Spring Position Battles: Defense

Spring Position Battles: Defense

Submitted by Brian on February 15th, 2010 at 1:47 PM


Roh is certain. Everything else is chaos.

This is going to be extensive. It would be much, much quicker to rattle off a list of positions we know are set this fall:

  • Craig Roh at quick defensive end.

That is literally all. We do know that a few other guys are guaranteed starters, but Ryan Van Bergen, Mike Martin, and Troy Woolfolk could all switch positions. I should have thought of that before I did the offense. Now I'm stuck with this format.

Anyway. On with show:

Not Brandon Graham

The Departed

Three defensive line starters return, but the best defensive lineman in the country does not.  Normally you'd be looking at Brandon Graham's platoon of ready-to-go backups for an inadequate but functional replacement. Since this is the 2009 Michigan defense we're talking about that platoon is walk-on Will Heininger. The other options at his spot are freshmen.

So it's time to get creative, maybe…

The Candidates

Count me amongst the chorus suggesting that Ryan Van Bergen might move outside. Dubbing this position "Not Brandon Graham" is a clever way to not write "Ryan Van Bergen might move" at three different spots.

will-campbell-osu Michigan has three veteran backups at defensive tackle in sophomore Will Campbell and seniors Renaldo Sagesse and Greg Banks. All played last year, the latter two decently. Campbell was raw as hell but was one of them OMG SHIRTLESS recruits and can be expected to make a major jump his sophomore year. Putting one of those guys in the starting lineup seems less likely to result in disaster than dropping an underweight freshman into the starting lineup. Craig Roh did okay last year, but Michigan isn't bringing in anyone as touted as Roh was this time around. Also, Mike Martin is more of a penetrating three-technique tackle than a leviathan space-eater and moving him to RVB's old spot figures to get more production out of him.

If RVB doesn't move, then you're going to choose from Heininger, redshirt junior Brandon Herron,—Roh's backup at quick last year—redshirt freshman Anthony LaLota, or true freshmen. Herron was a linebacker a year ago and is likely to still be undersized and LaLota showed up two inches and thirty pounds lighter than people expected him to. He probably needs another year.

The thing to watch for this spring is the RVB move. Past that, the developmental paths of Campbell, Roh, and LaLota are the main points of interest.

Hoping for… as the guy that is not Brandon Graham? Will Campbell. This assumes RVB ends up at DE and Martin moves over to RVBs spot. Moving RVB gets a bunch of veterans and a five-star sophomore more playing time. It puts Mike Martin in a position to be seriously disruptive. And it doesn't force a freshman into the starting lineup. So this is a hope for the move and a hope for Campbell to explode.

Expecting… RVB moves, Sagesse and Campbell platoon. I was puzzled by Michigan's periodic attempts to give Campbell playing time over Sagesse last year. Campbell got sealed on a number of successful runs against Iowa; Sagesse wasn't Alan Branch but usually ended up with a +1 in UFR. I assume Campbell will show considerable progress but I'm also betting that Sagesse is basically a co-starter.


The Departed

Over the course of a year, Stevie Brown went from whipping boy to reliable outpost on a defense of chaos. Was it a position move? Greg Robinson's Just For Men magic?

The Candidates

103109_SPT_UM v Illinois_MRM They're young but they're not totally green. Michigan got both Brandin Hawthorne and Mike Jones in early last year and put them through their paces; by the UConn game next year they'll have been on campus for almost two years. Both saw special teams action only. Hawthorne will apply for a medical redshirt. Jones played too much for one. That's him burning his redshirt on the right.

Those two will be the main competitors in spring since I believe Isaiah Bell, who redshirted, is moving inside to ROL. This fall brings crazy athletic Josh Furman into the mix. He of the 4.3 electronic 40 is probably even faster than Brown and could press for playing time later in the season if Hawthorne and Jones aren't working out. He's unlikely to win the job outright immediately.

Hoping for… Hawthorne or Jones doesn't seem like it makes a difference since they have near-identical recruiting profiles and experience. I guess I'm pulling for Hawthorne since he's got a redshirt on him and I like the Pahokee kids.

Expecting… Again, Hawthorne and Jones have almost nothing separating them. One of those guys.

Regular Ol' Linebacker

The Departed

No one.

The Candidates

These two positions are here despite featuring two fifth-year seniors returning for their third years of starting because both Obi Ezeh and Jonas Mouton were yanked for performance reasons late last season. Indecision ruled the day:

No… seriously.

Mouton was pulled for JB Fitzgerald, a touted recruit entering his third year in the program. Ezeh was pulled for Kevin Leach, another walk-on. Both eventually won their jobs back when the replacements weren't much better.

Jay Hopson left to become the defensive coordinator at Memphis, and whether it was voluntary or not it's welcome. Ezeh went nowhere in two years under Hopson's tutelage and Mouton went backwards. If Greg Robinson can pull the same career revival magic he did with Stevie Brown on the two inside guys, he'll put to rest a large chunk of the skepticism at his hire and go a long way towards making the defense respectable again.

If he can't, then Fitzgerald and Leach will figure into the plans again, with potential assists from Kenny Demens and various freshmen. Demens hasn't gotten off special teams in his time at Michigan and got passed by a walk-on. That seems like a kiss of death there.

Ezeh and Mouton will be the main focus here.

Hoping for… I'd like Fitzgerald to emerge as a starter but in the place of Ezeh; last year the guy replacing Ezeh was Leach. Really I'd just like whoever plays at linebacker to look like he's got a clue. Obi-Wan Greg Robinson, you're our only hope.

Expecting… Ezeh and Mouton. They'll be better. Linebackers are the guys most screwed by Michigan's revolving door of defensive coordinators because they are almost always reading a play and executing a complicated assignment based on that. Also they've got a new coach who happens to be the defensive coordinator and thus knows exactly what he wants the guys to be doing.


The Departed

Donovan Warren took his budding skills and five-star hype to the middle rounds of the NFL draft. Boubacar Cissoko couldn't keep it together off the field and is no longer on the team.

The Candidates

Michigan State's Blair White leaps high for a first quarter reception over the top of Michigan's Troy Woolfolk, left, and J.T. Floyd.      Photos are of Michigan State University vs. the University of Michigan at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, October 3, 2009.   (The Detroit News / David Guralnick)
I'm assuming both spots are open because of the possibility Troy Woolfolk moves back to deep safety in spring. The defense started imploding for serious once he was moved to corner and Michigan's safety tandem became Kovacs and Williams

Outside of Woolfolk, the one guy with any experience is JT Floyd. Floyd was the guy the coaching staff turned to to replace Cissoko when he proved dreadful early in the year. He wasn't much better and Woolfolk eventually had to move despite the other options at safety being a freshman student-body walk-on and Mike Williams. In his brief time as a starter, Floyd played ten yards off wide receivers and looked totally overmatched. Maybe that's a mental thing, but he seemed just too slow for the Big Ten.

So… yeah. It's more freshmen, then. Super-hyped recruit Justin Turner got in late because of some difficulties with the Ohio Graduation Test and ended up out of shape and unprepared to play. He redshirted. Even if he came in looking like Will Campbell, if Turner couldn't play in that secondary by the end of the year people are right to be at least slightly concerned he may not pan out.

And then there's the flood of true freshmen. With Demar Dorsey starting out at corner, Michigan has four in the 2010 class: Dorsey, Courtney Avery, Cullen Christian, and Terry Talbott. None enrolled early—unfortunately, all of Michigan's early enrollees were on the offensive side of the ball—and they will be just rumors this spring.

We won't get a read on this position at all unless walk-on Floyd Simmons is ahead of someone on the depth chart. We will get a first look at Turner, the team's most important redshirt freshman.

Hoping for… Justin Turner and either Dorsey or Christian. No Woolfolk == considerably reduced panic at safety. One freshman is as good as any other at the other spot, I guess, but I'd rather have the higher-rated guys off to fast starts. No offense to Floyd, but he obviously wasn't ready last year and I'd be surprised if he was this year. Maybe 2011.

Expecting… Turner and Woolfolk.

Box Safety

The Departed

Brandon Smith transferred to Temple.

The Candidates

It's clear that this is going to be another hybrid safety/LB type player. Early in the year, it was Mike Williams. A little later it was Jordan Kovacs. When Woolfolk moved to corner it was Williams again, and when Williams played poorly Michigan moved Brandon Smith and threw him in the starting lineup; Smith liked it so much he immediately transferred.

Of the two returners, Kovacs was by far the superior option despite being a walk-on. He's got the proverbial nose for the ball and was the only guy at the spot last year to turn in enough good plays to offset his poor ones. And he did this as a freshman walk-on. (He was technically a redshirt freshman but since he was not on the team last year he is much closer to a true freshman.) He showed himself way too slow to play deep safety, but the grit fantastic he is possession of should keep him in the mix despite a couple of athletes pushing him hard.

Athlete the first is incoming freshman Marvin Robinson, who everyone thinks is destined for linebacker except Robinson. At Michigan he may be a linebacker in spirit if not in name. This is a spot he's a superior fit for athletically but it may require some adjustment.

Athlete the second is hypothetical, but Rodriguez mentioned in a Signing Day press conference: they're looking at moving wide receiver Cam Gordon to defense, but to safety. [Update: YEAH THAT HAPPENED.] That's another indicator that Michigan's base set is going to be an eight-man front, as Gordon is a strapping 6'2" fellow who everyone expected would end up at… wait for it… linebacker. If Gordon makes the move it will give Kovacs and Williams some competition from an NFL-sized guy right away.

This is also where Carvin Johnson goes, but I'm guessing he'll redshirt.

Hoping for… I don't really know, actually. I guess I'd like Robinson to win the starting job, but a true freshman over Kovacs and Gordon could bode unwell for immediate production. Maybe Kovacs to start and eventually giving way to Robinson.

Expecting… I have no idea. Truly.

Deep Safety

The Departed

No one.

The Candidates

As discussed above, if this is Kovacs Michigan is at least kind of screwed. I mean no offense to the guy, but…

Indiana's Darius Willis runs 90 yards for a fourth quarter touchdown.        Photos are of the University of Michigan vs. Indiana University at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, September 26, 2009.  (The Detroit News / David Guralnick)

…he is not a deep safety*. In an ideal world, two of the young corners would establish themselves quickly enough for Michigan to boot Troy Woolfolk back here. That world is much easier to envision if any of those guys had enrolled early.

If Woolfolk doesn't make the move back, Michigan has a couple options not fresh off the turnip truck. Vlad Emilien and Thomas Gordon are redshirt freshmen who will be given a shot at the job. Emilien was more highly touted and actually held the starting free safety job in spring until late, when Woolfolk took over and he was relegated to backup duty. He saw some special teams time in fall but will apply for an injury redshirt. Gordon was primarily a high school quarterback at Cass Tech—he only started playing DB as a senior-year audition for a Michigan scholarship—and never threatened to see the field last year.

Freshman Ray Vinopal will reinforce in fall, but as the lowest-rated player in the class he will probably redshirt.

Hoping for… Woolfolk. I'd rather have the freshmen playing at corner, where Woolfolk can tackle their mistakes.

Expecting… Emilien. I'm a little hesitant about him since he enrolled early last year and still wasn't good enough to crack last year's secondary, but maybe he had a lingering injury issue.

*(RVB owned up to a botched line check on that touchdown but it was a lack of footspeed from Kovacs and, more disturbingly, Floyd, that turned that play from 20 yards into 90.)


What others? Apparently Teric Jones might stick on defense, apparently at box safety. I think I've mentioned every other scholarship defensive player on campus except Steve Watson and James Rogers.

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Penn State

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Penn State

Submitted by Brian on October 28th, 2009 at 3:04 PM

Personnel notes: As noted Monday, Michigan had an actual substitution package: on passing downs Williams would be replaced by Cissoko. For obvious reasons, that's unlikely to continue down the road. The rest of it was as usual, with the line rotating regularly and no one else coming out ever. One exception: late in the game Obi Ezeh was yanked twice, first for a play and then for the rest of a drive, in favor of Fitzgerald. Each time he got to the sidelines an exasperated Jay Hopson tried to explain something to him.

Formation notes. My lingo is probably all screwed up now but Michigan did this a lot:

zone pre snap

I called this "4-4 under" but here I think this one is an over shift—the line is actually moved towards the TE side of the formation—and that Michigan was not playing this based on where Penn State was but where the ball was. Steve notes that Michigan shifted the line to "field"—the wide side—over 80% of the time in the first half. So under-over is not really the distinction. Michigan is lining up shifted to the wide side of the field with both the LBs and line, relying on the idea that Graham will obliterate Poti so badly that Penn State won't even try to run that direction. This was basically correct.

This eight-man front with Warren playing off allows Michigan to play man or zone with Warren part of your two-deep. This is an obvious response to Iowa's third and 24 conversion: freak out and try to get away with Warren as a part-time safety. This formation was the one in which all the ARGH long handoffs occurred. Burgeoning Wolverine Star picture-paged one of these happening and Steve noted it too: the responsibility on the long handoffs is Williams's, and he kept getting chewed out for the screwups here. On the play linked above Williams looks into the backfield instead of hauling ass for the receiver, but on later plays he just hauls ass and doesn't get there. Maybe this works if you're Taylor Mays, but Mike Williams was evidently incapable of pulling off this assignment. Steve blames Williams; as you'll see below I just think this is unworkable with the personnel Michigan has and go all RPS* –1 on Robinson.

Play ID note: a helpful high school coach illuminated the difference between the "Power O" and the "Down G"; on Power O a backside guard pulls around, usually into a hole between a kickout block from a tackle or TE and the interior down block. On Down G a playside guard pulls around and the play goes further outside, with the guy who's kicking out on a Power O down-blocking instead.

On with show.

*(Rock, Paper, Scissors.)

