks for the PBU (Pressure +2, cover +1)
M18 2 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Tunnel screen Mouton 6
Martin drops off to spy as they bring Gordon around the edge; it's a screen. Mouton's the primary linebacker out there; he slips to the ground and then is tackled by an OL; no call. Blatant hold. Martin's leapt over a cut block and Allen decides to head outside, where C. Gordon(+1) fills capably, tackling with help from Rogers. Unfortunate slip and the holding give ND the yards.
M12 3 4 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Scramble Mouton 12 (pen - 0)
Zone blitz sends the OLBs and drops Martin and Ezeh, getting Mouton(-1) a free run at Crist (RPS+1), which he whiffs. Roh then comes off his blocker and forces a scrambling Crist back inside, where Mouton can't run him down from behind; neither can NT Martin, understandably. Crist scores but Allen is called for a block in the back for shoving Rogers, though he totally does the "I didn't do it" hand signal afterwards.
M12 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Flat Kovacs 5
Guh: drop eight guys into coverage and don't have anyone in the flat; Kovacs has to run out from his spot just outside of Roh, where he manages to tackle Rudolph but not in time. (Cover -1, RPS -1)
M7 1 G Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Down G Kovacs 1
Banks is blocked down and out of the play as the left side of the line pulls around against Kovacs and Mouton. Kovacs(+2) fends off a block from the RT, sheds to the outside, and tackles. Stewart is literally grabbing Martin's(+0.5) legs as he tries to pursue here, but his nimbleness on what looked like a stunt cut off any backside cut.
M5 2 G Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 TE Out Rogers 6
This is probably where Crist got concussed, as T. Gordon(+1) tears off the corner on this half roll and bashes him just as he throws (pressure +1); Rudolph catches it at around the five and should be stopped there except for Rogers(-1, tackling -1) completely whiffing on the tackle. After a lengthy review it's put at the four inch line.
M1 3 G Goal line Goal line Run QB sneak ? 1
They get it.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 11 min 1st Q. This wasn't actually as bad as I remembered. Penalty hurt, the coverage was pretty decent, the main issue was the weird zone from Mouton on third and long and RVB crashing down on the keeper.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone stretch Martin 1
Rees in. Replica of the stretch from the previous drive; Martin(+1) gets playside of the guard and cuts off the B gap, forcing Wood outside. Roh set up outside well but then tried to dive back inside and got plowed back for his trouble; no minus because he did hold the edge long enough for Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) to charge downhill and meet Wood at the LOS. Also the Irish LT has his hands outside Roh's shoulder pads but whateva.
O25 2 9 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Flea flicker Mouton Int
Linebackers do bite, but then get back in their drops. Mouton(+3) does an impressive job to get 15 yards deep, get into the passing lane, and intercept. Martin(+0.5) was flying in, forcing the bad decision. (Cover +2, pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-7, 8 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O19 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Hitch ? Inc
Leach in at spur. Drop eight and just wait for Martin to get there, which he does, eventually. Rees can't find anything serious (cover +1) beforehand and fires it to a four-yard outlet. The pass is crappy and dropped.
O19 2 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Run Zone stretch Roh -6
Roh(+3) splits a double team, shooting into the backfield and making a TFL all on his own. Best play of his career to date. Brandon Graham-worthy. Martin(+1) had also torn through the line and was there to help if necessary.
O13 3 16 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Run TGDCD Mouton 10
[That God Damned Counter Draw.] Pretty much a give-up-and-punt. Michigan is rushing three and drops the linebackers off, which makes for a dodgy moment before Mouton(+0.5) comes up and cracks the OL leading the play, causing Wood to slow and allowing several Wolverines to converge on him short of the sticks.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Down G Ezeh 0
Montana in. Martin(+1) blows the C back, preventing him from releasing and forcing the backside G to run into him, taking out two blockers. This allows an unblocked Ezeh(+1) to read, scrape, and tackle with help from Kovacs and Mouton(+1), who powered through a block to finish the play with Ezeh.
O21 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 TE Out Roh Inc
ND using a slide protection so Roh(+1) comes around the backside right in the throwing lane and leaps to bat down Montana's pass. (Pressure +1.) Likely catch and immediate tackle after six otherwise.
O21 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read keeper Gordon 7
Van Bergen(-1) is more disciplined this time but still bites on the handoff after forming up on the QB, paving the way for this gain. CGordon(+1) comes up with an authoritative fill and tackle(+1) to bring this up short.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 3 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Tunnel screen Herron Inc
Zone blitz gets Herron(+1) in unblocked (RPS+1, pressure +1) as Martin drops off into a zone. Play is a tunnel screen so having Martin there will be useful, but it doesn't matter since Herron bats it down.
O26 2 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Run QB draw ? 10
Exact same blitz, so Martin is running away from the big damn hole in the line and Herron is running right past Montana through no fault of his own. Floyd gets away with a quasi block in the back but it's the difference between seven and ten. RPS-1.
O36 1 10 I-Form Big 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Ezeh 3
Ezeh(+1) is probably blitzing but even so he darts into the gap that opens up as the OL down blocks Martin and Roh, picking off the pulling guard and bashing him into Allen, slowing everything down and filling the hole. Allen cuts behind; Mouton(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) rally to tackle, with Mouton getting held or he might have been able to tackle for no gain.
O39 2 7 I-Form Big 3-3-5 stack Run Off tackle Roh 0
No pulling, just blocking down the line and using Hughes as a FB to get the edge. Roh(+1) slashes past a blocker and threatens to tackle, forcing Allen further outside than he wants to go, which gives Mouton(+1), who read and scraped(!) immediately, the opportunity to beat his block and keep Allen contained for no gain. ND will do this again later and Mouton will have the hell held out of him.
O39 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Drag ? 5
No pressure but Montana doesn't want wait and dumps it short (cover +1). Ezeh(-0.5) runs it down but ends up overrunning the tackle(-1), but Mouton(+0.5) is there with a correct angle and he and Martin finish it short of the sticks.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run Inside zone Martin 0
Martin(+1) momentarily doubled and pushed back but comes through the double as the G pops out on Ezeh, finding himself in the hole. Herron(+1) fills the cutback lane and an unblocked Mouton(+0.5) can track and tackle.
O20 2 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass ? Waggle TE cross Gordon 17
Play action fake does suck Mouton(-1) in, opening up this window but CGordon(+1) reads it and comes up to pound Eifert as he catches the ball (cover +1); kid still manages to haul in a great catch. Credit where due there.
O37 1 10 Ace Twins 3-3-5 stack Run Inside zone Herron 8
I think. Michigan's line again blows this up with Roh(+0.5) absorbing a double and Mouton(+1) immediately scraping through the mess to pop up unblocked in the hole, forcing Wood to improvise. Ezeh comes through a block but can't make a tackle; he does delay but Herron(-1) has been passive and ate a lineman and is blasted out of the play. CGordon(-1) should be able to fill quickly here given all the traffic but is seriously late.
O45 2 2 Ace Twins 3-3-5 stack Run Pin and pull zone Ezeh -3
Ezeh(+2) zips right into the slot vacated by the lineman pulling around RVB's guy and makes an excellent tackle(+1) in the backfield.
O42 3 5 Shotgun 2TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Improv Roh Inc
Roh(+1) disrupts Montana by spinning past the OT and forcing the RB to cut him but not before there's a bunch of players in Montana's feet. I also think Floyd(+1) had the short out covered to that side. Montana scrambles and attempts to find a receiver at the sidelines but CGordon(+1) is there to break it up; pass was OOB anyway. (Cover +2, pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 10 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Dive Patterson 12
Patterson in for Martin for the first time and ND goes right at him, blocking down on him and pulling a G around to hit it up in the crease between RVB and Patterson. Ezeh meets the G at the LOS, funneling the RB back to his help but Mouton(-1) is late arriving and whiffs a diving tackle(-1). Patterson gets a -1 as well for making this hole big enough for Allen to have room behind Ezeh and his blocker.
O37 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Inside zone Mouton 11
This time Patterson(+1) slants into the intended rushing lane, forcing a cutback. Banks is on the backside and forces Allen upfield, as does Floyd, allowing Mouton(-2) to attack the guy behind the LOS; he whiffs the tackle(-1) and Banks stumbles in an attempt to clean up, turning -2 yards into 10. Kind of play we haven't seen from M backs this year.
O48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Deep hitch Floyd Int
Pressure is not immediate but not terrible either, as Roh comes free and Montana has to wing it, which he does to Floyd just as the other Floyd(+3) is sinking back from his cover two into Floyd's route, picking off the pass. (Cover +2) Replay.
Drive Notes: Interception, 14-7, 6 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Rollout TE out ? 9
Outside receivers clear the zone guys out and Montana throws underneath to Rudolph; would like T Gordon to react a little quicker but this is taking advantage of the coverage call (cover -1).
O38 2 1 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Stretch counter Mouton 8
Little chance they'll stop this second and two play so okay, but as M slants to the opposite side of the play ND pulls around a G; I don't think Mouton(-1) reads this quickly enough. He steps up, giving Stewart an angle to block him. This makes Ezeh popping the pulling guard to force the RB back inside help fruitless because Mouton's gone. Kovacs flows from the weakside to tackle. This looks like a stretch from the action if you're reading the RB, but the pulling G should be an easy key for the direction of the play.
O46 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 TE Out T. Gordon 6
The quick out again; with no hard corner or cover two this is pretty easy (cover -1).
M48 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Inside zone counter Mouton 1
Huh. I think Chris Stewart might tip his pulls. He's rocked really far back here. This is similar to the stretch counter except it looks like an inside zone and then Stewart pulls around as they try to hit it into the backside A gap. This time both linebackers are there to fill, with Ezeh(+1) taking on Stewart and funneling to Mouton(+1), who delivers a thumping tackle(+1).
M47 3 3 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Rollout TE out T. Gordon Inc
Same thing as the first play on the drive; this time TGordon(+1) is coming up hard and will tackle short of the sticks even if complete; this throw is behind Rudolph and dropped. (Cover +1.)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Hitch T. Gordon 7
Michigan in three deep, bailing out on the corners. TGordon(-0.5) has this area of the field but chooses to chuck the inside receiver, which delays him in his effort to get outside. (Cover –1.)
O27 2 3 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Deep out Rogers 13
Way too easy on the outside as Rogers(-1) bails out into a deep third and turns his hips all the way to run downfield, opening this out up. T. Gordon also did not get enough depth on his drop, IMO. (Cover -1, pressure –1.)
O40 1 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Tunnel screen Roh Inc
Martin backing out after an initial rush as Roh comes on a delayed blitz outside; this is a tunnel screen that would be completely dead if caught. Fortunately for ND it's not. (RPS+1)
O40 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Improv Rogers Inc
Montana can't find anyone for a long time (cover +1) and Martin(+0.5) eventually comes through the Irish OL, forcing a scramble. Montana throws high to a WR near the sticks; Rogers(+0.5) is close enough to disrupt the pass and cause to to fall incomplete.
O40 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run QB draw Mouton 10 (pen -7)
Most of these yards are whatever because it's third and ten but Mouton(-1) got cut to the ground and opened up first down yardage; it comes back because Floyd was holding the hell out of Floyd.
O33 3 17 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Run NA Shovel pass Mouton 9 + 15 pen
A give up and punt that turns into a first down because Mouton(-2) gets flagged for a horsecollar tackle. I'm not sure what he's supposed to do there when he can reach out and grab the guy, but it was dumb since Allen was heading to the sidelines and Kovacs was filling.
M43 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Rollout deep hitch T. Gordon Inc
Montana goes back and can't find anyone, rolling out with a small case of happy feet. He fires one to Floyd; T. Gordon(+0.5) is there and hassles him so that the overthrown ball can't be brought in. Could have done better but was not useless. (Cover +1)
M43 2 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Scramble Martin 3
ND holding the hell out of everyone, but Michigan guys are fighting through it so the flags stay in the pockets. Very frustrating. Martin(+1) fights through, flushing Montana up in the pocket; Roh should have him for a sack but Montana manages to run through it(tackling -1) and rolls out. No one open(cover +1), he scrambles for a few. (Pressure +1)
M40 3 7 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Fly C. Gordon 37
Sagesse, Patterson, and RVB are rushing? come on (pressure -1). Montana chucks up a punt that somehow finds an open receiver at the three. This is on Rogers(-1) who has no one at all in front of him and does not keep dropping with the wide receiver, and Cam Gordon(-3), who abandons his responsibility to split the two receivers. Instead he starts running after Floyd (cover –3).
M3 1 G Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Tacopants! Roh Inc
Zone blitz, NT drops off. Mouton gets a free run as a result, with Roh(+0.5) fighting through a cut and staying on his feet so Montana feels he has two guys coming and must chuck it, which he does? out of the end zone. (RPS +1, pressure +1) Receivers did seem covered.
Drive Notes: EOH, 21-7. This really was a gift drive with the horsecollar and Gordon Screwup #1.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O47 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Deep hitch Kovacs Inc
Looks like four verticals to me. Four man rush gets nowhere (pressure -1) and Kovacs(-1) does not get over to cover the hitch on the outside, leaving a window for Crist, albeit a small one. He puts it a little in front of Floyd, making it a tough catch, and it's dropped. (Cover -1, but not that bad.)
O47 2 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Fly C. Gordon 53
Michigan in a two deep so Gordon has half the field on deep passes. 1) I think Rogers(-1) attacks Rudolph's little dink route, opening up a ton of space with just Gordon in it, and 2) Gordon(-5) takes a horrible angle on the pass, possibly misjudging it and thinking it's going to a route in front of him. A proper angle would have seen Gordon crush the receiver on an underthrown pass. (Cover -4)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-14, 12 min 3rd Q. I swear I'm writing these descriptions before Maycock does his analysis.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Edge pitch Floyd 29
This is doomed from the start since Kovacs(RPS -2) is blitzing right from the spot on the field where some contain might be. Mouton(-0.5) gets bashed inside but keeps his feet and moves to recover; as Allen nears the first down marker Ezeh(-1) and Floyd(-1) somehow conspire to miss tackles(-1) on him, then a crappy angle from Gordon(-1) and a missed tackle(-1) looks like it spring Allen to the endzone but Gordon did just barely manage to get him to step out of bounds.
M44 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Improv hitch Floyd 17
Time to survey but no one open (cover +1) and Martin(+0.5) fights through blocks and another seeming hold to flush Crist; could have had a sack maybe without the hold. Crist finds Floyd in front of Floyd(-1, cover -1), who's too far away to even tackle afterwards, and Floyd starts cutting back across the field, breaking a tackle from T. Gordon(-1, tackling -1) and getting inside the 30.
M27 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Run TGDCD Mouton 10
Come back late but Mouton(-1) looks like he's sucked out of position, Ezeh(-1) too; Kovacs(+0.5) fills quickly and funnels Gray to help.
M17 1 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Slant ? 11
Again with the short drop and the blitzing, but pulling that guy out of the center of the field has opened up a huge, obvious space for Crist to hit Floyd in. (RPS-1, cover -1)
M6 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Dive Roh -1
Pulling around the C and trying to go straight up the middle; M sends the house, with Roh(+0.5) blitzing right into the gap, allowing T. Gordon(+1) to come from the backside and tackle. (RPS+1)
M7 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 TE cross ? Inc
Forever to pass as Michigan rushes three and it takes a while for RVB to work free. (Pressure -1). Nowhere to throw, though, and Crist ends up trying a super tough pass at the back of the endzone to Rudolph, extremely well covered by Ezeh(+1) and hit out by Gordon(+0.5, cover +2).
M7 3 G Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 TE out Mouton Inc
Zone blitz sees Martin and Ezeh drop out of the middle and gives Mouton(+0.5) a free run (pressure +1, RPS+1), which forces Crist to throw early and high in an attempt to get Rudolph one on one with Kovacs(+1), who was in good enough position to stab over the top in case the ball was more accurate (cover +1)
Drive Notes: FG(24), 21-17, 8 min 3rd Q. Biiiiiig stand there after getting gashed all the way down the field, and one on which GERG RPSed ND two or three times.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O22 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 TE deep cross Mouton Int
Three man rush yields a ton of time but nothing downfield (cover +1) and eventually RVB comes free, chasing Crist from the pocket. He rolls and tries to chuck it very deep to Rudolph, but it's on a line and Mouton(+2, cover +1) bats it into the air, where Kovacs(+1) picks it off and returns it. The three man line may be frustrating but it seems to work. Would work better if Roh could play DE.
Drive Notes: Interception, 21-17, 4 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O4 1 10 I-Form Big 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Mouton 9
Both linebackers are to blame here, IMO, as they have to realize that the down blocks and the pull indicate a power off tackle is coming, but both of them shoot up into the play, with Mouton taking out a lead blocker and Ezeh unable to scrape outside in time because: there's no leverage on the ball. Floyd is in a ton of space and forces the RB inside, where he makes a good open field tackle(+1) with help from a recovering Ezeh. -1 Ezeh, -1 Mouton. Also, Kovacs gets a -1 for getting blasted all the way across the formation.
O13 2 1 I-Form Big 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Asshat linejudge 12
This time Mouton does scrape to the outside, where he gets held like a mofo without a call. I mean, the guy's hands are literally on his back: both of them. I hate these refs. You're supposed to be on our side, idiots. As a result he can't contain and Allen has a big gainer. I'm not minusing anyone here except asshat linejudge(-2).
O25 1 10 Ace Twins 3-3-5 stack Run Inside zone Mouton 3
Martin(+0.5) slashes through the line and Ezeh(+0.5) quickly darts into the gap behind the Martin mess and the LB getting out to the second level; unfortunately Allen splits the tackle(-1) from both. Mouton(+1) sheds a block to pound the guy after three yards, though.
O28 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Sack T. Gordon -11
Sending five gets T. Gordon(+2) a free run (pressure +1, RPS+1) because of what looks like a blown pickup by Allen; Gordon does a great job of not letting Crist dodge him, tossing him to the ground for M's only sack of the year.
O17 3 18 Shtogun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Dumpoff ? 13
No pressure (-1) on a three man rush, with Roh getting pancaked on an unsuccessful spin, though ND does have two guys for every rusher. Coverage(+1) is good enough to force the dump, and Gray is gang-tackled well short. The thing about Roh's spin is it could totally work if someone was occupying the guard.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-17, 1 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Edge pitch Banks 5
Allen fumbles the pitch and should be nailed for a loss but Banks(-1) overruns the play and lets Allen inside, where Gordon(+0.5) forms up and tackles by getting run over.
O29 2 5 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Seam Kovacs 20
Kovacs(-2) sucks up for no apparent reason, opening up tons of room for Rudolph; Mouton(-1) also drops too far inside, closer to Ezeh's zone than he needs be. Rudolph is wide open, picking up big yards despite falling down without being touched. (Cover -3)
O49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Jet sweep Banks 0
Watch Roh get cut: that's worse than the clip they threw on Dorrestein. No call. Meanwhile, Martin(+1) is again through the line and gets yanked backwards; no call. It doesn't end up mattering because Banks(+1) first holds up to a double and then comes through it, allowing Ezeh(+1) to flow to the ball unimpeded; combined the pair tackles.
O49 2 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Skinny post ? Inc
This is open(cover -1) but Crist throws it well behind Rudolph, apparently expecting him to sit down on a hitch.
O49 3 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Dig Kovacs Inc
Blitz picked up as DEs drop into short zones, for what good that does on third and ten. (Pressure -1.) RVB actually gets pretty good depth and might be useful as Crist fires in between three defenders on a dig that will probably get the first; Floyd drops it. Kovacs was pretty close, FWIW. Great throw by Crist on replay with RVB in postion to bat/intercept anything a fraction late.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-17, 9 min 4th Q. This one is more on ND than M.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O14 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Corner Van Bergen Inc
This is overthrown by about ten yards despite being somewhat open because RVB(+1.5) plowed through the RT and hit Crist as he threw, aborting his follow-through. (Pressure +1) It is really hard to hand out appropriate numbers with this quantity of three-man rushes.
O14 2 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 ? ? Inc
Blitz is picked up but Crist still has to get rid of it; ends up throwing it to no one. I think he's trying to hit Rudolph on a short crossing route or something but Rudolph fell down trying to cut. RVB(+0.5) drove into the pocket and appeared to get a finger on it, too.
O14 3 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 TE seam Inc
Three man rush but RVB(+0.5) is driving into the backfield well enough that Crist feels he should throw it; he chucks it to a well covered Rudolph (Mouton +1, cover +1) and overthrows it badly.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-17, 5 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O9 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Scramble Van Bergen 5 (pen -4)
RVB(+1) gets upfield and bats at the ball, causing Crist to bring it down; Roh(+1) spins into the middle of everything and could have sack but is held—which they call! Omg. The five yard scramble afterwards is academic (pressure +1)
O5 1 15 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Ooops C. Gordon 95
No pressure(-2) and Cam Gordon takes the world's worst angle (-6, cover -5), turning a knockdown into temporary doom.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-24, 3 min 4th Q. Last drive not charted since it is under extreme conditions. Last play clipped, though.

