Spring Practice Presser Transcript 3-14-13: Brady Hoke

Spring Practice Presser Transcript 3-14-13: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on March 14th, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Bullets:

  • TE Nate Allspach, S Drew Offerdahl, and DL Kenny Wilkins have left the team.
  • Everyone who was injured last season (Blake Countess, Chris Wormley, Fitz Toussaint, Chris Bryant) will participate in spring practice in some capacity. Wormley seems pretty far along and may be able to do everything. Fitz is recovering faster than expected.  
  • Will Hagerup is still suspended.
  • Manball is still happening, even with Devin at QB.
  • Interior linebackers will be expected to practice at both positions. Earlier I tweeted that Desmond Morgan will switch to MIKE and Joe Bolden will switch to WILL. Ignore that for now -- they'll be doing both.

Brady Hoke

Opening remarks:

“It’s exciting. I like how we worked during the winter and the winter conditioning and that phase of it. Excited for Saturday to get started. Spring ball’s for a lot of different things. You find out your competitiveness. You find out the guys -- who’s made the biggest improvements since fall and winter. [We’re excited to] have a great competition positionally on offense and defense. And just excited. Really, we all like how we’ve come to work every day and what the guys have done from a genetic (?) standpoint and what they’ve done in the weight room with Aaron Wellman. So we’re excited.”

First Look: 2013 Defense

First Look: 2013 Defense

Submitted by Brian on January 8th, 2013 at 12:09 PM

DEPARTURES IN ORDER OF SIGNIFICANCE

Jordan-Kovacs-strong-safety-Michigan-Notre-Dame[1]img19722031[1]

ROHVACS

  1. S Jordan Kovacs. Long time safety blanket specialized in open-field tackles, especially on fourth down, and was rarely victimized by his brain. Speed exposed by speedy South Carolina receivers, but you'll miss him early when someone screws up and you remember what it's like to have a safety biff a tackle and turn not much into lots.
  2. SDE Craig Roh. Journeyman switched positions every year, finally finding a home at SDE. Four sacks were second on the team to Jake Ryan; did a lot of non-boxscore stuff. Quality player; never quite panned out into the QB terror he was purported to be. Production should be replaceable.
  3. MLB Kenny Demens. Started every game, finished second on team with 82 tackles, 50 of them solo. Surprisingly quality in coverage; never great; guy you  can win with.
  4. DT Will Campbell. Long-time disappointment got serious in 2012 and turned in adequate, blocker-absorbing season. Not an impact player—1.5 TFLs on the year. May go late in NFL draft thanks to sheer size.
  5. CB JT Floyd. Three-year starter turned career around after debacle of 2010, but was always kind of a sore spot as teams went after him and his lack of speed over and over again. Rarely cracked; had to be covered for at times. Iffy run defender. NFL FA type.
  6. WLB Brandin Hawthorne. Nonfactor.

WHAT'S LEFT

rn_i_jakeryan2_ms_600[1]um62[1]aa40[1]

Ryan, Ross, QWASH

  1. SLB Jake Ryan. Barbarian was Michigan's sole impact player on defense; shut down screens consistently, explosive rusher led team with 16 TFLs and four forced fumbles. Remember that thing he did? Yeah.
  2. MLB Desmond Morgan [probably]. With James Ross champing at the bit to enter the starting lineup, the stout Morgan is likely to move over to middle linebacker, allowing Ross to flow freely. Morgan was third on the team in tackles last year—M's linebackers were 1-2-3 like nature intended, with Gordon and Kovacs next—and displayed tackling prowess. He'll get pushed; he'll have to be forcibly unseated.
  3. NT Quinton Washington. Season surprise turned nose tackle from looming liability to actually kind of a strength. Not a Martin-type penetrator but ended up powerful and difficult to block. Range spans from merely okay to All Big Ten. Has future as wrestler named QWASH if football doesn't work out.
  4. CB Blake Countess. Freshman starter was hyped up as next great Michigan corner before being hewed down in the first game covering a punt. Will likely return to the field corner spot he locked down in the offseason.
  5. CB Raymon Taylor. Stepped in for Countess after Courtney Avery didn't seem up to the task and held his own for the most part. Teams mostly went after Floyd, leaving him alone. Did get burned for a touchdown in the bowl game. Tendency to get lost on zones should attenuate; has better size than any other experienced corner and will probably end up at boundary with Floyd's departure.
  6. WLB James Ross III. Bloodhound as a true freshman but too slight to take on blockers and big tailbacks effectively. With a season in the weight room should go from promising to excellent. 2012 : Jake Ryan :: 2013 : James Ross.
  7. FS Thomas Gordon. Unsung counterpart to Kovacs has not made as many flashy TFLs but is part of the Michigan defense's remarkable ability to prevent big plays over the last couple years. Probably takes over Kovacs's frequent blitzes.
  8. MLB Joe Bolden. Played a lot as a true freshman and will push Morgan and Ross equally. Survey says he loses the starting job but gets so much time he's essentially a third ILB starter. Needs to get a little meaner, work on pass drops, all that freshman business. Will be quality.
  9. Nickelback Courtney Avery. Diminutive but quality underneath cover guy; PBU and INT sealed OSU game; also a crappy edge tackler; fine option as a third corner.
  10. DT Jibreel Black. Spotted Roh, could not take his job; may be a candidate to move to SDE if he can put on the weight; emergence of Frank Clark threatens to cut into playing time.
  11. WDE Brennen Beyer. Best of the three WDEs at run D; nonfactor getting to the QB. Let's all focus our Heininger Certainty Principle at him.
  12. WDE Frank Clark. Co-starter at WDE made more plays behind the line (9 TFLs) and batted down a lot of passes, but had trouble beating blocks—thus all the batted passes—and still blows contain responsibility on the read option a maddening amount. Up or out for him.
  13. SDE Keith Heitzman. Redshirt freshman flashed a couple things in the spring game and came on as a rotation guy about halfway through the year, grading out okay. Could emerge into SDE starter or could maintain that rotation thing another year.
  14. NT Ondre Pipkins. Massively hyped recruit was rotation partner with Washington. Got knocked over by a running back once; did bull his way into the backfield impressively a couple times. DTs need time; Pipkins should make a leap in the offseason.
  15. WDE Mario Ojemudia. Hilariously undersized high school DT promised to be mini-Martin… still working on that. Needed size, technique; may burst past WDE competitors with strong offseason.

WHAT'S NEW, OR CLOSE ENOUGH, ANYWAY

 

A couple guys on the DL. Last season this post focused on the three departures from the line, found only Washington and Campbell and what seemed like a woefully undersized Roh, and was pushing any button available whether it was marked "PANIC" or not. A year later, Roh was good, Washington dang good, Campbell at least serviceable, and we're all like COME AT ME ATTRITION BRO.

The problems here are insignificant compared to last year. Michigan gets Matt Godin, Willie Henry, Chris Wormley, and Tom Strobel off redshirts. They'll add an early-enrollee in Taco Charlton plus a couple of guys who just showed very well at their respective all star games in Maurice Hurst and Henry Poggi. They return Washington, Pipkins, Black, Heitzman, and three guys who saw time at WDE. They will find folks to fill in the gaps.

They do have to figure that out. First up: dollars to donuts Black moves to SDE. It's a better fit with his size, he spent that fateful final drive of the Outback Bowl running around the South Carolina left tackle, and even if it's a horde of redshirt freshmen who would hypothetically replace him, there is a horde.

At the now-vacated three-tech spot, pick from Wormley, Henry, and Godin. I bet Wormley is the winner there. There will be rotation, and improvement, and you will feel fuzzily positive about this in September.

Lineback—nevermind. Demens was missed in said bowl game, but with another offseason behind Morgan, Bolden, and Ross the ILBs should actually  get better next year.

Not having an utterly reliable tiny linebacker at safety bailing your ass out for four years. Miss you, small guy xoxo.

WHAT'S THE FIRST FOUR SEASONS OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

um15[1]

Keith Heitzman is like a living breathing miracle of having a two deep

DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH DEPTH WOOOOO! We covered the line. Each positions has a two-deep of non-true freshmen, many of them proven or hyped. At linebacker there are three quasi-starters plus a solid rotation at SLB. The secondary is a bit dodgier but Terry Richardson should be serviceable as a sophomore.

Experience. Michigan loses five starters, yeah, but that's almost literally all they lose. Mike Jones may or may not return for another season of staring from the bench, other than that the only player they lose is Brandin Hawthorne, who was exclusively special teams as a senior. They return 16 heavy contributors to the D, 17 if you count Jarrod Wilson.

