Illinois Postgame Presser Transcript: Brady Hoke

Illinois Postgame Presser Transcript: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on October 14th, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Bullets:

  • Vincent Smith was held out due to a hamstring.
  • Kenny Demens jumped the route and got the interception because he knew it was coming based on film study and preparation.
  • Fitz's job isn't necessarily in danger; Hoke says he just wanted to get the other tailbacks some quality work.
  • Hoke made the decision to pick Desmond Morgan for No. 48 before realizing the Grand Rapids connection, but learning of it made it cooler.

Brady Hoke

File, because I forgot to bring my camera and I forgot to take a picture of Hoke with my phone because I was a little out of it because I wasn't feeling well because I was ... dehydrated. Yeah. Dehydrated. 

Opening remarks:

“It was good to win Homecoming. It’s good to win any time. And really thought complete game-wise, a lot of ways this was the most complete we played. Running the ball with the running backs, Denard obviously had some great runs in there. I thought defensively, after the second series, third series, we started playing Michigan defense. Played well against the run. And then I thought when we did that on first and second down it gave us an opportunity to try and put some pressure on the quarterback and helped the guys do a nice job. Some things in there -- we had some penalties, running the ball early, [penalties] against our defense we weren’t happy with, but overall it’s probably as complete as we’ve played, but it’s not near good enough.”

Both fronts look very solid. Your assessment?

“I think really up front defensively, I didn’t think we were playing with gap integrity and getting of blocks as well as we needed to. They were hitting in there and getting four or five yards, or five or six yards. That wasn’t stout enough at the line of scrimmage. I thought we had some more work to do there. I thought we played better as the game went on. I think at the same time there was a lot of improvement. From an offensive standpoint, as we continue to grow to some degree, I think we’re playing a little better when you look at pad level, I think we’re playing a little better with the speed we want to play with.”

There were a couple critical fourth down stops by your defense when the game was still in doubt. How important were those plays?

“Those were critical, but the one where they went for it on fourth down and our defense stepped up and did a nice job, we got the ball [with] two minutes, and we got nothing. That’s frustrating because we felt coming in the locker room after half time that we left some points on the board. You can’t do that when you play for championships.”

Quinton Washington and Kenny Demens?

“And I’ll tell you. Quinton has improved every game. It’s exciting as a coach when you see a guy who steps out there and gains confidence and plays better, and he’s a big part of our football team, and he’s a wonderful young man. Kenny, I tell you, the interception, he had seen the route. He was prepared. And that’s one thing we’ve done better as a team is the preparation. He knew formationally, he knew route-wise, he knew when they lined up what route was coming so he could jump the route. That’s the maturity that you like to see in your football team. Kenny being a senior, you expect that, but when it works out you’re excited about that.”

Can you assess how Russell Bellomy played, and how important is it to give him some good game experience?

“It always is, you know. Russ, we’re very excited about Russ Bellomy, and have been. He came in there with a lot of confidence. We had the one exchange problem alter in the game, and I think the ball slipped or we didn’t get it up enough, but he’s a guy that we think is a good quarterback. That’s why we recruited him. It was good to get him some work. Obviously meaningful work, but any work is good work.”

At what point do you start thinking about Michigan State?

“I don’t know. I mean I hope the guys enjoy this right now. I don’t know if you ever don’t think about rivalry games. I think that’s always part of what makes us special being Michigan.”

Why did you choose Desmond for the jersey, and did you lay any special expectations for him with Gerald Ford being a president and all that?

“Yeah. And I’ll tell you, it was very easy to choose Desmond because of his character and his integrity, because of how he comes every day in our building, I think in our classroom, in the community. He’s a great kid. It would really -- the grand rapids connection didn’t have a whole lot to do with it until I felt that I was going to do it with Desmond and then it kind of clicked in.”

What was the thought process behind using Justice Hayes and Thomas Rawls earlier in the game?

“Um, you know, we just wanted to give them both some more carries. I think competition is always healthy for everybody, so giving those guys out there some time. Vince, we didn’t play him at all becaues he had a little bit of a hamstring, and that’s where Justice got some more reps because of that. Giving Thomas more carries was part of it.”

Is it still Fitz’s job?

“Yes.”

When Denard went out, how confident were you that you could win with your defense?

“I’d like to tell you I was very confident. I felt good that our guys on defense, and then the other piece of it I thought our kicking game -- I thought we had kind of challenged that group, challenged ourselves as coaches. Our kicking game had to make improvements and has to continue to. At that part of it, I was comfortable if that’s the way it would have gone.”

Was Denard’s boo boo a hand injury?

“Just a boo boo.”

How relieved were you that it wasn’t that serious?

“Any time any guy gets dinged up with boo boos and stuff, you always worry about it.”

It’s two games in a row that Denard hasn’t thrown an interception. Is that comfort with the game plan or just maturity?

“I think it’s a combination of both. I think he obviously reassessed probably after Notre Dame a little bit. I think we all did. I think game plan-wise, we were bound and determined that we were going to run the football. In the passing game, the play-action part of it, the part of the passing offense that he felt most comfortable with.”

Can you assess Fitz’s play today? Did he get the jumpstart he needed? Second question is how much did you stress not peeking to Michigan State?

“I’ll answer the second question first. I didn’t even talk about it because our guys never even mentioned it, looked at it. I was really surprised, but I felt real confident about every week for us is a championship game no matter what. So they have to prepare for every opponent like a championship game. There was none of that in the locker room or anywhere else. It was Illinois and how we wanted to play and how we wanted to prepare. I thought Fitz ran the ball hard. I thought he got more north and south. Jump starting? I hope. But at the same time, I think there were two runs I didn’t really like, but other than that, I thought he really started getting vertical.”

Is it fair to say he needed a jump start?

“Eh, I don’t know. You gotta explain jump start. Is that when your battery dies and you -- ”

Yeah.

“Well we didn’t do that with him. But I just think, and I said this before -- it’s not always the back. There’s 10 other guys other there. If Denard doesn’t carry out fakes very well, then that’s not going to be effective. And I just saw that as a piece of coaching and how you put an offense together.”

You always preach relentless effort. Can you talk about Jake Ryan missing the quarterback, hitting the ground, and then coming back to force the fumble?

“You know, Greg and the defensive staff do a tremendous job when you talk about effort and the toughness that you need to play football at Michigan with, and defense at Michigan with. And the pride that, number one, the self-pride that Jake has and how this is a football player. It’s more of a Michigan pride than team pride and a defensive pride -- that’s not why he got off the ground and forced a fumble, but that’s part of who he is and who we want to represent.”

Bliss

Bliss

Submitted by Ace on October 13th, 2012 at 7:19 PM


Upchurch

Outside of a two-possession stretch when Michigan fans held their breath as Denard Robinson was sidelined with a pinky injury, the Wolverines couldn't have made it any easier to look ahead to next week's game against Michigan State, pounding a hapless Illinois squad, 45-0.

If anything, the final score belied Michigan's dominance. The offense moved the ball at will, rushing for 353 yards on 6.9 per carry and adding 174 through the air on just 15 attempts. The defense held the Illini to a mere 134 yards, including an unheard-of 29 yards on 16 passes; while it didn't help matters when starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase exited in the second quarter with an upper-body injury, his four yards on six attempts weren't lighting the world on fire.

Seemingly every play called by Al Borges worked as intended, starting with a 71-yard touchdown to Jeremy Gallon on a bubble screen* to open the scoring; Gallon weaved through the Illini defense, helped by stellar downfield blocking, most notably by tight end Mike Kwiatkowski. The next drive stalled near the goal line for a field goal after Denard exited the game with a banged-up pinky; it was the only moment when Michigan fans felt even a hint of concern.

The Wolverines continued to establish their identity as a run-first, run-second outfit on Denard's first possession back in the lineup, gaining all 68 of their yards on the ground en route to a six-yard scramble for Michigan's dreaded wonder. When Robinson opened the second half with a physics-defying 49-yard scamper to paydirt, the rout was on in earnest. Illinois's next possession ended after one play, a Kenny Demens interception of Reilly O'Toole. Three plays later, Devin Funchess hauled in a Robinson lob in the back of the end zone, bringing the score to 31-0 before many fans had returned with their halftime hot chocolates.


Upchurch

On the other side of the ball, Jake Ryan flashed his All-American potential again and again, amassing 11 tackles (7 solo), four TFLs, 1.5 sacks, and a devastating forced fumble as he flushed O'Toole out of the pocket, doubled back, and blindsided him to jar the ball loose. Denard Robinson may have finished with four touchdowns, 159 yards passing, and 128 yards rushing, but Ryan made a legitimate claim for best Wolverine on the field.

Ryan wasn't the only standout, as seven Wolverines tallied tackles for loss, neither Illini quarterback could find an open receiver, and Greg Mattison's blitzes hit home time and again. Two years ago, Michigan faced this same Illinois squad—with the same starting quarterback, even—and gave up 561 yards and 65 points. Against this defense, the Illini would need almost a full 17 quarters to rack up that same yardage; no matter how long they went, they'd obviously never reach that point total.

Safe to say, times have changed for both programs.

Michigan has found their perfect match at head coach and defensive coordinator. The offense under Al Borges has had their growing pains, but it's clear that they've found a suitable balance since the bye week to maximize Denard's remaining time as a Wolverine.

After the game, the marching band spelled out "Marry Me, Danielle?" as a band member dropped to a knee at midfield. Like everything the Wolverines dialed up on Saturday, the play was a success. On a cold, grey, rainy day in Ann Arbor, only the weather could dampen the spirits of those in Maize and Blue.

-----------------
*On second look, it wasn't exactly a bubble screen, as Gallon started downfield before stopping and coming back to the line; a very well drawn-up play regardless.

Monday Presser Transcript 10-8-12: Brady Hoke

Monday Presser Transcript 10-8-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on October 8th, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Brady Hoke

News bullets and other important items:

  • Kickoffs: There was one bad kick and nine missed tackles, but kicking it short and to the right was on purpose to avoid Raheem Mostert.
  • Denard's wrist is fine. 
  • Gallon's job as punt returner is not in danger.
  • Hoke did not consider putting in Rawls earlier for Toussaint.

Televised Presser

file

Opening remarks:

“Thanks for coming. Very pleased with the win. It’s great to win, obviously. I thought we set a tone early defensively and great to win on the road is what I should say because you look at this league on the road, it’s a tough place to play. I thought we set the tone with the three-and-out on the defense, and offensively, 17-play drive, almost nine minutes, really was what we needed to do. We play really good defense watching our offense out there on the field. That’s a good deal. I think we practiced well for the week. We prepared well. Liked how our guys came to work every day, and we need to continue to do that. We know we’re in a championship game every Saturday, so our mentality and attitude needs to reflect that by our actions in practice. We had a good day yesterday, and hopefully we can continue that.”

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Notre Dame

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Notre Dame

Submitted by Brian on September 27th, 2012 at 3:17 PM

Formation notes: I called whatever the heck this is "Nickel rush". The two DT types next to each other stunted, FWIW:

nickel-rush

This was "okie one": man to man on the outside with a free safety and six guys on the LOS. Okie was rare.

okie-one

Substitution notes: Roh and Clark went the whole way save for a drive or two on which Ojemudia spotted Clark. Washington and Campbell got the large majority of the snaps on the interior; Black was pretty marginalized. He seems to only be playing in the nickel package, of which there wasn't much.

