This Week’s Obsession: We Scouted Bad

This Week’s Obsession: We Scouted Bad Comment Count

Seth June 23rd, 2017 at 10:56 AM

The question:

Most humiliatingly bad recruiting ranking

The resposes:

Brian: Chris Wormley and Trey Burke spring to mind.

Ace: Can first-hand agree on Wormley. I don’t know how anyone could see that guy in person and not think he at least had a good shot at the NFL.

Brian: We've talked about Wormley before. Everyone saw a huge athletic man and ranked appropriately except Josh Helmholdt. He was the #22 player... IN OHIO.

Ace: That dude was built like a house as a senior and it was clear he could add another house.

Seth: Poor Helmholdt. We've probably hung that over his head more than any one ranking by anyone in history.

Brian: He's got a few more in the pipeline if he doesn't drag Mayfield and Hayes into the top 15 in state. But this is a key factor in ridiculous rankings: you miss when everyone else is on point. Sure, nobody saw a draftable CB in Jeremy Clark but I can't blame 'em for that.

Seth: So no Kevin Grady, even though Tom Lemming made him his #7 player in the country.

In. The. Country.

Brian: A key factor, not the. You can fire away on that ranking. By Grady's second year it was clear ranking him as a five star was total nonsense.

Ace: And we were all a little leery of his film when he was a recruit. But nobody flat-out said “De’Veon Smith is better” because of those dang rankings.

Seth: You're thinking of Green.

Ace: Ah crap, same thing.

Brian: A good answer to this question is "any highly touted Michigan tailback."

Seth: A-Train was way up there. #2 overall RB I think.

Brian: A-Train was so far back in the day that it has less impact. Literal mailmen were doing rankings then.

Seth: Well I may just happen to have some of those mailed Prep Football Reports and Prepstars in reach of my desk for some reason.

Brian: Grady was worse than Green because at least Green was a legitimately huge person. I have no idea what anyone was thinking about in re: Grady.



Recruits In Retrospect: 2010 Defense

Recruits In Retrospect: 2010 Defense Comment Count

Ace May 15th, 2015 at 2:06 PM

Previously: 2008 Offense2008 Defense2009 Defense2009 Quarterbacks2009 Offense, 2010 Offense

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

I apologize in advance.

Those Who Stayed

Obi Ezeh!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Hit THE JUMP, if you dare.]


Brady Hoke Presser 3-23

Brady Hoke Presser 3-23 Comment Count

Tim March 23rd, 2011 at 2:25 PM


Notes from Brady Hoke's meeting with the media today. Photo from file.


Ray Vinopal is no longer with the team. "Ray decided to go back Youngstown. You know, that issue's more a family issue."

Injuries: Christian Pace is doing individual drills only. "Molk's the other guy who hasn't done anything but some individual. He'll be fine by Tuesday." - hamstring tweak. Troy Woolfolk is doing a little group work, mostly individual. JT Floyd doing less group stuff than Troy. Mike Shaw is doing alternate conditioning things. Next week, he'll do more with the cast on. "I think we're OK health-wise. I don't think we're anything of real significance yet."

"We wouldn't play a game" for the spring 'game' with the team's current injury level. Would do more situational scrimmage-type stuff. With only 11 more practice days, "I doubt if we'll play a game game. I'd like to, but we don't have enough depth."

No new position changes. There may be some later in the spring when they've had more of a chance to evaluate.

During the spring, "we'll put [a depth chart] out. Nothing's given. You're gonna have to earn it." If you end spring as a starter, you better keep working over the summer, and in fall camp, because you have to earn your job.

Wants to install 50-60% of offense and defense in spring (Al Borges would like to get 65% of the offense in). You can install more in the fall as you're gameplanning. "Once we get the power play down, then we'll go to the next phase. You know, because we're gonna run the power play." [ed: This is a very MANBALL quote.]

Individual Positions

QBs: "I think both of them have done a good job. I think you look at, the different things are a little more under center, obviously. The ball mechanics and footwork... all those technical things that go along with it. So, I think they've both done a good job, they're both very capable of being tremendous quarterbacks in this offense."

RBs: "I wouldn't wanna say any of them's any better than the other ones. Vince [Smith] has done a good job, [Stephen] Hopkins has come on, Fitz [Toussaint] had a good day in there with a couple good runs, and Michael Cox is a guy that has some outstanding ability, and we've just gotta keep progressing with him."

Fullbacks: "We don't have a lot of fullbacks." Hopkins works out well at FB "for a lot of the old 49ers stuff" with split backs. Hoke wants fullbacks to block so hard they "come in at about 6-3, and leave the program at 6-1." Wisconsin fullbacks get shorter as the years go on.

WRs: "They have to do both" block and catch. They have the most bodies there and at safety. Lots of competition, so guys they have to block well and catch well to see the field.

Lines: "We just don't have a whole lot of bodies there... That's always, up there, because you need a lot of bodies on both sides." They need to address it in future recruiting. With Molk and Pace out, Rocko Khoury is getting most snaps at center. Patrick Omameh is getting a lot of reps with limited line depth.

Defensive line: "There's some guys who have played some significant minutes and downs up there that we've gotta get 'em better when you talk about the fundamentals of playing the position." Quinton Washington ("he shows up") and Richard Ash ("has made some progress") are doing well, you expect the 2 seniors to step up. "I think Will [Campbell] had some real good plays the other day, and he's gotta have more of those than bad plays."

Kicking game: "They're doing OK. We haven't gone full-bore into it... They have their specialists but we put a little live rush on them and those kinds of things yesterday." All the different elements (snap, hold, kick) need to come together.


There have been three practices so far, one in pads. "I've liked the tempo that we played with. I like how the guys are flying around to some extent. We've still got a lot that we've gotta get better at, and playing fanatical as a team."

"We're not playing as fast as we will" due to the nature of learning. Still pleased with the competition level. Guys come in wanting to improve every day.

How to cultivate a competitive atmosphere: "You do that by rewarding guys who play well, and guys who don't play as well, you maybe don't get as many snaps." In their situational drills (red zone, etc.), "There's consequences for losing." There is competition within positions and also offense v defense.

Smooth transition for Denard? "I think so." He sometimes has issues with rushing the footwork, but both QBs have handled it really well. Once in a while, Denard shows off those feet. "If you leave a little crease in there, he can go get it."

How have players responded to practice intensity? "They haven't come to see me about it. I guess it's been OK."


Any spring surprises? "Not yet. I think it's way too early to make any comment, to be honest with you. We're just really scratching the surface, in my opinion." General thoughts: "I think there's a little more, I think good and bad... You want to see some guys be a little more physical and a little more sudden in some of the things they're doing. At the same time, there's some other guys who have done a good job of being physical and the things that you're looking for."

By the end of spring, "We'll never be where I want us to be. Period. I know me." It's typical here, like it was with BSU and SDSU, they know where the team is starting and where they want to be when they finish spring. "We're where I thought we'd be right now, and where we thought we'd be."

There's a learning curve "paralysis by analysis" when installing new O and D. You see it more on the defensive side of the ball (which is by nature reactive). "From an offensive standpoint you may see it when the guys up front start movement patterns." Players over-thinking new plays, technique, etc. being a little different. "They're hungry, and they wanna learn. We just gotta keep as coaches doing a good job of being teachers."

Fundamentals and techniques of positions are the critical areas. Every position needs to know proper alignments, line splits, etc. Effort and toughness do not have any wiggle room for being less than perfect. The techniques and schemes are new, but effort and toughness do not change. How big is the gap between what players are doing and it should be done? "I don't know. The Grand Canyon size, right now." Players want to be coached and do it the right way. Guys who have played a lot might be further along, but may be slower learning a different way to do things.