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Ace 4-wide 4-3 over Pass PA deep hitch Warren 14
Michigan actually shifted to the strength of the formation here. [ed: as noted above, it will become clear why only later.] PSU goes play action, sucking two guys (Mouton and Williams) up into Quarless, but it doesn't really matter since they're going to this comeback route against Warren, which is open(cover -1); immediate tackle afterwards. TE was wide open, too, with Ezeh trailing ineffectually (cover –1).
M49 1 10 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under Run Inside zone Williams 41
Michigan shows a true two-deep, not the border-field alignment. Martin is doubled and shoved back on a play that's clearly designed to go inside, but he splits the double team(+1) after they push him back a couple yards, causing Royster to shift his tactics. Mouton(-1) has gotten way too far inside and given up a huge cutback lane that should never be there; Williams(-3) comes up way, way too far inside, losing “leverage” on the ball—i.e. letting the dude outside of him—and turning eight yards into 41. It is possible that Graham(-1) had the responsibility here on the outside and it wasn't Mouton's screwup on the first level.
M8 1 G I-Form 4-4 under Run Iso(?) Mouton -2
Apparently a straight ahead, man-blocked run designed to go right off tackle. Graham(+1) blows through his blocker, forcing Royster outside; Mouton(+1) has shot into the hole and takes on the fullback two yards in the backfield, tumbling over him and tackling inadvertently; Ezeh(+1) avoided an OL and zooms up to make sure there's no way Royster can keep going if he keeps his feet.
M10 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under split Pass Corner Brown 10
Michigan shows one deep safety and runs man coverage; this is the sort of thing that Clark was talking about when he said M didn't disguise coverages. No late shifts or anything, so this is really obvious that Brown is not going to be able to cover(-1) Zug on this, given his inside leverage on the guy. He's inside of the player, has no support, and is just going to lose this matchup no matter who he is. Very poor from Robinson(RPS -1).
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Pass PA Out Brown 17
Again going to the slot receiver, who is in man coverage against Kovacs(-2, cover -2). Kovacs just bails and bails and has no chance of coming up on this. Kovacs as a deep safety is just not going to work in this sort of coverage, but it's pick your poison. Ezeh(-0.5) could have helped but got sucked up by the play action. Martin(+1) had busted past his guy and clobbered Clark as he threw (pressure +1).
M48 1 10 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-3 under Run Inside zone Graham 5
Graham(+1) slants inside the TE, beating both blocks and forcing a cutback behind; Mouton's run himself out of the play but that's understandable; Williams(-1) fills late despite having no responsibilities deep because both TEs are clearly blocking Graham, turning this cutback from zero into four.
M43 2 5 I-Form 4-3 under Pass Scramble Ezeh 9
Zone blitz sees Roh drop off as Ezeh and Brown come and Graham/Martin stunt around. This is sufficiently confusing to the OL that both guys get through, basically, but Ezeh(-1) has failed to get to the correct side of his blocker and thus does not maintain his rush lane, opening up an avenue for Clark to escape what would otherwise be a sure sack. I mean, Ezeh is clearly setting up to go around the other way as Graham stunts free behind him and then he just loses his mind, attempting to go up the same hole Graham does. Fail. Just fail. I've got this set up for a Picture Pages tomorrow.
M34 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-4 under Run Power O Mouton 7
This is never going to be an I-form, with the two RBs lined up right next to each other. Michigan doesn't read it and when Royster motions out, Ezeh(?!?!) follows him instead of Brown, the obvious choice, after significant confusion. Van Bergen(-0.5) gets downblocked, opening up a hole. Brown is trying to take on a pulling guard and can't do much other than get blocked; Mouton(-0.5) failed to read the play until it was a bit too late and ends up making contact five yards downfield with a guy in his face; the pile falls the wrong way. Michigan got beat by the playcall here, fooled into sucking Ezeh out into space against Royster instead of sending Brown, the logical guy, out there. (RPS -1)
M27 2 3 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-3 under Run Down G Mouton 4
Downblock on Graham(-1) by a tight end ends up pancaking him; Mouton(-1) accepts a block from Quarless and can't do anything to prevent this play from hitting it up for the first down.
M23 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run Inside zone Graham -2
Graham(+2) slants right by Quarless on the snap, exploding into the backfield and crushing Royster without assistance from anyone else. RVB(+1) also beat his guy and was there to vaguely assist on the tackle.
M25 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide 4-4 under Pass Jailbreak screen Warren 8
Royster motions out for an empty backfield. Well executed by Penn State, but Warren is playing ten yards off and wandering back at the snap, which means he meets Moye 6 yards downfield and gets bashed; the first instance of M just giving PSU yards at the snap. (Cover -1) Not sure if Warren or Williams deserves a ding here. –0.5 for both.
M17 3 4 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass Fade Warren Inc
Michigan sends both MLBs up the middle and don't get there; Michigan tips this, I think, with the position of the safeties, so Clark knows he has this over Warren, in press coverage. Moye has a step and the size to go over Warren if this is accurate, but Clark overthrows it. I won't cover -1 this, because it was okay. I thought about RPS -1 here, too.
Drive Notes: Field goal(34), 7-10, 3 min 1st Q. Penn State's kicker has an enormous head.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 I-Form 4-4 under Pass Long handoff Warren 8
I don't know if this is Warren's fault or not, which I'll explain later. [ed: or earlier, as the case may be.] In any case, Warren's playing forever off (cover -1) and has no chance of holding this down. RPS -1. This was the first of these.
O45 2 2 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Bubble screen -- 8
Wide open from the start; don't know if Mouton has responsibility here or not but they've got bubbles on both sides and neither is really covered. (cover -1, RPS -1)
M47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-4 under Pass PA Deep post Warren Inc
Play action zone read on which Clark keeps it, fakes the keeper, and then backs out to pass. Herron eventually looses himself after he realizes it's a pass and hits Clark as he throws; Clark had decent time. The eventual throw is into double coverage that Kovacs is in okay position on, but help from Warren(+1 cover +1) makes this covered; receiver falls of his own volition. Warren in a deep half here, you'll note, and in way better position to actually help on the play than Kovacs.
M47 2 10 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-3 under Pass Scramble -- 1
Clark looks for the bubble but the receiver is trying to block; busted play. Clark scrambles for a yard.
M46 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under split Pass Screen Van Bergen 1
Michigan shows and brings the DEATH BLITZ of seven guys, except RVB and Martin back out, with RVB(+2) making a fantastic play by reading the screen, darting past two blockers and seeing the third take a futile stab at blocking him, and tackling(+1) at the LOS. Warren was coming up and this would have remained short even without the tackle from RVB since he'd killed the blocking, but he didn't even chance it. (RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 I-Form 4-4 under Pass Long handoff -- 8
I don't understand this. Warren is ten yards off, basically another safety, and Michigan expects to defend this by shooting Williams into the flat, which might work if Williams immediately runs out there, but he doesn't. (RPS -1, cover -1) Free yards. BWS picture-paged this.
O35 2 2 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Pass Fade Kovacs Inc
Royster motions out; this time it's zone so Warren moves out. Woolfolk(-1) jumps up on the little out route, which opens up a deeper fade route run by Moye. It's open(cover -1), but Moye falls down and the ball ends up hitting him in the foot.
O35 3 2 Ace 4-4 under Run End-around Mouton 11
TE pulls across the formation to act as a lead blocker; Williams is out there providing some contain but can do little but force the play inside. He does, where no one picks him up because Mouton(-2) sucked inside. It's bad when your linebackers' suckiness is part of the gameplan.
O46 1 10 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under Run Inside zone -- 4
Martin(-1) gets blown back by a double, allowing Royster to hit it up behind him; Ezeh(+0.5) reads the play and comes under the blocker attempting to get out on him, tackling with help from Mouton(+0.5) and making this an eh gain.
50 2 6 Ace 4-4 under Run Inside zone Graham -5
Michigan must have called the right thing to murder this play because Graham(+2, RPS +1) shoots into the backfield right by a PSU OL and Martin isn't far behind. Graham meets Royster four yards in the backfield; he escapes but Roh and Martin clean up.
O45 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Sack Roh -3
Roh(+2) is excellent on the stunt here, selling the outside move and then shooting inside with spectacular speed to dart through the gap Van Bergen(+1) makes. Roh is in on Clark and sacks him, albeit tenuously. If Clark escaped he was dead meat anyway with Martin closing in and linebackers close enough to prevent a long run. (Pressure +2.)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Pass Waggle comeback Kovacs Inc
Again working on Kovacs(-1), who gives the receiver a ton of time and space (cover -1) as Clark gets the edge without anyone in the vicinity (pressure -1). Clark leaves the throw short and the receiver can't dig out a semi-tough catch (a 2, if you're wondering).
M40 2 10 I-Form 4-4 under Pass Long handoff -- 7
Here Williams takes off to the short side of the field immediately and still doesn't close it down; I don't know WTF this scheme is supposed to be but it just doesn't work. (Cover -1, RPS -1). This was also picture-paged by BWS.
M33 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass Circle -- Inc
Michigan rushes... two. This works, I guess, as the DTs drop off into the hitches(cover +1) and cause Clark to delay. The DEs are closing in, though Clark can just slip up in the pocket to buy more time and doesn't, causing a throw. It's a bit low and dropped as one of the hitches turns his route into a circle. Warren was drawing up to hit the receiver... maybe not a first down if completed. But maybe yes a first down. The third and final picture-paged play from BWS. (RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Punt(!!!), 7-10, 5 min 2nd Q. I know it worked. That does not make it right. Penn State sucked out.
O40 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Pass TE Seam -- 60
This is just a straight release downfield with Ezeh in man against a guy he can't cover. There is no safety help, because Michigan is in this weird split package they'd run all game that gets people open short for long handoffs and open deep for easy touchdowns. Things and people to blame: Herron –2 for not getting a chuck on the TE. This is something Michigan's done all year and this is just a bust. Ezeh –1 for getting smoked on the coverage. And Kovacs –2 for not getting into his deep half despite not having another deep threat anywhere. (Cover -3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-19, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Penalty False start -- -5
Royster motions out; Warren out there on him. Not that it matters.
M13 1 15 I-Form 4-4 under Run Down G Roh 1
Roh(+1) reads the pull and doesn't let the TE seal him, which forces the play outside; Ezeh(+1) blasts into the lead blockers, also forcing the play back inside; Royster's already tripping over Roh when Graham's pursuit engulfs him.
M14 2 14 I-Form 4-4 under Penalty False start -- -5
M9 2 19 I-Form 4-4 under Run Delay Graham 2
Fake the long handoff then give it inside to Beachum; Graham(+1) has penetrated, shoving the OL back three yards and forcing Beachum to cut behind him, where a bunch of Michigan players, some drawn by the PA fake, converge.
M11 3 17 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Run Delay -- 4
Give up and punt.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-19, 2 min 2nd Q. End of half, big kickoff return afterwards.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Pass Corner Williams 31
I don't understand this coverage that gets Warren sucked up, covering no one in what appears to be man zero coverage. Quarless beats it easily to the outside, Clark finds him, and it's a big gain. (Cover -2, RPS -1).
M12 1 10 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-4 under Run Inside zone Williams 0
Williams sent on a blitz that gets him through totally unblocked as Quarless, who motioned to one side, comes back to block the other. Royster runs right into him and this could be a four-yard loss, but Williams can't wrap up and Royster bounces to the original LOS. (RPS +1)
M12 2 10 Shotgun empty 4-3 under split Run QB draw Graham 2
Mouton blitzing from the outside so Graham(+1) has a rush lane more inside of that; he reads the draw, beats the tackle to the inside, and tackles just as Clark reaches the line.
M10 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass Corner -- 10
Michigan brings the safeties up to the line, showing a blitz well before the snap; Clark checks and Michigan does not check in response. Zug just runs a rounded out in the endzone that Clark knows will be there. Brown, lined up inside, can't get there, and Clark hits him as Michigan blitzes seven (cover -2, RPS -2). Same play as the earlier TD.
M3 2pt G Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass Slant Banks Inc
A zone blitz from Michigan sees both DTs drop into coverage again, which cuts off Clark's first read on the slant (cover +1). Blitz is about to get home so Clark chucks it anyway to a covered(+1) Moye; Woolfolk(+1) there.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2pt failed) 7-25, 12 min 3rd Q. Clark was right about the coverages. It's clear he knows exactly what Michigan is going to run before the snap and Michigan's personnel can't make up for it. All Zug has to do is run a really easy route against a guy lined up inside of him and woop touchdown.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Run Inside zone Graham 13
Starts off in Penn State's fake I-form with Royster motioning out, Ezeh goes with him. Failure (RPS -1). Graham(-2) runs himself upfield and out of the play when Williams is blitzing, which means two guys are just running past the backside and there's a huge cutback lane.
O38 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Pass Dumpoff -- Inc
Clark has some time but not a ton before Graham and Martin get past blockers and start converging; with options downfield covered(+1) he comes to a checkdown; ball is dropped by the FB.
O38 2 10 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Pass Slant Ezeh 23
Fake I-form, again Ezeh(RPS -1) attempts to go out and cover. His coverage is terrible(-2), as you might expect, as he gives Royster so much room he's not there to tackle on the catch, and then he misses a tackle(-1, Ezeh -1); Kovacs(-1, tackle -1) then misses another one.
M39 1 10 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-3 over Pass Bubble screen Woolfolk Inc
Pass ends up dropped but Woolfolk(+1) had beaten his blocker cleanly and was probably going to tackle this for a minimal gain(cover +1).
M39 2 10 Ace 4-3 under Run Inside zone Ezeh 2
Ezeh(+1) shoots into the backfield—blitzing—and gets in on Beachum; he misses the tackle(-1), turning a loss into a decent gain.
M39 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Sack Graham -8
Graham is lined up way, way outside of even the TE. TE releases, Graham(+3) bursts past the tackle's feeble attempt to block him, and sacks Clark with some help from Van Bergen. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-25, 9 min 3rd Q.This is the dangerous play that should not happen.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Ace Twins 4-4 under Run Down G Brown 5
Center and playside guard pull around as PSU downblocks RVB and creases the line. Mouton(+1) does a good job of getting to one of the lead blockers and closing down the space but Brown(-1) is hesitant, perhaps expecting the TE to release—although he waits way too long after it's clear he won't—and provides a crease outside of Mouton, away from the pursuing Ezeh. Ezeh does continue to flow down the line and tackles(+1) well.
M17 2 5 I-Form 4-4 under Pass Post Warren 17
Warren(-1) in man coverage against Moye. He turns his hips upfield in anticipation of a fade, does it way too early, and leaves this wide open(-2) for a touchdown.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-32, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run Zone stretch Ezeh 6
Banks(-1) gets sealed on this play but the LBs are both flowing down hill very quickly, which means Mouton(+1) doesn't get blocked by the first OL and absorbs the G releasing into the second level. He does a pretty decent job of avoiding the block and being a pest. Ezeh(-1), totally unblocked, sets up outside and lets Royster crease the two LBs. (Tackling -1)
O31 2 4 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run Power O Heininger 1
Heininger(+2)(!) is slanting on this play and gets right past the backside tackle into the gap that the pulling guard has vacated. He slants right into Royster and tackles(+1) despite having an OT on his back. Another outside blitz from Williams plus a DE, this time Roh, getting too far upfield, would have given Royster plenty of room had Heininger not made this play.
O32 3 3 Ace 3-wide Nickel under Pass Fade Warren Inc
Warren(+1) in excellent coverage(+1) so Penn State tries to throw it to the back shoulder of the WR, which is tough, especially when Moye's kind of clunky. Pass is well short and inside and incomplete. Six rushers on this play forced an early throw; Michigan fortunate PSU wasn't looking at a freakin' wide open Quarless on a little hitch.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-32, 5 min 3rd Q. Graham(+3) blocks a punt.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace Twin TE 4-4 under Run Inside zone Sagesse 7
Coupled with an end-around fake; DL does a decent job but Sagesse(-0.5) spins only half way, allowing Royster to hit it up in a small crease; Ezeh(-0.5) and Mouton(-0.5) passively accept blocks and aren't much help except as traffic cones.
O27 2 3 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Run Power O Graham -2
Fake I-form; this time Mouton goes out on Royster. Finally. Ezeh has been yanked for Fitzgerald. Graham(+2) blasts into the backfield like a shot, dominating Poti and actually getting into a guard pulling away from him; he then attempts to tackle Royster with two guys draped on him. Can't quite do it but Brown is unblocked in the hole and happy to clean up.
O25 3 5 I-Form 4-3 under Pass Screen Mouton 2
Jebus, Graham(+1) is actually a guy they're trying to block and he still almost kills Clark on a screen. Michigan has made the DTs passive, so they're in position to absorb blockers; Mouton(+1), in a short zone, reads the play and forces it back into Martin. (RPS +1, cover +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-32, 2 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-4 under Pass Waggle deep post Kovacs Inc
Play action rollout on which Roh(+1, pressure +1) gets to the outside on, forcing Clark to pull up and threatening to sack. Clark decides to bomb it deep into double coverage(+1), with Kovacs(+1) in better position to bring this in than the receiver.
O20 2 10 I-Form Twins 4-4 under Run Zone stretch(?) Van Bergen 8
I don't recognize this blocking scheme. It appears the playside OT and C get to block players lined up away from them, which is like the opposite of a reach block, and get their guys. Graham avoids a cut on the backside and should kill any cutback but for Van Bergen(-1) getting seriously owned by the LG. Brown(-1) accepts a block, delaying everyone, and Mouton(-1) overruns the play, opening up a cutback lane for Royster. Graham(+0.5) does recover to tackle from behind.
O28 3 2 Ace Twin TE 4-4 under Run Inside zone Graham 2
Graham(+1) again beats his blocker well to the inside and would crush this play if he wasn't tackled by the LT. Very frustrating. As it is, there's a couple guys on the ground where doom would have been otherwise and Royster manages to burrow through it and a couple other guys for a first down.
O30 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Run Down G Williams 5
Graham(+1) beats a blocker and is into the backfield, forcing Beachum to delay as he passes. Mouton(-0.5) ends up cut by the fullback and passed by; Williams(-1) whiffs a tackle(-1) and turns two into five.
O35 2 5 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-4 under Run Inside zone Van Bergen 11
Michigan really selling out on the front side of the play; Van Bergen(-1) is chopped to the ground and opens up a cutback lane. Ezeh(-1) has run himself out of the play after Brown went to cover the TE in motion, and is so out of position he can't even tackle after a gain. Beachum falls before Kovacs can attempt a tackle.
O46 1 10 I-Form 4-4 under Pass Long handoff Warren 3
Warren(+1, tackling +1).
O49 2 7 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under split Run Delay Roh 6
Not exactly sure who or what to blame here. Martin takes a scoop from the C and the backside G so I think this is supposed to go in a gap between Martin and Graham; Martin and Fitzgerald do a good job of closing that hole off, so it's Roh(-1) who fails to close down the backside gap, and Martin(-0.5) who gives a little too much ground, allowing Beachum to plow forward for near first-down yardage.
M45 3 1 I-Form 4-4 under Run Naked boot -- 12
Williams(-2) loses contain like whoah and there's no one else on third and short.. (RPS -1)
M33 1 10 Ace 4-4 under Run Delay Sagesse 15 (Pen -10)
Sagesse(-1) runs upfield and ends up getting pancaked by a momentary double as the C hurls him to the ground. This draws a shaky holding call from the umpire that erases a big gain. Mouton was in the area but Ezeh(-1) ran himself out of position again, and gets yanked, again.
M43 1 20 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Pass TE drag Williams Inc
Underneath receivers run the “mesh” play that TT likes so much and Michigan has had big problems with so far this year; here Williams(+1) stays home on the one crossing route and is in position to break up and sort of kind of nearly intercept (cover +1)
M43 2 20 Ace 4-4 under Run Delay Heininger 4
Looks like there's a crease of sorts but Royster delays, hitting it, possibly because Heininger(+1) has shoved the RT back and then come inside, getting he hell held out of him but at least making the hole look closed off. When Mouton hops outside (OMG contain!), Royster darts back in and because of the hold can pick for a few yards.
M39 3 16 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass Throwaway -- Inc
Clark has plenty of time (pressure -1) but first and second options are open (cover +2) and a brief scramble results in Clark just chucking the ball OOB to avoid a sack.
Drive Notes: Punt, but a roughing call, 10-32, 9 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 I-Form 4-4 under Run Zone stretch Martin 4
Good job by all three playside DL, as Graham(+0.5) does pretty well against a double, Martin(+0.5) gets playside of his guy and beats him, and RVB avoids a cut and flows down the line. Williams blitzed, taking out the FB. He fights inside and gets a hit on Royster that should stop him and does; RVB(-0.5) then overruns it and allows Royster to spin behind—great play by him—and turn nothing into something.
M25 2 6 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-4 under Run Delay Martin 5
Mouton does an excellent job to read the play, shoot past the guys doubling Martin(-1), who gets blown too far off the ball, and shoot past the pulling TE into the backfield, but he then overruns the play. So no plus as Royster's not that delayed. Williams(-0.5) stumbles coming to the line, preventing him from hitting Royster with force, and Martin can't stand up to him, allowing Royster to fall forward.
M20 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run QB sneak -- 1
They get it.
M19 1 10 Ace Twin TE 4-4 under Run Delay Warren 3
TE motion ends up with Michigan over-shifted to the strong side of the formation. Herron(-1) runs upfield against what's likely to be a run play, opening up a cutback lane when Ezeh(+0.5) fills a small gap between RVB and Martin smartly. Warren(+1, tackling +1) comes up very well to tackle after a minimal gain, partially because Beachum makes a rookie mistake and tries to cut it outside instead of just slamming into a CB trying to tackle him.
M16 2 7 I-Form 4-4 even Run Delay Graham -1
Ezeh blitzes, absorbing the center and getting playside of him, forcing a cutback. Graham(+1) stunts directly into that, tackling for a minimal gain(+1, RPS +1).
M17 3 8 Ace Twin TE 4-4 under split Run Zone stretch -- 6
PSU clearly doesn't care, and okay whatever now it's FG time.
Drive Notes: Field goal(28), 10-35, 5 min 4th Q. End of charting.