The usual ILB rotation went down with Demens and Morgan getting a solid majority of playing time but Ross and Bolden featuring as well. Ryan played every snap, I think. Secondary was Taylor/Floyd/Kovacs/Gordon the whole way with scattered nickel plays featuring Avery.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O9 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Fade Taylor INT
All day; Taylor jams his guy and ends up losing him deep a little. Golson leaves it short and Taylor(+2, cover push) snags it as he recovers. There was a window here between Taylor and Kovacs that was missed, but it's not the easiest thing in the world. Taylor is sinking in cover two, and you never want to throw over a sinking corner.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Cutback zone Floyd 8
End around fake to the boundary and the WR headhunting Kovacs from the start of the play implies this is a designed cutback. Clark(-1) gets pushed way too far down the line and opens it up. Floyd(-1) again totally fails to read a WR cracking down on a block a la Air Force and the corner opens up after Kovacs tries to fill the hole Clark left and gets blindsided by the WR.
O33 2 2 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A Zone stretch Clark 5
Campbell(+1) takes a double and doesn't move, or get sealed, and takes two guys all the way to the end of the play. They're also doubling the backside end, bizarrely, so no second level guys. Wood has to go all the way outside. He gets the corner and I'm not sure if it's Morgan slowing up instead of hauling for the outside or Clark getting sealed inside that's the culprit. I think Clark(-1) since I haven't seen Michigan not use the end as the contain guy.
O38 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 under Run N/A Counter Demens 2
This looks grim for a moment as Clark gets sealed inside (ND's game plan is clear) and a tackle pulls around, but a couple of nice LB plays save it. Ryan(+1.5) delays, then jets past a center who got a free release. He comes around him in a flash and shoots up into the interior gap, taking the lead OL. Demens(+1.5) reads it, shoves a slot WR past him, and fills near the LOS.
O40 2 8 Shotgun 2TE Nickel even Pass N/A Sack Ryan 0
Yeah, they didn't credit Michigan with a sack, but I don't care. ND has one guy in this route, and it's not there as Avery(+1, cover +1) drops pack into the slant Eifert is running. Golson starts scrambling. Ryan(+1, pressure +1) grabs him by the ankles as he threatens to break into space and scramble a bit.
O40 3 8 Shotgun empty Dime Pass 4 Hitch Taylor Inc
Golson has a hitch route right at the sticks that is going to be 50-50 depending on whether Taylor can stick the guy right on the catch, but Golson airmails it. Probably a first down.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 7 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Ross 5
Ross in at MLB. He gets a free run as ND goes at Clark(+1) again. This time he stands up to a double and gets a little push, forcing a cut up. Campbell(-0.5) is flowing down the line, too, but eventually gets sealed. Ross can't quite get to the hole and impacts from the side, riding Atkinson to the ground but giving up 3 YAC. Like his decisiveness but not quite there on this one.
O25 2 5 Ace 3TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Clark 6
ND combos Campbell(+0.5) and gets out on Ross; Campbell comes through the block and shows in the hole, but it's too big and Ross(-0.5) does not funnel to help, but the real issue is probably Clark(-1) getting kicked out too far. He ends up way outside, so even though Ross does get outside of the G eventually he can't shut it down because of the big gap. Floyd and Kovacs fill after the sticks.
O31 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Clark 4
Michigan seems to be running a run blitz here as Clark(-2) pops outside immediately and Kovacs and Ross shoot into a backside hole. Campbell(+0.5) prevented anyone from getting out on Ross(+1), who saw the gap forming and flew up into it. Kovacs(+0.5) also there, and he didn't have to pick a gap. Michigan has this stoned until Clark is pancaked on the edge and the bounce opens up.
O35 2 6 Ace 3TE 4-3 under Run N/A Zone stretch Roh 2
Roh(+1) slants outside past the T and gets into the backfield, picking off H-back Eifert and forcing a cutback. Campbell(+0.5) appears to block the guy supposed to get to Morgan on the second level. Morgan has a free run as a result. Bolden(-1) again gets tentative and then fights inside the blocker, momentarily giving Atkinson a lane outside that Morgan(+1) shuts down with a flash of speed. Could have been no gain and a thumping Morgan hit if this doesn't open up outside. Picture-paged.
O37 3 4 Shotgun empty 4-3 even Pass 4 Tunnel screen Ryan 1
Ryan(+3) is sucked out to the edge by the formation. He runs up hard to the outside of the TE, gets that TE moving out to block him, then pulls up short and dives back inside, making a tackle(+1) in space on Riddick as the DL recovers to cut off angles further inside. Great, great play.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Washington 1
Washington(+2) shoots under the center and forces a cutback into an unblocked Ryan(+0.5). Campbell(+1) had also gotten push and effectively two-gapped his blocker if the play went playside.
M16 2 9 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass 4 TE seam Demens Inc
Eifert does beat Demens down the field and is separating as he reaches the endzone, but he's close enough to force a very tough throw out of Golson, who has to drop it over Demens's head before Gordon can get over. He misses. Cover +1.
M16 3 9 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 even Pass 4 TE seam Demens Inc
Roh(+2) roars off the ball and plows over the LT, hitting Golson from behind as he throws (pressure +2). Pass is still amazingly accurate, but Demens(+2,cover +2) is step for step with the TE and there is literally nowhere the ball can be that will be a catch.
Drive Notes: FG(33), 0-3, 10 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Dumpoff Demens 13
No pressure(-2) as Roh oddly makes a fake pass drop before rushing on a a four-man pressure. Clark got off the ball late. Coverage downfield is good but they run everyone off and Demens gets stuck in space with Riddick and that doesn't go great. Considering the situation, Demens(+0.5) does well to hold Riddick relatively stationary until the cavalry arrives. (Cover -1, RPS -1)
M26 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Dig Bolden 10
Bolden(-1, cover -2) slides out of his zone, opening up a dig route before the safeties. Again little pressure(-1) but it was better this time.
M10 1 G Ace 3TE 4-3 under Run N/A Power Campbell 0
Campbell(+2) slides over on the snap, moving past a couple of DL, one of whom falls. He takes on Eifert head up, sheds him to the inside, and hits in the hole. Roh(+1) had slanted all the way from the backside of the play to help close the hole. Washington(-0.5) ended up blown up a bit but I don't think that's too bad since he got doubled and downblocked.
M10 2 G Shotgun 2TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Improv Gordon INT
Clark(+1) gets a bull rush that spooks Golson even though it's pretty harmless. He gets held so maybe that's why it ends up harmless. Roh(+0.5) also gets held on the edge as he's trying to contain the rollout; he still manages to cut Golson off before he can reach the LOS. Golson makes a decision as bad as Denard's first INT, chucking up a moonball Gordon(+2, cover +2) is in coverage on and intercepts. No one open at all. WTF.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-3, 8 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M48 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A TGDCD Morgan -3
Morgan(+1) reads this all the way and shoots up into the intended hole unblocked, forcing a bounce. Ryan(-1) allowed that to happen by trying to close down and giving a ton of ground; Kovacs(+1) flows up quickly to cut off the outside, at which point Atkinson hesitates and is lost. Kovacs with the open-field TFL(tackling +1). RPS +1; Michigan did not bite on the action.
O49 2 13 Shotgun empty TE 4-3 even Pass N/A Improv Roh 16
Dig in the middle of the field is open but Rees doesn't like it for some reason; Campbell(+1) bulls his way into the pocket and spooks Rees out; Roh(-1) loses contain and allows that to happen, at which point the zone has been dragged open by all manner of things. It seems like Bolden is running vertical with a TE, opening it up, FWIW. (Cover -2, Pressure -2)
M35 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Bolden 2
Line makes a very shallow slant away from the play that ends up preventing anyone from getting to the second level. The DTs get sealed away by three guys and Roh ends up taking on two. Bolden(+1) sees the gap forming in front of him and starts flying up into it before the handoff is even made, forcing a bounce; Gordon(+1, tackling +1) fends off a block from a WR, tossing him away, and tackles near the LOS. I'm not even sure which ND player is hypothetically supposed to block Bolden. RPS +1.
M33 2 8 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Roh 3
Exact same play. This time Roh is not banging into two guys as M plays it straight. G releases into Demens, single blocking on front. Roh(+0.5) gets some push and comes off to tackle; Washington does the same(+0.5); Demens(+0.5) gets outside of the G and the RB runs right into him thanks to the narrow crease.
M30 3 5 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 Fade Taylor 24
RT moves a hair early but no call. Taylor(-3, cover -1) is in the right spot to make a play on this ball if he turns around or could just play NOBODY CARES coverage, but when the WR slows up he overruns it a little bit, getting out of position and drawing a PI flag. Catch is made.
M6 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Angle Ryan 5
Roh chucks the TE as he comes out of his stance, which slows any pass rush from him considerably. This play looks like a guaranteed quick hitter to the RB, which is caught in front of the zone picket-fencing the endzone. Ryan(+0.5) does get a hit on the RB to make it short of the endzone. (Cover -1)
M1 2 G Ace Goal line Run N/A Dive Kovacs 0 (Pen -5)
Kovacs(+1) blitzes inside of the tight end and into the middle of the formation, which takes away any lanes there, forcing a bounce. Morgan(+1, tackling +1) and Demens are moving hard to the bounce at the snap, with Morgan chopping Riddick down for no gain. RPS +1. Illegal motion takes it back a little.
M6 2 G Shotgun empty Nickel under press Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
Oops.
M11 2 G Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 3 Corner Avery Inc
LBs threaten double A blitz, back out. Michigan's dropping eight into coverage; Avery(-1, cover -1) does not get depth as he's trying to drop to the corner of the endzone with the slot WR and ends up beaten. Ball is overthrown; M escapes.
M11 3 G Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Dig Wilson Inc (Pen +9)
Wilson(-2, cover -1) gets beaten by Eifert in man and holds, drawing a flag. RPS -2, why is M in man coverage with no deep safeties from the eleven? And why is a freshman safety one on one with ND's best WR?
M2 1 G Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A QB draw N/A 2
Just one LB in the box and he's too far away; RPS -1. Five guy box against six blockers from the two is not going to go well very often.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-10, 1 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Zone stretch Kovacs 0
I'm not sure about Clark here. He gets a big push on the RT and forces the back to change directions but does so outside, where Morgan is cut off and Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) is dealing with a WR crackdown. Seems like this is what they want to have happen and Clark needs to flare out to force it back away from blocking. OTOH, Kovacs gets a jump outside early that gets him past the block because Clark forced a quick decision from the back. Okay, +0.5. Kovacs in space, TFL, the usual.
O25 2 10 Shotgun empty 4-3 even Pass 5 TE out Ryan Inc
This TE out is going to be open as Morgan was tasked with coverage and is way far away from Eifert; an unblocked Ryan(+1, pressure +1) is in the throwing lane and leaps to bat it away. RPS push, I guess? Open guy, blitz did nerf it, kind of risky.
O25 3 10 Shotgun empty Okie zero Pass 3 Hitch Floyd 7
Michigan backs everyone out; Rees hits a hitch a few yards short of the sticks that Floyd escorts OOB. Cover +1, RPS +1 as Rees ended up throwing this way faster than he had to as he assumed blitz.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-10, 13 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O8 1 10 Ace 4-4 under Run N/A Zone stretch Floyd 15
Campbell(+0.5) drives single blocking back, but this is always going way outside so his angle is not tested. Floyd(+0.5) does recognize the crack down this time and comes hard, cutting off the outside and forcing it back; he also gets an ankle tackle in; Kovacs(-0.5), Morgan(-0.5), and Ojemudia are each coming off blocks to hold it down. Would like Ojemudia(-1) to hold his ground better to maybe get this down to minimal yardage, and definitely want him to keep his feet and actually tackle. He ends up on his knees as Wood manages to stay on his feet (tackling -2) and burst for a first down.
O23 1 10 Ace 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Ojemudia 4
Morgan blitzes and threatens to shoot a gap, causing the ND LT to pull off of Ojemudia(-2) just as the TE releases outside to block Taylor. This leaves Ojemudia alone in space with Wood; he gets juked and beat to the outside(tackling -1). Taylor contains. Gordon(+1, tackling +1) fills well.
O27 2 6 Ace 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 2
Washington and Campbell(+0.5 each) get playside of their guys and don't give ground; no creases. Roh(+0.5) also makes this true. Ojemudia(+0.5) is in the cutback lane, forcing Wood to feint outside. He hops outside. Morgan(+1) has blown past a block now to show up in the hole and tackles at the LOS.
O29 3 4 Shotgun empty TE Nickel rush Pass 6 Hitch Ross Inc
Formation explained above. Michigan sends six, getting Ross(+1, pressure +1) in basically clean and forcing a crappy inaccurate short throw from Rees that's wide of a decently covered WR.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-10, 5 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Swing Gordon 8
Ryan(+0.5) reads it and gets outside the slot TE trying to block him, forcing the play inside to Gordon(-1, tackling -2), who comes up hard and whiffs; Bolden(-1) tries to go upfield of a block and does not get there so there is no support to the inside.
O33 2 2 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Ryan 4
Washington(+2) blows this play up by slanting and getting under the C. He's into the backfield. Ryan(-1) is not holding the edge well—he's downfield of Roh and not prepared for a bounce and Floyd(-1) is late reacting. He tackles, but really this should be a TFL after Washington forces the bounce.
O37 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A Counter Bolden 5
Roh(+1) dives under the G and ends up absorbing the pulling T. That seems like a bust by the T but results based charting. Bolden(-1, tackling -1) is unblocked in a big hole that rapidly constricts and misses a tackle. Morgan(-0.5) got blocked out of the play but he was going to have a hard time with this guy's angle.
O42 2 5 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Zone stretch Washington 6
ND flips both TEs, M flips in response. Washington(-1) gets penetration but this is a stretch and he gets too vertical, opening up a seam. Campbell(-1) got pushed down field and let a blocker into Morgan. That makes cutback lane that is hit up for first down yardage. If you go upfield of a blocker I will minus you unless you make a play. UFR guarantee.
O48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 over Pass 4 Rollout hitch Floyd 12
Actually pretty good coverage by Floyd(+1, cover +1), who breaks on the hitch and has a play on the ball. Unfortunately it's high and he can't quite rake it out. A lower ball and he's got a PBU coming. Great throw or lucky, you make the call.
M40 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Washington 2
Washington(+2) is again boom gone past the center and directly into the frontside hole. He can't quite make a tackle as Wood runs through him as the C pushes him past the ballcarrier. Kovacs(+1) shows up in the cutback hole and puts him to the ground.
M38 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Flare Gordon 5
No response to Eifert motion and M's soft zone gives up a lot of room on the edge. This time Gordon(+1, tackling +1) comes up well and tackles. RPS -1.
M33 3 3 Shotgun trips TE Okie one Penalty N/A Offsides Washington 5
Washington(-1)
M28 1 10 Ace twins 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Clark 1
Heaps of bodies, no holes. Washington(+0.5) holds up to a double. Campbell(+0.5) flows down the line. Roh(+0.5) holds up. Clark(+0.5) gets under a blocker and tackles from behind.
M27 2 9 Ace twins Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Demens 5
Morgan inexplicably starts moving to the field right before the play. M is in full nickel with Roh/Black as DTs and slanting hard to the playside. This does force a cutback; Black(+1) got good penetration; Ryan(-1) ends up buried. LBs both come under blocks as the slant has fouled angles; Demens(+1) does a good job to do this and tackle as Riddick threatens to cut behind this into space. Still a little dangerous because Riddick didn't have to cut it as outside as M wanted with the Ryan fall.
M23 3 4 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Demens 1
Again the TE flip again the front flip. M seems lucky or prepared this time with Gordon(+1) blitzing off the corner and Ryan(+0.5) slanting inside to pick off a second level guy and get a two for one, allowing Demens(+1, tackling +1) to flow. Gordon forces Riddick inside at the hash and Demens tackles. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: FG(39), 3-13, 7 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3TE 4-4 under Run N/A Power Morgan 2
ND doubles Washington(+0.5) and moves him out of the hole but no one releases, so good job Washington I guess. G pulls around for Demens. Morgan(+0.5) is unblocked in the hole and tackles.
O27 2 8 Ace twins 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 4
Campbell(-0.5) gives a little too much ground in his quest to keep Morgan clean, which ends up opening up a cutback lane; Morgan gets blocked by the other guy as the RB comes back. Kovacs fills. There's too much space to shut it down entirely and the block on Morgan prevents him from holding this another yard or two shorter.
O31 3 4 Shotgun empty TE Nickel under press Pass 5 Fade Floyd 38
Floyd(-2, cover -2) tries to chuck and ends up stumbling as Eifert moves past him, which opens up the fade for an easy completion. Too bad.
M31 1 10 Ace 3TE 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Gordon -1
Gordon(+0.5) walks to the line and blitzes past Eifert; Riddick tries to pop outside of him and is slowed by the tackle attempt. By the time he moves outside, Demens(+0.5) and Morgan(+0.5) have converged to tackle.
M32 2 11 Ace twin TE 4-4 under Run N/A Zone stretch Demens 2
Gordon again just flying up; Demens(+0.5) also flows into the same hole with a tougher assignment; cutback handled by Washington(+0.5), who got a free pass from the line but did take a good angle to close down the cutback lane.
M30 3 9 Ace 3TE 4-4 under Run N/A Power Washington 9
Washington(-1) ends up giving up way too much ground on this double, which forces Morgan to hold up in case of cutback and gets him chopped by the center. Campbell(-1) also got pushed back, which gets Morgan's blocker out on him and prevents a scrape. Morgan(-1) does get cut and ends up out of the play. Demens takes on a lead guard and funnels, but to no one.
Drive Notes: EOG, 6-13.

That was rather delightful.

It was. Michigan was one stumble away from holding Notre Dame to under 200 yards of total offense. ND drives started at the Michigan 17, 39, and 48 in the first half and Michigan still gave up a total of 13 points on nine drives (ND had a tenth on which it was not trying to score, FWIW.)

How did that happen?

Well, this ND offense probably isn't very good. Michigan forced a QB switch after Golson's second horrible interception, and neither Purdue or Michigan State had too much trouble shutting down the Irish.

You'd better have a "but…"

Okay: but Purdue gave up nearly 400 yards on 11 drives. ND had 314 on the nose against MSU on 12 drives before kneels took away 14; even if you chalk that long Goodman TD up to punt chuckin' Michigan is about even with what was supposed to be the league's best D, and their performance was on the road instead of at home. Michigan blew up the counter draw MSU fell victim to and the rush yardage comparison goes to M. MSU gave up 4.9 YPC once a sack and some kneel-downs are excised. Michigan gave up 3.3 after taking out a zero yard not-quite-sack on Golson and a knee. Purdue did even better but gave up nearly 300 yards passing to the guy M chased from the game.

It was a bit of a downer that the D couldn't hold at the end when Michigan pulled to within a score twice, but that Michigan was even within striking distance after six turnovers was a little miracle.

You still haven't said how.

I think I need a—

probably pretty dang good CHART

--chart to answer that question.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Roh 7 1 6 I call him mini-RVB. /self high five
Campbell 8.5 3 5.5 whoah whoah whoah
Washington 8.5 3.5 5 what what what what
Black 1 - 1 Hardly got a snap.
Brink - - - DNP
Ash - - - DNP
Pipkins - - - DNP
Beyer - - - DNP
Heitzman - - - DNP
Clark 3 5 -2 Targeted extensively, got smashed a bit.
Ojemudia 0.5 3 -2.5 Miss in space on Wood.
TOTAL 28.5 15.5 13 Take the money and run.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 5 2 3 Solid tackling day, looked pretty athletic.
Demens 7.5 - 7.5 !!!
Ryan 8.5 3 5.5 Great tackle on screen.
C. Gordon - -   DNP
Ross 2 0.5 1.5 Hard to get a lot of PT when the vets play so well.
Bolden 1 4 -3 Work in progress.
Hawthorne - - - DNP
TOTAL 23 9.5 13.5 Combo the DL numbers with the ILB numbers and that's the run D.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 1.5 4 -2.5 Stumble unfortunate, edge softness frustrating.
Avery 1 1 0 Rarely appeared since ND so TE heavy.
Taylor 2 3 -1 Had a play on the fade he gave up but didn't make it.
Kovacs 5.5 0.5 5 Excellent on edge. No deep stuff on S.
T. Gordon 7.5 1 6.5 Also quality.
Holowell - - - DNP
Wilson - 2 -2 Critical PI.
TOTAL 16.5 11.5 4 Safeties got a workout and passed.
Metrics
Pressure 5 5 0 This was a little bit of a downer for the DL.
Coverage 8 11 -3 Close enough to even.
Tackling 9 6 60% Most of the minuses on two bad runs.
RPS 5 5 0 The Wilson PI does grate.

So, like, yeah. I pulled out that Picture Pages on the linebackers because that was night and day from Air Force, when poor Kenny Demens was picking OL out of his teeth on every play. ND hardly ever got a release and when they did their blocks got beat fairly often.

Defensive tackles! We has them?

Okay, I think ND's interior OL sucks. Sucks pretty hard. Let's put on our caveat berets before we wade in here. Secured? Have your baguette of skepticism prepped? Let's go.

Dang, ND could not single-block these guys. When they tried it Campbell two-gapped dudes and Washington flashed into the backfield. This could have happened last year:

All DL there. Both get penetration and Washington forces a cutback into an unblocked Ryan. A Riddick spin manages to prevent a loss; I'll take it. So ND doubled, and we got results like the ones we saw in the Clean Linebackers picture pages. Occasionally one DT or the other would give too much ground, like on the last run charted. Most of the time they held their ground well enough to make cutbacks awkward and allow linebackers to flow. Like so:

No crease, forced cutback, OL is robbed of his blocking angle, and Morgan gets around him to make the play. There were a lot of half-points handed out for this sort of thing where PLAYS are not MADE but the tailback has nowhere to go. After getting shredded by Alabama, anything approximating quality against a BCS level opponent—one with a veteran line—is welcome.

Washington in particular was impressive with his repeated penetration. He's probably as shocked as anyone about this, so he's continually overrunning things, but whatever, man, he's blowing up blocking. I told you this would happen after UMass! (Pay no attention to the Robinson prediction behind the curtain. Also I didn't really.)

So we're back on the immediate post-Ezeh Demens-is-a-god thing I see.

Hey, man, find a tackle he missed or hole he didn't fill and I'll fire up my minus machine. It's possible his coverage on that Riddick dumpoff was subpar but I chalked that up to RPS because he was one man in all of the space. He managed to hold Riddick basically in place for two moves to limit the damage there.

Meanwhile, Kenny Demens is sneaky good in coverage. This is perfect:

And he flung dudes past him (along with Ryan) to impressively shut down a dangerous looking counter:

Ryan's ability to get around that OL is a squee moment.

Michigan kept guys off their LBs and they responded well. The hesitation was gone, the tackles were made, and everyone said a little prayer of thanks.

Caveat: against a team more likely to screw with your linebackers in a play action game this may go more poorly. ND quickly committed to the run in this game. Teams that can throw a bit are going to make it harder on these guys.

Speaking of Ryan, I'm about two games from declaring him All Big Ten caliber. There's that above and then he shows the same ability to change directions faster than a guy his size should as he comes under the TE on this screen:

I have developed certain rules for grading these things as we've gone along. One is losing leverage == minus… unless you make a play. Ryan would get away with a zero here if he just forced the guy inside of him; instead he gets +3 because of his ability to charge and redirect, which both keeps contain and makes a play.  Sometimes he goes a little too far in the "make a play" direction, but M has another 2.66 years out of the guy.

I'd like a bit more pass rush on the edge, please. Other than that, would recruit again A++++.

Little stingy on the Taylor INT, no?

Ah, man, I'm not giving three points unless the coverage is actually blanketed. Golson had room to drop it over the corner. He is sinking and it is a tough throw to get it over a guy, but this was not exactly Woodsonesque.

Later Taylor would blow a coverage on a similar play in which he was in man press on a fade like that, thus his minus, but so far he hasn't been a big problem. Tentatively hoping he'll get through the season well and we get to be pumped up about Michigan's starting corners going into next year. He certainly looks the part athletically.

What about our corners this year?

Floyd stumbling out of a break sucks but it'll happen. I'm more annoyed by the guy is still not coming hard on outside runs on which the receiver is booking for a block along the LOS:

Now, Clark—this is part of ND's Kill Clark gameplan at the beginning of the game—gets blown way down the line and this forces Kovacs to come further inside than is ideal on his contain, because otherwise the RB is going upfield. Okay. That's some yards ceded already.

Floyd is still eight yards downfield when he breaks down to tackle. He should be reading run a lot quicker. At this point I don't think that's in the cards consistently, though he did make a couple good reads late. One was on the 20 yard Wood run, but that wasn't his fault.

Let us all say a prayer of thanks that we can be annoyed about this kind of thing from cornerbacks these days. 

Kill Clark, you say?