So was that good or not?

I really don't know. Breaking down Notre Dame's 17 drives:

  • 1 uncharted desperation drive on which they got 32 yards of offense and 15 penalty yards.
  • 1 depressingly slick Crist-led TD drive
  • 1 depressingly slick Crist-led FG drive
  • 2 enormous Cam Gordon bust TDs, 1 enormous Cam Gordon bust we got away with
  • 7 drives led by incompetent backup QBs that max out around 20 yards and feature two INTs.
  • 5 stops of the Crist-led O in the second half when the game was in the balance, including another INT

Breaking down ND's 535 yards:

  • 50-ish: given away on end of half drives.
  • 200-ish: Cam Gordon
  • 280-ish: the sum total of the other 14 possessions.

Before the Rudolph bomb, Crist's second half stats were 5/14 for 121 yards, a TD, and an INT. To me that looks like ten guys doing a really good job and a freshman position switch safety "learning on the job" or "making me think about every safety except Jamar Adams in the last decade of Michigan football." I don't know, let's look at the—

Chart?

Chart.

So this one is really weird. Keep in mind that 1) Cam Gordon wsg James Rogers got a total of –16 personally and –12 to cover on the three comically open bombs, 2) Notre Dame had sixteen(!) drives charted, fully double the UConn game, and 3) Michigan picked off three balls.

Anyway:

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 4.5 3 1.5 Unproductive until late; irresponsible on midline zone read.
Martin 12 0.5 11.5 Beast mode. Best game of career.
Banks 1 1 1 Getting zero production out of this spot.
Sagesse - - 0 Srsly.
Patterson 1 1 0 Eh.
Black - - - DNP
TOTAL 18.5 5.5 13 Should count about half of Roh's production here.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 7.5 4.5 3 Positive!
Mouton 14.5 12.5 2 Some of the negatives are a little harsh, like the horsecollar. Vastly improved.
Roh 11 - 11 Beast mode part II. By far best game of his career.
Johnson - - - DNP.
T. Gordon 6.5 1.5 5 Great job on the sack; solid elsewhere.
Leach - - 0 Some time at spur.
Moundros - - - DNP
Herron 2 1 1 Allowed Roh to play DE until injury, did okay.
TOTAL 40.5 19.5 21 Even throwing most of Roh's points to DE this is a very encouraging number.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 5 2.5 2.5 INT and little he could be blamed for.
Rogers 1.5 4 -2.5 Missed tackles and somewhat responsible for two of the Gordon bombs.
Kovacs 6 6 0 Certainly not a liability.
C. Gordon 5 16 -11 You know the story.
Talbott - - - Garbage time.
Christian - - - Garbage time.
M. Robinson - - - DNP on D.
Ray Vinopal - - - Got in a play.
TOTAL 17.5 28.5 -11 Even and then Gordon.
Metrics
Pressure 14 9 5 More on this in the three man rush section.
Coverage 22 24 -2 Also three man rush.
Tackling 5 7 -2

First negative day ever, though this hasn't been around that long.

RPS 7 5 2 GERG win.

[A reminder: RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]

There's a lot to like above: Roh and Martin both turned in the best days of their careers, and Martin's performance is even more impressive since he spent all day as  a nose against two or three blockers. This is what happened every time ND tried to single up either guy:

NFW, man. I mean, watch Martin just tear through guys:

He's made a personal leap from good to great. Roh, meanwhile, is a different player:

Meanwhile, Ezeh and Mouton both climbed above zero; I can't recall the last time that happened. The coverage has not been terrible except when it's really terrible; ND QBs were checking down all day. Eight man coverages, sure, but even with time ND was not picking it apart except when Gordon was letting them.

I hate three-man rushes. They make me want to die. GERG loves them. WTF?

I tried to parse this out but my numbers don't make sense after I did this so a rougher breakdown below.

Six man rush:

  • Two snaps, no completions.

Five man rush:

  • Four snaps.
  • Thomas Gordon sack.
  • 53-yard Cam Gordon screwup bomb.

Four man rush:

  • 13 snaps.
  • One INT, two scrambles.
  • Nothing deep.

Three man rush:

  • 23 snaps.
  • Two INT, one scramble
  • 95-yard Cam Gordon screwup
  • 37-yard Cam Gordon screwup
  • 68 other yards on 21 snaps.

I think that's off a bit but it is close. So… Michigan didn't exactly crumble in the three-man rush. They got two interceptions out of it, one of them the Crist one, and I only have them down for eight non-screen completions.