Linebackers. Ryan, of course, and then you've got Ross/Bolden/Morgan returning in the middle. Many people will pine for Michigan's linebacking corps next year.

My difficulty in thinking about bullets for the following two sections. Only got two in each.

WHAT'S THE LAST SEASON OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

dn11[1]

looks good; was Mattison getting a free rusher at Miller's backside

Getting to the quarterback. Mattison generates lots of free blitzers with his schemes; other than that the only guy to consistently generate pass rush was Ryan. WDE, the glamor spot in a 4-3 under, barely produced. Three guys had three sacks between them last year. All of those guys are back, and Charlton gets added in. The time for someone to step up is now.

Matters should be a bit better on the interior, as whoever replaces Campbell is going to be a leaner, quicker guy who can get more penetration than he did.

A lack of outright stars. You've got Ryan, and I think Ross will get there next year, and then… maybe Countess, but that's asking for a lot after an injury like he had, and… dot dot dot.

WHAT'S INEXPLICABLE JIMI HENDRIX

Will not having Jordan Kovacs doom Michigan to a Yards After Safety kind of life? I don't think so but the parade of incompetents (and Jamar Adams) before him makes me leery.

Can anyone step in right away and be a QB terror? Looking at you, Taco Charlton. He and Ojemudia seem like the best bets for a truly fearsome edge rusher—we've seen a lot of Frank Clark this year and he just hasn't done much.

MANDATORY WILD-ASS GUESS

I was worried about a backslide last year. If there was one, it was exceedingly minor. In 2011 Michigan was 17th in yardage, 6th in scoring defense, 36th in pass efficiency D, and 39th in rushing D. Last year those numbers were 13th/20th/50th/51st, and if you'd added Blake Countess for the whole year, well…

I tend to trust the poorer numbers there since Michigan moves at such a slow pace and their YPC average allowed—3.8—is pretty meh. Pre-Outback Bowl, FEI has them 20th, and that feels about right.

Michigan is probably still a year away from being capital E elite, but you could see how they get there ahead of schedule. It requires three things:

  1. Countess comes back and is a "war daddy," to use super secret football lingo.
  2. Someone emerges as as serious pass rush threat at WDE.
  3. Kovacs, peace be unto him, is adequately replaced by Jarrod Wilson.

#1 is possible. #2 seems doubtful, and #3… I hesitate to predict anything about that because it will blow up all over.

Anyway. Michigan tightens up its run D, moving from around 3.8 YPC allowed to under 3.5. The pass defense looks worse superficially because the Big Ten isn't as terrible at throwing the ball next year (right?) but is actually better since neither starting corner spends the entire year getting balls thrown over his head. The D moves up to around tenth in the advanced stats, stays static in yardage and improves pass D efficiency.

Wednesday Presser Transcript 11-21-12: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 11-21-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on November 21st, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Bullet:

  • Desmond Morgan should be back.

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

file

Opening remarks:

“Happy Thanksgiving, number one. I know some of you have turkeys in your ovens so I’ll be brief today. I thought we had a good practice yesterday. I thought our intensity was what it should be when you play Ohio. The way our guys went to work was very industrious. It was a physical day like Tuesdays and Wednesdays are, and I thought our guys did a nice job.”

Will Desmond Morgan play Saturday?

“Yes.”

Is there a different buzz about this week as you’d expect?

“Yeah. Always is. I think is the 109th time we’ve faced each other. I think that rivalry and just the excitement that follows with it and the passion that people have, I think it spills over.”

The players have talked about driving into the stadium and seeing the fans make … gestures. What’s that like?

“I think when you go to any of those great institutions that have great passion and passionate fans -- I can remember being at Oregon State and going into the Civil War and going down to Eugene. That rivalry, obviously when we go to East Lansing, I think you get the same thing. When you go to Notre Dame. But I think they’re just passionate about their team. They don’t like you, and that’s okay. They’re not supposed to.”

Will you do a walk-through on the field?

“Yeah, we’re going to Friday. We go back and forth a little bit. Most of the time we practice here and go late, but we’re going to do some things in the stadium.”

Do you talk about Nebraska-Iowa on Friday?

“No, not really. I think I mentioned it once. We can control only one thing. That’s the important thing, and that’s going to play our hearts out for our seniors and our hearts out for Michigan on Saturday afternoon at 12:01.”

MGoQuestion: What do you make of Ohio State’s success on special teams this season?

“I think they’ve got good athletes, and that’s where it starts. It always starts there, and I think they’ve done a nice job putting them in the right places to execute and to be successful.”

MGoMootFollowup: Are there ways to counteract their effectiveness?

“Play harder. Play better. Play with better technique.”

How has Denard’s week of practice been?

“Good. It’s been great.”

Doing everything?

“Yes.”

Who are you starting at quarterback?

“It’s day to day.”

Russell Bellomy?

“He’s doing great.”

Is he available to play?

“Oh yeah.”

Is Jack still the backup?

“Jack’s on the travel team with us, yeah.”

Does it change your preparation having a holiday?

“Not really, you know. We’ll change because we’ll practice tomorrow morning, and then at one we’ll have over 500 family members and team having Thanksgiving together. It’s pretty neat.”

What was that like last year?

“Awesome. It’s neat. It’s neat to see all the families.”

How’s Thomas Rawls?

“Great. He’s done a nice job.”

Does he seem ready to shoulder this responsibility? Would Vincent Smith also be in the mix to get some more carries?

“Yeah. Those two. And I don’t know if Thomas has a choice.”

How has he handled that pressure?

“Seems fine. Pretty confident. Most guys who have ability at this level, they’re pretty confident in their abilities.”

Anything you can take from Ohio State’s film from last year?

“Not really. Not from a defensive standpoint besides from the elusiveness that their quarterback has. I think Carlos Hyde, and I don’t even know if he -- played a couple plays, maybe. I don’t think he played much. I know the other guy who’s a back, can’t remember his name right now --”

Boom Herron?

“Boom. Herron was back. But you try and look at the guys that are all a year older, the ones who have played. The offense is obviously a different scheme, but last year’s film really is irrelevant.”

MGoQuestion: James Ross had a good game last Saturday, but a couple times when he tried tackling a bigger back like Mark Weisman he got carried downfield. Is that a concern against someone like Carlos Hyde?

“No. You always tackle really well when you have more than one guy tackling.”

Will Desmond start at that spot?

“We’ll see. Right now they’re competing.”

How many friends and families will you have Saturday?

“I don’t know. Over 500.”

How often do you get to spend with players’ families?

“Not often during the season. Once in a while on a Sunday, once in a while early Friday morning, but not very often.”

Are you going to have over 500 family and friends at the game?

“Who me? Personally? Oh.”

Yeah. I was going to say. You’re more popular than I thought.

“No. No idea. I’m not in the ticket business. Mrs. Hoke handles all those things. She’ll tell me sometime Thursday night over pizza who’s coming.”

You expect to have some people?

“Yeah. We’ll be represented.”

Monday Presser Transcript 11-19-12: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 11-19-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on November 19th, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Bullets:

  • Fitz's surgery went well. He should be out of the hospital by now.
  • Denard is improving. May be able to throw.
  • Desmond Morgan should be back.
  • There's some kind of football game happening on Saturday.

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

Presser

file

Opening remarks:

“Number one, Fitz had surgery. Went very well. Saw him yesterday. Should get out of the hospital today, and should have a full recovery, and we’ll move forward and he’ll move forward. But everything went well, as well as it can as far as having an injury. No one wants that for any kid.

“The Iowa game was one where we have to play much better than we did this week to be successful. The great thing about it was our guys, the seniors of this team, being able to come up that tunnel for the last time and sing the Victors in the locker room here. That was a real positive and as we look forward, we’ve got a great challenge in front of us and an opportunity, one that -- this is a fun football game. Any time you have a rivalry like this, this is a fun game to play.”

How much will it help your team that having been able to get game experience using Denard the way you used him?

“Well, I think it helps our football team. When we moved Devin, and he wanted to move to wide receiver, we were helping our football team because you’re putting your best 11 on the field. I think Denard fits in that either as a quarterback or as a slot receiver or wherever it may be. It helps our football team. Was it good to see him in live action? Yeah.”

Iowa Postgame Presser: Brady Hoke

Iowa Postgame Presser: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on November 18th, 2012 at 2:38 PM

file

Opening remarks:

“It was a good game. A good football win. The seniors got to go up the tunnel singing The Victors for the last time in the stadium. We put a lot of emphasis on that because of the struggles and what they go through when you look at a guy who’s been here four or five years. So it was great for them and great for our team that the younger guys, younger classmen went out there and competed for them. That’s an expectation. The guys who are seniors who were playing in their last game at Michigan Stadium, I thought they did a nice job of going out there and playing 60 minutes of football.”