Aren't you Mr. Cranky Pants?

Well, maybe I am. Maybe I'm not. To determine that I think we need a—



Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Graham 21 4 17 At some point in the second half I emailed Dr. Saturday that Brandon Graham was an All-American and the rest of the defense hated me.
Heininger 3 - 3 …though this suggests that Penn State's RT spot is something of an issue.
Patterson - - - DNP.
Roh 4 1 3 Got a sack against the real side of the PSU D.
Herron - 3 -3 One of three culprits on the 60-yard TD.
Martin 2.5 2.5 0 Off day.
Van Bergen 4 3 1 Also not a great day.
Banks - - - Played less.
Sagesse - 1.5 -1.5 Meh.
Campbell - - - DNP.
TOTAL 34.5 14 20.5 Pretty mediocre day outside of Graham.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 4 7 -3 Iowa progress gives way to the disappointing usual.
Mouton 4.5 8.5 -4 Ugh.
Brown - 2 -2 Zug TDs not really his fault.
Fitzgerald - - - Didn't do much.
Leach - - - DNP.
TOTAL 8.5 17.5 -9 Run filling = very good. Pass defense = very bad.
Player + - T Notes
Warren 4 2.5 1.5 Got burned on one TD.
Cissoko - - - Happy trails.
Floyd - - - DNP.
Turner - - - DNP.
Woolfolk 2 1 1 Eh.
Williams 1 5 -4 Plus more bad news if you think the long handoffs are on him.
Emilien - - - DNP
Kovacs 1 6 -5 Just can't play a deep half.
TOTAL 7 14.5 -6.5 It gets worse.
Pressure 6 2 4 Even when PSU went deep Clark was about to get hammered when he threw most of those.
Coverage 13 23 -8 PSU exploited the safeties and the linebackers all day.
Tackling 5 5 0 First even tackling day; think that's bad.
RPS 6 13 -7 Robinson got pwned.

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

I guess I am pretty cranky.

Why are you such a grump? Iowa put up 30 points and 367 yards of offense to Penn State's 35 and 396 , and Michigan managed to escape that game with way better numbers.

I think it was that all the stuff Penn State was doing came so easy. The Zug touchdowns, the Quarless touchdown, all the long handoffs: all of those plays required nothing more than Penn State not screwing up with wide open receivers. To Clark's credit, he hit all those guys. He then laughed about the primitive defense that Michigan was running, and on review I totally agree: Michigan telegraphed their now-predictable third and long redzone blitzes and got killed. They showed the long handoff was there and got killed. They put Obi Ezeh in man coverage on the edge against Evan Royster and got killed.

That's what the big minus in RPS is there for: I think Robinson got owned by Penn State's offensive brain trust (which is Galen Hall, not Jaypa). This game was slightly reminiscent of the Purdue game a year ago where Michigan switched to a new system and got their brains beaten in by it.

Also, Penn State spent ten minutes of the fourth quarter trying to kill the clock and went on a death march of a drive. It got helped out by a bad penalty on the punter, Penn State successfully strangled the clock. The PSU numbers are basically three quarters of action.

Well, what do you suggest we do?

I don't know. I am sort of mad at Robinson for making it easy by not breaking tendencies with two weeks to prepare. But when you've got Kovacs as  your deep safety, what can you do? Kid's smart and can be an effective player in the box but obviously lacks the athleticism to be a deep safety in the Big Ten. This is not a surprise, he is a freshman walk-on. Michigan's not even rolling out third-option fifth-year senior walk-ons like Josh Hull and his Hullstache…


…we're rolling out first-option (IE: no one is injured) freshman walk-ons who are technically redshirt freshmen but didn't even get to be on the team last year because they had a knee injury and so are really just off-the-street hi-who-are-you-get-in-there-Cavanaugh-oops guys. Which makes for cute stories but not good defenses.

And he's obviously better than the other safety! Arrrrgh. I think I need to do me one of those "this is why we suck" lists that shows safety recruiting over the last five years.

Meanwhile, the linebackers remain a disaster and I still think it might be Hopson's fault. Those four spots on the defense are just killing Michigan. They can't cover TEs. They can't have sensible two-deep coverage. They regularly overrun plays on the ground that the DL has destroyed. Williams whiffs tackles and both safeties are totally unsuited for deep coverage to the point where Michigan is trying to use Warren as some sort of hybrid CB/S just so they can run two-deep without a guaranteed touchdown, just a high chance of touchdown.

I guess I suggest we wait and hope things are better next year because eight guys returning should make up for the loss of Graham.


Brandon Graham.


The slightly poorer set of folks not named Graham: Greg Robinson, Mike Williams, Jordan Kovacs, and pick a linebacker.

What does it mean for Illinois and the rest of the season?

Well, Brandon Graham is going to do an awful lot to stop opposition offenses and he needs some help. Kovacs as a deep safety (oddly, in Michigan's system this is the "strong" safety) doesn't work, Williams as a deep safety doesn't work, Floyd as a cornerback doesn't work, Michigan has two Big Ten level secondary members and guys who might not start for a good MAC team elsewhere. There is no hope for that the rest of the season.

I've given up on the linebackers, and it sounds like the coaches are getting there, too. The line is actually pretty good, non-Graham off day against Penn State nonwithstanding.



Submitted by Brian on October 27th, 2009 at 11:26 AM

First, a request for assistance:

Hey Brian-

I don't know if you or any of your readers might be able to help, but I'm trying to find a recording of a song. I saw a poster for some sheet music at Mr. Stadium Laundry that contained a song called "The Michigan Drinking Song." From what I've been able to find from my Google searches, it was written around the turn of the century and was voted "Favorite College Song" in the 1905 Michiganesian and included in "The Michigan University Songbook" published in 1904. It was written by M.B. Cooper.

My friends and I find it hard to believe that there's no recorded version of this song, and if it's not too much trouble, we'd really like to find it. Thanks for any help you can provide.


I don't know if I can help, but may be a reader can?

Moving on to other matters:


Have you considered year-end awards for the best diaries, board posts, or other community contributions?  If so, and if it happens this year, I’d like to nominate Misopogon’s “How Tate Stacks Up Against M QBs of 2005-2008” for best diary – because, you know, holy crap.  In fact, maybe the award should be called the Misopogon?


That would be something the community should do, as it's community content. I'm not sure anything can be derived from the board since it moves so fast and has so many tiny posts, but some recognition for the fine diarists who provide a lot of value to the site is in order. After the season I'm planning to implement a subscription option where for a nominal monthly fee you can get rid of the ads, and if there's some sort of user-generated awards thing I'll throw some freebies out to the winners.


Are Roh and Kovacs outside linebackers in disguise? I know they aren't perfect fits, but given our lack of depth and GERG's willingness to move people around, do you think that the coaching staff is at least thinking about this a little?

Also, in the other football, will/should Dempsey start at forward now?

-Brian DeHaven

Roh: no. Roh is 230, maybe 240 right now and will add 10-30 pounds over the course of his Michigan career. He's a defensive end all the way and will probably be a four-year starter at deathbacker if he doesn't end up moving to Graham's spot. Kovacs: maybe. I don't know if I've kicked this around on the blog yet, but I have mentioned it on WTKA: I think Kovacs might move to the Stevie Brown SLB/nickelback/spinner position next year if they can find any freakin' safeties. I think that's unlikely given the depth chart at safety and the recruitment of Hawthorne/Jones to play the Brown spot, but if they move a couple guys and someone steps up it's at least a vague possibility. I think Kovacs's skills are well suited for what Brown's currently doing. They're better suited to that than they are the deep centerfield he's been playing; moving Woolfolk to corner has just sprung a different leak in the secondary.

Shameless answer to the irrelevant Dempsey question: absolutely. Dempsey is mostly a striker in the EPL and has done his best work with the Nats after late-game moves up top. The alternative is… um… Conor Casey? I'd rather see Holden or Torres on the field. Maybe that's because I missed the brace against Honduras. But, no, probably not.

Hey Brian,

After the 3-9 debacle last year, obviously recruiting wasn't going to be as impressive this year. But what do you think about the defensive recruiting (or lack there of) at key positions?

I know Michigan is in on a number of good cornerbacks including Cullen Christian, Tony Grimes, and Rashad Knight (Though Christian could play safety and Knight is being recruited as one), but it seems like the staff is recruiting too many "project" players who will switch positions in the coming years before they settle in. The fact of the matter is this team has no real free safety type (Woofolk moved to CB), and the primary safety commit, Marvin Robinson, is headed to the Stevie Brown/SAM linebacker position.

Also, the defensive line has a number of players who fit the Craig Roh mold (Wilkins for sure, Paskorz maybe?), but a lack of a real Graham-like DE. Talbott is a very explosive player who I think will be underrated. Couple that with Antonio Kinard as the only LB commit (have you seen our LB play?) does this concern you at all? I think it's important that the mgobloggers realize this staff is far from perfect and not every recruiting choice they make is perfect.


Moving players from one high school position to another is a fact of life, as high schools will often throw their best players at crazy positions in an attempt to take advantage of their athleticism. The craziest position to date is Brandin Hawthorne's existence as a high school defensive end. Ideally you'd like to see guys coming in who have experience at their chosen position, but it's not like those guys get a ton of great coaching in high school anyway, or have any idea what they can get away with when everyone around them is about as athletic as they are. Michigan is clearly not in an ideal situation.

I think you'll see (PA DE Ken) Wilkins end up at Graham's spot down the road. Graham is currently 270 pounds and Wilkins is already 240 in high school; he'll end up putting at least 20 pounds in his first couple years here, at which point the move will be obvious, and what you'll see is Michigan pick up a bunch of defensive backs—5 or 6—with the intent of putting everyone in a blender and figuring out where they fit later. Some position moves are scary; safety-to-corner isn't. The linebackers are a concern; if Michigan doesn't pick up both Furman and Olaniyan the class will be disappointing there. And I don't think they'll get both.

Obviously the staff is not "perfect," but neither is the opposite extreme accurate: Rodriguez is not going to bring in classes like this year every time out. When he had a full year to recruit and didn't have a 3-9 anchor around his neck, Michigan brought in the #6 recruiting class, one laden with four-star guys. Almost every one of the recruits Rodriguez picked up in the brief window he had to finish Carr's last class was highly rated by one service or the other. This year's an anomaly, and the class will probably finish at the tail end of the top 20, not coincidentally the same area Notre Dame's post-crater class ended up.

Hello, Brian.

Some background on FBS teams being allowed to play FCS opponents.

Until 2005, schools could count only one I-AA game every 4 years toward becoming bowl eligible.  Obviously, this only applies to schools that go 6-5, and has no effect at all on schools with any other record from 11-0 to 0-11.

Here is an October 2004 article about this issue that includes begging from the Southern Conference commissioner to allow one counter every year. Here is the decision in April 2005 where the NCAA decides to allow one I-AA game every year to count towards bowl eligibility, tied into an increase to 12 games.

It really seems like that 12th game was intended to be a game against a I-AA school.  Unless I am mistaken, I recall some I-AA schools were threatening the NCAA with a lawsuit for limiting their scheduling options.  I could not find a record of this, unfortunately.  Maybe I am confusing this with the "exempt games" issue.

I don't think the NCAA has the power to say "only play other FBS opponents."  They don't have that much control over in-season scheduling.  The conferences can mandate this, but not the NCAA.  The NCAA can only say "these games don't count toward bowl eligibility," but the FCS schools would fight that, and they would probably win.

I don't know if you find this interesting, but there has been a good deal of discussion of this point on mgoblog, and there seems to be some misunderstanding of what the NCAA can and can not do.


Mostly included for the interesting background. I disagree that the NCAA doesn't have the power to do what it wants here, as the two sets of schools exist in different divisions sponsored by the NCAA. You might as well say the NCAA doesn't have any power to regulate that D-I and D-II schools can't play each other. The NCAA sets limits on the number of games that can be played in all sports, provides exemptions for various things it would like to promote, and actually organizes the different divisions. I'm sure some I-AA teams could sue, but I find it hard to believe they'd win.