They have 1-on-1 padded drills, not necessarily tackling all the time. "You're only limited to a certain amount [of full-contact practices], so you've gotta cherish those dates."

Had to move practice to 5:30 in the morning [ed: !!!] on Monday because 40-some players had Monday afternoon class. "Morning is my favorite time of day, but i worry about the other end of it for the kids" from an academic perspective.

It's important to practice outside in fall, but not so much in spring. "Previous experience here has told me you may get 6 times at the most to get out in the 15 days." The new indoor facility allows full kicking game, you can throw full deep routes without hitting the ceiling.


Exit Ray Vinopal

Exit Ray Vinopal Comment Count

Brian March 23rd, 2011 at 12:53 PM


This rumor had been bouncing around the internet for long enough that it was hardly a rumor anymore, but Hoke has just confirmed it and now it's really not a rumor:

Hoke on Vinopal: "Ray decided to go back Youngstown. That issue's more a family issue."

Michigan loses both a two-star recruit no one expected would ever play and a guy who started half his freshman season, which says all you need to about last year's secondary. The free safety spot is manned by… uh… definitely somebody. I think we can safely assert Michigan will put eleven players on the field this fall. That's all we know. Since the depth chart by class has exactly one other body at the spot, that true freshman Minnesota decommit Tamani Carter, it's safe to say the eventual starter is kind of up in the air.


Picture Pages: Swallowing Kenny Demens

Picture Pages: Swallowing Kenny Demens Comment Count

Brian November 23rd, 2010 at 12:55 PM

So… Greg Robinson doesn't know how to run a 3-3-5. For whatever reason, Michigan is running a 3-3-5. This results in situations like this first quarter run for the Badgers that echoes several themes from the This Is Not A Stack post: by lining up his MLB just behind his nose tackle he dooms that guy to take one step to the playside, whereupon he is eaten by a guard who has no one lined up over him. Even if Michigan successfully plugs that hole they are crazy vulnerable to cutbacks and counters.

It's second and three on Wisconsin's second drive of the day. they come out in an I-form with twins to the field side. Michigan aligns in its stack formation with Jordan Kovacs—supposedly the bandit—aligned to the strong side of the formation, with Cam Gordon hovering over the wide receiver stack to the outside:


Wisconsin's going to run a simple iso play that's designed to go off the right side of the line. You can see in shot two Demens's alignment just three yards off the LOS:


Martin's getting momentarily doubled in the shot below but the G peels off quickly to block the rolled-up Demens. On the backside Ryan Van Bergen has gotten kicked out and Mouton is staring down a free release from the backside G:


Demens is swallowed. I think the idea here is to force Wisconsin to come off their double of Martin quickly, allowing him to run free and eat people, but don't quote me on that. Ezeh is attacking the FB, and there's nothing on the frontside:


Because Martin has slanted past the center and Van Bergen has gotten kicked out there's a big cutback lane. Mouton is in a bad situation, essentially standing still as a guard comes out on him. Demens is getting blocked; the OG has his arm around his back. This never gets called holding but he's being held:


Mouton gets blasted three yards downfield and gives up the inside. Courtney Avery was filling from his overhang spot and could have maybe held this under three yards but once Mouton gets hit in that position the RB cut past him and it's up to Demens and/or Martin to spin of blocks and close it down.


They can't. Vinopal is forced to tackle ten yards downfield.



Object lesson type objects:

  • Theory as to the deployment of Kenny Demens two feet from his NT. Demens threatens to shoot into the backfield immediately on plays like this, which seriously reduces the time Wisconsin guards have to double Mike Martin. This allows Martin to use his quickness to slant under the center, get to the playside, and close off holes.
  • Problem with the deployment of Kenny Demens two feet from his NT. Once you're engaged with an OL he is going to grab you and delay you and let go before he gets a flag, so you can attempt to get off him and close down the massive cutback hole you've opened up by shooting both your MLB and NT to the playside but you're probably not going to make it.
  • Second problem with the deployment. I imagine it has something to do with opponents' consistent ability to hit balls over the linebackers and in front of the safeties; having your linebackers five yards off the LOS gives them more time to reduce throwing windows. I've charted basically all of Tolzein's throws and three or four could have been shut down if the linebackers had been a yard or three deeper.
  • WTF Van Bergen? When Michigan is aligned in this fashion the overhang guy—in this case Courtney Avery—is in great position to shut down anything that bounces all the way outside to the short side. With both Demens and Martin headed playside RVB should be flowing down the line, relying on Kovacs to bounce anything that gets behind him and Avery to clean up. Instead he gets upfield and seals himself, basically, leaving Mouton in acres of space with a guard bubbled over him.
  • Mouton could do better here, too. It's never good when you're taking on an OL three yards downfield and that OL is moving while you're not.

Ironically, I think this MLB deployment would have worked out okay for Ezeh, who's a big guy with some pop but terribly indecisive. Here there's not much of a decision. Line goes one way, you pound the playside guard ASAP. It seems like a waste for Demens, who has displayed good read and react skills in his brief career as a starter.

I was looking for an adjustment here where Michigan would defense something like this by not having Demens right at the LOS but haven't found it yet. I've seen a lot of small guys getting battered and crappy pursuit angles. I'm not sure if my haziness on what the appropriate play is is my fault or the defense's fault; it seems like Michigan players are making basic errors but it could be a shifting scheme in which a guy like JB Fitzgerald's attempt to defeat a downblock sees him go from the LOS at the snap to six yards off the LOS outside the hashmarks.

More than anything this seems like another example where the scheme is either incoherent or the players don't know what they're doing. Van Bergen getting upfield is the killer here and makes no sense given the alignment of the D.


The Music Of The Slightly Damned

The Music Of The Slightly Damned Comment Count

Brian November 15th, 2010 at 12:26 PM

11/13/2010 – Michigan 27, Purdue 16 – 7-3, 3-3 Big Ten



I lasted a quarter and a half before giving in to my inner old man and muting the television. Chris Martin had not just said that the receiver Roy Roundtree reminded him of was Braylon Edwards, but that's all I remember from the first hour. I love the Big Ten Network's picture quality and was pleasantly surprised when Saturday's director consistently cut away from highlight packages to show the game. Not so much the people paid to talk.

I was home alone since the last time I tried to watch a game in the company of people it was the Penn State game. I went home at halftime after demonstrating my severe case of sports Tourrette's. I didn't trust the team enough to expose the world to me for those three hours on Saturday, and that turned out to be a good call. Slop happened, swears were deployed, and sometime in the third quarter Sean Robinson threw a ball directly at James Rogers for the ninth turnover of the day.

It was a this point that Yakety Sax spontaneously started playing in my otherwise silent apartment.

Possibilities washed over me. One: I have been driven insane by last four years of Michigan football. Two: I am now dangerously, thrillingly super-sane and will walk-around hearing situationally appropriate music everywhere I go. I will hear "Yes We Have No Bananas" and know I don't need to bother with the produce section. People will have to tell me what Mark Dantonio says as "Breakin' The Law" thunders in my skill. I will stop complaining about Special K because instead of "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor," I will hear the marching band.

I ONLY EAT BANANAS AND HEAR YAKETY SAX SPONTANTEOUSLY WOOOOOOO—damn. It turns out that I still had a liveblog window open and when you post a video it auto-plays because it loves breaking the cardinal rule of the internet. Elaborate sigh, dreams deferred.

