Clinic Items: Greg Mattison

Clinic Items: Greg Mattison

Submitted by Brian on February 15th, 2012 at 3:07 PM

mattison-hoke-p1[1]

So I hit up a Glazier Clinic last week. I'm not sure what the etiquette is about actually talking about this stuff since the atmosphere in the room was not at all similar to press conferences in which carefully evaluated non-statements are provided. For instance, at one point Greg Mattison said that "I've never seen such awful technique" than that of the defensive line upon his arrival.

Mattison didn't say anything offensive, but he was very blunt. If he knew someone would be posting about it on the internet he might not have spoken like that, which means I probably shouldn't be in the room. But being in the room was exceedingly useful for me as I try to figure out what people are supposed to be doing on the field. So here's a mostly paraphrased recap that I don't think anyone could possibly get mad at.

I also listened to an hour of Funk after Mattison was done; having missed two hours of table-setting and lingo I had a hard time grabbing anything that I could relate to you. FWIW, Funk's presentation was three hours of inside zone minutiae—I don't think we're dumping zone any time soon. Craig Ross took in the whole thing and provided a few notes that I'll post Friday.

Philosophy

Mattison. Very personable, obviously a veteran of the clinic circuit. At points reminded me of a folk singer in one and only one very specific way: after explaining this formation or this coverage or this defense, he would fire off some zingers, get everyone to laugh, and then continue with business. I can see why he's regarded as a great recruiter.

His interest in teaching was also clear. Occasionally it felt like it was a college class as Mattison asked the room what player X would be doing in a particular situation. That lent a lot of credence to his assertion that one of two primary reasons he came back to college was a desire to "influence young men—that's what we do." (Brady Hoke was the other.)

On message. Mattison kicked the session off with about 30 minutes describing Michigan's philosophy, goals, and motivational techniques before getting into Xs and Os. He started by talking about Hoke; that "the one thing Brady did was bring back what made Michigan what it is." Michigan hasn't been "one of those teams loaded with unbelievable stars" but plays fundamentally sound, tough defense with maximum effort. Etc.

There were then the usual bits about Hoke's "Years: 133, Championships: 42" call-and-response and a statement that the Sugar Bowl was "fine" but he would trade 100 of them for a Big Ten Championship. The rooms say "THE TEAM THE TEAM THE TEAM," of course. The program is on message.

Position switches. As I wrestled with how to handle this various coaches in the room told every-damn-body that Mattison said Brennen Beyer was moving to WDE and Craig Roh to SDE. This was explicitly stated. Adjust the wiki pages.

Helmets to the ball. A major theme: "loafs" are not tolerated and Mattison wants to see the jersey of 10 guys at the end of every play. When he catches a defensive lineman getting passed by another one he asks the kid how fast he is, and when they say "4.7" he says "well that guy must be a 4.3 then."

At the end of the session Mattison was discussing a corner blitz they didn't run much because the corners didn't come hard enough. One of the cut-ups was from the end of the third quarter against OSU. This play:

The coaches' film is a wider shot and emphasized the huge distance Floyd had to make up to catch Miller before the touchdown. Mattison took the opportunity to point out that this was an example of the corners not coming hard enough and gush over Floyd ("I love this kid") in general and specifically as an exemplar of the Michigan philosophy. Floyd's effort led to this:

And that led to a field goal.

Bonus: For those looking for a reason other than blind luck that Michigan recovered 80% of opponent fumbles this year, in practice all incompletions are live balls. Mattison credited this practice for getting players moving towards the ball at all times and being in position to scoop up live balls in actual play.

Technique a priority. This was a feature of both the general philosophical section and the chalk talk. Mattison did not select the cutups himself—that was delegated to a video coordinator—and didn't know exactly what would come up. This made for an interesting dynamic as he evaluated each play live. He repeatedly digressed from his main topic to note the footwork of his linemen: Van Bergen is getting distance with his first step. All of these guys have identical footwork. There was also a long discussion about why your rush end needs to start with his outside foot back when he gets a tight end to him*. Etc.

In the philosophical section he noted that Michigan was probably the only team in the country with a head coach who coaches a position, that nose guard. It was at this point he told the story about Hoke coming to him fuming, saying he "wasn't going to be one of those head coaches who just walk around" and demanding a position group. He took the nose. Zinger: "now… I question why he coached the best player on the team."

Here he also noted that everyone hits the sled every day and that this was not something the previous coaching staff did frequently, if ever. This is where the bit about "I've never seen such awful technique" came in. Pretty much the only thing negative Mattison said was about the state of the team he was handed. Everyone who's surprised raise their hand. That's no one.

The final bit on this: "don't go be a scheme coach, focus on technique."

*[The reason is the biggest threat to the rush end in this situation is getting reached and if the tight end flares out to do so that first step needs to be one that gains him distance, something you can't do while remaining square if your outside foot is to the LOS. Disagreement with this appeared to be a pet peeve of Mattison's.]

Big plays. Obviously a priority just from the play on the field. Section on this concentrated on the secondary, declared the biggest problem with big plays. Hates it when safeties "look like blitzing linebackers" when there is a pile. He wants a cup around the pile and safeties to make tackles at least six yards downfield.

Now, that doesn't mean Jordan Kovacs needs to make a tackle six yards downfield. In this context a safety is a player in a deep zone. This is most often the corners and Gordon/Woolfolk.

Rotation. This is a Hoke thing Mattison was skeptical about: Michigan rotates the entire defense on every play of practice. Run on—snap—run off. This is "not pretty" when your 21st and 22nd best defensive players are going up against the first team offense but builds conditioning and depth and was credited for "saving the team" in the Sugar Bowl when injuries whittled down available defensive linemen to dust. Think Martin and Van Bergen in the third quarter.

Situational

Goal line philosophy. To Mattison it's simple: one zone "you run perfectly" and an all-out pressure.

When they're backed up. Mattison asked the crowd to think of what they are thinking when they've got the other team backed up, and then said "how many of you are thinking 'don't give up a big play'?" Mattison's been there and tries to fight that. Now if you're backed up, "if we have a great run pressure, we're coming after your ass."

This goes here.

Not exactly a run pressure but Michigan is sending all five guys on the line there. "When you have a chance, when they're backed up, go after their ass."

Third down. "For us, we're gonna pressure." Mattison on the end of the Akron State game:

You saw the Ohio game, you probably thought 'this guy is the dumbest sonofabitch in the world' He turned a wide receiver loose against Ohio a couple minutes left in the game.

But we intercepted it on the next play. Did we win? Yes. So we were aggressive and we won. [laughter]

So they'll be aggressive come hell or high water, that's clear.

Scheme

4-3 versus 3-4: THE FINAL WORD. "We'd be here for hours" if someone tried to argue him away from playing the 4-3 under. Said something along the lines of "if you've got that 330 pound nose tackle and your ends and your linebackers, okay, God bless you." I thought of Pipkins—what is Mattison going to do with a 330 pound nose?

Anyway, Greg Mattison will never run a 3-4. End of story.

4-3 under assertions from the man himself. These aren't too different than the things you'll hear about the under when you read up on it on the internet but just to confirm, the basis of the defense:

  • Rush end: "The whole thing is predicated on the rush." Must be a great player, and athlete who can spill power (ie, get into a pulling guard and stop him in his tracks), drop into coverage, and win one-on-one battles with the tight end. All that and he's got to be a ferocious pass rusher. More similar to the SAM linebacker than the SAM is to the ILBs.
  • SAM linebacker. Must not be outflanked either in the run or the pass game. Hugely important not to give himself up one for one on the edge. [Editor's aside: that's something we were talking about a ton early in the year. It got a lot better as the season progressed.]
  • Inside linebackers. The usual: the mike has to be a little bigger, a little stronger, and the will has to be able to adjust to coverage outside of the box. An important difference between the two is the WLB has to be able to run vertically down the seam whereas the MLB can pass his guy off; IIRC this year the guy running down the seam was Demens, not Morgan. Adjustment based on Demens's surprising ability to stick with guys downfield?
  • Nose tackle. Also hugely important. "You cannot win with a weak nose." We should start calling our incoming five star "No Pressure Pipkins" right now.
  • Corners. "Corners are corners" but the field corner (Countess) is not involved with "heavy work" and usually just has to clean up plays that have been strung out. The boundary corner (Floyd) has to be a bigger guy better in run support. It's a seven man front; if you go eight you'd "better have a war daddy" at field corner because he's got to cover an outside receiver with little additional help.

Michigan does not align to strength but rather aligns to field—ie, if you're on the left hash the SAM will be to the wide side of the field and if you're on the right hash the SAM will be to the wide side of the field. You can flip your tight ends all around and Michigan won't flip in response. I assume the flipping from earlier in the year was a necessary evil as Michigan tried to get everyone up on the new system.

The most important thing. One of the line shifts Michigan runs is called "pirate technique."

Player Notes

Kyle Kalis. Mattison saw one of the St. Ed's guys and mentioned that Michigan had recruited a "real man" out that school, one that "may just maul some of our guys."

brennen-beyer-minnesotaBrennen Beyer. Beyer was talked up like a future star. Reportedly up to 250 pounds and will be given an opportunity to win the WDE job in the spring.

Jake Ryan. Mattison said Michigan was "blessed" at SAM linebacker—probably including Beyer in that assessment—and that Ryan was a major player. A major player they probably wished they didn't have to run out as a freshman, but a major player.

Mattison referenced a particular play against Nebraska on which he lined up on the wrong side of the field. I remember that but I don't think it was against Nebraska; there's no mention of it in the UFR. "Still a lot of coaching to do" with him but it's clear they think he has vast potential.

JT Floyd. As mentioned, Mattison seemed enamored with him. "Love that kid."

Desmond Morgan. Came up on a couple of clips where he ended up clubbing offensive linemen. Mattison said something along the lines of "think he'll hit you?" And "is that good or what? For a little freshman?" It is unknown whether he has ever said "freshman" without preceding it with "little."

Morgan tipped one of the blitzes they run; Mattison mentioned that he told Morgan he'd play three technique if he kept it up. This is a common threat, as…

Kenny Demens. …they literally did this with Demens, playing him at nose so they could have Martin run the blitzes he wasn't coming hard enough on. In contrast, the SAM (Ryan) was called out as a guy who does come hard.

Some secondhand reports that the implication was Demens's job is under threat have filtered out to premium message boards; I did not get that vibe.

Jordan Kovacs. Michigan's "down safety" or "close safety"—I'll stick with strong, FWIW—was "tremendous."

Departing DL. Heininger "really became a football player." Seems like they think they'll miss him. Van Bergen "really, really played" for M and Martin was of course the best player on the team.

2012 First Look: Defense

2012 First Look: Defense

Submitted by Brian on January 11th, 2012 at 2:37 PM

DEPARTURES IN ORDER OF SIGNIFICANCE

MIKE-MARTIN-112109-1-thumb-320x389-17091[1]Will Heininger Notre Dame v Michigan ft_wTXsLodyl[1]

Van Bergen and Martin, Heininger

  1. NT Mike Martin. Penetrating, active nose tackle a major factor in Michigan's massive improvement in run defense; forced a pitch on a speed option; late-season run was absolute dominance; backed up by air, hope, and freshmen.
  2. SDE Ryan Van Bergen. Crafty veteran and iron man was less explosive than Martin but not by much; turned in huge OSU game; consistent production in UFR even if the actual numbers aren't that amazing; backed up by walk-on.
  3. DT Will Heininger. Walk-on evolved from liability against MAC teams to solid, maybe even better than that, Big Ten DT; made a play or two every game after the nonconference schedule; replacement will be Will Campbell and the hope he can finally play some football.
  4. CB/S Troy Woolfolk. Bounced from CB to S throughout career; basically a NEVER FORGET poster all to himself after series of injuries robbed him of all or much of his senior year twice; marginalized by injury and burned by Posey; did not start Sugar Bowl.

    [worry ceases]

  5. JB Fitzgerald. Touted recruit never managed to see the field except on occasional snaps spotting Demens or playing DE under GERG.
  6. Brandon Herron. Scored two touchdowns against WMU and was never heard from again.
  7. Jared Van Slyke. Saw some snaps due to injury over the course of his career.

WHAT'S LEFT

123490379_crop_650x440[1]image[1]2c4424af68414d00030f6a706700ae03[1]

Kovacs, Ryan, Roh

  1. SS Jordan Kovacs. Never going to be a great deep half guy but the best damn tiny linebacker there's ever been; great tackling in space; great angles; huge part of Michigan's lack of big plays given up; best safety since at least Marcus Ray and probably further back.
  2. SLB Jake Ryan. Explosive edge athlete with a burst opponents are unprepared for; did get confused sometimes as a freshman; outstanding flow; nickel DE.
  3. WDE Craig Roh. Solid, but did not provide the explosive edge rush Michigan was hoping for. May end up moving to SDE, but his size and body type seemingly disqualifies him from that.
  4. CB Blake Countess. Touted recruit stepped into the starting lineup when Woolfolk was struck down and played very well; crappy edge tackling needs work; had tough close to the season against OSU and VT.
  5. CB JT Floyd. Resurrected his career and even turned in a big play or three along the way; jumped a route against Illinois to salt that game away; best technique amongst cover guys; still not that fast; also crappy edge tackling.
  6. MLB Kenny Demens. Ate a lot of blocks after move to new system; hopefully will get more decisive in year two; highly underrated cover guy; not much of a blitzer; may seem a lot better if the NT in front of him is a space eater instead of a penetrator.
  7. FS Thomas Gordon. Also a big part of Michigan's excellent big play prevention; largely exempted from secondary criticism after OSU game because he was not on the field for the worst of it; sweet-ass interception against EMU; probably a better fit at SS.
  8. WLB Desmond Morgan. Wrested the job away from a couple veterans once he got healthy, whereupon he was okay for a freshman; problems in coverage; problems with misdirection; a big chunk of Michigan's outside vulnerability; will either improve or see someone yoink his job.

    [starters cease]

  9. Nickelback Courtney Avery. Diminutive but quality underneath cover guy; PBU and INT sealed OSU game; also a crappy edge tackler; fine option as a third corner.
  10. WDE Jibreel Black. Spotted Roh, could not take his job; may be a candidate to move to SDE if he can put on the weight; emergence of Frank Clark threatens to cut into playing time.
  11. DT Will Campbell. Alternates tossing his man into the quarterback with passive acceptance of blocks. Conditioning and effort an issue.
  12. WLB Brandin Hawthorne. Tiny safety-sized LB a man without a position after Michigan ditched the 3-3-5.

WHAT'S NEW, OR CLOSE ENOUGH, ANYWAY

campbell-cosgrove

please don't be our DT.

Most of the DL. YAYAYAYAYAYAYYYYYYYYY. The best unit on the team is strip-mined by eligibility expiration, leaving the next generation to… oh, right, the next generation doesn't exist. Fantastic.

Michigan's options at SDE are redshirt junior walk-on Nate Brink, who saw occasional snaps this year and was blown up on 80% of them, guys no one has seen or heard from like Jordan Paskorz, or true freshmen. At defensive tackle they've got two spots to fill and two guys who have seen meaningful snaps, Quinton Washington and Will Campbell. Kenny Wilkins and Richard Ash exist, Chris Rock will be coming off a redshirt, and there are some freshmen arriving. The most prominent is 330-pound tank/battleship/Hoke impersonator Ondre Pipkins.

I'll wait for you to finish retching.

All right! We retched it real good! Anyway. Massive dropoff is all but inevitable here. I'm betting Brink, Pipkins, and Campbell are your opening-day starters with Washington a guy who rotates in on the interior; Godin, Strobel, and Wormley will all play immediately due to necessity, leaping past Wilkins and Ash. Rock may also get some PT.

Nothing else. So we've got that going for us. Except…

Maybe WLB. Desmond Morgan is far from invulnerable at WLB, especially with Joe Bolden and Kaleb Ringer enrolling early. James Ross is extensively praised for his play identification ability and should be a candidate for early playing time. Teeny-tiny Antonio Poole is coming off a redshirt and is presumably less teeny-tiny.

That is a lot of guys vying for a single starting spot, many of them more athletic than Morgan at a spot that puts a premium on athleticism. Meanwhile, Kenny Demens is backed up by Mike Jones and more freshmen. Like Omameh, displacing him from the starting lineup provides an ancillary benefit by creating a quality backup where there is none already.

WHAT'S THE FIRST FOUR SEASONS OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

Sanity. O Mattison, without whom we are naught, yea, verily doth we bring these burnt offerings to your lustrous feet. May they keep your pecs jiggling as they command our forces to do something wondrous.

Experience. Michigan has it with eight starters back. For the first time since Carr's final season Michigan will go into the year running the same thing they did the year before. Run and tell that.

Depth at linebacker and quasi-linebacker. Michigan may have to pirate one of the three valid options at WDE to help out on the other side of the line but right now you can have decent confidence in any of Roh, Black, and Clark. At SLB, Ryan is a bust-out star, Brennen Beyer is coming off a freshman season with some promise and a role in short yardage, and Cam Gordon's still hanging around. In the middle, a flood of touted freshmen arrive to back up returning starters; Poole is also around.

Bending but not breaking. Kovacs and Gordon gave up vanishingly few big plays over the course of the season; both return.

WHAT'S THE LAST SEASON OF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

The line, obviously. There's some talent there but if Michigan doesn't experience a massive backslide it's time to assume that Michigan's DL will be great as long as Hoke and Mattison and Montgomery are around.

Michigan-Jake-Ryan-tips-pass-by-Western-Michigan-Alex-Carder[1](caption) Michigan linebacker Craig Roh (88) and defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen (53) get to Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller (3) for a sack. Michigan's Brandon Graham (upper right) was also in on the play. The Wolverines defense sacked Hiller twice in the game.  *** Michigan built a 31-0 first half lead, then coasted to a 31-7 season opening victory over Western Michigan University at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. True freshman quarterback Tate Forcier threw three touchdown passes to lead the Wolverines.   ***  The University of Michigan Wolverines open Rich Rodriguez' second season against the Western Michigan University Broncos at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Photos taken on Saturday, September 5, 2009. ( John T. Greilick / The Detroit News )

okay, but what about, like, teams other than Western Michigan?

Getting to the quarterback. Roh did not blow up as we hoped and most of the options to replace other guys are ponderous. Campbell and Washington and Pipkins are going to be the sorts of guys who shove a couple dudes at the LOS on passing plays. Michigan got away with a lack of pass rush from the outside last year because a couple of their inside guys were great penetrators; next year Michigan needs their outside LB types (WDE and SLB) to MAKE PLAYS or opposing quarterbacks will be able to grow small businesses in the pocket.

Secondary athleticism. I love Kovacs with all of the hearts and think whatever athleticism he lacks is more than made up for by his smarts. At this point I'm not sure athleticism is even an issue. I can't remember the last time it came up in a game.

The rest of the secondary… we don't know about. Sometimes you're going to get burned over the top. When you have great recovery speed you can live. When you don't you die, which happened to Michigan time and again against Devier Posey. JT Floyd is much better but isn't likely to get a sniff from the NFL; Countess and Avery are faster but little buggers ill-suited to take on the Michael Floyds of the world. Thomas Gordon has decent to good speed; he still got burned over the top big time by Nebraska.

There are no blazers and the big guy in the secondary is almost kind of maybe outright slow. Yeah. So… could be an issue.

WHAT'S INEXPLICABLE JIMI HENDRIX

Can these coaches salvage the line? Tell me lies, baby.

How ready to play are some of these freshmen? If Bolden comes in and rips Morgan's job away from him that's probably good, but we're really talking about Ondre Pipkins, Chris Wormley, Tom Strobel, and Matt Godin here. Pipkins all but has to start from day one and two of the other three will be frequently-used depth guys.

Are the cornerbacks for real? They seemed fantastic over the first 11 games but the results against OSU and VT are alarming.

MANDATORY WILD-ASS GUESS

I'm torn. There is a case for a backslide despite returning eight starters. For one, the fumbles will not be as plentiful. For two, a lot of Michigan's weakness was covered up by Mike Martin being essentially unblockable the back half of the season and Van Bergen being so reliable. I'm worried that without those two, Michigan is going to have issues. In the best case scenario the new guys prevent OL from getting to the second level, making a lot of plays available for the linebackers that the linebackers might not make. I also don't see where the heat comes from.

But they do return eight starters and go from year one to year two in the same system. They seem pretty injury-resilient at spots that aren't Jordan Kovacs and bring in a lot of talented freshmen. They will be much older at just about every spot.

It's mandatory, though, so… yeah, they'll be worse. The lack of consistent pressure will be a year-long problem that exposes some of the issues in the secondary and the linebackers are not at the level they need to be to benefit from planetoid DL.

Sacks backslide into the bottom half of D-I after finishing 29th, total defense slides into the 30s, and the scoring defense does not repeat its top ten performance from a year ago.

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs OSU

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs OSU

Submitted by Brian on December 9th, 2011 at 3:58 PM

Formation notes: Since Brennen Beyer's fake injury kept him out of this game, Michigan had to adapt their big package. Behold a 5-3:

form 5-3-eagle

From top to bottom that is Black, Heininger, Martin, Van Bergen, and Roh on the line with Ryan, Morgan, Demens, and Kovacs in an umbrella behind them. Countess is pulled; Floyd is the lone corner and Gordon the free safety.

When there were more wideouts on the field this was the usual deployment:

form-under-plus

Kovacs is rolled down into the box, reprising his days as a "bandit" in the 3-3-5. Rolling Kovacs into the box like this was referred to as "plus" in the UFR chart; any "plus" formation has a safety within four or five yards of the LOS.

Substitution notes: The usual most places. Very limited substitutions along the line, with Brink, Black, and Campbell getting a few snaps here and there. Mike Jones briefly replaced Demens at MLB during Ohio State's dispiriting 82-second TD drive after M had gone up 37-27; that came after the long Stoneburner catch and run that I thought Ryan was mostly responsible for, but more on that later.

Woolfolk started at safety but gave way to Gordon at times in the first half; the second half it was all Gordon.

A what-the-dickens-was-that-note: we talked about the oddity that was Michigan seeming to play with zero deep safety support the whole game in a Picture Pages earlier in the week. Chris Brown emails to suggest that what Michigan was doing was running Virginia Tech's defense:

Beamer and Foster also relied on a hybrid coverage of their own design: The "robber," run out of the "G" front. This coverage worked so well because it transformed an already run-heavy eight-man front into a nine man front, where they combined their 4-4 set with conventional two-deep principles: Instead of two deep safeties, they used two deep cornerbacks who split the field into halves. The free-safety then was free to play a "robber" technique -- that is, on pass plays, he read the quarterback's eyes and broke on intermediate routes, but on runs, where he truly became valuable, he was an incredible ninth run-stuffer in the box.

Although not the best against the pass, that wasn't the point. It was good enough (especially with dynamos like D'Angelo Hall at cornerback), and the focus was on stuffing the run or hitting the quarterback before he could release the ball.