Clark was obviously IDed as a weak point by the Irish and they spent most of the first quarter running at him. He got blown up a lot. He ends up even with Campbell in the video above, which is bad. (SCIENCE!) In this one he ends up pancaked:

That's a loss thanks to Ross and Kovacs hitting the hole lickety-split if Clark can just hold the corner; he ends up buried. He took a bunch of minuses for that and then ND went away from it because they weren't getting much more than you see on the play above. Also, Clark started getting some upfield push to rescue his day a little bit.

If that's going to be the cost of running him out there you'd like to see some pass rush from him; Michigan did not in admittedly limited opportunities. He got one kind of good rush on which he persuaded Golson to exit the pocket and drew a hold; other than that he was not much of an impact guy. Youth, etc. He's a guy to keep an eye on as one of the remaining wildcards on the D.

Kickoff thinkin': do you have some?

I've gotten some questions about what I thought about Michigan's kickoff strategy at the beginning and end of the second half. To the answermobile!

At the beginning of the half, Michigan is kicking from the 50 after a PF on Notre Dame. Q: should Michigan onside kick? Probably. You're giving up 15 yards of field position for a shot at a turnover. ND had not aligned in a way to discourage that so your chances are pretty decent. Even if they've been told to watch for the thing, the punishment is slight.

Now I have a Q: what would have happened if Michigan booted it out of bounds? The rule says it's 30 yards from where you kicked, which would be the 20. Which is better than a touchback. mindblown.gif

At the end of the game, Michigan has 3:27 on the clock and two timeouts. ND aligns to prevent an onside, and M kicks it deep. The ball hits at the three and squeezes into the endzone. Q: onside? Probably not. With the rule change you have to commit an Iowa-level boner to not recover onside kicks and you have a pretty good setup to get the ball back. ND ended up throwing a bomb on third and four. I'd rather take my chances on that than try to drive from the ten.

Heroes?

Anyone in the front seven other than Clark (and Bolden was iffy). Also safeties.

Goats?

Stretching: Clark was exploitable on the edge.

What does it mean for the Big Ten season?

Increment your hope meters a good chunk, as getting this kind of play out of the defensive tackles was way above expectation. If they can continue that into league play all of a sudden this defense looks plausible or better, if lacking certain components that would make it truly elite—like a big-time pass rusher.

Meanwhile, the linebackers played well, the safeties played well… I mean, 190 yards of offense before final drive. ND got a couple of chunk runs when Wood was improbably not tackled and a couple of fades were completed; other than that ND got essentially nothing. The line was all but impeccable save for some Clark stuff that only gave up 4, 6, 7 yards a pop. The LBs got to the ball and tackled, and Gordon and Kovacs had one and a half missed tackles between them as they cleaned up.

I'm trying to keep things in check… that performance relative to MSU and Purdue's plus the in-season improvement we saw from a lot of players last year makes it difficult. That game was so far beyond the reasonable best-case scenario that it shifts hopes upward.

Offense? Never heard of it.

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-19-12: Brady Hoke

Wednesday Presser Transcript 9-19-12: Brady Hoke

Submitted by Heiko on September 19th, 2012 at 2:10 PM

News bullets and other important items:

  • Desmond Morgan will play on Saturday and will start.
  • Richard Ash and Stephen Hopkins are likely to play.
  • Brandon Moore and Brennen Beyer are out. 

Brady Hoke

file

“You ready?”

Yessir.

“Thank you for showing up. I think we had a very good practice yesterday. The tempo was good. The learning was good. I think we played fast and we competed well against each other, so that’s a good sign. I think we’re excited, obviously, to play in a great venue and play great rivalry game. It started in 1887 and [we’ll] continue it and go from there.”

Does the intensity ebb and flow with the varying strength of opponents over the past few weeks or is it consistent?

“You’d like to have it consistent. I can’t say it’s always been consistent, but you’d like the consistency be there every week so you can improve.”

Has it been consistent?

“It’s been decent. I think it was very -- a little more intense, but we’ve been talking about that a lot. The intensity and your focus and your concentration is at a higher level. Your speed of playing the game’s at a higher level. So I think that part of it has been good.”

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Air Force

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Air Force

Submitted by Brian on September 13th, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Formation Notes: Oh, the humanity.

vlcsnap-2012-09-10-19h50m39s70

This is an I-form. Sweet. Air Force started out motioning the outside WR into the gap between the two backs, FWIW.

vlcsnap-2012-09-10-20h00m22s129

This was called "near 3-wide unbalanced" because I think NCAA calls formations with RB alignments like that "near" and "far". Yes, large sections of my nomenclature are lifted from EA Sports. It is the closest thing to a lingua franca we have for footballing jargon. Note the covered-up slot WR. That's the unbalanced bit. You discovered this in the Picture Pages.

vlcsnap-2012-09-10-20h05m24s35

This is "flexbone big," which means there's a TE on the line. Just flexbone means the two wingbacks and two WRs.

op-1

This was "near half-flex."

As for Michigan, they spend most of the game in a 4-4 with a three-deep shell. They would shift the line towards the field side. I called it "under" even when it was technically "over" because Michigan aligns to field and Air Force doesn't really have a declared formation strength because of all the motion they do.

Substitution notes: The humanity continues. Michigan started Roh-Campbell-Black-Beyer on the line, rotating in Clark, Heitzman, Pipkins, and Brink extensively. Ojemudia also got time, mostly after Beyer went out with his "knee strain."

At linebacker, Ryan got the most playing time; he was spotted by Cam Gordon on a couple drives. Michigan started with Demens-Morgan, then started rotating in Bolden and Ross. Demens did not appear in the second half; the final AF drive in their base offense featured Ross and Bolden both on the field simultaneously.