The theory behind this appears to be the same theory that saw a lot of three-man rushes last year: our defense is pretty crappy but we have this beast on the DL so he can probably get through anyway and then the QB has nowhere to go. Last year that was Brandon Graham; this year it was going to be a combo of Martin and Roh until Herron got hurt and Roh had to move back to LB. And as you can see by the numbers above, it pretty much worked. Do you put the blame for the bombs on the rush or Cam Gordon? Probably some of both.

GERG Robinson linebacker fairy dust update?

Looking even better after a fairly strong week one. The linebackers still got lost some but not egregiously so and usually bounced back the next time Kelly tried the same play. Ezeh had a relatively quiet day for a middle linebacker and finished slightly positive; Mouton had an uber-Mouton day with a ton of positives and a ton of negatives that also finished slightly positive. This is massive progress from last year even if you don't count Thomas Gordon putting in a Brown-like number, the most active day Brandon Herron's had, and Craig Roh blowing up.

The linebackers have come farther in two weeks under GERG than they did in two years under Hopson. I mean… you're kind of worried about losing Mouton next year, right? Exactly. NFL guys are noticing, too:

Jonas Mouton/LB/Michigan: The Wolverines are off to a fast start at 2-0 and Mouton has been the teams's top defender in both games. He led the unit with 13 tackles in the exciting win over Notre Dame besides intercepting a pass early in the game, which Michigan converted into a touchdown. Mouton is an explosive linebacker who effortlessly moves sideline-to-sideline. He added 15 pounds of muscle this season yet did not lose a step of speed.

The GERG Fairy Dust Theory looks like a winner so far.

So… free safety is doom again?

I don't know. By this time last year I was ready to see Boubacar Cissoko exiled to the punt team permanently, but Gordon at least brings something to the table. He's filled run lanes well for the most part and brings the wood when he tackles; he seem athletic enough to cope at free safety. But four major gaffes in two weeks is concerning.

There is reason he will improve, and quickly. He's just a redshirt freshman and spent his first semester at WR. Michigan's offense is almost allergic to deep balls, so he may not have much experience with balls going over his head. His learning curve can be quick and meaningful. On the other hand, he's actually got to make that improvement, something we've seen every Michigan safety since Marcus Ray emphatically not do. With the second and third string options gone the last remaining backup safety is two-star true freshman Ray Vinopal: we are likely stuck with Gordon. I have no idea whether he'll improve enough to be un-noticeable.

Asshat linejudge?

SERIOUSLY

Michigan got called for clips on plays that Notre Dame did not get called for clips. They bear-hugged Martin and RVB all day. Kelvin Grady got a call for missing a cut block. The officiating was so slanted that Notre Dame fans aren't even complaining. Attention Big Ten refs: we're Michigan. You're supposed to be on our side.

Heroes?

Mike Martin and Craig Roh, with a high five to JT Floyd and Thomas Gordon.

Goats?

Cam Gordon is the blazingly obvious one, but once Michigan had to pull Roh off the line they got nothing out of that DE spot except a decent play on a run by Banks. Getting a 1-1-0 out of a DE spot in a half of play is very subpar. Those guys cannot get to the QB at all. RVB also had a mediocre day, but did come on late.

What does it mean for UMass and beyond?

Overall, I'm actually encouraged. Michigan basically shut down an incompetent quarterback with a lot of skill position talent in the first half; this should be good enough in a lot of games this year. The QB might not be as terrible but the skill players won't be as good. When Crist was in, the defense was a solid B+ except for the Cam Gordon errors. When he was not handing ND points they scored ten points on seven drives and picked up an interception.

They seem better than last year. More than that, they seem better than we thought they'd be going into the season. Mouton is outperforming expectations. Ezeh is. Roh is. JT Floyd is. Kovacs is fine. Martin is living up to BEAST MODE expectations. The only disappointments are the DEs and Cam Gordon. I'll take that.

If they stay healthy—they are beyond paper thin—and Gordon can reduce his gaffe rate to an acceptable level they can be totally mediocre. Look for a permanent move to DE for Roh against spread teams if Herron comes back, which will make that line hard to block.

UFR 2010 Errata: UConn

UFR 2010 Errata: UConn

Submitted by Brian on September 10th, 2010 at 10:29 AM

I tried this last year but then dropped off, but I'll try it again: when you write 15k words about a football game people who know more than you are going to point out errors. This will be a collection of items people send me about stuff they think I got wrong; if I'm sticking to my guns I'll mention why, but this is all very complicated so reasonable people will disagree at times.

Anyway:

Offense

Chris Brown of Smart Football added some stuff that's not actually a disagreement but it would be a shame for it to molder in the inbox:


1. Michigan ran this play a few times with good success:

It was probably the best "dropback" pass I saw Denard run. I saw him throw both to the outside receiver and to the RB. In your description you called it a "slant" and the RB's route as a "screen," but the concept is called the "snag" concept (or triangle). I'd say it's currently the most popular route combination in the Big 10, as Ohio State, Purdue, Penn State and now Michigan all feature it as a staple play. I discussed it on Smart Football.

On the backside Michigan has some kind of fade/out combo but we'll see if he gives the QB freedom to go that way. It's a good play for Denard (and Terrelle Pryor, for that matter) because it's easily completed.

[Ed: this was the first instance of this route combo in the game; as the game progressed I got a handle on the combo and how frequently it's used. Good to know it's widespread and effective. Robinson completed each instance of the snag for good yardage except once when he threw the flare route when the LB was charging it down, opening up the slant bit.]

2. Denard's worst pass of the game was the bootleg where Roy Roundtree gets lit up. I think you were right that it should have been thrown to the outside receiver in the hole before the safety could get over.

3. The really encouraging thing though is that he followed it up with his best pass of the night [to Grady on third and eleven]. The long fake bubble pass was fun, but this was a college throw. The best part? The play was four verticals (I think you said it was a deep hitch). This wasn't exactly a "read" route but clearly the receiver had freedom to bend it and find the hole, and Denard threw it in the open window -- this wasn't where he was told to throw it, he reacted to the coverage. Great throw.

[Ed: Part of the disconnect here is I usually put down the route instead of the concept; that's something to work on.]


Genuinely Sarcastic's run chart is up and it's mostly in line with mine, though it appears toBrian is less inclined to give out pluses and minuses. He's higher on Molk than Schilling but still high on both, thought Koger was way better than Webb, and gave Omameh a solidly negative –6. Also Denard picks up a –2 but toBrian admits "this is where the metric is flawed." FWIW, I'm handing out pluses when the tailback does something that gains yards past what the blocking sets up.

Elsewhere, MGoUser "me" points out the Shotgun H-back position was around for last year's game against Western, and probably most of last year's games. So… yeah. No so much on "debut."

Defense

Some complaints in the comments that I've been too harsh on Ezeh, and a response from Burgeoning Wolverine Star about the play specifically highlighted:

He picture-pages the play, highlighting Kovacs dropping into the deep middle and thus taking himself out of position to fill the hole on the interior.

Here, you can see that Kovacs is still backpedaling, now 4 yards deeper than he was pre-snap. Mouton is being hit by the playside slot receiver. UConn's left guard has now pulled across the formation and is in perfect position to block Ezeh. Ezeh's job here is to plug the hole that Todman is supposed to run through. He does this by hitting that pulling guard. It's then Kovacs' job to come into the play and make the tackle. Unfortunately, Kovacs isn't done backpedaling yet.

I don't know about this one. I pulled the play to highlight a trend I saw all day—Ezeh getting put on his butt—and wasn't really focused on the action of the deep safety. I think BWS is right that I should have minused Kovacs for a late read, which turned this from four or five yards into nine, but a linebacker in that situation needs to keep his feet and look to come off his blocker and tackle, which is something Ezeh managed on UConn's last meaningful(-ish) snap but didn't do the rest of the day. Whatever the responsibilities of the MLB in the 3-3-5, they include staying on your feet.

MGoUser AAL sent in some clarifications as well:

  • On a 15-yard dumpoff to the FB (UConn drive 2, play 4), which I said "looked like a busted coverage" but could not tell who it was on: A misalignment and a bust. Michigan is playing Cover 3 behind a weakside zone blitz. First, Kovacs has the boundary third and is absolutely toasted if this ball gets thrown his way. (You can see he was busy trying to get untoasted, too, when Gordon arrives in the frame toward the end before he does.) The de facto OLBs should have curl-to-flat responsibilities and they both take initial curl drops. The curl zone is a greater threat because a pass to the flat takes longer to arrive and the defense can use the sideline to help. For some reason Ezeh is lined up over the center, then aborts his drop at the curl. Roh would be the hook-to-hole guy and takes a really poor drop which is probably due to lack of experience in pass coverage. The #1 receiver to strength runs a hitch, but given how long that ball would take to arrive there is enough time for the CB to recover and for the OLB to rally to the ball.
  • On the next play, a 20 yard power run: I’d give Floyd more credit. If he allows himself to be reached, there’s one OL left to block Kovacs and the RB is going to the endzone. On the other hand Ezeh does everything wrong. One of the first things you learn as a LB is not to go underneath blocks. If you do, you have zero chance of making the play. There is a point where Ezeh sees the WR(!) coming to block him and makes that decision anyway. It cannot be more easily demonstrated than the WR doing nothing, but inviting him to go underneath and barely even touching him as he flails to the ground. By doing this, his chance of making the play went from 30% to near 0. [Ed: I did not minus Ezeh at all on this play.]
  • On the next play, which was the post thrown to the goal line but low and not dug out: Gordon was very disciplined here. He has the deep middle third and has two verts coming up the hashes. He’s dead center and favoring either is certain death. For some reason Floyd had plenty of depth and doesn’t close down on the WR with the ball in the air. Could be mental/freshman/other mistake. Impossible to say. [Ed: I didn't neg the coverage or Floyd here; I did think Gordon was in position for a potential killshot if the ball was better thrown.
  • First play of drive three, the first ball over Carvin Johnson's head, the dropped one: Another manipulation of Cover 3. UConn was using a levels concept into the sideline (deep/intermediate/shallow) to put the deep third and flat defender in a bind. Lots of time to come open when rushing 3. No idea what Gordon is doing. Also, more importantly this: when M was in Cover 3 vs. no width (TE only), Kovacs was playing up on the line and responsible only for running w/ the TE. He is absolutely toasted. [Ed: I gave a –2 to Johnson there; I've heard from other people that even if there's going to be a window there in cover 3, it shouldn't be as large.]

The overall impression is one of deep fear about Kovacs against Notre Dame, especially in his effort of cover Rudolph, though elsewhere AAL says he's not that impressed with ND's TE… when it comes to the NFL. Okay. Relevancy against Kovacs? Eh… not so much.

Elsewhere, the UConn blog takes a look at their first offensive snap, which didn't go well thanks to Cam Gordon.

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs UConn

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs UConn

Submitted by Brian on September 8th, 2010 at 5:53 PM

Video reminder: they pop up!

Substitution notes: Michigan did make the move I suggested they might in the season preview: on passing downs they lifted the Sagesse/Banks platoon, bringing in Mike Williams as a linebacker and using Roh as a DE on a three man line. Several times they used a four-man line with Mouton and Roh the DEs and Martin/RVB the DTs.

Sagesse and Banks seemed to split the snaps about evenly. Black and Patterson got spot snaps early and more extensive time later as the game seemed in hand. Moundros got one drive in the second quarter; Herron got one drive; Jones was in the nickel package and briefly spotted Mouton when he got a cramp. Thomas Gordon got one drive early and then replaced Johnson when he went out injured.

There was no substitution in the secondary (shock!) until the final, uncharted drive.

Formation notes: It's a 3-3-5 stack unless you are a football coach, in which case it is very close to but not quite a 3-3-5 stack if you believe Rodriguez and Robinson. This is what it looks like on most plays:

carvin-no

And that's a stack. When the opposition goes 3x1, this is what happens:

3-3-5-against3x1

Still a stack, just a stack reacting to a 3x1.

Sometimes Roh hops down to be a DE:

4-4-under

You may recognize this from last year; I called it 4-4 under since it is a shifted line, this one away from the (nominal) strength of the formation. Michigan has put RVB out by himself like they did Graham last year, so Roh is doing the exact same thing he did a year before.

I had Michigan down for 40 snaps identified as a stack, 5 in double eagle (which is a short-yardage version of the stack), 5 in the 4-4 under, 5 in which they were in their "nickel rush" package in which it's that four man line with Mouton and Roh as DEs described above, and two goal line plays. 45 of 57 plays is 79% stack, which is even stackier than I thought the defense would be in the Five Questions section of the season preview. That could be an artifact of the opponent and a relatively comfortable day in which Michigan could put away much of the playbook, but, seriously people, all that talk about how it's "not a 3-3-5" and is a "multiple" defense was bunk. It smokes a cigar constantly and gets very frustrated with Jimmy McNulty.