That is exactly what Michigan ran much of the day, so keep it in mind. A fuller discussion after the play breakdown.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under plus Pass 4 Hitch Floyd 5
Kovacs rolled up for the plus. Posey beats Floyd(-0.5, cover -1) but the throw is late and upfield, turning a first down (or near first down) into a meh gain. Floyd comes up to tackle with help from Ryan, who dropped into coverage on a shorter out route. Martin spun off a block to get some token pressure on Miller, barely avoiding the -1.
O25 2 5 I-Form 4-3 under plus Run N/A Inside zone Heininger 1
I'm not sure what exactly this is supposed to be but I think it is an inside zone; the fullback does not head outside like usual here but attacks the strong side of the line, likely in an attempt to break keys for the linebackers. Herron takes the ball to the other side of the line as OSU zones. RVB(+1) slants under the backside G; Martin(+1) chucks his blocker, and Herron has to bounce out into Heininger(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5) who had set up in their gaps and combine to tackle.
O26 3 4 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Pass 5 Flare Ryan 5
Snag package for OSU to the short side of the field; Ryan is dropping into the snag and Miller goes with the flare to the outside; Ryan does a decent job on it but can't stop it before the sticks. Push. Could have gone either way.
O31 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 PA Dig Morgan Inc
Speed option fake into a pass. Michigan's linebackers are suckered big time (Morgan -1, Demens -1, cover -2) and Miller has a huge lane in which to hit a guy on a dig route. He turfs the ball nowhere near his WR.
O31 2 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 even Run N/A QB draw Kovacs 15
M slanting to the short side with Roh dropping into coverage and Ryan blitzing off the slot. Ryan(-1) gets way too far outside and upfield and RVB(-1) gets way too far inside and upfield, opening up a huge lane. Demens(+0.5) does a good job to pop off a blocker and flow; Kovacs(-2) loses leverage and whiffs at Miller's feet, turning this from around five into a big gain that could be bigger but for that Demens flow allowing Countess(+0.5) to toss a blocker upfield and disconnect to tackle after the first down marker.
O46 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 over plus Pass 4 Waggle fly Countess 54
Roh dives inside the fullback on a play action power fake and gives up the corner; that's probably his assignment with Kovacs overhanging. Spill that. Michigan has no one on the edge; Kovacs(pressure –2) and Morgan are there, there's a pulling G in protection, and both guys plus Demens back out into a zone drop. Miller can pull up and fire to an incredibly wide open receiver. Assuming M is playing this VT D, Countess(-4, cover –4) has the deep half and blows it. RPS –2; two on two coverage and a ton of time.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 12 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 Dumpoff -- 2
No pressure(-2) at all as Martin is doubled and no one else can beat a blocker. Miller steps up into more pressure than there actually is. M in a two deep here and nothing's open deep (cover +2). Miller's inaccurate checkdown costs them a few yards.
O23 2 8 I-Form twins 4-3 even Pass N/A WR screen -- Inc
Well wide. Looked like five or so.
O23 3 8 Shotgun 2-back Okie two deep Pass 6 Sack Kovacs -11
Regular okie has seven at the line. This just has six. That's because Kovacs is coming from the safety spot. Everyone else rushes save Morgan, who drops off into a spy zone; OSU goes max pro and Kovacs(+1, pressure +2, RPS +2) still gets a free run. He whiffs; RVB(+1) has slanted past an OL to help clean up; he can't tackle either. Kovacs(+0.5) cleans up from behind. Tackling -1? Yeah, I guess.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under plus Pass 4 Post Countess Inc
Good lord. Woolfolk moves up on the underneath route, Countess(-3, cover –3) is setting up outside of Posey, and Miller misses an 80 yard touchdown. Countess is still in the frame so avoids a –4 but this isn't good. RPS –1.
O20 2 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under plus Run N/A Speed option Ryan 8 (Pen -10)
With two TEs to one side and Kovacs blitzing weak it seems like Michigan's LBs have to do a better job of getting outside. They don't; Demens(-1) is slashed to the ground and Miller gets the edge for near first down yardage before Woolfolk comes up to shove him out of bounds; Ryan(+1) did a good job of holding that edge until he got held himself, drawing a flag. RPS -1.
O10 2 20 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Penalty N/A False start -- -5
Derf.
O5 2 25 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Run N/A QB draw Van Bergen -2
DTs stunt; RVB(+3) drives through a botched double that is botched because of the stunt and tackles Miller for loss. Given what we know about DT stunts it's possible RVB called this himself.
O3 3 27 I-Form Nickel even Pass 4 Post Roh Inc (Pen -3)
Roh(+2, pressure +2) speed rushes around Mike Adams and is tackled, drawing a holding call that will be a safety. With that guy tackled and only two other rushers Miller has plenty of time; Woolfolk has again come up on a shorter underneath route (on third and twenty seven!) and leaves Countess trailing Posey for a potential big gain; Countess(+2, cover +2) comes over the top to break the pass up. Still very dangerous. Picture paged.
Drive Notes: Safety, 9-7, 5 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 even plus Run N/A Iso Morgan 4
Morgan(-0.5) takes the lead block at the LOS but does not funnel to his partner; Heininger(+0.5) makes a nice play to come off a block and start an ankle tackle near the LOS, robbing Herron of momentum and making it easier for the rest of the D to rally.
O33 2 6 I-Form 4-3 under plus Run N/A Inside zone? Van Bergen 1
This has an attack point outside the tackles but features a lead blocker and looks like inside zone blocking. So... yeah. Morgan(-0.5) and Demens(-0.5) get swallowed up on the second level and again they have Kovacs behind them so I think they're not doing so well; it doesn't look like M is slanting hard. The DL cleans up for them. Ryan(+1) takes on Boren two yards in the backfield; Van Bergen(+1) drives his blocker in to the backfield, forcing a cutback into Martin(+1), who tackles. Good thing, too. Demens was literally ten yards downfield by the time the play was over.
O34 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 TE Out Morgan Inc
Man, OSU's gameplan is go after Morgan, go after Morgan, go after Morgan. Here he's in eh coverage(-1, cover -1) on their ponderous TE Fragel; ball is high and over the hands of the target.
Drive Notes: Punt, 16-7, 1 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Ace 4-3 under plus Run N/A Inside zone Martin 3
Martin and Heininger take doubles; Martin(+2) holds up until his guy releases and then sets up so the RB comes behind him, then disengages to tackle. Heininger(-1) had been blown several yards off the ball and Herron can muscle forward for a few yards. Dangerous without Martin here. Next year's run defense might be shady.
O33 2 7 Shotgun empty Wacky nickel Pass 4 Hitch Van Bergen Inc
Martin as quasi LB with Morgan on the LOS. Martin(+1) comes on his unsurprising blitz as Roh drops off; this time he shocks Brewster with his explosive contact and is about to pressure Miller when he throws; RVB(+1, pressure +1) is in the lane and deflects the pass. Open for around first down yardage if not batted.
O33 3 7 Shotgun 2-back Okie Run N/A QB draw -- 24
Full on man up okie; Miller checks into a QB draw that goes for a bunch of yards because he's running at Morgan backing out into pass coverage and everyone else is rushing upfield. Kovacs(-0.5, tackling -1) and Floyd(-0.5) miss tough open field tackle attempts to provide bonus yards. RPS -2.
M43 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under plus Run N/A Iso Martin 7
Martin(-1) is doubled and gives ground, eventually dropping to his knees a couple yards downfield. Demens(+0.5) does a decent job on the lead block and does not let it outside. Morgan(-1) seems unaware he has Kovacs helping behind on cutbacks and is hesitant; instead of scraping over to the iso hole he sits behind the Martin mess in case Herron cuts back and can only tackle after he decides on a hole. Heininger(+0.5) was there on the cutback as well.
M36 2 3 I-Form twins 4-3 even Run N/A Iso Morgan 1
Morgan(+2) slams Boren at the LOS and gets outside at said LOS; RVB(+1) has slanted under a tackle and forces the play out, where Morgan ends it for little gain.
M35 3 2 Diamond screen 4-3 under Run N/A QB draw Van Bergen 4
Diamond draws four defenders, leaving six on six in the box with Floyd overhanging. Van Bergen... argh, man, he had this after splitting a couple guys; his penetration into the backfield looks like it will doom the play, and then Miller jukes upfield and Van Bergen(sadface -1) bites on it, falling uselessly upfield as the blocker he beat takes that momentum and amplifies it. Martin(+0.5) and Heininger(+0.5) do a good job to converge on the guy near the LOS; momentum carries them across the line to make. Spielman says this a hold but I don't necessarily agree; Van Bergen never forced the issue by disengaging because of the fake so it's hard to tell.
M31 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under plus Run N/A Iso Morgan 5
Morgan(-1) does not take on the FB block at the LOS and gets crushed a yard downfield, giving ground. Martin(+1) fights through a block to get to the hole and force a cutback; Brink(-1) is in for RVB and gets handled by single blocking easily. With Demens(-0.5) also fighting through a block not very effectively there is a cutback; Woolfolk fills with help from Demens.
M26 2 5 I-Form 4-3 under plus Run N/A Iso Kovacs -2
I was nervous about this live because the line was Campbell/Brink/Black/Heininger and I loved this playcall, one of those Kovacs edge blitzes that gets him in unblocked for a TFL. It also got Heininger(+1) and Black(+1) past blockers into the backfield; with Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) roaring off the edge and tackling that's worth another couple of yards to the D. RPS +2.
M28 3 7 I-Form Nickel even Pass 4 Corner Countess Inc
Plenty of time(pressure -2); Countess(-3, cover -3) gets smoked in man coverage and should give up an easy TD but Miller misses. Picture paged.
Drive Notes: FG(45), 16-10, 10 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over plus Pass 6 Scramble Martin 8
DTs stunt and Martin(-2) gets pushed out of the lane he has to be in, so when he and RVB get some pressure after coverage(+1) is there to prevent an immediate throw, Miller can bust out into a lot of grass. Demens(+1, tackling +1) makes a good open field tackle to prevent bigger problems after Michigan rushed six and let the QB through.
M23 2 2 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Heininger 4
Heininger(-0.5) gets a double and gives some ground, though he fights through decently; Demens(+0.5) took on the iso block near the line and is the key tackler, though he is naturally giving ground as he does so. Morgan(-0.5) again not really relevant because he is hesitant.
M19 1 10 Pistol 2TE 46 bear Run N/A Speed option counter Roh 19
Whether this is brilliant improv or a called play Miller is busting backside on the snap and this is no field reversal based on the defense. Roh(-2) makes the cardinal and only mistake on the play by letting the guy outside of him. Out on the sideline on a counter everyone bit on understandably, it's JT Floyd, a blocker, and all of the air. Gordon(-1, tackling -1) could maybe keep this out of the endzone with an open field tackle; he whiffs. Understandable. RPS -2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 16-17, 7 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under plus Pass N/A WR screen Countess 9
This is doomed from the start with Countess eight yards off and dropping on the snap. RPS -1.
O43 2 1 I-Form twins 4-3 under plus Run N/A Iso -- 4
Campbell in; he's handled okay by a single block. Demens is running at the FB; Campbell and his guy get in the way. Both FB and LB are kind of like “what now?” If M's LBs were running hard maybe they stop this for a loss or no gain but that's not a good gamble on second and short. Basically a push.
O47 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 PA dumpoff Van Bergen 5
RVB(+1, pressure +1) slants a little, then beats the G and forces Miller to flush after an iso playfake. Miller breaks the pocket, gets pursuit from a couple of DL, and dumps it to Herron, where the LBs converge.
M48 2 5 Shotgun empty 4-3 even Pass 4 Out Morgan Inc
Miller has Hall wide open for a first down (cover -1) as Morgan is keying draw on the snap; he misses.
M48 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Flare Floyd 5
Roh(+2, pressure +2) again beats the LT, shoving him upfield as he tries to contain the speed rush and impacting Miller just as he checks down to his flare route after the first read is covered(+1). Floyd is there and shoves the guy OOB seemingly short of the first; they are awarded it. Hoke challenges, which is smart since it's not like challenges are actually useful in college and that's a big swing. He loses. Oh well.
M43 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under plus Pass 5 Corner Woolfolk 43
Pressure is not terrible but Kovacs(-0.5) should probably not get outside of Boren, instead he should hold up and not open up this lane. Miller steps up and finds a receiver breaking past Floyd and Woolfolk just as Roh spins off to deal with him. This is all Woolfolk(-3, cover -3) dying when Posey runs the same route that beat Countess.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 23-24, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under plus Pass 4 PA sack Roh -1
Gordon in at FS. Speed option fake and then Miller pivots to the backside of the play. Roh(+1, pressure +1) gets into the tight end on this and then shoots upfield once the TE releases into his route, forcing Miller back inside. Morgan(+2, tackling +1) sees the cut and immediately attacks, which is both smart given the QB and his relatively piddly short zone assignment and effective because he makes an open field tackle. Heininger(+0.5) was pursuing to help as well.
O24 2 11 I-Form twins 4-3 over Run N/A Iso Martin 3
Ryan over the slot and blitzes. Martin(+1) is not doubled and owns Brewster, shoving him back and into the path of the play; Boren runs into that mess, as does Herron. There's nothing there but no one can get through to tackle; eventually Herron pops out the other side and gains a few yards before Morgan and Floyd put him down.
O27 3 8 Shotgun 2-back Okie two deep Run N/A QB draw -- 9
Exact same thing as earlier okie, with guys flaring on the edge and no one in the middle once Morgan drops into a zone and gets blocked. Kovacs comes up on the snap but from the wrong side; Gordon(+1, tackling +1) actually makes a really nice open field tackle to almost kick them off the field but can't quite manage it. RPS -1.
O36 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 over Pass 5 Waggle corner Gordon 22
Gordon(-2, cover -2) beaten as he's poking his nose in the backfield; Miller has all kinds of time on the edge (pressure -2) and floats it in. RPS -1.
M42 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under plus Run N/A Iso Van Bergen -4
A bit slower developing as this is going at the tackle; Van Bergen(+2) dominates his guy, drives into the backfield, and takes out the FB two yards behind the LOS. Ryan(+2) drives Stoneburner back three yards and when Herron bounces he runs into the TE. Slowed, he stops and reverses field. Van Bergen robs this of its danger by getting upfield and forcing it back again, then he comes back to tackle.
M46 2 14 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Tunnel screen Kovacs 7
Posey decides to abort mission for some reason. Not sure why, looks well set up. Maybe RVB coming back? Anyway, it's a good decision as Morgan is out there getting doubled and Floyd has to keep leverage; Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) comes up hard to tackle as soon as feasible but still a good gain. RPS -1.
M39 3 7 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Run N/A QB draw Van Bergen 3
No okie and this is better defended. M stunts; RVB(+1) comes through into the rushing lane and forces Miller away from lead blocks. Martin(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5) are in the area to hold this down to a moderate gain.
Drive Notes: lolpunt, 30-24, 4 min 3rd Q. Michigan moves it 40 yards and then the Hagerup thing happens.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 I-Form big 5-3 eagle Run N/A Power off tackle Roh 4
Without Beyer, Michigan's big package is a five man line with Black and Roh the ends with the usual suspects on the interior; Countess is lifted. This is counter action with the play going away from TE motion and an offset fullback. The DL eats this up, with Heininger(+1) and RVB(+1) coming through blocks into the hole; Martin(+1) has beaten a block as well but won't be relevant because Herron can bounce. Roh(-1) is in good position but not prepared to handle the bounce; Demens(-1) ate a block and ends up eight yards off the LOS [Ed-S: Not holding?]; Kovacs fills adequately but misses a tackle(-1). This does maintain leverage and slow Herron so that Martin can get him from behind, so no minus.
M28 2 6 I-Form twins 4-3 over Pass 5 Scramble Morgan 23
Play action. Michigan sends five with Floyd(-1) coming off the corner. He comes in hot and gets shoved way upfield by Boren; Roh is slanting inside of Adams; this opens up a big running lane (pressure -2). Morgan(-2, tackling -1) is in open space and lets Miller outside, turning a first down or so into a big gainer; Floyd does make some amends by tracking Miller down from behind. Without that this is a touchdown.
M5 1 G Pistol Big 5-3 eagle Run N/A Speed option Heininger 2
They go away from the strength of the formation; Heininger(+1) drives playside of his blocker and forces a Miller cutback. Martin(+0.5) is the next guy; he's taking a double at the LOS and Miller has to go behind again. RVB(+0.5) gets an arm on Miller as he cuts behind the Martin double and all the way back here there's no blocking and a lot of Michigan players; gang tackle.
M3 2 G Goal line Goal line Run N/A Iso Ryan 1
Boren's motion brings Ryan(+1) to the line and on the snap he is unaccounted for by the OL; he drives right at the FB and gets him two yards in the backfield with outside leverage, forcing the play inside. With the DL sufficiently occupying the OL there is one guy blocking downfield, that on Floyd, and Demens(+0.5), Gordon, and Morgan combine to tackle after a modest gain. RVB(+0.5) made the hole small.
M2 3 G Goal line Goal line Pass N/A Waggle sack Black -2
No sale! How many times do you see this become easy. Lots of times. Here Kovacs(+1, cover +1) and Morgan(+1, cover +1) flow out onto the receiving options and Miller decides to pull down. Gordon(+0.5) is out on the edge containing, forcing a cutback into Demens(+0.5) and Black(+1), who was unblocked on the edge and supposed to run himself out of the play or get chopped; he kept his feet and flowed from behind, making first contact and removing the chance of some Braxton Miller bull turning this into a TD. RPS +2. Michigan had this murdered dead, with five guys in the area by the time Miller got tackled.
Drive Notes: FG(21), 30-27, 12 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Pass 4 Dig -- Inc
Panic at the disco here as OSU flips their TE and Michigan tries to flip their formation instead of just shifting to the under. Roh and Ryan are late getting to their destinations. Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) beats Adams easily and is about to nail Miller from behind when he finds a wide open guy(cover -2) 15 yards downfield. Ball is behind the WR and not brought in.
O20 2 10 I-Form 4-3 even Pass 4 Hitch Ryan 36
Miller drops with a token but not serious PA fake; Michigan rushes four and gets nowhere near. Ryan(-2, cover -2) vacates his zone to run up on a dumpoff route by the RB and opens up a pocket outside of Demens, who has the initial route covered. If OSU is throwing checkdowns at this point in the game, fine. Gordon has bugged out for the deep routes and there is no support after Stoneburner clears the second level resulting in a big gain. Pressure -2; Demens had this covered at first and then OSU was able to adjust because no one got to Miller. RPS –1.
M44 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Pass 4 Screen Jones 16
Jones in for Demens at MLB, maybe he screwed up on the last play. M stunts and all DL are out of commission; a bigger problem is Jones(-1, cover -1) never ever reading this and getting killed by a WR cracking down; Avery gets picked off and there's no one until Gordon. RPS -1.
M28 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under plus Pass 4 PA TE Drag Morgan 20 + 4 pen
Gordon in the box with Kovacs deep. Morgan(-2, cover -2) sees the TE dragging across the formation and gets a shove but not early enough or well enough and that guy breaks past him into open space. Morgan doesn't bug out for the sideline after the shove and this opens up the corner; Morgan simply lacks the athleticism to catch up with a TE. He and Kovacs eventually get him OOB after a big gain. RPS -1. Kovacs(-1) gets a late hit call that is deserved.
M4 1 G I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Floyd 4
RVB(+0.5) stands up his blocker around the LOS; Demens(+0.5) bangs the FB at the line, forcing it outside; Floyd(-2, tackling -1) is unblocked and attacking; he whiffs and lets Herron into the endzone on a play that should have gained a yard or two at most.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 37-34, 7 min 4th Q. Immensely disappointing here. M drives for a TD, gets awarded a FG, and OSU takes over down six with 1:59 on the clock.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Post Demens Inc
Good time (pressure -1) on a four man rush; Miller throws a wobbler on a deep post Demens(+1, cover +1) is running right with. Very narrow window of opportunity here that Miller cannot hit. Still no safety over the top here... worrisome.
O20 2 10 Shotgun 2-back Okie Run N/A QB draw Morgan 4
Miller checks and Morgan backs out before the snap. Instead of rushing the edges like M has before, Demens, Ryan, and Martin come inside; Morgan(+1) comes up to take on the center's block and sheds playside to help tackle with RVB(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5). RPS +1; Michigan baited OSU into blowing this down and running the clock; OSU burns their last TO. This will become relevant.
O24 3 6 I-Form 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Fly Floyd Inc
Plenty of time(pressure -1); Floyd(-3, cover -3) gets smoked on a double move and beat deep. Miller misses and everybody in the stadium dies from fright.
O24 4 6 Shotgun 2-back Okie Pass 4 Scramble Morgan 7
Four man rush gets RVB(+0.5, pressure +1) through on a slant; he's still getting blocked but he's threatening, so Miller pulls the ball down and starts moving. Lanes have opened up; Morgan(-1, tackling -1) seems like he's in a spy zone as he flies up to deal with what looks like it will be a scramble as soon as Miller busts outside the pocket. He misses, letting Miller outside. Floyd(+0.5) comes up and almost boots OSU off the field with a tackle at the sticks; Miller reaches the ball across the line as he leaps in the air.
O31 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Van Bergen -2
Morgan(+1, pressure +2, RPS +1) sent late as Roh drops off. OSU blows their pickup with the entire interior line trying to deal with a Martin/RVB stunt; Miller rolls away from the pressure and looks like he wants to fire deep but decides against it. Morgan is now coming from behind and Miller tries to come back to the other side of the LOS; RVB(+1, tackling +1) does a great job of anticipating that cutback and shooting up in the tatters of the pocket to sack.
O33 2 12 Shotgun trips Okie Pass 4 Drag Morgan 6
Ryan(+0.5, pressure +1) is coming in unblocked until a guard manages to pop outside and block him; Miller can't count on this happening and decides to go to his hot read, which is a little drag that Morgan(+0.5) is there to tackle immediately on.
O39 3 6 Ace trips Nickel even LOL N/A Spike N/A Inc
lolwut
O39 4 6 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Avery INT
Decent time; RVB is coming around the outside and Roh threatens to sack if Miller tries to step up. He throws about a ten yard hitch to a seemingly open guy that Avery(+3, cover +2) tips and then makes a diving interception on.
Drive Notes: Interception, 40-34, EOG.

What happened to all my beautiful defenses?

Mostly Devier Posey, and Mattison failing to account for Devier Posey because he'd played one game, and Jim Bollman going all Citrus 2008. Let's go back to the defense Michigan was running.

That is a run defense with two corners handling vertical routes from outside receivers, and if you've got D'Angelo Hall and the horde of quality VT corners plus a ton of pressure you can get away with it. Michigan did not get a VT level of pressure, whether because of OSU's OL or their fear of letting Braxton Miller's legs take over, and neither Floyd nor Countess had any prayer of covering Posey without help.

In the Picture Pages there were a couple plays in which Countess was beaten to the inside and not punished. The near 80 yard touchdown, for instance:

On the next play Countess recovered to get a PBU on the third and forever that would eventually be a Michigan safety. On their next drive, OSU would go three and out when Miller missed an open TE on third and medium. The drive after that they found themselves in third and medium again. Countess isn't going to get beaten to the inside again. He's done with that. He's learned. He's…

…oh, man.

That same route burned Michigan just before the end of the half:

And then there was this WTF moment on the last drive:

That's all three starters in the secondary getting pwned by Posey. I'm giving whoever drafts him in the second round an A+ for their day.

Mattison's defense was a good idea for the version of the OSU offense we saw most of the year, the one in which Miller has 12, 15, 18 attempts, not 25. He was caught off guard by OSU going to the air and his secondary suffered some confusion—the first TD was just a bust. More than that, they were just incapable of covering Posey one on one. Four times Miller had Posey wide open for touchdowns: the two above, the mindboggling Floyd bite on the last drive, and the actual touchdown. Miller hit him once.

But he had to put Kovacs in the box to contain the OSU running game.

I get the idea but in practice it was pointless. Kovacs had three tackles and an assist:

  1. Sack after blitzing from safety depth
  2. TFL after weakside edge blitz
  3. Downfield fill from safety depth
  4. Not sure if this was his assist, another safety fill

I get going into the game with a plan but they stuck with it way too long; going to a two-deep shell and forcing OSU to execute underneath would have been far less harrowing. Miller's accuracy is just as goofy underneath. Michigan dared OSU to beat them over the top and OSU was like "okay."

I mean, look at the—

DON'T LOOK AT THE CHART

Look at the chart.

Note that a paucity of plays charted—only 40—means you should multiply numbers by about 1.5 to get an average day's work. I am going to work on something that fixes this variability for next year.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 17.5 2 15.5 Dang.
Martin 9.5 3 6.5 Slight letdown.
Roh 5.5 3 2.5 Got safety; let Miller outside on speed option counter.
Heininger 5.5 1.5 4 Quality.
Brink - 1 -1 Cameo.
Black 2 - 2 Part of big third down stop.
Campbell 1 - 1 Didn't register.
TOTAL 41 10.5 30.5 Caveat: pressure was –1 and DL didn't get much of it.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 7.5 10.5 -3 Worrisome lack of athleticism evident on a couple plays.
Demens 5.5 4 1.5 Ate some blocks.
Ryan 5.5 3 2.5 Was not a major factor.
Fitzgerald - - - DNP
Beyer - - - DNP
Hawthorne - - - Garbage time.
Jones - 1 -1 Cameo.
TOTAL 18.5 18.5 0 Going to be hard to maintain D without increased production from these folks.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 1 6.5 -5.5 Yeesh.
Avery 3 - 3 Game ending INT only time he was thrown at.
Woolfolk - 3 -3 One long TD on him.
Kovacs 5.5 4 1.5 Should probably be filed as LB.
T. Gordon 1.5 3 -1.5 Didn't give up anything huge.
Countess 2.5 10 -7.5 Could not deal with deep stuff by himself.
Van Slyke - - - DNP
TOTAL 13.5 26.5 -13 Thanks for being inaccurate, Miller.
Metrics
Pressure 13 14 -1 Erratic, usually based on blitzes.
Coverage 11 30 -19 Not so much.
Tackling 6 7 46% Miller is tough.
RPS 8 15 -7 walrusball'd

I generally give out –3 for wide open dudes who are wide open and only exceed that for massive busts like the first TD, so that –13 understates the carnage. Mattison got burned up in this game, possibly because OSU flipped their personality.

A note on what might seem like some abnormally high defensive line numbers: they did create a safety and basically crush any conventional rushing attempts.

On 15 rushing attempts of the inside zone, iso, and power variety OSU averaged 2.3 YPC. QB draws on which Mattison got RPSed in the okie and Miller scrambles that the DL is only partially responsible for account for 71 of Miller's 115 rushing yards; outside of that Miller averaged 4 YPC. So… yeah, the DL was hugely responsible for the stops Michigan did get. They were a little disappointing as far as getting pressure goes; they were nails against the run.

That's another reason the gameplan was disappointing. Given the way M's DL was beating up the OSU OL they could have gotten away with a safer defense. This was Mattison's version of the Borges MSU gameplan: way, way too aggressive. Bad now, encouraging from a program standpoint since it'll work a hell of a lot better when the defensive backfield is full of bluechips or dudes who beat out bluechips instead of freshmen and sleepers.

But we love Mattison!

Yes, yes. This was money:

It happens to everybody. You go into a game with a plan that falls apart upon contact with the enemy. Given what we'd seen from OSU earlier in the year the plan had sense to it, but M couldn't handle wildcard Posey, busted a couple times, and were caught off guard by the OSU gameplan. It happens. Michigan still got through, and it is worth pointing out that it wasn't quite that bad for the D. They picked up a safety and ten points were given up on drives that started around the Michigan 30. You should charge the D with about 26 points given up since they did get that safety and two field goals were likely after OSU got that starting field position.

Good? No, still no. Better? Yes.

What's this about being worried about next year's defense?

With the linebackers barely treading water most of the year it's a bit scary what might happen if the downgrade on the DL is severe. It was watching this play that gave me the heebie-jeebies:

If three different DL players (two and a half if we're talking about Ryan, I guess) don't execute well there isn't a linebacker in the picture once Herron makes it to the second level. That may just be the way the defense is supposed to go; if so you are heavily dependent on having players as good and active as Martin and Van Bergen. I wouldn't be surprised to see both current MLB starters see their positions come under threat.

The LBs were good at taking on iso blocks in this game but Morgan in particular struggles to scrape to the hole when there's any possibility of a cutback. That's better than being too aggressive but B- work at best.

If the defensive line is good next year, well, then we can just expect them to kick ass until Hoke or Mattison is out. Here's hoping.

Hey, have an unsung hero?

Yeah: Matt Wile. Remember Michigan's terrible kickoff coverage from earlier in the year? It was bad! I didn't like it.

That coverage has improved, but what's even better is the relative paucity of kick return attempts. Four of eight Ohio State drives that started on kickoffs saw Wile get a touchback. When Brian Fremeau debuted a special teams FEI Michigan was languishing around 80th; now they're up to 59th. Kickoffs (20th) are their best phase of special teams. A major reason for that is Wile started putting a bunch of them in the endzone. Thumbs up.

Heroes?

Ryan Van Bergen had a monster day, the best of his career. A fitting sendoff. Martin was also very good, and the two "also starring" members of the DL turned in big plays here and there. That DL laughs at all the Buckeye chatter about how no one on Michigan's team would start for OSU. Hell, the OL does too.

If you pool the two teams' lines and pick starters at their positions OSU gets two: John Simon at WDE and JB Shugarts at RT. I'm not taking a single other Buckeye OL/DL over their Michigan counterparts after watching that game. Will Heininger is flat-out better than Garrett Goebel. Just look at the RB YPC.

Goats?

Mattison, the secondary.

What does it mean for the bowl game and the future?

Well, Michigan should probably take it easy with the hyper-aggressive-no-help coverage back there if Virginia Tech has a high quality wideout. I haven't watched any film yet to see whether Jarrett Boykin is that guy.

Anyway, the secondary was exposed. Countess is young and Floyd isn't ready to go up against a truly elite guy like Posey by himself; Woolfolk just never regained any form after his parade of injuries. Michigan needs reinforcements down the line.

The key matchup against the VT offense will be the Michigan DL working on that VT OL. If they can duplicate their success against OSU, David Wilson can be a scary dude and still creak out 3 YPC. That should mean a return to form.

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Nebraska

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Nebraska

Submitted by Brian on November 23rd, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Programming note: Tomorrow will be somewhat lighter than usual but the Game waits for no man, so expect a UFR, an interview with Laquon Treadwell, and probably a UV type thing, along with Midweek Metrics. The timing of these things may be all wacky because of family obligations but UFR should be up relatively early. Recruitin' hits Friday.

Formation notes: The usual 4-3 under against plays with two guys blocking in the backfield and nickel against one or zero. They had a couple snaps in what looks like a 3-4:

form-3-4

This only came out a couple times and may just be a tweak to get the WDE in a pass drop. They didn't passively two-gap anything.

As for Nebraska, they spent some time in the shotgun above, ran a lot of pistol…

form-pistol

…and on their late touchdown drive they ran some I form pitches and broke out the flexbone:

form-flexbone

Gratuitous okie shot:

form-okie

Top to bottom: Kovacs, Martin, Van Bergen, Morgan, Roh, Demens, Ryan.