In the secondary, Gordon, Kovacs, and Floyd took every snap. Avery started out as the other corner and was replaced by Taylor midway through the second. Gordon moved down to the nickelback spot and Jarrod Wilson came in when Air Force was stuck in passing downs, which was rarely.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form 3-wide tight 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option Floyd 12
Wingback motions to backfield before snap, creating Maryland I. I am going to be guessing a lot here. Dive doesn't get it; QB and RB head out with the wingback as a lead blocker. Gordon(-1) motions inside of the tight WR on the AF motion and looks in the backfield, getting sealed away by the WR easily. Floyd(-2) doesn't know what he's looking at for way too long; Gordon's getting plowed for steps before he finally commits to a run fill. He ends up trying to dodge a cut block eight yards downfield; I'm guessing he probably needs to be turning this inside at the numbers five yards further up. RB gets the corner. Morgan had good pursuit and Kovacs makes a good tackle at the sticks, FWIW.
O37 1 10 Near 3-wide unbalanced 4-3 under Run N/A Counter dive Black 4
AF did this a lot: line up the slot on the LOS. This should scream run at that slot defender. Here they motion towards that and hand it off on the backside, aiming for the hole between NT Campbell and 5-tech Roh. Campbell(-1) gets blown up by a downblock; Black(+0.5) blasts a G trying to pull across his face. This prevents the G from getting out on Demens, but then Black gets confused and starts chasing the QB. FB blasts into the G, who is now blasting Demens, and can fall forward for a few yards.
O41 2 6 Flexbone Big 4-3 over Run N/A FB power Beyer 4 + 10 Pen
Power == pulling guard. This is not a true option as the QB is not looking at anything but the FB as he gives. Beyer(-1) is unblocked for a moment, thinks he has to get down on the dive back(?--I thought M used DEs for the QB) and then gets nailed by the guard. He's sealed inside, FB bounces out. Morgan(+1) is getting blocked, sheds to the outside, and tackles. He's just catching the guy because of the blocker and everyone falls backwards. RPS -1; this took a pretty good play from Morgan to not hit the first down. Campbell(-1) gets a flag for tackling an AF lineman [BWS] trying to get to the second level.
M45 1 10 N/A N/A Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
Freedom.
50 1 15 I-Form 3-wide unbalanced 4-3 even Run N/A Speed option Gordon -1
They motion a guy to the field and run to it. He goes for Kovacs. FB goes for Demens. Morgan(+1) forces the pitch and then pursues well; Gordon(+1) gets the edge on the WR and should force it back inside the numbers but seems to get held and falls; no call. Getz is at the sideline and has to delay to get around the falling Gordon; he falls at the LOS. Morgan was there for a minimal gain even if he keeps his feet.
O49 2 16 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under Run N/A QB draw Ryan 7
Acceptable given situation. Demens(-0.5) reacts quickly enough to get past a blocker and force a bounce but ends up falling; Ryan(+0.5) forces it back and trips the QB. Demens not being on his feet gives up some extra yardage. Morgan was pursuing and helps finish.
M44 3 9 Ace 3-wide Nickel under Pass 4 Scramble Demens 9
Dietz comes off first read as Avery(+1, cover +1) gets depth to carry a seam to the safety. Morgan(+1, cover +1) is on the other slant and the outside guys are covered; Demens(-1, cover -1) is nowhere near the RB release, which could go for the first; Dietz doesn't bother to throw it and takes off; Black(-0.5) and Ryan(-0.5) can't make shoestring tackles(-1), and Demens's late reaction gives Dietz a first down.
M35 1 10 Flexbone 4-3 under Run N/A Triple option Kovacs 1
Washington(+0.5) gets nice push, and there's nothing on the dive, so a pull. Ryan is sitting on the edge and takes the QB. Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) was not blocked on this play and so does what Kovacs does when you don't block him, which is plaster the ballcarrier.
M34 2 9 Flexbone 4-3 under Pass 4 Drag N/A 6
This is ludicrously bad refereeing. Two Air Force OL release downfield on a pass play. One of them cut-blocks Demens! By the time Dietz releases the ball these two guys are six yards downfield. Anyway. Beyer(-1) gets cut by an RB and allows Dietz outside, where he calmly hits a little drag that Ryan is in meh coverage on. Pressure -1, Refs -2.
M28 3 3 Offset I-Form 4-3 over Penalty N/A Offsides Washington 5
Washington(-1)
M23 1 10 Near 3-wide unbalanced 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Kovacs 3
AF motion man moves back and then starts moving towards the LOS pre-snap, no call. He ends up falling to the ground, possibly on purpose, as he blocks Demens along with another Falcon. Ryan on the edge with QB; Dietz fakes keeping it and draws him, in then pitches late. Kovacs is a bit late on this one, but it's a three yard gain so call it a push.
M20 2 7 I-Form 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Roh 2
Campbell(+1) gets under his guy and pushes him back, which forces the RB to alter his flight path in the backfield a bit. Probably needed a little better angle but this was still good. Roh(-1) got blown out, though, so when RB alters path there's still a hole. Demens avoids one block only to eat the FB; Morgan(+0.5) and Ryan(+0.5) close to tackle in the hole. Call it a push for the LBs.
M18 3 5 Flexbone 4-3 under Run N/A Counter option Ryan -1
Roh(+1) does not get faked out by the dive action and is there to force a quick pitch; Ryan(+2) is on the edge one on one and makes the open-field TFL(+1)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(36), 0-0, 9 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option N/A -1
Gordon rolled down with three deep across the top. AF fumbles the dive exchange.
O24 2 11 I-Form 3-wide 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Morgan -1
Motion to Maryland I. Man, they have this as again Gordon(-1) get sealed inside way too easily but Dietz does not make Morgan(+2) commit; he shoots out on the edge and makes a TFL in space (tackling +1). Floyd(-1) ended up on his face five yards downfield; if Morgan is forced to take the QB this could have been a big gain.
O23 3 12 Ace trips Nickel even Pass 4 Corner Taylor 15
Taylor(-1, cover -1) does not get enough depth on his drop; he's seven yards downfield, sucked up on third and twelve when a corner route is going on behind him. He recovers well but the ball is a foot over his hand and AF's big leapy guy can bring it in in front of an immediate tackle from Kovacs. C. Gordon(+0.5, pressure +1) was in the QB's feet as he throws; without this being open a likely scramble and three and out.
O38 1 10 Flexbone 3-wide 4-4 under Run N/A Outside pitch. Floyd 9
No back; guy comes in motion and gets a quick pitch to the outside. C. Gordon(-1) gets crushed inside by a WR and ends up going upfield of him, which never works. This knocks a pursuing Roh out of the play as well. Downfield, Demens avoids one cut block only to take a second block as he's still trying to find his balance. Floyd(-2) again ends up on his face eight yards downfield. Morgan flows about as fast is as reasonably possible and manages to make contact from the side a ways downfield. Floyd needs to get on his horse as soon as he sees that WR crack down on the LB.
O47 2 1 Flexbone Big 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Washington 1
Dive. Washington(+1) actually does a good job of getting under his guy and pushing him back into the runner but he's got no help since Roh gave ground to a double. That's tough.
O48 1 10 Near half-flex 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Floyd 11
Kovacs again is supposed to have the pitchman; this time the WR releases downfield a bit, then cracks down on him. Floyd(-1) doesn't read this until it's way too late. RPS -1.
M41 1 10 Flexbone big 4-4 under Pass N/A PA waggle drag Gordon 18
This looks like a flood play but really there's just one WR this ever goes to. The guy who took Avery deep on a fly route is blocking the whole way. This is part structure(RPS -2), part Gordon(-1, cover -1) sucking way up. Fundamentally he was screwed, though, covering one of two guys.
M23 1 10 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Campbell 4
Campbell(-1) gets cut to the ground and the immediate release of the guard is not punished. Demens doesn't do great here but I'm not sure what he can do. It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, the freshmen are doing better.
M19 2 6 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Campbell 5
Same thing. When your NT is just falling to the ground on the FB dive that goes right behind him the linebackers cannot do anything about it, because they are getting insta-OL in their junk. Campbell -1. Brink(-1) also blown back.
M14 3 1 Flexbone Big Goal line Penalty N/A False start -- -5
Service.
M19 3 6 Near half-flex 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Taylor 7
Same thing: Block Kovacs, exploit crappy corner support. This time it's Taylor(-1) who gives up the corner.
M12 1 10 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A Counter dive Washington 8
Washington(-2) gets blown down the line; Roh(-1) is easily locked out by the LT. Big hole. Demens reads the play and tries to get to it but he's basically screwed. He gets blocked by a guy with a great angle. Morgan(-2) ran himself way out of the play and it's only a superior play from Kovacs(+2, tackling +2) to avoid a block and make a diving ankle tackle that prevents this from being six points.
M4 2 2 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Roh 1
Roh(+1) gets under his guy and pushes him into the running lane. This forces a cutback into Ryan(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5), who tackle for no YAC. Washington(-1) had gotten blown up, FWIW.
M3 3 1 Flexbone 3-wide Goal line Run N/A Outside pitch. Avery -1
AF blows this as the WR to the playside is headhunting Ryan, who's on the LOS and moving upfield at the snap this means he takes a bad angle that 1) immediately tips Avery that this is a run and 2) picks off the flex guy assigned to him. Avery(+1) moves up, forms up, and makes contact two yards behind the LOS. Ryan(+1) flattens the guy assigned to him and flows out to make sure there is no funny business. RPS+1. Putting Ryan on the line made AF go all crazy.
Drive Notes: FG(22), 7-3, 3 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Flexbone unbalanced 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Bolden 3
Bolden(+0.5) in. He does do better than Demens on this dive, hitting the guard about a yard from the LOS. He loses the battle a bit but does hit the FB directly before falling over backwards. He saves Michigan a yard over Demens, so here's a half-point.
O13 2 7 Ace 4-wide unbalanced 4-3 even Penalty N/A False start -- -5
Service this time.
O8 2 12 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle out Floyd 6
I think. He's the CB on this side and he is not even in the frame as this completion is made. Hard to tell if it's a good idea because they had to go deep or not. Still... suspicious. Floyd -1, cover -1. Fortunate AF does not execute better here, they could have turned this upfield at the sideline for first down yardage easy. Beyer(-0.5) gave up the corner, FWIW. Pressure -1.
O14 3 6 Flexbone tight 4-3 under Pass N/A Scramble Ryan 4
They fake that effective quick pitch and shoot three WRs the opposite way. Taylor(+1), Bolden(+1), and Ryan(+1), cover these guys... it's dodgy for the former two but they are enough to dissuade a throw, and then they attack at the right moment to prevent Dietz from running for the first. (Cover +3). Taylor came up late, leaving the deeper guy to Gordon and preventing AF from going over the top of these LBs.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 12 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Run N/A Counter dive Bolden 4
Bolden is staring right at this and gets no blocker so he just runs right up in the hole, making contact after a yard. That contact is won by the FB, who pushes Bolden over backwards. Clark comes to help finish. A push; Bolden could have done better here but did not screw up an easy play.
O29 2 6 Near half-flex 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Roh -2
Roh(+1) shoves the LT inside and releases into the QB, who has to pitch early. CGordon(+1) is the guy on the edge here and makes a nice open field TFL. AF RT stumbled here, making this easier for Roh.
O27 3 8 Ace trips Nickel even Pass 5 Throwaway Black Inc
Blitz sends Avery and Bolden with Gordon backing out; Black(+1) stunts around and gets through as the RG blocks air. Roh(+1) is coming up the edge as Black chases Dietz out of the pocket and he's all like F this I'm outie. This was a jailbreak [BWS]. (Pressure +3, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 6 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O45 1 10 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A Counter power Demens 3
RT is pulling inside of the G here. Ojemudia almost tracks this down from behind but can't quite get there. Black(+0.5) constricts the hole, causing the RT to stumble. Demens(+0.5) is there for a tackle near the LOS.
O48 2 7 Flexbone 4-4 under Pass 4 PA throwaway Roh Inc
Fake pitch into a fake option to the other side and then into a pass attempt. Avery(+1, cover +1) isn't biting on that stuff and the deep route is not immediately open. Roh(+1, pressure +1) then chucks the LT and gets pressure—probably gets held—forcing a throwaway.
O48 3 7 Flexbone Nickel even Run N/A QB draw Roh 14
DTs split too much and give up a running lane; contain should be the name of the game here. Roh, Campbell -1. Now there's trouble as the LBs are pass dropping against blockers. Demens(-1) can't do anything; Morgan is trying to flow into the gap and may be able to make a tackle but one of the downfield blockers for Air Force literally tackles him, reaching out to grab his ankles. RPS -1. This opened up big. Just play it straight when they're in the bone, it's not like their passing game is forcing you into the nickel on third and seven.
O34 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 4-4 under Run N/A Lead zone Morgan 3
Heitzman(-2) gets scooped really badly. Insta-second level means Demens has to fight off a cut block, which he does. Morgan(+1) beats up the blocker on the edge and Gordon(+1) shoots past his, forcing a cutback. Demens could be there but for the DL. Beyer(+0.5) is there, but giving ground; momentum carries Getz for a few yards.
O31 2 7 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A Quick pitch Ryan 7 – 15 Pen
Ryan(-2) chopped to the ground by a cut block, back goes outside of him, no chance for anyone else to do anything about it. Brink was pursuing and may have had a shot. Demens again ate a block from a guy releasing right away; he kept his feet; not sure if there's anything at all he can do to prevent himself from getting hit there. Kovacs(+0.5) beat a block to get to the edge and prevented this from breaking even bigger. At the end of this play, the AF guy who took out Ryan gets up and clearly talks smack to him. Good on you, flexback. AF gets a call for tripping as that OL who cut Demens puts his legs up when Morgan jumps over him. Not relevant to the play.
O40 2 16 Flexbone Big Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Floyd 6
I think Floyd(-1) blows a coverage on the TE here as he is headed for the corner and Floyd turns around and chases him; Gordon(+1) has his back, dropping into that route and preventing it from being thrown. With both of those guys focused on a deeper route the swing underneath opens up for good yardage.
O34 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Run N/A Speed option Kovacs 11
RB moves simultaneously with snap; legal. They get out on the corner quick. Ryan is unblocked and optioned off. Morgan(-1) is slashed to the ground. He takes two with him as AF ends up doubling him. Three guys on the edge now: Avery, Kovacs, and Demens. Demens(+0.5) takes a good angle past the guy trying to cut him and is in the area ready for action about four yards downfield; Kovacs(-2) goes upfield of his blocker and loses leverage; Taylor(-1) is aggressive but puts himself right on the sideline and doesn't keep this hole small. Demens flows to tackle, but too late.
O23 1 10 Near half-flex twins 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Ryan 4
Roh shucks past a tackle and then eats a cut block. Demens also gets hit with a block right away, he stays on his feet but he's been shoved away from the POA. Ryan(+2) is alone on the edge with both guys and splits them such that Dietz turns it up and Ryan can tackle him. Washington was coming from behind but fell, Clark pursued from the other end to help tackle. I should probably find a minus on a four yard run but can't. I plead option.
O19 2 6 Offset I-Form 4-4 under Run N/A End around Taylor 12
Dive fake and then a handoff to that guy going in orbit motion. Ryan is looking in the backfied and gets lit up by a receiver cracking down on him. Taylor(-2) is way off despite this being in the redzone and comes up poorly, getting cut to the ground and allowing the back to leap over him. Demens was flowing as soon as he figured out where the ball was going; he can't get to the sideline. RPS -1... hard to figure out how M will defend this.
O7 1 G Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Campbell 2
Campbell(+1) is falling over but in the running lane; RB falls over him. Demens(+0.5) is there to help stop his momentum as well.
O5 2 G Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Refs 5
This is the play where Arena league flex guy is hauling ass at the LOS before the snap and cuts Kovacs to the ground. Demens(-1) gets cut really badly here but once this goes outside Ryan there's no one to fill because Kovacs(-1) got blown up. Refs -2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-10, 1 min 2nd Q. Hoke should have called a timeout once AF had second and goal with the clock running.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O12 1 10 Near half-flex 4-4 under Run N/A Triple option Gordon 14 + 10 pen
So there's still no help on the edge as the flexback is running right at Kovacs(-1), who gets cut. Morgan(-1) also goes down. I don't think that's too much on Kovacs but on Michigan failing to adjust here. The CB has to respect the deep route being run by the WR, Gordon is on the edge, and he has support on the interior—he should take the pitch. Instead he takes QB, again corner is open, big gain. RPS -1. Campbell(-1) gets another holding call for tackling an AF OL, which is why Bolden is running free. Picture-paged.
O36 1 10 Near half-flex tight 4-4 under Run N/A Counter power Bolden 6
RT pulls. A back shoots down onto Clark, cutting him off, and then the RB moves through the backside hole between the NT and Roh. Bolden eats the OL in the hole. Morgan(-1) is gone to the fake; Michigan is fortunate that Ryan(+0.5) reads it and comes down on the RB to tackle as he shoots through the gap. Bolden(+1) did force the RB into Ryan, whether it was intentional or not. Result-based charting. Big hole as Roh and Campbell(-1) got kicked. I get Roh since he's contain on the backside. Not so much Campbell, who ends up father away from the play than two guys lined up outside of him.
O42 2 4 Flexbone 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Bolden 2
Straight ahead at the Roh/Campbell gap. Bolden hits it as fast as possible, they get a couple yards, everyone says that's how that has to go down, next snap. Bolden +0.5 I guess, for keeping this to two yards.
O44 3 2 Flexbone tight 4-4 under Run N/A Counter dive Bolden 3
Again at the same gap, with the LT coming off of Roh to hit Bolden. Contact is made at a yard, but Roh is on the side and Bolden's getting hit so momentum pushes the pile over the line. Another push; this is just what happens unless someone MAKES PLAYS.
O47 1 10 Flexbone 4-4 under Pass 4 Out Taylor Inc
Straight dropback! No pressure(-2), though I understand. AF WR does not sell his route and rounds it off, allowing Taylor(+2, cover +2) to break on the ball and break it up.
O47 2 10 Near half-flex tight 4-4 under Run N/A Counter power Washington 7
Same play they just ran. Clark(+1) actually does a great job to get under the same block he just fell victim to. He comes through it and shoulders Getz, but he's literally shedding this block as he makes contact and can't use his arms. Brink(-1) fights way far upfield; they block Ryan. Washington(-1) is buried. Bolden hits the pulling T right at the LOS but there's just huge amounts of space to both sides of him. He sheds and tackles downfield. Morgan(-1) again misses the T pulling in front of his face.
M46 3 3 Near half-flex 4-4 under Run N/A Quick pitch Morgan 11
Back goes in motion before the snap and they pitch it out; no adjustment from M before the snap. Gordon has to keep leverage and turn it in. He does. Clark(-1) doesn't adjust to the motion and goes upfield, no pursuit. Morgan(-1) starts moving about two steps after the OT flares out and has no shot. He leaps a cut, but the delay is more than enough. Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) isn't going to prevent a first down; his missed tackle adds five or six.
M35 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle cross Taylor 17
Bolden(-2, cover -2) gets utterly lost on the play action and lets this guy get open by ten yards. Yeah, so now they're decisive. Taylor(-2, cover -2) also sucked way up and didn't get depth even when it was clear this was a pass. There's no run threat to his side and he's still flying upfield. Nyet.
M18 1 10 Flexbone Big 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Bolden 3
Campbell cut, ends up on ground, etc. Must be the scheme. Bolden(-0.5) there but not quite decisive enough and misses a tackle, Morgan and Floyd combine to finish the guy as he squeezes through the line.
M15 2 7 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle hitch Floyd 9
Ojemudia(-1) flows hard down the line and gives up the corner (pressure -2). Floyd has to drop into the corner route and gives up a super easy completion in front of him, but that's a coverage thing—three guys ended up trying to cover one AF player. Cover -2, RPS -1.
M6 1 G I-Form 3-wide 4-4 under Run N/A Lead zone Roh 3
Roh(+1) thrusts playward, getting penetration and keeping the edge; he picks off the FB and forces a cut inside. Bolden(-0.5) gets past a blocker but his angle is not directly at the hole the RB must hit if he's going to be relevant. Ryan(+0.5) is containing but reads the cutback and gets a tackle in. Campbell did get a little penetration. FWIW.
M3 2 G Flexbone Goal line Run N/A FB dive Black 2
Black(+1) immediately hops inside his blocker, and though he falls he forces a cutback. Clark(-1) again just shoulders a defender and starts falling over; he's not there to stand the RB up, and he falls forward for two yards.
M1 3 G Flexbone Goal line Run N/A QB sneak Campbell 0
Campbell(+1) gets lower than two blockers and everyone falls at the LOS, not beyond it; Bolden(+1) is the first of many people to jump on Dietz. Roh(+1) also had a large hand in stalling the momentum of the pile.
M1 4 G Near half-flex tight Goal line Run N/A Quick pitch N/A 1
Michigan sends everybody, and Air Force calls rock to their scissors, shooting Getz outside and getting it easily since Taylor is blitzing. I don't RPS plays like this since you've got to roll the dice to stop them from getting a yard.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-17, 9 min 3rd Q. That's kind of depressing.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Ross 4
Our first all-freshman LB corps. AF motions a WR to the short side and runs a speed option at three WRs and not much space. Ross(+1) is blitzing with Bolden moving to cover him at the snap. He bowls over the WR who is trying to seal him inside, and the QB cuts up. Heitzman(-0.5) gets significantly delayed by a scoop block and blown off the line so there's a gap for him. Pipkins(+0.5) shot through the line at a crappy angle on the backside and manages to come around and tackle.
O38 2 6 Flexbone unbalanced 4-4 under Pass N/A PA fly Kovacs 32
They show their option and shoot that flexback downfield at Kovacs again. Kovacs is like NOT THIS TIME BUDDY, is determined to get outside of him, and... guy runs right by him. How the hell you're supposed to not have this happen I don't know. I guess you can key on is Roh getting blocked. Yes, in this case. Otherwise, screwed. I have to give him a -2, cover -4, but this is also an RPS -4, the culmination of Michigan's scheme leaving them vulnerable to this. WR is hit over the top with eight yards lead on the nearest defender, but bobbles the ball and falls over, which is the only thing preventing a TD. Picture-paged.
M30 1 10 ??? ??? Run N/A Counter dive ??? 0
I think. They are showing a replay on this down. No idea. Some pluses should be handed out for a zero yard run, and are not.
M30 2 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle scramble CGordon 10
Coverage(+2) is good. Brink(-1) is chasing on the end but he's either slow or not going maximum speed. Either way this opens up more space than the QB should have. Bolden is underneath on a TE. CGordon(-1) roars up late when it becomes clear a scramble is coming but overruns it and gives up more yardage than is necessary.
M20 3 In Flexbone 4-3 under Run N/A FB dive Ross 2
They get it.
M18 1 10 Near half-flex tight Okie Run N/A FB dive Washington 2
Washington(+1) gets some push and impacts the FB with his blocker; Bolden(+0.5) pulls out of the seven man front and tackles unmolested.
M16 2 8 Flexbone big 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Black 2
Oookay. Black(+1) dodges a cut and Ross(+1) again plows a blocker back; those two tackle after the usual two yards.
M14 3 6 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A QB draw Bolden 6
Michigan stunts, pulling Black around and sealing the intended hole. Bolden(-2) does not read this and sits, waiting for the QB to come through the hole the stunt closes off; he cuts behind where Washington was always going to get sealed off from thanks to the stunt. Black almost makes a saving play after avoiding a cut and coming around but can't; Bolden is not where he needs to be and this breaks for the first down. Ryan, who starts a full three yards behind Bolden, actually makes this tackle.
M8 1 G Flexbone goal line 4-4 under Run N/A FB dive Bolden 1
May be a bust as the playside G pulls. FB is running straight at where the G no longer is. Campbell(+0.5) comes under a block and helps tackle with an unblocked Bolden(+0.5) hitting it after a yard.
M7 2 G Offset I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A End around Ross 4
Ross takes one step playside and then bursts upfield as he sees the end around. Too far upfield. He's there to make the tackle but only from the side and just barely. Taylor(+1) provided good support here, getting into the lead blocker at the LOS and turning it in at then numbers. He also helps tackle. Ross gets a push; this was good recognition but that angle needs to be wider so that you're meeting the guy at the LOS instead of chasing him.
M3 3 G Near half-flex unbalanced 4-4 under Run N/A Outside pitch. Taylor 0
A crappy pitch bails M out, but I think they had this stopped. Taylor(+1) held the edge and dodged a cut, and Ross(+0.5) was going flat out for the outside. Bad pitch brings Getz into a ton of bodies and ends it.
M3 4 G Field goal 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Ryan 2
Michigan leaves their defense on the field and AF still runs the fake. Not a good idea. Ryan(+1) forces it back and Bolden(+0.5) tackles with help.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 28-17, 1 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Ace trips unbalanced 4-3 under Pass N/A PA fly Taylor Inc
Two deep routes draw man coverage, basically, as Gordon shoots up on the option fake. Taylor(+1, cover +1) is step for step with his guy and probably has a play on the ball if this is accurate enough to be caught; it's not.
M39 2 10 Near half-flex 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option Gordon 7
Same thing. Safety has to worry about getting burned over the top and by the time he commits it's too late. Gordon hops over a cut block but is still way far away from the edge once Ryan forces a pitch. I guess you can key on the OL releasing downfield and get on your horse. Gordon -1.
M32 3 3 Flexbone tight 4-3 even Run N/A Quick pitch Taylor -2
Taylor(+2) comes up hard on this one, smacking a blocker three yards in the backfield at the numbers. Other blockers run by Clark(+1), who delivers a thumping tackle. RPS +1, they were looking for this.
M34 4 5 Near half-flex 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option Gordon 6
Same thing, always. Gordon(-1) does not get outside the flexback, gives up corner, does tackle at the sticks but not enough. Clark is coming so hard from the back on this that if Ryan makes the QB turn up this is a stop, I think.
M28 1 10 Flexbone 4-3 even Pass N/A PA flare N/A Inc
Floyd(+1, cover +1) and Morgan(+1, cover +1) cover their guys, Floyd on a fly route and Morgan recovering from the PA. QB tries to flare it out as a checkdown and misses badly. Possibly thanks to Heitzman(+0.5) getting a nominal amount of pressure.
M28 2 10 Flexbone 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option Floyd 3
Ojemudia(-2) has no idea what he's doing and shoots down inside at the dive back instead of taking the QB. Floyd(+2, tackling +1) shoots by the corner and fills after the QB pitches for no earthly reason. Took a huge mistake by the QB and a great play to not have this break huge. Because the whole defense was going nuts about the dive back.
M25 3 7 Ace 4-wide 4-3 even Pass N/A Slant Morgan 10
Morgan(-1, cover -1) takes a weird bad zone drop and opens this up. OL had cut everyone, so this was coming out immediately or not at all.
M15 1 10 Flexbone 4-3 even Run N/A FB dive Black 6
DL shift does Michigan a disservice here; Black(-1) pops through the line at the wrong spot to do anything about this and LBs can't do anything about it either.
M9 2 4 Flexbone 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option Ojemudia 1
Ojemudia(+1) does hop out on the QB this time. He decides not to pitch for some reason and gets nailed. Pitch looked like a TD, FWIW.
M8 3 3 Flexbone 6-2 over Run N/A Triple option Morgan 8
M finally switches their scheme up, shooting Gordon at the QB from the corner. This forces a pitch. Morgan and Floyd are on the edge against one blocker... Floyd(-1) gets cut and ends up incapacitated at the three and Morgan(-2, tackling -1) overruns the RB entirely. TD.
M3 2pt 2pt Ace twins 4-3 even Pass N/A Waggle TE circle Bolden 3
Roh(-1, pressure -1) sucks up and does not get out on the edge. Bolden(-1, cover -1) also bites hard, so this is easy.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2pt), 28-25, 12 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 Flexbone 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option N/A 2
Fumbled the dive fake.
O36 2 8 Flexbone tight 4-3 even Pass 4 Scramble Brink 1
One flex back is in a WR stance, so may tip pass. Dive fake and then Dietz drops back. He doesn't like what he sees(cover +1) and scrambles directly upfield. Brink(+1) and Pipkins(+1) collapse on him.
O37 3 7 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Speed option Floyd 13
Three AF players are moving before the snap, which ain't legal. Ross is hauling after this play—he really is decisive—but gets easily cut off by a guy blocking down. Kovacs takes another blocker and Floyd(-1) is one on one on the outside with a motioned flexback; he again gets taken out of the play. RPS -1. Schemed here, mostly. No response from the LBs to the motion.
50 1 10 Near half-flex 4-3 even Run N/A FB dive Campbell 2
Campbell(+1) shoves his blocker backwards and gets to the hole, tackling. C released directly into Ross; Campbell making this play saves a yard or two, an important yard or two.
M48 2 8 Flexbone 4-3 under Run N/A FB dive Roh 3
Campbell over C on this one, play goes behind him. Roh(+1) fights to the hole and helps tackle; Bolden(-0.5) isn't quite authoritative enough with his fill and shoulder-blocks the RB down.
M45 3 5 Flexbone 4-3 even Run N/A Counter dive Ross 2
Woo! Ross(+1) is going forward on the snap, splitting the two guys releasing downfield and blasting the RB at the LOS. Would be two but he does not wrap. Black(+1) ditched a blocker and takes out the pulling G; he uses the Ross-created delay to tackle.
M43 4 3 Near half-flex 4-3 even Run N/A Triple option Clark 0
Michigan stunts. They send Clark upfield and take Black out behind that. Clark(+1) takes out the lead blocker and forces Getz upfield. Black(+1) is now out on the QB, who ends up pitching it forward to a guy right next to him. Black and Ross(+1), who flew right by a blocker en route to the edge, make the stop. RPS +1. The stunt killed it. Way to pull that out at a critical juncture, Mattison.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 31-25, 4 min 4th Q. Okay, so ABC screwed up here and the tape misses the first three plays of this drive. They are INC, 7 yard completion plus 15 roughing the passer, Roh(-1), incomplete (Clark +1 for leaping PBU), and a sideline interference(!) penalty. We pick it up on second and fifteen.
Ln Dn Ds O Form DForm Type Rush Play Player Yards
O37 2 15 Shotgun trips 4-3 under Pass 4 Out Ryan Inc
Roh(+1) gets some pressure after initially getting stopped by the LT; Dietz is rolling out to his side after he dumps the tackle and has to throw. Ryan(+1, cover +1) is in position and breaks to break up a poorly-thrown ball.
O37 3 15 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Run N/A QB draw Clark -2
Mattison is so looking for this, running a stunt that sends Clark(+1) directly into the running lane AF is looking for. Ryan(+1) darted inside the tackle he's stunting and helps tackle. RPS +2.
O35 4 17 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Batted Ryan Inc
Ryan(+2) sets the RT up inside, looks like he's going to burst outside, and then is definitely bursting outside because the RB clunks into the RT. Ryan in, QB has to throw, Ryan knocks it down. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 31-25, 1 min 4th Q. EOG for D.