How bittersweet is it to see your seniors play at home for the last time?

“It’s always difficult because I’m a very emotional person, good or bad. So pick your poison. But we get very tight and close with the players because we are there to help them grow. From a personal life standpoint to an academic, to social, to everything else, they’re one of your sons, and that’s how we look at it.”

When did you make the decision for Denard to play, and when did you decide on his role?

“I didn’t make the decision for him to play. Once he got cleared, he felt good healthwise. We had talked about doing this for 18 months. You know, Al, when he got home last week after the Northwestern game, that night he had nine plays ready. And then we put six more in. I think Al does a tremendous job of taking your personnel and the playmakers that you have on your team and having the ability to get them the ball and let their god-given ability take over.”

How much do you know about Fitz’s situation?

“He’s in the hospital now and he’s had surgery. I think we’ll leave it at that for now and make sure -- his mother wasn’t here, he had two brothers here -- but we’ll leave it for that.”

How important was it to try out the Devin-Denard offense before the Ohio State game?

“You know, next week really never had anything to do with it. We had to beat Iowa. We’re still in a championship race. We wanted to win this game for our seniors and also because we’re still in a race for the championship.”

Was there any thought of using Denard as a passer or did you just decide to give him a limited role?

“Well, I think it would be unjust for us not to use him in the best way that we thought would let him be the most successful. He’s throwing the ball a little bit, not throwing it a lot, so we thought this was the best. This kid has put up with a lot of criticism at times and also he’s been praised at times --”

[Someone’s phone goes off, ring tone is “The Victors”]

“That’s a good song. He’s a competitive guy who loves the game and loves his teammates, and he showed great maturity the last three weeks and great leadership.”

Along those lines, did you have to do any convincing with Denard to tell him that he wouldn’t play quarterback?

“No … He wanted to play. Where could he help us best playing?”

Can he throw the ball?

“Yeah. But not as well as he’d like to.”

Can you talk about Denard and how hard it might be for a senior quarterback to not call plays in the huddle?

“Well, I think it tells you what kind of kid he is. What kind of a young man, I should say. And his development, his growth, his character, and the integrity -- this kid had some unbelievable moments here at Michigan and Michigan Stadium and have had some moments that weren’t so good, but he’s grown within this team, and this is his team. Him and Kovacs, all the seniors have a big piece of it, and I know that Devin said it the other day: he has been the face of Michigan football.”

Devin had six touchdowns…

“Say that again? I’m sorry.”

Devin had six touchdowns. They looked pretty easy for him. Can you tell us about his development?

“Um. He had six touchdowns?”

He had six touchdowns.

“Did he really. See, I don’t remember that stuff.”

He was pretty good.

“I -- well, I think you answered the question. He was pretty good.”

Did you hear the crowd chanting “Beat Ohio”?

“Yeah, and I said to someone next to me, ‘We need to beat Iowa.’ ”

You haven’t lost at home in two years. Is there something to that?

“I think there’s always, and you see it all kinds of sports, playing at home is something that’s treated us well. Familiarity with everything. I wish I could tell you. I just think there’s a comfort, I guess.”

Have your teams always been so much better at home?

“I have no clue. Again, it’s something that I don’t think about.”

Is this your offense moving forward, or could Denard move back to quarterback full time?

“Um … I don’t know. I guess he could. I don’t know. It’s an option.”

When was Denard cleared, and what did he have to do to get cleared? Can he grip the ball?

“Yeah. Yeah.”

When was he cleared?

“What’s today? Saturday? Probably six days ago.”

Is he cleared for good now, or do you have to go through another process? Is he day to day?

“He might be day to day.”

You talked about being an emotional person. You’ve just beaten Iowa, but what does the Ohio State game mean to you?

“It’s fun.”

It’s fun?

“It’s fun. Because it’s a great rivalry and there’s a lot of respect on both sides for those programs. For both programs. It’s fun. You asked? It’s fun. It’s going to be fun.”

You had a lot of success in vertical passing. How come?

“I think some play action set it up. And then I think Gallon made a terrific catch with concentration. The ball was where it needed to be, and it was defended pretty decently. I think one of the best throws and catches was an out on the sideline to Roy. I thought Roy did a nice job with his hands. That’s one thing I said this last week, but I thought Roy is catching the ball more with his hands and not with his body as he had earlier.”

When did you see that change for him?

“Eh, shoot. I don’t know. Some time. Probably in practice.”

It looked like you threw out things for Ohio State to think about. Is that something you planned to do?

“If I was that smart to do that, I would have done that. But no, we were trying to beat Iowa. We were trying to put our players -- because it would be selfish of us as coaches for us not to give these kids the best chance to win a football game. And whatever we do offensively or defensively or prepare, if we don’t do that then we’re short-selling this program and these seniors and these kids, and we’re not going to do that.”

You said you’ve been planning this offense since 18 months ago. What prevented you from using it earlier?

“How would I answer this …”

Honestly.

“Um. I would say, in doing it, it would have been done kind of like we did last year a little bit more when we had both of them on the field. And we just added to it. And we just added to it. And there’s a maturity level for everybody to be able to handle those things.”

So do you mean Denard at quarterback and Devin at receiver?

“Maybe. Sort of.”

Synergy between Gardner and the receivers?

“Yeah, and I think there’s a lot of truth to all of that. But I think our front’s blocking better. Part of it is the play-action game. Part of it is the play-action out of the I-back. I think that’s helped.”

How tough is it for the defense to prepare for your new formations?

Well, you have to spend some time on it. So sometimes that’s the biggest thing. You’re spending time maybe on a formation that was run maybe three times and thinking, okay, what can you do out of it, what can they do out of it? So as a coach, you’re spending your time, and then you’re taking practice time. So it’s time. And there’s one thing none of us have, is a lot of time.”

How confident are you that your team can quickly move on to Ohio State?

“Well they’re going to have to. I’m pretty confident in how our seniors have led and how we’ve gone to work every Sunday, win and lose.”

Defense?

“Yeah. You know … we missed some sacks. We don’t tackle. They’re knocking us off the line of scrimmage earlier. It was awful.”

Desmond Morgan?

“We thought he’d be ready, but he’s not.”

Details?

“No.”

Gary Moeller was honored today --

“Yeah, it was cool.”

What did that mean to you?

“Means a lot. Coach Mo as a person, as a coach, as a man. Means a lot. Means a lot to Michigan.”

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Northwestern

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Northwestern

Submitted by Brian on November 14th, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Formation notes: We've already talked about Michigan's 3-3-5 at the end of the game, which was really blue for some reason:

f-3-3-5nickel

filmed in post-apocalyptic-Denzel-Washington-vehicle-o-vision

The rest of it was as per usual. Michigan goes with an even front against spread packages and flares the LBs out to deal. This results in things like this…

5-man-box

…and is a declaration of immense faith in the DTs. Here's Ryan over the slot again:

f-pistol-fb-offset

Michigan used some super wide splits once, when they were sick of getting edged by the option:

f-4-3-spread

This was a FB dive that looked dangerous before Pipkins spatted the ballcarrier for two yards.

Finally, here's something. What? I'm not sure. THANKS DIRECTOR GUY

dumbass-director

I swear these guys who come in and think they're Football Tarantino.

Substitution notes: Secondary as it always is. The front seven saw the same rotation they have in the last couple games, with CGordon/Bolden/Ross backing up Ryan/Demens/Morgan at LB and Heitzman/Black/Pipkins/Clark backing up Roh/Campbell/Washington/Beyer. Heitzman's increased PT continued; Bolden got relatively few snaps. Ross got more, including the last drive, but maybe not as many as I expected he did going in.

[AFTER THE JUMP: getting gashed, responding, Kovacs in your grill]

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Minnesota

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Minnesota

Submitted by Brian on November 9th, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Formation notes: Michigan actually spent most of this game in an over front, i.e. shifted their line towards the strength of the line and held Ryan over the slot. Like so:

f-4-3-over

Closeup:

f-4-3-over

Michigan would normally put Ryan over that TE to the top of the screen and shift the line the other way. Not sure why they went with the over this time.

Michigan did this once, too: an under shifted line with Demens on the LOS, Morgan in a more conventional ILB spot, and the SAM (in this case Cam Gordon) over the slot.