Substitution notes: Michigan is all but settled. Secondary is Countess/Floyd/Kovacs/Woolfolk with Avery coming in for nickel plays and Gordon subbing in for Woolfolk from time to time. Kovacs missed the rest of a drive after his immensely fake injury; Gordon came in for that as well.

At linebacker, Demens, Morgan, Ryan 95% of the time with occasional snaps for Brennen Beyer spotting Ryan.

On the line, RVB, Heininger, Martin, Roh most of the time with scattered snaps for Black and Campbell. Brink had a very brief cameo; when they got to the nickel they lift Heininger and put Ryan's hand down.

Last year this section would be discussing the 16 position changes made at midseason.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read keeper Roh 5
Roh(-0.5) isn't far enough upfield on this to prevent a keeper from being a good choice so Martinez pulls and heads for the sideline. He's not going Clark here—he does run out on the edge—but he could have done better. Floyd(+0.5) comes up quickly to escort OOB after a modest gain. He didn't have to beat a block because the WR was anticipating the inside zone.
O45 2 5 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Ryan -5
Ryan(+1) on the edge here. He does a good job of getting width and forming up on the LOS, forcing a pitch that Gordon(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) seem to have contained w/ some help from Countess. We don't find out because the pitch is crappy and fumbled. Demens(-1) got cut to the ground alarmingly.
O40 3 10 Pistol trips Nickel even Pass 3 Comeback Floyd Inc
M flips Ryan and Martin and then backs Ryan out into a spy zone. Martin is one on one with the LT and gets decent pressure; Martinez throws. Floyd(+2, cover +2) is step for step with the WR and has as good of a chance to catch it as his opponent, but it's not well thrown and hits the ground.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O9 1 10 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Ryan 11
Ryan(-1) is in better position than Roh and is a bit faster on the edge and so almost tracks Martinez down before he can get to the LOS but stumbles a bit. Floyd(-1) has a tough job but ends up sitting a few yards downfield with a WR trying to block him; his move to tackle is late and futile. Could have shot upfield to force it back to Ryan. Martinez is on the sideline and picks up a first down.
O20 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Martin -3
Second TE is an an H-back spot over the strongside tackle. Martin(+3) annihilates the center and eats Burkhead in the backfield; RVB(+1) had beaten a block by sliding inside and was there to help clean up; Demens(+0.5) and Heininger(+0.5) also slid past blocks to make this a gang tackle in the backfield. RPS +2; Mattison got all the backfields. Worthy of screenshotting at BWS.
O17 2 13 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Pass 5 Quick out Countess 5
Mattison sends five, dropping Ryan into a short zone and sending Morgan hash to hash as Demens(+0.5) and Avery(+0.5) come. They time it well and get in on Martinez(pressure +1), forcing a quick throw that Countess(+1, cover +1) is there to tackle on. RPS +1.
O22 3 7 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 4 Seam Demens Inc
Roh gets a free run but forms up, afraid of overruning Martinez and opening up a scramble. Not sure how I feel about that. Martin(+0.5) is coming around to hit from behind as Roh decides to close; Martinez still gets the ball off without issue. It's a seam to a TE lined up in the slot that Demens(+2, cover +2) is running step-for-step with. He never gets his head around but when the receiver goes for the ball he gets his arm in the dude's chest and breaks it up. Example of NOBODY CARES coverage tech. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 6 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Run N/A Pin and pull zone Morgan 8
Heininger(+1) and Roh(+1) do a great job of slanting outside their guys and absorbing the two pullers. Burkhead has to cut back, which he can do because Martin(-1) got sliced to the ground a la Campbell, Morgan(-2) overran the play, and Demens(-1) ate a block well downfield. Morgan is running free here and should chop this down at the line even with the two guys who got blocked; instead this is a good gain.
O43 2 2 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 3
Martin(+0.5) beats his man to the inside and threatens to tackle for loss. RVB manages to fight through a double and falls at the feet of the RB, causing him to leap; Morgan(+1) takes on a block and comes through it to tackle the leaping Burkhead. He still picks up the first, but good play from Michigan. If RVB can keep his feet this is a minimal gain.
O46 1 10 Pistol Diamond 4-4 nickel Pass N/A PA post Gordon 54
M very confused, w/ motion up to and including the snap. Avery in the box functioning as a sort of playside LB. UNL goes with the same sweep fake Blue Seoul picked out in their game against OSU and sucks the linebackers up. Floyd(-3) is beaten and tries to tackle the WR; Thomas Gordon(-3, cover -5) sucks up way, way too much and we've got a Worst Waldo situation on our hands. Gordon and Countess wiping each other out is very yakety sax but ultimately irrelevant; this guy wasn't getting caught. RPS –1…  Michigan got beat here but there was a deep safety on the play who biffed. Not really on the coordination.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-7, 1 min 1st Q. Denard screen INT sets up next drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M34 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Martin -5
Mike Martin(+3), who is the nose tackle—THE NOSE TACKLE—forces a pitch on the speed option. He leaves the backside guard in a crumpled heap as he does so. Demens(+1) is flowing hard from the inside and Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) beats the WR to the outside. Burkhead has no choice but to try to bounce it. Kovacs puts him down.
M39 2 15 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Pass N/A Tunnel screen Van Bergen Inc
Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) leaps to bat it down. Roh(+1, cover +1) had dropped off and impeded the WR so this was either incomplete or dead anyway. RPS +1.
M39 3 15 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 4 Tunnel screen Demens 5
Demens(+1, tackling +1) and Martin(+1) combine to tackle here; Demens was dropping into a convenient short zone and Martin peeled back from pure pass rush.
Drive Notes: FG(52), 10-10, 12 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 Pistol offset 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read keeper Kovacs 16
FB and TE in this pistol set. Kovacs rolls down late and Nebraska does what I've always wanted M to do: FB comes down like he's going to attempt to kick out the DE. Black forms up to take the hit, expecting that he will have to get the backside gap on a handoff while Kovacs takes the QB. FB then jukes outside and gets a great block in space on Kovacs, opening up the edge. Martinez gets the edge and a big gain until Floyd vaguely forces him OOB. RPS -2; opposite of a Zook RPS. I do need to minus Kovacs(-1) for getting thoroughly owned on the block. Picture paged.
O34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Jet sweep Countess 23
Roh does a mediocre job of stringing this out but it's not too bad. Morgan flows out hard and while he gets chopped he drew the attention of a blocker and this allows Gordon a free run at the ballcarrier. Unfortunately Countess(-3) executes the cardinal sin, losing leverage and letting the guy outside. There is a bit of a hold here; it shouldn't have to come to that. That turns the play from a decent 4-6 yard gain, assuming a Gordon tackle, into a big play.
M43 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Down G Beyer 0 (Pen -10)
Unbalanced. Total OL ownage by the DL. Beyer(+2) gets into his blocker in a good position, causing the pulling G to run into his block. RVB(+1) comes under his blocker and takes out the fullback. Martin(+1) destroys the C and flows. Burkhead has to bounce; an unblocked Demens(+1) scrapes and flows to tackle for nothing. Beyer's guy picks up a holding call to compound matters.
O47 1 20 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Ryan -7
Ryan(+2) sets up on the edge well; Martinez makes a mistake by pulling. Even so he seems shocked by Ryan's upfield acceleration. Ryan tackles five yards in the backfield... Martinez escapes. He's still doomed. Martin(+0.5), Gordon(+0.5), and Avery(+0.5) are the effective pursuit. The missed tackle actually costs Nebraska two yards. (No minuses for missed tackle attempts that effectively end plays.)
O40 2 27 Pistol 2TE Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Ryan 2
Martinez with good time; he goes to two reads and finds nothing (cover +2, pressure- 1). At this point he bugs out; Ryan(+1) comes off a block to tackle just as he passes the LOS.
O42 3 25 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Martin 6
First read not there; not really enough time to get the necessary depth by the time Roh(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) flush Martinez. He scrambles, which like whatever. Demens(+1, tackling +1) does a good job to cut his gain down in space. (Cover +1, Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 3 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 TE out Martin Inc
Martin(+2, pressure +2) through the line instantly, forcing a quick throw. He's got a TE in front of Demens for a modest gain; dropped. Coverage push. Decent coverage on a short route.
O32 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Scramble -- 5
This is a pass but Martinez bugs out immediately, scared of the pressure. Kovacs comes up to shove him out after a modest gain. RPS +1 for Martinez happy feet.
O37 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Sack Ryan -2
This is the same blitz that Kovacs annihilated Alex Carder on in the first game of the year but Ryan(-1) screws it up by not ducking inside a la Kovacs. This gives Martinez a couple seconds when he should rightly be taking a helmet to his chest. Coverage(+2) is good, at which point the unblocked dude is relevant even if he took a crappy path(pressure +1) and Martinez bugs out into the arms of RVB(+1). RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 1 min 2nd Q. This first half is the long touchdown, one good RPS play, a freshman screwup, and jack else.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-4 base Run N/A IVSO Gordon 9
IVSO = inverted veer speed option. Nebraska runs the veer; Martinez keeps and Burkhead gets in a pitch relationship. Martinez heads to the line where Demens(+1) takes on a lead blocker and is reaching out to tackle along with Martin(+1) who did his usual jet through the line. Morgan(-0.5) reads it late and Gordon(-1) sucks in when he needs to have the pitchman. This is a Cool Play and therefore that is a little less harsh than I would otherwise be; Michigan does have this on film so it shouldn't be a total mystery. Beyer(-1) also could have helped out on the pitchman instead of sucking in. RPS -1.
O29 2 1 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Run N/A Inverted veer give Demens 16
Campbell in for Martin. Nebraska runs the veer at a two WR side and there is no contain, so give. RVB is optioned off. Now four blockers on three M defenders. Ryan(+0.5) does a good job of getting the edge, pushing his man back and forcing the play inside the hashes. Demens(-2) is cut to the ground way too easily; Abdullah is breaking past the secondary and threatening a big gainer one on one with Floyd when Kovacs manages to ankle tackle him. RPS -2; Nebraska attacked the perimeter here and by optioning RVB got a big numbers advantage.
O45 1 10 Pistol offset 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read belly Morgan 4
Inside zone blocking with the FB headed to the back. Morgan(+1) makes a good read this time and cuts backside to tackle; Gordon was creeping down and is also there. Burkhead gets a couple YAC.
O49 2 6 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inverted veer keeper Martin 0
Two playside DL are slanting outside so Martinez keeps. This looks pretty dangerous as Demens is left backside and gets swallowed on the second level but Heininger(+1) gets sufficient penetration to narrow the lane here and Martin(+2) beats the center and flows down the line to nail Martinez at the LOS. Morgan(+0.5) had gotten outside his blocker and may have been some help; he got held but it wasn't relevant at that point.
O49 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run N/A QB draw -- 1
Nebraska had it big time as M has three guys to one side and just one to the left of the center. That's three free blockers against air. Martinez inexplicably runs to the side where RVB and Martin are to get tackled. Let off. Martin(+0.5), RVB(+0.5), I guess. RPS -1. Hypothetical Nebraska UFR just gave Martinez -3.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-10, 8 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Inverted veer keeper Van Bergen 1
Martinez keeps when he should give; there is no contain up the field and Abdullah will be running at blocked guys on the edge. As a result, RVB(+0.5) gets inside and forces Martinez away from his blocking, as he alters the pulling G's path. This makes him useless and gives Demens(+0.5) a free run. Martin(+1) has beaten a block and also enters the picture; Ryan(+1) blew the slot receiver up with an explosive burst and there are four guys converging on Martinez at the LOS.
O27 2 9 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Floyd Inc
Martinez is a little late here and the ball gets out as the WR is turning. He's got a crap arm so the ball floats, allowing Floyd(+2, cover +2) to jump it. It's two yards short of the WR or this is a pick six. Floyd tries to dig it out; he cannot. Normally I would give a jump like this three but this was easy pickings.
O27 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Skinny post Avery Inc
Martinez has time but happy feet also; he starts scrambling up in the pocket despite decent blocking. RVB comes off a blocker to force a throw, which is to a post route Avery(+2, cover +2) has dropped right into. He's in the WR's chest as the ball arrives; WR awkwardly backs off and bats the ball skyward; it falls incomplete. RPS +1; no routes open.
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-10, 4 min 3rd Q. Bad punt and good return sets the next drive up deep in M territory.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass 4 PA seam Woolfolk Inc
Time(pressure -1); Martinez throws too early to a guy who Woolfolk(+2, cover +2) has blanketed; Woolfolk bats it down.
M31 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-4 base Pass 4 PA improv Martin 12
Play action inverted veer catches M slanting away from the play and is either a brilliant call based on inside knowledge or damn lucky. Either way, Campbell(+1) and Martin(+1) slant through the OL and force Martinez to scramble. As he nears the sideline he chucks a ball you're certain is doomed that a WR plucks out of the air on the sideline. Well played? I guess. If they're going to do this, fine. Pressure +1.
M19 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Down G pitch Morgan 7
Roh(+1) doesn't get sealed; he flows out onto the edge with his blocker and drives him back, picking off the fullback. Kovacs(+0.5) is the outside guy and he maintains leverage inside the numbers, forcing Burkhead into a narrow crevice without a lead blocker. Morgan(-2) has no job but to flow to this (on a pitch) and has help behind him; he slows, actually briefly stops, and by the time he resumes his path outside he's too late to crush Burkhead at the LOS like he should. Floyd(-0.5) comes up and makes a dodgy ankle tackle that gives Burkhead a few extra yards.
M12 2 3 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Down G pitch Kovacs 2
Beyer/Ryan package. Looks like the exact same play but it develops differently; RB just runs into the back of blockers this time instead of trying to get to the edge. Beyer(-0.5) is cut to the ground on the edge; he does contain. Morgan(-1) is again late in case there's a cutback when the entire defense is behind him, which gives Nebraska some yards despite the lack of a FB again; Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) thunders down into the hole and crunches Burkhead after two yards, setting up third and short.
M10 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Down G pitch Kovacs 2
Seems to want to go inside since the FB does, taking out Morgan. Burkhead doesn't like that pile at the LOS and bounces outside since Beyer(-1) gives up the edge. He gets in the backfield but he does not maintain outside leverage. Bounce available and taken; Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) again shoots down to the LOS at great speed to tackle, but he can't prevent the first.
M8 1 G Flexbone 4-3 even Run N/A Outside toss Beyer 5
One of the flexbacks goes in the looping motion flexbacks do and takes an outside toss pitch. Gordon(+0.5) keeps the edge well; Beyer(-1) is chopped to the ground by a WR. Demens(-1) took a block and got blown into the endzone; this would near the goal line but for the pursuit of Martin(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5).
M3 2 G Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Run N/A Inverted veer triple pitch -- 3
Tip of the hat. RPS -1. Picture paged at BWS, because someone had to do it.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-17, 1 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Demens 7
In front of Demens(-0.5, cover -1); WR falls down or would have a YAC opportunity.
O32 2 3 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Morgan -1
Mild zone blitz sees Roh drop off and Morgan(+2, pressure +2) sent. Morgan does not get a free run; he gets the RB blocking him. He deftly steps around and threatens to sack, forcing Martinez up into the pocket, where Ryan(+1) peels off a block and steps up to sack.
O33 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Demens -1
Zone blitz is picked up; Martinez has happy feet again and scrambles into Demens(+1) and Ryan(+2), the latter of whom rakes the ball out for Michigan to fall on.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 38-17, 7 min 4th Q. Michigan scores on the next play and it's garbage time. Charting stops. The starting D does get the next drive but Taylor Martinez forced to throw is bloodsport, not useful.

What's that? You like bloodsport? Okay. Martin. Kovacs. Campbell wsg Hawthorne.

So… this happened two weeks in a row. Something approximating total domination.

It did. It's almost as if one-dimensional teams who can't throw and only have one receiver, if that, are totally screwed against this defense.

Does this remind you of anyone?

Hush, now.

Was it as dominating as it seemed?

Almost. When Nebraska picked up yards I found myself not irritated with players or frustrated with the defense's playcalling but, well, like this.

I was annoyed because WTF was that? About half of the negative RPS points in this game I'm not even mad about. When that wasn't happening Michigan was strangling them.

The one issue that may have made things look a little better than they were were Taylor Martinez errors—give or keep, run into Martin and Van Bergen or away. Nebraska had some openings they failed to take advantage of. But not many.

So are we legit? Legitimately legit?

I still have a slight fear of what happens in the event Michigan goes up against a truly good offense. I don't see any of them on the schedule save Notre Dame, against whom Michigan struggled. Iowa is okay, MSU is okay, Nebraska is okay.

But dang, man, put them up against anything short of excellent and you're dead meat. Some of the issues from earlier in the season may be an effect of not having Mike Martin performing at an insane level.

Insane level you say?

You have to see this—

Chart?

Chart.

Note that a paucity of plays charted—only 40—means you should multiply numbers by about 1.5 to get an average day's work. I am going to work on something that fixes this variability for next year.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 5.5 - 5.5 The usual production adjusted for time on field.
Martin 18 1 17 No foolies. I mean, the guy forced a pitch on a speed option.
Roh 3.5 0.5 3 Didn't get much action his way and is frequent dropper in blitz packages.
Heininger 2.5 - 2.5 Has established himself an asset.
Clark - - - Garbage time only.
Black - - - Don't blame him for the Martinez run.
Campbell 1 - 1 Also crushed face.
TOTAL 30.5 1.5 29 Flantabulous.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 4.5 5.5 -1 Still a bit slow reading plays.
Demens 9.5 5.5 4 Three straight +4s. Surprisingly good in coverage for MLB.
Ryan 8.5 2 6.5 First real impact game.
Fitzgerald - - - DNP
Beyer 2 3.5 -1.5 Nebraska went after him in the 4-4 package and got rewarded.
Hawthorne - - - Garbage time.
Jones - - - Garbage time.
TOTAL 24.5 16.5 8 Improvement here is palpable from beginning of year.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 4.5 4.5 0 Two route jumps, one big error.
Avery 3 - 3 Excellent coverage on a post.
Woolfolk 2 - 2 Joined PBU party.
Kovacs 6 1 5 Some excellent tackling.
T. Gordon 1.5 4 -2.5 As guilty, potentially moreso, as Floyd on the long TD.
Countess 1 3 -2 Lost leverage on big run.
Van Slyke - - - Garbage time.
TOTAL 18 12.5 5.5 Check the coverage.
Metrics
Pressure 9 2 7 Doesn't even count lets kill Martinez time
Coverage 17 6 13 NUTS
Tackling 5 - 100% I can't even remember a broken tackle.
RPS 9 8 1 Ain't even mad.

So you're probably like "LOL WUT MIKE MARTIN" and yeah. I cannot emphasize enough that he forced a pitch on a speed option. I don't… I…

…I mean… how does that even happen? Just look at the crumpled heap the backside G is in.

Martin did not show up in the box score as much as he impacted the game. I want to retroactively award him the EPIC DOUBLE POINT because dang, man. Nebraska's center didn't block him all day:

I should have checked whether the above statement is the literal truth or not. Martin's day is in the UFR hall of fame.

Jake Ryan candle count?

Getting up there. If 16 is the maximum number of candles Jake Ryan can have I'd say he's gone from a 4 or 5 early in the year to 10 around now. He's already made about as much improvement as he will over the rest of his career. This does not mean he's going to top out at not awesome. When Taylor Martinez pulled on first and 20 late in the first half Ryan had sucked in a bit and you could make a case he made the right read, especially with a WR forming up for a pitch relationship outside.

Then Ryan leapt on his face.

That is great technique combined with great athleticism. He even cleverly misses the tackle to induce Martinez to give up another two yards. ("All in the game," he tells Martinez afterwards.)

Ryan with another couple candles is All Big Ten.

Did we all get too excited about Floyd last week?

Maybe a little but I'm not that down on the guy when he jumps two different routes in the same game, one of which would have been a pick six if Martinez throws it well, even if he did get sucked up on play action and help give up the long one.

Yeah, help. IME, Thomas Gordon is as much or more at fault since he is in a deep centerfield role and biffs hard.

That is not cover zero. Watch Countess on the other side of the field give up inside position on the post; he expects deep help and has none because Gordon's gone. If Gordon does not bite harrrrrrrrd on the play action this is much more difficult and possibly not a touchdown even if complete. Floyd blew it; Gordon blew it harder.

Anyway, Floyd isn't perfect. One big mistake in 11 games makes him good, though.

[SIDE NOTE: apparently Worst Waldo has not entered the vernacular here yet. An explanation: a Worst Waldo play is one like the above on which the receiver is the worst Waldo ever because he's the only one in the frame (or at least would be if the throw was any good). Some receivers, like Manningham, can generate these on their own. Usually it's the effect of a bust or a secondary overreacting to play action.]

What of Morgan?

Morgan is about where Ryan was halfway through the season. This makes sense because he's had about half the playing time and was reportedly laid up with a nagging injury of some variety. As a result he's still missing some plays available. When Nebraska started their pitch series on their final touchdown drive Michigan had the first one thumped but for #44:

While he's clearly getting better, linebacker hesitancy remains an issue with the D that may bite them if they ever face a team that can throw again.

By the way, the back to back pitches here are a great way to contrast the fill skills of Floyd (above) and Kovacs:

Floyd is bad, Kovacs elite.

What's the point of those wacky pass defense formations that have Martin as a quasi-linebacker?

I was wondering this myself, and then the answer came to me when Nebraska decided they would get Martinez killed try to make the score look nicer. When he is a delayed blitzer many teams will treat him like a linebacker, which means deploying the running back to block him. Here's how well that works:

This is also a reason Michigan's okie package flares him outside the tackle, I'm guessing.

Heroes?

Martin. The secondary as a whole except for that one play—take out the cover –5 on that one and the day is 17 to 1 positive, which is nuts. Ryan, RVB… take your pick, really.

Goats?

Floyd, sort of, and Thomas Gordon. Basically for that one play.

What does it mean for the Game?

Michigan's tackling in space will get a test against Miller, who's liable to say "eff it" and do whatever he wants as soon as his first option is not there. What's more, Michigan's defensive line is going to see their level of competition take a big step forward.

I know OSU fans just grunted derisively at this statement, but it's true. When not snapping it into his ass, Mike Brewster is an NFL prospect at center worlds better than the fools Martin has been pwning the last three weeks. Ohio State has shown it can move guys off the ball with frustrating regularity and we may see our Will Heininger renaissance disappear into some frustrating Dave playcalls. Michigan's linebackers have been iffy at getting off blocks and will continue to be iffy this weekend.

In the air? If Posey doesn't blow up they aren't moving the ball except in erratic chunks that won't make drives. Michigan's blitz packages seem like a perfect fit here; if Miller gets spooked and scrambles there are usually seven guys in coverage. Michigan can go with a delayed blitz/spy package without making too many compromises downfield.

OSU's not going to get crushed like the last two opponents. It is not possible. They are going to have a hard time moving down the field without hitting big plays, of which there will be a couple. Miller's a scary dude like that and Posey may provide some deep passing OSU has not had to date.

After the biff by Gordon on the deep pass I'm not sure I'm totally comfortable with him in that role. Woolfolk may be less prone to breaking down and I expect to see him most of the day. Kovacs will be roving around the box for 60 minutes.

Picture Pages: Absolving Jibreel Black

Picture Pages: Absolving Jibreel Black

Submitted by Brian on November 23rd, 2011 at 1:43 PM

If you're like me, there was a point late in the first half of the Nebraska game where you went "argh Jibreel Black" because Taylor Martinez burst outside for a big gain. After last week, when Nathan Scheelhaase got a couple of big runs because the backside end was unfamiliar with the concept of the zone read, this was a natural reaction.

A closer view shows Black was duped, but understandably so.

It's first and ten for the Huskers on the first play of their fourth drive; They come out in a pistol formation with an H-back and two WRs. Michigan is in their usual under. They've got a lot of backups in: Black, Campbell, and Beyer are three of the five folk on the line. Black is to the top of the screen.

black-ok-1

On the snap Nebraska runs a pistol version of Michigan's staple play (this week, anyway): the belly. On the belly an H-back or FB will shoot into the backside end and the opponent will try to attack the weak spot caused in the backside of the line.

Michigan's LBs are prepared, attacking backside, and Kovacs has walked down to provide an eighth guy in the box.

black-ok-2

The eighth guy is usually the solution to bounce issues; here having Kovacs behind him allows Black to shuffle down the line in preparation for this very play.

Except… what if you told your fullback to read the play too?

black-ok-3

This is the frame were thing start going wrong. The fullback has convinced Black he needs to squeeze this space down, and now he's juking outside after Black has gotten set to take him on.

black-ok-4

Now there are problems. Black has just realized Martinez has the ball. He's inside the tackle box a yard upfield. Meanwhile, the fullback has released outside to get the contain guy.

black-ok-5

Because this is Taylor Martinez versus a defensive end the corner will be achieved. Kovacs takes the blocker on, but this is Kovacs kryptonite. Dude runs at your face in space. Block him and he gets put on skates.

black-ok-6

Kovacs does not have a real good time here as he ends up giving up leverage eight yards downfield. Floyd is late arriving because he is in man coverage over a guy going deep and has a 54-yard pass in the back of his head.

black-ok-7

I don't think the linebackers did a stellar job here—there are a couple of frames where they can reach out and touch each other—but when the ball goes outside the numbers behind a blocker they aren't doing much no matter how well they play.

Martinez jets down the sidelines, where he's barely forced by Floyd.

black-ok-8

Nebraska would get outside on the next play for 23 yards before a holding call and Jake Ryan stunning Martinez with his acceleration put Nebraska in a big hole; they would punt on fourth and forever.

Video

Items of interest

This could just be a playcall but I think it's a read. Nebraska's offensive coordinator is a mad scientist tinkerer who pulls out inverted veer triple options and inverted veer to speed options and it's not like Nebraska can possibly be doing anything else in practice other than relentlessly repping the option game. So I think this is not an out and out call but the fullback and the quarterback both reading the DE doing his shuffle down the line and punishing him for it.

So… yeah, this isn't on Black. Black was optioned off by a clever play requiring coordination between multiple readers and would have been wrong no matter what. Kovacs rolling down to the outside should free him to defend the belly, which Black does until it's clear he's in trouble.

If Black goes outside Burkhead's roaring upfield with Kovacs pulled outside. That is much worse news than what actually happened.

Kovacs gets owned. Not to be too hard on him because like some of the other stuff Nebraska pulled out of their bag of tricks this is a situation where you're caught off guard by the play developing in front of you. Martinez pulls, and the thought process goes:

Okay: I have to get infield to cut off cutbacks and then if he tries to bounce I will use KOVACSPOWER to tackle him in the open field.

But then it goes:

What's this? A blocker? My one weakness! Nooooooooooo…

This happened with some frequency last year when Kovacs was rolled up to the line more frequently. Some fullback or OL would latch on and then just donkey him off the field. This is not a huge problem for a safety—it's much more important to be able to run at guys full speed without ever missing a tackle—but I don't think anyone was surprised when this scenario on the edge went poorly.