That could have gone better.

Yeah. I found this reference to what Michigan was doing on The Birddog, the great Navy blog:

The biggest surprise in this game was how poorly Michigan defended the option. They spent most of the game in a 3-deep 4-4, with the safety assigned to the pitch man. Sound familiar? No wonder Air Force was able to move the ball. After playing both Navy and Air Force several times in his career, you’d think that Brady Hoke would have known better.

That link takes you to the Birddog's extensive breakdown of the 2008 Georgia-Georgia Tech game in which the Yellow Jackets broke a long losing streak against the Dawgs by completing one pass for 19 yards… and rushing for 409. In that game, the pitchman was the safety's responsibility, the safety started eating the flexback, and the Jackets looked like Las Vegas for a day. The Birddog chalks this up to old-timey ways to defend the wishbone that time-pressed coaches default to because they aren't up on the ways in which the flexbone makes those defenses invalid.

It's of purely academic interest until Michigan schedules another option team, but the similarities between how UGA defended Tech in 2008 and how Michigan defended Air Force in 2012 are extensive. If you just want to know why Saturday went down like it did, I can't recommend that post enough.

This is already nine thousand words.

Uh-huh.

What I'm saying is could I have some cliffs notes?

Ah so:

Fundamentally, the mechanics of your basic triple option play are the same whether you’re running it out of the wishbone, I-formation, spread, or whatever. Each of these formations, however, imply different overall philosophies. The underlying theme of the wishbone– bringing blockers to the point of attack to support a power running game– is very different than that of the spread. In the spread, you want to stretch the defense, both vertically and from sideline to sideline, in order to create running lanes. You might think these are just platitudes, but they aren’t; this difference, coupled with the threat of the pass, is why wishbone defenses don’t work against the spread option. The spread allows an offensive coordinator to use a greater variety of formations in order to create the space he wants for his ballcarriers. That advantage played a big part in Georgia Tech’s win over Georgia.

Mattison knows he was burned, and we won't see Michigan try this in purely hypothetical future option matchups. But when it came down to crunch time, he did respond.

Oh yes?

Oh, yes. On Air Force's final drive he had the luxury of the Falcons trying a shotgun passing attack but it's still a big plus when you call rock to the opponent's QB draw scissors, and on the even-more-critical final AF drive in their base offense Mattison finally pulled out a variation of his base defense that worked:

Clark bursts upfield and Michigan stunts Black outside, getting both a delay on the QB and a second tackler in space. Also featured is James Ross getting on his horse and doing what James Ross does: running at maximum speed somewhere. I assume there will be moments this year when Ross doing this leaves a tight end wide open, but you can't accuse Ross of being indecisive. If you need to figure out where to eat dinner with 12 people, invite James Ross.

He is in fact the only edge-type person on the—

probably pretty doomy CHART

--chart to not get a negative.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Roh 9 5 4 Size not a problem against Falcons.
Campbell 4.5 7 -2.5 I may have been a little harsh on some early cuts as AF didn't get that many yards on them.
Washington 2.5 5 -2.5 Right, this is more realistic than his Alabama number.
Black 6 1.5 4.5 Some big plays late.
Brink 1 3 -2 Eh.
Ash - - - DNP
Pipkins 1.5 - 1.5 Showed some agility after popping through the line at bad angle
Beyer 0.5 2.5 -2 Clark seemed a lot better.
Heitzman 0.5 2 -1.5 Probably shouldn't be playing yet.
Clark 5 2 3 Too bad impressive PBU not shown by ABC.
Ojemudia 1 3 -2 One bust on QB he got away with.
TOTAL 31.5 31 0.5 Step up from 'Bama; maybe not very telling anyway.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 8 10 -2 Faded late after strong start, thus setting up allfrosh.
Demens 2 3.5 -1.5 Poor guy was dodging two blocks a play.
Ryan 13 2.5 10.5 Ran up the score with +4 on final three plays. Option blame fell elsewhere.
C. Gordon 1.5 2 -0.5 Will be viable depth for Ryan.
Ross 4.5 - 4.5 Goes, man, just goes.
Bolden 5.5 6 -0.5 Some nice plays, some getting lost.
Hawthorne - - - DNP.
TOTAL 34.5 24 10.5 Thought these guys did okay considering all the cut blocks
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 3 10 -7 Has always been a terrible run defender, this played into a weakness.
Avery 3 - 3 Did okay before getting pulled with back issue.
Taylor 7 7 0 Had some crappy plays, but also popped up to pop people.
Kovacs 3.5 7 -3.5 Really put in a bind by the scheme.
T. Gordon 3 5 -2 Did not do well compared to Ryan on edge.
Holowell - - - DNP
Wilson - - - Did not chart.
TOTAL 19.5 29 -9.5 No Marlin Jacksons here.
Metrics
Pressure 7 7 0 Not really important.
Coverage 15 15 0 Push good against this kind of offense.
Tackling 6 3 66% AF != Alabama
RPS 7 13 -6 Mattison said as much.

So… I did not get the Demens removal. I thought the DL was pretty scary save Roh, loved Ryan, thought the linebackers were otherwise eh, hated Floyd's run support, was disappointed in the safeties, and think Michigan got outschemed somewhat. Thus Air Force racking it up.

Ryan is so shiny here, but you thought he might be a problem live?

That was probably lingering Argh Ryan bias from last year. He made tackles in space, he was very likely not the guy who had the pitchman at any point except when he was making tackles in space, and he almost singlehandedly ended Air Force's final drive. Bennie Oosterbaan would be proud as soon as he stopped asking why a linebacker was wearing his number.

He also lowered some BOOM:

Note that the alignment there drives the blocking crazy. The WR is trying to crack down on a LB but he's on the line, so the CB knows right away that this is a run, and then the angle he has to take cuts off the guy assigned to Avery.

Ryan did have one ARGH RYAN; other than that he was stellar. Easily Michigan's best defender on the day. 

But Floyd not so much.

No. While he got a lot better in coverage last year—Gibson minus all of the points—he remained a sucky edge defender. Remember bubble screen fiesta by Northwestern? Etc. He is not real good at taking on blocks of any variety. This ends up a Morgan TFL but watch Floyd:

That was a constant occurrence, and it would have been a problem on this play if the QB had made Morgan commit before pitching. It cost Michigan lots of yards on others. On this one he's not even blocked and ends up in the parking lot:

I don't know why they're so far off. I do know that attacking Michigan's corners in the run/screen game has been easy money for a couple years now.

How did Taylor do in his first extended time?

He was uneven, as you might expect. I don't blame him on the easy pitch touchdown Air Force got since he was blitzing at the snap—watch Floyd for confirmation—and got blocked in the back something fierce without a call from this ref crew deathly afraid of throwing a flag on America. Mattison dialed up a risky play in an effort to get a stop and got beat, which is fine on the one yard line. You've got to dial it up somehow.

He did extend a few Air Force drives with rookie mistakes, like this corner route on which he has to know the situation:

That step up is the difference between a completion and getting off the field, and it was made against a stationary tight end three yards downfield on third and twelve. On the other hand, he recovered pretty well there. If Dietz doesn't put it up high he's got a play on it. He's got the athleticism. He needs to learn how to play zone coverage, is all. He might already be better than Floyd at run support.

Demens got pulled but doesn't stand out as terrible above.

No. I'm not sure what he could have done on most of these plays. I mean, the poor guy ended up dealing with multiple blocks for big chunks of the first half:

That is not one but two Air Force blockers who do nothing but go after Demens. No consideration for guys on the line, no one else to block, just Kenny Demens vs The World.

Bolden was okay, but I think maybe Demens doesn't get sucked to the frontside and makes a stop on this play:

That's pretty bad because of the stunt in front of Bolden. That hole frontside is going to get filled by the stunter, and that's something the LB should realize. I didn't see much from Bolden that was option-relevant. Michigan was using their MLBs mostly to nail that FB dive.

Ross showed that maybe there were plays out there to make, but I don't expect Demens to get buried. I also don't expect him to do much unless Michigan starts getting more plays from the DL.

So what about this covered slot thing?

I've never seen anyone do that with the frequency Air Force did, and wanted to know if Mattison was using that stuff as a run key. Answer: yes. Via Heiko:

MGoQuestion: A lot of times Air Force came out with two receivers lined up on the line of scrimmage such that the slot was an ineligible receiver. Do you coach your defense to use that as a run key?

“Yeah. We knew that. We knew that. In fact, if you watched that, you would have seen J.T. Floyd come over to him and know that he didn’t have to drop, and he didn’t. He became another run defender over there.”

Even so I was frustrated a couple times when that happened and the guy over the slot did not react quickly enough to the run. It is possible to pass out of it but the contortions you have to go through are extreme. Nebraska got a corner route TD on it against Southern Miss by not even bothering to move either of the outside WRs. [HT: Smart Football.] We saw the magical journey the covered slot guy went on on the long shoulda-been-TD in Picture Pages.

LOLrefs.

Just astoundingly bad. Here's an Air Force pass play on which not one but two Falcon offensive linemen release downfield:

vlcsnap-2012-09-10-20h32m02s57

Those two guys in the middle of the field are OL. One of them cut-blocked Demens. No flag. I know the packaged plays have made everyone aware that refs will give OL a couple yards, but that's ridiculous. There was that Arena-league touchdown, and Morgan got tackled on a critical third down:

I mean, call it both ways. We're part of America too.

Heroes?

Jake Ryan and James Ross.

Goats?

Floyd's run support, Mattison's antiquated approach to defending the flexbone option, the D-tackles (somewhat), and the safeties (somewhat).

What does it mean for UMass and the future?

Not a whole lot since option has just slid off the schedule. However: I think Taylor will have some rough spots but come through okay. He's an athlete. Ross is going to get more playing time until such time as his hypercaffeinated ways get Michigan burned, and possibly beyond that. Jake Ryan is developing as well as Michigan fans had hoped.

Still feeling pretty ominous about the line, unfortunately, but a lot of Air Force's success is not replicable by other teams. Since Alabama is way up there, UMass way down there, and Air Force way out there, our first read on how this defense is going to play against humans comes against Notre Dame.

Air Force Recap: Remnants Of RichRod

Air Force Recap: Remnants Of RichRod

Submitted by Ace on September 8th, 2012 at 7:36 PM


Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In a game that felt like something out of the Rodriguez era, Michigan showed that while there's great promise for the future, the flaws exposed by Alabama are very real.

The Wolverines edged Air Force, 31-25, and the outcome wasn't decided until Jake Ryan batted down Air Force quarterback Connor Dietz's fourth-down throw with 1:28 remaining. Denard Robinson accounted for all but seven yards of the team's total offense. The defense ceded 417 total yards—290 on the ground—and failed to keep contain all afternoon.

Sound familiar?

It wasn't all bad, however. Robinson was masterful, completing 14-of-25 passes for 218 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception—one that deflected off the hands of Vincent Smith—while rushing for 218 yards and another pair of touchdowns on 20 carries. True freshman Devin Funchess emerged as a viable threat at tight end, becoming the first Michigan TE to eclipse 100 receiving yards in a game since Jerame Tuman. Devin Gardner looked like a wide receiver, hauling in five passes for 63 yards and a touchdown while running crisper routes.

The offense lived and died with Denard, as Fitzgerald Toussaint found little room to run—seven yards on eight carries, to be exact. The offensive line failed to get a push against Air Force's undersized D-line, doing little to ease concerns from last week's debacle. By the second half, Al Borges had essentially given up on generating yards the traditional way, and he was justified in doing so.

Defensively, Michigan looked ill-equipped to stop the Falcon triple-option attack. The defensive line spent much of the day on their stomachs, unable to evade chop blocks or get any sort of push. Kenny Demens looked positively Ezeh-esque, letting blockers get into him again and again before being pulled in favor of true freshman Joe Bolden. Jake Ryan was all over the field, recording a career-high 12 tackles, but sometimes "all over" can be a bad thing—keeping contain was an issue. The final Air Force touchdown came when Desmond Morgan overpursued. The defensive backs struggled against the run as well, failing to shed blocks and come up to take the pitch.

When the defense needed a big play, odds are it came from an underclassman. Ryan continually redeemed his poorer efforts with critical stops, including two pass breakups on the final Air Force drive. Bolden replaced Demens and displayed the aggressive, instinctual play that made him a high school All-American. Fellow freshman linebacker James Ross spelled Morgan late and acquitted himself well after struggling in his debut against Alabama. Several other freshmen made appearances during the game's biggest moments, including Ondre Pipkins and Mario Ojemudia.

Last season's 11-2 record belied the myriad issues Brady Hoke faced upon taking over in Ann Arbor. After two games in 2012, those issues are at the forefront for the Wolverines. The lack of depth on the offensive line means Michigan must move ahead with the current unit—despite its ineffectiveness in the run game—unless they want to insert a true freshman. The defensive tackles will be a sore spot all year; the players expected to relieve that problem are freshmen or not even on campus yet. The offense still leans heavily on Denard, whose style doesn't always mesh well with the offensive philosophy of Borges.

The Wolverines came away with a victory, a fact that cannot be overlooked, especially against a team with a difficult style to prepare for in a week's time. Denard will still make magic with his feet—his touchdown runs were both exhilarating—and perhaps his arm as well—he looks much-improved from last year even if the numbers don't necessarily bear that out. The future looks bright, too, thanks to the major contributions from a number of young players already gaining crucial experience.

The overwhelming feeling in the aftermath, however, is that this team is still two years away from competing on a national level, the only level of success that matters at Michigan. Today's game had Rich Rodriguez's fingerprints all over it; as we know, that's a smudge that isn't easily wiped away.

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Alabama

Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs Alabama

Submitted by Brian on September 6th, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Formation notes: Nothing unusual. Here's a kitten in some marshmallows.

cute-kitten-marshmellows_large[1]

Substitution notes: On the line we got a ton of people: the starting four (Roh-Campbell-Washington-Black), Ash, Pipkins, Beyer, and Brink. James Ross rotated through both MLB and WLB, replacing Demens or Morgan on about half the drives. Cam Gordon saw a few snaps in place of Ryan.

