Recruits In Retrospect: 2010 Defense

Recruits In Retrospect: 2010 Defense

Submitted by Ace on May 15th, 2015 at 2:06 PM

Previously: 2008 Offense2008 Defense2009 Defense2009 Quarterbacks2009 Offense, 2010 Offense

The series continues with a look back at the defensive prospects in Michigan's 2010 recruiting class. Rich Rodriguez took 16 defenders in the class; more of them failed to make it to the opening kickoff of their freshman year (four) than advanced all the way to Senior Day (three).

I apologize in advance.

Those Who Stayed


Obi Ezeh!

Especially in retrospect, Jake Ryan's recruitment was bizarre. Ryan was the most productive defender on a state-title-winning Cleveland St. Ignatius squad that got plenty of exposure; he played next to Ohio State commit Scott McVey; his highlight tape provided more than a glimpse of what he'd become at Michigan. He looked a whole lot like Jake MF Ryan, minus the flowing locks.

Yet Ryan went unranked for much of the process, and even after a strong senior season only earned middling three-star rankings. Michigan didn't offer Ryan until he took an official visit a couple weeks before Signing Day. Ryan, holding only MAC offers, committed the next day. Reading his profile today makes me wonder if I unwittingly ingested all of the drugs:

Why Obi Ezeh? Ryan is a big, slightly clunky middle linebacker who will easily reach Ezeh's current 245 pounds and may outgrow the position entirely. As a recruit Ezeh was an anonymous three-star in about the same range Ryan is; he was also a sleeper-type pickup who had not been on anyone's radar before Michigan grabbed him. Ryan is praised for his vertical attacking and dogged for his ability to cut through the trash sideline-to-sideline or effectively cover zones; Ezeh's career is ably summed up by those critiques.

Ryan has some assets Ezeh doesn't: a high school career at linebacker (Ezeh was mostly a running back), a head start on the system he'll be playing in, and Greg Robinson as a position coach. Hopefully he'll have some consistency in coaching as well.

Notably, Greg Robinson as a position coach was listed as a positive. Greg Robinson as a defensive coordinator was... not.

Jibreel Black's profile spent a lot of time hoping he'd become at least a poor man's Brandon Graham. While Black didn't come close to Graham's heights, he was a solid contributor his last three years, and he could've been more productive if Michigan's issues with D-line depth didn't force him into a role as a 275-pound nose tackle for much of his senior season. Black is one of many players from the Rodriguez/Hoke era whose career would've benefited from a redshirt year he wasn't afforded.

The career of Courtney Avery saw him go from promising freshman corner to clearly undersized spot starter to senior utility man—he'd finish his time at Michigan with 19 starts, five of them at safety in 2013. Avery was also a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, which shouldn't come as a surprise since he flipped his commitment from Stanford to Michigan; his high school coach thought very highly of him:

“He’s the type of kid that if he wants to be president of the United States one day, he will be. I got two compliments I could give him. That’s the first, and the second is if my daughter was 18, she could date him."

"Thanks, Coach. I'm deeply uncomfortable."

[Hit THE JUMP, if you dare.]

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Northwestern

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Northwestern

Submitted by Brian on November 21st, 2013 at 3:43 PM

TUBE NOTES: These are not tubes, but it's pretty much tubes.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan defended spread stuff exactly like Northwestern did, leaving in a 4-3 and sliding their linebackers to the slot receiver. Since Northwestern was in a spread all the time, this was what they did all the time.

4-3-even-slide 3

Cam Gordon over the first slot receiver, Morgan in the gray area over #3, Ross in the box.

When Northwestern went with two WRs to one side instead of three two LBs were in the box.

4-3-over-slot

Michigan only went to 4-3 stuff when Northwestern went into goal line business.

pistol fb goal line

Michigan kept two deep safeties most of the day, which was a change from Nebraska.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Secondary was Countess and Taylor at corner with Stribling the third guy when Michigan went to the nickel, which was a lot less frequent. Gordon and Avery got most of the snaps at safety, with Wilson rotating in on occasion and Furman getting one drive, IIRC. He did not chart.

Linebacker the usual. Morgan/Ross/Bolden rotation at ILB, Ryan and Cam Gordon at SAM.

On the line, Beyer and Wormley rotated at SDE, Ojemudia and Clark at WDE. Black, Washington, and Henry got almost all of the DT snaps, with Black again mostly at NT. Glasgow got a few snaps, and Charlton got DT snaps in the nickel package.

[After THE JUMP: infinite clips of Mike Trumpy running for two yards.]