Confusing the hell out of Michigan was the only way Nebraska moved the ball. Nebraska got Michigan misaligned here and there, caught guys off guard here and there, and burned JT Floyd (and Thomas Gordon) on play action. Other than that they got almost literally nothing. Michigan destroyed them up front.

Yes, I did exhale "finally" when this happened. I have been pining for this play since about two seconds after the UConn game started. It seems evil, unfair. So why didn't Nebraska run it again? I don't know. Maybe they didn't have an opportunity what with the fumbles and Mike Martin destroying stuff before they could get back to it.

Michigan's been running a lot of blocking schemes like this and it never seems like the QB and TE/FB are on the same page. When we do get a shuffle scheme with linebacker contain and Koger moves to the second level to block, Denard biffs it. Other times a slot LB gets sent and Koger goes upfield to block the guy who is containing the handoff.

O let do it. Nevermind. Need to rep it.

Nebraska's offense might ignite at some point in the next couple years. Martinez is a sophomore and has a couple more years to get better at his reads, and you can see pieces here and there of an offense that makes you wrong even in the world of scrape exchanges and whatnot.

I'm not saying it will happen. Their offensive line will have to get a ton better if they're going to get away with Martinez's arm. But if they get the blocking taken care of and maybe find a wide receiver who's not a liability, I can see Nebraska turning into an offense you loathe playing.

This Is Michigan; This Isn't Michigan

This Is Michigan; This Isn't Michigan

Submitted by Brian on November 21st, 2011 at 11:27 AM

11/19/2011 – Michigan 45, Nebraska 17 – 9-2, 5-2 Big Ten

6369740057_ef96bdd470_b[1]

Eric Upchurch

In the aftermath of Saturday's flamethrower job, everyone from the coaches down to emailers is saying that felt like Michigan, usually with emphasis. Picking one at random:

Great game Saturday - I think it was at least partially Nebraska-fueled, but man that FELT like Michigan.

Quick, it's any game from 1998 to 2007 against a spread offense or mobile quarterback. How do you feel? Good? Bad? Have you stopped reading this column to shiver in a corner at the idea of Carlyle Holiday? Troy Smith? Donovan McNabb? Armanti Horror Edwards?

Yes, you have. For the Ohio State fans who persist in reading this column because it's willing to send Michigan fans into catatonic seizures, Michigan fans felt pretty damn bad about going up against mobile quarterbacks during the Carr era. They also felt this during the Rodriguez era but it was a lot harder to parse out a specific mobile-quarterback-related fear when Indiana's putting up more than 30 every year.

Quick! It's any game in which Michigan has an 18 point lead against a mid-level Big Ten team from 1998 to 2007. Nevermind. You're still having a seizure.

Quick! It's a team with Tom Brady, David Terrell, Anthony Thomas, Steve Hutchinson, Mo Williams, and Jeff Backus. How many yards per carry do they average?

No, seriously. I'm asking this one. How many yards per carry did the Orange-Bowl-winning, Tom-Brady-featuring, three-NFL-OL-including-a-hall-of-fame-guard-deploying 1999 Michigan Wolverines average?

3.2.

Seriously. Michigan finished 79th in rushing offense, 24th in passing offense, and ran more than they passed. Tom Brady—Tom Brady!—averaged 7.2 YPA. In the Orange Bowl they fell behind 14-0 because they kept running their awful run offense at Alabama's #2 run defense. They'd finish with 23 carries for 27 yards.

Quick! Fourth and four from the Ohio State 34 up two with three minutes left. What does Brady Hoke do?

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

I was wrong. I was mad when Michigan hired Brady Hoke because I though it was a capitulation, that it was Michigan returning to the things that made it such a frustrating team to root for once Lloyd Carr stopped having the best defense in the universe.

Carr coached his team like they had an awesome run offense and an awesome defense no matter the facts on the ground, which led to the most frustrating stat anyone's ever compiled. From Vijay Ramanujan's article in your copy of HTTV 2007:

Michigan's fourth quarter woes from 2000 to 2005 … have been the thing holding it back from truly elite status the last several years. Alarmingly, Michigan entered 18 games over that period of time with a lead smaller than 10 points and went 8-10 in those games. They were under .500 when entering the fourth with a small lead! When tied or facing a similarly small deficit, Michigan was 6-1. In all games in which Michigan trailed by any margin they were 8-8.

That is the kind of thing that gets you pawing at the air in your sleep, moaning "no… not again." It's incontrovertible evidence of terrible game management. Hiring Hoke felt like returning to that, like returning to debates about "scoring offenses" and looking at every mobile quarterback on the schedule like it was a loss waiting to happen.

This is not the case. It turns out as I was sitting in the stands burning up inside as Rocky Harvey scatbacked Illinois to victory or Michigan punted itself into oblivion against OSU, Brady Hoke was standing on a sideline burning up inside, whether it was at Michigan Stadium or somewhere in the MAC. Hoke does not want to lead by 17. He wants to lead by 21, dammit. If anything, the playcalling this year has been too aggressive what with the constant unleashing of the dragon.

grossman_badge[1]

Al Borges wears a t-shirt with this on it every Casual Friday

That made me mad in the immediate aftermath, but what happens when you put a Michigan program together and… like… use it? What happens when you're Lloyd Carr without the crippling fear of something going wrong? What happens when you go from weak-tight to loose-aggressive?

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

For one, you leave the desiccated corpses of Nebraska strewn around you as you leave the field. Afterwards, Bo Pelini sits in his locker room shaking like Don Cheadle in "Hotel Rwanda." When you win games, you win games comfortably. No one gets nervous in the fourth quarter of San Diego State. The offense is pretty much the offense; when its horns get pulled in it's because you're on your own four up 21 and that's the move. Sometimes you do the audacious thing in the important game, not the tomato can before the important game. Mobile quarterbacks don't automatically rack up a billion yards. And when the right move doesn't work out and someone asks you about it, you say "that's how it's going to be."

So when people say this "feels like Michigan," I agree and disagree. In the immediate post-hire column featuring Will Smith robots I said "to me, getting back to being Michigan means going 9-3 and losing to Jim Tressel." Since 1993, Michigan has lost at least three games every year save '97, '99 and '06; since Jim Tressel's arrival Michigan has beaten Ohio State once.

If this feels like getting back to Michigan, it's the Michigan of your dreams, the Michigan you left back in Peoria when you shipped to Saigon. You've got one good picture of her and she's that pretty every day in an ugly place.

"This Is Michigan" is about the idea, not the reality—at least not a reality from the last 20 years. So far. Days like Saturday inch us closer to the picture in our heads.

Media

There were enough videos to warrant a VOAV, which was posted yesterday. This from Boyz in the Pahokee is worth a repost, though:

Via Eric Upchurch and the Ann Arbor Observer, our Nebraska photoset:

As always, the above photos are Creative Commons licensed.

AnnArbor.com's photoset can be found here. I'm just saying?

image

I'm just sayin'.

Maize and Blue Nation also has photos. MVictors grabs the obligatory Bri'onte Dunn shot.

Bullets

6369842179_2bc725a744_z[1]

via Eric Upchurch and the Ann Arbor Observer 

brady-hoke-epic-double-pointBRADY HOKE EPIC DOUBLE POINT OF THE WEEK. I'm tempted to hand this to Lavonte David for 17 tackles, 14 of them solo, 2 of them Y U SO FAST ankle-grabs on a Denard Robinson one step from engaging turbo. But he plays for Nebraska and we only talk about players who play for Michigan.

If we can't give it to David, it's again Fitzgerald Toussaint's to have and hold. He's got his own bullet below explaining why. Runners up: Mike Martin, Denard Robinson, and Jordan Kovacs.

EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS.

2: Denard Robinson (Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan), Brady Hoke (San Diego State, Northwestern), Fitzgerald Toussaint (Purdue, Nebraska)
1: Jordan Kovacs (Western Michigan), David Molk (Minnesota), Ryan Van Bergen (MSU),  Mike Martin (Iowa), JT Floyd(Illinois).

Fitzkreig continues. 138 yards on 29 carries and three monster games in the last four. The exception was a 16-carry, 58-yard performance against Iowa when many of his attempts were run from under center.

As a result, I saw Toussaint compared to the following tailbacks over the weekend: Mike Hart (this was me but not just me), Tim Biakabutuka, and Chris Perry. Except fast! I went with Hart because the way Toussaint dodges guys in a phonebooth is reminiscent of #20 and his cuts in narrow areas are what makes the zone game work. Toussaint doesn't have Hart's pile-pushing power but he compensates with Except Fast! He's also been very secure with the ball. (Knock on wood.) I don't recall any fumbles from him this year; that's pretty good for 143 carries.

It took longer than everyone wanted, but I declare him broken out. He needs 191 yards against OSU and in the bowl to crack 1000 for the season; I bet he gets that and enters next year in the conversation for best back in the league. I'll have to go back and check how Northwestern held him to 25 yards on 14 carries. That's nuts.

Weekly Borgeswatch. It's to the point where the scattered –1 yard power plays from the I don't even bother me anymore. They're like old friends reminding me of the spread's superiority for this personnel and how our offensive coordinator has also come to this conclusion, albeit grudgingly.

I thought this was another strong game from Borges. He debuted a pro set that saw Michigan bust a couple of big gains; the flare screen got blown up the second time he went to it but it was effective overall. Outside of that he largely let the offense do what it was recruited to do: run zone from the gun. It worked to the tune of 238 yards.

While the averages for Denard (4.4 YPC) and Fitz(4.8) aren't electric a lot of that is due to Michigan's struggles near the goal line. Those two had eight carries from within the Nebraska seven on which they gained 7 yards total; carries outside of goal-to-go situations averaged 5.3 between the two main weapons. Without Lavonte David who knows what they would have been.

Unfortunately, goal to go is kind of important. Those struggles combine with last week's goal line stand by Illinois* to create the closest thing to a worry possible coming off a 45-17 win. Michigan got lucky on a dubious pass interference call and had to resort to a fake field goal to punch in short touchdowns; on both short yardage TDs Michigan had to bounce to the sideline. Going up the middle was futile.

I wonder why Michigan has never tried to replicate** the virtually unstoppable Gator Heavy package that was Florida's go-to short yardage package during the Tebow era. This was a complaint I had during the RR years, too. I like the idea of giving the D seven gaps to defend and providing Denard two lead blockers that can attack any of them, plus a tailback.

*[I guess you could toss in Iowa's successful goal line stand but that was executed in adverse conditions.]

**[Michigan did briefly feature a double H-back set in 2009 that was kind of like Gator Heavy but they never used the full-on heavy. They always had two WRs.]

odoms-touchdown-nebraska

via Melanie Maxwell/AnnArbor.com

Weekly Denardwatch. There were a couple of scary throws I'll have to see on replay to determine whether they were bad ideas or fit in narrow windows—guessing the former—but 61% completions and 10 YPA are pretty good. Yeah, a big chunk of those was a chuck-and-pray to Roundtree but at least that wasn't into double coverage. The safety couldn't get over in time. Roundtree also had a step on Dennard… it wasn't in the same class some of the ND armpunts were. Meanwhile, the Odoms touchdown gets an "I be like dang."

I thought the INT was fluky; some people on the twitters disagreed. I'm not saying the batted ball was fluky, but the dude knocking it to himself and catching it… eh… doesn't happen so often. That's more on the playcall than Denard. Asking a short guy to float it over a tall guy has resulted in two interceptions this year that I'm not sure Denard can do much about other than be six inches taller or eat the ball on a screen that seems open.

There was progress.

6369700739_9e2c668f34_b[1]

Upchurch

The above was part of that. When Denard pulled up to throw to a short dude streaking across the endzone my Michigan rolodex flipped to the first interception he threw against MSU last year, where he had the exact same route open and chucked it well behind his guy.

I'm guessing Denard's DSR is in the mid-60s range he seems to have established as his Big Ten baseline. That's a step up from the days when he was struggling to complete anything against the Eastern Michigans of the world. Transition costs here seem mostly paid. Now it's about getting him that extra increment.

The rumors are not true. Do not listen to Heiko: I had nothing to do with the lack of power in Michigan Stadium. I did not make a commando raid Friday night after seeing the image of Pop Evil in the stadium and Do What Had To Be Done. I have an alibi—I was at the hockey game—and if I had done it I would have taken out the north scoreboard, where Special K's speakers are.

Way to go, whoever you are. Excellent work by random student who I assume is an engineer to start counting down the playclock after M took a false start penalty near the goal line in the first. Note that Hoke stepped forth to take blame for the penalty:

"That's on me," he said. "I should have called timeout. For me to not do that, that's bad coaching."

Straightforward dude.

Second Zookian clock management incident. Coaches are always too conservative with their last timeout and this tendency bit Michigan after they ran a couple times at the end of the first half. After Robinson biffed by trying to get to the sideline instead of reading the block Toussaint had made on the closest defender, the clock burned 30 seconds before the third down snap.

I know you want to have that timeout for a field goal attempt but in a situation like this you know the clock is going to run and you're not sure that will be the case down the road. A spike is a quality option with five seconds left; not so much with 48.

This is a nit. I'm going to name my firstborn "Hoke Gametheory."

Helmet to ball. Yes, people who keep telling me about fumbles, the last few have been Michigan's doing. Not so much the ones where people just drop the ball. Terrence Robinson may have just earned a fifth year—it looks like Michigan will have room for him even if they take 28.

Fluck. Michigan's still recovering an inordinate number of the fumbles caused. No, this is not coachable.

I don't always talk about game theory*, but when I do I prefer it to be about going up 17 or 21. Last week I was totally cool with Michigan running a QB draw with Gardner on third and goal from the ten to go up 17; I was similarly cool with the field goal team running out for a chip shot on the fourth and one.

It's a similar situation: up 14 about halfway through the third quarter against a team that's struggling to move the ball. Getting that third score is all but game over. That said, Hoke made it clear in the postgame presser that they had scouted that particular situation and got the look they wanted:

Can you talk about picking the spot to fake the field goal? “We had put it in. It’s the one Penn State used against us in ’95? I think it was ’95 up there. [We] wanted it on the right hash, [and] they gave us the look that we wanted. Even if we had kicked the field goal, Drew Dileo -- having him as a holder, he’s such a smart football kid. He did a tremendous job with it. You got it, you might as well use it.”

Until he runs a fake field goal against the same team he ran a famous fake field goal the year previous—and takes a timeout before doing so—it's all good.

Less than a season into the Hoke regime it's clear his natural inclination is to be aggressive in close situations. That should pay off down the road—it hasn't so much this year because when Michigan wins they win by a lot.

*[LIES!]

BCS watch. Saturday night's events all but guarantee Michigan a spot if they take care of business on Saturday. They're now ahead of the Big 12 runner-up, which will either be a three-loss Oklahoma or an Oklahoma State team coming off back-to-back losses, one of them to Iowa State. Pecking order:

  1. Houston (auto)
  2. Alabama
  3. Stanford
  4. Michigan
  5. Big 12 runner up
  6. ACC runner up

You can flip Stanford and Michigan if you like. There are no scenarios that see a 10-2 Michigan left out; even if the SEC can put a third team in because of an all SEC West title game, Michigan is an easy pick over a 10-2 Arkansas. To be safe you're rooting for Okie State in Bedlam.

Now, about getting to 10-2…

[UPDATE: a reader informs me that this is misunderstanding of the way three teams get into the BCS from a single conference. #1 and #2 have to not win the conference, so LSU would have to lose to Georgia and Alabama and LSU would still have to be 1-2. That is… not impossible, actually.]

Here

Inside the Box Score has cat photos and commentary:

In the first half, with us up 10-7, Denard threw an INT on a screen pass. I’m starting to think he’s too short to throw middle screens. Anyway, the defense responded with a Kovacs TFL, a Van Bergen pass deflection, and Demens and Martin tackling a WR on a screen for minimal yardage. It wasn’t quite the three-play sequence that bursted impetus against Illinois, but it reminded me of that. Neb had to settle for a 51 yard FG. Our defense basically said, we’ve got our O’s back.

Word.

The announcers thought Kovacs was acting a little when injured to slow down Neb’s hurry up offense. For the record, he stayed out for the duration of that series, so I don’t think he was faking. Screw you Urban Paschman for suggesting such a thing.

Are we really at the point where a team that has two injuries in a game gets accused of slowing the game down on purpose? This wasn't the Michigan State defense's fainting couch act against Iowa.

When I think of NU, I think of Northwestern. Since they have B1G seniority over Nebraska, they should get the NU acronym. That leaves either UNL or Neb for Nebraska.

Blog policy is to bestow "NU" on the winner of the NU-NU game. When not in possession of "NU," Northwestern shall be "NW" and Nebraska "UNL." It is my hope this eventually spawns a rivalry trophy: large block N and U letters that the winning team paints their colors after a victory.

Hoke For Tomorrow on various people who had good days:

Denard Robinson - The best game in a long time for our leader and best.  Denard looked completely in control of the offense.  He was patient, waiting for plays to develop before zinging a TD pass to Gallon or cutting behind his blockers for a TD on the ground.  Best of all, Denard finally hit a receiver perfectly on an endzone bomb.  He made some more questionable reads on the read option, but overall it was a great performance.

If you hit up Blue Seoul's OSU/Nebraska scouting report the Cornhuskers' long touchdown probably looked familiar:

6356147793_7b61309c71[1]

6356148407_8289c2cfcb[1]

So there you go: the coaches don't read the blog.

Elsewhere

Unwashed blog masses. Maize and Go Blue has a newspapery recap. Schadenfreude can be had at Corn Nation's game thread and post-game thread. TTB runs down the recruiting visitors. MNBN has a wrap up. BWS talks about Rich Rodriguez. I only talk about coaches who coach for Michigan. M&GB gives thanks. So does the HSR. MGoFootball bullets.

MZone autopsy:

Want a little more perspective?  In its 13 games last year, Michigan gave up 458 points.  Through 11 this season, they've surrendered 172.  In other words, to equal the punchline that was 2010, Michigan would have to give up 144 points -- in EACH of its remaining two games (OSU and the bowl).

I am annoyed that this is followed by a reference to the scoring offense as if the defense doesn't have anything to do with putting said offense in a position to succeed. The offense has dropped off a bit, and criticisms leveled at Borges after MSU and Iowa are still valid. 

Meanwhile, Touch The Banner officially enters haterz territory:

Obligatory discussion of J.T. Floyd.  Nebraska's one huge play was a 54-yard touchdown bomb to Brandon Kinnie, who torched Floyd so badly that all Floyd could do was grab onto Kinnie and hope for a pass interference flag.  Prior to that play, Kinnie had 19 catches for 192 yards and 0 touchdowns on the season.

This is true. Also true: that was the first 50 yard play Michigan has given up all season and the first time Floyd has been burned deep on a pass, complete or not, all year. Even Woodson got burned by Boston that one time. JT Floyd is a good corner.

In the the wider view, Adam Jacobi declares Michigan's trenches a "winner" and Nebraska special teams a "not winner." His quick hits:

WHAT MICHIGAN WON: Michigan's bid for an at-large BCS bid is still alive as the Wolverines begin preparation for Ohio State. We're told that's a rivalry. What Michigan proved beyond a shadow of a doubt is that the defense is legit. Nebraska managed just 11 first downs and 254 total yards on the day, and while that's partly a function of the turnovers, it's also a function of Michigan's performance; the Wolverines forced 10 4th downs on 13 opportunities.

Hinton:

And it was, if not exactly the kind of vintage "This is Michigan" mashing Brady Hoke invoked throughout the offseason, at least as close as this particular team has come to its own platonic ideal. Denard Robinson took every significant snap at quarterback, carried 23 times, looked sharp as a passer and accounted for four touchdowns. Tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint went over 100 yards on the ground for the third time in the last four games, adding a pair of scores of his own. The offense as a whole held the ball for almost 42 minutes. The defense held Nebraska to a season-low in total yards and matched a season low in points. The 'Huskers didn't convert a third down until the end of the third quarter.

In a matchup of apparent equals, the only aspect of the game Nebraska "won" — or came close to winning — was average yards per punt. And that doesn't include the punt Michigan blocked.

Media, conventional. My man Nick Baumgardner on the lopsided time of possession:

One of the residual effects of Michigan's stellar defensive day was a lopsided time of possession battle.

The Wolverines held the ball for 41:13 while Nebraska had possession for just 18:47.

"Residual effects." My man.

Jerry Palm has placed us back in his BCS predictions in an odd place:

Sugar Bowl

Jan. 3
New Orleans, La.
SEC vs. at-large
8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Comment: With both SEC teams in the championship game, the Sugar Bowl will need a replacement and Michigan will be very attractive. It ends up taking an undefeated Houston over the Big East champion.


Palm has the LSU-Bama rematch as the title game, which opens up a weird slot for M. I'd rather play a running team than Case Keenum. BONUS WEIRDNESS: Palm puts Penn State in the Hawaii Bowl in place of someone else who can't fill a commitment. No idea why he thinks the #3-5 Big Ten team isn't locked into an actual Big Ten bowl. SIDE NOTE: Adding Nebraska makes the Big Ten's bowl matchups far more palatable.

Rothstein says the special teams were… wait for it… special. Robinson had no idea he'd tied Brady's record for touchdown passes, but instead of "WAT" he said "excuse me?"

Wojo column:

This wasn't the final piece of evidence, but it certainly was the most compelling. What happened Saturday in Michigan Stadium is what used to happen. A big, physical foe rolled into town and ran smack into a wall of pads. The Wolverines' 45-17 rout of the Cornhuskers was their best game of the year, by far, and the loudest statement of the Brady Hoke era, by far.

As the final minutes ticked away, the crowd began an old-new chant. "Beat Ohio!" cascaded from the student section, in homage to Hoke, whose personal homage to the rivalry is to refer to the Buckeyes simply as "Ohio."

Beat Ohio? Uh, that's a good idea. After seven straight losses in the rivalry, Michigan (9-2) has a great chance to do it, with Ohio State (6-5) in complete disarray.

I quote him because he's the only columnist in a 500 mile radius who doesn't compulsively hit enter after each mark of punctuation. Also he had cake.

Andy Staples:

The defensive improvement is perhaps the most shocking element of Michigan's renaissance. The Wolverines did not sign a bunch of five-star freshmen who raised the talent level. They have succeeded largely with the same players who finished 2010 ranked 110th in the nation in total defense (450.8 yards per game) and 108th in the nation in scoring defense (35.2 points per game). We knew coordinator Greg Mattison could coach, but we didn't know he could work miracles. Through 11 games, the 2011 Wolverines have allowed 312.6 yards per game and 15.6 points per game. "Fundamentally and technically, they're playing what they're coached to do, and they're playing together," Hoke said of his defense. "It's been fun to watch."

The Nebraska view is essentially "why are you punching yourself in the face?" A lot.

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Illinois

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Illinois

Submitted by Brian on November 16th, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Formation notes: They did the usual 4-3 under stuff and went to a nickel package against spread sets. On passing downs the seven-guys-on-the-line okie package was a frequent deployment; on short yardage we saw the return of the Beyer/Ryan 4-4 under.

Then they did some weird stuff. If this looks a bit like a 3-3-5, yeah, sort of :

3-3-5-stack-ish

That's clearly a pass defense D with the ends lined up outside of the tackles and both the spur/bandit-type dudes on the strong side of the formation, ready to drop into man coverage.

This is another exotic pass defense featuring nose tackle Mike Jones (serious) and DT Craig Roh (also serious):

dime-even

Illinois ran at this; Jones and Roh actually forced the play behind them into tacklers; pile fell forward for five.

Personnel notes: Secondary was Floyd/Countess/Kovacs the whole way and mostly Woolfolk but Gordon did pop up from time to time; I'm pretty sure Woolfolk left permanently on the Scheelhaase touchdown since he seemed to aggravate one of his many available injuries. Avery was the nickelback; when Floyd cramped up briefly he moved outside onto Jenkins and Gordon came in at nickel.

Demens and Morgan went the whole way at LB; Ryan played most of the game but gave way to Beyer a little.

The line was mostly the usual RVB/Heininger/Martin/Roh setup with cameos from Black, Clark, and Campbell. Brink got some plays at the tail end.