In the secondary, Michigan first moved Gordon down to nickel and brought in Jarrod Wilson. After the long touchdown on Avery they brought in Raymon Taylor as a one for one replacement for Countess.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 1
Michigan comes out with their nickel, moving Kovacs down into the box. Line is Ryan-Campbell-Roh-Beyer. Campbell(-1) and Roh(-1) get blown a yard or two off the ball Demens(+2) and Morgan(+2) have to flow very hard very fast; they do so, meeting linemen near the LOS before they can fully disengage. Demens gets outside his man and forces it back to Morgan; Campbell is also there.
O26 2 9 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 5 Hitch Floyd Inc
Ryan (+0.5, RPS +1, pressure +2) gets a free run off the edge. McCarron has to throw immediately and does to Lacy; dropped. Floyd looked like he was in okay coverage.
O26 3 9 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Pass 4 Throwaway Ryan Inc
Morgan shows blitz, backs out. Michigan stunts; Ryan(+2) ducks inside the LT and runs through a crappy chip from the RB, getting pressure(+2) right up the middle as Black(+0.5) comes around the outside to contain. McCarron chucks it away.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O39 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Counter Iso Demens 9
Countess gone now. Kovacs rolled up for an eighth guy. The second TE is lined up as an h-back on the boundary and roars up in a gap. Demens(-2) eats him two yards downfield and lets him outside; Morgan(-1) gets lost on the counter action. Roh(+0.5) had disengaged and tackles; could have tackled near the LOS if Demens hadn't gotten blown up.
O48 2 1 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Demens 2
Michigan slants away from the play, sending Ryan as they pull Black off the LOS. Roh(+1) ends up slanting into a double and gets buried, but holds up okay and does not allow anyone to get on the LBs. Demens(+1) flows into the hole next to Roh and gets a diving tackle on Lacy as he leaps; Morgan(-1) gets caught up in Roh's trash and cannot help. Otherwise this could be no gain.
50 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5? Waggle hitch Avery 7
I think this was a blitz the PA screwed up. There is no one on the edge(pressure -1) as McCarron turns, and it's an easy pitch and catch for him. Avery in coverage, not that close, does tackle on the catch.
M43 2 3 Ace 4-3 under Penalty -- False start -- -5
you gonna die now kid saban's gonna eat you
M48 3 8 Ace 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 5 Seam Floyd 19
Ryan gets dragged way out in to the slot. Play goes to the other side anyway. Michigan sends both LBs, dropping off Black short. Kovacs(-2, cover -2) goes for a chuck on the interior WR and doesn't get much; the routes are all past Black's little drop-off and the blitz is slow (Demens -0.5, Morgan -0.5, pressure -1); McCarron sees the big gap in the middle of the defense and hits it. Floyd tackles; he really had no choice here but to split the two WRs running in his zone and tackle. Kovacs has to get depth here as his man goes vertical. RPS -1.
M29 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Lead zone Demens 14
Floyd rolled up. Michigan slants away from the playside again, which means the line gets sealed inside. The LBs have to be hauling ass. Demens(-1) gets caught up in a lineman who is falling as he releases, but is releasing on the snap so that is tough. Have to have some DL make a play. . Morgan is trying to reach but wasn't done any favors by his DL; Roh(-2) and Ryan(-2) end up getting blown back two yards by single blocks and Morgan ends up in a pile of bodies. Gordon comes up to keep leverage and is kicked by the FB; thanks to Demens there is no one Gordon is funneling to. Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) comes up to make a nice openfield tackle to prevent a TD. RPS -1; slant made things tough.
M15 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Lead zone Roh 5
Morgan(-1) rushes at the LOS on some sort of blitz and gets chopped to the ground again. Roh(-1) gets blown out of his lane by his blocker. Brink(-1) also chopped to the ground on the backside. Washington(+0.5) actually gets some push and forces Yeldon into a relatively small hole. Demens is one on one with a guard and can't do much more than a helpless dive at feet. Gordon(+0.5, tackling +1) fills well.
M10 2 5 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Ash 5
Ash at NT. He's blown up(-2); Morgan(-1) is thumped backwards by the FB. Demens had no chance thanks to Ash getting blown up so fast.. They comboed him like it was nothing.
M5 1 G I-Form Big Goal line Run N/A Lead zone Heitzman 3
Michigan just chucking guys out there, anybody. Heitzman(-2) hurled to the ground and pancaked. This is the gap. Demens(+0.5) gets a good thwack on the FB at the LOS and forces it back inside, would be a no gain if that DE could just not die immediately. Guy who hurls Heitzman to ground then gets out on Morgan(-0.5); Black actually makes the tackle near the goal line.
M2 2 G I-Form Big Goal line Pass N/A PA TE corner Ryan 2
Ryan(-1, cover -1), loses the TE on the PA, but you can't blame him much.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q. Ugh, turn out the lights. Pick a DL, he got his ass kicked.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 PA throwaway Gordon? Inc
Ross has already replaced Morgan. Wilson playing FS. So much for no freshmen. Coverage(+2) is good off the PA; McCarron can't find anyone, at which point Ryan and Beyer are getting some pressure. He backs out and throws it away.
O33 2 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Demens 16
Morgan back. M slants again. This gets the two DL past their blockers; Morgan(+1) flows hard to the cutback lane these guys just vacated. Center comes out on him but he's at the LOS already and has funneled. Demens(-2) sits and waits for the ball, getting blocked by a fullback three gaps away from the play. Campbell(-2) didn't help by getting pushed past the play.
O49 1 10 I-Form 4-3 even Pass 5 PA fly Avery 51
Play action. All day for McCarron (pressure -2); Avery (-3, cover -3) falls on the double move and guy is wide open.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-14, 5 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Fly Floyd Inc
Overthrown and OOB. Floyd might have had a play.
M17 2 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 8
Pipkins in. Roh(+0.5) does a nice job to fight upfield of his guy at the numbers and force it back. Michigan has slanted to the boundary; Campbell's(-2) quickness gets him past his guy, and then he takes a terrible angle that is not along the LOS, so when the RB cuts back he's got a lane. Linebackers nowhere near the cutback, which I don't get since the line is slanting. They get swallowed.
M9 3 2 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Roh 9
Demens(+1) thunders into the FB at the LOS and forces a cut. There is one because Roh(-2) fought out of his gap and got shoved back; Floyd(-1, tackling -1) whiffs on Lacy afterwards. Mattison: "One of the touchdowns, for example, where Floyd missed the tackle in the hole, which would have been a two-yard gain, and he got a touchdown on it. Craig Roh just tried to make the play inside and should have stayed outside."
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-21, 1 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Ross 50
Nobody takes the C gap to the field. The line again slants to the boundary, and get under their guys. Penetration. Black is containing to the outside. Neither linebacker goes to the hole the line is funneling them to. Ross(-3), Morgan(-2), Kovacs(-0.5, tackling -1) for missing a tough tackle but not keeping leverage, Gordon(-1, tackling -1) for whiffing as he comes up, Taylor (-1, tackling -1) for whiffing, Ryan(-0.5, tackling -1) why am I doing this
M26 1 10 whatever whatever Penalty N/A False start -- -5
death
M31 1 15 Ace 3-wide Okie Run N/A Inside zone Morgan -3
M seven across the front, and they send six with Ross dropping off to clean up. Ryan gets upfield and forces it back, but he's way upfield, I don't think that's ideal. Beyer(+1) gets a little penetration and cuts off a cutoff lane the RB thinks about. Morgan(+2) beats a block and surges upfield as RB tries to break outside the tackles. RPS +1
M34 2 18 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Scramble Roh 15 – 15 pen
Roh(+1) fights inside the tackle and his held, but no call; hold makes him fall. This spooks McCarron and Beyer(+1) coming around the outside flushes him totally. Contain is broken and McCarron gets a bunch of yards, but the missed hold probably made that possible. Bama guy gets a PF for hitting Floyd in the head at the end of the play. Refs -1.
M34 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Screen -- 26
Michigan gets RPSed hard(-3), sending everyone to the same side they blitz on. Yeldon has a free first down.
M8 1 G I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Lead zone Morgan 4
Again the slant, again LBs not flowing. Ross(+0.5) at least tears ass. Into a blocker, but okay. He pushes some guys back and makes the hole smaller. Kovacs cuts off the lead blocker and maintains leverage; Morgan(-1) slows up inexplicably and can only make contact from the side. Gordon(+0.5, tackling +1) meets him at the same time, preventing this from getting to the two.
M4 2 G Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Fade Avery Inc
OOB
M4 3 G Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 6 Throwaway N/A Inc
Michigan sends the house and gets free rushers(pressure +2, RPS +1). McCarron chucks it away. This should be grounding, as he's in the pocket.
Drive Notes: FG, 0-24, 10 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Cross N/A Inc
No pressure (-2); decent coverage(+2) and a checkdown. With Ryan coming up probably a 4-6 yard gain if caught; dropped.
O47 2 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Counter Ross 7
Big gap on the backside as the line slides towards the TEs. Alabama pulls one to the back, which neither LB reads, and kicks Black. Brink(-1) is blown up. Ross(-1) and Demens(-1) are gone. Kovacs is nominally in the box and comes down to tackle(+0.5, +1) as Hart breaks into the second level.
M46 3 3 Shotgun empty 4-3 under Pass 5 Sack Ryan -6
TE standing up a yard or two outside the line points Ryan out but no one picks him up. Ross is sent; Beyer backs out. Ryan(+1) flushes McCarron up into the pocket, where Ross(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5) combine to sack.
Drive Notes: Punt, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Zone counter Kovacs -2
Not sure what to call this. Looks like standard inside zone blocking; QB flips the handoff around and gives it to the back going to the other side and he's headed backside from the start. Michigan is totally screwed on this with Beyer(-2) fighting inside and losing outside contain but for Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) shooting up past an attempted WR block and making a TFL.
O23 2 12 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan 3
Ryan (+1) gets into the FB at the LOS to the inside and clogs up the hole; Roh(+1) also fights through a block and ends up taking the pulling guard as well. Lacy slows up, confused, and shows why he'll lose his job to TJ Yeldon by not shooting outside immediately. Michigan should have had a guy there but Demens(-1), unblocked, is just sitting behind the line. The delay allows an unblocked Beyer(+0.5) to tackle near the LOS.
O26 3 9 ??? ??? Run N/A Draw ??? 9
We're watching a close-up of JT Floyd for this whole play.
O35 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Quick out Demens 13
A five yard hitch turns into more as Demens(-1, cover -1) overruns the play.
O48 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Out Floyd 12
No pressure(-2), WR wide open for about 15 (Floyd –1, cover -1). Easy.
M40 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Roh 11
Roh stunts with Beyer and gets into the LT, knocking him back on his heels. LT then tackles him. No call. because Bama needs that kind of help. McCarron scrambles out and dumps it off to Lacy. (Pressure +1, Roh +1, Refs -2) Lacy gets a first down but runs out the clock as he does so. Fumble pops out, because this is when we really need a turnover.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-31, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Waggle out Gordon 28
Coverage is fine here with Gordon prepped to make a tackle after this guy catches it three yards downfield; Gordon(-2, tackling -2) whiffs, turning this into big yards. Morgan(-1, tackling -1) compounds matters.
O48 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Pipkins 5
Pipkins in at NT. He gets good push(+1), driving the C back a couple yards and constricting any frontside hole. RB has to slow up awkwardly and cut back. Roh(-2) has taken a cut and gets up, then tries to do what he did on the earlier TD by over pursuing and getting out of his lane, opening up the backside. If he's more responsible likely TFL. Ryan then brings Yeldon down after he slices back upfield.
M47 2 5 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 15
Campbell(-2) ends up shoved two yards downfield and well down the line, opening up a big cutback lane. Pipkins(-1) took an angle too far upfield and helped open it up, too. Demens(+1) does a good job to dodge an attempted cut block and tackles as Yeldon shoots upfield; this is probably a touchdown-saving play.
O38 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 5 PA sack Campbell -16
Coverage(+2) is good, causing McCarron to hesitate. He spooks. Campbell(+2) has blasted the OL's hands down and starts coming around the edge. He has to go even further around as Black is now bull-rushing his guy back, but manages to get all the way around that and run the QB down for a sack. Impressive. (Pressure +2) Washington(+1) also beat a guy and forced a RB up; that's probably the reason for the McCarron spook.
M46 2 26 Ace Nickel even Pass 4 PA scramble -- 4
McCarron has nothing (coverage +2) and despite not getting any pressure just decides to take off. He gets a few.
50 3 22 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Tunnel screen Kovacs 15
Despite only sending four this gets dangerous. The LB to that side is sent and Michigan sends Beyer and Demens to the field; this goes to the boundary. Kovacs attacks this fantastically, getting past an attempted blocker, and... misses the tackle. He does delay the WR considerably, which helps the D rally. I'll give him a pass as this was a tough play. Gordon comes into tackle after a big gain, RPS -2; without that Kovacs play this could have been six. Bama has our screen number in this game.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(52), 7-31, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O47 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Zone counter Beyer 12
Again the backside DE here fails to keep contain. Beyer(-2) is the culprit. Kovacs is in man coverage and is not very useful; Michigan blitzed Morgan so there is no playside LB (RPS -1). Gordon(-0.5, tackling -1) comes up and misses a tackle but at least slows the guy and keeps leverage. Brink(-1) ended up on the ground, so even if Beyer contains there's a big hole to exploit.
M41 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Demens 8
Brink(-1) is instantly doubled away and sealed; quick G release on Morgan. Morgan(+0.5) gets to the G about a yard downfield and does get outside of him, funneling back; Demens(-2) is slow to the hole and then misses the tackle(-1). Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) also there and spun through.
M33 2 2 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Ash 0
Ash(+2) beats a block by swimming under it and coming back behind the OL so that he's still in the hole. He takes on the lead blocker and forces Lacy to slow up. Demens(+0.5) is free and comes up to hit. Campbell(+0.5) helped out, too.
M33 3 2 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle flare -- Inc
McCarron doesn't have it long(cover +1) and tries to flip it to the back leaking out but biffs it. Hard to tell if this makes it.
Drive Notes: FG(51), 7-34, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Lead zone Kovacs 8
M does not adjust to motion (RPS -1) and Black gets sealed inside by the TE. Demens(-2) runs up in that same gap and is sealed by same TE, so it's Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) on the outside with a blocker and a ton of space. Kovacs damn near makes an awesome play but doesn't and loses leverage, so the minus. Black(+0.5) was actually in position to tackle if Kovacs forces it back.
O33 2 2 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 18
Campbell(-2) drives his man back, but his angle is way too far directly upfield and then he gets cut, falling over. Morgan(-1) and Ross(-1) both got blown up. Black(-1) ran way too far upfield and opened this gap up even further. I screenshotted this. It's turrible by everyone relevant. Long way to go. Long way.
M49 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Lead zone Ross 5
Michigan gets flanked a la MSU last year. Ross(-2) runs straight upfield, eliminating himself. The TE in position doesn't even have to block him, Kovacs gets walled off a bit but does come up to tackle once Floyd provides leverage at the numbers.
M44 2 5 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Pipkins 7
Pipkins(-2) blown up. Ross(-2) runs into his own OL instead of the FB.
M37 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Ross 0
Ross(+1) pops the FB at the LOS and shucks inside. Washington(+1) sheds his block around the LOS and provides a guy in the hole. Cam Gordon comes from behind to help out.
M37 2 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass N/A PA TE corner Taylor Inc
Roh(+1, pressure +1) is unblocked and dodges an RB block to get some token pressure that may see McCarron miss long on his TE; Taylor(-1, cover -1) had gotten sucked up on PA and this was open, but not mega-open.
M37 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 5 Corner Avery Inc
Press coverage, Avery playing inside leverage, gets no chuck, lets slot have a step. Overthrown. Ryan and Roh got decent pressure from the edge, but it's a push.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-34, 12 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 3
Washington(+0.5) holds up to a double decently; Campbell(+1) gives ground on a double at first but comes through it after the second guy releases to block Ross(+0.5), who is trying to shoot the gap and at least a little aggressive. Black comes through a block but I'm not sure if I like this or not because if the back is aware enough to cut outside of this it could break big. Back doesn't, instead grinding for a few yards.
O46 2 7 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Pass 5 Waggle TE out Gordon 16
Gordon(-2, cover -2) bites hard on the play action, opening up not only the catch but a ton of YAC. RPS -1.
O38 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 11
Campbell(-2) gets clubbed to the ground by a double, which is a super quick release on Ross as a result. Kovacs(+0.5) attacks hard this time—makes me think he has not being doing well all game previous—and gets in for a tackle attempt at the LOS. He misses but at least forces the back away from the gaping hole Campbell left. Ash(-1) also got kicked pretty badly. Campbell could make a tackle now if he wasn't on the ground. Ross fights through his block and... misses a tackle(-1). Taylor comes in from the side to finish it.
O27 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Ash 6
Ash(-2) blown three yards off the ball by a single block from the center. Morgan comes up hard and takes on a G near the LOS, forcing it back, but Ash getting blown up doesn't make that relevant. Ross(-1) also got chopped. If he remains up he could make a tackle at about three yards. Pursuit catches up after a few more.
O21 2 4 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Power Brink -1
Brink(+2) manages to shoot between the gap left by the pulling guard, aided by the OT's odd decision to flare out on Beyer. He's falling but a couple yards oin the backfield, and tackles(+1) at his feet. Looked well defended otherwise. Heitzman(+0.5) and Washington(+0.5) but like whatevers.
O22 3 5 Shotgun trips TE Okie Pass 6 Fly Floyd Inc (Pen+15)
Mattison's zone blitz gets Roh(+1, pressure +2, RPS +1) in unblocked, forcing McCarron to chuck a hopeful one off his back foot. It is of course dead accurate. Floyd(-2, cover -2) is in good position but just gets outrun and ends up hooking the WR's arm, drawing a legit flag.
O7 1 G Ace twins twin TE 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Ross 6
Ross(-1) is sent on a blitz and shoots the gap between two blockers. He goes to the inside, gets shoved, and thus vacates his gap. RB hits gap. Kovacs(-1, tackling -1) gets run over at the five; Morgan has impressively leapt a cut block and manages to get him down before the goal line.
O1 2 G Goal line Goal line Run N/A Iso -- 1
They get it.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-41, 5 min 4th Q. Backups for both teams on the next two drives, charting ceases.

why are you doing this to me

WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME

i'm not doing anything

YES YOU ARE

just leave me alone

CHART

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Roh 7.5 8 -0.5 Surprised he came out this well.
Campbell 3.5 11 -7.5 Minor downgrade at this position.
Washington 3.5 - 3.5 ?!?!?!?!
Black 1 1 0 I guess.
Brink 2 4 -2 Blown up a couple times.
Ash 2 5 -3 See above.
Pipkins 1 3 -2 Etc.
Beyer 2.5 5 -1.5 Etc.
Heitzman 0.5 2 -1.5 Didn't register.
TOTAL 22.5 39 -16.5 erg
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 5.5 10 -4.5 And this was the best ILB play!
Demens 6 12.5 -6.5 Seemed marginally worse than Morgan.
Ryan 4.5 3.5 1 I may have not picked up some things he was doing that were bad.
C. Gordon - - - Nothing of note.
Ross 2.5 11 -8.5 Welcome to college.
Bolden - - - Garbage time.
Hawthorne - - - DNP.
TOTAL 18.5 37 -18.5 urgh
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd - 4 -4 Bad PI extended Bama TD drive.
Avery - 3 -3 Big TD on his fall.
Taylor - 3 -3 One long TD on him.
Kovacs 4 5.5 -1.5 Poor day by his standards.
T. Gordon 1 5.5 -4.5 Missed tackles a plague.
Holowell - - - DNP
Wilson - - - Did not chart.
TOTAL 13.5 26.5 -13 Thanks for being inaccurate, Miller.
Metrics
Pressure 12 8 4 Do I hear bright spot?
Coverage 9 13 -4 Could have been worse.
Tackling 5 14 26% This probably could not have been worse.
RPS 3 8 -5 Blitzes exploited a couple times.

So that's a demolition, too. If you want to sanity-check those numbers, Alabama averaged 6.2 YPC while running two-thirds of the time. Other than the Avery fall, Michigan kept the Alabama passing game in decent check, but it doesn't matter when you get crushed that badly on the ground.

I'm shocked that Washington didn't pick up any negatives and can't vouch for that. It may be that there were just other places to run all the time. We'll see what happens this week.

Oy, Campbell.

Yeah. He flashed impressive closing speed to track down McCarron on his sack but unfortunately also vacated lanes like whoah. By the time Yeldon hits this hole, he is behind Desmond Morgan, like literally directly behind him on the field:

And, like… come on, man:

The last-second switch on the defensive line seemed ominous when it was made and even considering the opposition I think that disquiet is confirmed now.

So it was all on the line?

The numbers say no but I have to admit this was hard sledding for me as I tried to figure out what was going wrong. On last year's defense, it was usually a single thing, maybe two things. On certain plays against Alabama it became extremely difficult to pinpoint what was wrong because it seemed like everything was.

So take this Yeldon run.

Michigan is slanting away from the playside blocking, which is going to leave a gap to the outside. Alabama has a lead blocker who kicks a charging Gordon, which is fine for Gordon, as he's turning it upfield at the hash.

Everything else is broken. Three Michigan defenders are on the backside of the play with two Alabama blockers. Then there is a cavern. Roh and Ryan are both clubbed off the ball by single blocks. As a result Demens is slashed to the ground because the OL assigned to him doesn't even have to provide a token double. Morgan is trying to flow to the hole but has to jump over Demens because the lineblob has gotten back to him. Once Yeldon reaches the LOS there is no one to even slow him. He hits the secondary, where Kovacs makes an impressive touchdown-saving tackle on a guy who wasn't even touched before he passed the sticks.