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Nebraska

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Nebraska

Submitted by Brian on November 14th, 2013 at 5:08 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan abandoned the two-high look for most of this game in favor of seven or seven and a half man fronts depending on whether Nebraska was in standard or three-wide personnel. Against 2TEs and a back:

4-3-under-one-high

Against three wide they would often go with a straight up 4-3 under on plausible run downs. This is a four-wide formation on which Michigan has 4-3 personnel on the field (that's Cam Gordon over the slot) and only gets out of their 4-3 under because Nebraska splits a TE.

d-4-3-even-spread

This is a wide shot of a fairly typical one-high setup:

option-1

All of this was great for jamming up Nebraska's inside run game and very bad for option pitches.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Avery and Furman started at safety, with Wilson frequently subbing in. He was in the same role Bolden was, essentially a third starter. Thomas Gordon did not play. Countess went out in the first quarter, which put Dymonte Thomas on the field in the nickel and Stribling on the field on all downs. Lewis played only a little early and then was out.

Linebackers were the usual. Ryan/Gordon at SAM, Ross/Bolden/Morgan three guys for two spots at ILB. On the line, Jibreel Black(!) was your starting nose tackle with Washington rotating in. Henry and Glasgow were at the three tech, Clark went almost the whole way at WDE with Ojemudia in a clear backup role, and the same thing happened at SDE with Beyer and Wormley. On nickel packages, Taco Charlton came in as a DT. This was probably not a good move.

[After THE JUMP: 17 points should be good enough.]

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Indiana

Submitted by Brian on October 25th, 2013 at 3:19 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan spent every snap in their nickel. This was fairly typical.

shotgun-two-back-triangle

That also shows what I called "shotgun triangle" for IU. Wynn is lined up in the backfield behind the QB, but it's shotgun depth, not pistol. Wynn would always motion out after a hand-wave from the QB; this was always a decoy.

okie-two-umbrella

Michigan did show a few okie packages. This is Okie two; I designate them by the number of safeties.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Boatloads. Avery went back to safety and spotted Gordon and Wilson from time to time. This led to a lot of Stribling and Lewis, as Michigan played every snap in their nickel. Countess and Taylor did not leave the field, IIRC.

At linebacker the usual Ross/Morgan/Bolden rotation saw Ben Gedeon join. The line was the usual profusion of bodies. Clark or Ojemudia was usually one end with one of Beyer/Ryan/CGordon the other. On the interior, Washington, Black, Wormley, Henry and Heitzman seemed to split snaps almost evenly. Glasgow also got in some.

[After THE JUMP: go go go go go go go go go go]

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Penn State

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Penn State

Submitted by Brian on October 17th, 2013 at 2:28 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Some additional  things in this game. This was a special situation, but when PSU hurried to the line in the first quarter to attempt it on fourth and one, Michigan responded with the perfect pinched-line D:

4-4 pinch

This punched PSU off the field and earned Mattison a gold star.

Michigan occasionally split their LBs in the nickel package in what I called 5-1-nickel:

5-1-nickel

And they took to a thing where they're standing the WDE before the snap like so:

under-flip

This has almost always meant he's dropping.

Finally, everyone milling about presnap with no one with a hand down:

upright-okie-1

This was just Okie in my book.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Secondary was as per usual, with Stribling getting in on a couple of dime packages in the second half and replacing Avery on the Fatal Bomb Drive. ILB was basically the same; Morgan and Ross spotted by Bolden. SAM saw a three-guy rotation with Beyer, Ryan, and Cam Gordon all getting snaps.

The line was also about per usual: Heitzman/Washington/Black/Clark with Wormley/Ash/Henry/Ojemudia spotting. Ash's snaps were extremely scanty, FWIW. When Washington was out it was more often two of Henry/Wormley/Black than Ash.

[After THE JUMP: a heroic 43 allowed.]

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Minnesota

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Minnesota

Submitted by Brian on October 10th, 2013 at 3:30 PM

FORMATION NOTES: This is nothing out of the ordinary for Michigan, but who's up for a perfect overhead view of Michigan aligning in a 4-3 under?

4-3-under-overhead

There are your 6, 3, 1, and five techniques left to right across the front with Gordon hanging out in what I guess is an 8 or 9.

Michigan also showed over fronts, which they have to from time to time because Minnesota loves to flip its strength.

boomd-1

This did not result in a discernible uptick in effectiveness.

This is the Maryland I:

maryland i

This is Michgian in old friend Okie Zero.

okie-zero

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: A lot more nose tackle in this one; Washington got more time than he did in any game to date this year with Pipkins rotating in regularly; once Pipkins went down Ash did get a few snaps late. Rest of the DL was generally Clark/Heitzman/Black with Ojemudia/Wormley/Henry backing up. Glasgow got a couple snaps before the end as well.

Usual rotation at LB was halted after Bolden made some errors, and then it was just the starters. Secondary was the usual except that Avery was the starter at CB and Taylor only came in for nickel packages.