4-3 under slide

This was "4-3 under slide." Lingo as per usual is supposed to be consistent and descriptive.

And I clipped this for some reason so here's a reminder of what I mean by "okie":

f-okie-one

Seven guys on the LOS, with one deep safety off the screen and three DB type guys. This is of course zoneblitzapalooza.

Also here is Dooley creepin' on the jug:

dooley

hey baby wanna get painted?

Substitution notes: Secondary as usual. Wilson got a snap or two in a dime package. After a couple weeks of minimal substitution at linebacker, Bolden, Ross, and Cam Gordon got drives. Gordon left early with an injury of some sort and didn't return.

On the line, Clark and Beyer alternated at WDE with Beyer seeming to get slightly more snaps. Black and Campbell were at three-tech and split about evenly; Pipkins got a few snaps behind Washington; Roh actually got a breather or four as Keith Heitzman emerged to get more playing time than he had yet seen. Roh didn't get a lot of points, and that was a reason why. Seemed like Michigan was comfortable with where they were most of the second half and how Heitzman was playing so they let it ride.

[AFTER THE JUMP: the usual destruction of the enemies.]

Picture Pages: Misaligned, Temporarily

Picture Pages: Misaligned, Temporarily

Submitted by Brian on November 7th, 2012 at 12:08 PM

[PROGRAMMING NOTE: Due to a three-pronged failure in various systems I lost the first half of UFR and had to re-do it. I tried, but couldn't get it done for today. 2x UFR tomorrow.]

Minnesota's offense struggled to move the ball most of Saturday. When they did move it was often because Michigan was in a difficult position against spread principles. For example: on Minnesota's first snap, Michigan slid their linebackers way to the field against a trips formation and gave up five yards when the tailback cut all the way behind the defensive line.

I'm not sure if this is actually a problem Michigan should fix or if they're taking away certain things that would otherwise be open and will just open up another hole in the dam. In certain cases, anyway. I caught a second-quarter run—at twelve yards, Minnesota's long run of the day—on which Michigan's alignment had them in trouble from the start. Since the Big Ten Network was running an uncommonly large number of useful replays, we can take a look at it from the end zone.

Begin!

outnumbered-1]

From the dead center of the field Minnesota comes out in a pistol formation with two backs flanking the quarterback. Minnesota has two WRs not shown. When Blue Seoul was pumping out With Pics on the regular he would often point out presnap alignment issues, and Michigan has one here.

This is a balanced formation right smack in the middle of the field, but note that the linebackers are shifted to the left—Demens is left of the center; Morgan is inside the tackle to the right while Ryan is well outside. The line is also shifted left: Washington is inside the guard, Campbell outside. As a result you can draw a line with five Minnesota players to one side and three Michigan defenders:

outnumbered-1

Minnesota will run at this, running the back on the left across the QB and pulling a guard to keep that two-man advantage as the center uses his angle to take care of Campbell.

outnumbered-2

Before the mesh point a few things are clear: the three backside defenders are basically nonentities. Demens has a shot, maybe, but he's getting a free release from a tackle with an excellent angle and is in tough. The two backs are available to take on Clark and Morgan.

At the mesh point and just after, two things. First, Clark:

outnumbered-3outnumbered-4

Clark dives inside the pack trying to get him, which could be a valid move. The second frame there has a pulling guard; if Clark hits him that's two blockers on one guy. Because Michigan was badly aligned that still won't matter, though. Minnesota will run this later at Keith Heitzman; Heitzman will do the same thing and peg the QB, so this was what Mattison wanted… sort of. I'll explain below what he actually wanted, probably.

Second, Demens:

outnumbered-3outnumbered-4

He eats a block, but I'm not even mad when he eats a guy before it's even clear who has the ball. Even if he reads the play on the snap this guy probably gets him since he's got a great angle; if the tackle doesn't the pulling guard literally has no one to block so Demens will again feel the wrath of two different OL on the same play. If Demens is at fault it's for presnap stuff involving this alignment that gets him in trouble.

By the time the back breaks outside, it doesn't really matter what Morgan does, the play is getting yards, whether it's inside or out.

outnumbered-5

But man you still shouldn't get hewed to the ground like this and give up the edge:

outnumbered-6

It was faintly possible that Washington, who beat a down block, gets in some sort of tackle attempt, and you also wouldn't be forcing Kovacs to get on his horse outside like he does. Note that Raymon Taylor is also on his knees after eating a cut block:

outnumbered-7

Kovacs has to take an awkward angle around that block and misses the tackle as a result. He does get the guy off balance; Taylor recovers.

outnumbered-8

Twelve yards.

outnumbered-9

Video

Things And Stuff

I don't really have a big theme here. Often these posts are attempts to explain a general trend—like Michigan not blocking anyone against Nebraska—with some concrete examples. This is just a thing that happened and probably doesn't mean much of anything. These things pop up from time to time; the defense is still really good.

If there is a theme it's that these things tend to get fixed, as we'll see in the next bullet.

Clark is less good at defending the run than other folk/Mattison adjusts fast. There are two main differences between this and a –1 yard run later in the game off this same play. One is Heitzman. Watch the defensive end to the bottom of the screen:

That may be a different playcall that causes Beyer to move down on the tackle and prevent him from releasing. It is more useful than what Clark does above. While that's not a two for one the guy taking Demens is now the pulling guard, who takes a lot longer to get out on him. That allows Demens to get outside of him; a gap further inside James Ross is also playside of that tackle when he finally releases.

The other difference is of course JMFR, who demonstrates what the coaches are talking about when they call him an "unorthodox" player by taking a cut block hard and still managing to fling his off-balance body at the RB for a TFL.

Even if that does not happen Michigan has this covered as this chain…

  1. Beyer holds up T
  2. Demens beats pulling G to outside
  3. Back bounces it outside
  4. Gordon runs past RB with no angle now

…has an unblocked guy waiting to clean up if'n Ryan isn't a wizard or something.

These things tend to get fixed. Note that Michigan's alignment above is even instead of slid to one side or the other.

I am sorry to remind you of our shared, dark past, but remember the GERG defenses when Michigan would frequently get annihilated by the same thing over and over again? In the Oh God Justin Siller game (to be fair, a GERG defense only in spirit, not in letter) it was ten yard outs over and over. In the 2010 Wisconsin game I think the Badgers ran power 28 straight times in the second half, and I am not even sure that's a joke. One of the most frustrating aspects of Michigan's terrible terrible defenses pre-Mattison were the times when the same thing just kept working.

Here Michigan gets burned for a first down. The next two snaps they see out of this formation are runs that go for zero and –1 yards. That's why there's not a theme, because the things that seem to be dodgy with this defense are pure talent issues. Michigan doesn't have an elite pass-rusher or a lot of speed in the secondary. This leads to lots of attempted deep bombs that have not come off yet, mostly.

Minnesota backs and receivers can really cut block. Seriously, our guys could learn something from the Gophers in that department. Michigan CBs and LBs hit the ground a lot in this game, even if sometimes they got up like an unkillable zombie and made the tackle anyway.

Washington: pretty good. He couldn't do anything about the 12 yarder above; he did get off a block and pursue in case he could.

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Nebraska

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Nebraska

Submitted by Brian on November 1st, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Formation notes: Most of the game was in the under:

4-4-even

On certain passing downs Michigan did this weird thing with one of the DEs pulled up in a two point stance between the two NTs:

3-3-5-offset

M dropped eight on this and got quick pressure when Roh beat the T around the edge one on one.

Here it is again:

f-weird-thing

May see that a little more going forward, but it's obviously a gimmicky passing down defense only.

Substitution notes: Back seven was the established starters the whole way with two exceptions: Cam Gordon got a fair number of snaps in place of Jake Ryan and Bolden came in for Demens on the last drive. I don't think Morgan came off for even a snap.

On the line, all spots got a dose of rotation. Roh got the most time; Heitzman backed him up and got a couple spots at three-tech. Washington was also heavily deployed; Pipkins backed him up. Campbell had the edge on Black at three tech but Black got more snaps than he has in the recent past. Beyer went most of the way at WDE with Ojemudia backing.

[AFTER THE JUMP: charts and stuff.]

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs MSU

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs MSU

Submitted by Brian on October 24th, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Formation notes: Michigan is doing a thing where they have a nickel package in and go with a five-man line and one guy behind it:

5-1-nickel

The guy on the line at the top of the screen is Avery, in man on the slot guy, so he is not, you know, a lineman. That is denoted 5-1 nickel. A full okie package would also put that LB on the LOS.