I'd forgotten because I don't participate in the liveblogs mostly because I'm at the games. Even when I'm not I avoid them—I don't like my own furious overreactions, let alone the furious overreactions of hundreds of other people.


What have we learned in week ten? Eh… I'm not sure you can take much out of this game except a growing concern for Denard Robinson's turnover issues and healthy fear of Ryan Kerrigan. Football played between good teams gets ugly when the rain is constant and the field starts coming up in big sliding chunks; football between bad teams causes spontaneous yakety sax. I don't think we're under the illusion that Michigan is a good team.

The footing issues were most apparent with the tailbacks but applied to everyone, so I'm not sure how much the offensive line getting owned was the conditions and how much was Kerrigan being Brandon Graham 2010 and how much was just the offensive line getting owned. The rest of the problems extended from that—Denard got the first serious, consistent pressure of his career and responded like most quarterbacks dealing with their first case of happy feet do. The running game was a slog. This week's epidemic of dropped passes has a good reason.

Unfortunately, the same logic applies to the other side of the ball, where Michigan took on Gritty Eckstein at tailback and went to work against a team that got the ball down 11 with no timeouts and a minute and a half left and decided this was the best course of action:

  1. Throw in the flat from one freshman quarterback to the other freshman quarterback, who had lined up at wide receiver.
  2. Tunnel screen.
  3. Five yard hitch.

The scariest thing Purdue's offense did all day was start Justin Siller. We have finally found the team whose offensive incompetency outstrips Michigan's defensive incompetency.

There is no data here not obviously affected by the opponent and the weather. Next week when the footing is solid and the opponent has a quarterback whose default option is not a dumpoff to the other quarterback everything will be completely different. Since it was a win—one that was in retrospect not in much danger after Michigan scored to go up 20-13—this game will be relegated to the scrap heap of mud-ugly games past and forgotten.

Now if I can just figure out where "Livin' on a Prayer" is coming from, we are in business.

Non-Bullets Der Wet Catten

This did not happen. Remember that these things can be much, much worse. The saddest picture in the history of Michigan football came from the 2008 Fandom Endurance III game:


Lon Horwedel/

The Orin Incandenza Award. The play of the game is Will Hagerup's 72-yard bomb early in the fourth quarter that put Purdue on their own three. Courtney Avery would biff a long handoff on the next play but give the ball back on a fumble. Michigan punt, Purdue punt, Michigan excellent field position for clinching touchdown. Watching this game was a blast from the past; feeling my decision matrix switch from GO FOR IT GO FOR IT GO FOR IT to "it's third and seven, we should run it and then punt" was like being possessed by the ghost of Lloyd Carr*.

That thing flipped the field position in a game where field position is a tug of war instead of a minor inconvenience en route to the endzone. It soared. The returner is a lithe whippet of a man somewhere around 20 years old and he didn't bother to run since it was too long. Ain't running that far. That's going to China, yo.

*(The author is aware that Carr does not actually have a ghost.)

Growing concern for turnover issues. The interceptions were bad but maybe that just happens because of the weather and the pressure which may have been caused by the weather, etc., but the fumble was the continuation of a bad habit we've seen all year: when Denard gets outside he does not switch the ball to the outside arm. On Saturday that allowed some guy to come from the inside and strip the ball as he spun Denard to the ground. That's a basic coaching point and I'm not sure why a guy who runs as much as Denard hasn't had it hammered into his skull.

Quarterback rotation. I thought putting in Forcier here and there was the right move even if it didn't result in any of those yard things (Forcier was one for four and his one completion was blown up by a Molk hold, leading to another pooch punt) since the offense wasn't going anywhere and the two quarterbacks are different enough that it's plausible Forcier could do something Denard couldn't, especially after the two INTs.

I also liked Rodriguez's response to some question about "benching Denard." To paraphrase: benching is a strong word. If he's a tailback or wide receiver he's getting a rest. We put him back in. You are making 1000 times less than me for a reason.

Last part probably another hallucination.

Might as well try it.


Right, I mean? Right? I think the headphones are key.

Grim weather past. All games played in driving rain on shoddy turf kind of melt into each other, a never-ending parade of fumbles, third and eight runs, five yard throws that hit spectators in the face, and either shots of people looking wet and cranky in ponchos or looking grim and cranky in a poncho yourself.

But in one specific way, this game reminded me of a previous slopfest around 2002 or so when a to-that-point disappointing Justin Fargas had the first and only 100 yard game of his Michigan career in a mud pit against Northwestern. Fargas was much better than Michigan's other backs because he was small* and could change direction without engaging pratfall warp drive. I thought of him as Vincent Smith changed direction relatively quickly and came up a yard short of the first 100 yard game of his career not played against baby seals.

I also was like "aaargh why aren't you a step faster" several times. Smith's had a good couple games but unless he's not really 100% after the knee injury it seems like it's cost him some of his giddyup.

*(He would get Brian Cushing roid huge at USC—at Michigan he was diminutive.)

A moment of pure terror. Was anyone else about to have a conniption fit after Avery let that WR zip by him with nothing but Ray Vinopal between that guy and the endzone? Rogers was pursuing to the backside so if Vinopal missed he just had to slow the guy or make him cut back, but watching a true freshman two star scurry down his angle as the last thing between Purdue and a 97-yard wide receiver screen touchdown is a whiskey-inducing experience.

Vinopal made a fine tackle and Purdue had the decency to fumble on the next play, so the moment passed successful. But jeez.

I-form: die. Die die die. Die die die die die.


Oddities. One: Gallon was clearly not making a fair catch signal and shouldn't have been flagged. Two: Purdue kicked off from the 35 once. WTF?


No Video of All Varieties yesterday because the pickings were understandably slim, but here's a bird talking about the game. Stay tuned for the twist ending:

I wish this would happen to certain WTKA callers. There is also a Wolverine Historian clipreel:

The official site has a briefer version and the defense every snap video is already up. Also SD torrent.

Purdue bloggers say their defensive back who scored "displayed shades of Deion Sanders" by having a ball thrown directly at him whilst  being five yards from the nearest receiver. They do post video of girls fighting. The guy who guaranteed a win declares the game the "ugliest football game" he's ever attended, which yeah pretty much. The comments are weirdly negative. If mean, if anyone deserves a pass it's Purdue and their new mascot:


On to Michigan blogs: the Hoover Street Rag drops a Warren G. Harding reference that I misread as a "Warren G" reference when they tweeted it out. Alas, these guys are still bandos and history teachers (I'm guessing, anyway) and we don't get to find out what bandos/teachers would say in re: Warren G and Michigan football. The Harding bit:

Harding was widely reviled for his incompetence, his willingness to let his friends do as they pleased, the general sense of fail that emanated White House followed him until his death in 1923. Except, when historians look back, they see that things were not as bad as they once thought. Harding was blamed when things went wrong, but got little to no credit for the things that went right. People saw what they wanted to see and argued their points as they chose a new path to their future. Then again, Harding never got America bowl eligible, so we'll see.

Chances Sarah Palin adopts "get America bowl eligible" as a campaign slogan: 50-50. The Big House Blog has a very silly picture of a dog in a poncho and The Wolverine Blog grabs a shot of Lewan rumbling with the ball.


Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 11-1-10

Rich Rodriguez Monday Presser Notes 11-1-10 Comment Count

Tim November 1st, 2010 at 2:24 PM

Notes from Rich Rodriguez's Monday meeting with the press. Photo from file.