Anyway, on with the show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O39 1 10 Shotgun Trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass PA Bubble Screen C. Gordon -1
UConn opens up with a PA run fake and then throws a bubble; Michigan has three guys in an area with three receivers because Floyd, Johnson, and Gordon are out there. Gordon(+1) reads it and keeps the WR inside of him, where Roh(+0.5) cleans up. No blocks defeated but contain kept. (Tackling +1, Cover +1)
O38 2 11 Shotgun Trips TE ? Run Power Mouton -3
First of what I'm told will be a profusion of awful directorial decisions. UConn gets to the line quickly and snaps the ball as we're doing player introductions. As we come back Mouton and Kovacs are nailing the RB for a sizeable loss. +1 Banks for holding up to a straight double and giving no ground; +1 Mouton for recognizing and getting to the hole before the pulling guard has any chance to get on him. Kovacs also kept contain.
O35 3 14 Shotgun Trips Bunch 3-3-5 stack Penalty False Start -- -5
Banks out, Jones in, Roh to DE on third and long. Also oops.
O30 3 19 Shotgun Trips Bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass Hitch Roh Inc
Michigan rushes three and gets Both Martin(+1) and Roh(+1) through blockers, Martin through a double-team. (Pressure +2). With eight guys in coverage and two guys in his face he has no chance and chucks a hitch well short of a receiver who was going to get like three yards even if he catches it.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q. That went better than expected.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide bunch 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read stretch Kovacs 7
Banks(-2) blown back, crushed to the point where RVB on the backside is closer to the running back than he is. Martin(+1) tears through the line and threatens a tackle for loss, forcing the running back upfield a bit, delaying him. This doesn't matter because Kovacs(-1) takes a block and gets blown back by a WR, forcing Mouton to scrape over the top of him, tripping as he goes. He falls(-1), getting into the lineman's feet; Floyd(+1) comes up on the outside to maintain leverage on the ball and manages to get in a diving shoe-string tackle. Dangerously close to a long gainer.
O27 2 3 Shotgun 2-back 4-4 under Pass Throwback screen Mouton 4
Martin is stunting around and ends up tacking a block from one of the guards releasing downfield; he's there but occupied. Kovacs(+0.5) recognizes the play quickly, coming up outside as Martin gets past his blocker. This forces the RB inside to Mouton(+0.5), who delivers a thumping tackle but ends up falling backwards because this is the FB, not the TB. Everyone did all right. Tackling +1 I guess.
O31 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 4-4 under Run Lead draw Ezeh 8
I sighed in involuntary disgust here, as Ezeh(-2) completely fails to read the draw and goes into a pass drop. Mouton's attacking the LOS on a jammed-up frontside, leaving a big hole between RVB (the weakside DE in the under this year, a la BG last year), and Martin fighting through a double. Roh's slant will get him to the RB if there's the slightest delay--if Ezeh just meets the fullback, but there's no one there, Ezeh eats the fullback six yards downfield, and it's up to Mouton to run him down from behind.
O39 2 2 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 stack Pass FB dumpoff -- 15
Mouton and Floyd blitz; Banks(+1) manages to trundle past the tackle on an inside slant, leaving two guys in Frazer's face(pressure +1), but the flat is wide open(cover -2) for the FB. This looks like a busted coverage given how close Roh and Ezeh are to Kovacs and Johnson, but it's hard to tell who it's on. (RPS -1),
M46 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide bunch 3-3-5 stack Run Down G Mouton? 20
Doomed from the start. Mouton(-1) is up tight to the line outside Banks; he and Banks slant inside at the snap, with Banks actually banging into Martin as those three guys run themselves up the middle of the field as two UConn players pull around. Roh is cut to the ground by two guys, Ezeh has no chance but uselessly run inside a blocker, Floyd eats an OL, and there's a guy into the secondary with blockers. Kovacs forces him inside where Gordon(-0.5) fails to wrap up (tackling -1) but does manage to get the guy to fall on his spin move; other secondary members were there to clean up anyway. (RPS -2),
M26 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 stack Pass PA Post C. Gordon Inc
Dive fake to a pass play with some room in the middle for this post near the goal line as Gordon is late arriving, but not too late. The throw is low and in front of the receiver, taking the guy off his feet and making this probably a 1; Gordon might have had an opportunity to blast the guy if it had been more on target. Receiver cannot dig it out. No pressure at all on a three man rush. (Pressure -1),
M26 2 10 I-Form twins 4-4 under Run Power off tackle Sagesse 3
Roh moves down late and Gordon comes up as another LB, giving about nine guys in the box, give or take Johnson. Mouton and Kovacs set up outside their blockers; Sagesse(+1) holds up against a double, leaving Ezeh(-0.5) a free hitter. He sets up and dives at the RB's feet, taking him off balance but turning zero yards into three; Roh cleans up from the backside. ,
M23 3 7 Shotgun trips Nickel rush Pass Screen Martin Inc
Bangesse pulled for Mike Jones; four man undershifted line w/ Roh, RVB, Martin, and Mouton. Mouton(+1) tears through the LT with a juke move and Roh(+1) roars around the corner. This is actually a fake-right, throw-back-left screen, but Martin(+1) has chopped the RB down in the backfield (no PI behind LOS) and there's no one to go to, so Frazer chucks it into the ground. (Pressure +1) Note that the pass rush moves by Roh and Mouton were legit; neither tackle was looking to release downfield.,
Drive Notes: Blocked FG(41), 7-0, 4 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass WR wheel Johnson Inc
UConn runs a fairly unconvincing bubble screen fake that draws Gordon up on the innermost receiver to the trips side. Johnson(-2) stares at the QB and then goes to the fake, vacating a ton of space behind him on a wheel route for a receiver who heads beyond him. The wide open pass dies in the wind and Michigan is fortunate to escape without giving up 20 yards (Cover -2) Another three man rush; Martin does get to jump at Frazer but can't bat it down.
O20 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Counter Van Bergen 4
Looks like a zone stretch in the backfield, but down blocks on the line and two linemen pull around on counter action. Van Bergen(+1) avoids a cut from one of the pulling linemen, hops over the guy, and tackles as the guy passes the LOS. Not sure what to make of Roh here, as he dangerously goes around the wide receiver blocking him when he's got unblocked guys to the outside. He comes around him fast enough to get in on the tackle. Good or bad?
O24 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel rush Pass Cross Roh Inc
Mouton DE, Martin and RVB DTs, Roh a standup DE, two LB, Johnson lined up basically as a nickelback. Michigan sends six. Roh(+1) doesn't even have to make a move, he just runs right by the tackle, forcing Frazer into an early throw and ending the drive. (Pressure +1) Good chance a crossing route would have come open against Floyd without the pressure.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 1 min 1st Q.
O26 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Pin and pull zone Ezeh -1
See the Smart Football link for a detailed explanation, but basically the two OL on the playside who are lined up to the playside of their guy block down as the other two pull around. Here Martin(+1) fights through his block and absorbs the pulling guy, allowing Ezeh(+1) to attack, drawing the FB's block and delaying the RB. Martin and Sagesse combine to tackle.
O25 2 11 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 stack Pass Jailbreak screen Rogers 8
Ball is way behind the intended receiver and drags him back and outside, turning this into something like an impromptu bubble. Thomas Gordon is in the game and out there along with Rogers; both guys try to get outside leverage, giving the receiver time to hit it up behind the WR blocking for him; Ezeh's not fast enough to get out there. Rogers and Ezeh combine to tackle. Er... I think I'm going to hit Rogers with a -0.5, and probably Ezeh, too, since he did not react that quickly.
O33 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 eagle Pass Quick hitch Rogers Inc
Looks like one of Shafer's old Okie packages with a three deep shell and eight guys threatening something at the LOS, and then the LBs back out and it just looks like a 3-3-5. Another three man rush, UConn has quick throw on; Rogers(+1) is sitting on the little out by the #2 WR and attackis it, breaking it up(!) and even if he hadn't probably tackling short of the sticks. (Cover +1, RPS +1),
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 12 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 stack Pass Corner Johnson 21
Similar problem to the earlier pass in which Johnson got lost and let a guy behind him. Play action fake doesn't really fool anyone as M drops into zone. Johnson(-2) gets a bit of a chuck and then no depth at all, instead running a few yards away from Roh, guarding no one in particular. This time they actually hit the wide open guy for big yardage. (Cover -2, Pressure -1). Another three man rush, this one totally neutralized.
M42 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass Quick out Floyd 9
JT Floyd must be faking a blitz because he heads towards the QB for a few steps and then starts backing out; it is too late since they're just running one of these quick outs and he's the flat guy. Easy pitch and catch and YAC. RPS-1. Coverage -1.
M33 2 1 I-Form 3-wide 4-4 under Run Iso Moundros 0
Roh moves down. Moundros is in; he and Mouton (+0.5 each) both tear into the hole, with Mouton standing up an OL and Moundros the FB; Roh(+0.5) comes from the backside to clean up after the mess.
M33 3 1 I-Form Big 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Roh 4
Either Roh or Moundros screws up because they both head inside and one guy blocks both. Blocker gets driven back a bit and ends up tripping the OL pulling through the hole, allowing Floyd to dart by him and deliver a solid tackle(+1). I blame Roh on review: -1.
M29 1 10 Shotgun Trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle? Mouton 0
Late getting to this play; as we get to it two OL have pulled around and are trying to block Kovacs, Mouton, and Moundros. Mouton(+2) avoids a cut block, leaping over it to deliver a thumping tackle(+1) for no gain.
M29 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass Quick out Rogers Inc
Quick pass zinged high and through the hands of the intended receiver. Rogers(+1) read it well and was coming up to pound the guy on the catch anyway. (Cover +1),
M29 3 10 Shotgun Trips TE Nickel rush Pass TE Cross Kovacs 8
Rush package. Michigan sends six, with Martin(+1) breaking through and threatening terrible things; Frazer has to throw. He does to his TE, who catches it and is immediately tackled (+1, tackle +1, cover +1, RPS+1) by Kovacs short of the sticks.
M21 4 2 I-Form Big 3-3-5 eagle Run Power off tackle Banks 2
This is actually a great play and a stop. Mouton(+1) blasts downhill at the fullback and nails him at the LOS, forcing him back; Banks(+1) shucks the LT, comes under the other puling guard, meets to tackle at the LOS, and gets the hefty Shoemate down seemingly short of the first down. They give him the spot. Maybe I'm wrong... they never show a replay.
M19 1 10 Shotgun Trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Power dive(?) Martin 0
Features a guard pulling around the center, who single blocks Martin, and by single blocks Martin I mean tries to single block Martin. Martin(+2) pwns the guy, comes around, and tackles with some help from Mouton(+0.5).
M19 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass TE Cross Moundros Inc
House sent, getting Moundros free up the middle. He leaps and bats the pass(+1, pressure +1, RPS+1). Floyd may have been in position to do something about it right after the catch, but maybe not.
M19 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel? Pass Dumpoff Roh 3
Kovacs drops back to safety depth; Johnson takes up a position behind the linebackers. Don't know what to call this. Three man rush finds no one open or near the QB until Roh(+0.5) threatens to spring free, forcing the dumpoff that Moundros and Rogers(+0.5) snuff. Cover +1.
Drive Notes: FG(32), 21-3, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass Fly Gordon Inc
Three man rush, so Frazer has plenty of time (pressure -1) to step up and bomb; the pass is long. Receiver had a step on Gordon(-1, cover -1).
O23 2 10 Shotgun Trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass Flare screen Ezeh Inc
I don't know WTF this is, but it develops late and has no prayer to work since Ezeh(+0.5) and Rogers(+0.5) react in time for there to be two guys ready to pound this guy behind the LOS; he drops the ball anyway. Some execution error on UConn's part, surely.
O23 3 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 nickel Pass Dig Ezeh? 21
Another three man rush and plenty of time (pressure -1); this time Frazer finds someone well downfield between guys in the zone and nails him. I don't really blame Ezeh since there's a number of guys who this could be on. Wouldn't surprise me if this is Carvin getting too deep since he seem too close to the safeties. (Cover –2)
O44 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel rush Pass Cross Floyd Inc
Corner blitz gets Roh a free run (pressure +1, RPS+1); Frazer dumps it to a crossing route that the guy drops; Floyd(+0.5) was probably in position to tackle. (Cover +1)
O44 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass HItch Floyd Inc
Johnson(+1) blitzes this time, spooking Frazer into the throw (pressure +1) that short hops; Floyd(+0.5) again seemingly in position to tackle for no YAC afterwards. (Cover +1)
O44 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel rush Pass Dig Kovacs 47
Mouton(+1) smokes the RT and gets in on Frazer(pressure +1). He has to chuck it and does as Kovacs(-2) vacates the middle of the field for some unknown reason. If he just sits back on third and ten he has a deflection or pick. Pass should be caught but is juggled ridiculously, causing Cam Gordon(-2) to alter his path to the receiver because he's going after the ball, that receiver eventually hauls in. Gordon whiffs, Floyd drags him down inside the ten. Cover –2, tackling –2.
M9 1 G Shotgun Trips TE 3-3-5 stack? Run Power off tackle Mouton 2
Get to this play at the snap as the tackles are pulling around. RVB(+1) is quick enough from the backside of the play that the backside tackle bumps into him and gets slowed down, allowing Mouton(+1) to knife upfield and meet the RB at the line; Herron jumps on his back and the pile falls the wrong way.,
M7 2 G I-Form Big 3-3-5 eagle Run Down G Ezeh 4
Mouton(+0.5) again slashes upfield, taking out a blocker; Ezeh(-1) waits and gets blown way downfield and pancaked. If he had held up a little bit the cavalry would have arrived sooner (Herron again) and the gain held down.
M3 3 G I-Form Big Goal line Run Power off tackle Ezeh 2
Kovacs(-1) blitzes into the pull to spill' the play but to do that he's got to make a pile, instead he just gets plowed by the FB. Danger. Roh's coming from behind and starts tripping the guy, Mouton cuts off the outside, Ezeh(+1) fights through the Kovacs traffic to grab Todman. Gordon(+1) delivers the final blow to stop his momentum short.
M1 4 G I-Form Big Goal line Run Power off tackle -- 1
They rush to the line and snap it before M gets set. Frustrating no TO. (RPS-2.)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-10, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O39 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass Flare screen T. Gordon 0
Excellent job by T. Gordon(+1) to gets outside the #2 WR's block and shoot directly inoo the FB's path. He's forced to cut inside, where RVB(+0.5) had avoided a cut and tackles the flying FB for no gain. (Cover +1.)
O39 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Counter pitch Ezeh 17
Counter step like this is going to be a stretch, then the RB heads out for a quick pitch; sort of like what we tried to run last year with the edge pitch that never really came off. Kovacs(+1) reads and attacks, getting past the blocker and threatening to tackle. Mouton(-1) does the same but takes a shove that could be a block in the back and gets shoved out of the way, yielding a hole because Ezeh(-2) is outside the guard who pulled around the other side to block the backside DE. RB can cut inside, running by RVB and into the secondary where Floyd and Gordon tackle.
M44 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Broken play Roh -4
This is supposed to be a power play but the RB goes to pass block. Frazer is dead meat; Roh(+2) does a nice job of avoiding a cut and taking him down for a loss.
M48 2 14 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass PA Corner Mouton 19
Mouton(-2) sucks up on second and fourteen and then drops straight back, ending up no more than two yards from Ezeh on his zone drop and leaving a huge area along the sidelines for UConn to exploit. Floyd(-1) failed to get any depth in a cover two, taking the short guy instead of the deep one. Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to tackle(+1) immediately (cover -2). RVB(+0.5) was getting there on a three-man rush.
M29 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Ezeh 9
Power play they just messed up; Michigan blitzes two guys on the backside of the play, leaving a lot of room and not many guys to the run side. (RPS-1) Martin(-1) is doubled and taken out of the play, then continues to attempt to get upfield instead of spinning back in case there's a tackle opportunity. Meanwhile, Ezeh and Mouton are taking on a WR and a pulling OL; both go outside, leaving Todman an opportunity to cut past Ezeh and into open space. Should Ezeh(-1) attempt to send Todman outside to his help? Yeah, probably. He definitely shouldn't just thunk into the OL and fall over, which he does. Gordon does make a solid tackle(+1).
M20 2 1 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Counter pitch Mouton 4
Same blocking but the counter step and the pitch out. This time Ezeh does recognize it and starts heading out to follow the back, but it doesn't matter because Kovacs(+0.5) and Mouton(+0.5) are all over it; this time Mouton doesn't get a debatably legal shove in the back and tackles, albeit weakly, yielding a first down.
M16 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Down G Mouton 6
Roh(+1) times a blitz into the heart of the line well, drawing a guard and erasing the pulling OL. Kovacs(+1) reads it, beats an OL block, and hops around the guy to grab and tackle; Mouton(-1) should be a free hitter here since Roh took two blockers but he stepped away from the play to start and has not given himself an angle to attack. Instead of finishing Kovacs' tackle with a thump he runs by and watches Kovacs dragged a considerable distance.
M10 2 4 I-Form Big 3-3-5 eagle Run Power off tackle Ezeh 1
Pulling guard slips as he comes around the line, allowing Ezeh(+0.5) and Gordon to tackle pretty much unmolested. ,
M9 3 3 Wildcat 3-3-5 stack Run QB power Mouton 3
Mouton(+1) reads and blasts the leading guard, allowing Ezeh a free hit. He forms up and lowers his shoulder, getting the tackle just short of the sticks. Would like it if he was a little faster to the hole and brought some momentum.
M6 4 In I-Form Big 3-3-5 eagle Run Down G Floyd -4
Mouton blitzes and is erased by a downblock; Kovacs kicked out, Ezeh manages to get past one guard only to get crushed off his feet by a second; Floyd is free and fills, putting his head on the ball(+2), jarring it free; Ezeh has it pop to him, recovering.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 24-10, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O28 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 stack Pass Hitch Floyd Inc
Looks like some miscommunication as the receiver is not near the ball at all. Floyd(+1, cover +1) is, and if this is a little lower he's got a shot at a pick.
O28 2 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 stack Pass Angle Patterson Inc
Michigan rushes two(!), dropping Patterson into a short zone in front of the fullback that happens to be where Frazer's outlet is. The ball clanks off Patterson's pads. (RPS+1, cover+1, Patterson+1.)
O28 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass Dumpoff Mouton 9
Roh and Mouton blitz off the edges, with Mouton(+1) coming around and threatening a sack; Jibreel Black(+1) has also fought through, preventing Frazer from stepping up. He has to get rid of it, picking a five-yard dumpoff to the FB. Floyd(-1) has dropped into that deep zone that the corner routes were exploiting earlier and does not react quickly enough to tackle at the snap; Ezeh(-0.5) is in decent position but his tackle attempt is mostly powered through, setting up fourth and short instead of fourth and two. (Pressure +1)
O37 4 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run Iso -- 2
Todman burrows for the first. Martin has been out most of the last two drives, BTW, and Black is playing in RVB's stead--they're basically packing it in. Black does get through the line and almost finds himself in position to thump this, but not quite.
O39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Power dive Ezeh 14
Martin(-1) is pass rushing and gets way out of position, opening a crease. Ezeh(-1) sits there, not challenging a blocker, and gets pushed out of the way without delaying a tailback; Roh(-1) starts a pass drop too soon and can't recover. I guess some of this is understandable given the situation, but Roh should tackle(-1) anyway and does not.
M47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass Dumpoff -- Inc
Martin(+1) is triple(!) teamed on a three-man rush and still manages to claw through to spook Frazer into a throw to the underneath dumpoff (cover +1), which the guy can't handle, dropping it instead of getting his five yards.
M47 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Counter Martin 15
Martin(-1) appears to be pass rushing again, hopping to the wrong side of the C here and getting single-blocked, which leaves two guys pulling and another two releasing. Roh(-1) comes up too hard to the outside, getting kicked out; Ezeh(-1) just gets shoved out of the play.
M32 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Pin and pull zone Ezeh 4
Jones(-1) is tardy reading the play and bumps into Ezeh, causing him to trip a little; Ezeh(+1) however, is reading it fast and flows to the hole well enough to get a diving tackle. Kovacs(+0.5) squeezed it down so the RB would have to cut back into help.
M28 2 6 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass Quick out Rogers Inc
Variation on the long handoff, I guess, as the outside WRs run slants and the inside guy runs parallel to the LOS, turning back for the ball. He drops it; didn't matter since Michigan was going to crush it anyway. (Rogers +1, cover +1)
M28 3 6 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle Banks 3
Michigan sends the house but UConn manages to run by it. (RPS-2) Michigan is very fortunate that Banks(+1) can make a diving tackle on the TB, otherwise he scores.
M25 4 3 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Counter Ezeh 2
Same counter they were just gashed on. Roh(+0.5) manages to squeeze down enough for the RB to run up in an area where Ezeh(+2) has a chance. He's blocked but he discards the guy and makes a lunging tackle that sees the RB short of the sticks.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 30-10, 9 min 4th Q. Michigan strangles the game; the last Uconn drive was meaningless and saw Michigan adopt a prevent; it's not charted.