I posted a thread on this topic but wondered about your thoughts.  Is it too early IYHO to classify the 2008 defensive recruiting class a disappointment?  Although they are only in their second year, ideally (apart from Martin) some would be pushing the upperclassmen for playing time, and as we know they are not, in some cases falling behind walk ons. Thoughts?

Brian Durocher

IMHE, it is too early to classify the 2008 defensive recruiting class a disappointment. But it is not too early to look at it with trepidation because it seems like we'll be thoroughly concerned about it midway through next year. A brief dossier:

  • Beasts: Mike Martin
  • Contributors: Boubacar Cissoko, JT Floyd
  • Idling away: Brandon Smith, Kenny Demens. UPDATE: Also JB Fitzgerald.
  • Gone: Taylor Hill, Marcus Witherspoon

So… first of all, it was only seven guys in a class of 24, and two of them were gone about two weeks after class started. Two more are linebackers stuck behind a walk-on, two more are backup defensive backs in a very poor secondary basically behind a walk-on since their poor play necessitated the Woolfolk move, and Mike Martin is a beast. These guys are going to be juniors or redshirt sophomores next year and it looks like Michigan isn't going to get a whole lot out of them. Cissoko's come back from the brink and may yet develop into something, and maybe we can expect one of the linebackers to pick it up after Ezeh and Mouton leave, but the early returns aren't great outside of Martin.

UPDATE: Forgot about Fitzgerald, who's had a reasonable career path so far given that he was behind a couple of starters; he rotated in for Ezeh a bit last week.

Wednesday Presser Notes: 10-7

Wednesday Presser Notes: 10-7

Submitted by Tim on October 7th, 2009 at 4:46 PM
  • Tate was limited in practice Monday and Tuesday, but did everything on Wednesday. He came out of the locker room in a green jersey, but was in the normal practice jersey by the time the team actually started drilling.
  • Minor has been having his healthiest week of practice since training camp. He went through all of the practice yesterday - and Tuesday is the most physical day. Minor has been limited in games because of those injuries. He's only been able to play because he already knew a lot of the offense.
  • David Molk has worked with the trainers, but he's still not ready to play. He might not practice even next week. Without him, the line is trying to develop a sense of continuity. In Moosman's 3rd consecutive game at center, there should be some improvement.
  • The second corner position is still open. It shouldn't be resolved for another several weeks. Kovacs has played well enough to inspire confidence in the coaches. Mike Williams is healthy now, so he should get some playing time.
  • Team needs to work on execution in passing game, in addition to running game. Rodriguez doesn't care if the team scores on the ground or through the air, as long as they score.
  • Iowa has an active defensive front, they'll be difficult to beat. They jump the snap well, and play with good upper-body technique. The OL just needs to have good fundamentals up front and get on blocks.
  • The athletic department hasn't discussed night games. ESPN really wants them to have one, but there are logistical issues that make it more difficult than it seems. For the coaches, they have meetings and a walkthrough, and sit around and watch a couple of the early games. There isn't as much of a rush to finish a walkthrough the day before. West Virginia had a good night game record, and the players there took pride in that. The fans have all day to prepare (read: drink) for night games, which has an effect on the atmosphere.In Morgantown, that sometimes meant burning couches afterwards.
  • The pink locker room isn't a concern for the coaches. It's not that big of a deal to the team. Rodriguez has no plans to paper over the pink walls, like Bo once did.
  • Rodriguez is friendly with Soup Campbell, the former WR coach for Michigan and current WR coach for Iowa. They haven't talked since the season started.
  • Mike Martin is one of the team's most consistent performers. Rodriguez would like to be able to have more guys play, and get the defensive line more rest.
  • GERG may have an advantage against Iowa, because he's coached against them before, when he was at Syracuse. Of course, that means Iowa has seen his defensive schemes before, as well.
  • Rodriguez got a chance to watch the Tigers last night. He's met with Jim Leyland, and Jared Van Slyke's dad is a coach for the Tigers. "They'll be back."

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Michigan State

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Michigan State

Submitted by Brian on October 7th, 2009 at 4:30 PM

Sorry for the delay. I knew watching the Tigers game would result in a disastrous lack of sleep and delayed content but it was too compelling to turn off. Video is still uploading and will be added ASAP. Update: video up.