[After THE JUMP: this is the drive that never ends.]

One Frame At A Time: Minnesota

One Frame At A Time: Minnesota

Submitted by Ace on October 8th, 2013 at 3:49 PM

For the final time, Jon Falk hands off the Jug. These little moments are what make college football so special—name another sport in which the fans know the name of a beloved equipment manager and care deeply about a century-old water jug that doubles as a trophy in a severely one-sided rivalry.

Many more GIFs of the Jug, as well as a whole lot of Funchess, alumni cheerleaders, and more after the jump.

[JUMP]

Necessary But Not Sufficient

Necessary But Not Sufficient

Submitted by Brian on October 7th, 2013 at 12:18 PM

10/5/2013 – Michigan 42, Minnesota 13 – 5-0, 1-0 Big Ten

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Eric Upchurch

Jon Falk has a compatriot at Minnesota. He's probably had a dozen over his 40 years as Michigan's equipment manager. Some guy who comes in with the latest Gopher coaching staff, wonders what it's like to hold the jug in his meaty palm, and maybe once gets to shepherd it for a year. Since Falk arrived at Michigan a fresh-faced young thing four years into Bo's career, his opposite number has had this experience three times.

In proof lingo, this means that beating Minnesota—beating up on Minnesota, usually—is a necessary but not sufficient property of Michigan teams that want to do anything with their seasons. Sometimes you can retain the Jug despite not being very good; sometimes you can retain the jug despite being headed for 3-9 because Nick Sheridan has an out-of-body experience. When you're headed for 3-9 you get a little misty about the Jug coming out. When you're not the worst team in Ann Arbor since the 1930s it's a checkbox to fill out.

Michigan did so in perfunctory style, grinding out a second half in which they went from vaguely threatened to bored. Since this came on the heels of narrow escapes against teams that lost 43-3 to Ohio on Saturday and 41-12 to Buffalo last week, it's progress. How much is unknown.

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

This game settled into a grim fugue state almost from the drop, as Michigan manballed its way into the endzone on a Statement Drive to start the game. Unfortunately, that Statement was "by putting Taylor Lewan next to Michael Schofield we can bull our way down the field against Minnesota." That statement is unlikely to apply to many teams on the schedule. But, hey, progress.

Then Minnesota donned turbans and embarked on the Ishtar Drive. An epic production galaxy-spanning in its dullness that arrived at its destination two hours too late and failed to have the desired impact, it ate up the rest of the quarter. Michigan left it without having attempted a pass.

This was a little dull.

It was the kind of dull that had Space Coyote, the Michigan's blogosphere's resident instant analysis savant, pleading with the masses that the intricacies of a well-blocked power play were just as appealing as, say, watching 175-pound Venric Mark activate his truck stick on an Ohio State safety. I can't imagine there's another Michigan fan in the world more receptive to that argument than yours truly and even I wasn't buying that as the secondary effect of all that manball kicked in: punt, commercial, play, end of quarter, commercial, play play, punt, commercial. Touchdown, commercial, kickoff, commercial—the NFL special. As the teams' attempt to blow through this game in record time was thwarted by the networks, being in Michigan Stadium became the worst concert of all time interrupted by bouts of football-related activity.

It was the kind of thing that made you consider what the purpose of your fandom was. Am I only here to see Michigan end a game with a larger number on the scoreboard than Opponent? Is there any valid goal outside of this? Am I a bad fan for wishing something interesting would happen? Do the people on twitter who scorn you for having feelings other than Go Team have a point? What is the point of any of this, and why can't they make the wifi work?

At halftime, the guys in front of me discussed whether they would bolt for Frazer's, and two did. I'm usually a guy who thinks leaving an athletic event before it's decided is a mortal sin, but I kind of envied the guy in the home-made muscle shirt screwing off to a place where he could get a beer and not hear "Build Me Up, Buttercup." At any other time, I would have thought this man's attendance at Michigan Stadium was a necessary property of a fan that he had just shown was not sufficient by leaving a touchdown game at halftime like he was a sorority girl about to blow a .341. On Saturday, I was with him in spirit.

This is a fearful development. I don't want to think like that. I want to be forever ten years old, excited by everything. On Saturday I had a long look down the elevator shaft.

622377-1_super[1]

It'll pass like the moment above did. Someone will do something interesting, and there will be something at stake other than a piece of crockery that just means you're not horrible, and sometimes not even that. I had a bad day, I was pissed at Dave Brandon when I discovered I was thirsty but knew I couldn't do anything about it without missing a large chunk of the game I was there to see even if it was narcoleptic, I was emo after the last few weeks of expectation-depressing terror. It'll pass, and the doors will close on the moment where I reached out and felt the slight outlines of a limit to my fandom.