I'm noticing a distinct lack of ichor seeping from the clawed-out holes that used to be my eyes.

Yeah, that was dodgy but far from the worst-case scenario.

They completed less that half their passes!

Yeah, how about that. How about that.

Chart?

Chart.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 3 - 3 Not exactly BG, but I don't think he has to be if it's a stack.
Martin 8 3 5 Late minuses for getting too pass-rush-y. Demands doubles. Good start.
Banks 5 2 3 Line will probably be something akin to this all year.
Sagesse 1 - 1 Eh.
Patterson 1 - 1 Had ball thrown into chest.
Black 1 - - Decent debut.
TOTAL 19 5 14 Were working uphill most of the day with Michigan going to a lot of three-man rushes, so this is okay.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 6 9.5 -3.5 Well, when you're almost beaten out by a walk-on it's for a reason.
Mouton 11.5 6 5.5 Smells like progress. DE moonlighting was effective.
Roh 7.5 3 4.5 Odd reliance on three man rushes.
Johnson 1 4 -3 Culprit on one long pass play and another that should have been a long pass play.
T. Gordon 1 - 1 Eh?
Jones - 1 -1 Part of the pass defense package, FWIW.
Moundros 1.5 - 1.5 Not much data.
Herron - - - Did not register a point on his drive.
TOTAL 26.5 23.5 3 Going to take a bit to get a feel for the new scheme, but they appeared to do all right. Mouton and Roh are going to be in a lot of backfields.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 6 2 4 Guh?
Rogers 4 0.5 3.5 Wha?
Kovacs 5 4 1 Keeping his head above water.
C. Gordon 2 3.5 -1.5 I don't really blame him for the long pass too much.
Talbott - - - Garbage time.
Christian - - - Garbage time.
M. Robinson - - - DNP on D.
Ray Vinopal - - - Spinal Tap's current drummer.
TOTAL 17 10 7 !?!?!?
Metrics
Pressure 11 4 7 In retrospect, a better than than I thought.
Coverage 12 12 0 Even ==  major win for any secondary.
Tackling 6 4 2 No outright misses.
RPS 5 9 -4 Maybe not showing your hand?

[A reminder: RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]

Are you telling me that every member of the secondary had a great day except Gordon?

Uh… maybe? UConn's deeper completions were on Kovacs, Ezeh, or Gordon, with the corners mostly hanging out in the flats and punishing short passes, which they did very well. And because of all those short passes the cover number is even. That's a good result for any secondary, let alone what we thought would go down with these guys.

Caveats abound. Michigan dropped eight into coverage a lot. UConn's solitary receiver with any talent got a step on Floyd and Gordon once only to see Frazer miss, and that guy dropped a couple of tough-ish catches. The wind may have prevented UConn from testing Michigan over the top much. Frazer is thoroughly mediocre. They kept dumping it to squat white guys. Etc etc.

But even if all those things were true we've seen magnificently flaming failure time and again from Michigan secondary members. On Saturday the only hint of that was the ridiculous bobbling catch that went for 47 yards, and it's hard to blame Gordon for altering his path when he saw the ball pop skyward and he thought he could intercept it. The rest of the day he took excellent angles to the ball and delivered blows. There was one shoulder-block of a tackle that came as Floyd was wrapping a guy up; other than that and the bomb he looked pretty solid. If every game ends with an opponent's longest run checking in at 20 yards, he will be a hero.

Wither Brandon Graham?

Zero sacks from 38 attempts is not an encouraging statistic. But when I looked at it closer it came out to 11-4 = 7, which is a good, if numerically low day. Mouton, Martin, and Roh flashed hints that they'll be able to get to the passer regularly, and RVB and Black chipped in a little help. On a lot of Frazer's errant or short-of-the-sticks throws he had little choice but to dump it off to the squat white guy lest he eat facemask.

UConn may not be the most talented team Michigan plays this year but it might be the most experienced: Frazer is a senior, as are three of the offensive linemen, with the others a junior and sophomore. They returned for starters on the line and both guys in the backfield. Last year they were solidly above average in sacks allowed despite the statue quarterback; they should be better this year. And they didn't bother trying deep passes or long-developing routes more than a few times. It'll be interesting to see what happens against Notre Dame, as they only return their guards from last year's offensive line and will be starting Dayne Crist for only the second time.