Who is at fault here? That side of the line, definitely. Demens? I mean, he's trying to read in the backfield and he's already got a guy in his legs before the ball is handed off. Morgan? He probably could have taken a more conservative angle… and tried to tackle where Kovacs got him. Trying to judge linebackers under these conditions is trying to find out who's the best guy at reattaching limbs in a field hospital stocked only with Elmer's Glue and old copies of Guns and Ammo. When they just single-block the entire line and roar out on you on the snap, life as a linebacker is a sad, sad existence.

BWS said the linebackers were hesitant.

Yeah, he's right. I'm not saying the linebackers were good—they got hammered numerically—and hesitancy is the main problem to my eyes as well. Here's a very similar defensive call on which the line gets excellent penetration:

This leapt off the screen to both myself and Chris, who focused on it in the above-linked post.

Here your slant closes off most of the holes. Campbell gets shoved past his ideal location, and that's a problem, but watch Morgan and Demens mostly. Morgan is aggressive, getting to the hole at around the LOS and funneling to his defensive partner. Demens then gets blocked by an h-back(!) three gaps away from where the play is. Morgan's at the LOS; Demens is two yards behind it. Is Campbell at fault here? Yes, if he is in the right spot there is no gap in the line.

Did Demens screw up? I think so, but this happened with enough consistency that in an ideal world Michigan wants that to happen so Demens can track down that RB when he has to slow up and awkwardly pick a hole.

Here there isn't going to be one so you need to slam hard into that big gap. How do you know this? You probably don't. Your peripheral vision picks it up and you go, because you have instincts. Or don't, as in this case.

These are what James Ross are supposed to have, yes?

Reportedly, yes. It didn't take him long to leap Joe Bolden and become the #3 LB on the depth chart. He rotated in at both MLB and WLB and did a bunch of stuff wrong but at least was damned decisive about it. Here's a replica of the first play above, the lead zone. This one is still a lost down (four yards on first and goal from the eight) but the differences between Ross and Demens are notable:

WOOOOOO IMMA GET ON MY HORSE AND GOOOOOOOOOO

Ross pounds into the guys at the line and gets himself sealed, but at least the POA is still at the LOS and there isn't a huge body in the way of Morgan. Morgan then takes a false step and can't get to the hole despite this being Yet Another Slant on which cutbacks should be doomed. Watch Morgan slow up as the blocker reaches him despite Campbell being obviously unblocked directly in front of his face. Blocker gets into him a bit and instead of meeting the tailback in that hole, he does it three yards downfield from the side.

So what's the point of all the slanting?

This is one of those things that I still need coaching up on, but IME executing that slant where you pick a gap and get in it is designed to force the tailback into a specific gap your DL are not covering by design. This gap is ideally one-person-sized and can be filled by the nearest LB plugging a FB or leading guard at the LOS. This allows the other LB to play it a little cooler. When the gap is big enough that the back can pick either side of the block the fullback laid down then you need that second linebacker to haul ass, beat the block (which is almost always coming from a difficult angle for the offense to get you on the slant), and finish as a free hitter.

Michigan was getting large gaps without free hitters. Is this on the DL? Or LB? Or both? Hand me the glue and the March 1987 edition—you know, the one with that guy using an AK47 on a bear.

Because, man, the linebackers seem clueless. Michigan slants left on this play, leaving Black as backside contain. the linebackers go… left. so you've got a huge hole you were planning on putting there and honey linebackers don't care.

Long, long way to go. For everybody.

Pipkins?

Was not a step up or down in this environment. Is that good? If you want it to be, I guess. He did force a cutback by getting good push, something we didn't see much else of:

In general, ask again later.

Any unrelated complaints recycled from last year?

Spread punt plz.

vlcsnap-2012-09-03-20h51m14s111_thumb

vlcsnap-2012-09-03-22h41m26s162_thum

I know Hagerup's kicking the dickens out of the ball, but that's all the more reason to get those interior guys gone on the snap. Most of college football probably isn't wrong about this.

Heroes?

Nobody. I don't trust my Washington number.

Goats?

Oh hell let's just move on.

What does it mean for Air Force and beyond?

This made me feel much worse than the offense. Denard flashed greatly improved accuracy, we didn't have Fitz, Alabama is Alabama, etc. Here it's just a complete crapfest. You expect to lose the battle against this OL with Michigan's DL but they got so comprehensively owned that I'm worried this ends up being a harbinger.

Campbell was bad. Campbell is playing because Michigan has no other choice. Campbell can remain bad and not get pulled off the field. There is no reason to think Campbell will ever be not bad, etc. I'm expecting the DL causes Michigan to get gashed by Air Force—like, a lot—and we have an uncomfortable outing Saturday.

Preview 2012: Linebackers

Preview 2012: Linebackers

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2012 at 3:02 PM

Previously: Podcast 4.0, the story, quarterback, running back, wide receivers, offensive line, defensive line.

Depth Chart
SLB Yr. MLB Yr. WLB Yr.
Jake Ryan So.* Kenny Demens Sr.* Desmond Morgan So.
Cam Gordon Jr.* Joe Bolden Fr. Brandin Hawthorne Sr.
Royce Jenkins-Stone Fr. Mike Jones Jr.* James Ross Fr.

It's step-up time for the linebacking corps. They return every contributor from a year ago and get freshman-to-sophomore transitions from Jake Ryan and Desmond Morgan. Kenny Demens, Cam Gordon, and Brandin Hawthorne are entering their second consecutive years in a sane defense for the first time in their careers and could/should see larger than average leaps in performance.

They will need to be much better. Mike Martin isn't going to bail them out on six plays a game anymore. Ryan Van Bergen isn't walking through that door. Ryan has to become an elite pass rush threat; Demens and Morgan need to take on blockers and funnel to help far more consistently than they did a year ago.

This is well within reach. Now about getting there.

Middle Linebacker

demens-nebraskademens-nw

Rating: 3.5

KENNY DEMENS
SLOWER THAN BLOCKS
eats MSU cut
eats OSU TE
eats him again
FASTER THAN BLOCKS
Minnesota, granted
flow hard son
GOT SOME THUMP
Iowa FB denied
No Coker part 1
BLITZING
blitzing
COVERAGE
line to seam PBU

In 2010, Kenny Demens was not Obi Ezeh, and this was enough. Expectations were sky-high for Demens in 2011 if only because he seemed so much better than Michigan's incumbent that he had to be pretty good. In retrospect, his somewhat disappointing output was always the likely outcome. Like almost everyone else on the defense, Demens had experienced position-coaching chaos and shifted from system to system on a semiannual basis.

Stepping into an entirely different coaching regime naturally meant hesitation, and hesitation was what we got. I put up this extremely scientific pie chart after Eastern Michigan put up 4.5 YPC despite throwing six times:

image_thumb_1241_thumb

We'll talk about the Jake Ryan edge allowance below; here we're fixated on the big red thing labeled "hesitant linebacker play." This was the week after I'd watched Notre Dame's linebackers tear ass after anything that moved, so I may have had a view of proper linebacker play improperly biased towards running your balls off as soon as a guard gives you a direction.

I don't think so, though, as Michigan linebackers were exploited on the edge for much of the year. Blue Seoul captured a Kain Colter option TD in With Pics(!), and while I suppose Carvin Johnson, who Seoul criticizes, could have been more Kovacs-y on the play, he did follow the golden rule of leverage by keeping Colter well inside of him. It's just that there was no one to clean up afterwards:

6231723730_6bb1ffe037[1]6231724246_09ca5bf9d0[1]

Johnson's mistake should have been worth a few yards, but not enough for Northwestern to convert. Earlier he was unable to shut down an outside run that got turned up at the numbers:

6231720430_62d9c3945c[1]

He's even with Hawthorne, who was the backside LB, and well behind nose tackle Mike Martin in his attempt to shut the play down. This is because he took an angle upfield of a blocker on a perimeter run, which is one of those "you better make the damn play" decisions. Demens wasn't close.

Demens got a –4 in that game and was negative the next week against MSU as the Spartans pounded the edges and found Michigan LBs a step slow. Too often Demens did not do what Johnson is managing above, like on this Ed Baker run against MSU. Watch him eat a block and let Baker to the edge:

I know this is not an edge play, but it's symptomatic of the main issue.
You want edge biff? Edge biff.

State couldn't get out to the second level on Hawthorne and he is free. This is a quintessential example of what you hear about the WLB in the under: he often ends up the free hitter because of the configuration of the DL whereas the MLB has to take on a block. Demens takes on a block, loses leverage, does not funnel to his partner, and off Baker goes. This was 60-70% of all the complaining I did about the linebackers last year and my A-#1 bitch about Jonas Mouton. Michigan linebackers aren't good about keeping leverage. (Yet.)

Before and after that, Demens was pretty good between the tackles. He pounded ND for twelve tackles and a +8.5 and was consistently above average late in the year, picking up three straight +4s against Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska before falling back towards zero in the OSU game. Late he started playing faster. His third-and-one stick of Marcus Coker was hands down Michigan's tackle of the year:

Yeah, Kovacs collapsed Alex Carder's lung. He did not stop that truck dead in its tracks. Demens was also the second key on that Braxton Miller rollout against OSU, tracking him to the edge and forming up at the right spot to allow Black to come from behind.

For Demens, it's about playing fast and going hard. Last year Mattison literally played him at nose tackle because he'd rather have Mike Martin blitz; Demens needs to go when he goes, and decide to go more quickly. That should be in reach. He'll be a solid run defender and decent down the seam, but a lack of raw athleticism probably sees him top out at a bit above average.

[hit THE JUMP for Bolden as Samson, Jake Ryan(!), and Desmond Morgan]

Big Ten Draft O' Snark: The Fourth Bit

Big Ten Draft O' Snark: The Fourth Bit

Submitted by Brian on August 15th, 2012 at 2:22 PM

PREVIOUSLY ON "MGOBLOG WRITERS DRAFT THEIR VERY OWN BIG TEN TEAMS WITH DISTRESSINGLY LOW NUMBERS OF MICHIGAN PLAYERS":

SETH got Denard, then did some other stuff I guess. He also got Kovacs.

ACE god Ace your team is SO BORING, got EVEN MORE BORING, and then I just don't even know man because I'm thinking about anything else.

HEIKO took quarterbacks, then took quarterbacks, then tried to hump the rules real good by taking a combo kicker.

BRIAN got stuck with Nathan Scheelhaase, wept, and then told himself he would develop a narrative of victory, whereupon maybe he kind of did maybe (call me?). No he didn't.

We find our HEROIC DRAFTERS in a SECRET SUBMARINE HEADQUARTERS UNDERNEATH THE NORTH ATLANTIC [ed-S: ...where iPhones can't get OSU eligibility updates]. Heiko is on the clock for the SECOND PICK of round THIRTEEN…

Follow along on Seth's spreadsheet here.

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

HEIKO

Ryan Shazier Penn State v Ohio State bByS8kadbJMl[1]PICK: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: At this point the field of competition has narrowed to exclude Brian's great Scheelhaase experiment, so I'm going to focus my attention on neutralizing Seth and Ace. To deal with Denard Robinson, I'm going to procure my own heat-seeking missile in the form of Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier, who you may remember notching a bazillion tackles toward the end of last season and is poised to break out in 2012. Sure, Denard had a field day in last year's edition of The Game, but that's because Borges was smart enough to use misdirection with Toussaint and option the crap out of Ohio State's linebackers.

Shazier still ended up with 8 tackles, several of which were touchdown preventing, and he did this on a bad knee. At 100% and a little more experience, Shazier could end up better than Nebraska's second-round draft pick Lavonte David.

SNERK: The key to this pick is that Seth does not get Fitz and I do not end up with Etienne Sabino. Check, and pending. On an unrelated note, but just to be clear: Two of your quarterbacks lost to Minnesota last year.

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

ACE

129035494_display_image[1]PICK: Spencer Long, guard, Nebraska

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OL, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Long was an unknown, untested walk-on heading into 2011, but by the end of the season he'd earned enough respect to be named second-team all-conference by the media and honorable mention by the coaches. At 6'4", 305, Long lacks the ideal size for an NFL interior line prospect; the ground production of Rex Burkhead and Taylor Martinez, however, indicate the strength up front for the Huskers, and Long is widely considered their best lineman. With my offense clearly predicated around the running game, Long is a great fit.

SNARK: I'm sure Ryan Shazier won't open up any gaping lanes against these run-heavy attacks. Nope, not at all.

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

SETH

Jacob Pedersen Wisconsin v Michigan State Zvqu2UfHmCNl[1]PICKS: Jacob Pedersen, tight end, Wisconsin; and Graham Pocic, offensive line, Illinois

CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M), Rex Burkhead (RB, Neb), Kofi Hughes (WR, Ind), Jacob Pedersen (TE, Wis), Michael Schofield (OT, M), Graham Pocic (OL, Ill)

CURRENT D:  John Hankins (NT, OSU), Kawaan Short (3T, Pur), Marcus Rush (DE, MSU), Jon Brown (MLB, Ill), Gerald Hodges (OLB, PSU), Jordan Kovacs (SS, M), Micah Hyde (CB, Iowa)

EXPLANATION: There are only a few best overall players left at any position and even fewer 5-stars left on my draft board, so to get two here is VALUE. That begins with Pedersen, who would be in an argument for best tight end in the conference with Stoneburner if Stoneburner was eligible. [ed: ????]

Since he's not, [EDIT: mea culpa] I get the position's lone star: 30 catches for 356 yards for 12 ypc, and eight (8!!!) touchdowns. And unlike Neb's Reed, Pedersen also happens to be a better blocker than receiver. If the knock on him is he's *only* 6'4, I urge you to check the sizes of your safeties and OLBs who won't be defending him up the seam (Cover 3 you say? BOOM Denard'd). Who says spreads can't have tight ends? Martell Webb was a secret reason M's 2010 offense was awesome, and I've got Webb who can catch plus a go-to option for when Denard and Rex get me to the red zone.

07-Oct-10_102118071JD091_Ohio_State_v_crop_450x500[1]Pocic meanwhile makes every all-conference list and a few all-American mentions. I know why he fell this far: Go to the D vs Illini UFR last year and look at Martin and RVB's monster days. Much of that I put on the guards since Pocic was called on to release downfield while M's elite DL blew by the other guys, however he had more than his fair share of awful that day, including letting Will Campbell get under him and shove him back on a crucial short situation. This is because crazy-ass Zook put a fleet-footed, 6'7/310 dude at CENTER. Not I said the Seth. This senior leader is going at guard or tackle--NFL projections do the same--both of which he has played and either of which makes his length an asset while better utilizing his devastating downfield blocking skills and keeping him away from the low-leverage pluggers he can't swallow whole.

SNARK: Speaking of monster DL days, check out the following week when Martin et al. threw Nebraska's light-footed walk-on guard around like a ragdoll. Now picture that guy in Wisconsin's man-blocking scheme where his specialized abilities won't even help him. Now remember Ace just lost the tight end he was so sure the spread outfits (or Heiko's Fitz offense) would overlook and be kind because he's really just a nice guy having a bad day.

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

ACE

106811260_crop_exact[1]PICK: Jake Stoneburner, tight end, Ohio State

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Uh, Seth? Stoneburner, along with partner-in-crime Jack Mewhort, is practicing with Ohio State while waiting for his inevitable reinstatement. I was just waiting for the first tight end to go off the board and, oh, hey, here we are. At 6'5", 245, Stoneburner provides a big target and also has the size to be a solid run-blocker. He'll provide a critical red-zone option for Vandenberg, as seven of his 14 receptions last year went for touchdowns. He also has the versatility to split out wide, something he did a fair amount this spring, giving my offense greater flexibility. Stoneburner's numbers should only increase now that Ohio State's quarterback situation has worked itself out, and just imagine what his numbers would be like with a marksman like Vandenberg slinging him the rock. That's what I've got, and good luck stopping this team in the red zone.

SNARK: Might want to spend a little more time on that iPhone, Seth.

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

HEIKO

Capital One Bowl FootballPICK: Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Heat-seeking missile: check. Large blunt object: I'll take Michigan State LB Max Bullough. In a conference that's pretty loaded with inside linebackery types, Bullough is probably the most talented. I like that he was second team All-B1G last season even without super-inflated stats (89 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks), and I like that he isn't 5'11 and fat. Michigan State DC Pat Narduzzi recently called him the best linebacker he's ever coached, so if that means Bullough is better than former MSU All-American LB Greg Jones, that's fantastic.

Bullough's size -- 6'3, 252 lbs -- suggests that he could also play SAM should I choose to draft another middle linebacker so that I don't have to draft Etienne Sabino. He also reminds me a lot of David Molk, and I have a soft spot in my heart for people who remind me of NO I DON'T SPARTY SUCKS KORK COUPONS AHHH This draft is an excellent exercise in cognitive dissonance *twitch*.

SNURK: FYI, red zone offenses aren't much help if you can't even make it past the 50, but Ace should totally bolster his red zone offense with Zach Boren, on whom I will graciously give up my dibs.

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

BRIAN

136425307_display_image[1]PICKS: Beau Allen, NT, Wisconsin, and Bradley Roby, CB, OSU

CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), Taylor Lewan(LT, M), Chris McDonald (RG, MSU), Jack Mewhort (RT, OSU).

CURRENT D: John Simon (DE, OSU), Beau Allen (NT, UW), Akeem Spence (DT, Illinois), Jake Ryan (LB, M), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU), Terry Hawthorne (CB, ILL), Bradley Roby(CB, OSU)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: I need a nose tackle, and the biggest, nose-tackliest dude on the board who I'm not deathly afraid will get pancaked all year is Wisconsin's Allen, a 6'3", 330 pound tank who managed to record four sacks last year despite not starting and being 330 pounds. That was good for second-best on Wisconsin's defense. Then he crushed Wisconsin's OL in their spring game, racking up 3 TFLs and a sack while drawing approving noises from the Wisconsin DL coach. With Jordan Kohout ending his career due to recurring migraines and the graduation of meh senior Patrick Butrym, Allen's going to get a ton of playing time. As a rising true junior still turning fat into muscle, he's got major upside, and solid existing production. Can you say "Beaukout"? Probably not since that's not a word.