Show? Show. W00t.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 over Penalty N/A False start -- -5
Emblematic.
O15 1 15 I-Form twins 4-3 under Pass 4 PA scramble Woolfolk 1
Iso fake draws heavy attention but Scheelhaase only has two options in the route and they must both be covered(+2). I find that hard to believe but I'm guessing Woolfolk(+2) jumped the corner route behind Countess and convinced Scheelhaase to scramble. Ryan(-0.5, tackling -1) misses a tackle that would have been a sack, giving up three or four yards.
O16 2 14 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Hitch Floyd Inc
M shows a blitz from Morgan on the outside. Illinois checks, Michigan still runs it. It's picked up. All short routes; Scheelhaase goes to Jenkins on a five yard out that Floyd(+2, cover +2) breaks up. Prelude to ownage.
O16 3 14 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Throwaway Roh Inc
Roh(+1, pressure +2) dives inside on a stunt that gets the Illinois OL. He gets held a little and ends up falling just short of the QB's feet (I might be done typing Scheelhaase); Martin(+0.5) runs after to contain, forcing a throwaway. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O14 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Run N/A Triple option keeper Van Bergen 3
Kovacs rolls down for an eighth guy. M gets lucky here. RVB(+1) stays on QB throughout the play; Ryan(-2) dives inside the slot receiver and gives up the corner. He's got to have the pitchman here. This should be a pitch for a big gain. Instead QB tries to beat RVB one on one and can't do it. Still a decent gain because M had destroyed the dive, which fine.
O17 2 7 I-Form 4-3 under Pass N/A Long handoff Countess 6
Countess(-1, tackling -1) comes up a little hard and to the inside and ends up getting stiffarmed as Jenkins breaks to the outside. He does manage to delay Jenkins long enough for Ryan(+0.5), flowing hard from the inside, to tackle before the sticks.
O23 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Martin -1
Beyer/Ryan package. Heininger(+1) drives his OL a couple yards into the backfield. Martin(+2) takes a pop from the center and still does the same to the backside G, putting him on his knees at the LOS and forcing a cutback. This screws up the blocking angles and forces Ford back into Ryan(+1, tackling +1), who came down to the LOS on the snap and took a good angle into the backfield; RVB(+1) beat a block and comes into help prevent any YAC. RPS +1 for the slant forcing the play back into an unblocked player.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 8 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Shotgun 2back trips 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option dive Heininger 0
Covered slot receiver. Michigan aligns differently than normal with DTs over the guards and Illinois runs a triple option. QB hands off since DE is on him and Countess is hanging on the pitch. Dive goes nowhere thanks to Martin(+1) and Heininger(+1) blasting single blocks back; Roh(+0.5) comes in from the side to finish Pollard after he confirms the give was made.
O23 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Roh Inc
Roh and Black your DEs. Kovacs rolls down. Straight dropback. Illinois looking for the drag; Roh(+1, pressure +1) beats the tackle to the outside and is held; no call. This along with Black(+0.5) falling at the QB's feet causes some shuffling and a back-foot throw that ends up going wide of Jenkins. Completion likely if accurate but Gordon(+0.5, cover +1) seemed to have this locked down for a not so big gain.
O23 3 10 Ace 3-wide Okie Run N/A Down G Van Bergen 5
Scheelhaase checks from a shotgun formation to an inside run out of ace. They're trying to run at the middle of the line as Morgan drops out into a zone; Martin(+1) fights inside a pulling guard—mismatch—and RVB(+1) comes off a block when the second guy moves downfield. Those two combine to tackle for a meh gain.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 1 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 PA curl Woolfolk 7
Beyer in. Illinois runs PA. Play develops with no LBs underneath the Jenkins comeback; QB fires it to him. Immediate tackle from Woolfolk(+0.5, tackling +1) and Countess(+0.5). Coverage push, pressure -1.
O27 2 3 I-Form 4-3 under Penalty -- False start -- -5
Erf.
O22 2 8 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 5 Hitch Floyd 14
Kovacs rolls to a slot receiver as M shows one high. Floyd(-1, cover -1) is beat on a ten-yard hitch and can't tackle on the catch. He has to set up and gives up a few more in the name of being safe.
O36 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Stop and go Floyd Inc
RB motions out into the slot. Michigan sends Beyer off the edge, dropping Roh; stoned. (Pressure -2) QB has all day to pump and then chuck deep. He ends up throwing it away because Floyd(+2, cover +2) was over the top of a double move to the point where throwing it was stupid.
O36 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Ryan 0
Ryan(+2) momentarily dives down but recovers impressively to force Scheelhaase outside, outside, outside. Floyd(+1) beats a Jenkins block to slow him, whereupon Ryan tackles from behind.
O36 3 10 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 4   Martin 7
Okie package gets the Illinois OL to bust (pressure +2, RPS +2). Martin(+0.5) gets a free run. Scheelhaase actually gets a pass off and completes it but it's off and takes the WR off his feet. Demens(+1) was there to tackle if necessary.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 9 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O5 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Heininger 7
Not entirely sure what the problem is here. Both DTs only take single blocks; Martin fights through his to almost kill this in the hole but can't quite. Morgan takes on the FB basically at the LOS and does funnel to the inside but Demens is getting blocked out of the play since the DTs have not absorbed an extra guy between them. I think this is on Heininger(-1) as the playside DT he's not absorbing a double and doesn't even get an arm-tackle attempt. You would like Morgan(-0.5) to get this closer to the LOS and Demens(-0.5) to not get sealed away totally but they both have tough jobs. RB into the secondary, where Kovacs(+3, tackling +2) puts his helmet on the ball and gets Michigan a turnover.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-0, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 PA Hitch Countess Inc
Scheelhaase clearly late on a lot of these by now but Countess(+2, cover +2) is still there for a quality PBU on a pass that could have been intercepted.
O32 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 3 Drag Countess Inc
This may be batted but there's no replay so can't be sure. Demens(-1, cover -1) does get way out of position on another WR's route, dragging well into Morgan's zone. Countess(-1, cover -1) appears to make the same error he did against Iowa, and if Jenkins catches this it's a first down and maybe a bunch more. Jenkins has to delay because the umpire gets in the way; incomplete. Lucky.
O32 3 10 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 4 Sack Ryan -14
Okie set gets Ryan(+1) and Demens(+1) roaring at the QB with one guy to block them (pressure +3, RPS +3); Van Bergen(+1) comes off a block to help sack when Scheelhaase understandably bugs out. QB overwhelmed by three guys on a four man rush == +3.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 3 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Morgan 7
Good time on a four man rush (pressure -1). QB has time to survey and fire to a TE for about nine; Morgan(+0.5, tackling +1) puts him down immediately. Given situation coverage fine.
O28 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Yakety snap -- -14
Derp.
O14 3 17 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Down G Van Bergen 1
RVB(+1) shoots inside a downblock and gets enough penetration to force Ford well upfield; Roh is out there on the bounce but gets shoved past the play. Still, that took a long time. Martin flows down the line and forces Ford behind; Avery(+0.5, tackling +1) makes a nice low tackle that takes Ford to the ground immediately. Fumble is ruled but overturned, which costs Michigan seven important seconds. Irritating.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Pass 4 PA out Kovacs 12
Kovacs(-1) hesitates on the play action and only belatedly shoots out on his zone; with the outside WR going deep Countess has other responsibilities. Out open, easy pitch and catch (cover -1, pressure -1)
O32 1 10 Pistol twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read dive Martin 11
Reading RVB; he stays responsible and the handoff is made. Martin(-1) fights to the wrong side of his block and Heininger(-1) gets penetration too far upfield, so Illinois gets a crease without doubling any DL. This means LBs are getting thumped; Morgan(-1) is the guy on the playside gap and he starts moving to the LOS before actually stalling and taking a step back before being engulfed. RB into the secondary. Demens(-0.5) also caught a block.
O43 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 over Run N/A Down G Campbell 2
QB checks into an ace from the same pistol set they just ran. Campbell(+1) takes the guy downblocking him and ends up driving him into the backfield, forcing Pollard away from blocking; the playside G is pulling around outside but Pollard isn't going out there. Live I thought this was a missed cut; on tape it's clear this would be a ++ move from the back to cut up and then immediately back out. So Morgan(+2, tackling +2) gets credit for powering through his blocker and decleating Pollard.
O45 2 8 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Kovacs -4
Ryan(+2) reads the option action and tears ass for the QB, leveling him just as he pitches. FB makes a mistake, peeling back on Ryan in a hopeless chase, and this opens up Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) to do the thing he does by taking a good angle at speed; Pollard cuts inside and gets TFLed. Martin(+1) had blown through blocking and was there to help if necessary, which is crazy impressive.
O41 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Sack Van Bergen -12
RVB(+2) splits two blockers confused by the okie package; Clark(+1) gets a good drive on a tight end to prevent any lane to move upfield, and Ryan jumps on the QB's back for very large sack. This was a six-man protection on which the QB had zero chance to even look at read one. Pressure +3, RPS +3.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 12 min 3rd Q. Riley O'Toole gets the next Illinois drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 over Pass 6 PA TE Flat Morgan 7
Roh ends up free on the edge and gets some decent pressure; this means a TE has released behind him and O'Toole hits him for a decent gain; Morgan(+0.5) reads it pretty well and escorts the guy OOB to prevent a significant one.
O32 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 RB flat Martin Inc
Martin(+2, pressure +2) beats two blockers and roars up the middle of the pocket, forcing a terrible throw Floyd(+1, cover +1) is in a better spot to catch than the RB flaring out.
O32 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide tight Nickel even Pass 4 Quick out Floyd Inc
Quick throw does not allow time for pressure; Floyd(+1, cover +1) is there with a play on a well thrown ball (but not a great one); Toole's ball is too far outside and not caught.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Martin 12 (Pen-10)
Roh(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) pressure(+1) Scheelhaase, forcing a scramble up into the pocket that picks up some yards but probably would have been a sack but for Martin(+1 again) drawing a holding call. Demens(-1) gave up the outside here and turned this from a few into a hypothetical first down.
O15 1 20 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Martin 8
Here Martin(-1) gets shoved out his lane without actually getting to the QB; Black(-0.5) gets shoved way upfield, albeit by a double (pressure -1); Scheelhaase can find no one (cover +1) and runs for a good gain. This time Demens is blocked out of the play.
O23 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Dime even Run N/A Zone read dive Jones 5
Mike Jones lined up as the NT. Yeah, I know. Roh the DT. Yeah. Daring Illinois to run; they run. Jones(+1) actually drives the center back(!), forcing a cutback into Roh(+1), who slanted inside and gets a tackle attempt. He's getting blocked and the attempt is run through; it gives Michigan time to rally to the ball and hold the play down. RPS -1? I don't even know. I guess not.
O28 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Scramble Ryan 7
Scheelhaase looking for an out Avery(+1, cover +1) has covered well enough to dissuade; Countess the other guy over there on the deeper route. Zone blitz is coming through now to the outside with Demens(+1) beating a block; Ryan(-1, pressure -1) is out of his lane and allows Scheelhaase to run straight upfield. Martin and Morgan are there to catch him after about five but the pile manages to surge forward just over the line. Impressive power by Scheelhaase.
O35 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Fly Floyd Inc
Plenty of time (pressure -1); Illinos goes four verts and everyone is covered(+3); Floyd(+1) is step for step with Jenkins and would have a play on the ball if it was accurate. It's not.
O35 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Out Avery 14
Plenty of time (pressure -2) without Martin in the game; Avery(+0.5) is actually in pretty good coverage here, forcing a throw high and to the sideline that is executed. Made it tough.
O49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Back shoulder fade Floyd Inc
Too much time (pressure -1), though the pocket isn't as clean on this outing. Floyd is in press and they test him deep; he is step for step. He can't quite adjust to the back-shoulder fade but this is still a +1, cover +1 because it required a DO and tough catch to complete. This is basically unstoppable if you can execute it. Illinois thinks they do but on replay it turns out they do not—Jenkins juggled it.
O49 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 6 Slant Floyd Inc (Pen+8)
Michigan sends six and is getting there but not in time to prevent a throw here. Floyd(-1, cover -1) picks up a legit PI call for arriving too early but I don't mind this. Much better than arriving late and you don't always get this call on you.
M43 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 6 TE out Morgan 11
Late blitz from a very deep Kovacs; Morgan(-1) gets a chuck on a dragging WR but does let him past into open space since this is raw man coverage. Scheelhaase hits the guy and he can turn up for some YAC. Pressure -1, cover -1. Morgan does make a good tackle(+1).
M32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Martin 0
Kovacs rolled up for a seventh guy in the box. Martin(+1) surges through the line and forces it outside. Roh(+0.5) forces it further outside by getting inside and diving at Ford's legs; Kovacs(+0.5) is out there containing. Ford turns it up directly into a scraping, tackling(+1) Demens.
M32 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack? Pass 7 Slant Avery Inc
This is kind of stack-y but not really with two pass-rush aligned DEs, three guys in man on the WRs, and both overhang safety types to the same side of the field. M sends every damn body. QB is about to eat Kovacs(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5, pressure +2) as he chucks. He's got a WR on a slant in front of Avery(+1, cover +1), who's tackling on the catch and making life difficult. He may rake the ball out. We can only say may because the WR runs into another Illini WR and goes down as if he'd taken a shot from Reggie Nelson.
M32 3 10 Shotgun empty 3-2-6 dime Pass 5 Tunnel screen Morgan 19
Michigan gets RPSed here with five guys blitzing and no one thinking to peel back. Line is Campbell, Demens, and Roh... so... yeah. Morgan(-1, cover -1) doesn't read the WR screen quickly at all and gets easily blocked; Floyd(-1) is getting blocked but shouldn't let the WR outside like he does. Big gain. RPS -2.
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Clark 13
Clark(-3) forms up, then decides Ford has the ball after Scheelhaase pulls it. This opens up the corner; DBs are in man and not in any position to help. Woolfolk(-1) may be able to tackle before the endzone but pulls up gimpy and can't make it.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 17-7, EO3Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Comeback Floyd Inc
Scheelhaase has this open for a first down and just misses it. Floyd(-1, cover -1) beaten. Pressure was getting there.
O38 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Penalty -- Offsides Martin 5
Martin -1.
O43 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Martin 3
Martin(+2) drives his guy so far into the backfield that he impacts the runner three yards behind the LOS; this delay allows Black(+0.5) to flow down and tackle after keeping contain on Scheelhaase. Wish the LBs did a little more here.
O46 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Black 8
Black(-3) does the same thing Clark did on the last play, diving down on the back after the mesh point. Juice Williams ninja ballfake reprise.
M46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Morgan 2
Belly play where the backside DT is getting doubled off the ball. RVB(+0.5) does an okay job holding up; Demens(+0.5) and Morgan(+0.5) react quickly enough to remove creases. Martin(+0.5) flows down the line to tackle after his second blocker releases into Morgan.
M44 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Roh 4
DT stunt gets Martin(+0.5) in thanks to RVB(+0.5) threatening to dart past the G. Roh(+1) beats the tackle straight up and Scheelhaase is about to get destroyed(pressure+2) and has to let it go. He's got a quick drag from his TE that Demens(+1, cover +1) is there for an instant tackle on.
M40 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 5 Hitch Floyd INT
Kovacs late blitz; he is moving right into Scheelhaase's face as he throws but may get blocked. Pressure push. Floyd(+4, cover +3) is breaking on the ball as the WR cuts his route off and picks the ball off; he is one avoided Scheelhaase tackle from a pick six. Monster play.
Drive Notes: Interception, 17-7, 10 min 4th Q. M scores and Illinois gets it back with 10 minutes left down three scores, which informs Michigan's defensive style. I'll keep it in mind as I chart Comeback Ishtar.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass 4 Waggle scramble Roh 9
Roh(+0.5) cuts off the corner but gets pushed past the play. QB can't find anyone (cover +1) as he rolls up and scrambles; Demens(-0.5) is not reacting very well and ends up running into a guy trying to block Martin as Scheelhaase cuts behind. RVB tackles from behind.
O29 2 1 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Pass 4 Improv comeback Heininger 12
Heininger(+1, pressure +1) beats an OT around the corner(!) and is held; no call. This does flush Scheelhaase up; Ryan tries to disconnect from his guy and is held as well, so Scheelhaase can fire to a Jenkins comeback for the first. Instant tackle. Cover -1. Refs -2.
O41 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read keeper Morgan 3
Morgan is over the slot; w/ Roh tucked inside the TE there basically is no backside DE. Scheelhaase pulls as Morgan(+1) comes down on the run. Morgan jukes the TE coming out on him, sliding past the block and forcing the QB to cut up into Demens(+1, tackling +1), who puts him on the turf in space.
O44 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Floyd 6
Illinois lets 27 seconds run off the clock after the play. RT falls; Roh gets a free run. Martin(+1) and RVB(+1) have again stunted and get in Scheelhaase's face (pressure +2). He has to throw hot. That's to the RB leaking out of the backfield. He catches it; Floyd(+0.5) and Morgan tackle(+1) the guy short of the sticks in bounds.
50 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Campbell 0
Cambpell(+3) in at the nose. He drives the center back and does not give ground when the FB impacts the block. RB cuts back and he sheds, making impact in the backfield. Heininger(+2) beats a blocker as well and is there to help; Roh(+0.5) is getting his body in the way as well. Dang third and one. Dang Campbell.
50 4 1 Goal line 4-4 under Run N/A Down G Demens 1
Roh gets sent inside by the TE as M's interior line prepares for something in there; Illinois is going outside the tackle. Not a big problem and he does have awareness to spin back outside. Beyer(+0.5) takes on a kickout block in a pretty good place; Morgan(+1) gets the pulling G at the LOS and forces it back inside. Demens(+0.5) scrapes over and makes contact with Ford in the hole but can't get square to him and Ford just manages to fall forward. Even when they make it it's not easy.
M49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Floyd 1
Happy feet; no immediate pressure for the line but Scheelhaase goes to the RB dumppoff; Floyd(+1, tackling +1, cover +1) is there on the catch to tackle in bounds for a meh gain.
M48 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Throwaway Kovacs Inc
Scheelhaase fires OOB; seems he didn't have an immediately open guy and I think he does not trust his OL to go to the next read. Kovacs(+1, cover +1) over the top as this s again Floyd vs Jenkins. Another cover +1 for good stuff everywhere else.
M48 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Improv comeback Martin 12
Martin(-1) gets a free run but for the peeling back, who chops him to the ground. This lets Scheelhaase outside the pocket, where he can wait and zip it to Jenkins in a lot of space (cover -1, pressure -2).
M36 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dig Gordon Inc
Backups on the DL give Scheelhaase a lot of time (pressure -2); he steps into a deep in to his tight end that Gordon(+2, cover +2) breaks on and nails on the catch. I think this is complete but it's ruled to not be so; in any case this is a safety making life as hard as possible for a WR.
M36 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Improv comeback Van Bergen Inc
Okie business gets RVB(+1, pressure/RPS +1) through the line, whereupon he jerks back as if held; no call. Scheelhaase has to scramble and gets the corner; Roh is coming hard and he has to throw. It's back across his body to Jenkins with Floyd coming hard but not quite there to make a play; ball is too far out in front and eventually dropped. Floyd cramps up and has to come off briefly.
M36 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Roh -16
Four man rush annihilates, with Roh(+2, pressure +4) roaring around the corner as Clark(+2) does the same and a stunt gets RVB(+1) up the middle; with nowhere to go Scheelhaase tries to back out and is engulfed.
O48 4 26 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Post Clark? 32
Scheelhaase has time and steps through the line, which is bad because it makes this into fourth and 16 instead of fourth and 26 (pressure -3). RVB(-2) and Clark(-2) get way outside. Martin does too but he is stunting and supposed to. Would like Mattison to have a guy close to the LOS on a delayed blitz to prevent this; no dice. Scheelhaase steps up and rifles it to Jenkins in front of Kovacs(cover -2); this is really all about letting Scheelhaase through the line and not pressuring him at all.
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 TE Drag Demens 5
Michigan in man so this is a tough cover with a sort of pick route taking Demens a little off an ideal path. He still gets in position to force this OOB after an okay gain. Cover push, Demens +0.5.
M15 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Morgan? 11
Scheelhaase keeps and sees Clark has kept contain this time; he screwed up. So he just runs the RB's play. This works so well I think M should put it in the playbook. Michigan defends the RB fantastically but this pulls RVB out of the middle of the field as he tackles his assignment. Morgan(-1) takes on a block and doesn't shed it; he's really the only guy with a shot at holding this down and can't do it. Scheelhaase into the secondary, where Kovacs forces him into a good tackle from Countess(+0.5, tackling +1). RPS -1?
M4 1 G Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive N/A 3
Going backside and with no scrape it is really hard to hold this down without giving up contain on the QB. Clark keeps contain and then comes down, making a good play to tackle as the guy passes the LOS but this can't prevent him from picking up three. I won't RPS this but I kind of want to.
M1 2 G Ace 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A QB sneak Martin 1
They don't get it. RVB(+1) and Martin(+1) are basically the whole play. Illinois does get a yard, but they needed slightly more than one.
M1 3 G Goal line Goal line Run N/A Iso N/A 1
They get it.
Drive Notes: Pyrrhic touchdown, 24-14, 3 min 4th Q. Oh, all right, I'll do the last one because it's fun.
Ln Dn Ds O Form DForm Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Van Bergen -8
M stunt gets Martin(+1) and RVB(+2) through (pressure +3) and RVB gets there first. Two guys block air and one tries to block Martin.
O12 2 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 TE out Roh Inc
Roh(+1, pressure +1) gets driving pressure that forces Scheelhaase out of the pocket; Scheelhaase has a TE breaking open but has to float it because underneath coverage(+1) is there and overshoots.
O12 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Scramble Martin 1
Avery comes from the corner; Martin(+1, pressure +1) shoves a tackle into him and then bursts upfield. Scheelhaase can scramble out because of some dudes falling and stuff, but cannot find anyone open(cover +1); Avery comes back to tackle. Would be a sack but the guy manages to fall over the line.
Drive Notes: Punt. 31-14, EOG

So who do we pick up next?

What?

We have Woodson. Now we need to go back to medieval Europe or ancient Greece to pick up babes and/or Socrates.

Wouldn't it be better to go get other people who can play football?

Do we need any?

I…

I don't know. I just don't know what to do with myself when there's a three play series on which:

  1. Morgan decleats the RB in such a way as to get Craig James hootin'.
  2. Ryan decleats the QB on a speed option in such a way as to get the stadium going "ohhhhhhhh I hope he's not dead."
  3. Later on that same play Kovacs makes a textbook tackle in space.
  4. Ryan Van Bergen roars up the middle of the pocket and jumps on Scheelhaase's back like he expects to round up cattle on the sideline.

It almost can't be real. By the time the punter hit the field I was afraid I would wake up to someone rubbing a beaver in my face.

kenny-demens-beaver

No… no… NONONONO… It was all a dream… no… no… I want to go back

So we're totally getting ahead of ourselves, right?

We have to be. I mean, last week's performance was exactly acceptable and we were happy with this. We are not the '86 Bears. We must not get hopes up. Illinois couldn't score on Purdue until there were 10 minutes left.

Hopes are totally up.

I can neither confirm nor deny that statement. I can only point you towards the most insane, ridiculous, beaver-pelt-laden congregation of numbers I may have purveyed in the history of doing this. I present

DOOMCHART

Doomchart.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 14.5 2 12.5 To be fair, two points in garbage time. HAHAHAHA
Martin 19 3 16 HAHAHAHAHAHA
Roh 9 - 9 Oh… oh wow.
Heininger 5 2 3 Didn't get in on the sack explosion largely because he's lifted in the nickel.
Clark 3 3 0 Zone read WTF was kind of magnificent. More later.
Black 1 3.5 -2.5 Other guy to WTF a zone read.
Campbell 4 - 4 Time to get excited about him again until next week.
TOTAL 55.5 13.5 42 That is nuts.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 5.5 4.5 1 Step forward from last week; still freshman.
Demens 7.5 3.5 4 Second consecutive solid game. Pretty good in coverage.
Ryan 6.5 3.5 3 Showed the guys above how to do it on the zone read.
Fitzgerald - - - DNP
Beyer 0.5 - 0.5 Few plays.
Hawthorne - - - DNP.
Jones 1 - 1 Charts as a DT. HAHAAHAH
TOTAL 21 12.5 8.5 I'll take it from two freshmen and a junior.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 14.5 3 11.5 You think the DL is nuts, Floyd thinks. I'll show you nuts.
Avery 3 - 3 Good day. Quality option as a third guy.
Woolfolk 2.5 1 1.5 Floyd made him not entirely necessary. May still be hurt.
Kovacs 7 1 6 Forced fumble, good tackling, is Kovacs.
T. Gordon 2.5 - 2.5 Thumping hit forced technical incompletion.
Countess 3 2 1 Also had a jumped Jenkins PBU.
Van Slyke - - - DNP
TOTAL 32.5 7 25.5 NUTS
Metrics
Pressure 31 18 13 Stunts and okie annihilated OL.
Coverage 30 12 18 HAHAHAHA.
Tackling 13 2 87% I can't even remember a broken tackle.
RPS 11 3 8 Annihilation.

So… yeah. There is something seriously wrong with the Illinois offense. There has to be, because you can't do the above without the offense helping you out quite a bit. I think Scheelhaase is perpetually late on his throws, and that they're tipping their passes, and that their offensive line is a total sieve. All that makes their offense really, really bad.

Even so… good gravy. Michigan had two DL at Brandon Graham levels of performance and a third not far off. I can't remember any cornerback ever hitting double digits before, and I can't remember a near 75% coverage day. I'm usually happy when coverage is a push. On Saturday, this is what they did to four verts:

four-verts-2

There's a dude behind the one slot guy that you think might be open. He is not open. No one is open.

That is easily the best performance since 2006.

JT FLOYD?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!???!?!!??

Word. Guy may not be the fastest player in the world but has he been beaten deep once this year? Not really. Michael Floyd got a 30-yard fade on him but even on that play he was there making life difficult and I +1ed him. He's had problems in run support… okay. He just spent a day breaking up a ton of short stuff, never getting threatened deep…

…and putting the cherry on top:

Even when Jenkins did get something on him it was often tough:

That guy is right on the sideline, which contributes to the overturn when he juggles it. If that's what Floyd's giving up, okay. I'll take that and a PI on which you broke for the ball too early.

These posts have started off cautious, moved towards "I know you won't believe this but…," and are now at a crossroads. People: JT Floyd is a legitimately good Big Ten corner. If he maintains this level of performance the last two weeks he should get consideration for All Big Ten.

TONY GIBSON MINUS ALL OF THE POINTS

Minus all of the points.

Are we at Alan MFin' Branch levels on third and one yet or what?

Not quite, but sort of yes. Alan MFin' Branch levels:

You can see 6'6", 330 of angry New Mexican hauling the tail end of that graph down like a black hole in spacetime. That's Alan Branch. 33 percent! On third and one! Six of eighteen! SIX OF EIGHTEEN!

!!!

Seth did the legwork for this year on Tuesday and came up with 44%, which isn't quite Michigan 2006. It is, however, insanely good. What's more, when he chopped out the MAC opponents from this year the numbers were six of… nineteen.

image

If you look at a third and one as an opportunity to boot the opponent off the field Michigan is literally doubling an average success rate and doing better than that against the meat of the schedule. The entire front seven shares in this accomplishment, as does Mattison, but IME the main guy in this success is Mike Martin.

The guy is the center of most of these plays. He gets doubled and he still gets penetration; the tailback cuts back and meets unblocked dudes.

I mean… we're talking about comparing this defense to 2006—the very best part of the 2006 defense—and saying "not quite as good except against real competition." My jaw has made it halfway to the Orb of Zot. Big Ten Wonk has authorized use of the word "stunned." THIS IS SURPRISING.

Remember last year when sometimes we'd line up with a three man line on third and one? And not even blitz anyone? HAHAHAHA

Aren't you a little harsh on those zone reads that got outside?

No. I mean, seriously:

clark-er-2

This is cool. We've got this.

clark-er-3

GUH?

clark-er-4

Duh.

That's a nothing play—maybe a loss—turned into a touchdown because Clark's not looking at the ball, which is literally right in front of his face. This is how it is done:

Run at the guy with the ball.

That okie package was lethal, wasn't it?

Check BWS for a breakdown of the different blitzes run from it. Chris identified six, seemingly all of which ended with Scheelhaase running for his life or losing it. Por ejemplo:

Now that Michigan is keeping a deep safety on these things and not offering free touchdowns—Mattison learned that lesson in one try—they are increasingly difficult to deal with as new players and stunts get added to them. It's almost like Scot Shafer was on to something.

This is the week we get excited about Campbell again, isn't it?

Yeah. Check that Morgan decleater and see who forces the cutback into death: Campbell. On a late third and one that Michigan stuffed it was Campbell, not Martin, who blew the play up:

Get push, take on a fullback, shed and tackle… that's a good play right there. Illinois OL caveats apply; we'll probably be back to fretting next week.

What went wrong on the fourth down play?

The main problem was the fact that it turned into fourth and 18, not fourth and 26, when the line split like the Red Sea and allowed Scheelhaase to run up in the pocket:

With another ten yards to close the distance Kovacs probably gets there. I'd like to see a delayed blitzer in there to prevent that from happening.

Have any random notes for Borges he will roll his eyes at?

This botched decision by Scheelhaase worked out well:

Man, I think we should do that. We should run a fake inside zone that Robinson ostentatiously keeps on with the intent of pausing and then running up in the same hole the tailback is hitting. The ol' fake inside the fake.

Heroes?

Everybody. Especially Martin, Van Bergen, and Floyd.

Goats?

WTF, get out of here with your goats.

What does it mean for Nebraska and the future?