That nickel rush package looks promising. I wouldn't want to try to pass block against Roh, Mouton, Martin, and RVB.

How are the initial returns on the GERG Linebacker Magic theory?

Good, but not great. It's not much of a surprise when you juuuust barely beat out a walk-on for your job but Obi Ezeh's progress has been incremental at best. He did make a nice play on the last defensive play charted up there but there was an awful lot of Ezeh getting shoved around like a rag doll and even one instance of those horrible times last year when he'd go into a pass drop on a run play. I mean:

That's pretty much what his day was like. Do something sort of right, get hammered to the ground. It's really frustrating that the second best option is not only a walk-on but a walk-on who's not even going to be around next year. There are picture pages to follow with more detail.

On the other hand, Jonas Mouton didn't do anything I remember as really frustrating. There were the usual errors that come along with being a linebacker, a couple of instances of late recognition, and maybe a coverage issue or two, but he did look good. Numerically he put in his best day since he was a sophomore.

Roh looked good too. He looked far more dangerous as a pass rusher than he ever did as a freshman and did not make a ton of linebacker errors.

So was this… good?

I don't know. Michigan was playing a lot of bend, don't break and they bent and they didn't break much. Even on UConn's long drives they had to put together fourth down conversions. It would be nice if Michigan could keep those stops a yard or so shorter and force punts, but that seems like random fortune instead of something repeatable.

The shortness of the game—just eight real drives each—overstated how efficient the defense was, so don't let that yardage total influence you too much (especially if you're looking at the sub-300 total from before the last drive. By result:

  • Three and outs: 3
  • Somewhat fluky two-minute drill touchdowns: 1
  • 40-60 yard drives ending in bupkis or FG: 4

I'd be livid if this was 2002, but it's 2010 and the secondary is comprised of baling wire and duct tape. I'll take that, assume opponents can get to 24 points in a normal length game when they don't waste drives like UConn did, and say "outscore them, Denard."

This was the thing about the UConn game: there are only eight clips above. That's less than half the usual number, and that's because there weren't hugelong unexplainable touchdowns that needed to be present so I could give someone a big minus without also providing the evidence; there also weren't many OMG AWESOME plays. Michigan had just 4 TFLs. UConn had 11. It was a boring, boring day from the defense.

Maybe that's not good, exactly. But maybe it's good enough.

Heroes?

The cornerbacks! Jonas Mouton! !!!!

Also less thrillingly weird, Mike Martin.

Goats?

Ezeh mostly, but Banks, RVB, and Sagesse need to turn in some more plays. RVB did not have a good day.

What does it mean for Notre Dame?

Oh, God, who knows? I'm about 75% of my way through the Purdue game and the offense looks very similar to UConn's except replace Juggly McHusky with Mike Floyd and I'm A Good Big East Back with what looks like a pretty rampage-y Armando Allen and that's a recipe for the above drive breakdown minus the bupkis.

On the other hand, UConn's OL has got to be a bunch better and if Michigan gets pressure by running past the pretty trundling OTs Crist is liable to freak out. In a word: variance.

Preview 2010: Secondary

Preview 2010: Secondary

Submitted by Brian on August 30th, 2010 at 2:42 PM

Previously: The Story.

never_forget-500 Never forget.

What's the point of anything?

I ask this question for reasons existential and practical. Earlier this summer Eleven Warriors pinged me for some help previewing Michigan's defense, so I talked about Mike Martin and the rest of the promising defensive line and mentioned the trouble at linebacker; the section on the secondary was simply this: "rank them last." At this point Justin Turner was still on the team and Troy Woolfolk's ankle was unaware of what Angry Michigan Secondary Hating God had in store for it.

When it, he, and we found out AMSHG's true power in mid-August I started drinking immediately, resulting in a night where I finally used twitter as God intended by blathering about having a power drill, burning my elbow on tea, coughing, not coughing, and finally drinking a horrible concoction of Cointreau with anything (the whiskey had been exhausted) and eating cold squash pakora with a slice of American cheese while mournfully contemplating everything from Mike Floyd to whatever 5'8" guy UMass will throw out there this year. The next day Henri the Otter of Ennui made his earliest-ever appearance on the blog (setting a record that will probably stand for all time) while I enumerated the options left at corner, mentioning Richard Nixon twice before a nominal first-string player at the semi-public fall scrimmage. Even if I've calmed down since, and I have a little bit, that's the existential chunk.

The practical chunk: the probable starters at corner, safety, and the safety-ish position that was called spinner (except when Greg Robinson was denying such a concept ever existed) and is now called spur are:

  • at free safety, a redshirt freshman
  • at spur, a true freshman (who will be treated as a linebacker, FWIW)
  • at bandit, a redshirt sophomore walk-on
  • at one corner, a redshirt sophomore pulled in favor of Mike Williams last year, and
  • at the other corner, a true freshman.

Meanwhile, literally every backup except the aforementioned Williams has never played a meaningful snap at Michigan because they arrived two months ago or, in the case of James Rogers, was just one of those guys who seems like they're never going to play from day one. I could just point you to their recruiting profiles, tell you they'll be in the conversation for worst secondary in the league, and resume cowering in a closet. Previewing this position group is almost totally pointless: I've never really seen anyone play. They're probably going to be bad.

If this is an insufficient description of the situation, though, well, here's all this stuff. 

Cornerback

Rating: 1.

Corner #1 Yr. Corner #2 Yr.
JT Floyd So.* Cullen Christian Fr.
Courtney Avery Fr. James Rogers Sr.*
Terrence Talbott Fr. Tony Anderson Jr.*#

[* = player has taken redshirt. # = walk-on.]

Technically, the position preview scale goes from one to five. Nothing has ever gotten a zero before even jokingly, not even the 2008 offensive line that consisted of seven guys who could plausibly play and actually started a defensive tackle who had been switched in the middle of fall camp. But I thought about it here. What Michigan has to offer at corner is going to be substandard unless a great miracle falls from the sky, and will probably be no better than last year's fare even before Woolfolk moved.

jt-floyd-vs-indiana

JT FLOYD

SMOKED LIKE GANJA
The big touchdown.
NOT FAST
doomed from the start
MADE A PLAY!
knocking it down
fade cover

The single person at this position who Michigan fans have seen on the field is redshirt sophomore JT Floyd. On the one hand, he was so overmatched last year that Michigan decided they should move Troy Woolfolk to his spot and unleash Mike Williams on the world; Williams promptly gave up a third-and-twenty-four conversion to Iowa and was subsequently swapped with freshman walk-on Jordan Kovacs, leaving a tiny, slow, inexperienced guy no one even recruited in the most critical spot on the defense. This went exactly as well as you might expect. The coaches thought this was preferable to having Floyd on the field.

For my part, the Indiana UFR waved a white flag even at 4-0:

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.

So did the game column:

Seeing an Indiana freshman zip past not only the walk-on safety gamely pretending he doesn't run a 4.8 but the scholarship, potentially-starting cornerback not named Donovan Warren was alarming. If JT Floyd is going to play corner in the Big Ten he's going to do it ten yards off the line of scrimmage.

Floyd held onto his job for the Michigan State game, but that game saw Michigan adopt a fundamentally unsound formation featuring Floyd in the parking lot. State exploited this with a ton of virtually uncontested wide receiver screens:

They then countered those with the outside pitches that were the only consistently successful running plays Michigan State managed all day (QB scrambles were another story). Floyd may not have gotten smoked deep but it was only because he was playing Hail Mary defense all game. Seeing how untenable that situation was, Michigan's coaches made the move to Woolfolk at corner, thus opening up the already pretty much wide open floodgates. Except for sporadic plays and special teams duty, thus ended Floyd's participation in the 2009 season.

On the other hand, the coaches have been talking up his improvement since spring and have continued to do so through fall. Rodriguez 4/13: Floyd has "played well." Rodriguez 8/2: Floyd is coming off "a great spring." Also on 8/2: Rodriguez expresses "particular confidence" in Floyd and drops the t-bomb—"tremendous." Greg Robinson 8/11: Floyd is showing "a lot of progress." A spring practice source: Floyd is "vastly improved." And Robinson and Gibson on 8/25:

"J.T. Floyd may have been the guy that made the biggest jump from last season to the end of spring ball in so many ways," Robinson said on Sunday. "There's nothing any different - he's just worked really hard. J.T. just has a way about him - he leads well and his work habits - he's just a harder worker than he was at this time last year."

Gibson concurs. "He's done such a complete turnaround. You just take last year at this time, and he was just a guy really trying to work to the point that he’s at right now, and he’s done it."

UFR '09: JT Floyd
Opponent + - T Comments
WMU - 5 -5 Yikes.
Indiana 4.5 8 -3.5 Tries hard. Clearly
physically deficient.
MSU 3 3 0 I'll take it.
Wisconsin - 1 -1 Eh.

How meaningful is any of this? The fear is not very. This is replica of the Johnny Sears hype down to the sweet dreads: after being largely responsible for that heart-stopping moment when Ball State had a first and goal with a shot to tie Michigan in the '06 season, Johnny Sears was in line for a starting cornerback job after the graduation of Leon Hall. Sears was talked up all offseason, failed miserably during the Horror, was quickly yanked for true freshman Donovan Warren, and was off the team a month into the 2007 season. While that outcome is an negative outlier even with Angry Michigan Secondary-Hating God at full wroth, it goes to show that sometimes a coach praising a kid who's struggled and is being thrust into a prominent role is more hope than anything else. Our best hope may be that anonymous spring observer, who has no reason to pump up a kid in the hopes he'll keep it together.

Floyd was just a freshman last year and should improve significantly. The chatter's consistent enough and from enough sources that some of it is probably real. Average is about all anyone can hope for, though.

cullen-christian-action

The other corner spot will probably (50.1%!) end up in the hands of freshman Cullen Christian. James Rogers had a tentative hold on the first string in the semi-public fall scrimmage that he maintained to the release of the fall depth chart, but since he hasn't played at all in his Michigan career—not even when the walls were falling in last year—he's likely to cede that by the time the season rolls around. If not by then, probably by the Big Ten season.

Christian gets the ultra-tentative nod here simply by virtue of his recruiting rankings, which were strong. He checked in a near five-star at Scout, a top 100 guy at Rivals, and hit three other top 100 lists. He's not a burner; his main assets are his size (6'1"), leaping ability, and excellent hips. ESPN praised his "coveted size, quickness, fluidity and savvy" and said he would enter college "ahead of the curve in terms of technique, understanding of coverages and size," and assessment basically echoed by Rivals and the rest of the chattering class. His main problem is tackling, at which he's pretty sucky.

How doomed is Michigan here? Still pretty doomed. But it is worth pointing out that if there's one spot on defense where a freshman can walk onto the field and not spoil everything, it's corner, where conservative play and safety help can mitigate the damage.

What, Me Backups?

The backups are unknowns or freshmen. The aforementioned James Rogers was a lanky high school tailback reputed to have great straight-line speed but no hips; Michigan took him as a flier recruit. He has not panned out, bouncing from wide receiver to cornerback for the duration of his career.

Rogers did come in for some fall fluff during Rodriguez's post-scrimmage presser:

James Rogers is a senior that has played over that position. He has had a really good camp. Some of the young freshman that are competing out there at that position … Again, James Rogers is a veteran. He has been around a little bit, so we have a little experience with James out there as well.

He has to play and may even get the bulk of the time early. The assumption here is that even if he's currently ahead of the freshmen he probably won't remain so for very long.

sns103109spSpringfieldFB2 courtney-avery
Talbott #14 left, Avery right

The two remaining freshmen are extremely similar. Terrence Talbott and Courtney Avery are middling three-star types from Ohio; Avery is probably the better athlete, since he was a star quarterback; Talbott is more polished since he's been a full-time corner but spent a lot of his high school career injured. Both approached but did not get four stars on one of the big three recruiting sites; both got "meh" from the other two; both are generously listed at 5'10" and truthfully listed at 165 pounds. They need 20 pounds before they're anything approximating Big Ten corners. Instead they get thrown into the fire immediately.

Talbott in a sentence:

The book on Talbott: short, smart, agile, excellent in coverage but needs a year or two to bulk up for college.

I don't have anything quite as neat on Avery but both Scout and ESPN praise his "exceptional athleticism" while calling him very, very small.

Reports out of fall camp have been conflicting, with certain folk claiming one or the other will play, possibly a lot, while the other is way too small and a guaranteed redshirt. There wasn't much to tell them apart during the scrimmage; whichever one does get drafted into playing this year is going to play a lot of conservative zone coverage and miss a lot of tackles.

There were rumors Kelvin Grady might get a shot at corner but with Martavious Odoms apparently moving outside full-time there's room for him to play at slot and he's been prominent this fall; if he does end up moving it will be a midseason panic thing. Teric Jones was moved back to offense after spending a year trying to learn cornerback, getting moved to safety, and then getting moved to cornerback again; obviously he's just not a D-I caliber player on D.