Actual News

Mike Martin is going to be OK this week. "He's our best defensive... one of our best defensive players period. One of the best in the league when he's healthy." Other people need to be able to step in.

Perry Dorrestein should be able to practice by tomorrow. "Michael Shaw and maybe even Fitz Toussaint, we'll see if he can get back in the mix there." Will Heininger will be more in the rotation this week. "You'll probably see him more likely playing going forward."

Cam Gordon is now the starting Hybrid [Ed-M: Spur], backed by Thomas Gordon. Ray Vinopal is the starting Free Safety, backed by Carvin Johnson. "I thought the personnel moves defensively, I think were good for us in the short term and the long term." Cam Gordon more comfortable closer to the ball. Vinopal did "ok" for his first time out there. Staff is trying to figure out a unit that can get some stops, part of it is just getting them to play better.

There haven't been changes to the defensive coaching staff. "No. I've just met with the defensive staff the last couple hours, and we talked about some of our issues and talked about what to do to get ready for Illinois." "Y'all don't deal with rumors do you?" Everyone is frustrated, but it's always a collective effort, win or lose.

He'll be spending more time on defense this week, because the more inexperienced players over there might need more coaching. Injuries will affect lineups, different packages. "We have what we have." If there was somebody else there who could help, he'd be contributing by now. "I have a critical view of everything, every coach, every player, everything in our program every day... That's what head coaches do, you evaluate everything with everybody every day."

"Schemes are way, way overrated as far at 4-3, 3-3-5." There's no front that does or doesn't work in a particular league. "It's the execution of the schemes. We've gotta coach the schemes the right way, we've gotta execute the right way." They'll try moving Craig Roh around a bit. Laughed when he heard rumors of defensive staff changes.

Penn State

"They're a big screen-draw team." They hadn't done much of it with their fullback yet. Defensive recognition wasn't great on that, partially experience. "When an experienced player gets hurt [Mike Martin] - I'm not making excuses - whether you put a senior, junior, or freshman in there, when a guy hasn't played a lot of football, it's different."

"That was one of the positives of the game, is I thought Denard played pretty well." They were close to breaking a couple big ones. He landed on his hip the one time, but was able to come back from it. "His shoulder was better. It's good, but it's not 100%."

Speech to defense at the start of fourth quarter was just a pump-up one, nothing particular schematically.

Personal foul call? "Well, I don't want to get in trouble here. There's some plays I'll send in and get clarification on the rule." Turn in a few plays every week "there's a few more this week."


Illinois - Not a rebuilding year, because they returned plenty of good athletes this season. "They're playing at a very high level right now - probably playing their best football." One of the more athletic teams in the league and that Michigan has played in the last two years. Illinois is playing with confidence.

Illinois has a bit of a rhythm, their young quarterback is playing well for them. They have really athletic guys.

Illinois has a similar offensive scheme to Michigan, it may help the defense be prepared for it. It'll be different to do it live, because they don't tackle Denard in practice.

Goods drive at the game (Gates 2 and 8) to send to troops and families in Afghanistan. Tim Horton's is donating 720 pounds of coffee to send as part of it. Team will be wearing a flag on the back of the helmets. The American flag will be embroidered on the coaches' hats (not the Adidas ones from the Sep. 11 game).


Some of the D problems aren't going to get fixed overnight, etc. "Not just the freshmen, we've got a lot of inexperienced players playing defensively." There is a bit of improvement at this point, but not to the amount that they need.

"We've gotta get faster and more athletic defensively." That was painfully obvious from the film.

"I don't have any grand magic wands to wave [at the defense] and all of a sudden they're going to be playing better." Spending more time with the D is something he's done a few years in the past. If it was an easy fix, he'd have already done it.

Talking about defensive turnovers gained "We're almost like next to last in the country." They're trying to improve that by making sure they get guys in the right positions, working on recognition, aggressiveness. "If it doesn't work out, don't go in the tank the rest of the game."

3rd and long conversions: "If it was jut one particular thing, it would be easier to solve... or one particular guy." It's always something different. They need to look at doing enough third-down work in practice, already doing more than they've ever done.

"We're playing OK offensively, but I think we can play even better when we have more of a rhythm." Defense getting opponents off the field will help establish that rhythm.

"When you play a whole bunch of freshmen in the secondary, do you want to play a lot of man coverage or cover-0?" Need to find a balance with inexperience. Took a couple chances against PSU, and got beat.

Stop a slide like last year? "I don't have to think about it. Everybody else writes about it." People want to focus on the negative, because it sells papers. Team is better offensively, team is closer as a group, making strides in classroom and weight room. Young men are growing up. The wins and losses are bad, but there's more to it than that.

"These guys that are playing young and inexperienced from now, they're going to be experienced a year or two from now. I'm not happy, but I'm optimistic."

"Nobody's happy we've lost the last three games. We're still five in the good and three in the bad." People can't walk around moping, just need to learn from the mistakes, be mad for 24 hours, and start working on the next game.

Turnovers "I thought we were really pretty good at it most of the year." Denard used the bye week to go back and remember to have his eyes in the right spot. "Denard threw one ball he'd like to have back that could have been intercepted," and Hopkins had the fumble, but it was good other than that.

Defensive scheme change help? "we're gonna try." Trying to simplify some, but still give them the opportunity to be aggressive without exposing the secondary.

"I'm not sticking my head in the sand... we know what we have, we know what we've gotta have, and we'll try to fix that going forward."


Position Switchapalooza Transcribed

Position Switchapalooza Transcribed Comment Count

Brian October 29th, 2010 at 1:33 PM

quinton-washington MVictors is clutch like that. I will transcribe the relevant bits.

On Will Campbell and Quinton Washington:

"We made a couple moves with some big guys, some backup linemen. Quinton Washington was a backup lineman; we moved him to nose guard. We kinda traded Will Campbell over to offense, where I think he's going to be a natural offensive guard. After a week and a half I think both of those moves will probably stick for now. I think Will's got a future at guard, I think Quinton Washington's got a future on the D-line."

On the secondary:

"We moved around Cam Gordon. We wanted him to learn—well, he played the deep safety, we wanted him to play the safety up tight. That was a process; he was able to do that. We got Ray Vinopal and Carvin Johnson some more work at the deep safety position to get some flexibility. We have Marvin Robinson, who's been a safety, playing a little bit of linebacker for us. He can help us in nickel packages."

On the D-line:

"We moved the D-line around a little bit as well."

Brandstatter asked "are these kids going to play?" and Rodriguez sayeth:

"Oh, yeah. You'll see Carvin Johnson and Vinopal playing. Ray is at the same position anyway, but it's a new position for Carvin. You'll see Cam Gordon playing more at both safety positions where as before he was just playing one. I don't know if Will is ready yet at offensive line or Quinton at defensive line but we tried to get them as prepared as we could for this ball game. We'll see what happens."


Obviously they saw the issues with Gordon had persisted too long and are trying to get some better play out of the FS position right now. Also, Cam's going to threaten Kovacs's job—could be a run/pass split there—and Robinson will probably displace Demens in nickel and dime packages.

Campbell's not going to play unless a bunch of people go down on the interior line, but Washington might. This would be alarming. It might not be much more alarming than seeing anyone other than Martin at NT.


PSU Injury Report, Position Switchapalooza

PSU Injury Report, Position Switchapalooza Comment Count

Brian October 28th, 2010 at 9:42 PM

marvin-robinson-abs Right: Marvin Robinson moves from safety to washboard linebacker.