Michigan was mostly in the under. This is what happens when the under faced off with a 3-wide formation:

4-3-under-slot

Ryan flared out over the slot and Michigan usually walked one of their safeties down. I still called this a 4-3 under, FWIW.

Substitution notes: Secondary same as it always is until Taylor went out, whereupon Avery moved over to the second corner spot and Jarrod Wilson was the nickelback—in that situation they would move Gordon down over the slot and use Wilson as a safety. This happened once, IIRC.

Linebackers same as they usually are. No freshmen in this one, though, all Morgan/Demens/Ryan. Cam Gordon also was left out of the lineup.

There was some rotation on the line. Black and Pipkins saw some DT snaps, with Black getting both some regular duty and his usual nickel appearances. Heitzman saw a few snaps spotting Roh, and Clark and Beyer rotated regularly. Ojemudia did not appear.

The defense is pretty much settled at this point. The only spot at which there is any debate is WDE, which looks like a Beyer/Clark run/pass platoon until one of them (or Ojemudia) emerges. The other ten spots—eleven if you count nickelback—have rock-solid starters.

Row row.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O44 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Pitch sweep Roh 1
W/ a slot receiver Ryan is flared out, not on the LOS as he would be against a TE. Roh(+2) beats a crackdown block from a WR who has motioned in and starts flowing down the line. Ryan also beats his block, though not as quickly or authoritatively as Roh. Taylor(+0.5) contains; Gordon(+0.5) beats a cut block and flows to the hole with Demens(+0.5), where those two, Roh, and Ryan gang-tackle.
O45 2 9 I-Form 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Hitch Taylor 5
Ryan comes down late, showing blitz with one high behind it. MSU throws a dink hitch in front of Taylor(+0.5, tackling +1), who makes contact before Burbridge can turn it upfield; Morgan comes over to prevent anyone from falling forward.
50 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
New LT moves early... probably should have been called on M as it looks like Roh entering the neutral zone causes it. Refs +1.
O45 3 9 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Out Morgan 5
Ryan(+1, pressure +1) beats the LT and forces a throw. It's an out short of the sticks that Morgan(+1, cover +1, tackling +1) is out on; looks like they were trying to pick off Taylor and get the corner here but Morgan's all over the circle route from Burbridge. Morgan slings him to the ground with ease.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 Flare Ryan 2
Maxwell has more time here (pressure -1) to find someone but dumps it down to Bell anyway. Coverage(+2) was good downfield as three MSU guys are blanketed. Ryan(+0.5 tackling +1) comes up to force Bell out of bounds after a minimal gain.
O35 2 8 I-Form 3-wide 4-4 under Run N/A Power off tackle Roh 2
Roh(+1) is left unblocked temporarily. He takes on a fullback inside, then disengages to pop the pulling G. Washington(+0.5) has split a double but that's more MSU derp than anything since both guys peel off to do other things, one of them bizarrely. No holes in the center. Ryan(+1) beats another WR block and pops up on the LOS outside of Roh; he tackles(+1).
O37 3 6 Shotgun 2-back 5-1 nickel Pass 3 Wheel Demens Inc
Demens and Ryan flanking three down linemen with Morgan behind them. Morgan pokes his nose in as if he will blitz; Kovacs comes down; both back out. Michigan only sends the interior guys; both LBs are looking to deal with backs out of the backfield. Caper delays as if to pass block, then goes on a wheel that Demens(+1, cover +1) is able to cover, basically. Despite epic time (pressure -1, three man rush) no one pops open and Maxwell's attempt to hit the wheel is well long. Black(+0.5) did force a flush, FWIW. Everything other than the wheel was covered(+1), FWIW.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 9 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Roh 6
They motion a TE and then run away from it. Roh(-2) gets blown out by a double. He lets one guy through and gets shoved as he tries to spin out of his mess to no avail. His attempt to rescue it makes things worse and prevents Washington(+0.5) closing down the hole and Demens(+0.5) popping the lead guard in said hole to matter. Roh's just all out of position and despite everyone else playing it right there's a gap Bell can hit for a few yards before the world converges.
O26 2 4 I-Form 4-3 under Penalty N/A Illegal sub N/A -5
lol cant count lol
O21 2 9 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Hitch Floyd 7
Same quick hitch. Floyd(-0.5) is a yard or two off and would probably give up the first if Burbridge was more decisive after the catch; he delays and Floyd and Ryan combine to tackle for minimal YAC. No pressure opportunity, cover push.
O28 3 2 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Hitch Floyd 8
Ryan flies down from the edge to blitz, LT biffs, Ryan gets a free run at Maxwell's blind side (pressure +2); Floyd(-1, cover -1) is way off a meh route and gives up a first down completion. Easy.
O36 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 even Run N/A Power off tackle Morgan 3
This is not aligned well from M as they are in an even front with Kovacs overhanging and this looks pretty good for State running at the weak side of the M line without a shift on. Morgan(+2) screams downhill, takes on a free releasing tackle, sheds, comes inside, forces the G outside, makes Bell stop in the hole, and then gets buried. Ryan has come from the slot and Campbell has come through a double thanks to the delay and Bell can only pick up a few. RPS -1; heroic effort from Morgan required to prevent something big. Kovacs(+0.5) helped cut the hole down.
O39 2 7 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 even Run N/A Counter Beyer 2
Beyer(+1) beats a TE trying to kick him inside, absorbing the pulling G; Bell decides to go outside. Floyd(+1, tackling +1) fills well, making contact at the LOS and getting Bell to the ground with help from Morgan, who'd had a free flow and is just helping on the bounce so no soup for him. Campbell(-1) got blown up badly on the backside FWIW.
O41 3 5 Shotgun trips Okie one Pass 5 Fly Floyd Inc
Michigan shows press with a single high safety, sends five. MSU tests it. Blitz picked up (pressure -1). Floyd(+1) is in decent coverage, but has given up a step or two. Throw is on the money, Burbridge juggles it, and I think Floyd takes the opportunity to whack it out but I can't quite tell with the torrent quality. A bit fortunate, results based charting, was there to futz with the guy's arm, kinda PBU.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, EO1Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass 5 Sack Ryan -10
Ryan(+3, pressure +3) beats Bell as he blitzes up the edge, delivering a thunder-sack. Washington(+1) and Roh(+1) had also beaten blockers and arrive to confirm the kill.
O15 2 20 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 even Pass 4 Fly Gordon 45
Roh(+2, pressure +2) beats the RT around the corner and seems to be held. Maybe enough for a call, maybe not. It slows him down just enough for Maxwell to launch a deep middle of the field fly route as MSU just went three verts against Michigan's coverage. Gordon(-2, cover +1) is step for step, never locates the ball, gets recepted upon, tackles, sad.
M40 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A End-around Floyd 3
Inside zone fake to an end around to Burbridge. MSU trying to pull their C, who never gets there. Black(+0.5) may have helped that but mostly incompetence, I'd wager. Floyd(-1, tackling -1) is unblocked as a result and fills behind the LOS at the numbers; Burbridge flings him to the ground and gets some yards before Morgan(+0.5) cleans up after a few.
M37 2 7 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Power off tackle Morgan 4
Kovacs shows man on a TE that goes in motion and is a straight up ninth guy in the box with Gordon also hanging out in there. M pinching down from both ends. Black pops out into a TE, which means a tackle releases but has no angle on Morgan. Heitzman(+0.5) is trying to spill the thing by getting into a lead blocker and jamming up the pulling G. He does an eh job but does delay the puller. Morgan(+0.5) gets into him at the line well. Demens(-1) got caught in the wash after not reading the play. Actually a surprise when this happens now. He's not there when Morgan funnels. Black(+0.5) has spun off a block and come back to help tackle even without the linebacker getting involved; Gordon and Morgan help.
M33 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 nickel Run N/A Quick pitch Kovacs 3
M blitzing and looks like they might get caught but it's sound behind the rushers. Roh shoots inside the guy blocking him extremely fast; he slightly delays the quick trap block outside. Demens can flow free as a result; Kovacs is a free hitter but has to come around Taylor backing off trying to cover the outside WR. Those guys get there to tackle; Bell squeezes out the first down. Um. They can't prevent the conversion but usually three yard runs are a little positive. Half points for Roh and Kovacs.
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3 4-3 even Run N/A Power Pipkins 8