Safety

Rating: 2, generously

Bandit/SS Yr. Free Safety Yr.
Jordan Kovacs So.*# Cam Gordon Fr.*
Marvin Robinson Fr. Jared Van Slyke Jr.*#
-- -- Vlad Emilien Fr.*

[* = player has taken redshirt. # = walk-on, or former walk-on]

111409_SPT_UM v WU_MRMSafety has been the positional bête noir of the Michigan fan for going on a decade now but things had never been as black or beastly as they were last year, when Boubacar Cissoko's epic flameout forced Michigan to go with the doomed Jordan Kovacs-Mike Williams combination. Williams was the most confused, least useful player I've ever broken down film of; Kovacs was just slow and small. Their powers combined in episodes like "Iowa tight ends are open by 15 yards," "We don't have a guy in the deep middle on third and twenty four," and "What would Juice Williams be like if he was an unstoppable 500-foot-tall robot?"

Williams has been shuffled off to third- or fourth-team spur to cover punts for all eternity,  but the situation here is hardly less bleak than it was a year ago. Jordan Kovacs is now a sophomore walk-on and probable starter. Last year he debuted against Notre Dame, was one of two Michigan secondary members to be blazed on the infamous 85-yard Indiana touchdown, and then actually started making a name for himself as a solid box safety in the Michigan State game:

Jordan Kovacs registered a +4.5 and is single-handedly responsible for about half of the + tackles Michigan saw yesterday … Kovacs provided hard-nosed run defense that makes me think he'll be a positive contributor going forward.

Williams imploded in the next game, Michigan dropped Kovacs to free safety, and the walls caved in. The dividing line was clear as day in UFR:

 
UFR '09: Jordan Kovacs
Opponent + - T Notes
Notre Dame 1 - 1 Nice story.
EMU 2 1 1 Hasn't cost Michigan anything yet..
Indiana 3 4 -1 Hardy, but slow.
Michigan State 7.5 3 4.5 Some of these were just backside blitzes that he tackled on, but he did tackle. At other times he displayed a real knack for getting to  ballcarriers.
Iowa 2.5 3 -0.5 Missed one tackle, made another few, good downhill box safety.
Penn State 1 6 -5 Just can't play a deep half.
Illinois - 3 -3 Again burned as a deep half safety.
Purdue 1 5 -4 Enormous bust #3.
Wisconsin 4 4 0 Did pretty okay. No idea why they moved him to deep safety; he's pretty effective in the box.

The Mike Williams bit is handled in the linebackers and has more on just how disastrous a switch this was, but the morals of the story: Kovacs cannot play free safety and is pretty effective as a tiny linebacker when he doesn't have to take on linemen.

JORDAN KOVACS

EFFECTIVE RUN BLITZER
jet past blockers
tackles Caper from behind
takes down the RB
WOULD BE A GREAT LB IF HE WAS 50% BIGGER
shoot up through a gaping hole
doesn't bite on the bubble fake
NOT FAST
doomed from the start
bails and bails

Michigan moves him back to tiny linebacker this fall, but it's not that easy. When Steve Sharik explained how you defend four verticals in the three-deep coverage Michigan would love to play all year if they can get away with it, he made it clear such a move was how you draw it up but not how it plays out much: frankly, three deep, one-high coverage sucks against four verticals. You know how a bunch of Michigan's passing plays in spring and fall came when the quarterbacks nailed the slot receivers in between levels in zone coverage? That's what happens, Larry, when you meet a stranger in the alps by playing exclusively one-high coverage.

So Kovacs is going to have to cover a deep half sometimes. This won't go very well, and Michigan's defense will be limited by it. On the other hand, the run defense shouldn't be nearly as bad with Kovacs filling the weakside alley; last year he racked up 75 tackles despite the late start. Marvin Robinson will press Kovacs for his job, but probably not take it. Iowa and Wisconsin have gotten away with players like him for years.

Freshman safety Cameron Gordon plays in Michigan's spring football game on Saturday, April 17, 2010 at the Big House.  (ARIEL BOND/Daily)

At free safety is this year's Grady Brooks memorial King of Spring Hype award: Cam Gordon. Though Gordon was recruited as a wide receiver, everyone on the planet expected he'd get his token chance at the position and then get flipped to defense, where Michigan desperately needed bodies and he projects better anyway.

This duly happened, except when Gordon and his 6'3" frame moved it was to free safety, not linebacker. This was pretty weird, and it got weirder still when the hype machine starter cranking out superlative after superlative. A sampling follows. Rodriguez:

“Cam Gordon has been really consistent all spring,” Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said. We’re “really getting some confidence with him.”

MGoBlog's own Tom Van Haaren reporting back from some conversations with players on the team:

Cameron Gordon is the most surprising for everyone. His name keeps coming up. I’ve heard that he tackles well and has really good coverage skills. The people I’ve talked to say he’s just a natural ball hawk. Good decision to move him to safety.

By the spring game he was the undisputed starter at free safety; he managed to get through that without anyone even noticing him. In the safety business this is a win.

Unfortunately, Gordon struggled in the fall scrimmage, failing to wrap up on a number of tackles. Rodriguez was sticking to his guns afterward:

"Yesterday was not his best day practice wise, but other than that, he has a really good camp. He is a very physical guy and the game is really important to him. Again, he has not played. He has not played in the big stage yet. There is going to be nerves and there are going to be some mistakes, but he has just got to limit them… we look for a big year for him even though he is a redshirt freshman.”

As a redshirt freshman, a "big year" would be wrapping up his tackles and not letting anyone behind him for crippling long touchdowns. With his lack of blazing speed and inexperience, actually making plays seems out of the question. Misopogon dedicated a couple of his epically researched posts to the safety play and found that Brandent Englemon's traditional 1-0-1 as a junior was actually the second best performance of any safety in the UFR era (with Jamar Adams obviously finishing first).

Repeating that +0.7 per game would go a very long way towards bringing Michigan's defense back from the dead. That's optimistic. Cam Gordon will chase more than a couple opponents into the endzone. But not on third and twenty-four.

Backups

marvin-robinson-abs marvin-robinson-no-shirt

Marvin Robinson is the most shirtless recruit in the world

If you've been watching the Countdown to Kickoff videos frequently, you've probably experienced the same sort of cognitive dissonance I have when #3 comes roaring in from somewhere else and whacks a guy to the ground authoritatively or picks off an errant pass. This is not the competent-to-good LB hybrid version of Stevie Brown, it's Marvin Robinson, Michigan's first great hope for bandit. As a true freshman, the book on Robinson is contained in his recruiting profile, but you're probably familiar with the general outline by now: hyped Florida recruit enamored with Michigan since a freshman trip to Michigan's summer camp, early offers from USC, Florida, and the rest of the world, precipitous fall in the rankings, still a highly regarded prospect with athleticism Jordan Kovacs can only dream of.

Robinson's early performance has him pushing Kovacs. Woofolk noticed him even before practice started, and Greg Robinson knows a lady-killer when he sees one:

"I know this: he walks around the building looking really good."

His performance in fall was highlight-heavy and caught the attention of his teammates. He finished second to Jonas Mouton when AnnArbor.com media day poll asked who the hardest hitter on the team was. Ricardo Miller was one vote:

"When he comes to hit, everyone knows it. I think he's cracked his helmet twice this camp, and if that doesn't show you enough that he can, I don't know what could."

Robinson has huge size and speed advantages on Kovacs and will certainly play this fall, possibly as a passing-down replacement, possibly as something more. In an ideal world he would be so good he would ease Kovacs out of his starting role by midseason. I don't think that's likely since the bandit position is extremely complicated, but I do expect some sort of platoon where Robinson gets ahold of some parts of the playbook he executes better than Kovacs and is brought in regularly.

 Michigan freshman safety Vladimir Emilien snares a pass during Thursday afternoon, August 20th's practice at the Michigan practice facility. 
Lon Horwedel | Ann Arbor.com
At deep safety, Vlad Emilien still seems like the first option behind Gordon but his initial returns have been discouraging. He enrolled early—giving him just as much experience as Kovacs—and then never played, Turner-style, despite the debacle going down on the field. Word was that the senior-year knee injury that cost him almost all of his senior season and his Ohio State offer lingered through the year. With that almost two years in the past now that can no longer be an excuse—any damage still lingering is permanent.

There may be some, as it was Emilien who was left in the dust by Roy Roundtree on the 97-yard strike from Denard Robinson in the spring game; Teric Jones caught and passed Emilien en route. Getting instantly passed by a position-switching guy the same class as you is a bad indicator, as is ending up behind a walk-on on the depth chart.

That walk-on is Jared Van Slyke, about whom nothing is known except his father is really good at baseball. True freshman Ray Vinopal (recruiting profile) is also at free safety. Rodriguez did mention him as a guy who has "a chance" to play this fall, he didn't show up on the first depth chart and he's probably going to redshirt.

The deep safety situation is grim past Gordon; if he doesn't work out you're either starting two walk-ons, moving up Emilien, who doesn't seem ready, or shuffling Robinson and or Kovacs around.

Fall Scrimmage Roundup: Yes, Denard

Fall Scrimmage Roundup: Yes, Denard

Submitted by Brian on August 23rd, 2010 at 4:05 PM

So I find myself in an extremely bizarre position: Michigan had a semi-public scrimmage on Saturday that I and a few hundred others attended after donating to Motts or buying the big baller seats. If you've been on the internet since Saturday you've noticed probably dozens of reports on message boards, the diaries here, other blogs, and one local radio host's (pretty inaccurate) tweets. Also there's a highlight video from the official site:

But they specifically told myself, MVictors, Scout, Rivals, and Craig Ross that "nothing was to be reported" from the scrimmage. This worked as well as you might imagine, leaving us on the sidelines as everyone with a username throws vague information around. So here's a bizarre roundup of things other people said on the internets and in my inbox that doesn't involve personal reporting. This lion is caged.

Quarterbacks

DenardRobinsonWMU

Popular sentiment holds that Denard is the man:

looks comfortable, made some nice throws, seems in charge of the O.  Wouldn't want to have to tackle him.

The man:

Unless something crazy happens between now and September 4, Denard Robinson is your clear starter at quarterback. The quarterbacks weren’t live today, but Robinson still managed to carve up the second-team defense (running the first-team offense, of course) with his legs and his arm. His made good decisions with the ball and his passes were on the money, and he took a QB draw 40+ yards to the house — only Denard makes that play, and he made it look easy.

The man:

He will absolutely start as he is clearly the leader on the team. He had the most energy during warm-ups, was the first one and the fastest one doing stretch drills, and was clearly the first-team QB of the day during the 'scrimmage'. He hit a nice 23-ish yard pass on a WICKED play fake to Grady. And then ran it in for another 25 or so on a QB draw, juking a DB as he went. Enough to even get the sidelines "ooh-ing".

The man:

Prior to seeing this scrimmage I was a fan of Tate and would tell anyone who asked, that Tate would be the starter. After watching the scrimmage, D-Rob will be the starter. He was much better in the pocket, made good decisions when faced with getting rid of the ball or being sacked with loss of yards, and his exchanges were very good. Think about some of the ball fakes that Juice Williams had. D-Rob isn't there yet, but he will be.

That longish pass was the a half-roll at about 2:00 in the highlights on which Robinson pulled up and nailed Terrance Robinson between the numbers and between levels in the zone. An emailer suggested that he wouldn't have believed it possible without the spring game. Also, at the end of practice they had the team run a lap around the field four times. It's "a little tough to tell" because each position group starts from a different place on the field, but 3 of the 4 times Denard was the first player on the team to finish. (Ray Vinopal seemed to win the last one.) That's "more a measure of endurance than speed."

Robinson actually got a lot less run than the other two quarterbacks, finding himself on the bench as Forcier and Gardner (and Jack Kennedy) alternated series late; when he did get on the offense would score quickly, further depressing his reps. To me that reads like the decision is already made and they are being somewhat cautious.

Conflicting reports on Gardner and Forcier. Ace's take:

Devin Gardner, running mostly with the twos, looked at times like a seasoned veteran, but he had a couple throws — including an ugly interception to Marvin Robinson — that reminded everyone he is just a freshman. His natural ability could lead to him seeing the field this year, but I think it’s safe to say he’s probably a year away from really pushing for the starting job. Really like his poise in the pocked and running ability, however, and it would have been interesting to see what he could have done if the quarterbacks were live. Tate Forcier started with the threes but saw snaps with the ones and twos as well — he looked solid throwing the ball, but made a couple poor reads on zone running plays.