I think we're in for a bit of a letdown; Nebraska's wacky option system does a lot of stuff that Michigan has not seen before—last week they turned the inverted veer into a speed option and I was like "oh that is so cool"—that attacks Michigan's still-youthful edges. I can see Nebraska effectively attacking the outside and making the Martin/Heininger/RVB axis a smaller factor than it's been the past couple games. Also that just can't happen again. My heart has already burst out of its little box; if Michigan holds Nebraska to 30 yards rushing it will emerge from my chest.

That said, it's suddenly hard to envision Nebraska having much success in the air even if Taylor Martinez is on a relative tear. They'll probably pick some stuff up on play action and the like, but Nebraska's had a hard time moving the ball against… quality defenses… like Michigan has. /faints

Anyway: 270 yards against MSU and victory only because they did to the MSU offense what Michigan did to that of Illinois, 331 against Penn State, 335 against Wisconsin. They did put up some points and yards in the frenetic final quarter against OSU; other than that it has been tough sledding.

As for the future… man. Woolfolk and Gordon seem like a push, so if Michigan can find some defensive linemen they are set for next year. Come on, Campbell.

Down By The Old Mill Stream

Down By The Old Mill Stream

Submitted by Brian on November 14th, 2011 at 12:00 PM

11/12/2011 – Michigan 31, Illinois 14 – 8-2, 4-2 Big Ten

ih40[1]

IlliniHQ.com

In a distant place a long time ago they played a football game in a dark and remote land. The opposing team's coach was a confused person who thought he had a pretty good team. Michigan scored a couple touchdowns but couldn't put the game away; at some point during the second half the confused coach's confused offense finally put together a touchdown drive to narrow the game, and I felt… irritated. Annoyed. Peeved.

This was a strange feeling to have about a suddenly close football game Michigan should have put away already, because every damn game Michigan lost against teams not named Ohio State could be described as "a suddenly close football game Michigan should have put away already." Despite this I was not casting about for pearls to clutch or pre-perforating my garments for easy rending when the time came. I was worried about the stats. This was odd.

What followed:

Then: near interception, four-yard out, incomplete, incomplete, ballgame. Instead of a roar there was but a flat, damp squeak as Michigan landed the final clubbing blows and emerged from the lion's den with a rug in tow. There are no arguments about this game. No two seconds, no questionable heels or holding calls or other fantasies about if this or that. There is no "if". Michigan has still not been threatened this year. No opponent has moved the ball except when fortunate or permitted to. Its dominance is unquestioned by the foes it leaves battered in its wake. Sometimes -- and I know this is hard to believe -- seven points is a very large lead indeed.

Yeah, that game.

Flattened[1]

Of all the magical things that Greg Mattison has done since arriving in Ann Arbor for a second tour of duty, making me think about the 2006 Michigan defense a year after… that is hard to top.

2006 happened a century ago. I looked it up. The top songs were "I Want A Girl (Just Like The Girl Who Married Dear Old Dad)" and "Down By The Old Mill Stream." Long-distance communication was conducted by banging rocks together and hoping to startle a pigeon in a way that communicated "happy birthday" instead of "everyone is dead of typhoid again lol." Football games were played between competing sawmills and textile factories; a strict limit of two cattle per offensive line was still controversial. People in Alabama were accused of over-bovining. Craggy men who remembered the invention of writing like Joe Paterno, Jim Tressel, and Lloyd Carr roamed the sidelines. People did not reflexively talk about real good times.

2006 was a long time ago. The ten-volume history of the intervening century is a narrative of relentless, soul-crushing decline on defense.

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

This summer the UM Club of Greater Detroit invited me to their kickoff dinner. There I sat on a roundtable with Greg Dooley of MVictors and Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News as various guys with nametags peppered us with questions.

These things always have a pattern: I start out nervous because I'm just this guy, really, and there's a chance someone asks "why should we listen to you?" Since my response is necessarily "I have this blog… it's on the internet!" it's not a question I look forward to. These concerns are a little more pressing when the room is full of people who look like they still get newspapers home-delivered.

But the questions remain hypothetical because I start talking about these things and it turns out that doing what I do on a weekly basis fills your head with esoteric knowledge about all things. Denard Robinson was 84th of 100 qualifying quarterbacks last year in interception percentage. That sort of thing is just in my head, ready to  be dispensed. After my head pops open and I start depositing THE KNOWLEDGE like the world's least appetizing Pez dispenser, there is a groove of confidence.

I mention it because there was one question from an elderly gentleman with a pleading edge I still remember. It was about the defense and why anyone would think it would get better. I was already on the record that this was an eight or nine win team; Dooley and Chengelis were pessimists. They cocked their heads and passed the mic.

I said that if you had only watched every play from the last three years over and over you would know. You would not know but feel the mass incoherence, the week-to-week changes, the insane personnel decisions (Demens, Roh as a LB, moving Woolfolk to corner in 2009, Cam Gordon as FS). That if you felt this thing having a guy the Ravens had coordinating their defense could only result in instant, massive improvement. At the very least they would have a plan*.

Though I believed it, as I was saying it it seemed like a reckless thing to tell people. If…that, or anything like it, happens again people will remember someone told them it was going to be all right, and then it wasn't. I hoped I wasn't telling them about the rabbits.

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

This was the point last year where everyone wrote off JT Floyd. It was the logical thing to do.

death6.2[1]

Twelve months later Floyd is holding AJ Jenkins to five yards a target and jumping a short route for a shoulda-been pick six for the first time since… God. A century ago. Time is working funny again. Greg Mattison has a phonebooth time machine he sent the secondary back to Charles Woodson's childhood in; they have emerged with ZZ Top beards, children, and skills.

This is a foundation for the future. Wrapping this motley crew of walk-ons, freshmen, people who were totally incompetent last year, Mike Martin, and Ryan Van Bergen into a top 20 defense is a QED achievement no matter the quality of the opposition. The level of coaching required to go from that to this is a constant Michigan can build its program on.

Last year the quality of the opposition didn't matter. Matt McGloin had the above to throw at, and he did. This year Michigan has been average at worst after Mattison figured out he didn't have Ed Reed. Some days they stroll off the field and if you squint you can just convince yourself the last century never happened. You can envision a future where Michigan isn't wondering about its place in the world.

----------

*[Then I told everybody that Denard Robinson's turnover rate would drop like a stone. One out of two isn't bad. ]

Media

There's also the Illinois POV. In their world Illinois wins 14-0 in a thrilling game lasting exactly 1:30. Parkinggod highlights miss the first drive thanks to ESPN sticking with the PSU press conference, but prove that Michigan's everything-is-wonderful POV still goes ten minutes.

Meanwhile, Desmond Morgan is fabulous.

AeGiwpWCEAARHHL[1]

via the Daily's Marissa McClain and a mysterious man named Adam Glanzman

Melanie Maxwell has the usual photogallery at AnnArbor.com as well. DetNews gallery.

Bullets

Borgeswatch. 95% thumbs up. As it transpired I was frustrated with the lack of play-action after Illinois started selling out on the run game, but I forgot about the wind. I much prefer that to being reminded about it every 40 seconds like we were against Michigan State. I wonder if Scheehaase's propensity to wing it wide on Jenkins out cuts was due to the wind. While he's not the most accurate guy in the world he seemed particularly off Saturday.

It may have taken two harsh wakeup calls but at least Borges got the message. Run/pass breakdowns in the three windtastic road games against teams with secondaries:

  • MSU: 39 passes, 28 runs
  • Iowa: 21 passes, 28 runs*
  • Illinois: 16 passes, 47 runs

The Gardner package also went away after its momentum-killing outing last week.

A large chunk of getting that play distribution was getting the running game to work. I don't know all of how or why that happened yet, but giving Toussaint the ball 27 times instead of two is part of it; using enough outside runs to get creases on the inside zone is part of it; making Denard a threat is part of it.

While Denard only managed 3.5 YPC on his 11 attempts it's hard to imagine what turned the #15 rush defense** into Swiss cheese if it wasn't Illinois paying too much attention to 16. This was clear on the first drive of the game. Watch the free safety who would be tackling Toussaint after ten yards but for one Denard Robinson:

By the time that dude realizes Denard does not have the ball Toussaint is gone. A similar screwup does not happen if Michigan is operating from under center.

Since I'm usually at games I'm not often able to participate in the internet zeitgeist to the extent I was the past couple weeks. Last week I was in line with everyone being real mad. This week I was surprised by the amount of heat Borges was taking for stuff that wasn't his fault at all. When Denard fumbles and Michigan misses a field goal or Huyge gets destroyed by Mercilus and Denard doesn't see the guy coming right at him, that's not on the OC. The reasons Michigan didn't score touchdowns in this game seemed to be out of Borges's hands.

*[Not counting the final three drives. I did move the two sacks, the fumble, and one Gardner scramble. I made similar adjustment to the other two games; they may be off by one or two but you get the idea.]

**[15-ish. Illinois's sacks distort that. Still a very good unit.]

Fourth and one. The 5% thumbs down, very down, was the fourth and one from the Illinois one yard line. If you're not willing to throw it when you spread them out and they don't spread out…

image

…I don't think you can do the wacky thing. Those guys to the top of the screen are late arriving and have no idea what they're doing. If you're going to swinging-gate them like this you've got to be able to take advantage of what they give you.

That fourth and one continues a couple trends: speed option and Borges getting cute. I wouldn't have minded it if they had lined up in one of those massive Tebow sets and tried something like this, but going without so much as a tight end in this spot is asking for trouble. The snap didn't help but I don't think it mattered much.

The immediate aftermath. Hoke calmly pointed his defense onto the field:

image

"Meat. Thataway."

You are experiencing an unusually calm sensation. Which reminds me:

brady-hoke-epic-double-pointEPIC HOKE DOUBLE POINT OF THE WEEK. I'm terribly sorry that I inaugurated this thing and then immediately forgot about it. It returns this week because of one man being so ridiculous I thought I should have some sort of special award… oh wait I do.

Your Illinois winner: JT Floyd. AJ Jenkins may have gotten his requisite eight catches for 100 yards but Scheelhaase had to work for it. At one point they showed some Jenkins stats and noted that he had five catches… and fourteen targets. According to Adam Jacobi he ended with eight on 20. That's 5 YPA throwing to a guy who may be the best WR in the Big Ten.

Even that undersells Floyd's day. The deep ball that took Jenkins's stats from mediocre to decent was zone coverage in the middle of the field Floyd was not directly responsible for (and it came after Scheelhaase was given all day). When involved Floyd was all over double moves and jumped a third and short pass for the interception that sealed the game with a little help from Gardner and Odoms.

Even Magnus thought he was "okay for once." WHAT MORE CAN ONE MAN DO?

Honorable mentions go to Al Borges (for his gameplan and getting in on the pointing his ownself), David Molk, and Fitzgerald Toussaint.

RETROACTIVE EPIC HOKE DOUBLE POINTS.

  • Michigan State: Ryan Van Bergen, for being the only person to have a good day. HM: None.
  • Purdue: Fitzgerald Toussaint, for making the tailback spot a plus for the first time in forever. HM: Mike Martin.
  • Iowa: Mike Martin, for being GET IN THE CAR Mike Martin. HM: David Molk.

EPIC DOUBLE POINT STANDINGS.

2: Denard Robinson (Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan), Brady Hoke (San Diego State, Northwestern)
1: Jordan Kovacs (Western Michigan), David Molk (Minnesota), Ryan Van Bergen (MSU), Fitzgerald Toussaint (Purdue), Mike Martin (Iowa), JT Floyd(Illinois).

Weekly bubble bitchin'. Only Ron Zook could send his team out with two deep safeties and three guys tight over WRs against a team that hasn't run a bubble all year:

That's nuts. That's one reason you have that play in the playbook. If they take it away by alignment they've opened something else up. Usually not by putting five guys in the box—that's a Zook special.

What I really meant by posting "We Are ND" after Hoke hiring. I meant that we'd ride a soft schedule to an iffy BCS berth and get our faces crushed. If Michigan wins out—obviously a big if—that could happen. A 10-2 Michigan team will be second in the Big Ten pecking order since everyone other than the champ will have three losses.

Michigan will then be in competition with…

  1. Boise/Houston. Houston's 11th in the BCS standings and will get an autobid if they remain in the top 12.  Boise's actually a spot in front of the Cougars still. One or the other will get a bid. All they have to do is finish in the top 16 since the Big East winner is going to be below them.
  2. Alabama/LSU/Arkansas. The SEC will get a second bid.
  3. Stanford/Oregon. If those two win out Stanford will probably get a bid.
  4. ACC runner-up: a two-loss Clemson or Virginia Tech.
  5. Oklahoma or Oklahoma State.

Michigan's a lock to beat out a team coming off an ACC championship loss, but one-loss versions of Stanford or Oklahoma State would be tough—Jerry Palm has an all-at-large matchup of those two teams right now. If OU loses Bedlam that would also be tight.

Not making it would be just as well. I'd be happy playing Georgia in one of the infinite Big Ten/SEC matchups. I like nine wins and I cannot lie.

Special teams: actually a positive. FEI's not the only advanced stat rankings system purveyed by Football Outsiders; there's also one called F+. Last week F+ integrated special teams data for the first time; Michigan dropped from 17th to 25th. The special teams… eh… not so good.

This week they were. Matt Wile put five kickoffs in the endzone, Jeremy Gallon averaged 15 yards on four actual punt returns, and the missed field goal was off by about a foot. The only downer is Will Hagerup's persistent mediocrity. He averaged under 35 yards a kick and Michigan is now 112th in net punting. Even if you exclude all the coffin corner stuff from the MSU game he's averaging just 37.7 yards a kick. Wile was doing significantly better during Hagerup's suspension.

Unfortunately, it's likely Gallon's momentary renaissance and the Wile bombing are effects of the opponent and the wind. Illinois's punting is also in the triple digits. 

Derp du jour. Seeing some revival of the "we can't run Denard because he won't last through the season" meme, which… like… guh. He's missed a series last week and the last quarter and a half this week because he banged his hand on a pass-rusher's helmet. Twice. The first time he was back in after a series. The second time he could have come back in if necessary. Cancel the spread offense.

Denard's lasted through the bulk of the Big Ten season and with Nebraska and Ohio State left on the schedule, restricting his carries in case he gets hurt is nuts. What are you saving him for?

BONUS: Devin Gardner did two things and Michigan's offense went from racking up yards (and shooting itself in the foot) to not doing the former (and getting short fields). There is no QB controversy. If Michigan makes a 39 yard field goal and Borges doesn't get too cute on the goal line it's 24-0 at halftime and we aren't having this conversation.

Ace got so incensed at various people proclaiming a Gardner revival he broke down the YPP for each quarterback. Denard: 6.2. Devin: 5.4. Devin without the two garbage time Toussaint runs: 3.6.

Let's stop talking about this.

A permanent feature. Hoke on his decision to go from the one:

Michigan reached the Illinois 1-yard line in the second quarter and went for it on fourth down. Robinson lost 4 yards on the play.

Hoke was asked if going for it in that situation will be the norm. "Pretty much," he said. "And the defense bailed me out."

Woot.

Desmond Morgan decleater. Don't hate me but I thought that was a missed cut by the RB, who had a lane outside the block. /ducks

Here

dnak puts the defensive performance in a graph (graph):

defense_2003-2011[1]

Left axis is as a percentage of historical worst—ie, last year. That's right: Michigan's scoring defense is brushing up against '06.

Inside the Box Score on Martin going uber:

Mike Martin lead us with 9 tackles. That’s right, an interior defensive lineman lead us with NINE tackles. I’m going to miss that guy. He also got half a sack and 2 QHs. Roh also had 2 QHs. We were QH’ing Scheelhaase all game long.

That's three straight games he's crushed the opponent. Moving towards what we all thought he'd be this year. Too bad it will be tough to crack the All Big Ten team with Short, Still, and Worthy also tearing up offensive lines.

Hoke for Tomorrow brings yet another reason to laugh at Ron Zook:

Ron Zook is a bad coach, this is known.  It is remarkable how bad he is though, when looking at his record after bye weeks.  Over the past 4 seasons (2008-2011) Illinois has had 6(!) bye weeks, with two in both 2009 and 2010.  Their record following these bye weeks?  0-6:

2008: Lost to Penn St 38-24

2009: Lost to OSU 30-0, Lost to Cincinnati 49-36

2010: Lost to OSU 24-13, Lost to Fresno St 25-23

2011: Lost to Michigan (woot!)  31-14

That is epic fail.  Ron Zook should be fired.

Bye weeks aren't actually helpful, but come on.

CollegeFootball13 throws together some stats; he's too generous to the special teams (C+) but just look at that shiny justified A- next to the defense. Commenter Vasav brings up the year-to-year FEI:

2010:: Total: 8, Scoring: 25, FEI: 2

2011:: Total: 40, Scoring: 37, FEI: 17

Our youthful inexperience has been replaced by transitional inexperience - so we still are inconsistent and turnover-ridden.

The FEI is most indicative I think - we went from an O with the potential to be great (if we had any kind of ST and D) to one that is just very good. I think after Borges was hired, this is sort of where we expected to be offensively - a step back, but not disastrously.

Defense

2010:: Total: 110, Scoring: 107, FEI: 108

2011:: Total: 16, Scoring: 5, FEI: 17

Mattison == Awesome. Last year, I said that I thought our D played worse than the personnel. Nevertheless, even if they were being outcoached by say, twenty teams in FEI, and the extra year of experience is good for another twenty teams - Mattison still improved the baseline by about 50 ranks. The defense is now as good as the offense.

Keep in mind that FEI adjusts for schedule strength so a realistic benchmark for an average BCS offense is not 60th. I just chopped out all the non-BCS teams and an average offense is 48th. That's actually lower than I would have guessed. Unfortunately for Michigan, their lack of success has been highly concentrated.

Elsewhere

Unwashed blog masses. Via Adam Jacobi, Junior Hemingway scored an imaginary touchdown:

hemingway-what

Ron Zook can probably make this happen.

Illini blog A Lion Eye has a habit of taping himself when things are actually going on. This seems like a bad idea in general and for an Illinois fan in particular, but it is entertaining. A partial transcript:

So there's two twenty-four left. We just got the ball back down… what is it… 31-14? And I… I really have… I'm like "oh, what's my emotion? What am I going to record?"

Uhhhhm… dead inside? That doesn't sound right. But it's kind of a… I don't know. I guess the only way to describe it is—oh, and a sack.

I recommend the whole thing not necessarily for the schadenfreude (of which there is plenty) but because it's reassuring that we're not jaded. You may think you're jaded after the last century, but you have no idea. I mean: "I'm just normal right now."

The HSR decides to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald a lot:

"Life is essentially a cheat and its conditions are those of defeat; the redeeming things are not happiness and pleasure but the deeper satisfactions that come out of struggle."

I think we can all agree that yesterday's game was a classic example of "left wanting".  Though Michigan had a two score lead, on the road, against a team that considers Michigan its arch-rival*, it still felt like all of the missed red zone opportunities were going to come back to haunt Michigan, because we're taught that when you don't put the boot on the throat, it will cost you.  Except, it didn't.

MVictors:

Refs.  They obviously made a decision to only call holding if the offensive lineman actually removed the jersey of rusher.  And on the play where Avery picked up the ball and scored the touchdown, they made three bad mistakes on a single play.  The unholy trinity:  1.  It wasn’t a fumble in the first place, that’s somewhat forgivable.  2.  If it was a fumble, Avery was clearly on the ground (and thus down) when he picked it up, but they gave him a touchdown.  3. They didn’t adjust the clock after the play was reversed, should have been 19 or 20 seconds left instead of 14.

Hoke even complained about #3 and got nowhere. That is almost inevitably a call the refs give coaches.

Holdin' the Rope:

My first impression was one of doom and gloom, but, the more I think about it, maybe it's not so bad. Michigan put up 31 against a formidable defense, more than any other Illinois opponent save Northwestern (qualifier: yeah, those are some bad offenses on their schedule, but it's all relative at this point). This is of course not even mentioning the inopportune turnovers and the Illini's general inability to move the ball, additional reasons to not feel so bad about things. Obviously you can't just take turnovers out, but Michigan could have very easily scored in the 40s, on the road, against a pretty good defense.

There was a lot of the doom and gloom on the internets, which I don't get. Michigan failed to put up 24 in the first half on the #6 defense in the country by shooting itself in the foot. While that's frustrating, it is so much worse to have a performance like Iowa where the offense is neither scoring nor moving the ball. Sometimes bad things happen. Michigan outperformed Illinois's yardage average by 80 despite playing in adverse conditions.

BWS is eeee Mattison:

Mattison is installing this defense a lot like Rodriguez or Borges installed their offense. Week by week, Mattison introduces a new formation or coverage scheme to the defense--usually only one. Early in the season, it was a basic stunt move intended to overwhelm one side of the offensive line. Against MSU, he debuted an A-gap zone blitz. Purdue: nickel blitz. Iowa: crowding the line of scrimmage. Michigan's base defense is a 4-3 under, man-coverage look that Mattison can slowly and effectively build upon. While he doesn't go back to the cookie jar in later weeks, the hope (and my expectation) is that when Michigan plays Ohio State, they'll have an arsenal of blitzing plays that can be deployed in unison, creating a defense that is as unpredictable and consistently effective as the constantly tweaked offense under Rodriguez.

Cheers and jeers from Big House Blog. MBNB bullets. Illinois perspective from Hail to the Orange. Sap's decals are too stingy to Floyd, Martin. /shakes fist

Mainstream media type persons. The Daily's Stephen Nesbitt gets a a slice of life from the field:

As Floyd started crossing the turf toward the tunnel to the visitor’s locker room, he saw Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins approaching him. The receiver-cornerback duo had battled all game long.

Floyd pulled up at the goal line.

“Heck of a game, man,” Floyd told the All-American wideout. “I think you’re a heck of a talent.”

Jenkins, in his orange No. 8 jersey, gave a big smile and tossed the same compliment back at Floyd — Michigan’s No. 8.

“Make sure you go get the rest of the (defensive backs) and give them some trouble the rest of the season,” Floyd said as he stepped away.

Chengelis on the diverse and sundry contributions:

Senior defensive lineman Mike Martin led the team with nine tackles. Linebackers Desmond Morgan and Kenny Demens had eight and seven tackles, respectively, and senior Ryan Van Bergen had 2.5 sacks.

Safety Jordan Kovacs forced a fumble, and Thomas Gordon made the recovery, his fourth of the season, and cornerback J.T. Floyd made a pivotal interception in the fourth quarter on a third-down play at the Michigan 40-yard line. He returned it 43 yards and Michigan converted into a touchdown to make it, 24-7.

That is many contributions. Kovacs's in particular was a MAKE PLAYS moment, putting his head on the ball after Michigan had found its line creased and forcing a turnover. That fumble was forced in a way that some of the previous ones haven't been.

Daily on Mattison's reaction:

“That was a Michigan defense,” Mattison said like a proud father figure, admitting it for the first time all season. “They played as hard as they could, they did whatever they had to do. Without a doubt, that was a Michigan defense.”

The Michigan football team had just won the game on defense, holding Illinois to 30 yards, including minus-14 first-half rushing yards, before ultimately allowing 14 points and just 214 yards of offense en route to a 31-14 victory on the road.

“They’re Michigan Men,” said an emotional Mattison. “We talk about it all the time, that there’s a standard at Michigan and you’ve got to live up to that, and you're judged by it. We haven’t come to that final point where you win the game on defense, and we said, ‘This is your last away trip to do it.’ I couldn’t be more proud of this group of guys.”

Crimes Against Manpanda

Crimes Against Manpanda

Submitted by Brian on November 7th, 2011 at 11:24 AM

11/5/2011 – Michigan 16, Iowa 24 – 7-2, 3-2 Big Ten

devin-gardner-fumble-iowa

Melanie Maxwell/AnnArbor.com

When Iowa punched in their final touchdown on Saturday the clock read 10:42 and Michigan had acquired 166 yards of offense. Forced into a hurry-up shotgun on their final three drives, Michigan matched their production from the first 50 minutes in the last ten. Denard Robinson ran 4 times for 23 yards; Vincent Smith had an 11 yard carry. Robinson was 10 of 18 for 126 yards* as Michigan scored, punted, and then wound their way down to the Iowa three.

You know what happens from there: with space compressed, no time to run, and Iowa blitzing up the middle on every play Robinson chucks one out of the endzone on first down, gets 49% of a touchdown on second, sees Smith drop 100% of a touchdown on third, and watches Roy Roundtree get interfered with on fourth. Ballgame.

Shifting circumstances make drawing judgments difficult… or at least they would if the late surge hadn't brought Michigan up to 323 yards, seventy-five less than Penn State, twenty-five less than Louisiana-Monroe, and better than only Tennessee Tech amongst Iowa opponents.

This now a trend. Michigan's played three games against BCS teams with winning records. In each they've fallen behind by multiple scores. Yardage in those games before entering desperation chuck mode: 130 (Notre Dame), 226 (MSU), and 166 (Iowa). Whatever the plan is, it doesn't seem to be working against teams better than Minnesota.

Better than Minnesota most weekends, anyway.

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

In retrospect, the red carpet laid out by the Purdue defensive ends was MANBAIT with Iowa City the trap. Running against Purdue was easy from any formation, in any direction. This naturally got Michigan's coaches thinking they had ironed out the issues from earlier in the year, so they did more of it. It even worked for a bit. When Michigan came out with a bunch of I-Form in the first half they got yardage on a series of pounding iso plays.

The outside stuff went nowhere, though, and eventually Iowa adjusted to the iso thumping. When the dust cleared Smith and Toussaint averaged 3.6 yards a carry between them. Sacks excluded, Robinson nearly doubled that at 6.6. He got 11 carries, just like he did against Michigan State.

I just don't get it, man. The next person to draw a contrast between how Rodriguez adapted his offense to Threet/Sheridan and Borges did to Robinson gets the mother of all eyebrows cocked at them. On a team with one reasonable tight end, half a fullback, and Denard Robinson, Michigan goes play action from the I-form… a lot. They run Robinson about as often as their third down back. Game over.

This was the fear throughout many (many) offseason columns full of fretting and spread zealotry. It was the fear after the delirious Notre Dame game:

The thing I really really hated about the first three quarters (other than everything) was the way the offense made Denard mortal. This extended beyond the usual reasons 90 yards of offense in a half make you homicidal. Not only were we lost and hopeless in our first serious game after returning nine starters from one of the nation's most explosive offenses, but the guy who didn't transfer when his offense got fired out from under him was busy playing out everyone's worst-case scenarios.

I don't think I can take football games in which I'd rather have Alex Carder than Denard Robinson. A return of freshman Denard looking like a sad panda is too depressing for a multitude of reasons but mostly because just look at him:

denard-robinson-is-a-sad-panda

Shoehorning him into an offense that doesn't fit him is a crime against man and panda and manpanda. He had to be dying in the first half as he flung balls to Tacopants and ran waggles the entire stadium could predict. People twittered me about moving him to RB so Gardner can get on the field.

Iowa 2011 is to "Denard Robinson can't play QB for Brady Hoke" as Ohio State 2006 is to "Jim Tressel owns Michigan." It's the moment the premise goes from fear to fact.