Personnel notes: same deal with the substitutions—very little in the back seven, regularly on the DL. It seemed like the backup DL got a lot less time. Floyd spent the entire game at CB; Williams was yanked very early (second drive) for Kovacs, who remained in for the rest of the game. When Woolfolk was dinged up early, Andy Van Slyke got a play or two.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Mouton -1
One of the “keys to the game” for Michigan State is, no foolies, “find a way to win.” This is the most quintessentially State play under Dantonio, they downblock the DE and pull a guard around to the outside. Steve Sharik discussed it after the EMU game, dubbing it "down G."  Mouton(+2) sees a gap open up in the line and shoots through it to tackle in the backfield; Winston was kind of running right up the field instead of off tackle. DL had gotten stalemated or creased a bit, so the Mouton play was key. (Tackle +1)
O19 2 11 Ace Twins Base 4-3 Run Zone left Mouton 4
Interesting... same formation, same presnap motion, as if they're testing to see what works better against the Michigan D. Answer: neither. MSU DL doesn't seal Martin(+0.5) or RVB(+0.5), leaving Winston to try a cutback. Mouton sent on a blitz, reads the motion of the play and tackles. He's moving sideways and Winston is heading directly upfield so the pile surges for few; no Mouton or tackle bonus as a result.
O23 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Batted Van Bergen Int
Van Bergen(+2) splits a double team and hits Cousins's arm as he throws (pressure +1), which results in a pop fly that Brown(+1) fields and returns inside the MSU 20.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Pass Hitch Williams 15 (Pen -5)
Seriously, what the hell: Donovan Warren is playing twelve yards off the line of scrimmage on this play. So a hitch is wide open(-2) for a zillion yards. That's just easy. I guess Williams is supposed to get out in a flat zone here but he fakes a blitz first, which makes his effort to get out futile. Reason he was pulled? Play comes back because this receiver was covering up a TE who went downfield. Hitch on the other side of the field was just as open, FWIW.
O15 1 15 I-Form 4-3 under Run Zone right Graham 0
MSU doesn't boot Cousins, FWIW, so Roh has free reign to crash from the backside. MSU has covered the TE so maybe kind of an obvious playcall. Graham(+1) and Martin(+1) both drive blockers into the path of the play, causing a delay and allowing Roh to tackle from the backside.
O15 2 15 I-Form Base 4-3 Pass PA TE Cross Ezeh 18
Awful coverage as it's second and fifteen and both linebackers bite on the PA. Mouton at least gets a solid bump on the TE, delaying him; Ezeh(-1) gets no depth on his drop(cover -2) opening up the tight end for first down yardage. Van Bergen was coming if this throw wasn't open.
O33 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Ezeh 6
At least, I think. Hard to tell because I think Graham(+0.5) destroys the play design by getting outside of the guy downblocking him, which picks off a pulling guard and sends the play inside, where it finds room because Ezeh(-1) failed to read what Graham had accomplished and ran himself out of the play. Good effort by Van Bergen to peel off the LOS and flow down the line to keep this from springing into the secondary.
O39 2 4 I-Form 4-3 under Run Zone right Van Bergen 6
Michigan has aligned the two young guys to the strongside of the formation and State goes after them. Van Bergen(-0.5) doesn't exactly get sealed but he does get largely handled by his guy; Roh(-0.5) gets kicked out and there's a crease Ezeh can't get to before Caper is through. Ankle tackle from Ezeh.
O45 1 10 I-Form Base 4-3 Run End around Williams 17 – 15 Pen
The crazy reverse field thing. Comes after Williams(+1) did a great job getting upfield and grabbing/delaying Martin long enough for the cavalry to arrive; I don't know who, if anyone, can reasonably be blamed here. Maybe Herron(-1) for not keeping contain, but that's pretty weird contain to keep. Yep, post-play we're treated to a shot of Greg Robinson patiently explaining something to Herron. MSU gets a PF after the play.
O47 1 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Pass Bubble screen -- 9 – 15 Pen
Dude, this is just not defensible with no one over the slot and the outside CB 10 yards off the line. I don't know how Robinson can leave this so open. (Cover -2) PF afterwards sets MSU in second and long.
O41 2 16 I-Form 4-3 under Pass Corner Floyd 17
Michigan is a zone and the WR runs a corner route that settles between Floyd(-1) and Woolfolk. There's no one in the flat at all so Floyd needs to get deeper on this, especially on second and 16. (Cover -1) Floyd doesn't even get a chuck on the guy to delay the route and give Woolfolk some time.
M42 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Pass Bubble screen Brown 3
Same formation, same play. White can take it outside for six or more but tries to cut back and slips. Wide open and easy. (Cover -1)
M39 2 7 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Inside zone Van Bergen 1
I think? I'm not exactly sure what this is supposed to be. Roh slants inside, which might be bad news as there should be a big crease between he and Warren, but RVB(+1) does a great job of reading the play and coming off a blocker to track down the line in tackle; some assistance from Mouton(+0.5), who took on the fullback and forced the play back to him.
M38 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Cross Ezeh 9
This is the exact error that Michigan made on two separate third downs against Indiana: MSU pairs crossing routes against Michigan's linebackers, Ezeh(-1) gets all eager to bump a guy and in doing so pulls himself out of position and ends up chasing a guy who picks up the first down. (Cover -1) If Ezeh covers this a little better maybe Floyd can come up and help.
M29 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass Seam Herron Inc
Herron tasked with man coverage on the tight end. He bumps him a bit then starts chasing; TE has a step but this is a tough throw Cousins airmails. Tenuous cover +1. From Herron. First of the day.
M29 2 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Pass Bubble screen -- 12 (Pen -15)
ARRRRGH (cover -2). A chop block brings it back.
M44 2 25 Ace Twin TE Twins 4-3 under Pass Scramble Ezeh 19
Big gap opens up right up the middle of the field as Martin and RVB attempt to get to the QB, allowing Cousins to step up (pressure -2). Ezeh's gotten that bump he loves on the crossing route, which causes him to fall down(-1) and opens up acres of space for Cousins to run into.
M25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass Out Woolfolk 15
Zone blitz gets Brown through unblocked (pressure +1), forcing an early throw short of the sticks. If Michigan can just tackle they can get off the field but Woolfolk(-1) is in man on Cunningham and fails to react to this out route. He's a corner, right? Ugh. (Cover -1, tackling -1) Woolfolk spends his time watching the QB instead of the receiver. Terrible technique. You're in man coverage!
M10 1 G I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Graham 0
Graham(+1) holds up to a double and begins to move inside of his blockers when Mouton charges up into the middle of the play on a blitz, which gives Graham the momentum to come around a block entirely and stiff this at the line. An Ezeh(+0.5) blitz had cut off the outside and caused the cutback.
M10 2 G I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Zone left Mouton 2
A Mouton(+1) blitz drives the LG back and, along with Martin(+0.5)'s quick burst playside of his man, convinces Caper to head outside, where Warren(+0.5) properly contains, forcing the play back to Kovacs, who tackles(+1). Quick hook for Williams.
M8 3 G Shotgun 2TE Twins 4-3 under Pass Scramble -- 8
Michigan rushes four and drops seven guys into a zone with just three receivers; everyone learns their lesson and gets really deep, so when Cousins can't find anyone he can scramble down to the one. (Cover +1) I don't know who's responsibility this is supposed to be, or what anyone can do about it. (Pressure -1)
M1 4 G Goal line Goal line Run Off tackle Van Bergen 1
They get it. I think I blame RVB, sort of, as they run right at him and he gets blown back, leaving Mouton basically 1 on 2 with the FB and the RB. Momentum happens and it's to the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 3-7, 2 min 1st Q. I don't remember when I wasn't charting this drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O11 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Mouton -1
Mouton(+1) slashes past the first line of defense on an excellently timed blitz, absorbing a pulling guard and delaying the FB, forcing a cutback into Martin(+1), who's shucked a blocker and used his agility to come back inside. Solid tackle(+1). Fumble bounces right to the TE.
O10 2 11 I-Form 4-3 under Pass FB flat Kovacs 5
I guess there's a token fake to the RB but not really; it's just a dump to a guy in the flat as Graham(+0.5) juked an attempted block by the RB and got in immediately(pressure +1). Kovacs is a little late reacting but gets out to tackle after a modest gain. Can I give him a 0 on this play? Should I give people 0s for okay plays?
O15 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Scramble Martin 6
Not really a nickel but Brown is out on the slot, or at least close to him, so sort of. Martin(-0.5) is actually spying on this run but gets juked as Cousins scrambles up into the pocket because of RVB's okay rush(+0.5). Ezeh comes up to tackle after about six; this spot looks really generous to me. But eh. (Cover +1)
O21 1 10 Ace Twin TE 4-3 under Pass Sack Graham -7
Graham(+1.5) comes tearing around the corner, forcing Cousins up into Van Bergen(+1.5), who disengages from a blocker he's driven yards back into the pocket to sack. (Pressure +2)
O14 2 17 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Cross -- Inc
Rushers stay in their lanes as they push the pocket back and so Cousins thinks he should get rid of it without anyone really coming in (pressure +1); he chucks it behind a guy on a crossing route that probably would have only picked up a few.
O14 3 17 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass Corner -- 26
Ugh: three man rush gets zero pressure (-2). Despise you, three man rush so much. Can't blame the DLs; all are doubled. I mean, they've got guys in tight coverage on guys running six yards downfield. At least drop people back into a crazy umbrella zone. This makes no sense. Cousins given all day and hits a guy (cover -1) eventually.
O40 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Pass Long handoff Floyd 3
Floyd gets up on White and manages to make a tackle. A little tenuous but results-based, ok, good play(+1).
O43 2 7 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run Bubble fake pitch Kovacs 8
This isn't really Michigan biting here, it's blitzing the wrong way. Kovacs(-1) doesn't read the play and gets buried; Heininger also doesn't really do anything. Ezeh does well just to track this down.
M49 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone right Kovacs -6
Mouton is blitzing away from the play and can't do much. Pretty sure this is supposed to get outside the tackles since MSU motions in a TE to get two to the short side of the field. It doesn't because Herron(+1) cuts it off, allowing Kovacs(+2) to read the play and shoot up through a gaping hole created by the MSU OL to tackle(+1) Caper. He puts his head on the ball and pops it free; MSU recovers.
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Screen Mouton 6
Michigan caught in a blitz away from the play, but they're dropping off into a zone blitz on the side the screen goes to. Mouton in position but sort of gets blocked in the back a little; still, he gives MSU the outside(-1) and provides yards where MSU should have gotten nothing. On review, this is a block in the back, man.
M49 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Dumpoff Van Bergen 2
Excellent interior stunt from Martin(+1) and RVB(+1) gets RVB in on Cousins(pressure +1), forcing a dumpoff. Ezeh(+1) has the TE blanketed and tackles (cover, tackle +1). OMG stop.
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-7, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O45 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Run End around Kovacs 11
Martin on an end-around; MSU pulls a guard to help lead blocking. Kovacs(-1) gets sucked up and gives Martin the corner. More experience and he might read the blocking patters, which make no sense for the dive they're running, and break outside. Not yet.
M44 1 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Zone right Ezeh 3
Playside end dives inside because of the playcall but here Ezeh(+1) reads the play immediately and attacks downhill, getting outside of his primary blocker and occupying a second guy; Mouton(+0.5) also shoots into a blocker, forcing the play way outside; Brown forces it back where pursuit takes Winston down. (Tackling +1)
M41 2 7 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass Long handoff Floyd 10
Urgh. Floyd(-1) ten yards off the LOS and misses a tackle(-1), opening up a first down. So many easy yards for State.
M31 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run Iso Graham 0
End around fake does not hold Graham(+2) as he reads the handoff (blocking patterns?); he zips past one blocker and into Winston, who he tackles(+1) for no gain.
M31 2 10 Ace Twin TE Twins 4-3 under Pass Slant -- Inc
M31 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Corner -- 15
Zone blitz is picked up by State (pressure -1) and then State exploits a cover two with a smash combination (Smart Football to the rescue) for a first down. Well executed; have to give a cover -1 here but that's just a good playcall for the D we have on. BTN announcers have called Woolfolk “Woolfork” twice.
M16 1 10 Ace Trips 4-3 under Run Bubble fake pitch Mouton 6
State rushes to the line to catch Michigan off guard; Mouton(-1) bites on the play action and finds himself blocked into oblivion. Kovacs(+1, tackle +1) actually does a great job of reading and attacking the play, keeping it down where otherwise it might have broken larger, even maybe for a touchdown.
M10 2 4 Shotgun Trips 4-3 under Run QB sweep 3
Nichol in, BTW. This creases and looks like it's going for the first down when Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) again arrives forcefully, stopping Nichol in his tracks and setting up a third and one. Graham(-0.5) got shoved back a couple yards to open up the lane.
M7 3 1 I-Form 4-3 under Run Off tackle
Not sure exactly what this is supposed to be but the fullback heads outside so I assume that's the play design. RVB(+1) slants to the playside, getting past his blocker and occupying the fullback. Brown reads the direction of the play and the coming Winston bounce, evading an attempted stiffarm and throwing Winston to the ground for a loss. Big, big play in the open field (+2, tackling +2).
Drive Notes: FG(25), 6-10, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
50 1 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Graham 1
Or at least I think so; hard to tell because Graham(+1) comes tearing through the line, forcing Winston outside into an unblocked Warren.
M49 2 9 Ace Trips Base 3-4 Run Bubble fake pitch Kovacs 1
RVB(+0.5) doesn't bite on the bubble fake and starts chasing the play from behind, which causes Winston to reconsider a cut upfield into what looks like open space. He then tries to take it outside where Kovacs(+1) slips past a blocker to tackle Winston after a minimal gain.
M48 3 8 Shotgun 2TE Twins Split 4-3 Pass Scramble -- 12
Four man rush from wide splits; RVB attempts to slash inside of his blocker and Roh attempts to go around the outside, leaving a cavernous gap Cousins can run up into. Other defenders were all pulled deep; nothing they could do once the pocket broke like that so spectacularly. (Pressure -2)
M36 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen -- 9
Again: zero chance to defend this with Brown a couple yards inside the receiver and the other corner in the area eight yards of the LOS. And they've got a safety over the top! Someone should be horsewhipped for this. (Cover -1) Warren -1 for not reacting well.
M27 2 1 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Mouton 6
Mouton(-1) eats a TE and ends up six yards downfield. Warren takes a block from the FB that Kovacs goes outside of, as that's his responsibility; Mouton getting crushed opens up a cutback for six; Ezeh does a good job fighting through trash to make a tenuous downfield tackle.
M21 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass Deep Hitch Floyd Inc
Lot of eight man fronts here with Woolfolk as a single deep safety, BTW. Graham(+1) pwns the tackle and is coming around to crush Cousins(+1), forcing a throw on a deep hitch that Floyd(+1, cover +1) reacts to, knocking it down. PBU? Dios mio, man.
M21 2 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run Zone right Van Bergen 0
RVB(+1) takes a double team and doesn't even give a little bit, nor does he get sealed. He flows down the line, preventing any creases from forming. Ezeh, unfettered because of the RVB double, flows to the POA and forces Caper back into RVB.
M21 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Batted Roh Int
Straight bust by the State OL on a four man rush that sees Mouton blitz and Graham drop off gets Roh(+1) in unblocked (pressure +2); Roh has the speed to close and hit Cousins as he throws, causing a pop-up that Warren(+1) picks off.
Drive Notes: Interception, 6-10, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Herron 6
Very quick here, doubling Herron and down-blocking him inside. Warren and Mouton take on the FB and pulling guard, getting to the outside of both quickly, but Herron(-1) got blown up and gave a lot of ground, creating a major crease that Ezeh can't shut down by himself. Winston runs straight upfield for good yardage.
M7 2 4 I-Form Big Base 3-4 Run Power off tackle Ezeh 3
Three man front here so a little bit different in how they execute this play. I can't tell if this is the play design or not; RVB manages to get outside the two guys down-blocking and doubling him, which opens up a crease that a fast-reacting Ezeh could fill, if Ezeh was actually reacting fast. Instead he's headed outside like he does on the 4-3 version of defending this play; I think he just screwed up his assignment(-1). He does read that the hole is opening inside and recovers somewhat to get an already-falling Winston to the ground with help from Kovacs.
M4 3 1 I-Form Big Base 3-4 Run PA TE Cross Graham -2
Graham(+3) slants past his guy, explodes into the backfield, and crushes this play singlehandedly. Huge; a play that will go on his NFL highlight reel. Tackling +1, too.
Drive Notes: FG(23), 6-13, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass PA TE Corner Kovacs 22
Kovacs(-1) in man and just beaten by a simple corner route. (Cover -1) Roh(+0.5) and Graham(+0.5) crush Nichol a moment after he throws (pressure +1)
M48 1 10 I-Form Big Base 3-4 Run Power off tackle Roh 2
I think this is just lucky but results-based charting: Roh(+1) slashes between the pulling guard and fullback, forcing Caper outside a bit. The fullback peels back to block him and the guard's been knocked off balance by the chaos, allowing Kovacs(+0.5) to come to the line and tackle(+1)
M46 2 8 Ace Twins 4-3 under Pass Waggle TE Cross Mouton 19
Mouton(-2) in man coverage, fails to read his keys here—TE releasing way downfield, pass blocking—and just plays the run fake, opening up an easy first down for MSU (cover -2).
M27 1 10 Ace Twin TE Twins 4-3 under Pass Waggle Scramble Heininger 4
Heininger(+1) shoots upfield fast enough that Nichol can't get a pass off and must start running around (pressure +1). If this is Graham, this is probably a sack, but this guy is a walk on so Nichol escapes. He decides to run for yards; Brown(-1) comes up after two but misses a tackle(-1), allowing State four more.
M21 2 4 I-Form 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Ezeh 3
These might be designed to go more up the middle, actually, but it's hard to tell. Brown(+0.5) shoots inside, causing Winston to bounce out, where Ezeh(-1) gets too far outside, allowing a crease that Kovacs fills ably.
M18 3 1 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Brown 2
Michigan expecting this, diving Roh down inside to come up under the dive block, which almost but does not quite work. Brown comes around the outside to tackle but Roh only got a glancing blow, which allows Caper's momentum to carry him forward and across the line.
M16 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass TE seam Roh Inc
Motion the FB out, Warren follows. Michigan in a zone blitz, dropping Roh off onto the tight end. Brown's coming around to hit Nichol as he releases the ball to the TE Roh is on; guy has a step or two. Roh(+1, cover +1) watches the ball come in and rakes it out when it gets there, though the TE was already dropping it on his own. Still, a PBU.
M16 2 10 Ace Trips 4-3 under Run Bubble fake pitch -- 16
This has got to be a screwed up defensive call because Ezeh is out in no-mans land and Michigan is in some crazy three-deep coverage with only six guys in the box against six blockers here. Get aggressive. Mouton then blitzes up the middle leaving absolutely no one once Van Bergen(-1) gets crushed. Too much space, not enough guys, touchdown. Absolutely a reprise of the Indiana 85-yarder.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 6-20, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Graham 2
Graham(+1) slants inside his guy and into the backfield, killing a pulling guard and convincing Winston to hit it up inside, where he trips the guy as he passes. (Tackling +1)
50 2 8 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Run Waggle deep hitch Graham Inc (Pen -10)
Graham(+1) reads the play, getting out on the rollout and threatening to sack Nichol for a big loss; he gets held (pressure +1), thus allowing Nichol outside the pocket where he finds a guy way downfield, but it's short and incomplete.
O40 2 18 Shotgun Trips 4-3 under Pass Cross Floyd 7
Zone blitz from M drops Roh into a short robber zone; Cousins hits White as he clears the short zone; the rest of the D is man, with Floyd trailing White at some distance. Floyd tracks quickly though, and makes a tackle on a stumbling White. Maybe lucky, results-based (+1, cover +1)
O47 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Sack Graham -7
Graham(+3) roars around the outside as RVB comes free on a stunt (pressure +2), flushing Cousins out of the pocket. Graham tracks him down and tackles from behind, forcing a fumble that gets bounced around and eventually covered by Ezeh.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 6-20, 11 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Ezeh 3
RVB and Martin are slanting away from the play. Winston  gets cut off on the outside by Graham standing up to a double and Brown flowing outside of him, but the State guys see the big gap up the middle and decided to head up there. Three guys go to block Ezeh(+0.5), who jams the hole and allows RVB to come from behind and Kovacs to scrape to the hole, tackling for minimal gain. (Tackling +1)
O30 2 7 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Zone left Van Bergen 0
RVB(+1) takes a momentary scoop but does not get sealed, driving down the line and getting a diving tackle attempt two yards behind the left hash. He can't make the tackle but he does delay Winston, bouncing the play out where Herron(+1) and others join to tackle.
O30 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Slant Woolfolk Inc
Michigan sends the house (seven!), leaving everyone man up and forcing a quick throw. It's open for the first but Nichol zings it hard and wide. Yeesh. Seven guys? (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-20, 9 min 4th Q. Run run pass punt oh Lloyd.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Zone left Martin -4
Wholesale destruction. Graham(+1) blasts his opponent back; Martin(+2) shucks a blocker instantly and shoots into the backfield, and Kovacs comes off the edge on a blitz to help Martin crush this.
O20 2 14 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass Scramble Mouton 41
Cousins drops back to survey  but can't find anyone (cover +1, pressure –2). Graham begins to pop free. Michigan has again totally vacated the center of the field, opening this up for considerable yardage; it's Mouton(-3) and his horrible angle that turns this from ten yards into 41.
M38 1 10 I-Form Big Base 3-4 Run Iso Mouton 2
Kovacs cuts off the outside with a blitz, leaving the run to the interior; Heininger(+0.5) has held up okay against a double and has this hole not too huge; Mouton(+1) defeats the TE's block to tackle at the LOS.
M36 2 8 I-Form 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Leach 0
Leach actually in here. Irritated about the scramble? Minor injury? Tired? Dunno. He blitzes(+1) into a couple blockers, ramming the hole shut and allowing Graham(+0.5) to come inside and tackle(+1) after a minimal gain.
M36 3 8 Shotgun Trips 4-3 under Pass Out Martin 4
Martin(+1) blasts past the center, getting quick pressure(+1) and forcing a checkdown. It's a short out slightly open in front of Brown; Brown is there to push him out immediately.
M32 4 4 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Slant Warren Inc
Again they send the house, seven guys, leaving everyone man up. Cousin's quick throw is a slant that Warren(+2) beats the receiver to(cover +2), cutting him off and giving him no chance at the ball.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 6-20, 4 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Pass Waggle hitch Warren 7
Mouton does a decent job of getting to the edge, but not a great one; this hitch is in front of Warren but only just. Well executed all around; no negative assessments here.
O39 2 3 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Kovacs 1
Michigan slanting hard away from the play; dangerous. They're also sending Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) on a weakside blitz that he's not blocked on; he comes around and tackles Caper from behind.
O40 3 2 Goal line 4-3 under Run Counter Kovacs -2
I don't know what State's running and neither does State; a guard pulls around as the H-back shoots directly forward and the two guys bump. I'm betting the G had Kovacs, who is again blitzing from the outside and again takes down the RB with an ankle tackle in the backfield (+1, tackle +1).
Drive Notes: Punt, 13-20, 3 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Ace Trips 4-3 under Run Bubble fake pitch -- -9
Pitch is fumbled.
M34 2 19 I-Form 4-3 under Pass PA out Floyd 10
Play action frustratingly gets a bite from Kovacs but I think he's in man on the FB and this goes deeper, to a guy Floyd(-1, cover -1) is playing off of. In this situation you need to play it like every yard is death.
M24 3 9 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run Zone right Martin 24
Martin(-2) is flowing down the line but then insanely decides to try to run up into the backfield after Caper instead of continuing his flow and likely meeting him for little or no gain when Brown heads up into the hole caused by the RVB double and forces it back inside. But he's gone and so there's a crease; Woolfolk(-2) comes up to tackle high, missing it and turning it into a touchdown. (Tackling -1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 26-20, EOG.

Well, that ended with a thud.

Yeah, I don't know what that was all about. I've never seen a DL just take off upfield for no apparent reason on a stretch play.



Before we get to the chart: I did not minus the DTs on the QB scrambles above but after talking with Steve Sharik I decided to retroactively ding them. Each lost three points for various instances of getting out of their pass-rush lanes.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Graham 18.5 0.5 18 UFR record. Monster day: forced a fumble, crushed a ton of rushing plays in the backfield, almost singlehanded responsible for keeping MSU out of the endzone a couple times.
Heininger 1.5 - 1.5 Did not play much.
Patterson - - - DNP.
Roh 4.5 0.5 4 Not getting as much pressure as you'd like, though.
Herron 2 2 0 Meh.
Martin 7 5.5 1.5 Mental issues on the Cousins run and the final Caper run.
Van Bergen 9 4.5 4.5 Great day against an MSU OL that planned to turn him into dust and could not, but irresponsible pass rushing cost Michigan more than once.
Banks - - - Played less.
Sagesse - - - Also played little.
TOTAL 42.5 13 29.5 Great day outside of the QB scramble lanes. Forced three TOs and crushed State's ground game.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 3 6 -3 Thought he'd grade out better than this actually.
Mouton 7 8 -1 Exact same numbers from last week as he alternates great plays with killer mistakes.
Brown 3.5 1 2.5 Strung some stuff out; DL mostly ate stuff before it could get to him.
Fitzgerald - - - DNP.
Leach 1 - 1 Brief cameo only.
TOTAL 14.5 15 -0.5 If people can only stop screwing up in coverage a thousand different ways.
Player + - T Notes
Warren 3.5 1 2.5 Thrown at like twice. How's Infinite Jest coming, Donovan?
Cissoko - - - DNP.
Floyd 3 3 0 I'll take it.
Turner - - - DNP
Woolfolk 0 3 -3 MSU didn't test Michigan deep ever so his involvement was mostly in the cleanup phase.
Williams 1 - 1 Pulled. Not totally healthy?
Emilien - - - DNP
Kovacs 7.5 3 4.5 Some of these were just backside blitzes that he tackled on, but he did tackle. At other times he displayed a real knack for getting to  ballcarriers.
TOTAL 15 10 5 Eh.
Pressure 17 10 7 Most of the minuses were allowing QBs to break contain; they got to the QB a lot.
Coverage 8 19 -11 Bubble screen debacle, linebackers.
Tackling 14 4 10 Very good day until last play.

There's a considerable amount to be encouraged in here: Van Bergen is going from a non-entity to a guy who's making plays (when he's not vacating space for Kirk Cousins to run wild). Jordan Kovacs registered a +4.5 and is single-handedly responsible for about half of the + tackles Michigan saw yesterday. And Graham murdered all.

On a drive-by-drive basis, Michigan faced 11 drives in regulation and gave up 20 points, three of which were a gift from the fake punt. Along the way they forced three turnovers, one of which offset a long MSU drive that would have put up points; the other two set up a field goal drive and a short field that Michigan did not convert on because Darryl Stonum fumbled. That's a good performance. The Mathlete's numbers for the field position:

Even with the turnovers, Michigan failed to have an advantage in field position.  The regulation numbers for field position were 24 expected points for MSU and 22 for Michigan. The first down at the 25 for OT is worth just over 4 points, so for the game, MSU scored 1 less point than expected (PAT is assumed) after being -4 in regulation while Michigan was -2 in regulation but -6 on the game.

So Michigan actually held a team under their expected points given starting field position and added in two turnovers. (The Warren interception came after a long drive and basically neutralizes that drive in terms of field position; the other two were three-and-outs on which MSU lost the ability to punt.

The yardage numbers are less sunny, as MSU got to around 420. Subtract the standard 50 yards for a turnover gained, though, and MSU's sitting at 270 equivalent yards. You do take turnovers as predictors at your peril, but in this game Michigan created all three turnovers with QB pressure, the one thing that reliably causes opponents to cough it up. That was without question the defense's best performance of the year. It should have been enough to win.