Bradley-Roby[1]Then I'll take Roby, who started for OSU as a redshirt freshman and has reportedly run a 4.31. I give that five FAKES but they say he's the fastest kid on OSU's team and when I watched him last year he did impress with his raw speed. He'll need to develop to be an all-conference sort but that's what freshmen do. His coach is hyping him up as a future first-rounder, and he had three interceptions last year. He seemed clearly better than Travis Howard in my eyes and should extend that distance this year.

[NOTE: Seth and I are full at DT, so either Ace or Heiko filling up will trigger the must-draft rule, which we're extending to 3 rounds.]

SNARK: I thought about Shazier but trading AWESOME TFLs with 80 YARD RUNS THAT ARE TOTALLY YOUR FAULT didn't seem like a good deal. Also, I cant wait for Allen to hurl Seth's 6'7" interior linemen out of the very real stadium that will hold billions of screaming fans when our teams meet on the field of very, very real battle. FOOTBALL GAMES ARE WON WITH PAD LEVEL AAAAAH.

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

HEIKO

Baker Steinkuhler Washington v Nebraska sZsJDG9LGall[1]PICK: Baker Steinkuhler, DT, Nebraska

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Baker Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: I have no problem forcing Ace's hand, so I'm going to go ahead and slide Jordan Hill to nose and take Nebraska's Baker Steinkuhler as my 3-tech DT. Steinkuhler's a solid contributor on the defensive line, garnering All-Conference recognition in both the B1G and the B12 in consecutive seasons. His stats (40 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks) belie his true ability as a penetrating defensive lineman—last year opposing teams could afford to focus on him after Jared Crick got injured.

GENUINELY HELPFUL ADVICE: Yo Ace, you should look into picking up Cameron Meredith before either Seth or Brian gets to him.

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

ACE

970685[1]PICK: Cameron Meredith, defensive end, Nebraska

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW), Cameron Meredith (DE, NEB)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Meredith is a versatile lineman; in addition to his normal WDE duties, he filled in at DT when Nebraska was hit hard by injuries last year, and he's also lined up at rush linebacker when they've gone to a 3-4 look. He's not going to be super-productive, though he did manage five sacks last year, but he'll hold up well against the run and—with 27 consecutive starts under his belt—he's got experience and durability in his favor.

SNARK: Wait, did I just take drafting advice from MGoMillen?

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

SETH

RickyBarnum1[1]PICKS: Ricky Barnum, interior offensive line, Michigan; and Kenny Bell, wide receiver, Nebraska

CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M), Rex Burkhead (RB, Neb), Kofi Hughes (WR, Ind), Kenny Bell (WR, Neb), Jacob Pedersen (TE, Wis), Michael Schofield (OT, M), Graham Pocic (OL, Ill), Ricky Barnum (OL, MICH)

CURRENT D: John Hankins (NT, OSU), Kawaan Short (3T, Pur), Marcus Rush (DE, MSU), Jon Brown (MLB, Ill), Gerald Hodges (OLB, PSU), Jordan Kovacs (SS, M), Micah Hyde (CB, Iowa)

EXPLANATION: So when I take huge, proven linemen you guys say your puny nose guards will get leverage on them, and when I take squat, proven linemen you say I'm a Michigan homer. What I am is a spread offensive line homer, and it just so happens that some of the best of them play for Michigan. With Barnum I have yet another super target of Rich Rod, another very fast and dependable combo blocker, and a guy who can play center or guard depending on who is available to me later on.

Kenny Bell gives me a be-dreaded complimentary receiver who's 6'1, speedy, and had a deceptively productive season: 32 catches for 461 yards and 3 TDs--all as a freshman with Heiko's starting running back as a passer. Project that to a Denardified offense where he's not a freshman and not the only eligible receiver worth covering, and you get a top 5-ish receiver by Big Ten 2012 standards. His usage increased as the season progressed to about 5 catches per game on 7 targets. The knock on him is dropsies, which Husker fans say comes from blocking 90% of the time. Good blocking also comes from blocking 90% of the time. Only Roundtree comes close as a comparable left on the board, but Bell's low side is basically last year's Roundtree and his upside is Manninghamish.

In a year when the conference is so receiver-poor that the far and away best option is a Roundtree-effect walk-on, and the other guys are hanging their hats on depth chart transfers and position switchers (ahem, "being closer to family members"), to get Kofi and Kenny is somewhat of a coup.

SNARK: Yes, Heiko, there is deep magic in Ryan Shazier. But if you read the deeper magic, the magic written in HTTVs of years past, you would know that you have drafted nothing but "Janus" Mouton II. You may have stopped one play in the backfield, but the next one is going 42 yards to paydirt!

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ACE

9027266-large[1]PICK: Michael Mauti, linebacker, Penn State

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (LT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (RG, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (MLB, UW), William Gholston (SDE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (WLB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (SS, NW), Cameron Meredith (WDE, NEB), Michael Mauti (SLB, PSU)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Now's the time to take some risks, and Mauti certainly qualifies; for the second time in three seasons, he's looking to bounce back from a season-ending ACL tear (the bright side, I guess, being that the knee he hurt last year wasn't the same one that underwent surgery in 2009). When healthy, however, Mauti is an aggressive, instinctual run-stuffer with NFL upside. As a part-time starter in 2010, Mauti tallied 67 tackles and 5.5 TFL, and in just three games last year he amassed 21 tackles, 3 TFL, 3 PBU, and an interception before going down against Eastern Michigan. At this point in the draft, he's worth the gamble; if playing at 100%, he's better than several of the LBs taken previously.

SNARK: Barnum over Ferentz or any of the more-qualified guards in the league? The iPhone fails Seth again, apparently.

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HEIKO

Kenny Demens[1]PICK: Kenny Demens, LB, Michigan

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Baker Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Kenny Demens (LB, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: I needed a middle linebacker to thump your running backs and also to cover all your tight ends. Kenny is almost David Harris, and can cover. Good enough.

SNARK: 10 dollars says Seth is going to take James Ferentz and turn Barnum into a guard.

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BRIAN

MarqueisGrayTDREC[1]PICKS: MarQuies Gray, QB/WR, Minnesota, and CJ Fieodorwicz, TE, Iowa

CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), MarQuies Gray (QB/WR, Minn), CJ Fieodorwicz (TE, Iowa), Taylor Lewan (LT, M), Chris McDonald (RG, MSU), Jack Mewhort (RT, OSU).

CURRENT D: John Simon (DE, OSU), Beau Allen (NT, UW), Akeem Spence (DT, Illinois), Jake Ryan (LB, M), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU), Terry Hawthorne (CB, ILL), Bradley Roby(CB, OSU)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: You guys forgot about Gray. While guys with no catches were being snapped up by Heiko to fulfill the role of a rangy downfield threat basically absent in the Big Ten this year, the one QB who'd actually proven himself at wide receiver sat on the board, wondering if anyone remembered that Minnesota was in the Big Ten. Well, I did. I remember your existence, Minnesota, and I'll grab MarQuies Gray to be my Devin Gardner.

Gray was shifted to wide receiver his sophomore year because he was too much of an athlete for the Gophers to sit on the bench and caught 42 balls for 587 yards in just seven starts. Last year he was (usually) Minnesota's starting quarterback and while he was pretty terrible at that, he rushed for just under 1,000 yards, further proving his athletic bonafides. He'll give Scheelhaase another deep threat to exploit.

Then I'll beef up the BEEFCAKE with a 6'7" rising true junior who came on late for the Hawkeyes and ncf_u_fiedorowicz_wm_400[1]has the level-headed Patrick Vint saying stuff like this:

Fiedorowicz was the jewel of the 2010 Iowa recruiting class, a four-star genetic freak of a tight end who played seven different positions in high school and was enough of a talent to draw offers from programs that don't even use tight ends. … Since then, he shrugged off a redshirt, blew people up on special teams as a true freshman, won the second-string tight end spot for his sophomore year, left the initial starter -- a four-year letterman -- in the dust, caught sixteen passes for 167 yards and a handful of touchdowns (including a touchdown in Iowa's bowl loss), and drew rave reviews from his new offensive coordinator. Not a bad two years.

The "Polish Hat"—no idea—is expected to be Iowa's most potent offensive weapon this year, and he's already exceeded Stoneburner's annual production. At around 270 pounds, he's also capable of contributing to the ground-and-pound being developed around these parts.

SNARK: See above in re: Stoneburner. Seth, you are such a Michigan OL homer.

Also, we are Michigan fans. We have known the Kovacs, and therefore we cannot talk poorly about awesome players who happen to be former walk-ons, lest the Kovacs disapprove. Abbrederis forever.

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HEIKO

105121884_display_image[1]PICK: J.T. Floyd, Cornerback, Michigan

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Baker

Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Kenny Demens (LB, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), J.T. Floyd (CB, UM), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Michigan's J.T. Floyd is perhaps a little underrated due to lingering PTSD from his 2010 performance. But as Seth pointed out a while ago, Floyd allowed 1 TD all last season against opposing teams' No. 1 wide receivers. Given that those No. 1 wide receivers were a lot better than whatever you guys can muster, I think I am my team is going to be all right. Also, as a bigger boundary corner, he can come up in run support should you choose to run the ball 90% of the time, which you all would probably be wise to do.

SNARK: I thought about drafting Gray, but I didn't want someone who was 6-18 over the past two years. Also, now that you have a quarterback who's better than Scheelhaase, what're you going to do with Scheelhaase?

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hi-res-6179384_crop_exact[1]ACE

PICK: Will Campbell, defensive tackle, Michigan

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW), Will Campbell (DT, MICH)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Wait for it...

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SETH

Oklahoma IowaPICKS: James Ferentz, center, Iowa, and Jeremy Gallon, slot-back, Michigan

CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M), Rex Burkhead (RB, Neb), Jeremy Gallon (Slot, M), Kofi Hughes (WR, Ind), Kenny Bell (WR, Neb), Jacob Pedersen (TE, Wis), Michael Schofield (OT, M), Graham Pocic (OL, Ill), Ricky Barnum (OG, MICH), James Ferentz (C, Iowa)

CURRENT D: John Hankins (NT, OSU), Kawaan Short (3T, Pur), Marcus Rush (DE, MSU), Jon Brown (MLB, Ill), Gerald Hodges (OLB, PSU), Jordan Kovacs (SS, M), Micah Hyde (CB, Iowa)

EXPLANATION: It's all part of the plan, Ace. Barnum was always meant for guard and I didn't trust certain other Michigan homers to leave me the best spread guard left on the board. The platonic ideal for my offense's center is David Molk. Since David Molk can't be on a Big Ten roster anymore (did nobody think to try to get him a 6th year for all the injuries? Just sayin--other schools have gotten it for less time missed and it would matter), my anchor will have to be the guy known as "not quite David Molk." Ferentz is not quite as big or strong as Molk. He can execute not quite as many reach blocks as Molk. He's almost as much of a team leader, appears on nearly as many preseason best-of lists, and is slightly less favored in those lists than Molk was to win them. My new not-quite Rimington has been the No. 1 center on my board since the start, but I would have been fine with Schmeig or Vitable--easy late round picks--is why I waited this long. Ferentz allows me to play Barnum at guard where he's better suited and gives me an interior line I'd put against any of your DT combos.

Gallon-Jump-Ball[1]Gallon: Brian can keep his two-back sets. Heiko can have his Fritz-tri-QB-wildcat-diamond abomination or whatever it is he's planning. And Ace can keep on wearing down Google until it agrees to answer "Who's the Big Ten's best fullback???". For my extra back-like object, since I don't have to worry about Burkhead tiring, like, ever, I'm taking a slot receiver. Gallon is everything a slot should be: a jitterbug with trustworthy hands and jetpack speed who can make a defense pay if they try to cheat (...their slot coverage into the box) on Denard. As a bonus he inherited Odoms's mountain goat blocking. As a double-bonus he has perfected Roundtree's 2009-'10 cloaking device that allows him to get acres of open downfield. As a triple-bonus Gallon has shown he can overcome some of his 5'8 size disadvantage with well-timed leaps and positioning on less athletic cornerbacks, making him a surprisingly effective third-down and red zone comeback option. In Borges's West Coasty Spread and Denard a Lot grab-bag of an offense last year Gallon put up nearly identical numbers to Kenny Bell and featured in the most game-swingingly play (late v ND) of the season. He is the perfect fit for this offense, which makes sense because like the rest of the Wolverines on Team Seth, he was recruited for it.

He'll also be my punt returner. Gallon is no Abbrederis but was solidly 3rd in the Big Ten last year in per-return yardage (MSU's departed Keshawn Martin was 2nd), averaging a solid 10.11 yards per attempt. GALLON U HOLD ONTO THE DAMN BALL!

SNARK: Abbrederis could have dreadlocks and look like Snoop from the Wire-- he still wouldn't repeat last year's output catching Scheelhaase passes instead of Russell Wilson passes, and opposite a guy who would rather be a Minnesota Gopher than play receiver instead of Nick Toon. Also since you knocked my quicksilver o-line: are you running a spread with those ponderous plodders or are you secretly putting together the pieces to recreate the 2007 DeBord offense with Scheelhaase at QB instead of Henne?

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ACE

 U.S. Army All-American Bowl West Team defensive lineman Ondre Pipkins (53) during the Monday West Team Practice for the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl at Comalander Stadium in San Antonio Texas.PICK: Ondre Pipkins, nose tackle, Michigan

CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU)

CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW), Will Campbell (DT, MICH), Ondre Pipkins (NT, MICH)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: So, I just drafted two of Michigan's defensive tackles; one of them doesn't even start and is a true freshman, the other is a senior with all of 3.5 career TFL. Is this insane? Probably. Allow me to explain myself. The options available at defensive tackle were limited, with the best available options probably Purdue's Bruce Gaston and Indiana's Larry Black and Adam Replogle. Those three are among the best players on their respective defenses. The problem, of course, is that those respective defenses are terrible. Despite the presence of Kawaan Short, Purdue allowed over 200 yards rushing per game on 4.7 yards per carry last year in Big Ten play; both figures placed them 10th in the conference. The Hoosiers somehow managed to be far, far worse, ceding 271(!) yards per game on 5.7(!!) yards per carry.

Michigan's figures of 116 yards and 3.7 yards per carry, on the other hand, were good for first and third in the B1G, respectively. Yes, it was with a completely different set of defensive tackles—not to mention far more talent surrounding those tackles—but the standard for quality play is at an entirely different level in Ann Arbor than it is in Bloomington or West Lafayette. If Will Campbell had decided to transfer to Purdue after the 2010 season, I have a hunch he'd be starting next to Short. If Ondre Pipkins shocked the world and chose Indiana out of high school, he'd play from day one and probably have his jersey retired before he ever played a game.

Plus, while Black (6'2", 294) and Replogle (6'3", 294) are a decent-sized pairing, Campbell (6'5", 308) and Pipkins (6'3", 340) obstruct all of the sidewalks and probably most of the running backs, too. I'm not so much concerned about production as I am building a wall of beef; with Campbell and Pipkins both in the best shape of their lives, that beef can even move a little. Is the floor of Campbell/Pipkins lower than that of Black/Replogle? Certainly. Are their ceilings even remotely comparable? Absolutely not.
Okay, I was also due an unabashed homer pick. Snark away, gents.

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HEIKO

Patrick Omameh[1]PICK: Patrick Omameh

CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Patrick Omameh (OG, UM), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)

CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill (DT, PSU), Baker Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Kenny Demens (LB, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), J.T. Floyd (CB, UM), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)

KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska

BRIEF EXPLANATION: Omameh is huge and loves pancaking All-American linebackers into first-round draft pick safeties. He makes the magic happen.

SNARK: None needed. Ace snarked himself.

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BRIAN

041412_SPT_Spring_Game_MRM_02.jpgPICKS: Blake Countess, CB, Michigan, and Daimion Stafford, SS, Nebraska.

CURRENT O: Nathan Scheelhaase (QB, ILL), Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB, M), LeVeon Bell (HB/FB, MSU), Jared Abbrederis (WR, UW), MarQuies Gray (QB/WR, Minn), CJ Fieodorwicz (TE, Iowa), Taylor Lewan(LT, M), Chris McDonald (RG, MSU), Jack Mewhort (RT, OSU).

CURRENT D: John Simon (DE, OSU), Beau Allen (NT, UW), Akeem Spence (DT, ILL), Jake Ryan (LB, M), Denicos Allen (LB, MSU), Terry Hawthorne (CB, ILL), Bradley Roby(CB, OSU), Blake Countess (CB, M), Daimion Stafford(SS, UNL)

BRIEF EXPLANATION: I'll continue the homer train but unlike a number of the Wolverines flying off the board now that we've seemingly picked all the foreign players we've heard about, Blake Countess actually deserves to be picked after a freshman year in which he emerged into a starter at field corner for Mattison and company, performing well. A universal four star, he enters year two poised to blow up in the mold of previous Michigan cornerbacks like Woodson, Hall, and Jackson. JT Floyd was better last year, but Countess will be better this year. What's that about eight-foot-ceilings now, Heiko?

Daimion Stafford Chattanooga v Nebraska V0Xw2JeXcU-l[1]I was also going to grab Omameh before he got snatched, since he is a three-year starter entering his senior year; with him gone I'll latch onto Daimion Stafford, a JUCO transfer who stepped right into Nebraska's starting lineup last year and finished third on the team in tackles; he also picked up 10 PBUs. He was no Kovacs in terms of reliability, but he was sort of a freshman and he brings the wood. 247 named him the #6 JUCO last year, he had an offer from USC. Nebraska folks feel he developed as a cover guy, and he should get significantly better with a full offseason to prepare—Stafford was a show-up-in-fall-and-start guy. And he's named "Daimion." QED.

SNARK: Ask Shazier about how power blocking schemes can mesh with a spread just fine, Seth. Inverted veer for the win. Hope everyone's getting familiar with the secondaries of Northwestern and Indiana to fill out their corner slots.

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NEXT TIME ON DRAFTOSNARK: we finish this dang thing. Most of us are now conversant on the secondaries of Northwestern and Indiana. Heiko drafts Kain Colter to do something, probably.