There's still time to change this, like there was still time for someone, anyone, to beat Ohio State after Football Armageddon went the wrong way. But… man, it doesn't look good. Michigan has three games left plus a bowl of some variety. If they're going to avoid tailspin part three they'll have to figure out a way to pick up more than 200 yards in the first three quarters against the #6, #41, and #14 total defenses. The only way they've managed to crack 20 points against anyone of similar caliber is by closing their eyes and playing 500.

We've gone from a world in which Robinson is a genre-redefining All-American "back" to one in which the only reason there isn't a full-fledged quarterback controversy is because we've seen the backup go full Mallett whenever inserted into the game—this weekend it was usually after the actual offense picked up 20 yards. Robinson's legs have been relegated to sideshow, and the main event isn't pretty.

*[This does count the eight-yard completion that was wiped away by a defensive holding call. While you're down here in this aside I should explain that I picked the points at which to determine "chuck it" time like so:

ND: Michigan goes down 24-7 and gets the ball back at the tail end of the third. If you want to move that out a possession Michigan squeaks over 200 thanks to the 77-yard Hemingway catch and run and subsequent TD.
MSU: Pick six. Not that it mattered; M had 250 for the game.
Iowa: The hurry-up touchdown drive.]

Bullets

Good thing we avoided that second-half collapse thanks to the toughy tough toughness instilled by Brady Hoke. Like the second-half adjustments, that meme isn't looking so hot. At least the second-half thing had something more than a win over Purdue arguing for it.

On playing 500. I took a lot of crap the week of the Notre Dame game for having reservations about the offense. Crap-throwers are wrong: a more experienced Robinson surrounded by returning starters has doubled his INT rate. He's dropped to 54th in passer efficiency, shed 0.3 YPC, and still has three of the five toughest defenses on the schedule to play.

Denard has limitations. They are severe. He has assets that offset those. They are not being used effectively. He was an All-American last year and is being derided as plain "not very good" on blogs; he won't sniff a Heisman vote. He's gone backwards. The question is why. Candidate answers:

  • Losing Martell Webb, Darryl Stonum, and Steve Schilling.
  • Losing Rich Rodriguez.
  • Aging backwards like Benjamin Button.

I'll take door B. [usual tedious disclaimers for people who aren't arguing with things I actually write anyway]

On whatever that was. BWS brings some ugly numbers on a day with plenty to choose from:

In the first three quarters against Iowa, Michigan had 20 first downs. They ran the ball on 14 of them and gained only 50 yards for 3.57 YPC, mostly because Iowa broke tendency and played a single-high safety defensive front, stacked against the run.

I don't know everything that's ailing the rushing offense but you can't live with that paltry return if you've got Denard at QB.

I'll have to hit the tape for a full breakdown but Rothstein($) says Michigan ran their three-wide shotgun set 31 times, which is not many when you consider the final three drives had 24 shotgun snaps on them. He doesn't appear to be counting four wide shotgun stuff in that number, because Michigan ran plays from the spread on more than seven of their other 51 snaps. Right? I don't even know anymore.

The bipolar defense. Usually a 300 yard day will not see the opponent put up 24 points unless there's a ton of turnovers or a non-offensive touchdown or two. Michigan managed to cough up that many points despite the yardage because all other drives went nowhere. Drives in rough categories:

  • Long touchdown marches of 76, 78, and 62 yards.
  • 17 and 28 yard four-and-outs (ie: first down on a chunk play on first play of drive, then bupkis).
  • Five drives of nothing. One ends in a FG after the fumble.

Not a whole lot of in-between. This has no significance, it's just weird. If Michigan had been able to move the ball at all the defense's ability to boot Iowa right off the field would have set them up with some short stuff eventually. We've come full circle when the offense's ineptness is making the defense's performance look worse than it actually was.

I guess no turnovers is a bummer.

The first thing I loathe about the Hoke era. Second-and-long I-form big play action. So unbelievably predictable it hurts. Last week it ended up in a sack that put Michigan in third and twenty; this week no one was open and there was an end in Robinson's face because everyone in the state knew it was coming.

Devin package. If Michigan can't run a straight dropback pass with Devin Gardner in the game because they don't trust him to throw and don't trust Robinson to be a real receiving threat, the Gardner package—which has devolved from a potentially confusing Mad Magicians reincarnate to "watch us run or not run this jet sweep"—is no longer viable, if it was ever viable at anything other than throwback screens.

Since when do you know how to gamble? I do not like the version of Kirk Ferentz that realizes it is not 1960. I was counting on Ferentz spurning expectation three or four times in this game; instead he goes on fourth and one from the Michigan 39 (the unsuccessful sneak), goes on fourth and seven(!) from the Michigan 34, and is about to go for it on fourth and one on the Michigan 43 when his kid picks up a false start. His profit from the two decisions to go: the game-winning points. Boo.

If Zook goes on fourth and three from the Michigan 40 I'm going to have a fit.

Wither Jake Ryan? I don't know what to make of Jake Ryan's absence. Michigan went with Beyer (SLB) and Clark (nickel DE) instead early, then worked Ryan in a little bit as the game got late. He didn't seem injured—he made the play on the late third-and-one that set up Michigan's unsuccessful last-ditch drive. Suspension? There has to be some external factor.

Second alarming thing: even with Ryan limited, Cam Gordon did not appear. That's a precipitous drop. He is moving towards Bolivian.

dr09[1]

Des Moines Register

Martin. Balling. Pretty much the only thing Iowa fans were mad about was the play of a particular guard of theirs; this was because Martin was lighting him up all day. If the linebackers had played well Coker would have had a 3 YPC day because so many plays hardly got to them.

Linebackers did not have a good day. There is a downside of having Chris Spielman doing color for your game when you are a person who purveys football analysis for a living: he steals your thunder. About two seconds after I declared that Desmond Morgan was "killing" Michigan, Spielman was pointing it out in telestrated glory. A big chunk of Iowa's second touchdown drive was on Morgan. He was pulled shortly after for Hawthorne and returned later, presumably chided.

That's life with freshmen. Good thing we won't be starting any next—aw, hamburgers. /shakes fist at Rodriguez

Scrambling. The universe believes Denard Robinson should be very good at scrambling and thus asserts he is. Unfortunately, repeating this enough does not make it true. However, in this game it seemed like there was nowhere to go. With certain limited exceptions Iowa was barely pretending to rush Robinson, instead sitting their defensive linemen around the LOS in a picket fence. In that situation Denard should have surveyed and hit his checkdowns, which he did on Michigan's first-half touchdown drive and would have a few more times if the Iowa DEs weren't so intent on this contain business that they can leap up and bat down floaters to Smith.

Going for two. A not-very-important game theory note: Michigan should have gone for two when they scored to cut the lead to nine. You have to go for two sooner or later; going earlier allows you to adjust your strategy based on the result. There were a couple people arguing that you need to "keep it a one score game" by kicking the extra point, but it's not a one-score game if you're down eight. It's a one-score game 40% of the time and a two-score game 60% of the time. Knowing which one helps you play correctly when you get the ball with five minutes left, for example.

Second game theory note. Ace and I had an argument on the podcast about the playcalling on the last series, with Ace taking the same position MGoFootball does:

What you do with :16 to go after getting a first down at the 3 yard line…

Hindsight, just sayin’, etc., but I don’t think the timeout should have been used before you give Denard a shot to either run a power play or rollout and find a running lane on 1st down. Ideally, Michigan hurries to the line of scrimmage, gets set faster than the defense, and off Denard goes.  TD’s may have ensued. So, as the day would have it, Michigan calls their final timeout with 16 seconds left on the clock.

I side with the coaches here. The fourth down play came with two seconds left. Unless you are snapping the ball on the ready for play—not feasible—you are giving away your fourth down. I'd rather keep it than have the ability to run once in three downs instead of four. YMMV.

The thing that rankled was watching Michigan run 10 to 15 seconds off the clock on a play earlier in that drive. If they get that play off quickly Michigan can save their timeout and threaten Iowa with a run.

ap08[1]

Obligatory ref section. It's never good when you lose and Mike Pereira is featuring your game above the fold. Pereira says "punt" on the Hemingway catch:

I love it when replay stays with the call on the field when there is judgment involved, along with facts. In my mind, whatever ended being called on the field — incomplete or a touchdown — would have stood in replay. That’s how close this play was. …

The call in Michigan-Iowa game Saturday involved more than just facts. It involved the issue of control, before and after the ball hit the ground. Adding that element makes this ruling far more difficult than just a ball just breaking a plane. It’s questionable whether Hemingway had total control of the ball when his arm hit the ground. And it’s also questionable if he maintained control after the ball contacted the ground. If 50 people were in a bar watching this play, half of them would rule it an incomplete pass and the other half would rule it a touchdown. That’s reason alone to leave the call the way it was called on the field, and I agree with that decision 100 percent.

You can replay that until the sun expands and it's still going to be too close to call. It was going to stand whichever way it was called on the field. That's life.

But I totally disagree with Pereira about the fourth down play…

And, by the way, forget the notion of pass interference on this play — either defensive or offensive. There was not enough to make either call. Same thing on the final play of the game on the slant pattern. The contact by the Iowa defender was not enough for pass interference, no matter what time of the game it was — the first quarter or the fourth quarter.

Bull. I mean:

Roundtreelastplayiowa[1]

Wrapping that hand around the back of the player is a call all day, every day.

So that sucks. As ref screwage goes it's only a 3 out of 10 since it probably wouldn't have mattered. Even if the call is made, Michigan still has to score, get a two-point conversion, and win in overtime to make it matter. That's a 10-20% shot.

I'll have to look at the interception more closely but I didn't think that was egregious. Guy did get there early but that's the kind of play that often gets let go.

McNutt. Pimp.

dr19[1]

Des Moines Register

Iowa wide receivers are in a fertile period, aren't they? Someone should just follow Eric Campbell around offering whoever Iowa does. Sign me up for Amara Darboh.

BONUS Iowa skill player coveting! I remember Marcus Coker as a recruit who was vaguely on Michigan's radar in 2010 but things never got serious. Michigan grabbed Stephen Hopkins; Coker floated out there hoping for a single decent offer before committing to Iowa in August. Other suitors: Wake Forest, Minnesota, Kansas State, and Maryland.

I don't get that. Coker's the sort of physical package that should be drawing offers from most of the Big Ten and he played at Maryland power DeMatha. It's not like RR was the only coach to whiff on the guy, I guess.

Here

I thought this was the most interesting bit about the press conference:

What went wrong on Coker’s last TD run when nobody even touched him? “Well they got to the edge and we were really trying to stack up the middle. It was a bear defense. Without seeing it, I have a feeling that the six probably got scooped out of his gap and then [Coker] got downhill pretty fast.”

Six == just outside the tackle and presumably the "bear" LB.

Inside the Box Score is oddly formatted but on point about a weird personnel decision:

Thomas Gordon had zero tackles. There was a board post on this topic yesterday. I don’t understand how you take your 2nd leading tackler out of the lineup. I get that his getting a lot of tackles is part of the position he plays, but he sure looks like one of our best 11 defenders to me. Additionally, Gordon is listed at 208 pounds on the roster, and Woolfolk is 191. When you are playing against Coker and those corn-fed hawkeyes, I want MOAR BEEF on defense. I’m not going to complain about Woolfolk. I understand wanting to get an experienced, 5th year senior, and team leader on the field, but if I was Gordon and lost my job due to intangibles I’d be “upset”. (The actual word is “pissed,” but I recently learned Mom is reading my diaries. If you notice a change in tone, that’s the reason.)

Gordon was upset, and posted something about "P O L I T I C S" on twitter/facebook/whatever his social network poison is.

I must disagree with Hoke for Tomorrow:

So that happened.  I had promised myself before the game that I wasn't going to get all emotionally invested in the outcome.  I could feel the disappointment coming all week.  Iowa was coming off of a loss that made them look much worse than they really are and Michigan was traveling to their house.  Michigan was coming off of a "validating" win over an overmatched Purdue squad, were already assured of a bowl invite, and had equaled last year's win total already.  There was no question which team had the most to play for and the game was sure to reflect that.  No surprise: it did.

Michigan had a good shot at a division title before the weekend. I award them 16 Wanting It points to Iowa's 13 in a totally made up exercise I just executed.

And the Denard slide started a long time ago.

Elsewhere

Media. Photo gallery from AnnArbor.com. I enjoyed Kevin Koger's Bruce Lee impression:

kevin-koger-ninja

Melanie Maxwell/AnnArbor.com

Unwashed blog masses. MVictors:

My line lately to people who ask before the game is this—Denard’s going to get six to eight opportunities to really hurt the opponent with his arm.  He’s got to cash in on two, maybe three.   He didn’t Saturday and I’m getting more and more frustrated.   Despite Brian’s speculation, I’m sure they travelled to Iowa City and East Lansing with Borges’ head completely in tact but I don’t get the insistence to put Denard behind center.

Speaking of Denard, something not there with his wheels.  Michael Spath tweeted that’s he’s become a “cutter”, as opposed to just beating people to the edge.  I’ve noticed this too and since Michigan State I just haven’t seen that extra burst. 

The Iowa perspective is rapturous about their defense since we managed to score less than Indiana and Minnesota. The commenters deploy the usual defensiveness about the refereeing. This list of grievances is something:

i usually don't like complaining about the officiating, it's a part of the game, it is what it is

but them complaining is just not right when you look at the whole picture. we got one slight favor at the end of the game. there were a slew of terrible calls throughout the game that went in Michigan’s favor.

the refs lost track of what down it was while michigan was driving in the first quarter, effectively giving them a free timeout, the official threw a pi flag on the wrong receiver, which was thankfully called back, we got nailed on a questionable offsides that kept a Michigan drive alive in the third, and they got away with a pretty blatant chest bump on a fair catch that should have been interference. I can remember very few calls during the game that went our way unti lthe very end.

When your most outrageous outrages include a flag that was picked up and the refs resetting the clock you might be protesting too much.

Doctor Saturday:

There's a lot to question about this offense, specifically: Denard Robinson's run:pass ratio; the persistent presence of backup QB Devin Gardner, to no apparent effect; the persistent absence of an every-down tailback. But it all seems to stem from the basic uncertainty that follows a coaching change: How does a coaching staff with a specific, ingrained philosophy integrate a lineup built for a completely divergent philosophy? Before the season, coach Brady Hoke and offensive coordinator Al Borges promised they weren't stupid enough to ask the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year — as a sophomore, no less — to be something he's not. For the most part, that's been true — especially when the offense has sputtered early against the likes of Eastern Michigan, San Diego State and Northwestern.

Against the best teams on the schedule, though, manageable second half deficits have been cause for a makeshift air show. Against Notre Dame, incredibly, heaving the ball almost indiscriminately after three stagnant quarters actually worked in the fourth. Against Michigan State, it didn't even come close. Today, at least, it came close before coming up short.

Various bullets from Maize 'n' Blue Nation, Touch The Banner, and the MZone. Holdin' The Rope has flashbacks:

It's hard to be mad when you've seen this story over and over again; if you're surprised by the ending then you should probably pay a little closer attention. This is what Michigan has done for years. In the interest of putting a name to it, we'll simply call this the Ben Chappell Theorem; that is, that if Michigan plays a team with multiple glaring weaknesses/an air of general incompetency that has already failed in the face of the opposition of other inferior teams, then, it must necessarily follow, that not only will Michigan not exploit those weaknesses (or what are ostensibly weaknesses, i.e. Michigan State's offensive line) effectively (usually not for lack of some trying, though), they will make certain players look like All-Americans in the process. An enormous shadow of a mouse becomes something much worse in the shifting tectonic plates of light and dark. Just as Michigan made former Indiana QB Ben Chappell look like the greatest thing ever on one afternoon, Michigan continues to make the mediocre look exceptional.

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs SDSU

Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs SDSU

Submitted by Brian on September 28th, 2011 at 3:41 PM

INTERESTING SCREENSHOT OF THE WEEK

sdsu-lady-board

Hey, that's a lady. BTN didn't show any shots of people you'd recognize, so this is the closest thing to evidence that they were holding up pictures of people who left. She must be support staff or something.

Formation notes: Mostly under, which they ran almost all the time when they were actually running what they wanted to. When SDSU went to spread formations the nickel package came in, with a good amount of one-high press…

slants-1

…and some regular old nickel even. IE: the usual. No funny stuff.

Substitution notes: Kovacs and Gordon went the whole way with Carvin Johnson re-claiming his spot as the fifth defensive back in nickel. Gordon is the nickelback; Johnson came in as a safety. Woolfolk went out with an ankle issue in the second quarter and Avery came in; Floyd went out with a ding in the third quarter and Countess came in. When Floyd returned it was Avery, not Countess, who took a seat.

At LB it was Ryan-Demens-Hawthorne almost the whole way. Morgan, Fitzgerald, and Beyer got a series or two each spelling the starters.

