Picture Pages: Devin Gardner's Near Interception Pity Party

Picture Pages: Devin Gardner's Near Interception Pity Party

Submitted by Brian on November 20th, 2013 at 1:06 PM

SITE NOTE: due to this taking longer than I wanted it to and triple OT, UFR will be in the evening today.

Devin Gardner threw many passes that hit Northwestern defenders on Saturday, a good number of them I CAN'T BELIEVE HE DROPPED THAT interceptions. There were moments when I was going over the game where it seemed like it wasn't really all that bad because of thing X or thing Y, and then moments where it was very, very bad. So I thought I'd pull this out of a larger UFR discussion and try to evaluate just what happened on the various passes on which Gardner's throws hit Northwestern players.

Normally I wouldn't put batted passes in here, but there were a few incidents where batted passes were the only thing separating Northwestern from yet another pass that hit them in the hands and was inexplicably dropped, so they are also added.

Category #1: Understandable Items

#1: Gardner gets a heavy rush due to a bad blitz pickup, escapes it, and tries to throw late to a covered Devin Funchess; ball gets batted down at the line.


That's probably a PBU at worst, and he's under heavy duress.

#2: Michigan botches a freeze play when Northwestern jumps but does not cross the line. Gardner thinks he's got a free play and tries a back shoulder fade to Gallon that could be farther outside; it's a nice play by a DB who seems totally bailed out to come back to the ball and a poor one by Gallon not to break this off sooner once he perceives the DB is way over the top. The DB actually reads this obvious back shoulder opportunity before he does; he should be breaking back so that he gets to the ball before the DB.


#3: Third down rollout on the next play sees no one open. Gardner tries to fit it in to Dileo anyway, and leaves it a little inside of where it should be. Gardner's about to be hammered and goes for it.


This wasn't really close to an INT and you might as well try for the first down.

Category #2: Death-Defying Really Bad Ideas

#1: The first incident of this variety happens three minutes into the second quarter. Gardner drops back, pump-fakes a slant to Funchess, and then throws it.


He does get pressure from another crappy slide protection on which Lewan ignores a DE, and unless Gallon is open deeper to the outside the best case scenario here is a sack if he does not throw the ball. That was the move.

#2: Gardner bobbles a snap on third and three and comes up firing a wheel route that NW jumps and is thinking pick six on; they blitzed and left Jake Butt screamingly wide open.


The snap bobble takes Gardner's eyes off the defense and contributes here. Still: turrible.

#3: Michigan fortunate to have a slant batted down at the line as Northwestern undercuts whatever Gardner is looking at, in fact with two guys in Butt's case.


Gardner had Gallon as an option on the other side of the field.

[After the JUMP: another category, and evaluation.]

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Minnesota

Upon Further Review 2011: Offense vs Minnesota

Submitted by Brian on October 6th, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Substitution notes: Obviously there was Gardner. Hopkins played quite a bit of fullback and got a couple carries. Shaw got a little run today after missing SDSU entirely. Watson appears to have locked down the second TE spot. Unless he shows up against Purdue, Mike Cox has probably seen his career end without even the random 50-yard run against a terrible opponent.

On the line, Barnum missed the game and was replaced by Schofield. When Michigan put in its second team line it read Schofield-Burzynski-Khoury-Omameh-Mealer from left to right. Burzynski is a redshirt freshman walk-on who the official site notes has been liked four times on Facebook.

Formation notes: Fritz has been discussed plenty already, but here's Fritz anyway:


Denard is the left wingback, Smith the right, Toussaint deep. It seemed like they were flipping Denard when they were on the other hash.

The usual other than that with even less under center. When they went to it they usually passed, which is a really weird thing to realize. "Oh, it's the I. They must be passing." /head explodes

Show? Show.


Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Slant Gallon 9
Easy pitch and catch against soft coverage. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M29 2 1 Fritz 3 1 1 Base 4-3 Run Speed option Toussaint -4
For a formation that's never been run before Minnesota sure is all over this. They shift two DBs to the TE side of the formation and those guys allow the Gophers to maintain the edge pretty easily here. This looks like a blitz specifically designed to contain a speed option handoff from an old school T formation. Go figure. (Gardner is totally uncovered, FWIW... if this was a called waggle he would be on the edge without a guy within 10 yards of him.) Koger really has no chance to seal the DB outside of him and then there's another guy further outside; Smith(-1) runs right by him to block a safety and when Robinson pitches that guy zips out on Toussaint for a TFL. RPS -2. Playside OL had done a pretty good job of dealing with this, FWIW.
RUN+: Huyge(0.5) RUN-: Smith
M25 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB Draw Robinson 13
Safety walks down for an extra guy. It matters not. The key here is Robinson's patience. Live I was watching Gallon(+1), who plants that safety in the box, and then is looking at Robinson thinking “why don't you run?” This delay gets the Gopher OL way upfield and causes the LBs to start pass-dropping just as Denard takes off. Schofield(+1) kicks a DT out to provide a lane; Smith gets out of the backfield and uses his agility to redirect himself into the MLB. Robinson(+1) reads his lanes and jukes past one guy Koger(+0.5) kind of blocked, hitting the secondary.
RUN+: Gallon, Robinson, Smith, Koger(+0.5), Schofield RUN-:
M38 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Zone read iso Toussaint 35
Hopkins the second TB. This is basically an old-school iso from a shotgun formation with the zone read fake holding a guy outside, which means it plays out like an inside zone with a lead blocker. Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) crush the NT to his knees, sealing him. Molk pops out to seal someone on the second level, but there's no one to block. Omameh(+1) kicks out the other NT. Hopkins(+2) shoots down into the hole and thumps the MLB out of it, getting another LB caught up in the carnage. Toussaint(+1) hits the hole hard, bursting into the secondary and running through an attempted ankle tackle; he is one step from a touchdown but the tackle attempt made him break stride and that gives the last Gopher defender the foot he needs to drag him down from behind. Picture-paged.
RUN+: Molk, Schofield, Toussaint, Omameh, Hopkins(2) RUN-:
O27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Smith 6
Toussaint motions out to WR. I think Denard should pull this since the end on that side is getting blocked and Gallon can come down to crack the safety; test the edge here. As it is Schofield(+1) sees his man dive playside and pushes him past the play; Lewan(-1) does not seal the DE and loses him to the interior. Smith has a big hole but it's one filled by an unblocked LB. Smith(+1) cuts past him near the LOS and while the guy does grab him he's getting dragged forward. Molk(+1) maintains a second level block a long time, which gives Smith an extra couple yards when he steps through the first LB's tackle.
RUN+: Smith, Molk, Schofield RUN-: Lewan
O21 2 4 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run QB iso Robinson 18
Minnesota shifts late and I imagine Molk(-1) must have busted this because he's got a guy shaded over him and just runs past, leaving Omameh(+1) a super tough job as he tries to do anything with a guy flying upfield a yard inside of him. He manages to shove the dude, who ends up falling. This forces Denard playside, where Schofield(-1) got beat by another shifted DL. Smith(+2) manages to squeeze through the hole, which gets a bump on the guy to prevent him from hitting Denard immediately. Denard(+2) slows up, cuts back upfield of the two guys on the left side of the line, and then pops back outside as Smith earns his second plus by plugging the nearest linebacker. Denard breaks contain and is into the secondary, where he jukes a safety(+1) before getting tripped near the goal line.
RUN+: Omameh, Smith(2), Robinson(3) RUN-: Schofield, Molk
O3 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Run Zone read dive Smith 3
Lewan(+2 blows up the playside DE, who moves inside, as does the LB, giving up the corner. Smith(+1) reads it and takes the easy TD.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Smith RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 11 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 Base 4-4 Pass PA RB Go Hopkins 28