No surprises, and no Denard:

University of Michigan Football Injury Report

Thursday, Oct. 28, vs. Penn State


Jones, Mike                        Leg
Odoms, Martavious          Foot
Toussaint, Fitzgerald       Shoulder
Van Slyke, Jared               Clavicle
Williams, Mike                   Head
Woolfolk, Troy                  Ankle

/press release

More interestingly, Rodriguez dropped some science about position switches on his coaches show that is either earth-shaking or wildly misinterpreted by the internet. These are the supposed moves via the somewhat confused twitter feed of Angelique Chengelis:

  • Marvin Robinson to linebacker. I have a source who tipped me off about this a few days ago, so that's for real. Robinson's likely to compete at WLB for the job Mouton vacates after the year.
  • Will Campbell(OG) and Quinton Washington(DT) are sticking at their new positions. Since these moves had already been confirmed, that's legit, too. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but there's some insider hype about Washington being a "beast" on Rivals. So we've got that going for us. Not likely to impact anything until next year unless Washington is a miraculously fast learner.
  • Cam Gordon to "both safety spots" and Ray Vinopal to "deep safety". Since Vinopal is already a free safety this position switch is more a depth chart thing. There have been rumors floating around about Vinopal playing with the ones and either starting (fanciful) or getting real playing time (apparently likely) on Saturday. These are confirmed now; the source also dropped that Vinopal was getting a serious look at deep safety. The Cam Gordon bit there presages a move closer to the LOS, whether it's spur or bandit, eventually. (ATTENTION BYRON MOORE: duuuude. Seriously.)
  • They "moved defensive linemen." Vague but the only thing that makes sense here is putting Sagesse back inside at NT and moving Patterson to a backup DE position.

Also, Rodriguez promised more carries for ham fiend Stephen Hopkins and said Teric Jones(!) would see the field. I looked for podcasts on WTKA's site but couldn't find them; maybe MVictors will  be able to dig out exactly what was said so we can parse that into molecules. He's clutch like that.


Upon Further Review: Defense vs Bowling Green 2010

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Bowling Green 2010 Comment Count

Brian September 30th, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Formation notes: A couple new formations. One was a 3-2-6 dime package on which Banks and Ezeh were pulled for Avery and Talbott:

3-2-6 dime

Roh moves down to DE and Leach was usually in for Gordon for whatever reason. Sometimes this was a 4-1-6 with Mouton at DE, sometimes a 3-2-6 with Mouton a linebacker. Floyd would drop back to play safety when they went to this. The other was a nickel package where Avery would replace Gordon. This aligned just like Michigan's usual defense.

Substitution notes: plentiful. The usual rotation on the DL. Cullen Christian got a couple drives in place of Rogers (he struggled). Leach played a lot in place of Gordon; Fitzgerald and Demens saw some time at linebacker but less than I expected and neither did much of anything.

Charting note: I've changed up the points distribution to be more generous to CBs who make a play. Usually a zero-yard run will be +2 or +3 to the defense. When a CB breaks up a pass that's a zero yard play I've been giving a +1 to; I'm bumping that to at least +2 unless it's clear the offense is more responsible for the incompletion than the D.


Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O28 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass NA PA out T. Gordon Inc
Michigan sucks up on fake and Pankratz has two receivers running wide open (cover -2) as Mouton(-1) doesn't get anything resembling a zone drop. Could this be man to man? I don't know; Rogers is looking at the QB but hops up on the curl, leaving T. Gordon chasing a WR on an out that he lined up inside of. His guy is open but he really had no chance to cover this. I'm not sure which guys to individually minus since the coverage doesn't make sense to me. (RPS -1.) Oh, right: Pankratz chucks it wide.
O28 2 10 Shotgun heavy something Base 4-4 Run ? Dive Martin 1
BGSU deploys two H-backs directly in front of their tailback and goes right up the middle. Martin(+1) engages his blocker and then discards him behind, popping up in the hole the H-backs are hitting. He does this despite being lined up outside of the C. He takes out a second blocker. T. Gordon(+0.5) is rolled up to the line and is now free; he forms up to tackle with help from Kovacs(+0.5), who was free on a backside blitz and leaps on the RB's back after making sure the handoff was actually made.
O29 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 3-2-6 Dime Pass 3 Dumpoff Van Bergen 4
DL: Roh, Martin, RVB. LB: Mouton, Leach. Normal DBs plus Avery and Talbott. This is kind of rushing two since Martin just sits at the LOS after taking two blockers. Screen coverage? M covers the first read(+1) and then RVB(+0.5) gets upfield and harasses the QB into moving. Martin starts charging the QB down as he rolls, forcing a dumpoff as downfield options are covered(+1).
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 11 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Hitch Mouton 3
Martin(+0.5) plowing through blocks to force a throw here; Kovacs(+0.5) covered the flat route, so the QB throws a hitch that Mouton(+0.5) was in position on, tacking immediately (cover +1)
O33 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass 3 Flanker screen T. Gordon 6
Major overload with a TE covered up and a WR in motion so everyone is to the right side of the field. They throw a screen out there. T. Gordon(-1) and Rogers(-1) are both cut to the ground but good flow from Mouton(+0.5) and Ezeh(+0.5) runs the play down before the WR can test Cam.
O39 3 1 Wildcat 3-3-5 stack Run ? QB lead draw Banks 4
Think the RB takes a bizarre cut here since it looks like the play design has the first easily. Banks(-1) was blown way out of the hole and Mouton(-0.5) took a weird angle right into Kovacs, giving BGSU a lot of space and blockers for everyone left over. So of course the RB cuts back behind everything, getting tackled by unblocked guys on the backside including Banks, who got really, really blocked. M fortunate to not give up more here.
O43 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Sack Mouton -10
WRs to the paired side are stacked, and Rogers(-1) starts covering the same guy Gordon is(cover -1), so this post should be open. Qb decides not to throw it, though, and rolls right into a very blocked Mouton(+1.5), who to his credit does get off that block, close the space quickly, and tackle for a sack. Maybe Cam had this covered but I couldn't see it; I really doubt it. Think M got lucky with the n00b QB here.
O33 2 20 Shotgun 2TE Nickel 4-3 Pass 4 Slant Avery Inc
Avery in for T. Gordon. TE motions well outside to be a flanker. Avery(+2) is in man on a receiver and looks like he's biting outside as the WR takes a step out then slants; Avery recovers to get a hand in and break the pass up (cover +2).
O33 3 20 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 Dime Pass 3 Throwaway Roh Inc
No one open(cover +1) as M drops everyone deep; Roh(+1, pressure +1) comes around the corner and his held, drawing a flag. QB scrambles out and chucks it away.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Ace twins 3-3-5 stack Run ? Inside zone Martin 1 (pen -10)
Demens in for Ezeh on this drive. Martin(+1) again through the line before anyone can think of blocking him; Banks(-1) single blocked and easily sealed on the edge. Martin makes that irrelevant; Mouton(+1) gets into the lead-blocking TE at the line and erases any creases, forcing a bounce outside that Floyd(+1) has covered; he's held, giving the RB the corner, except for Kovacs(+1) roaring downhill and tackling at the LOS.
O25 1 20 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Out Mouton Inc
No pressure(-1) but no one open (cover +1) and the BG QB airmails a checkdown (cover +1) that wasn't going anywhere.
O25 2 20 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Hitch Floyd Inc
No pressure(-1) again; this time a 10-yard hitch is blanketed by Floyd(+2, cover +2) and broken up.
O25 3 20 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 Dime Pass 3 Dumpoff ? 15
Again little pressure but Roh(+0.5) does come through quickly enough on a three man rush to prevent a minus; this forces a dumpoff(cover +1) in front of the coverage that Talbott and Mouton run down.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-0, 3 min 1st Q. On the next drive lots of backups. Patterson, Black, and Sagesse are the DL for most of this drive, with Demens and Leach playing LB and Christian coming in for Rogers.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O36 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Base 4-3 Run ? Inside zone Kovacs 2
Three guys block Patterson so Kovacs(+1) can come in and thump the ballcarrier (tackling +1) without anyone bothering him.
O38 2 8 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run ? Counter Patterson 4
It's hard to tell how the linebackers actually did on this play because Patterson(-1) is ejected from the center of the defense like he's Kovacs and Sagesse(-1) doesn't read the pull. He goes down to cut the lead blocker and create a pile but starts moving upfield and gets pancaked. So Mouton and Demens have blockers all over them and can't possibly shut down all the space. Both get blocked and Mouton gets pancaked, though, so -1 for Mouton; Roh fought through blockers to slow the tailback a little bit but it's an authoritative fill from Cam Gordon(+1.5, tackling +1) that holds this down when it could have been ugly.
O42 3 4 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Out Kovacs 5
WR motions from trips side to create a 2x2 formation with two guys stacked, and then runs a pretty blatant pick on both M defenders, opening up an out. Kovacs(+0.5) is still right there to tackle, but just beyond the sticks. Blitz did not get there(pressure -1).
O47 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-3 Run   PA draw Sagesse 7
Screen fake to draw. DL slanting, getting Patterson(+1) in and disrupting anything up the middle. Problem on the backside is Sagesse(-2) getting way too far down the line and opening up a cutback lane. Mouton reacts and attempts to tackle but gets hit by a G peeling off Sagesse and has his tackle run through. I will -0.5 him but this is tough (tackling -1). Demens runs the guy down.
M46 2 3 Ace Base 4-3 Pass 4 Corner Christian Inc
Starting DL back. BG goes play action and finds a wide open receiver on a corner route because Christian(-2, cover -2) completely whiffed a chuck and got beat by yards. QB throws it long. Decent pressure and coverage everywhere else; coverage from Christian might force a sack.
M46 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 Dime Pass 6 Slant Kovacs 20
This one is on Kovacs, who is in man on the second stacked receiver and gets smoked(-2, cover -2) to the inside so badly he can't even make a tackle on the catch. Mouton(+1) was flying over a cut block from an RB on the blitz(pressure +1) and hit the QB; an instant more coverage and this is end of drive. RPS -2 for getting Kovacs in single coverage for 20 yards.
M26 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Martin 2
Christian exits for Rogers. Martin(+1) absorbs a double team without giving any ground, allowing Mouton(+1) to attack unmolested and tackle.
M24 2 8 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Rollout hitch ? 6
Ezeh back. Roh running out on the edge but the little hitch here is wide open; not sure why but it just looks like this is a hole in a cover three. (cover -1). BWS disagrees.
M18 3 2 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Post Fitzgerald 17
Ezeh gets sucked up to a little drag route which is understandable, but Fitzgerald(-1) doesn't get any depth on his drop despite not having anyone in front of him and C. Gordon(-1) reacts late and there's a monster hole in the zone that's easy to hit for first and goal. (Cover –2.)
M1 1 G Goal line Goal line Run   Power off tackle Van Bergen -2
Campbell(+1) drives his man backward, gets lower than him, and falls in the backfield. Van Bergen(+2) does the same, stalling the RB and allowing Demens to run downhill at him for the stop.
M3 2 G Wildcat 3-3-5 stack Penalty   False start ? -5
M8 2 G Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Scramble Van Bergen 7
House sent and gets there (pressure +2), with Leach(+1) immediately in the QB's feet after getting cut, forcing a scramble from a not-mobile QB that RVB(-2) badly overruns, turning a sack into a scramble down to the goal line.
M1 3 G I-form big Goal line Penalty   Offside Martin 0.5
Oh well.
M1 3 G Wildcat trips Goal line Run   QB draw Banks 0
QB motions out, no one covers him, it's a wildcat formation. Banks(+1) shoots past blockers into the center of the defense, eating blockers and creating a pile; Ezeh(+1) cleans up.
M1 4 G Wildcat trips Goal line Run   QB draw Campbell 1
Just a wad of bodies I can't make much out of; Campbell was right there but the guy managed to slam it up into his OL and fall forward into a massive pile of bodies that no one has a good view of. The refs eventually signal TD, but it's not like they have any idea.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-7, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Tunnel screen C. Gordon 71