On the DL, the same four starters (Roh, RVB, Martin, Heininger) with heavy rotation from Campbell and Black with lesser rotation from Brink. I don't think I saw much of Washington. In the nickel package they lifted one of the DT types and left Ryan out as a DE.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form DForm Type Rush Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Martin 3
RB takes the handoff to the right of the QB as the FB goes left—a bit of counter action here. Martin(+2) pushes the C into the backfield, forcing an awkward cut from Hillman; RVB(+0.5) has also gotten penetration, forcing Hillman to hit it up in the small crease between the two DTs. Martin chucks his blocker and comes off to tackle. I'm trying to figure out why this is three yards instead of zero—think it's the linebackers not being aggressive enough, but no minuses.
O21 2 7 I-Form twins unbalanced 4-3 even Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan 6
First of many flips by M's DL as SDSU flips the formation. This will have to get sorted out. They actually end up in an even formation with LBs from strong to weak Demens, Hawthorne, Ryan. Given the alignment of the other LBs this appears to be a bust by Ryan(-2), who did not flip when the rest of the line did. As a result they run power off the left hand side and one guy has no one to block. Demens heads straight upfield, taking on an OL peeling off RVB right at the LOS. This forces a bounce that may have been coming anyway because of the Ryan misalignment. RVB gets caught inside but I don't blame him since this is probably how he's supposed to play it when he's got an SLB. M gets lucky that the FB jets downfield instead of trying to block Hawthorne, who is scraping quickly from the interior. Hawthorne(+0.5) shoots between the FB headed for Kovacs and the pulling OL, forcing Hillman outside. He misses a tackle(-1) but his ability to get out in a flash forces Hillman outside into Kovacs(+0.5), who set up in a good spot; Hillman cuts back under where Ryan makes some amends by tackling before the sticks. Not an RPS minus because the error here is w/ player, not call.
O27 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Power off tackle Roh -1
Pulling guard trips as he comes out of his stance, which helps quite a bit. Roh(+3) is one on one with a tight end, pushes him into the backfield, and then throws him to the ground. He meets Hillman head-on a yard in the backfield for a thumping tackle. Strong possibility this is still stuffed with the pull since Hawthorne(+0.5) had flown up into the gap outside Roh and was in position to tackle behind the LOS.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Jet sweep Ryan 10
Ryan(-2) straight upfield again, giving up the edge. When you're let into the backfield without being blocked and don't make this guy at least change his flight path you messed up. There's no way for the LBs to remain responsible on the inside run here and get outside to track the jet sweep down unless Ryan delays the guy; he does not. Gordon keeps leverage forcing it back; Demens is pursuing and Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to tackle at the sticks.
O30 1 10 I-Form Big 4-4 under Pass 5 Throwaway Heininger Inc (Pen -10)
Not really a blitz as this is a two-man route. Deep guy is bracketed by Floyd and Woolfolk; Kovacs is going with the TE who motioned out. I think Lindley sees Hawthorne in his throwing lane and decides to chuck it at his RB's feet, which causes Hawthorne to vacate that lane when he sees the QB's eyes leave. Also, Heininger(+1, pressure +1) got in Lindley's face, drawing a holding call. It kind of looks like the TE hitch might be open, but results-based charting. (Cover +2, Kovacs +0.5; Floyd +0.5; Woolfolk +0.5)
O20 1 20 I-Form 4-3 even Pass N/A Long handoff Woolfolk 8
Played poorly by Woolfolk(-1), who lets the play outside of him and gives up eight yards on a nothing screen. Either have to tackle more quickly or force it back to help; Hawthorne was probably there if forced inside.
O28 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Out Floyd 11
SDSU shifts from an I-form and gets a too-easy pitch and catch in front of Floyd(cover -1). Not really his fault as this was a zone blitz they had a good route on for (RPS –1).
O39 3 1 I-Form big 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Martin 7
TEs flip and this time Ryan has his head on straight. Martin(+1) slides through the center instantly. He's into the backfield, picking off a puller. This provides Michigan a free hitter, which is a hard-flowing Demens(+1), who is in position to tackle for loss; Hillman bounces. Woolfolk(+1) is there on the edge but is held to the point where his shoulder pads pop out; no call. Refs -2.
O46 1 10 I-Form twin TE 4-3 even Run N/A Power off tackle Hawthorne 7
So this is what happens when Michigan does not flip the formation: not good stuff. Michigan's defense makes no sense: they're outnumbered on the strong side so they slant weakside and blitz Floyd(?!?) from the weakside as well. Black(-1) is not done favors by the play call but gets nailed inside; Hawthorne(+1) takes on a lead block and gets crushed but manages to keep his feet and draw the attention of a second blocker, who kicks the poor guy's ass. Hawthorne falls backwards right into Hillman's feet, which he grabs. Woolfolk was also there. Demens did okay considering the circumstances; Ryan(-0.5) was lost on the backside of the play; would not have been available to pursue if needed. RPS -2.
M47 2 3 Shotgun twin TE 4-4 under Run N/A Zone read dive Demens 7
Neither DT needs a double. Brink(+0.5) and Campbell(+0.5) stand up single blocks and get upfield, so the A gap is where the play must go. Heininger(-2) ends up sealed a yard and a half downfield after only a momentary double. The linebackers take on blocks near the first down marker and converge to tackle. Hillman and various OL start pushing the pile, whereupon Hillman fumbles because Demens(+2) ripped the ball out.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-0, 7 min 1st Q. Not too peeved about this drive since it should have been booted off the field on a third and short but for a hold.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass 5 PA Deep out Gordon 21
Morgan in for Hawthorne. Late motion stacks the two WRs over each other; one runs deep and the other cuts out an out route. Deep guy has run off Woolfolk and Gordon is coming from the inside so there's a big hole in the coverage(-2). Martin(+0.5) had gotten some pressure on Lindley to force him to throw it off his back foot a bit; Morgan(-1) sucked way up on the playfake and let Hillman out into the flat with no one around him. Gordon(-1) didn't read this very well.
M49 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan 3
Another formation flip, causing Michigan to do the same. TE then motions into the backfield as short side is overloaded. This time Ryan(+0.5) is in the right spot. He takes on his blocker quickly, standing him up at the LOS and further inside than he wants to be. Pulling G impacts him. RVB, Martin, and Heininger all do their jobs without doing anything spectacular, so there are no holes and a wad of bodies forms about two yards downfield. Half points for RVB and Heininger; Martin got pushed back a bit trying to shed and is the reason there's a little push.
M46 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 6 Out Woolfolk 10
Rhythm throw from Lindley comes too soon for serious pressure unless someone doesn't get picked up; SDSU stones the blitz (pressure -1, RPS -1). Woolfolk(+0.5) is there to tackle on the catch and has a decent shot of raking the ball out; he's about a half step from a PBU.
M36 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Pitch sweep Gordon 1
Both TEs block down as both guards pull. Ryan again flies straight upfield, avoiding the downblock but not doing anything useful. If he slows up here and picks off the pulling G he gets a plus, but he doesn't. Hillman is in business if he cuts upfield but he widens too much and too fast for his OL to keep up with him, allowing Gordon(+1) to flow hard upfield. Hillman tries to cut inside; Demens(+0.5) slows up and is blocked by the guy Ryan did not pick off. He is in a good spot to prevent bad things from happening, though. Hillman bounces back outside, where Gordon has beaten the other G's block. He can't make a tackle but does slow Hillman enough for Demens, Martin, and Morgan to tackle for little gain. One yard gain only gets 1.5 plus because I think this is a poor job by Hillman of reading his blocks.
M35 2 9 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 5
TE motions in and Floyd moves down in as a quasi SLB. Michigan slanting playside; Heininger(+0.5) gets upfield of his guy but Campbell(-1) does not, getting sealed away. Heininger's move robs SDSU of some of its blocking angles; there's an OL out on Morgan but no one on Floyd or Demens so those guys can shut it down after a few yards provided by the Campbell crease. Would like to see Demens(-0.5) hit this more authoritatively; he gives up YAC by making a bleah arm tackle.
M30 3 4 Shotgun trips Nickel press Pass 6 Slant Van Bergen Inc
Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) bats it at the line.
M30 4 4 Shotgun 2TE Okie press Pass 6 RB flat Demens Inc
So they do leave a guy wide open here, but they might have done it on purpose. SDSU misaligns, leaving a TE covered up. Johnson points him out out Floyd, and, then Floyd ignores him to double the RB coming out of the flat. Is Johnson IDing the guy as ineligible or telling Floyd to cover him and getting ignored? Don't know. In any case, Michigan sends six. Ryan gets a free run(+0.5, pressure/RPS +1) but Lindley has time to try to find a guy. It's his RB leaking into the flat after giving Demens(+2, cover +2) an ole; Demens pivots and is maybe a step behind him, making this throw all but impossible. Lindley has about a yard where the RB can catch it but it won't bounce off Demens's head, and Floyd(+0.5) is coming up to hit him at or near the sticks anyway.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 14-0, 3 min 1st Q. The coverage is just night and day. Sometimes guys get open but this is suddenly a much, much tougher secondary to go up against.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 even Pass 5 PA TE Seam -- Inc
I don't know what the hell they pulled to get this but Ryan is now lined up over the slot receiver. Michigan runs zone behind a blitz; Lindley throws a seam to a TE who is running an out. With three guys around this TE it was going to be a tough window on the seam.
O27 2 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Campbell 4
So... Campbell(+0.5). He gets doubled and holds his ground as NTs are supposed to do. Hurrah. This allows both LBs to flow to the hole unimpeded. Ryan(+0.5) gets into his blocker at the LOS, forcing the pulling G and RB outside; Fitz(+1) takes on the G at the LOS and forces it back to Hawthorne, his help. This should be a textbook stop except Ryan(-0.5) has started to cede ground quickly and is now behind the LOS. Cutback lane opens up. Campbell should be there to cut it off but has spent the entire play just burrowing into his two dudes. Gordon(+1) has flowed down with the time provided by the jam-up on the front and makes a solid-wrap up tackle(+1) to mitigate the damage but this probably should have been zero.
O31 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Dig Gordon Inc
This is so good. One: Martin(+2) rips through a double team and forces Lindley to throw to his first read(pressure +1). Two: Hawthorne is ripping upfield as Michigan sends three blitzers up the center as Black peels off to pick up the TE drag. Three: Gordon(+2, cover +2) reads the TE cut and jumps the route, arriving at the destination in front of the TE. If this is accurate Gordon has a shot at an INT; Lindley wings it wide. This is what a damn strong defense looks like.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, EO1Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass 4 RB flat Martin Inc
Martin(+2, pressure +1) roars up the center of the pocket, eventually pancaking the center(!) and causing Lindley to dump it inaccurately to a flat route Hawthorne(+1, cover +1) had blanketed anyway.
O17 2 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 5 Out Woolfolk 13
I think Beyer needs to get some more depth on his drop here but this is a 12-yard out he can't help on. Far too easy for the WR here as Woolfolk(-1, cover -1) is beaten clean and can only shove the guy out after he turns upfield.
O30 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle TE Flat Roh Inc
Roh(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5) don't bite on a weak fake and are right in Lindley's face(pressure +2), forcing him to turf it. Hawthorne(-1, cover -1) had gotten way out of position and this would have been open otherwise.
O30 2 10 I-Form twins Nickel press Run N/A Iso Van Bergen 9
Michigan goes nickel on second and long versus a standard set, and are one guy away from stuffing a run anyway. Martin(+1) slants under the backside G and just misses taking out the FB. Instead he's in the path of the RB, forcing him to stop and cut back behind. Both linebackers shed blocks and are about to tackle when Van Bergen(-2) gets blown way off the line after standing up initially, providing a cutback lane with no one in it because Black(-1) ran around upfield. Hawthorne nailed with a block in the back; no call. Johnson(+0.5, tackling +1) does fill well.
O39 3 1 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Campbell 2
Seems like M is playing this too conservatively, with two deep safeties and the LBs five yards off the LOS. Campbell(+0.5) stands up a G and comes off to tackle but it's not enough with the LBs having to come down from far away.
O41 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass N/A Post Woolfolk Inc
Good pocket(pressure -1) and Lindley seems to want a post on Woolfolk—you can tell how they're picking on him and avoiding Floyd. The receiver thinks it's a run play and starts blocking.
O41 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 3 Out Gordon 9
Gordon(-1) allows a five yard out, which fine, but then overruns the play (tackling -1), turning the five yards into nine. He does manage to tackle from behind when the WR slows up.
50 3 1 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Penalty N/A False start -- -5
This is why you don't talk into conch shells.
O45 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 6 Slant Woolfolk 9
No time to get to the QB here as it's slants; Woolfolk(-1, cover -1) is beaten, and while I wouldn't usually be so harsh here he's got a WR juggling the ball and if he hits him at all it's incomplete. Instead he's a step away. It's instructive to compare Floyd on the other side—he is covering his very well. Woolfolk leaves the game limping at this point.
M46 1 10 Goal line 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Hawthorne 4
Nothing on the frontside as Martin(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5) hold up; Heininger(-1) is blown up but Hawthorne(+1) slices into the gap before the guy coming off Heininger can pop him. Roh(+0.5) is flowing down the backside and forces a bounce all the way behind into an unblocked Avery, who tackles.
M42 2 6 I-Form twins 4-3 under Pass N/A Long handoff Floyd 5
Kovacs is charging hard from the inside and Floyd does play this better than Woolfolk, making a tackle instead of forcing him OOB. This means five yards instead of eight. Still less than ideal.
M37 3 1 I-Form Big 46 eagle Run N/A Down G Fitzgerald 2
Going at Fitz, lined up over the TE. He does an okay job to stay at the LOS but gets no penetration. Playside DE is RVB, who shoots into the backfield and gets blown out of the play. That is something that happens when you're gambling on short yardage. Demens(+0.5) gets to the lead blocker at the LOS and forces Kazee up the back of the TE; Hawthorne(+0.5) comes under a block to tackle but Kazee can fall forward for the first.
M35 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 PA Deep comeback Ryan 21 (Pen -10)
Ryan(+2, pressure +1) is blitzing off the edge and gets inside the fullback; he's held. Otherwise a sack is likely. Lindley steps around the hold and lofts an impossibly accurate back-foot deep comeback that nails a WR at the sticks 16 yards downfield in front of Avery. Dude made a lot of bad throws, but dude... this is dude. Avery(-1, tackling -1) compounds matters by missing a tackle.
M45 1 20 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Campbell 0
Campbell(+1) and Heininger(+1) both shove single blocking into the backfield, forcing the play behind into the unblocked Ryan(+0.5) for a TFL.
M45 2 20 Shotgun 2TE Nickel press Pass 4 TE flat Avery 2
Ryan(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5, pressure +1) bullrush right back into Lindley, forcing a quick throw for nothing that Avery(+1, cover +1, tackling +1) is all over.
M43 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Post Floyd Inc
Martin(+1, pressure +1) flushes Lindley up into the pocket; he has to throw as RVB threatens to come outside to take him out. It's a post. Similar to the previous incompletion on fourth down, here the Michigan defender is in very good position and Lindley's window is tiny. Floyd(+1, cover +1) doesn't get his head around for the ball and so doesn't pick up an extra plus; if he did you could have filed this under passes Lindley was lucky he didn't throw more accurately.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 6 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M48 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass 4 PA throwaway Martin Inc (Pen -10)
Martin(+2) blows through the center's block before Lindley can even turn around and his held. Lindley is all like GET IN THE CAR IT'S MIKE MARTIN and chucks the ball away. (Pressure +2)
O42 1 20 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Demens -2
Hoo! Demens(+2) reads the play and roars to the LOS, blasting the pulling OL on his ass. Ryan(+2) set up the FB's block so that it would be in the wrong place, Harris-style, then explodes upfield at about the same time Demens is giving this OL the business, tackling for loss. Greg Mattison, man.
O40 2 22 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Slant Floyd Inc
Lindley wings a slant behind his receiver. Floyd(+0.5) seemed in position for an immediate tackle, which is fine in this D&D.
O40 3 22 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Black 8 (Pen +5)
Black(-1) jumps offside. Lindley checks down (cover +1) despite having a free play.
O45 3 17 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Comeback Martin Inc
Zone blitz with both LBs headed up the middle as the DEs drop off. Kovacs comes late. This is telegraphed and picked up; Martin(+2) quickly battles through the OT's block and gets a hurry on Lindley, forcing him to get rid of the ball. Comeback is well wide. Short of the sticks but in go for it range if complete. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-0, 11 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan 2
Michigan slants the line away from the strength of the formation. This takes RVB(+0.5) into the playside G, eliminating him from downfield blocking. Ryan(+1) impacts both lead blockers, delaying the lead guy and taking the second one. Fitz's initial burst is taking him outside, where he'll need to be if there is a bounce against this slant, so he can't change direction fast enough to do much other than impact the FB that Ryan delayed. That's fine since the slant has left Hawthorne(-0.5) a free hitter. If he's as fast to the LOS as Fitz this is no gain; as it is he's a little late. He does tackle(+1). RPS +1.
M37 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Hitch Floyd Inc
WR beats Floyd(-1, cover -1) clean and Lindley can throw on rhythm. WR drops it. Pressure was getting there if there was a second read. (Pressure +1)
M37 3 8 Ace twins twin TE Okie press Run N/A Pitch sweep -- 22
Massive RPS here as Michigan is lined up in its okie set with one guy on deep and does not react when SDSU motions in a TE who was already split out. When the Aztecs run the toss to that side they've got Roh, Hawthorne, Kovacs, and Avery versus four OL. Yay. Roh(-1) crushed inside like Lewan is blocking him; Kovacs(-2) takes fatal steps to the interior. Hawthorne manages to spin outside one block only to get buried by another OL. Avery keeps leverage but has little hope of doing anything else. Johnson(+0.5) manages to dive at Hillman's feet as he nears the 15 despite taking on a block; Hillman runs through it but this slows him down enough for a pursuing RVB(+2) to tackle from behind, punching the ball free as he does. Ryan recovers. RPS -3. It is super inane that the replay focuses on Jake Ryan instead of the DT WHO RAN DOWN RONNIE HILLMAN. Guh.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 21-0, 9 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Yakety snap -- 1
Fumbled snap is picked up by Hillman, who rushes to the edge. Ryan gets lit up on a crackback block; Floyd cleans up. He's dinged on the tackle, paving the way for Countess.
O24 2 9 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 TE Corner Martin Inc
This is open for a big chunk and just missed; Avery(-2, cover -2) has no threats in front of him and has to get much deeper on this to take it away. Ryan(+1) and Martin(+1) had both beaten blocks to pressure(+2) Lindley, possibly causing the incompletion. If Avery covers this is a sack.
O24 3 9 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Skinny post Countess Inc
Time, but no one open(cover +2); Countess(+2, cover +1 again) is tested and is running this skinny post for the WR; he's even got his head around. Ball is well behind the WR and incomplete.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-0, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M38 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under Pass 4 PA something Countess Inc
Plenty of time(pressure -1); Lindley throws sort of in the direction of Countess and his guy but not, like, near them.
M38 2 10 I-Form twins 4-3 even Run N/A Iso Ryan 4
Ryan in space over the slot receiver. Campbell(+1) takes a double and doesn't move, then fights playside of his blocker. Hole is small. Fitz(+1) pops the FB right at the line; RVB(+1) fights outside to keep the bounce from happening; Ryan(-1) is hesitant about the bounce and fails to fill the last remaining crack of space Hillman has; he does tackle but the delay allows Hillman to get four where there were none. It is possible this is on RVB for bouncing out, but I doubt it since he's the senior.
M34 3 6 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Avery 7
This seems like about as good as you can defend this. Avery(+1, cover +1) does give up the inside but only barely; he's right on the WR's back and the throw has to be perfect and the catch good since Avery whacks the WR's hand just as the ball arrives, then tackles.
M27 1 10 Ace 3TE Nickel even Pass 4 PA TE Wheel Kovacs Inc (Pen -5)
Black(+1) beats a blocker and hurries Lindley(pressure +1), forcing a throw. This one is way off and wouldn't have mattered anyway since Kovacs(+2, cover +2) had run the guy's route for him, forcing the TE OOB of his own volition. Another good-thing-you're-inaccurate-buddy throw. TE was covered up anyway, illegal man downfield. I would not have taken a five yard penalty instead of an incompletion here.
M32 1 15 I-Form twins 4-3 under Pass 6 PA RB flat Hawthorne 13
Blitz gets a guy in but there is an easy dumpoff because of it; Hawthorne(-2, tackling -2) is running out to keep this down to a moderate gain but overruns the play badly, barely touching Hillman. Gordon comes from behind to tackle near the sticks.
M19 2 2 Goal line 4-3 under Pass 4 Waggle TE Flat Ryan 3
Hillman takes three yards on a TE flat. Okay.
M16 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Post Avery 16
I actually tend to blame Gordon more than Avery here; as soon as that TE in the slot goes horizontal you are no longer threatened in the deep middle and it's time to find the other WRs. That's speculation from me. Avery does get beat on the post but not by much. He's again on the back of the WR and forces a perfect throw, which Lindley provides. Am I being too nice here?
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-7, EO3Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
50 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Black 0
Black(+2) ducks under the OT's block and penetrates into the backfield, forcing Hillman away from blocking lanes and getting a diving arm tackle attempt that brings him to a near halt. Martin(+0.5) has held his position and pops off into a lane that Hillman might hit; he comes back inside, where Demens(+0.5) is there to finish the job.
50 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Slant Countess 10
Blitz up the middle with dropping DEs. I can't tell if this is Ryan's fault, Countess's fault, or no one's fault. Ryan drops back into the slot's slant instead of the outer slant, leaving it open; Countess is off the line. I'm watching Floyd on the other side play an identical slant and he's in much better position, so Countess(-1, cover -1) gets the ding. He does recover to tackle before the sticks. Also pressure -1.
M40 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under Pass 5 Post Countess Inc
Ryan off the line. He approaches it on a late shift; Gordon comes down over the slot for a one-high look. Play action with the outside receivers going deep; Countess is in man with a guy on a post. He runs it for him (+2, cover +2) and Lindley adds to his list of thankfully inaccurate passes. Pressure -1.
M40 2 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Hitch Floyd Inc
Big personnel with Hillman spread out wide and a FB next to Lindley. They run a little hitch to Hillman, which might work okay if they'd successfully motioned out a LB on him, but it's Floyd(+2, cover +2), who breaks on the ball for a PBU. RPS +1.
M40 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 6 Fade Countess Inc
Blitz gets Morgan(+1, RPS +1, Pressure +2) a free run up the middle. Lindley makes a back-foot chuck a la Carder but this one is deadly accurate, a fade outside of Countess's guy(-1, cover -1) that he just drops.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 12 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Outside zone Ryan 14
I think. It's not really stretch blocking but the playside tackle is definitely sealing RVB inside. It bounces outside spectacularly because Ryan(-2) is hacked to the ground by a fullback block, giving up the corner. Demens(-2) is also cut to the ground, meaning there's zero chance anyone can get out there before the secondary.
O48 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 even Run N/A Jet sweep Van Bergen -5
A tiny little adjustment murderizes the play. Michigan goes to an even front, which shifts RVB outside over a TE. TEs fan out and RVB(+1). goes straight upfield to tackle(+1) for loss. Normally the TEs would block Ryan and the T would get Van Bergen but the shift to the even confused them. More bust than tactical checkmate but still RPS +1.
O43 2 15 I-Form twins Nickel even Run N/A Draw Van Bergen 4
Van Bergen(+1) blows his guy back as they make contact, forcing Hillman behind him and away from his blocking. Countess(+0.5) realizes what's going on and sees Hillman coming; he can't disengage smoothly but does manage to sort of arm tackle him; Demens(+0.5) finishes it off. I'll take a four yard run on second and fifteen when you're in nickel and they're in a regular set.
O47 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide Okie press Pass 6 Slant Countess 10
Countess(-1, cover -1) is beaten a lot easier than Floyd and Avery have been so far this game and can only tackle afterwards; no chance at a breakup. This sets up a fourth down.
M43 4 1 Ace 3TE 4-3 under Pass 4 PA TE Seam -- Inc
PA is wildly effective and this guy is wide open (RPS -2, cover -2) but either Lindley misses or his TE turns the wrong way and it's incomplete.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 21-7, 8 min 4th Q. Michigan scores quickly and SDSU gets the ball back with 6 minutes left down 21. Both starting units stay on so I'll keep charting, but with game situation in mind big minuses for chunks will be slim. I'm mostly just trying to get a grip on the D.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Out Kovacs Inc
Lindley badly misses on an out or the WR should have run a hitch; either way Kovacs(-1, cover -1) is way far off after a Floyd corner blitz.
O27 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Flat Countess 2
Okay pressure; Lindley has to check down (cover +1). Countess(+1, tackling +1) is the hard corner in the zone and comes up for an immediate tackle.
O29 3 8 Shotgun 4-wide Okie press Pass 5 Skinny post Van Slyke 23
Van Slyke in tight man against an SDSU TE and just gets outrun by yards. Man. That guy cannot play in real games, I don't think. No cover because I don't think this is relevant to actual games.
M48 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 3 Dig Hawthorne 15
Hawthorne(-2, cover -2) busts, flying out on an out route and leaving a big hole in the zone.
M33 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Post Gordon 14
Out and and a post behind it; Gordon starts moving out on the out, then realizes that's not a good idea and sinks back. On the throw he's right there but the WR undercuts him a little and gets to the ball first, making a juggling catch. He's there and he's got a shot at an INT; could have played it better when the ball got there. (-0.5)
M19 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Sack Roh -8
Not instant BG death pressure here as Lindley sits for a second or two before trying a deep corner route, but Roh(+2) does beat the OT and hit the QB as he throws, forcing a drive-ending fumble. Pressure +1.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 28-7, 5 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 TE seam Demens 30
Martin and Lindley are out there so I guess I'm charting. I have no idea what to do with this one since Demens is in great position and actually has this ball go off his head before the TE Prothros him. I think (+0.5, cover +1) but please get your head around son before you Todd Howard us all. I mean... this throw was really hard and so was the catch and Demens could have done better but he didn't do bad.
O47 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Out Countess? 13
This may be on Countess (-1, cover -1), as this appears to be zone; Countess sits down on a short hitch, opening space up behind him that Gordon and the S can't cover. He should definitely be dropping deeper in this situation; who cares about a little hitch?
M40 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass N/A Bubble screen Countess 1
Michigan misaligns and SDSU busts. Opa! Hawthorne(-1) lines up wrong but the WR out on the bubble doesn't block so okay. Countess tackles for a minimal gain.
M39 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Slant Gordon Inc
Gordon on the slot; pocket is okay; Black is getting there but Lindley can step up. Zinged to Denso, who makes a one-handed grab with Gordon in pursuit. Gordon was riding him but couldn't make a play on the ball. -0.5. It's dropped because of the tough throw.
M39 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Screen Ryan Inc
Ryan(+1) and Campbell(+1) read screen and snuff it out; Lindley turfs it. RPS +1. Black(-1) was offside.
M34 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Slant Gordon 9
Gordon(-1, cover -1) beaten, and fairly easily.
M25 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Slant Countess 6
Six yard slant with instant tackle... I usually don't ding these on first down since you have to be wary about longer routes.
M19 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide tight Nickel even Pass 4 Out Countess Inc
Wide. Probably right at the sticks if completed.
M19 3 4 Shotgun trips Nickel press Pass 4 Hitch Hawthorne 6
Hawthorne in tight coverage but Lindley fits it in and Hawthorne can't rake it out.
M13 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Throwaway Black Inc
Black(+1) gets some pressure and Lindley chucks it OOB due to good coverage(+1).
M13 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel press Pass 4 Corner Countess Inc
Corner route against man is a TD if well thrown; this is too far inside. Countess(+0.5) is there and can make a play on the ball as it gets there, though, so there's that. M making it tough.
M13 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie press Pass 7 Seam Floyd Inc
Unblocked guy, naturally, Lindley chucks it off his back foot inaccurately; Floyd(+1, cover +1, RPS +1) was riding the WR before the throw to make sure that was the case.
M13 4 10 Ace twins twin TE Nickel press Pass 4 Slant Gordon Inc
Gordon in trail position again and seems beaten but as the WR catches it he double clutches; Gordon(+1, cover +1) punches it loose.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 28-7, EOG.

OH MAH GAWD WE HELD A ACTUAL-ISH TEAM TO SEVEN POINTS

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

EEEEE—all right.

Yes. Right.

Composure.

Yes. Yes, smooth out the jacket.

Insert bubble pipe.

Adopt calm, professional mien.

How about a chart?

Yes, that will help.

image

That's not very professional.

I took out the reference to "sex."

You have multiple exclamation points… and did you put the title at a jaunty angle? IS THAT AN EMO-KID LOWERCASE LETTER AMONGST CAPITALS IN THERE?

It's not in comic sans at least.

Pretty soon you'll be referring to Michigan's coaches as "CBH, CGM, and CAB."

Hater. I'm not even going to let you say chart.

Already did.

Oooooh. Fine.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 8.5 2 6.5 Forced fumble was big deal; solid otherwise.
Martin 15.5 - 15.5 Unblockable today.
Roh 6.5 1 5.5 Not bad for splitting time.
Brink 0.5 - 0.5 Sporadic PT.
Heininger 3 3 0 I'll take it.
Black 4 4 0 Not much impact; two offsides calls.
Campbell 4.5 1 3.5 Keep hope alive.
TOTAL 42.5 11 31.5 Martin wrecked these guys. Check the pressure metric.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
C. Gordon - - - DNP
Demens 9.5 2.5 7 Not sure what to do with his Howard-esque coverage but I liked it.
Herron - - - DNP
Ryan 9.5 8 1.5 Paging Jonas Mouton to aisle reincarnation.
Fitzgerald 2 - 2 A couple plays.
Jones - - - DNP
Evans - - - DNP
Beyer - - - Did not register.
Hawthorne 4.5 6.5 -2 Half of minuses came on final drive, fwiw, but he did bust a coverage there.
Morgan 1 1 0 Eh.
TOTAL 26.5 18 8.5 A better day from most; Ryan makes plays but really needs to settle down on the edge.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 5.5 1 4.5 Tony Gibson -1000
Avery 2 3 -1 Tough completions made against him.
Woolfolk 2 3 -1 Didn't seem right even before the injury.
Kovacs 3.5 3 0.5 Got him on the long RPS run.
T. Gordon 5 4 1 All safeties > 0 against real QB.
Countess 6 4 2 Not as rapturous as we thought but still pretty good, full stop.
Johnson 1 - 1 A couple of fills.
TOTAL 25 18 7 Stunning.
Metrics
Pressure 20 4 16 Jeepers.
Coverage 25 19 6 Flabbergasting.
Tackling 5 5 0 Could use work.
RPS 8 10 -2 Blitzing reduced as not necessary; did get RPS-3ed on a big run

To sanity check those numbers, SDSU had thirteen drives and got seven points. Four drives started at midfield or worse. When Michigan punched in their final TD to end the game with about six minutes left, SDSU had 266 yards. Michigan at least sort of forced three turnovers.

I think they're right. With a few exceptions on too-easy short passes and busts on edge contain, San Diego State got dominated.

But Lindley was terrible. This means nothing!

I don't think Lindley was good by any means, but in a way the Aztecs were lucky he was so off. On multiple plays Michigan had defensive backs in position to either get PBUs or intercept the ball only to see Lindley miss by miles. A lot of the time the reason those balls were so off was pressure applied by Martin or others.

Lindley is no joke, either. He is a legit NFL prospect:

Overall, he’s got a strong arm, showcases the ability to look off defenders, find a secondary option and when given time he can get his feet around toward his target. However, he doesn’t possess the kind of coordination/balance from the waist down that you want to see from an NFL quarterback, especially in today’s NFL where you need a QB who can escape pressure both inside and outside the pocket, settle himself quickly and burn a defense that wants to bring the blitz. Something I have a hard time seeing Lindley doing consistently at the next level.

Lindley is certainly worth a draft pick and has the skill set to go somewhere in the early/mid round range, depending on how well he performs the rest of the year/post-season. However, if he doesn’t improve his overall footwork/coordination from the pocket, it’s going to be tough for him to make plays in the NFL when he doesn’t have a clean pocket.

While he's not Tom Brady I don't have to remind anyone reading this of the murderer's row that carved Michigan up last year.

ben-chappellllllllmatt-mcgloinfootball-cat

The Michigan secondary held a fifth year senior NFL prospect QB to 5.3 YPA, which is also known as "Threet/Sheridan production." Take whatever coaching-upgrade-based optimism you held going into the season and triple it.

Okay, okay, no receivers and a lot of Mike Martin tearing through the line. Sure. San Diego State is going to backslide this year. I refer you to the above murderers row, though. Upgrade: massive.

Here's where I want to embed several plays that showcased Michigan's newfound talent for making life tough on opposing receivers, but I'm still trying to figure out what my status is there. But, man, even when SDSU was completing stuff they had guys in their grill. Lindley had to make some perfect passes to complete slants on Avery and often just missed because a guy like Demens had given him the choice of throwing it high/wide or throwing it into his helmet.

And the run defense?

There are still problems on the edge. Ryan did end up positive but is dinged for losing contain on three separate occasions that resulted in 30 yards. So there's that. There was also the massive minus rock-paper-scissor run that ended in the Hillman fumble. That was another 30 yards. So the SDSU run game:

  • Ryan losing contain on edge (w/ assist from Demens once): 3 carries, 30 yards
  • That one RPS play: 1 carry, 30 yards
  • Everything else: 24 carries, 77 yards

As a wise groundskeeper in a Snickers commercial once said, great googly moogly. Say what you want about Lindley and his receivers, SDSU returned essentially their entire running game and was shut down when not exploiting one freshman's issues with keeping the edge or running that one play. Those things seem fixable. Even if they aren't, Michigan held the Aztecs to 4.2 YPC.

I'm getting closer to believing that Campbell can be an average three-tech in the Big Ten. Like, a guy who doesn't get blown up and is mildly positive. Weakness at LB outside of Demens is going to be an issue that prevents Michigan from having a really good run defense, but I think they're 80% of the way to the best case scenario already.

So you're down on Ryan, then.

Relative to the rest of the internet, yeah. I think he's promising. I also think he's making four or five really obvious mistakes per game. Maize Pages picture paged the second play of the game, a six yard run that was the first of Michigan's Flip You For Real plays. Notice something?

flip-you-for-real-5

The middle linebacker is… Brandin Hawthorne. The line is… undershifted. Jake Ryan is… definitely not in position. When Michigan meant to run an even front this is what it looked like:

even-for-real

Demens in the middle, line slid more playside. Maize Pages dinged the D for not adjusting but they didn't have to; a safety slid down when the TE went in motion. If Ryan's where he's supposed to be Michigan probably defends this play.

COUNTESS!

I'm a little less thrilled than I was on gameday but I'm still pretty impressed. Even more impressive: when SDSU runs double slants and I look across the field at Floyd to see if he's playing it better, he is. Maybe we should be saying FLOYD!

Seriously. When the starters were in there, SDSU went after Woolfolk. When Avery was in there, they went after Avery. Floyd came up with a jumped-route PBU and ended up significantly positive despite being a corner. I'm still leery about the depth of the transformation here but each game adds evidence to the pile indicating Floyd can play now and Pitt fans should get used to shootouts.

Back to Countess: he ran some routes for guys, which puts him in a group with Gordon, Kovacs, Floyd, and not quite Avery. I be like dang.

image

Speaking of being like dang…

Yes. Mike Martin in full effect, never more so than when he literally ran over the SDSU center en route to the QB. A large number of Lindley's hopeless mortar shells can be directly attributed to Martin ripping through those guys like they were not there. This was a solid offensive line he did it to; with his quietly plus-double-digit day against Eastern (no passes to be devastating on) he seems poised to wreck the Big Ten. I can't wait to see him matchup against MSU's center, who will be a freshman coming off injury or a converted DT.

Why is your eye twitching?

BOY I'M GLAD TERRANCE ROBINSON CAN TACKLE DESPITE BEING SIX INCHES TALL

punt-wtf

That's a lot of grass, man. That is all.

Heroes?

Mike Martin, JT Floyd(!?!), RVB, and Kenny Demens.

Goats?

If I had to pick a guy it would be Ryan, but even that is a guy who ended up positive on the day. Black also should be mentioned—if you're going to take two offsides penalties you need to have one big negative play to compensate and he didn't.

What does it mean for Minnesota and beyond?

They should do about what they did to SDSU to Minnesota, a team in disarray that can maybe run a little bit when Gray is in there. I actually expect them to hold the Gophers to not many points.

As far as beyond, it seems like they've plugged a lot of their holes. I'm still worried about what happens when Michigan goes up against a serious offensive line but it's hard to find any until the last couple weeks of the schedule. There has been ever less firedrill confusion as the season progresses and in two weeks when they start the Big Ten schedule in earnest it's not too much to expect it to be largely gone. Then it's just a matter of getting improvement from Ryan/Hawthorne/Campbell/Johnson to bring the starting defense up to "decent to good Big Ten team." There's still a lack of out and out stars behind Martin but it's hard to point to a truly gaping hole at the moment, either.

This could all blow up against Northwestern if they've got Persa back. Right now, though, the defense is currently executing the best case scenario.