Zone read PA off the iso action sees Hopkins fly at the defense like he did on the 35-yard Toussaint run… only to run right by them. With no deep help Robinson can loft a soft touch pass over the defense right into Hopkins, who makes the catch. Excellent playcall that fits with the earlier one and excellent execution. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +2). Picture-paged.
O47 1 10 Fritz 3 1 1 4-3 under Run Counter pitch Toussaint 15
Another interlocking play as the speed option action is met with Toussaint heading the opposite way and the quick pitch. Minnesota suckered. Five different players go with the fake and the only guy anywhere near it is a DT dropping out. Roundtree(-1) whiffs his downfield block, allowing the CB to set up about eight yards deep; Toussaint jukes him and is about to jet past when that guy grabs his jersey and ropes him to the ground. Juke still picked up eight or so. RPS +2. Got a little picture-page attention itself.
RUN+: Toussaint RUN-: Roundtree
O32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA Deep Hitch Hemingway 16
PA dive fake with Schofield pulling backside to block EMLOS. Line gives Robinson forever; he pumps once and then hits Hemingway on a deep hitch about 15 yards downfield. Good throw, a tiny bit behind him—high but don't mind that since it's Hemingway. Do think Denard is late here; better Ds might make a play on this ball as they read the routes. (CA, 3, protection 3/3) Also on replay it looks like Robinson missed an easy touchdown to Roundtree.
O16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Sprint counter Shaw 8
Not a draw; Lewan(!) pulls all the way from left tackle to the backside of the play. Huyge is expecting to kick the DE out only to see him dive inside, which cuts off Lewan at the same time it opens the corner up wide. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) blew up the nose, sealed him, and created a linebacker wall that they didn't need because of the counter action but it's nice to have anyway. Gallon(+1) blows up a safety coming down on the edge, and Shaw is open on the corner. Blue Seoul knocked him for not reading the crackback and then dancing further on the outside. I bet this is why the coaches are going with Toussaint and Smith, but I won't minus. RPS +1. BWS picture-paged.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Gallon, Schofield RUN-:
O8 2 2 I-Form Big 2 2 1 Base 4-4 Run Power off tackle Shaw -1
Insert liberation society rant. Enjoy continued Bornsteining of I-form power. Etc. Playside LB spills this; getting inside of Watson(-2) blows the play up as one Minnesota defender takes out three blockers. Shaw dances in the backfield a bit but it's understandable since he's got nowhere to go; he's tackled by a cast of thousands in the backfield. RUN-: Watson(2), Shaw, Koger
O9 3 3 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run QB power Robinson 9
Robinson checks to this, a power at the gap in the Minnesota line. Minnesota overloads the outside to the playside and slants the other way, making three DL irrelevant. Smith(+1) kicks out the interior LB playside; the outside guy starts peeling back. Huyge(+0.5) gets an easy downfield block on a free release; Schofield(+0.5) almost but does not quite whiff on the other LB, eventually getting enough of a push to get Denard through the line. Peeling LB peels; Denard runs through his tackle. Since the three WRs to that side are DOMINATING the DBs Denard can walk in.
RUN+: Dileo, Hemingway, Roundtree, Huyge(0.5), Schofield(0.5), Smith, Denard RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-0, 6 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Pass Throwback screen Gallon 11
Not tunnel screen; farther outside. Gophers bite hard on the play action, with literally nine guys in the box going after the handoff fake. Gallon wide open, pitch and catch, playside corner does a great job to fend off Lewan so this doesn't turn into a touchdown. Gallon still picks up the first easily. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
M26 1 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 4-3 under Pass Hitch Gallon 9
CB way, way off, easy pitch and catch. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M35 2 1 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel under Run Zone read dive Smith 10
Molk and Omameh(+1 each) club the NT out of the hole; he slides outside so Molk pops off onto the MLB, or at least he would if the MLB wasn't flowing into a backside hole no one is in. Minnesota is not good. Schofield does well enough with the other DT that the clubbing provides a crease; LB over the slot receiver comes down too fast for Hemingway to block him without drawing a flag—why not have Dileo, lined up inside, plug this guy? Anyway, Smith hits it up fast and almost runs through the tackle attempt but not quite.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh, Schofield, Smith RUN-:
M45 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 under Run QB power Robinson 3
Denard checks, flipping Toussaint to the other side; Minnesota checks in response. Michigan is trying to run power to the wide side of the field; Minnesota slants their line away from it and flows LBs over the top. Schofield is pulling; he gets bumped a bit by the dude slanting under Omameh(-1). Koger(+1) blows up the playside DE and Toussaint(+0.5) kicks out the EMLOS; Schofield does get to the hole to block the LB filling it but because of the delay he's closer to the LOS than you'd like. LB sets up to the inside and manages to make a diving ankle tackle before Robinson can burst into the secondary.
RUN+: Koger, Toussaint(+0.5) RUN-: Omameh
M48 2 7 Fritz 3 1 1 4-3 under Pass Scramble Gardner 2
Speed option action sees Denard pull up and throw it back to Gardner for a double pass; Lewan(-1) is late getting out there and a corner's flowing up to pressure Gardner; he avoids the guy and takes off. (PR, N/A, 0/1, Lewan) Roundtree was bursting past the one guy in deep coverage and got blatantly held. Refs -1.
50 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Hemingway 12
Easy candy throws as Minnesota sends the world's saddest six-man rush. It gets nowhere near Denard; corner is nowhere near the little hitch that easily picks up the first down. Minnesota is not good. (CA, 3, protection 3/3) Hemingway's inexplicable YAC knack gets a half-dozen more.
O38 1 10 Fritz 3 1 1 Base 4-3 Pass Scramble Gardner 15
Speed option action with no handoff and a rollout into an intended throw. Minnesota is throwing some sort of blitz at this; backside DT twists outside, then starts running after the fake; backside DE drops off into a short zone. Gardner sees he has the corner and just takes off. (SCR, N/A, NA)
O23 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass PA Hitch Hemingway 6
QB iso action sees Dileo get wide open but Denard is looking further outside since DBs are again playing in the parking lot. Simple hitch to Hemingway goes for five yards plus YAC. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O17 2 4 Ace trips bunch 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass RB pass Dileo 17
This is Michigan's pitch formation—at least it was the only time they've done it thus far this year—and they run the pitch. Smith does a great job of selling the run long enough for Minnesota to suck up; Dileo runs right by everyone and is wide open. Smith hits him for six. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS+3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-0, 14 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Sprint counter Toussaint 24
Minnesota dives under the backside tackle again with their DE, which forces Huyge(+1) to kick that guy out instead of getting downfield as Lewan(-1) blocks no one. Normally this would mean there's no hole but Molk(+3) singlehandedly escorts the NT outside the frickin' tackle box, so there's a gap. There are no linebackers in the gap because they sucked way playside—again there is a very lonely Michigan OL having a tea party for one on the second level. Toussaint hits the gap and runs a long way. Toussaint(+2) jukes a safety along with his nice cut and picks up some bonus yards. RPS +2
RUN+: Huyge, Molk(3), Toussaint(2) RUN-: Lewan
O45 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Hemingway 8
THIS IS SO EASY GUYS (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O37 2 2 Shotgun 2back twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Triple option dive Hopkins 2 (Pen +5)
Triple option yo, though this could just be a dive with some option action to it that is not a read. Minnesota has loaded the backside. With a guy coming right at Denard he hands it on the dive, but he should pitch. Schofield(+1) escorts the backside DT well down the line; Lewan releases and has three guys to block. He chooses the outside guy. That seems to be a poor choice for the dive but if the option goes outside that might be preferable. One of the two unblocked guys comes up to hit Hopkins near the LOS; he does get the first. No RPS-1 since it got the short yardage it required. Minnesota jumped offsides anyway. Picture-paged by BWS.
RUN+: Schofield RUN-: Robinson
O32 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Run Power off tackle Toussaint 4
Off the left side, going outside of Lewan and Koger as they block down. Koger(+1) clears the corner. Omameh and Hopkins are your lead guys; Hopkins(-1) is bounced off of and falls to the ground and Omameh(-0.5) does get a block but gets stood up by the Gopher MLB. Toussaint doesn't have a crease; he runs up backs.
RUN+: Koger RUN-: Hopkins, Omameh(0.5)
O28 2 6 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Throwback screen Smith 28