Bell's longest run of the day. Pipkins(-2) momentarily doubled until he's shoved out of the hole and pancaked. Roh(+0.5) and Campbell(+0.5) actually do a good job to fight to the now-gaping hole and get in slowing arm-tackle attempts. Morgan is in tough after the G released immediately. He's held a bit—arms outside the shoulder pads by the OL—and can't really disengage to tackle. Floyd(-1, tackling -1) comes in since his WR slanted and kind of flings himself at Bell without using his arms or bringing his feet. Textbook tackling technique... IN HELL. M recovers thanks to the triple slowdown and tackles. Refs -0.5.
M22 2 2 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Power off tackle Morgan 1
Same bit with the other I form big on this drive, but to the other side. Roh(+1) drives outside, disengaging to pick off a lead blocker and getting his 2for1. Gordon(-1) blows that by continuing to head outside and not reacting to what's in front of him. Morgan(+2) is now the next guy inside. He bangs McDonald at the LOS and drives him back, then disengages to grab Bell with an arm... and Bell slows. Wow. I expected him to blow right through this but he's suddenly in molasses, allowing Campbell(+0.5) and Beyer(+0.5) to converge and set up third down.
M31 3 1 I-Form 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Ryan 0
Roh(+1) and Ryan(+1) shoot under their blocks on the snap, forcing a very slight cutback from Bell. Bell trips over Ryan's guy; Gordon(+1) and Demens(+1) are screaming down behind the slant and put Bell to the ground at the LOS. RPS +2, slant FTW. Inspired a Hokepoints.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(38), 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M44 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Fly Floyd Inc
Floyd(-1, cover -1) is beat over the top on this, but it's long. No pressure but this is max pro and the ball is out pretty quickly.
M44 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie one Pass 5 Fade Taylor Inc
Super aggressive look from with seven guys on the line; two back out into shorter zones. Taylor(+1, cover +1) forces the WR out of bounds as he tries to release upfield on a fade. Kovacs(+0.5) had shoved a RB back and come off underneath to force a throw (pressure +1), which is OOB and may just be a throwaway. Gordon(+0.5) was over the top.
M44 3 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Out Clark 7
Stunt gets Clark(+1, pressure +2) in basically clean as Roh(+1) takes the LG way upfield and there's no chance the tackle can do anything with Clark plunging inside. Maxwell has to dump it short of the sticks where Avery(+1, tackling +1) is there to force the punt.
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-0, 2 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Flare Ryan 3
A called dink pass as the RT just cuts Roh and the guys on the playside are blocking from the start. Ryan(+2) pops his blocker, comes around him really fast, and eventually forces Bell OOB for minimal yardage.
O28 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 5-1 nickel Pass 5 Hitch Taylor 6
M sends a blitz that looks like it gets picked up and another dink pass to the flats is fired. Burbridge again hesitates as he turns it up and makes a probable first down into third and short. Taylor(+0.5, tackling +1), I guess.
O34 3 1 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Power Ryan 1
Roh(+0.5) gets under the LT and gets some movement back but not quite enough to take out the pulling G. Ryan(+1) takes on a FB kickout block, chucks the guy past him, and tackles Bell a yard in the backfield. Demens popped the G at the LOS but tries to spin off of it and gives up just a tiny bit of ground, allowing Bell to eke out the first.
O35 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Floyd Inc
Floyd(+1, cover +1) is there to bang on the catch and separate Burbridge from the ball. Still could have caught it if the throw was a bit better, so no +2.
O35 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Fly Floyd Inc
Roh(+1, pressure +2) stunts around Black and comes through when one of the OL moves to Black and no one pops out on him. Ryan(+0.5) has beat the RT around the corner and threatens to sack, Maxwell must throw. He chucks it deep at Floyd(+2, cover +2), who is step for step with Burbridge and gets a PBU.
O35 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie two Pass 4 Hitch Taylor 7
Maxwell takes a hitch before the pressure can get there; Taylor(+0.5) escorts the guy OOB before the sticks.
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-0, EO1H
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 over Run N/A Iso Morgan 5
Washington(-0.5) gives some ground, allowing Bell time to pick a gap backside or straight up the gut. Morgan(-1) gets cut to the ground by the FB. Campbell(+0.5) comes through his block and initiates the tackle once Bell picks; Morgan is there to grab legs; pile lurches forward.
O25 2 5 Ace twins 4-3 over Pass 4 WR screen Gordon 5
Michigan pretty well prepared for this as Gordon(-1, tackling -1) breaks down at the LOS after the catch. Unfortunately he overran it and the WR can move inside of him for a decent gain.
O30 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 6 Deep slant Kovacs 19
Michigan with a double A gap blitz of their own right into iso play action. Kovacs(-2, cover -2) sucks up an unreasonably large distance and never starts dropping back into a middle of the field robber zone that seems to be his assignment since Taylor lined up with outside leverage and seemed to expect interior help that was never there. RPS -1.
O49 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A End-around Kovacs 14
Beyer doesn't see this coming and lets the edge guy go. Kovacs(-2) is not prepared, either, and gets blindsided by the WR cracking down. Worse, he gets shoved upfield and Burbridge can get a shove on Morgan when he tries to flow out. Taylor(-1) doesn't read this until way late and can't contain so there's an alley between him and Morgan. RPS –1.
M37 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under Pass 5 Out Taylor 12
Both backs stay in, three guys in the route. This is essentially a pick route, with Burbridge going straight upfield and Mumphery cutting out near the sticks and using Burbridge as a screen.. Taylor(-1, cover -1) got beat by that.
M25 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Demens 2
Gordon rolls up to the LOS. M slants away from the play; Gordon(-1) gets cut by the H-back. His inability to stay up allows Bell to leap over that block away from all the people; Demens(+1) flowed behind the slant quickly, took on a TE trying to peel off onto him, kept his feet, and grabbed Bell at the LOS. Morgan(+1) is also flowing behind, cognizant of the slant, and gets from the backside to Bell, finishing the tackle(+1). Pipkins(+0.5) made it impossible for anyone to get out on Morgan, BTW.
M23 2 8 I-Form 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Hitch Floyd 7
Quick hit in front of Floyd(-0.5), who's a long way off this time. Throw is marginal and takes Burbridge off his feet, so no YAC.
M16 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Power Campbell 4
Campbell(-1) gets blown back by a double; Washington(-2) is turned and pancaked when he is engaged with the C and takes one shove from the RG. Morgan(+1) nails the two lead blockers in the backfield, which could lead to another stop but the DT dissolution provides a cutback lane for an easy conversion. Bell has to slow down to get around all this traffic, giving various folks time to converge.
M12 1 10 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Trickeration scramble Ryan 10
The reverse throwback play. Gordon(+1, cover +1, RPS +1) has the throwback to the QB covered; Kovacs is shooting directly at the WR trying to throw when he gets blocked... almost in the back. But not quite. His momentum's off now and the WR dodges him. Ryan(-2) has the next shot and overruns it badly; Roh was coming from the edge and got blocked past the play. Now he's all running in a chaotic broken field and gets down to the one.
M2 1 G Goal line Goal line Pass N/A PA TE corner Morgan 2
Morgan(-1, cover -1, RPS -1) sucks up on the play action, open guy, TD.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 6-7, 7 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Washington 1
Washington(+1) stands up McDonald; the play is going away from the H-back, who hits a backside gap Morgan is not in. Morgan gets a free flow as a result. Bell decides to run away from that; Washington sheds. That's a TFL but Bell bounces it outside. Roh(+0.5) disengages from the tackle to chase. Floyd(+1, tackling +1) charges up and chops Bell down at the ankles, preventing any YAC.
O21 2 9 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 even Pass N/A Screen Ryan 7
A pretty much normal screen with a flare fake to Bell and then Caper slipping out on the other side. Entire DL sucks up with no pursuit except Campbell. Roh(-0.5) and Washington(-0.5) go for the QB and eliminated themselves. Caper now has three blockers in a lot of space. One peels off for Campbell. A second goes for Demens. A third takes Ryan. Ryan(+2) does what he does, which is look like he's going outside and then redirect under a slower player to show up after he cuts upfield. He keeps leverage AND makes the tackle. Boom. Tackling +1; RPS -1. Took a badass play from Ryan to prevent this from being big.
