Wednesday Presser 11-22-17: Don Brown

Wednesday Presser 11-22-17: Don Brown

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 23rd, 2017 at 9:01 AM

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[Upchurch]

“Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.”

[Everyone in unison like the end of a Peanuts special] Happy Thanksgiving.

Talk about the Ohio State Offense and the challenge of preparing for them.

“Yeah, they’ve got good players. Two really good running backs, quarterback’s a veteran guy who knows how to play this game, some explosive guys at the receiver position, I think they’re improved in the offensive line, tight ends solid, so yeah, we’ve got a good offensive outfit to get ready for.”

Chase Winovich said that the highest praise he feels he’s ever gotten here is you calling him an ‘animal, bro.’ What do you think the highest praise is that you give out to a guy?

“Well, that’s pretty close right there. I think he’s really played well. You know, we try to make our living here on sacks, TFLs, living that approach, and you look at the numbers at the end of the day and he’s right up there in the TFL piece for sure, so I think he’s playing at a very, very solid level.”

Do you have different levels? Do you have like a guy, a man—

“Oh yeah.”

What are they?

“You know, you’re a Guy, and that’s your first start. Then, you know, if you’re really playing well, then you give ‘em Dude status, and then you give ‘em the competing animal status, so there’s your three levels of it. Being a dude’s not easy to do, now. I mean, that’s pretty high esteem.”

How do you approach the challenge of not only trying to slow JT Barrett but also the fact that they have the two really talented running backs?

“Yeah, they’re good. You know, the bottom line is you’ve got to pick your poison and you’ve got to stand for something. Some guys try to sit there and spread out and cover everything and that’s one approach. Some people try to read and react and that’s another approach. Obviously we try to do it all and make it tough on them. So, that’s our goal.

“But you got to stand for something. I can’t tell you what that is, but you’ve got to stand for something. You just can’t let ‘em pick you apart and move you down the field. That’s not going to happen anyway, so our approach is always try to be on the aggressive side of things, but at the same time, you’ve got to be intelligent.”

[After THE JUMP: the best practice of the season, not cheating the game, and playing with an X on your chest]

Wednesday Presser 11-1-17: Don Brown

Wednesday Presser 11-1-17: Don Brown

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 2nd, 2017 at 12:28 PM

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[Barron]

What do you see from Minnesota that you’re preparing for?

“Well, they’re gonna run the rock. Their mantra, you can tell, is they’re big, strong. I think the best offensive line we’ve played to this point in terms of run blocking, and they’ve got multiple running backs that can carry the load so we’ve got to do a great job in controlling the run game and then obviously doing a good job on third down from our standpoint.”

With Aubrey Solomon getting the start, what did he do to earn that start?

“Wow. Just a big boy growing up. He’s learned the system, he’s minimizing errors, and he’s kind of solidifying himself as a solid guy we can depend on on a three-down basis. And it’s not rocket science. I mean, on third down, we’ll do whatever we want to do anyway to get off the field, so with some of those things he’s involved and some of ‘em he’s not involved, but he’s a tremendous run defender and a very solid pass defender.”

On that second touchdown drive against Rutgers they hit a couple plays where your guys were right there on them. Is that going to happen and are there times where you as a coordinator just tip your cap?

“Well, I tip my cap on the pass. The kid made a one-handed catch. I thought Tyree was in great shape. You want to be able to lean into him and go through his hands and all that but at the end of that day it was like that [mimes a one-handed catch away from the body].

“So, you know, the bottom line is… let me paint a picture for you. You’re in zone coverage, okay? And we played a bunch, by the way, last Saturday, but we play combination coverages so guys are—we don’t want guys running free. We don’t want, oh we’re in zone, this guy dropped him. We’re not doing that, okay? So I’d rather spend my time teaching great technique, great fundamentals, let B. Smith and Mike Zordich do their deal and also be able to mix in, when we decide, other concepts that will cover people. Not people running through air and then relying on those zone pieces. I mean, that’s just not what we do.

[I had to split this answer with THE JUMP because posting novellas to the front page during the season is discouraged]

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Indiana

Submitted by Brian on October 19th, 2017 at 3:31 PM

2017 logoo_thumbSPONSOR NOTES. Matt's on his way to Penn State as we speak, thinking no doubt about various ways in which US Soccer's surplus can be spent effectively: reducing the cost of A-level coaching licenses, supporting youth clubs that produce USMNT players, building a giant statue of Sunil Gulati being devoured by wolves. Maybe I'm projecting. I'm probably projecting.

Matt's probably thinking about ways to get your mortgage quote even faster, like inventing a time machine or hiring really fast donkeys. Because he gets you quotes fast, like a competent person not in charge of US soccer does.

FORMATION NOTES. Another 60-40 split between the stack package and a four-man line. 31 four man line snaps of which Mone probably got 25, with Dwumfour in on passing downs. 4-3 snaps went down 3 against a spread offense.

Michigan is deploying some dime now, with all three CBs on the field simultaneously. I had them for 11 dime snaps.