But the downside?

Yes. The downside:

Aaaaargh argh argh argh. Michigan was playing in the parking lot on a lot of plays and just gave Michigan State huge chunks of yards. This was mostly a problem on the first drive, when three different bubble screens picked up 24 yards and a simple hitch went for 15. (The hitch was called back because of an illegal man downfield.) The next two drives each featured a play on which it was stupidly easy to pick up ten yards: Floyd was in the parking lot on a long handoff and they ran another successful bubble. And the bubble fear instilled by these plays set up what was basically the only type of MSU rushing play to go anywhere all day:

Michigan's inability to defend something they can't even throw anymore drove me crazy, as you can see above ("AAAARGH," or something to that effect).

Was there some structural reason for this?

I think Michigan is moving to something sort of like a 3-3-5 in one aspect: when Kovacs is in the game he lines up on the weakside a lot and blitzes a lot and almost never sits back in the position you'd expect a traditional safety to be in. This is what he does:


He's the bottom defender in the box. Michigan's actually in a three-man line here with the linebackers almost stacked over the DL: this is either a bonafide 3-3-5 or very close to it.

Now, Michigan usually didn't go this far. They usually had Kovacs in the box like so as an addendum to a four-man under front. The line and linebackers are obviously differently aligned, and the rush defense works differently. But the pass defense is going to be almost identical to the 3-3-5: one deep safety, corners that tend to play soft because of that, and tight ends/flats being defended by your two safety-type wing defenders—Stevie Brown is the other guy on the wing.

But when Kovacs is in and tight to the line and JT Floyd is one of your corners it's really hard to roll up tight when you've got twins to one side. I'm still pretty pissed off you guys about everything but it is understandable. Sort of.


Brandon Graham blasted his way into the Michigan State backfield time and again, enshrining himself in UFR lore until such time as Kovacs registers a +20 by making every tackle against Ohio State. I mean:

Damn. Also, yes, Kovacs provided hard-nosed run defense that makes me think he'll be a positive contributor going forward.


Mouton, Ezeh, and the two interior DL opened up the rushing lanes that turned Michigan State drives into too many points for Forcier to moxie away, thought they also had their positive moments.

What does it mean for Iowa and the future?

I'm a little leery of declaring the run defense fixed after the performance against State, as State's run game to date has been poor… but it was definitely a step in the right direction. Kovacs will get another shot at a pounding downhill running team against Iowa and Michigan has to be feeling a lot better about its chances at stopping it than they were last week. Michigan crushing anyone's ground game is reason for optimism at the moment. Iowa's offensive line will provide another level of test, however.

In the pass defense it was more of the same. Floyd isn't great and will have to play conservatively all year; he will be victimized. The inside linebackers are not good in zone coverage, and Michigan will suffer on crossing patterns and seams and whatnot all year. Michigan's turned in a couple games in a row where the pass rush was good, though, and if they can maintain that against better offensive lines that will help out. They'll have to prove that. Obviously.

Unverified Voracity Has Hot Sellers

Unverified Voracity Has Hot Sellers

Submitted by Brian on October 6th, 2009 at 11:32 AM

New shirts! The MGoStore is rocking two new shirts. One of them is pretty obvious. The other is, er… not. Click either for link:

Print notorious-cone

Yes, the back of the Cone shirt says "leave ya twisted with chalk around ya body" in tribute to Cone rapping up a storm. WOOOOO. Get 'em while they last. Shoelace will be around for a bit, of course. Cone will be in our hearts forever but since it's kind of doubtful he gets a fifth year you probably want to scoop those bad boys up ASAP.

NOTE for folks who live in Ann Arbor and hate the idea of paying shipping costs: MGoShirts are available at Underground's retail space on South U. My cut there is the same as the one online, for people super concerned about the cash flow here. (This does happen.)

Outback Bowlin'. Orson Swindle would do well to avoid this vein-popping Zook special, but you're not Orson so here's the Wolverine Historian version of the 2003 Outback Bowl:

Part Two awaits in the lightbox.

I don't know if this is good or bad. Justin Turner was credited with a special teams tackle on Saturday, but that did not actually happen:

MSU corrected the official boxscore Sunday to show Jonas Mouton in on the tackle, and Turner, the No. 2-rated player in Michigan's 2009 recruiting class according to Rivals.com, remains eligible to redshirt.

So he's probably going to redshirt, and JT Floyd is going to start. Hurrah for good roster management? Boo because of thin secondary depth and the oddity of having such a highly-rated guy on a redshirt track? You make the call.

Also of indeterminate benefit. Rodriguez is going to take a look at linebackers who aren't Ezeh or Mouton (both of whom are at least making a number of good plays to go along with their terrible horrible not good ones in the UFR I've gotten to):

Yeah, every job is up for grabs every week,” Rodriguez said. “It sounds like coach speak, but our guys know they have to play at a certain level. Jonas (Mouton) and Obi (Ezeh) have played very, very hard. … I think Jonas is a very active player, and Obi has played solid, as well, but we can all play better.” …

"You take away a couple of those scramble plays, their big third and long passes, and it was a pretty solid effort,” Rodriguez said. “But you have to count those. Those are part of the whole deal. … We've got to be more consistent I think is the word in all three phases, particularly defensively."

"Player X has played very hard" is an excellent backhanded compliment. FWIW, I don't think anything will come of the starting jobs potentially coming open given Fitzgerald's shaky cameo and Leach's meh performance in the Eastern game. At least Mouton, who does appear to be blitzing a lot more recently, has guru-approved (and obvious) athletic ability. Leach doesn't.

As long as we're talking about the possibility of walk-ons busting into the starting lineup, let's highlight this bolded bit from yesterday's press conference recap:

Mike Williams wasn't 100% going into the game, but taking him out for Kovacs was a substitution issue, not an injury issue.

IE: Kovacs is just playing because the coaches think he's better. Williams got yanked quickly, too, right after he failed to get out on a short zone when Michigan was running three-deep and gave up a 15-yard hitch on Michigan State's endless drive. I didn't even think that was his fault, FWIW, as he was tasked with faking a blitz and had no chance to get out there; with Warren playing in the parking lot that play was super easy. FWIW, Kovacs has turned in a couple of impressive tackles so far. He's probably a disaster in coverage but Michigan is using him as downhill run-stuffer, something he seems capable of.

Family values, but on the tee-vee. Elliot Mealer will feature on that ESPN newsmagazine show E:60. You know, the one with jump cuts of Jeremy Schaap. Details:

Sports leader ESPN has followed the Mealer and Richer families for a year documenting how each family dealt with grief while moving ahead with their lives. On Tuesday the segment will air for the first time on ESPN and ESPN HD on a program called E:60 at 7 p.m.

"I first got contacted really early in the morning after I had just spoken at a FCA event at Napoleon High School," explained Elliott Mealer, a senior at the time of the accident that claimed two lives. "We talked it over as a family and all agreed that this could be something that could bring a positive light to the accident and everything after. As a little kid you always dream about being on ESPN and I guess in this sense it is bittersweet. I really wish I didn't have a story to tell but the fact of the matter is I do."

Worth examining, yes, I talk like Yoda for no reason mmmm.

Oh noes! You probably remember the nonstop caterwauling from Notre Dame fans in the aftermath of the referees getting Armando Allen's screen non-touchdown right. I wonder if they will take up arms and demand justice from the Big East replay officials on behalf of Washington:


That knee you see on the ground is Robert Hughes's. His entire body, and therefore the ball, is outside the endzone at this moment. This is the two point conversion that Notre Dame got to go up three, and without it they would have lost 30-28 in regulation. The lack of a review here is inexplicable. It was obvious the instant NBC cut to a replay of the play. CONSPIRACY

(Also, people: download a torrent and get a frame from that instead of taking pictures of your TV.)

Etc.: This is not Mark May pantomiming Lou Holtz performing fellatio on Jimmah, but it kind of looks like it is. Barwis porn migrates to web comics. Braves & Birds is confused about how to feel about the game Saturday.

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Indiana

Submitted by Brian on September 30th, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Personnel notes: More of the same. Every DL has a backup who sees considerable time; the back seven does not substitute ever except when it's benching one corner for the other.

I did offer a new thing in the "D form" column, something I'm calling 4-4 under:


Here Michigan's in it's standard undershift but the SLB is Jordan Kovacs and Michigan's aligned three linebackers as you'd see in a normal 4-3.  You could call it a 3-3-5 stack except the LBs aren't stacked (lined up right behind the corresponding DL) and you don't have the right personnel (in a stack Herron would be a safety sort) so it's not. If someone's got better lingo for this let me know and I'll switch.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Pistol Twin TE 4-3 under Pass TE out Roh 7
Back motions out so this is then an empty look. Michigan zone blitzing and dropping Roh off; he takes off after a TE releasing downfield that Mouton is also taking, which leaves the other TE wide open (cover -1). Roh(-1) gets the minus one since it would be strange for his guy to be the inside TE. Cissoko yaps after making a tackle seven yards downfield. WTF, man.
O27 2 3 Ace 4-3 under Run Down G Ezeh 4
Roh(+1) slants inside, knocking his defender back and picking off the pulling guard. Mouton and Ezeh are both unblocked in the hole. Back cuts inside Mouton into Ezeh(-1), who meets the TB at the LOS and ends up making an ankle tackle that gives Indiana a first down. (Tackling –1.)
O31 1 10 Pistol 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Hitch Cissoko 6
Open in front of Cissoko (cover -1); Cissoko does an adequate job of escorting him out of bounds.
O37 2 4 Pistol Twin TE 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Woolfolk 11
Michigan blitzing and though this run appears to be headed to the other side of the line the gaping hole opened up by Brown and Ezeh flying upfield is too tempting and the RB cuts back into a ton of space. I don't know if Brown or Ezeh could have done anything given their assignments; I think Woolfolk(-1) is actually late reacting here as he's charging up to the LOS to provide the contain neither Ezeh or Brown will. He ends up arriving late, missing a tackle(-1) and yielding a bunch more yards. Kovacs does make a good open-field tackle on Willis, but after ten.
O48 1 10 Ace Big Base 3-4 Run Inside Zone Kovacs 0
Kovacs(+1) sent on the outside blitz he'll be sent on lots. He ends up right in the RBs face and tackles; Martin(+1) had also broken through the line and assists. Won't + the tackle because Kovacs gave up three after contact.
O48 2 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Pass PA Seam Ezeh 14
Two play action fakes on this as there is an end-around fake followed by a fake to the RB; Ezeh(-1, cover -2) sucks up and opens a crossing route behind him. RVB(+0.5) was getting some delayed pressure(+1); if the receiver here was covered a sack may have ensued. Good tackle(+1) from Woolfolk (+0.5).
M38 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Run Off tackle Ezeh 6
Backups now in on DL: Heininger and Herron. Indiana running at Michigan's tendency to slant here; Heininger(-0.5) slants inside and gets sealed. Ezeh(-0.5) gets stood up by a tackle, getting bowled over as the RB gets to the line and falling backwards.
M32 2 4 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Mouton 2
Heininger pinches in before the snap and this allows him to get playside of his guy(+1), forcing an important cutback since Sagesse(-0.5) had gotten blown back by a double team. An unblocked Mouton(-1) bizarrely decides that maybe Chappel has the ball just as the RB is cutting back into him and steps away from the tailback; fortunately he falls to the ground. Still picks up two that should be zero.
M30 3 2 Ace 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Graham 0
Graham(+1) and Banks(+1) burst past blockers and two yards into the backfield. Banks removes any possibility for the RB to avoid Graham's tackle.
M30 4 2 Ace Big 4-3 under Pass Flat Brown 4
They run a pick route and get man coverage; the pick delays Brown enough to open up the little flat route for first down yardage. (Cover -1)
M26 1 10 Pistol Twin TE Bunch 4-3 under Run Triple option pitch Kovacs 26

Michigan has no idea what it's doing against this formation, which has three guys lined up tight to the wide side of the field, one of whom is a covered tight end. Cissoko and Kovacs are pointing various places and Cissoko ends up running inside as the play snaps, apparently because he's just found out he's supposed to be in man coverage against the wideout to the near side of the field. He doesn't get there before the snap, ending up marooned midway.

This should actually be an advantage(!) since the WR is coming around on an end-around so he can act as a pitchman for Chappell. Roh comes inside of the dive fake; Mouton(+1) sees that the RB doesn't have the ball and does a good job of getting out on Chappell, forcing a pitch. I don't think that was his responsibility, I think that was just a good play. Kovacs(-2) fails to read this, sets up on the QB, and then fails to have the speed to get out on the corner. Cissoko(-2), meanwhile, has bit on the dive fake(!!!) that is definitely not his responsibility, which means once Kovacs can't get him no one can. Step one towards a benching. Replay.

Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O19 1 10 Pistol Trips 4-3 under Penalty False Start -- -5
O14 1 15 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Martin 0
Martin(+1) slants into a lineman, driving him back two yards. Graham(+1) does the same, cutting off the outside. And Mouton(+1) cuts through traffic, slicing past a blocker to meet the cutback in the backfield and tackling(+1). This was the kind of stuff Mouton was doing at the end of last year and hasn't been doing so far this year.
O14 2 15 Shotgun empty Base 3-3-5 Pass Hitch Cissoko Inc
Three man rush sees Chappell get plenty of time (pressure -1); he throws a hitch well behind the receiver; Cissoko(+1, cover +1) was in tight coverage and may have had a play even if accurate.
O14 3 15 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Dumpoff Roh 11
Four rushers this time; Roh(+1) gets outside of the Indiana RT and is thrown to the ground, drawing a holding call (pressure +1). Coverage is good(+1) downfield, forcing a checkdown that come up well short of the sticks. Also an offensive PI but it had no effect on the play.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Pistol Twin TE Bunch 4-3 under Run Zone counter? Banks -1
Indiana shoots the H-back into the backside like Michigan does but the running back doesn't attack there. Instead he heads to the frontside of the play, where Banks(+1) has knifed through the line, forcing the running back into a slanting Graham(+1) and going nowhere.
M41 2 11 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Penalty Illegal snap -- -5
M46 2 16 Pistol 2TE Base 3-4 Run Inside Zone Brown 0
Graham(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) drive blockers backwards, slanting at angles I'm betting Sharik likes better and forcing a cutback into Brown(+1, tackling +1), who's read the cutback and zipped past a potential blocker to tackle at the LOS.
M46 3 16 Shotgun empty Base 3-3-5 Pass Throwaway Banks Inc
Michigan backs out into a three man rush and Chappell.. rolls out? On third and 15? What? Compounding things: Banks(+1) shot past a blocker thanks to the rollout and pressured(+1) Chappel, causing a throwaway. This looks insane.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 4 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass Fly Cissoko 56
Ugh, max protect sees eight guys stay in to block against a four-man rush, so everyone's doubled and there is no pressure, though it's hard to blame 'em. Cissoko(-4) just gets run right by by an Indiana receiver, giving up a huge play without the guy so much as offering up a head fake. JT Floyd time. (Cover -3).
M11 1 10 Pistol Twins H-Back 4-3 under Run Dive Mouton 11
Weird formation where they use what looks like a WR as a sort of H-back, which has the strange effect of drawing Cissoko in as a sort of extra linebacker since he's in man coverage. Graham(+1) immediately sheds his blocker, however, blowing up the intended play and forcing a cutback. Mouton(-3) is on the backside and totally unblocked. He inexplicably sets up way inside, giving up the corner, and turning a zero-yard play into a touchdown (tackling -2).
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-14, 2 min 1st Q. Mouton's severe regression is the most disturbing development of the season.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Pistol Twin TE Twins 4-3 under Run QB Draw Ezeh 1
Motion out in to an empty set. IU blocks down on Graham and Martin, pulling two OL around that Ezeh(+2) shoots through, avoiding a cut block, staying on his feet, and tackling(+1) for little gain. Brown(+0.5) had cut off the outside, too, and Graham had fought through an initial seal to be useful.
O25 2 9 Pistol Twin TE Base 4-3 Pass Long handoff Floyd 13
Way, way too easy for IU here as Floyd is playing nine yards off the wideout and gets crushed backwards by the wideout, who bowls him over for a whopping eight yards after contact. (Cover -1, tackling -1, Floyd -1).
O38 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass Fly Floyd Inc
Stunt gets Graham(+1) in past the interior line; he levels Chappell as he throws. They're going after Floyd(+1, cover +1) on a fly; he's got good coverage and the ball is off target because of the pressure(+1).
O38 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Flare Mouton 9
Kovacs is blitzing and does read this. He turns to run, at which point an Indiana OL rolls over the back of his legs. That's a clip, but it's uncalled. Mouton is in man coverage on this but gets clipped by a pick (not an illegal one) from a receiver; IU's exploited man coverage a couple times and is late getting out. (Cover -1) They're in man so Mouton(-1) should be quicker to this.
M47 3 1 Shotgun empty 4-3 under Pass TE out Ezeh Inc
This is open and Chappell gets it to the receiver in a tight space—impressive timing—but Ezeh(+2) gets there and wrests the ball out. Could have been ruled a fumble, actually, though Michigan was lucky it wasn't: IU recovered. (Cover +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-14, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass Hitch Floyd 9
Wide open against a timid corner. (Cover -1, Floyd -1) Floyd not anywhere near this to tackle on the catch.
50 2 1 Pistol Twin TE Bunch 4-4 under Run Triple option pitch Ezeh 9
Same play as the earlier TD. Kovacs blitzing and takes out the dive fake. Floyd(-1) in man over the WR who will be the pitch man and doesn't go with him. This is basic, right? Then: Ezeh(-1) sucks in on the dive fake and Mouton(-1) does force a pitch but he should be the outside guy given the Kovacs blitz and he again gives up the edge.
M41 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-4-under Run Inside Zone Martin 3
Given the way the blockers on the second level attack the M linebackers I believe this was supposed to go to the other side of the LOS and was forced to a backside cut by Martin(+1). Mouton(+0.5) is unblocked on the backside in a moderately sized hole, which he fills; Graham helps tackle. IU RB did a good job of fighting for some YAC.
M38 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Cross Ezeh 11
Ezeh(-1) sucked too far one way by a crossing route, leaving the other cross wide open. (Cover -1)
M27 1 10 Crazy thing Crazy response Pass Out -- 14
Michigan gets confused by this formation and doesn't understand where the receivers they have to cover are lined up, so they leave a guy wide open and he runs for a bit. I'm not going to chart this because it's a trick play. I do think M should have used a TO.
M13 1 10 Pistol Twin TE Bunch 4-4 under Run Inside Zone Brown 0
Kovacs(+1) on the backside blitz. He times it well and gets an arm around the ankle of the tailback. Meanwhile, Brown(+1) sidesteps the H-back's attempted block and zips into the hole he came from, arriving to finish the job. (Tackling +1)
M13 2 10 Pistol Twin TE Twins 4-3 under Pass Flat Herron 5
Motion to empty. This seems like the exact same issue Michigan had on the first play of the game: the deathbacker drops off into coverage on the tight end on the line, leaving no one to cover the H-back in the flat. (Cover -1) Does this coverage make sense?
M8 3 5 Shotgun Trips Bunch 4-3 under Pass Flat Herron 0
Kovacs rolls up to the LOS and Brown used as a nickelback. Ezeh(+1) times a blitz well and apparently did not tip it because Indiana's pickup is confused, leaving Herron a virtually free shot at Chappell. (Pressure +1) Chappell just gets rid of it high; his receiver brings it in but falls as he was doing so. Michigan had this snuffed out anyway because of the disrupted timing. Oh, hell. +0.5 to Floyd.
Drive Notes: Field Goal(24), 14-17, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass Hitch Floyd 26
Much chaos and confusion in the D on this one, with people pointing and stuff as the ball is snapped. Hate the pointing. Slide protection picks up what looks like a stunt and gives Chappell a ton of time (pressure -1) to find a deep hitch that's open(cover -1) and Floyd(-1) overplays, unsuccessfully diving past the ball and turning 12 yards into 26. He did get a hand on it and could have had a PBU with some better luck, and I feel bad for giving him a minus when he actually made a sort of good play, but results-based charting.
M3 1 G Pistol Twin TE Bunch 4-4 under Pass Rollout scramble Mouton 0
Not actually Chappell, but WR Mitchell Evans, the wildcat QB. I actually think Mouton again got suckered and left the TE open on this for a potential touchdown but Evans disagrees, probably because he's a WR, pulling the ball down. When he does that Mouton reacts immediately and attacks him, preventing him from running it in. Dodgy on the coverage but the reaction to Evans bringing it down was good. +1. And a tenuous cover +1.
M3 2 G Pistol 2TE 4-4 under Pass Out Floyd Inc
Graham discards a blocker after a brief delay and is coming in on Chappell, forcing a throw. Not a + pressure but avoids a minus. Receiver is open for a probable TD on Floyd (cover -1); throw is high and hard and deflected OOB by the receiver.
M3 3 G Shotgun Trips Bunch 4-3 under Pass Hitch Brown Inc
Crazy zone blitz gets Mouton(+1) in (pressure +1), forcing an immediate throw to a guy in between Van Bergen(+0.5) and Brown(+1) in a short zone. Three players come together and Brown rakes the ball out. Diving stab by an Indiana receiver on the deflection is for naught. (Cover +1)
Drive Notes: Field Goal(20), 14-20, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O42 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Slant Warren Inc
Warren in good, not great position, on a play that will become important later. Chapel throws it behind his receiver.
O42 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Bubble screen -- Inc
Trying to exploit Michigan's tendency to not directly cover the slot, but here Brown backs out and probably has a good chance of holding this to a few yards. Throw is low and dropped anyway.
O42 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Flare screen Mouton 3
Our rock their scissors as Michigan overloads one side of the line on a zone blitz. This means Mouton and RVB back out into short zones on the other side of the field and are excellently positioned to snuff this out after a few yards. (Cover +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-20, 2 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M21 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Slant Floyd 14 (Pen -10)
Floyd(-1) playing way, way off (cover -1) and this is wide open, which ruins a protection screwup on IU's part that gets Herron in unblocked (pressure +1). Graham(+1) is basically tackled by the LT, drawing a holding call.
M31 1 20 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Hitch Floyd Inc
Wow, Indiana slides protection and ends up with a RB one-on-one with Graham; this goes about as well as you'd expect but Chappell is chucking a short hitch anyway that Floyd is is good-not-great position on (cover +1, +0.5). Irrelevant since it's airmailed.
M31 2 20 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Draw Brown 1
Linebackers dropping into zones and there's no one coming out to block them so it's a simple matter for them to contain it; Brown(+0.5) makes a good tackle(+1) to finish the play.
M30 3 19 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass Slant Brown 14
Michigan sends a zone blitz, sending all three linebackers and dropping the DEs into short zones. This gets Mouton(+1) through unblocked (pressure +1), but the coverage behind it is faulty with Brown(-1) getting lost to the outside of a guy he appears to be in man in (cover -1), which opens up a bunch of space that allows Indiana dangerously close to the first down before Floyd(+1) makes an authoritative tackle(+1). Minuses on a third down stop because this greatly improves IU's FG chances.
Drive Notes: Field Goal(30), 21-23, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O2 1 10 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Dive Graham 1
Oooh, Graham(+1) knifes past the RT and almost has an angle to crush this for a safety, but the back manages to cut just past him. The disruption causes him to fall for little gain; Ezeh was there unblocked to provide some variety of resistance if he didn't fall.
O3 2 9 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Dive Martin 3
Why are they running at Martin(+0.5) and Graham(+0.5)? Both stand up their blockers, with Martin delaying the second level block of the RG; the RB has a tiny crease to slam up into, where he's surrounded by those two and Ezeh. The pile lurches a couple yards.
O6 3 6 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Rollout sack Brown -1
Chappell gets outside the pocket on a designed roll (pressure -1) and has time to survey but can't find anyone for a long time (cover +2). Running out of time, he tries to cut it up and in swarmed under, with Brown the primary tackler(+1).
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-23, 10 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O13 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Run Dive Roh 4
Roh zips into the backfield after what looks like a bust by Indiana, but can't tackle(-1) for loss. He does force the tailback to cut into the backside, away from the blocking on the play, and this allows Ezeh(+0.5) to avoid any potential blockers, read the cutback, change direction, and tackle.
O17 2 6 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Corner Graham Inc
Again Indiana is sliding the protection to leave an RB on Graham. Graham(+0.5) is delayed but not taken out by a cut block and Chappell has to throw quicker than he'd like (pressure +1); he airmails a ball to a covered(+1) receiver.
O17 3 6 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass Skinny post Mouton 18
Linebackers back out and it's just a three-man rush. Graham(+1, pressure +1) is actually coming around to hit Chappell as he finds a receiver, who's cut inside of Mouton(-1, cover -2) for a 15-yard gain. This is where not having even one nickelback kills you.
O35 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-4 under Pass Fly Floyd Inc (Pen +15)
The preposterous PI call. This ball lands three yards out of bounds and six yards past the receiver; uncatchable as hell. CONSPIRACY. If catchable, a penalty. So: -1, cover -1.
50 1 10 Pistol Trips 4-4 even Pass Hitch Van Bergen Inc
Kovacs sent on a blitz that absorbs the RB, leaving RVB alone in the passing lane uncut; he leaps to bat the ball(+1, pressure +1). Downfield coverage looked decent.
50 2 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Run End-around Warren 7
Wildcat QB. Michigan strings this out pretty well, with Roh(+1) forcing this to go almost to the sideline, but there is zero outside support with Floyd(-1) getting crushed back and Warren(-1) appearing to let up instead of really run the play down, as he was in man coverage on the guy who ended up with the ball.
M43 3 3 Shotgun Trips Bunch 4-3 under Pass Circle -- 7
Ugh, they send four and drop into a zone on third and three and manage to not have anyone within five yards of a guy running a little route at the sticks (cover -2).
M36 1 10 Pistol Twin TE Bunch 4-4 under Run Zone counter dive Mouton 4
Wildcat QB. This is a version of Michigan's counterpunch, with zone blocking on the frontside of the play and a pulling H-back coming down to kick out someone on the backside. Heininger(-1) is in for Graham and gets crushed down the line, opening up a lot of space; Kovacs occupies the H-back, leaving Mouton(-1) all alone with a tailback; he misses a tackle(-1). Brown(+1) does a good job of scraping over and standing up the RB in his tracks, holding this down.
M32 2 6 Ace Big 4-3 under Pass PA TE Corner Woolfolk 18
Woolfolk(-1) and Ezeh(-1) both sucked up by the play action, leaving the TE wide open (cover -2). Plenty of time, too. (pressure -1). On replay it's obvious that Indiana had the post for a wide open touchdown.
M14 1 10 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Dive Graham -1
Graham back in; Indiana rushes to the line in an attempt to catch Michigan napping and basically do, but only in the secondary. Graham(+1) and Sagesse(+1) both blow into the backfield, forcing a cutback into nothing.
M15 2 11 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Throwaway Mouton Inc
Michigan sends the house: seven guys without any zone blitz droops. Mouton(+1) in free, gets his hands up and gets in quick enough to hit Chappell as he's attempting to get it away. (Pressure +2)
M15 3 11 Shotgun empty 4-3 under Pass Throwaway Brown Inc
Zone blitz sees both DTs drop out and Brown(+1) sent from the backside; Brown is in free and Chappell is just trying to get out of the pocket so he can get rid of it. He does. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Field Goal(32), 21-26, 5 min 3rd Q. Nice couple of blitzes drawn up by Robinson to kill the drive; Indiana could have, should have had a touchdown on that PA corner, as both safeties bit like whoah and Floyd had no chance.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Martin 1
Martin(+0.5) drives the opposing center back; Graham(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5) also slant into the play. No creases; so a cutback where Mouton(+0.5) and Herron(+0.5) are waiting to tackle(+1) at the LOS.
O25 2 29 Pistol 2TE Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Warren 14
Michigan sends the house, leaving the corners isolated, and Indiana actually goes after Warren. Warren's in decent coverage and has an opportunity to make a tackle after a five yard catch but misses it (-1, tackle -1), giving Indiana another ten yards and a first down.
O39 1 10 Pistol Twins 4-3 under Pass PA Rollout Throwaway -- Inc
Rollout gets Chappel plenty of time (pressure -1), but all his receivers are blanketed (cover +2), with Warren(+1) and Woolfolk(+1) providing the primary cover on the receivers. Chappel chucks it away.
O39 2 10 Pistol Trips 4-3 under Run Down G Mouton 24
Indiana line blocks down and pulls two guards around into the weakside of the defense, which is Floyd and Mouton. Yikes. Herron slants himself out of the play, and Mouton(-1) attacks upfield too quickly when he's got unblocked help in the form of Ezeh inside; Mouton should be aiming to get the RB inside of him at all costs but he doesn't, and then Floyd(-0.5) is crushed by an OL but you can't blame him too much for that. Ezeh pursues downfield and has an opportnity to tackle after eight or ten but misses it(-1, tackling -1). Kovacs finally cleans up.
M37 1 10 Ace Big 4-4 under Run Dive Sagesse 5
Simple straight-ahead run at Sagesse(-1), who gets down-blocked and kicked out of the hole by the LG as the RG pulls around. Heininger(-0.5) gets blown off the line by a double. Plowing ahead goes for good yardage.
M32 2 5 Ace Big 4-4 under Pass PA Flat throwaway Warren Inc
I dislike it when Michigan does not make the obvious matchup when Indiana is in their tight formation and leaves Floyd on the WR and Warren on the H-back. But they do; it's man as the H-back pulls across the formation; this time Michigan's linebackers ride the TEs downfield, jamming them all the way and preventing Chappell from hitting them. Both short guys are covered and Chappell just throws it away. (Cover +2, +1 for Mouton, Herron; +0.5 Floyd, Warren).
M32 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass Cross Mouton 6
Indiana running crossing routes underneath; Mouton(-1) goes too far out of his zone getting a bump on a TE and opens it up for the guy dragging the other way across the formation (cover -1); Chappel hits him for a first down.
M26 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass Scramble -- 1
Indiana goes max protect and sends two guys on fly routes; Michigan has bracketed both those guys with safeties (cover +1) and there's nowhere to go. Chappell rolls out and then attempts to get what he can; a bunch of guys tackle at the LOS.
M25 2 9 Pistol Trips 4-3 under Run Off tackle Van Bergen 1
Trying to run at the not-good side of the line; Michigan is slanting that way, though, and RVB(+1) gets playside of his guy, driving him into the backfield and picking off one of the pulling guards. Ezeh takes out the other one and RVB and Herron(+0.5) combine to tackle(+1) for no gain.
M24 3 8 Shotgun Trips Bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass Fly Floyd Inc
Michigan actually makes a late shift to a four man line; Graham is attempting to spin inside his guy, but he's getting doubled; he notices Sagesse's push and runs what looks like an impromptu stunt, shooting up the middle of the pocket and forcing a throw (+1, pressure +1) to a receiver in the endzone. Floyd(+1) is in excellent (coverage +1), forcing his guy to the sidelines. Guy makes the catch but it's well out of bounds, the only place it could be given the defense.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(42), 21-26, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O15 1 10 Pistol Trips 4-3 under Run Down G Van Bergen 85

RVB, again:

"I made the wrong check," Van Bergen said. "It doesn't happen very often, but it was independently on me. It almost cost the team a big loss, and I would have blamed that completely on myself." …

"We were supposed to be running blitz to the boundary and I checked to field," he said. "It's something very basic, and I shouldn't have made that mistake."

Michigan's shifted their line away from the short side of the field, and their linebackers; the short side of the field ends up with two TEs. This is not good.So this play is just about doomed from the start, but the degree of doomage is because of further errors from a couple players. Graham gets downblocked and a TE pulls around, leaving zero in the way of linebackers to that side of the field. Floyd(-1) just gets outrun, which is disturbing, and Kovacs(-2) takes a bad angle, getting outrun himself. I don't minus for alignment errors because unless someone comes out and says "my bad" in the aftermath, who's to know who's to blame?