Gardner came in for a lot of praise but a trusted observer in the inbox says "Gardner made a number of bad decisions under pressure." There that Marvin Robinson interception reminiscent of the slo-mo-nooooo plays last year; observer also cited a strong tendency for Gardner to panic and chuck off his back foot when blitzers got through. He suggested that in a scrimmage with more blitzing—it was exceedingly rare—Forcier would have probably looked clearly better than Gardner. While a few folk are saying there is "NO WAY" Gardner redshirts, TO thought he was at best even with Forcier and given that should watch from the sidelines. He made more big errors than anyone else.

In drills, Tate looked best, FWIW.

Running Backs

Hopkins was the name on everyone's tongue after a day spent running through arm tackles and showing surprising shiftiness. He "hit the holes and was a load to take down." Trusted Observer said he had a hard time picking out Hopkins before the scrimmage, as he looked like PJ Hill in the spring but after losing ten pounds and reshaping maybe a dozen others into muscle "now looks like a tailback" instead of a moonlighting fullback.

One negative note:

I didn't think Hopkins looked as great as everyone else did.  Not a diss on his play - he ran very hard - but I didn't see the world beater others did.  Much like the other scrimmages, all the RBs looked good, but none really stood out.  We have options in Cox and Shaw.  Though V. Smith, as reported, looks great - no noticeable effects from the injury.

Vincent Smith Ace and others also noted that Vincent Smith seems 100% healthy; you can see him dance his way down to the two in the highlights above on one of his better runs on the day. TO said it looked like he was tentatively first team with Mike Shaw second but "both those guys fumbled and I wouldn't put much stock in that."

Mike Cox continued to show that he might be the best athlete amongst the running backs, but on two separate instances he caused Rodriguez to "lose it" by cutting way back against the grain, turning a modest gain into nothing by dancing at the line of scrimmage. On one "there was a gap on the frontside but he cut all the way behind the backside tackle," losing yardage and causing RR to chew him out; on the second "RR just dropped his headset in disgust."

Toussaint did not play due to an injury.

Wide Receiver

If you're looking at playing time in this scrimmage as a signal as to which freshmen wideouts will play, your "leaders in order" are Jerald Robinson, Drew Dileo, Jeremy Jackson, Ricardo Miller, and finally DJ Williamson. Yeah, Dileo, who looked "natural fielding punts and catching the ball in drills" despite being "fricking tiny." Robinson got a lot of playing time but "dropped everything."

As for the veterans, the nominal first team was the same it was in spring with Martavious Odoms spending a lot of time outside with Darryl Stonum; Roy Roundtree was in the slot but "did not play much" probably because "they know he's the guy." In his stead Robinson and Grady got most of the playing time, with Gallon around but "not doing much." Hemingway was on the second team with Stokes.

At TE, Koger, Webb, and Moore "seemed even," with Koger suffering a frustrating drop. Robinson added one, but otherwise the starting WRs caught everything that came their way. It was mostly underneath stuff, probably because of the open nature of the scrimmage.

Offensive Line

Not much here. Molk was in a green shirt and played only sparingly (this was "precautionary"); Khoury was his backup and there were several poor snaps, two or three of which led to drive-killing fumbles. Huyge (left) and Dorrestein (right) were tackles on the first team OL. Lewan was on the second team and played beyond the whistle to the point where he got a personal foul. TO noticed Quinton Washington struggling badly in the post-practice runs, finishing last. Someone, possibly Elliot Mealer, spent practice on the bike with a red jersey. Barnum was a second-team guard and the third-team center.

Coaches kept yelling at Schofield to keep his pad level down.

Defensive Line

TO says he spent most of the scrimmage watching the offense and didn't have much on the D. He did note that Mike Martin finished first easily in the DL group on the runs with Will Campbell lagging behind. Ace highlighted Jibreel Black, who looks like a quick contributor. Another emailer said "Martin is a beast" and didn't get much playing time for precautionary reasons:

“Defensively, Mike Martin has had a tremendous camp. We limited him yesterday because we know what he can do, but he’s been really good and probably our most consistent defensive player since camp started.”

Campbell seemed to be on the third team. Sagesse sat out with an injury, though he was in green, not red.

It does not seem like Martin is moving, so everyone figure out who Greg Banks's backup is.

Linebackers

That stuff about Moundros possibly starting looks accurate:

Moundros starts in the middle, looks like he's been playing there for a while.  A run stuffer certainly.  Middle zone coverage?  Not enough data.  Ezeh also stuffed the run and took on blocks at Mouton's spot.  Roh will be a beast, but given almost all of the throws were short, his pass rush didn't have time to get home.

Not much else here. Ezeh played WLB with Mouton in green. Davion Rogers is "a twig."

Secondary

Ack. Cam Gordon, from reports ranging from some guy…

Vlad will hit you, but we all knew that.  Cam Gordon is going to be very good, I think.  Big boy.  He was in position to make two great tackles, but unfortunately didn't wrapup and was pulled off the field.  Later returned with the 1's.  Going to take some time

…to the coach

“Yesterday probably wasn’t his best day practice-wise, but other than that he’s had a really good camp,” Rodriguez noted.

…to Cam Gordon's royal we

“We were in position to make plays - I was in position - but we didn’t wrap up,” Gordon said. “I think we were all a little excited, especially us young guys to show what we could do and we had a breakdown in fundamentals. But those are easily correctable mistakes.

“Something Coach [Tony] Gibson said to me after our scrimmage was, ‘Cam, every hit doesn’t have to be a big hit.’ That’s a key for me and for all the guys. Any tackle is a good tackle. I don’t have to level somebody because in the stat book they all count the same way. I’ll get better and we’ll get better.”

…did not have a good day. Corners… not much detail. There's this:

JT Floyd looks good, Rogers looks big.  Teric Jones and Christian are your 2's.  Talbott and Avery don't look undersized, and don't look overwhelmed.  Again, hard to judge corner play given the nature of the throws.  But Christian has a way of moving that reminds one of Woodson.

If only. Floyd was pulled early, again likely as a precaution. Robinson looks good, a "big hitter and good tackler."  Mike Williams spent a lot of time playing spur, not doing much of note. A push for a job or a sure starter (Thomas Gordon) getting held out of a high-contact scrimmage?

Special Teams

No worries at punter, where Hagerup's warmups were "just like Zoltan." The section of the practice dedicated to the punt team saw the punts "go straight" and were actually returnable. All were fielded cleanly except one fumble from Terrence Robinson. Here, too, Dileo "looked like a natural," executing a fair catch with aplomb and fielding an array of kickoffs and punts cleanly.

Field goal kicking was limited, with just two attempts. Meram missed from around 40, Gibbons hit from around 35. Kickoffs landed from the 2 to 10, which is about average these days. Kickoff coverage must be run at half speed because every one was returned to about midfield and then blown dead.

Spring Stuff

Spring Stuff

Submitted by Brian on April 1st, 2010 at 3:02 PM

A roundup of Spring Practice happenings, all of which should be taken only somewhat seriously. Steve Breaston was "Black Jesus" before he even set foot on Michigan Stadium turf. Patrick Omameh was instantly the star of Michigan's six-member line class despite his status as the least-heralded of any of them. Meanwhile, the warnings about future Bronco Dann O'Neill were immediate. On the other hand, Grady Brooks was supposed to be a ninja and Kevin Grady a ball of knives. Practice rumblings seem to have the same predictive power as recruiting rankings: far from infallible but equally far from useless.

Quarterback

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson tries to fire a pass to wide receiver Roy Roundtree, but it was picked off by Penn State's Navorro Bowman, one of four Michigan turnovers that helped the Nittany Lions hand Michigan a 35-10 pasting, Saturday, October 24th at Michigan Stadium.
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.comnooooo… oh, that guy looks open. 

Erm, so… yeah. I will believe this two to three years after I see it but apparently Denard Robinson is running with the ones a lot and looks "radically improved," according to one emailer. Forcier seems to have struggled in comparison. I'm a little leery of spring practice reports at all times and that goes triple when it comes to using a few spring practices to overrule what we saw in twelve games last year. The improvement Robinson would have to undergo—and the lack thereof from Forcier—to be a viable threat to start is vast. I'm filing this under "motivational tactic" for now. Jon Chait is on the "it could happen" side of the fence.

By all accounts, Gardner is considerably behind the two sophomores. If Denard is a capable QB this year his redshirt seems assured.

BONUS: here is Robinson running a long way, albeit with aid from crappy walk-on tackling.

Tailback

I don't usually do this, but when you've spent a lot of time extracting the superfluous bits from AnnArbor.com's SEO-friendly headlines, this brings out your inner thirteen year old:

Michigan evaluating running back Mike Cox closely this spring

I loled.

Past the middle school bits is the picture of an emerging running back in Michigan's five-way spring derby. His high school coach hints at some of the practice reports coming from the usual sources:

“He’s tough as nails,” Driscoll said. “He’s very tough and they’re going to have a hard time with him because he’s a big guy that’s really fast. That’s the trouble. He’ll hit you, too. He’s not going to back down from anybody.”

Everyone else comes in for sporadic praise and criticism. There's no consensus on who might be emerging as a tentative (and largely ceremonial starter). Probably the biggest news is a lack of all-encompassing Fitzgerald Toussaint hype.

Wide Receiver And Tight End

With Junior Hemingway and Je'Ron Stokes out there's not much on the outside and Roy Roundtree has moved there intermittently in sets with Martavious Odoms and Jeremy Gallon at slot. When the outside guys return, Michigan will have three or four slots they'd like to work into the lineup.

Here's Odoms answering some questions:

Odoms remains an endearingly terrible interview, but the mention of more two-slot formations is something to pay attention to. Tight ends, like Toussaint, have been largely absent from the spring buzz thus far.

Jerald Robinson has been the most impressive freshman so far, but the outside receivers have been plagued by drops. Kelvin Grady has evaporated, for what that's worth.

Offensive Line

On the offensive line, Schilling and Molk stand out to AnnArbor.com, which is not something I feel spectacular about since 1) Schilling is an established quantity entering his fourth year as a starter and 2) Molk is injured and not practicing.

Patrick Omameh is staying at guard for now, though I'm still holding out hope they shift him outside and let Ricky Barnum and Quinton Washington fight to the death for the spot. Four guys competing at tackle, two of them redshirt freshman and two of them upperclassmen who struggled badly in pass protection last year, is a sketchy situation. That has not come to pass, nor has either freshman pushed through into the nominal starting lineup.

Defense

I'm a little leery of a strapping 6'3", 208 pound kid who spent the brief duration of his Michigan career to date at wide receiver being the starting deep safety, but with Vlad Emilien out with a minor injury it's Cam Gordon who is the front-runner in the 2010 Grady Brooks Memorial Spring Hype Award chase. He comes in for mention by Rodriguez during a speech at a local football coaches' convention:

"Defensively, guys that have been impressive the last week or so, Kenny Demens, Cam Gordon, Craig Roh’s had a couple good days. Renaldo Sagesse, we were teasing him, Thursday he had the best practice since I’ve been here. I asked him what he ate for breakfast. I didn’t know if it was Canadian bacon or something, but he’s had a terrific spring."

It has been Gordon this, Gordon that at deep safety. This may be largely due to a lack of bodies. Justin Turner is practicing at cornerback, Vlad Emilien is injured, and the three guys who played the spot last year are either box safeties (Williams, Kovacs) or corners (Woolfolk). It's gotten to the point where Brandin Hawthorne, who was a high school defensive end (albeit a tiny one), is splitting time back there.

On the defensive line there's been a consistent stream of positives about virtually everyone. Sagesse, Campbell, and Banks all came in for specific praise from Robinson at today's press conference.  Even longtime non-entity Adam Patterson is getting some praise at the defensive end spot he and Greg Banks are keeping warm for Mike Martin. Perhaps the biggest news is the Sagesse praise. If Sagesse is a legit option at DT, Michigan doesn't have to think about sliding Martin inside to platoon with Campbell. I think he will be. I like him in UFRs last year.

Demens, meanwhile, has been the only linebacker to get a fair share of practice hype. Ezeh and Mouton have not been mentioned; Roh comes in for praise as a 250 pound outside linebacker but that's not a surprise. I'm not sure what to make of that: Demens was behind a walk-on last year and didn't see the field even when Michigan was rotating their linebackers so they could yell at them better. His only appearances were on special teams and Michigan's goal line package. Maybe he's a guy who is aided significantly by the move to the 3-3-5? If his issues were mental this defense allows you to do a lot of blitzing and play downhill.

And then there's corner, where Justin Turner still lags behind JT Floyd. No offense to Floyd, but I think that gives everyone hives. Even if Demar Dorsey comes in and is lights out as a true freshman, he's a true freshman and having a hyped guy like Turner struggle to break into the starting lineup in a secondary this chaotic is not a good sign.

Also, Craig Roh coughs and answers questions:

(Odoms, Roh HT: The Michigan Faithful.)