O28 3 2 Shotgun twins TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Throwaway N/A Inc
Bell motions out for a trips TE look. They roll to the trips. Maxwell biffs here; Taylor(-1, cover -1)) bugs out deep on a guy who is covered deeper and leaves Bell open; Maxwell hesitates, starts rolling further outside the pocket, and chucks it OOB. Had Bell for the first. I guess Beyer(+0.5) gets some credit for holding the edge and getting up in his face.
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-7, 4 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Pipkins 3
Pipkins(-1) gets blown out by a double. Black(+1) and Roh(+1) are single blocked and both take their guys into the space vacated by Washington, closing off the hole before Bell can reach it. Bell stops. He can bounce to the outside because Roh crashed to cut off the hole and Pipkins got blown downfield so the linebackers can't flow. Demens again eats two OL.
M49 2 7 I-Form 3-wide 4-3 under press Pass 5 Hitch Taylor 3
Always going to be a nothing pass as all the routes are hitches against man. Taylor(+1, cover +1) is there to tackle on a three yard catch. Ryan(+0.5) avoided a cut and harassed.
M46 3 4 Ace Nickel even Pass 4 TE Dig Black INT
Clark(+0.5) gets a little bit of pressure from the edge, causing Maxwell to step up in the pocket a bit. Black(+0.5, pressure +1) is now leaping at Maxwell as he tries to throw. Avery(+1, cover +1) is in the TE's back pocket here and has a play on almost any well-thrown ball. The ball sails to Tacopants, and eventually falls to Kovacs(+1), who makes the INT.
Drive Notes: Interception, 6-7, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O9 1 10 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 1
Campbell(+2) blasts McDonald back one on one and forces a Bell cutback. Washington has given ground but took two blockers, push. Demens(+0.5) is free and sees the cutback; he tackles in the hole.
O10 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power Beyer 2
Gordon comes down late for a seventh man in the box as M goes man free on the back end. Beyer(+1) knows he's got help outside and fights inside a kickout. Roh(-1) got blown up by a double as a DT, but that'll happen. Beyer rakes the ball out; Morgan(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5) had constricted available space to likely make this a third and medium anyway. MSU somehow recovers.
O12 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 5-1 nickel Pass 5 Slant Taylor 10
Avery comes down of the slot and blitzes. Maxwell picks the outside slant correctly and hits it. Taylor(-1) came up hard but to the inside, apparently expecting short hitch #1000. RPS -1, Pressure -1... this got picked up.
O22 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 over Pass 4 Dumpoff Ryan Inc
Time is good for MSU; Campbell does come under a guy and start moving into the pocket with Clark also arriving (pressure -1) to make it not horrible. Coverage(+2) is excellent downfield, Maxwell checks down to a fullback who drops the ball. He was getting nowhere anyway as Ryan(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5) were about to crush this.
O22 2 10 I-Form 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power Ryan 1
Ryan(+1) looks to take on a kickout, pops upfield of it, and falls over as he beats the block, grabbing Bell's leg as he does so. Demens(+1) clubs the pulling G at the LOS and stand him up; Black(+0.5) comes from the backside to wrap up after Bell finally steps through the arm tackle attempt.
O23 3 9 Shotgun 2-back 5-1 nickel press Pass 5 Slant Floyd Inc
Mumphery against Floyd on the slant; Floyd(+2, cover +1) does give up the inside a bit but rides him and is in position to make a play on the ball as it arrives. Meh throw; didn't really matter.
Drive Notes: FAKE punt, 9-7, 10 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O49 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 4-3 under press Pass 5 Fly Floyd Inc
Burbridge has exactly one step on Floyd(+0.5, cover +1) and this throw would have to be perfect. It's long.
O49 2 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Taylor 12
M shows man. Taylor(-2, cover -1, tackling -1) takes a crappy angle to the slant and ends up upfield of the WR; his off balance tackle attempt is run through. That is baaaad. Gordon(+1) is there to clean up, thankfully, making a solid tackle that prevents anything big from going down.
M39 1 10 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Power Beyer 5
Beyer(-1) in at SDE and the difference between him and Roh is noticeable. He gets blown off the ball by a double; LBs blocked by the TE and pulling G as FB kicks Ryan. Demens funnels; Morgan takes on a block, folks tackle after five. Basically standard stuff once you've lost that double at the POA.
M34 2 5 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Power Campbell 4
At the other side of the line. Campbell(-0.5) gets creased a little bit. Heitzman(-1) runs straight upfield past the kickout so the gap is pretty big. LBs take on blockers as well as they can but Bell is just running up the backs of his OL and can push the pile.
M30 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Power Roh 2
M slants playside. Roh(+1) gets under the guard and drives in to the backside of the play, forcing a cutback behind him. Ryan(+0.5) is there in that gap to stall that initial cutback. Demens comes up to start pushing; Bell manages to find a tiny crease and pushes through it.
M28 1 10 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Pitch sweep Kovacs 2
Quick pitch with a motioning TE blocking down as the tackle pulls around him Kovacs(+2) is initially hesitant as he follows the TE motion since he's in man on the guy, then realizes it's a run and attacks outside. WR cracks down on Demens. Ryan(-1) tries to shoot upfield of the pulling T and gets shoved past the play, the T is delayed but continues his pull, dangerous. Floyd(+1) is trying to contain against two guys now. He avoids a cut and spins outside; Kovacs(tackling +1) screams through the gap between the two OL that Floyd helped create by not going down to the cut and needing another blocker to deal with him; he's charging fast but manages to hang on and tackles; everyone's falling forward but whatever, great play.
M26 2 8 I-Form Big 4-4 under Pass 5 Corner Taylor 14 + 6 Pen
Maxwell has to throw as Ryan(+1, pressure +1) is shedding a blocker and about to hit him. Campbell(-1) is also coming from behind after dodging a blocker with agility(!) and would get a plus… if he didn't rough the passer after Maxwell dumps it. Alas. The corner route is to a blanketed receiver; Taylor's got the coverage. He wraps his arm around the guy and gets a penalty call, but he's also in great position. This throw has to be inch perfect and a great catch; it's both. Taylor(-1, cover +1) gets a minus for a legit PI call but he was in the right spot to make a play, which is what coverage attempts to measure. Taylor goes out on this play. Avery replaces him.
M6 1 G I-Form Big 4-4 under Pass 5 PA TE delay Gordon Inc
Ryan(+1, pressure +1) beats the RT and hits Maxwell either as or just after he throws. Beyer(+0.5) and Washington(+0.5) also surge up in the pocket, demanding a throw. That throw is a highly delayed pass to the TE that Gordon(+2, cover +2) is waiting for and PBUs.
M6 2 G Ace twins 4-4 under press Run N/A Power Demens 2
TE kicks Ryan; Beyer(+0.5) slants inside the tackle, which makes the tackle hesitate. Demens(+1) plugs the pulling G at the LOS; Morgan(+0.5) is there as Demens funnels to him, many people stop Bell's momentum.
M4 3 G I-Form Big Goal line Run N/A Inside zone Floyd 2
They motion a TE to Floyd's side and run at him. Floyd(+1) fights outside the block. Morgan(+1) is flowing hard at the play and Bell has no choice but to try and run up the back of the blocker; Floyd and Morgan tackle(+1). Kovacs(+1) shot a gap that made the outside the only possible place to go BTW.
Drive Notes: FG(19), 9-10, 5 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O9 1 10 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Outside trap Campbell 0
MSU trying to get a quick trap block on Campbell(+2) by blocking down with the tackle, bringing the G around him, and hitting the bubble between Campbell and Roh. Campbell blows through the down block and gets into the trapper. Roh(+0.5) has contain. Gordon and Morgan are both in the hole against one blocker; Bell tries to cut back and hits the guy blocking Campbell. Beyer(+0.5) avoided a cut and flows down the line to tackle.
O9 2 10 I-Form 4-4 under Pass 4 PA slant Floyd Inc
Two man route. Primary is a slant Floyd(+1, cover +1) is in excellent position on; Gordon(+1) is rolled up in the box but drops off in time to make a delayed throw a bad idea. WR tries to break back outside, stil covered by Floyd(+1, cover +1) and the ball sails wide. Pressure -1, all day but two man route.
O9 3 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Screen Morgan 4
Morgan(+1) gets outside of the lone OL blocker already out and forces the play back into Ryan(+1) who showed blitz and backed out. Ryan tackles after a meh gain, punching the ball out, MSU gets it back. RPS +2, screen in to three man rush had no chance.
Drive Notes: Punt, 9-10, 2 min 4th Q