Right?

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

Michigan won by a lot, eventually.

Highlights

Completely one-sided highlights:

Awards

brady-hoke-epic-double-point_thumb_3[1]Brady Hoke Epic Double Point Of The Week. Has to be Michigan's new favorite worst nightmare at wide receiver: Devin Funchess. Relieved of many blocking duties and deployed on the outside, Funchess displayed fantastic hands on a couple of catches outside of his body, ran routes that got him tons of separation, and went right by a Minnesota cornerback(!) on a straight-up fly route(!) to prove himself Michigan's best deep threat(?). By the end of the game he had newspaper types plumbing the statistical depths for completely invalid comparisons to Jim Mandich, who was a tight end, which Devin Funchess is not.

Honorable mention: No Turnovers, which may be Devin Gardner's temporary name until such point as he turns it over. Schofield and Lewan were mashing as tackle brothers. Blake Countess did have a pick six, albeit one of no importance. James Ross and Desmond Morgan had lots of tackles, usually at the LOS when not facing spread formations.

Epic Double Point Standings.

1.0: Devin Gardner (ND), Jeremy Gallon (ND), Desmond Morgan(UConn), Devin Funchess(Minnesota)
0.5: Cam Gordon (CMU), Brennen Beyer (CMU)

10107678573_22dc886b9d_b[1]

I guess? [Upchurch]

Brady Hoke Epic Double Fist-Pump Of The Week. Wow. Are we at a loss here? We might be at a loss here. Countess's interception was after the game was decided, as was the long Funchess fly route thing. Michigan's longest run went for not many yards. I guess we're going with Fitzgerald Toussaint scoring an easy ten-yard touchdown, as it hinted that Michigan may be able to run the ball forward? Yeah, okay.

Honorable mention: Funchess reception, pick one. Countess pick. Black FF.

Epic Double Fist-Pumps Past.

8/31/2013: Dymonte Thomas introduces himself by blocking a punt.
9/7/2013: Jeremy Gallon spins through four Notre Dame defenders for a 61-yard touchdown.
9/14/2013: Michigan does not lose to Akron. Thanks, Thomas Gordon.
9/21/2013: Desmond Morgan's leaping one-handed spear INT saves Michigan's bacon against UConn.
10/5/2013: Fitzgerald Toussaint runs for ten yards, gets touchdown rather easily.

[After THE JUMP: actual game analysis instead of pathetic emo self-pity mooning!]

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs UConn

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs UConn

Submitted by Brian on September 27th, 2013 at 1:21 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan alternated between their 4-3 with guys often split over the slots like so:

4-3 even

And their nickel package.

They also had some weird snaps where they would take their WDE and line him up like a SAM:

over-flare

This was always a drop into man coverage on the TE by Clark. I did not call this out as a new formation. I probably will in the future.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Secondary saw Avery replace the youngsters as the third corner when Michigan was in nickel, which was quite frequently. The rest was Taylor/Countess/Gordon/Wilson as per usual.

At linebacker the usual rotation of Ross, Morgan, and Bolden. Beyer went the whole way at SAM, I think.

On the line, another light day for nose tackles. Both got some run but it was a lot of three-techs out there. Clark got the most run at WDE with Ojemudia backing up. Black was out there almost all the time; Henry and Wormley got more snaps than any other SDE/3T type with Heitzman also participating quite a bit. Glasgow and Godin appeared rarely, if at all.

[After THE JUMP! Points! Yards! None of those!]

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Akron

Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Akron

Submitted by Brian on September 19th, 2013 at 2:51 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Nothing weird. This one has pinched DTs, but they only did this once. This was in the first quarter, so you can see the three linebackers on the field:

4-3 pinch

In the second half they ditched a linebacker in favor of nickel packages (and probably tipped a stunt):

stunt-giveaway

This is what I mean when I say pistol diamond: four guys in the backfield, hanging out and stuff.

pistol-diamond-te

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Secondary was almost entirely Wilson/Gordon/Taylor/Countess with the nickelback usually Jourdan Lewis and occasionally Delonte Hollowell. I don't think I saw Stribling except on special teams.

At LB, it was the usual Bolden/Ross/Morgan rotation. Bolden had some issues and late it was just Ross/Morgan. SAM mostly didn't exist, but Beyer got the vast majority of those snaps if you include the nickel DE looks.

On the line, much rotation.Clark and Ojemudia rotated with a little bit of Charlton. Black was almost omnipresent. Wormley, Godin, and Heitzman all got significant amounts of playing time; Glasgow was marginalized in this game to make way for Willie Henry. The nose tackles played a bit but they were largely lifted in the nickel.

[After THE JUMP: it's fine, it's fine, it's fine… erp.]