Indiana was all spread, never under center. Here is a picture of Indiana:

vlcsnap-2017-10-19-00h36m22s485

Other than the usual diet of weird line alignments on passing downs this was basically what you'd expect.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES. Secondary was the usual: Kinnel and Metellus omnipresent except for a play or two after Kinnel got dinged when Woods came in. Thomas and Glasgow both got a few snaps. CBs rotated through snaps, with a half-dozen or so snaps where all three were on the field.

Bush was omnipresent; McCray nearly so except in the immediate aftermath of a cut block when Gil got a play.

Michigan again rotated between two of Hudson, Furbush, and Mone, with the 3-3-5 set far more common than alternatives. Uche got a few of Hudson/Furbush's snaps in the second quarter. The DL did see some rotation, with Solomon, Kemp, Marshall and Dwumfour all getting scattered snaps. Winovich did not come off the field; Dwumfour was usually in as a fourth DL on passing downs instead of Mone.

[After THE JUMP: bolded alter-ego can't maintain the fiction any longer!]

Five Question And Five Answers: Defense 2017

Five Question And Five Answers: Defense 2017

Submitted by Brian on September 1st, 2017 at 2:03 PM

Previously: Podcast 9.0A. Podcast 9.0B. Podcast 9.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Line. Defensive End. Defensive Tackle. Linebacker. Cornerback. Safety. Special Teams. 5Q5A Offense.

1. HOW ARE WE GONNA SURVIVE MAN? THEY'RE ALL GONE!

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the dearly departed [Eric Upchurch]

Survive is easy. See Gary, Rashan. Thrive is harder. Michigan's talent drain has been significantly overblown in the national media, a land where Mo Hurst isn't a starter and there are significant question marks about Gary and Chase Winovich, but... uh... there was still a lot of it. See last year's NFL draft.

The main thing offsetting the talent drain is the Don Brown effect. His defenses have taken significant steps—sometimes massive leaps—forward in year two:

[metrics are yards per play, FEI, and S&P+; national ranks are presented. final column is the average of the three. Bolded years are Brown years.]

Year TEAM YPP FEI S&P+ AVG
2008 Maryland 56 63 75 65
2009 Maryland 87 64 44 65
2010 Maryland 14 20 31 22
2011 Maryland 83 74 102 86
           
2010 UConn 40 40 63 48
2011 UConn 56 23 34 38
2012 UConn 8 22 38 23
2013 UConn 64 56 72 64
           
2012 Boston College 63 81 80 75
2013 Boston College 92 98 80 90
2014 Boston College 30 68 36 45
2015 Boston College 1 5 3 3

Forward motion for Michigan is impossible after last year's elite outfit, but the table makes it clear that imbibing Don Brown's defense is a multi-year process. Michigan has a bunch of new starters; none are freshmen, so they're actually more experienced in Brown's defense than the departed were. This resulted in a lot less pointing during the spring game, and an absence of the big safety busts that cropped up at inopportune times last year. (Except for that walk-on against Gentry.)

Bill Connelly's 2016 defensive radar tells a hell of a story:

MichiganDefRadar

That slice out of the circle of excellency is yards per completion. You'll note that Michigan was fantastic at preventing 20 yard passes, and just average at preventing 30 yard passes—the implication is that when Michigan busted they busted huge, as they did against Colorado early and FSU late. The above is what the platonic opposite of a bend-but-don't break defense looks like statistically.

Getting a little bit more bend in the defense will help. Michigan's going to lose ground everywhere else but if they can pull that yards per completion number up 60 or so spots that'll go a long way towards treading water. This is in fact the pattern Brown's defenses follow:

And though the Eagles had been vulnerable to giving up big plays on the back end in Brown’s first few seasons in Chestnut Hill, by Year 3 they got the personnel and the scheme to the point where they were solid on both ends. In 2013, Brown’s first year helming the defense, BC gave up 47 passing plays of more than 20 yards (tied for no. 97 nationally); in his last year, it gave up just 29 (tied for no. 10).

Michigan isn't going to be bend-but-don't-break, but they'll be moreso than last year, when they were awesome... and brittle.

The other arrow pointing in the right direction is turnover acquisition. Michigan was unlucky last year. They generated a ton of sacks (5th nationally) but did not see that pay off with a lot of turnovers. Despite having that defense above Michigan only managed 13 turnovers acquired, 67th. That's just bad luck, not dependent on coaching. Brady Hoke's first defense recovered 20 fumbles; Harbaugh's first team recovered 2. QED. They should expect to be favored by the turnover gods more this year, he said for the 100th straight time.

The rest of it is having a lot of talent. Michigan has two certain first round picks on the DL and three more guys who are highly likely to be drafted just in the front seven. The other six are too young to tell but are mostly tracking well outside of corner. These previews aren't afraid to hand out 1s and 2s when the situation appears to warrant it; Michigan is not in that situation. Some units will be average; some will be excellent, and Michigan will mostly maintain as they shift into a mode where consistency of approach and recruiting allows them to expect top defenses annually.

[After THE JUMP: solve your problems with...]