The big bad thing from the day. I'm not actually that mad because this is kind of a freak thing. T. Gordon takes a good angle to the ballcarrier only to see the guy bang into one of his own OL and sort of get tossed upfield, which Gordon was not expecting; he ends up whiffing an attempted ankle tackle. I will give him a -1 here, but only 1 (tackling -1 as well). So now he's on a totally different vector than would otherwise be possible and there' no contain because Rogers is held and can't get outside and force it back into Cam Gordon. Cam gets a -2 for fighting to the ball too much when he had the other Gordon, Kovacs, Ezeh, and a billion other guys; he should never have been that eager to close down the space he tried to. So that's it. -3. The other -3 you can tack on the refs who missed the Rogers hold. I mean, the WR grabs the back of Rogers's jersey and pulls him four or five yards infield.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-14, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Screen Mouton 0
Very slow developing. M only rushes three but Mouton is the only player in the area with Ezeh and the safeties very slow to read the play. Mouton(+2) evades a blocker and tackles the RB just as he catches the ball for nothing. Timing seemed off for BG so this is  only +2 because part of the screwup is on the QB.
O20 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel 4-3 Pass 5 Out Floyd 4
Avery in. M sends five and doesn't quite get there but does force a throw; this out is open just in front of Floyd(+0.5). He's there to tackle, which is good enough on a four-yard pass on second and ten.
O24 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 dime Pass 4 Sack Van Bergen -7
The four man line with Mouton down. Martin and RVB stunt, with Martin(+1.5) driving the center back and threatening to sack as RVB(+1.5) comes around in the lane he's moving into to tackle(+1) for a big loss (pressure +2). Martin also draws a holding call.
Drive Notes: Safety (on terrible snap), 23-14, 13 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run   Power off tackle Ezeh -2
This is completely obliterated by everyone, with about four M players in the backfield. Ezeh(+2) saw a gap and attacked it, blasting a pulling guard two yards in the backfield and slowing the RB, at which point he's dead meat. Banks(+1) was just behind cutting off any lanes to the back and Leach(+1) beat a tight end, almost getting held; those two combine to finish the TFL.
O8 2 8 Shotgun empty Nickel 4-3 Pass 3 Tunnel screen Kovacs 24
Guh, Ezeh(-1) gives it right back by dropping out of a threatened blitz into a short zone and then running well upfield and out of the play when he reads screen. There is room as a result. Floyd(+0.5) does a good job of forcing a cutback inside, but Kovacs(-2) doesn't have faith his CB will do this and ends up overrunning the play in an embarrassing fashion. (Tackling –2.)
O32 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Pass 4 Waggle deep out Mouton Int
Mouton(+3) bites on the play action a bit but then gets a great, great drop, going from two steps towards the LOS to 12 yards deep before the route can develop. By the time the QB throws it's right to him. +0.5 to Martin for getting in on the QB and possibly forcing a bad throw. (Cover +2.)
Drive Notes: Interception, 37-14, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run   TGDCD Mouton 16
Ezeh starts charging upfield to contain what looks like a rollout and Mouton(-1) sucks out of position to the frontside of the play; Martin(-1) is also handled and gives up a gap to the outside when Mouton may have had a chance if it was forced inside. This always works, I want us to run it so bad.
O47 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run   Quick pitch Black? 8
Floyd(+0.5) cuts off the outside well and Banks(+0.5) reads the play quickly enough to seemingly close down the hole; Geter pauses, then stumbles, then cuts back across the field—and I'm not sure who to blame. Roh(-1) definitely eased up when he thought the play was going away from him and I think Black(-1) took an angle too far downfield instead of a proper cutback pursuit one. But I'm really just guessing here. Gordon and Christian converge after a nice gain.
M45 2 2 Shotgun twins 2TE Base 4-3 Pass 4 Rollout scramble ? 5
Excellent coverage(+2) from Christian and Gordon(+1 each) forces the QB to pull it down; Black(-2) again gets out of his lane fruitlessly, giving the QB an alley when he was about to be sacked. He scrambles for the first.
M40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Sack Banks -5
A quick look to one side is a feint and QB comes to the bottom of the screen where Mouton(+1, cover +1) has the first read covered, which gives the rush time to get home; Banks(+1) fights through a blocker and reaches out to grab the QB as the pocket collapses and Leach(+1) blitzed from the outside, coming around to finish the tackle.
M45 2 15 Ace Base 4-3 Pass 5 Waggle deep out Christian 12
Roh(+1) quick out to the edge, cutting the QB off and forcing a throw that's short and lofted (pressure +1), but Christian(-1, cover -1) is easily beaten in man coverage and should give up the first down. The BG player drops the ball, boots it skyward, and sees one of his teammates come down with it.
M32 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide 4-1-6 dime Pass 6 Slant Floyd 11
Blitz picked up (pressure -2) and Floyd(-1, cover -1) gets beaten on a slant for the first.
M21 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass NA Flanker screen Leach 20
Michigan is misaligned with no one shifted to the trips side. Given earlier formations this is on Leach(-1), who compounds his error by getting cut(-1) to the ground; Cam Gordon(-0.5) has to take on a blocker and attempt to make a diving tackle off of it and can't, allowing the WR to get down to the one. (RPS –2.)
M1 1 G I-form big Goal line Run   Iso Campbell 0
Campbell(+1) runs over his guy, essentially pancaking the OL(!) and ending up two yards in the backfield, forcing a cutback since Martin(+0.5) and Banks(+0.5) clogged the middle; Mouton(+0.5) fills unblocked and tackles with help.
M1 2 G I-form big Goal line Pass NA Fade Floyd Inc
Overthrown; Floyd doing okay enough I guess.
M1 3 G I-form big Goal line Pass NA      
RVB(+1) is lurking on the edge of the line and shoots out on the QB when he sees the roll, forcing a quick pass that ends up being inaccurate. It would have had to be just right with C. Gordon(+0.5) sitting there in proximity to the target. (Pressure +1, RPS +1)
M1 4 G Wildcat twin TE Goal line Run   Power off tackle ?- 1
Michigan totally stuffs this, with RVB(+0.5) and Campbell(+0.5) driving blockers backwards and Mouton(-1) giving the thump that ends his forward momentum but not wrapping up. RB bounces backwards, rolls out, cuts inside of a block, and scores. C'est la vie.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 44-21, 2 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass NA Rollout out T. Gordon 5
Starters still out there; weird. M not fooled by the PA and has good coverage on both these receivers from T. Gordon(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5, cover +1), who converge to tackle the receiver immediately.
O40 2 5 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Mouton 4
Mouton(+1) hops in the hole before any one can peel off on him, which is good because he ends up cutting off the hole and drawing two blockers as Ezeh(-1) was dropping into coverage without so much as reading a key. RB cuts back where Kovacs(+0.5) fills quickly, causing the RB to delay and allowing Banks(+0.5) to come off a blocker and help tackle.
O44 3 1 Ace twins Base 4-3 Run   Power off tackle Ezeh -2
QB stumbles and this throws off the RB but this was dead anyway with T. Gordon(+1) setting up his blocker with the right shoulder and Ezeh(+1) clubbing the pulling guard in the hole, leaving nowhere to go; Banks(+1) takes the opportunity from the stumble and the jammed up front to tackle(+1) in the backfield.
Drive Notes: Punt, 51-21, 12 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 TE out Moundros 6
Scroobs finally come in with the score 58-21. At this point I'm just looking for individual performances and will discontinue metrics. Here pressure is poor but coverage is right there to tackle on the catch, with Moundros(+0.5) there. Campbell is not exactly Martin when it comes to pass rush. He just kind of sits at the line.
O33 2 4 Shotgun 2TE twins Base 4-3 Pass 6 Batted Campbell Inc
Rush is picked up as BG leaves a couple extra guys in to block. Campbell(+1) gets a hand up to bat the ball down.
O33 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Out Avery Inc
Moundros(+1) does bash the tailback and get to the QB but Avery(-1) has been beaten in coverage and this should be a first down. Pass is too far upfield and bobbled, allowing Avery time to close and break it up. This bobble was super-slow-mo extended, which is why no plus.
Drive Notes: Punt, 58-21, 6 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Demens 0
I'd love it if Demens did something awesome here but no one even thinks about coming out to block him so it's pretty easy for him to step up and tackle. +1 for the hell of it, and +0.5 for Black, who came around a tackle and helped.
O31 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Out Anderson 6
Good coverage, quick tackle.
O37 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass   Out Moundros 13
Moundros is actually in pretty good coverage here for an out ten yards downfield but the throw is low and to the outside where he can't do anything about it. Campbell did beat a blocker and then sort of lumber in at the QB.
50 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel 4-3 Run   Inside zone Campbell 7
Campbell(-1) sealed as two guys release downfield into Demens, so he can't do anything about it; Marvin Robinson comes up to make a good open field tackle.
M43 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run   Inside zone Robinson 5
Moundros(+1) shoots upfield into a blocker as he tries to disengage from Campbell and delays the RB, allowing Robinson to come up and tackle, but the RB pops off and manages to drag Robinson forward past the sticks.
M38 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Pass   PA post Vinopal Int
Play action leaves seven blockers against three rushers so the QB has all day; he fires a post that Vinopal(+3) steps in front of and intercepts, immediately sending everyone back to videos of Michigan safeties of the last 20 years to find out the last time that happened. Vinopal fumbles, of course, but whatever.
Drive Notes: Interception, 65-21, EOG. There is one more play but I can't believe I stuck around this long.