I'm already bored with this.

What?

Not enough points. This isn't boringsball. It's football.

You can't be serious.

Whatever happened to games that ended with 70 points being scored?

You mean like last year's OSU game?

YEAH

You liked giving up 34 points to Jim Bollman.

Uh. CHART

I wasn't… oh fine.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Roh 14.5 3.5 11.5 Field day against backup freshman tackle.
Campbell 5.5 3.5 2 Big play on final drive.
Washington 3.5 3 0.5 Mostly eating doubles on power.
Black 3.5 - 3.5 It lives!
Clark 1.5 - 1.5 Eh
Beyer 4.5 1 3.5 Beyer surges into tentative WDE lead on run heavy day.
Pipkins 0.5 3 -2.5 Blown up once.
Heitzman 0.5 1 -0.5 Eh.
Ojemudia - - - DNP
Ash - - - DNP
Brink - - - DNP
TOTAL 34 15 19 Little bit of dropoff from Illinois but not much.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 9 2 7 Remember the athleticism worries with him?
Demens 7.5 1 6.5 Four straight +++ games.
Ryan 17.5 3 14.5 I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS
C. Gordon - - - DNP
Ross - - - DNP
Bolden - - - DNP
Hawthorne - - - DNP
TOTAL 34 6 28 /gapes
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 12.5 5 7.5 Recovered from meh start to have damn fine day.
Avery 2 - 2 May have contributed to INT.
Taylor 4 7 -3 Missed a couple slants; MSU switched to targeting him late.
Kovacs 5 4 1 Did biff a robber zone, also had awesome Kovacsplay.
T. Gordon 7 5 2 Gave up the big one.
M. Robinson - - - DNP
Wilson - - - DNC
TOTAL 30.5 21 9.5 As a whole, a pass.
Metrics
Pressure 16 6 10 Even the deep throws were like one two three chuck.
Coverage 22 8 14 Maxwell helped here with some indecision.
Tackling 12 4 75% Bell didn't plow anyone.
RPS 5 5 0 Meh.

This has been an interesting experience since every week I look at the numbers I've collected and then think to myself "oh crap those are too high" and then go check the boxscore and think "actually…"

This week's "Actually"…

  • Maxwell averaged a Sheridan-like 5.6 YPC and threw an INT.
  • MSU averaged 3.3 YPC once sacks and the fake punt are removed; Bell ran for 2.6 YPC.
  • The sole play longer than 20 yards was the bomb to Fowler on which Gordon was in position and neither found the ball nor played the man.
  • Michigan forced two fumbles that MSU was fortunate to recover.
  • MSU scored 10 points on 12 drives.

So, yeah. The DL numbers are down a bit except for Roh, who didn't do much on the scoresheet but as Ace mentioned on the podcast is becoming a guy running backs cut behind into their doom three times a game. He had a super-easy matchup against MSU's 6'3" backup LT and exploited that to his credit. He is really tough to seal.

I can't be the only guy who saw that first playcall and had flashbacks to last year. Well, Roh is a ton better at not getting put away by WRs (and BJ Cunningham isn't walking through that door) this year and he strings the play out until the cavalry rallies.

Ryan… par for the course. Also both ILBs have shed that early-season hesitation and the pesky freshmen.

As for JT Floyd…

AAAAAH JT FLOYD AAAAAH

Let's talk Floyd. He started off poorly, getting flung to the ground by Burbridge and beaten deep by him—on an incompletion—en route to being –3-ish, and then he ate some spinach. MSU kept going after him with slants

and deep stuff

and slants

and this isn't really going after him but this is a nice fill and tackle.

and then they started throwing at Raymon Taylor. Floyd went from targeted weak point to guy Michigan State is avoiding over the course of a quarter or so. It is really rare for a DB to rack up the kind of numbers Floyd does because the kind of guys capable of racking up a +12.5 to the positive at corner never get the opportunity because they don't get thrown at. You can only get there if the opposing offensive coordinator thinks you suck. Floyd proved otherwise against a hyped athlete.

Have the freshmen linebackers been vanquished for good?

Ah yup. As long as Morgan and Demens are playing like they are, it's wait until next year for those guys aside from a few drives a game against not Nebraska or Ohio State where Michigan tries to get them some experience. Last week it was Demens turning in the highlight reel stuff; this time Morgan led the way with a series of you're-done-now tackles. This one on Bell was the best:

Morgan is taking on a block and can only reach out for an arm tackle against LeVeon Bell going north and south, and Bell's momentum evaporates. The delay lets Michigan rally to the ball, sets up a third and short—against which Michigan is still deadly—and on the next play Roh and Ryan slant under to boot State off the field. A missed field goal attempt follows. In a game of inches like this one, you can point to Morgan being able to just about stop a 250-pound mooseback like Bell with one arm as the difference in the game.

Oh yeah:

image[1]

Awarded.

That hesitation this site complained about for about a year solid seems gone. Here's Morgan coming from the backside of the play to make a tackle near the LOS:

I'm not sure this happens a few weeks ago. For one, the line has kept the LBs clean. For two, both of the LBs are biasing their motion away from Michigan's DL slant, which is not something they were doing early in the year. Morgan seems to have a better sense of where the ball is going to end up based on the defensive call, and more faith that his defensive line will execute the slant well enough to make the cutback lanes he's hesitated checking for a distant possibility.

With apologies to Wisconsin and Penn State, we may have just seen the two best LB units in the league go head to head. You can make the case, at least, and that's good enough in terms of hot sprotstakes with no definable metric.

Have the last vapors of GERG been chased away?

I think so. Michigan gave up some yards on reverses this game, which okay. Those were 10-12 yard gains. What struck me, though, were three different attempts to fool Michigan into leaving the backside unprotected, none of which succeeded. On the first Kenny Demens was invited to scream into Maxwell's chest, passed, and turned what coulda mighta shoulda been an RPS –2 to play into an incompletion:

Demens ends up getting outrun at the end there and there is a window; he successfully turned that play from an argh-where-is-everybody 20-yard-gain into an extremely difficult downfield completion to a guy who is not a natural receiver.

The second was the trick play that eventually became a first and goal after Lippett ran places and did things; on that one Gordon hung back, taking away the throwback to the QB. Gordon did it again on the final attempt, when MSU released a TE way late and Gordon was there for the PBU. These guys know their assignments and trust that the rest of the defense will execute for them.

A couple years ago we were enduring wheelapalooza against Illinois; these days you get extremely scanty opportunities to hit something easy and pick up free yards. MSU set up one screen that Jake Ryan did his leverage-but-wait-there's-more-FREE-TACKLE thing on that would have been a nice gain and Kovacs sucked up on a post. Other than that, bupkis.

Crappy opponent offenses, sure. Michigan hasn't really blown anything since Air Force, and that was not on Kovacs but a scheme against the triple option that won't be relevant again. That's half a season. Against anyone, that's impressive—ask OSU, which gave up an 83-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage against Purdue on Saturday.

Solid, solid, solid. Michigan is about as good as you can be on defense without having an elite pass rusher on the DL.

Let this also inform all judgments levied on the safety numbers. Yes, the individual numbers. Also look at the coverage—Michigan has not been this consistently good at that metric since I started doing this.

We didn't get any pressure. Worry?

I actually thought Michigan did a pretty good job of getting to the quarterback. MSU had a lot of short stuff; their long stuff was as quickly developing as it can be since it was all throwing it to Burbridge as he ran straight downfield. On a number of those attempts, Maxwell was about to get hit. So it wasn't as dire as the single sack implied.

This is never going to be great until Michigan's getting better production out of its WDE spot, but Ryan and Roh coming off the same edge is decent. If you've got a worry, this is it; scanning the teams left on the schedule doesn't reveal a lot of teams that like to just drop back and bomb it deep.

Heroes?

Roh, Ryan, Floyd, and to a somewhat lesser extent the two ILBs.

Goats?

For a second week: GTFO. You could maybe pick on Taylor but he is a part of that coverage number, so no.

What does it mean for Nebraska and beyond?

Nebraska will be Michigan's stiffest test since Alabama. They're running the ball all over the place and use a wide panoply of different looks that will put that hesitation lack under the microscope. Don't be fooled by the close game against Northwestern, which was the product of an avalanche of special teams miscues. They've put up over 400 yards on Wisconsin and OSU and Taylor Martinez is much improved as a passer—grumble grumble aging makes people better not worse? They will be a stiff test even if Burkhead is out.

I don't really know what to expect. No one has held Nebraska under 29, and that's a tough number to see Michigan's offense exceeding against a team with one of those pulse things these days unless Michigan takes the O out of the garage some, but that's another post.

Michigan will see its entire front seven extensively tested by the run game and will need to win one on one matchups outside if they're going to make Kovacs the tiny linebacker who was so effective last year. I'm 50/50 on whether that will happen—Nebraska's WRs are one of the hidden secrets in the conference and they're coming off a great game.

Touch and go, touch and go. I think Michigan will hold them to a season low in yards and points since they just don't give up anything big on the ground, like, ever—but if they keep Nebraska under 20 that will be a wow experience.