Drive Notes: Touchdown, 33-29, 8 min 4th Q. God, Pam Ward is horrible.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-4 under Run Off tackle Van Bergen -1
Kovacs sent on the backside blitz as per usual. Van Bergen(+1) surges into the backfield, occupying blockers and getting in the way long enough for Kovacs(+1) to tackle from behind.
O23 2 11 Ace Big 4-4 under Pass Sack Van Bergen -12

Play action that sort of looks well-covered short but it's Floyd 1-on-1 with a receiver going deep and that's dodgy. It's not relevant since Van Bergen(+3) again slices through two blockers, gets his hands up, and then sacks Chappell for a huge loss. (Pressure +1, cover +1)

O11 3 23 Pistol 2TE 4-4 under Run Inside Zone Van Bergen 2
Dude. Van Bergen(+1) again through the line, slanting into the backfield and destroying the play. Cutback sees the tailback pick up a couple.
Drive Notes: Punt, 29-33, 5 min 4th Q. That's as atoned as you can get right there.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Slant Warren Int
Why would you throw this? I don't know. Note: Graham(+1) was coming in on Chappell(pressure +1), forcing him to throw the ball and maybe not reconsider this decision. Warren(+4) meanwhile, breaks on the ball and picks it off, killing Indiana's potential gamewinning drive before it starts. (Cover +2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 36-33, 2 min 4th Q.

Do you know what I did when Indiana had that 85 yard run?


I thought to myself "I bet Ryan Van Bergen missed a check and will spend the rest of the game personally destroying the Indiana offense."


No. I threw the cat at the TV and vowed to find Jim Herrmann and find a way to blame it on him.

Ah so.

Ah so. Chart?

Ok. Chart.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Graham 12 - 12 How does this man not have a sack? Poor coverage.
Heininger 1 2.5 -1.5 Has a tendency to get exploded.
Patterson - - - DNP.
Roh 3 1 2 Not really in on much.
Herron 3 - 3 Some good run defense.
Martin 4.5 - 4.5 Indiana could not move him.
Van Bergen 8 1 7 Did virtually nothing until the 85-yard run, then single-handedly killed the next drive.
Banks 2 - 2 Had a couple plays.
Sagesse 1 1.5 -0.5 Quiet.
TOTAL 34.5 6 28.5 I actually think this might be a decent DL. MSU will be interesting.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 5.5 5.5 0 Had a couple of key plays… both ways.
Mouton 7 8 -1 Surprised he came out this close to even. Major culprit on a few big plays.
Brown 6 1 5 Cutting through traffic to make plays and tackling with authority.
Fitzgerald - - - DNP.
Leach - - -- DNP.
TOTAL 18.5 14.5 4 Progress? 
Player + - T Notes
Warren 4.5 2 2.5 Won't be thrown at the rest of the year. Bring a book, kid.
Cissoko 1 6 -5 Yeesh.
Floyd 4.5 8 -3.5 Tries hard. Clearly physically deficient.
Turner - - - DNP
Woolfolk 0.5 3 -2.5 Lucky he wasn't a goat on play action.
Williams - - - DNP
Emilien - - - DNP
Kovacs 3 4 -1 Hardy, but slow.
TOTAL 13.5 23 -9.5 If we only had a second corner.
Pressure 17 4 13 Even when they went deep Chappell was eating linemen all day.
Coverage 18 25 -7 Not horrible, actually.
Tackling 10 7 3 Major step back from inagural week.

So, yeah, them's the numbers.

Shouldn't those numbers be considerably more horrible?

Well, from one perspective, yes: Michigan gave up 33 points and almost 500 yards to Indiana. From another… maybe not? Diarist The Mathlete maintains some cool statistics that take drive starts and quantity into account, and they have an interesting story:

Run Defense vs Indiana

Another win for Indiana here, obviously.  Despite Michigan poor job in previous games against the run, the Hoosiers still "beat the spread" going +2 against the Wolverine rush D while the D was 3 points worse against Indiana than the average team. …

Pass Defense vs Indiana

Indiana was actually below average passing against Michigan, with a -1 while Michigan was +4 vs the Indiana passing game. …

Field Position

Based solely on drive starts, Michigan should have lost the game 30-27, indicating that the offense overachieved by 9 points and the defense underachieved by 3.

If you go back to those pace statistics from Barking Carnival that I've referenced in the past you find that the offense-mad Big 12 averaged 11.4 possessions per game last year; Indiana got 15 cracks, three of which started in Michigan territory. All of those were legit scoring opportunities. This calculation is overly simplistic, but 11.4/15 is 76%. 76% of Indiana's yards in the last game is 355, which would have been almost exactly average last year*. You can do the same for the points.

*(This year's stats are inflated by a prevalence of cupcakes early.)

Even if I do believe your statistical witchery, is it good to give Indiana a national-average number of yards?

Well, no. Underachieving by three points based solely on drive starts against a team that was 3-9 last year is not good. But all I'm trying to do here is explain the numbers above, which are really positive for the DL, meh (meh-minus when you account for the LB-caused negs in the coverage metric) for the linebackers, and terrible in the secondary. It was close to an average day given the number of drives against and the spots on the field those started and the numbers reflect that.

Through a less defensive prism: I think the circumstances mitigate but do not excuse the performance turned in by the defense. It's a bad defense with some glaring holes and a maddening propensity to let tailbacks break contain. I don't think it's quite as horrible as 467 yards by Indiana suggest.

Was it actually a pick?

I don't know, man. I've seen the stills at Maize 'n' Brew and here are a couple high quality ones from UMGoBlog, and they seem to make a case, but nothing I saw in the video was particularly conclusive either way. My initial reaction live was "that's too bad, simultaneous possession" and my initial reaction when they reviewed it was "that's too bad, they'll overturn it if they can," which they could not. The only thing I can offer is that the referee who made the call had an angle no one else did, as he was running right at the play from the most advantageous viewpoint, so there's a possibility he saw what the stills suggest: Warren had possession first, at which point Belcher came in to grab the ball but only after Warren had established possession.

If you ask me, though: Bill Lynch was right to toss his gum. I'd be livid if that happened to Michigan.


Okay, even if it is a bad call let's not get all crazy with weird conspiracy theories. (What's that, Penn State fans? I'm ten years too late? Oh.) Michigan got called for an illegal formation on this:

illegal formation WTF

This knocked out a 20-yard third down conversion and is something I've never seen called ever. Also, Michigan pissed off the pass interference fairy something fierce this offseason. So save the CONSPIRACY theories.

What is the deal with all the outside runs?

I don't know. We saw this last week with JB Fitzgerald and thought "that's why he doesn't play" but here's Jonas Mouton doing virtually the exact same thing:

Indiana also got a 24-yarder when Mouton did not get outside of the Indiana tailback. Here he's got a blocker but he's got to know his #1 priority is to get that RB inside of him so that Ezeh can flow to him and tackle.

Elsewhere in questionable linebacker play, twice Michigan was sitting in zones that should be well-equipped to thwart or at least hold down Indiana crossing routes and overreacted to the first one coming through their zone. Here's one:

Mouton did a similar thing later.

It wasn't all bad, though. Ezeh ripped out what would have been a third down completion and also sliced up into a play to stone it for no gain; Mouton had a couple moments of slithering attack. They ended up near zero today, which isn't great against Indiana but it could have been worse. Can I suggest that there are the briefest embers of hope here? We're stuck with these guys for the next two years, so their improvement will be critical.


The two-headed non-Warren cornerback is a big obvious glaring hole, the biggest on the team. And Van Bergen's missed check was damaging, almost disastrous.


After the missed check, Van Bergen personally destroyed Indiana's penultimate drive, slanting into the backfield twice to crush running plays and then getting a critical second-down sack. It was a drive of atonement. Also, Graham and Martin were consistently excellent; Stevie Brown should always have been a linebacker; Donovan Warren missed one tackle but… uh… well… you know.

What does it mean for Michigan State and the remainder of the season?

Whatever lingering hopes you had that the corner spot opposite Warren could turn into a non-liability should be put in the corner and told to  be quiet for a while. JT Floyd did better than I thought he did live but still remains a timid redshirt freshman who transparently lacks the speed to be an elite corner. Michigan is going to have to cover up for him. Kovacs is okay but really slow.

Elsewhere… I'm coming around on the defensive line, at least the starters. Graham has had the quietest dominating performances ever, Martin is proving solid, and Van Bergen went all HULK SMASH after the missed check. Earlier in the year, Steve Sharik was complaining about the terrible angles Michigan was taking on its slants; I think that's something that's gotten repaired, as Michigan is slanting its ass off and leaving little in the way of creases for the opponents. When the back seven doesn't screw up magnificently, Michigan stoned Indiana all day. Yeah, yeah, just Indiana, but I'm happier with dominance interspersed with huge errors than the steady drip-drip-drip of physical inadequacy. Fix the errors and you could be okay.

Of course, physical dominance is easy against Indiana and will be tougher against most of the rest of the schedule, so this could just be a mirage. Michigan State will be a big test.

The linebackers are at least making some plays to go with their massive errors, Stevie Brown(!) excluded since he's not making massive errors.

Bizarrely, I have some hope yet for this thing to be mediocre once Michigan gets a better idea of what it's doing. The improved slanting is one step in the right direction and an indication that the defense is getting less confused as the season goes along. Like last year's offense, the youth and uncertainty of the group means they should improve more than the average unit as we go along; they could be functional against not great offenses. By my count, that's the entire league.

What did I just say? God help me.

Unverified Voracity Won't Discipline Sheep

Unverified Voracity Won't Discipline Sheep

Submitted by Brian on September 18th, 2009 at 11:58 AM

Hooray for automatic translations. Via BHGP:


Michigan State's, on the other hand, have been very naughty lambs. 

Personally, I am deeply affected by this. I am in favor of Michigan's just-approved basketball facilities in all ways except one:


That real estate is the home of my ancestral tailgate. Ah well. The plans look very nice, though, and should help the program steady itself as a respectable one (or better!). More at UM Hoops.

Yes yes yes maybe? 100 cocktails to Yostal, who gets a question in to Chris Brown at EDSBS and extracts a thousand or so words on Michigan from one of college football's most interesting bloggers—apparently Brown's article on Tressel was specifically mentioned by the man himself on a radio appearance! Yostal's question has to do with Michigan's attempt to shoehorn both Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson into useful roles on the field. Brown:

I think the winds are changing, and a two-quarterback system is quite possible. At its best you are likely to have the system Florida used to win the 2006 title: a starting quarterback in charge of most of the offense (Chris Leak), and a second guy with special abilities for whom a package is installed (then-freshman Tim Tebow). This example has now been made universal throughout football under the nauseatingly overused rubric, “the wildcat.” (Had “wildcat” been around in 2006 think of all of the puns Dan Shanoff could have used to describe how Meyer used his young talent.) The reason that works though is because you choose a starting quarterback for one set of skills (passing, reading the defense, making checks, accuracy, some athleticism, etc) but another guy opens up a new dimension because of their running ability, and the spread with a mobile guy gives the offense certain numerical advantages it doesn’t get with an immobile quarterback.

Read or die. /diddy.

Do we care about this? The Detroit News has an article about how a bunch of Michigan coaches have loans from the Bank of Ann Arbor, which is a potential conflict of interest for Bank of Ann Arbor founder Bill Martin:

"I don't suggest banks to any coach," he said. "I don't ever get involved in their financial affairs in any way, shape or form. I believe it would be a conflict of interest (to do so)."

But Martin also acknowledged that now that he is aware of the loans, it does create a conflict.

"Now that I know, I don't like it necessarily," he said. "When you don't know, you don't have a conflict."

This contradicts an earlier statement by Martin. Is this of interest to anyone other than the Bank of Ann Arbor corporate board? I'm thinking not so much.

The scene of the crime. Johnny Sears (Yes That Johnny Sears), now a senior, makes his return to Michigan Stadium tomorrow. Jokes aside, and there is plenty of material, it sounds like Sears has come a long way from the events that precipitated his dismissal:

“I was on the practice squad on my junior college. I didn’t even get to play. Sometimes by myself I thought like, ‘Is it worth it?’ but then I felt like, ‘OK I really want to play football.’ That’s my love. It’s my escape from things. This is what I love to do so I just wanted to make sure I could do that.”

And okay, yes, it is a little funny that Sears ended up on a JUCO's practice squad after starting The Horror. Funny in a sad clown way. When you're discussing the clunky end of the Carr era, "started sophomore DB who had never played varsity football before he got an offer and couldn't crack a JUCO 2-deep after he left because he seemed like the best option" should be somewhere on the list.

The spread is dead part XXVI. Excellent research by Team Speed Kills on Lane Kiffin's latest quote:

"The only time I really see [Florida] lose kids is because kids want to play in a pro-style offense," Kiffin said. "It’s such a great place to play, and they do such a good job of coaching. But you see some kids that don’t want to play in that system because a lot of times it hurts them going to the next level for their draft status."

This will be read as a tiny bit douchy by most and with white-hot rage by one Urban Meyer, and won't be much of an argument going forward:

  • Three spread offense receivers (Crabtree, Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, and Florida's Percy Harvin) were taken in the first round of last year's draft. The only tight end taken in the first round (Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew) came from a spread offense.
  • Both Harvin and Louis Murphy, from Florida's very spread offense, started on opening day for their teams and both caught touchdown passes.
  • Sam Bradford was predicted to be a top ten pick had he come out last year and is the top quarterback prospect for 2010. He plays in a spread offense in Oklahoma.
  • The top two offensive lineman prospects for 2010 according to ESPN (Oklahoma State's Russell Okung and Oklahoma's Trent Williams) block in spread offenses.

It does not matter much what sort of offense you play in as far as the NFL goes.

Moose replace. David Moosman's out this weekend. The replacement derby:

Michigan right guard Dave Moosman suffered a dislocated shoulder against Notre Dame and may miss two weeks. Starting right tackle Mark Huyge moved to Moosman's spot and Perry Dorrestein filled in for Huyge at the end of last week's game. Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is uncertain about this week's starting plans with Wauseon redshirt freshman Elliott Mealer one of three others being considered.

I'm hoping one of the redshirt freshman breaks through for the long term, but it sounds like it'll be someone more veteran. AA.com says junior John Ferrara is likely to be the guy.

KOVAAAAAAAAACS. A fair amount of attention has been paid to Jordan Kovacs this week, and why not? He's only an unrecruited walk-on who played much of the second half against Notre Dame and did not end up plastered on the bottom of Michael Floyd's foot. Kovacs actually had to try out twice because the first time he tried to sign up he had serious knee issues the athletic department didn't want to volunteer to fix. He got the surgery himself, tried out, made the team, and took a valuable lesson from the whole thing:

"I said I'm never going to come back to the training room," he said. "I'll have to be dying."

Er. Well. A lesson of some variety at least. The official site has their version of Kovacs' life story and a helpful reader forwarded along this article from a 1983 edition of the Toledo Blade that has an article on Lou Kovacs, Jordan's father and a walk-on himself. Bo on the elder Kovacs:

"Having an individual participate in our football program and then continue on is one of the most important aspects we have in this program at any coaching level, and having someone like Lou is even more gratifying because we like to have young men like him stay on in coaching."

That right there is black-belt level coachspeak.

Weis one-ups. This is the most quintessentially Charlie Weis sentence ever:

At fullback they have a versatile fullback who plays fullback in Hawken who plays fullback, but he moves around a lot, giving them a lot of the versatility along with the multiple tight ends they have because they do play three of them.

Bloated, meandering, repetitive, full of fail. A sentence or a life in coaching? Zing!

Etc.: Bacon's latest for Michigan Today has an extensive discussion of the 50 Yard Line club. Yes, that 50 Yard Line Club. "Lose yourself" hype video. Misopogon sees dead cornerbacks in Boubacar Cissoko.