I'm so confused. Was that good or not?

I kind of think it was, though extreme caution should be read into that given the epic suck of the backup BG QB. I saw a number of missed opportunities that I duly minused; there were probably a half-dozen more I could not see or did not notice. Here's one; watch the two receivers at the top of the screen…

…and also the guy on the drag there. Problems: we haz them.

Even so, BG tailbacks combined for 21 carries and averaged 2.8 YPC on them. Part of that was their inability to slam it into the endzone from the one, but stopping tailbacks for no gain or a loss five times on the goal line is a good thing.

Meanwhile, Spankratz had one screen pass for 71 yards and 27 other attempts on which he netted 5.9 YPA. That screen should have been about 20 yards, IME, as on replay the holding committed against Rogers is both flagrant and the main reason the play broke very long instead of sort of long:

Also the pinball game with the OL was a fortunate thing. Cam Gordon did screw up by fighting inside and not having faith that his teammates would deal, and then was outrun to the endzone, and these things add to the Hill of Cam Gordon Worry founded in the Notre Dame game.

That isn't exactly reassuring.

No, but at least this year our safeties are getting outrun by an actual wide receiver instead of a thumping Indiana tailback. So far. Still, the—


--is decent. Also chart.


Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 5.5 2 3.5 Decent impact in little opportunity.
Martin 7 1 6 Quick passing offenses reduce DL impact; still did well when called upon.
Banks 5.5 2 3.5 Totally adequate.
Sagesse - 3 -3 Seems I was wrong about him.
Patterson 1 1 0 Occasionally blasted to moon.
Black 0.5 3 -2.5 Got out of rush lanes a couple times.
Campbell 3.5 1 2.5 Impact in short yardage.
TOTAL 23 13 10 Three step drop city.
Player + - T Notes
Mouton 13 5 8 Sacks, TFLs, INTs.
Roh 4.5 1 3.5 Impact waning?
Johnson - - - DNP.
T. Gordon 1.5 2 -0.5 Banks at linebacker, except a freshman.
Leach 3 2 1 Bounceback.
Moundros 1.5 - 1.5 Only played in garbage time.
Demens 1 - 1 And that +1 is generous.
Herron - - - DNP
Fitzgerald - 1 -1 Eh.
TOTAL 29 13 16 Much, much better.
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 4.5 1 3.5 Been solid except for run support issues vs UMass.
Rogers - 2 -2 Eh, fine.
Kovacs 4 4 0 Burned in man coverage a couple times.
C. Gordon 3 3.5 -0.5 I feel like these numbers do not give him enough credit for not screwing up on run angles.
Talbott - - - Did play, did not register good or bad, which is probably good.
Christian 1 3 -2 Seems like the other two are ahead.
M. Robinson - - - Scant time.
Ray Vinopal 3 - 3 Go, Spinal Tap Drummer. Go.
TOTAL 15.5 13.5 2 Did what they should against a team like BG.
Pressure 9 5 4 Revenge of the three man rush.
Coverage 18 12 6 Could be an artifact of confused QB.
Tackling 4 4 0 Okay.
RPS - 5 -5 One misalignment, no free rushers.

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

Looks about right to me. The line didn't have much impact except when good coverage downfield allowed them to get to the QB or it was time to man up around the goal line. The linebackers made few errors, though part of that is no doubt BG's reluctance to test them in coverage with the backup QB. Mouton had an impact day and didn't do much to criticize, nor did Ezeh. And the secondary made about as many plays as they did errors.

I do chalk this up largely to the competition and expect that we'll be looking at some tattered numbers after Chappell gets done with Michigan's back seven.

Did we learn anything about new players?

Despite contrary indicators from the passing skeleton in the pregame, your #3 corner appears to Courtney Avery, a part of both the nickel and dime packages. Avery had an impressive recovery and PBU early:

We still don't know much about him but that's a good start. He seems obviously ahead of Cullen Christian, who did not have much to the good Saturday. Terrence Talbott was not tested.

Campbell was the other guy who leapt out as potentially useful. Though his strategy in the pass rush is "sit at the line of scrimmage and maybe raise your arms," he was a major reason that Michigan's goal line defense was so stiff, consistently driving his guy in the backfield and falling over. He's never going to be Mike Martin and has a long way to go if he's even going to be Gabe Watson, but for the first time he looked useful.

What about the so fresh, so clean linebackers?

Yeah… I've heard a lot of people talking up Kenny Demens after the game but I didn't see him do anything of note until the last drive when he was able to stroll into the BG backfield and make a tackle since three Falcon OL decided to block the same guy. It's possible I got 25 and 45 mixed up on a couple plays but since whenever Ezeh did something aggressive and successful I said "is that Ezeh?!" and double-checked, I don't think so. Talking up Demens seems to be a case of hoping something is true instead of thinking it.

And the old hands did have a good day. Mouton got an easy pick on a great pass drop after play action for the second time, and at no point did I get frustrated with Ezeh.

Hey, how about a special teams digression?

Yeah, I never ever cover special teams and so haven't systematically quantified how much additional suck there is this year in the unit. There is lots, obviously, but by virtue of not kicking anything but a point after and deploying that three-man punt return formation Michigan had its best week of the season. We heard all about how Drew Dileo was being recruited mostly as a returner, thus justifying yet another slot receiver, and the early… uh… returns are good. This is slick:

That's a punt a lot of guys would fair catch; Dileo WOOPs two gunners and then a third guy before getting taken down. That's a twelve yard return and potentially a 20- or even 30-yard swing in field position compared to a single returner like Gallon watching that thing bounce. Dileo is not that fast but he's got some skills.

Dileo === PR win.

Suck on that, low-rated-white-guy-offer complainers!

Yeah! And we totally weren't those guys. As long as we're on the topic of low rated white guys who the internet wasn't happy to see commit, how about Ray Vinopal?

Enormous disclaimers apply since by that point BG was down to their third-string walk-on but damn if that isn't the best play I've seen a Michigan safety make in a long time. This caused everyone to get way ahead of themselves about moving Gordon to bandit or linebacker in 2011; while I'm still keeping my hopes for an anonymous two-star in check that was about as good a start as you could hope for minus getting clocked and fumbling.

Maybe these guys really do have a knack for unearthing uncut gems.


Jonas Mouton was the most productive Wolverine on the day, notching a sack, an interception, and failing to notch any Mouton brain meltdowns.


No one stands out as a huge problem. The backups on the DL made some crappy plays, but that's to be expected, and some of the freshmen in the secondary had issues. Those guys aren't likely to play unless injury strikes, however. If I had to pick someone it would be Cam Gordon, who was one of three reasons Bowling Green hit the big play. That's weak, though, on a day when you hold the opponent under 300 total yards.

What does it mean for Indiana and beyond?

Not much, I'm afraid. Spankratz (in his first start, no less) is likely to be by far the worst quarterback on the schedule at year's end. Even second stringers or freshmen like Nathan ReallyDutchLastName at Illinois or Robert "Rob" Henry at Purdue will have way more experience when Michigan rolls into town, and there's no comparison between that guy and Indiana's Ben Chappell, who was genuinely impressive against Western Kentucky even when you take the opponent into account.

At least Michigan seems comfortable enough with the freshmen corners that they can throw them out there on passing downs—which will be most of them against IU—and get guys like Banks and Ezeh off the field. Avery showed well and the rest of the secondary kept it safe. I can see Michigan trying to get to Chappell with a four-man rush of Roh, RVB, Martin, and Mouton all day, content to take their chances when IU runs and bleed yardage until Michigan gets a sack or a couple incompletions, and I can see this working somewhat frequently. This year's IU team is far less of a threat on the ground than last year's, which still wasn't much of a threat.

UMass will probably be Michigan's worst defensive performance of the year; if the linebackers just play it safe and Michigan makes Indiana kick some field goals—probable once the field compresses and IU's total inability to run block comes to the fore—Denard and company should get a comfortable distance by game's end.

As far as beyond… not much. Indiana will give us way more information.

As a side note, I'm happy that the staff put in two new packages (the dime and the punt return) this week that are creative ways to address deficiencies. Minus punt fumbles, special teams has been a strength at Michigan under RR; moving towards a rugby-aware punt return system is another way in which Michigan's current coaching staff displays their willingness to adapt on a year-to-year basis. (The most powerful example this year is the near-shelving of the zone stretch in favor of QB lead draws and a lot of inside zone).