Waggle gets Denard the corner as Hopkins gets a good block on the edge contain guy, putting him on his knees. Not relevant to the play but good job. If this was an actual waggle Denard would have plenty of time and room to make something happen, but it's a throwback screen. Minnesota blitzed and is dead, with eight players at or near the LOS focused on the waggle. One of them manages to peel off and pursue; Huyge(+1) chops him to the ground. Molk and Omameh have to run 20 yards downfield to find anyone to block; Omameh(+1) chops the FS and Molk watches as Gallon(+1) buries the corner. Smith runs straight upfield for six. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +3.)
RUN+: Omameh, Gallon, Huyge RUN-:
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-0, 9 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Inside zone Toussaint 37 (Pen -10)
Molk(-1) releases immediately instead of executing a combo on the NT. He does give a token shove but he needs more there. That NT gets into Omameh(-2) to the playside. Omameh holds him. This gives Toussaint a gap that he hits like whoah, accelerating away from an unblocked linebacker and zipping into the endzone. Excellent work by Schofield to open the gap up; Toussaint might have gone right by the DT if Omameh does not hold.
RUN+: Toussaint(2), Schofield RUN-: Molk, Omameh(3)
O47 1 20 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass PA Deep Out Hemingway Inc (Pen +15)
PA with a pulling G to provide some pass blocking help on the edge. Omameh(-1) gets out there but instead of blocking the edge guy he sets up to take on the backside DE, who was unblocked and is pursuing the RB. As a result he blocks neither guy. Both start rushing at Denard, who chucks it off his back foot in the general direction of Hemingway. The ball is way uncatchable but the Minnesota DB still picks up a horsecrap PI call. Refs +2. (IN, 0, protection 0/1, Omameh)
O32 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Inside zone Shaw 18
Virtually identical to the first play on this drive with a major exception: Molk(+1) gets a good shoulder into the NT and Omameh(+2) uses that extra help to get around him and seal him out of the play. MLB sucks himself out of position on the zone read fake, allowing Huyge to block him easily, and Molk gets downfield to push a linebacker to the outside. Shaw busts upfield, angling away from a safety until another defender comes in and forces him back into the tackle.
RUN+: Molk, Omameh(2), Shaw, Schofield RUN-:
O14 1 10 I-form Big 2 2 1 4-3 under Run Down G Shaw 5
Not actually G; Lewan pulls around the two TEs. Molk also pulls from the inside. Watson(+1) and Koger(+1) seal their playside guys away. Molk(+1) does the same with the LB flowing from the inside. Lewan's guy has to maintain leverage so he is essentially running himself out of the play. Omameh can't get his LB on the backside but he's always the toughest to block. Hopkins(-1) gets a weak-ish shove on another LB flowing and that guy plus the backside guy combine to tackle.
RUN+: Watson, Koger, Molk RUN-: Hopkins
O9 2 5 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass Waggle TE flat Koger 0
Minnesota shooting a guy right into the waggle; Robinson has to throw immediately to his guy in the flat; Minnesota has a zone defender there to tackle immediately. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS -1)
O9 3 5 Shotgun 2TE 1 2 2 Base 4-3 Run Speed option Robinson 2
BOO REF BOO. Molk owns the NT, getting his hand in the middle of his chest and literally throwing him to the ground. This gets a holding call. Boo! Princes Bride dream style boo! Watson(-1) and Huyge(-1) do a very weak job on the playside DE, who just kind of flows down the line without being harassed. Pitch guy is taken. Robinson has a cutback lane thanks to the Molk hold-type-substance but misses it and just runs up the backs of his blockers for not much yardage.
RUN-: Robinson, Watson, Huyge, Molk (boo!)
Drive Notes: FG(25), 31-0, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M44 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Zone read iso Toussaint 8
Minnesota now scraping this as the DE is hauling after Toussaint. Hopkins(-0.5) runs right through the back of Schofield's block, stumbling. He keeps his feet and does get out to a linebacker but the delay probably allows the LB to get outside instead of being sealed inside. Roundtree(-1) just whiffs on a safety. Meanwhile, I think Robinson tries to pull this, which Toussaint is all like “no” about; he is momentarily off balance. Good work by the interior OL gives him a crease and he bounces outside the charging safety near the LOS, turning it up into a corner for a good chunk.
RUN+: Toussaint(2), Schofield, Molk(0.5), Omameh(0.5) RUN-: Roundtree, Hopkins(0.5)
O48 2 2 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Triple option dive Hopkins 6
Lewan(+1.5) and Schofield(+0.5), but mostly Lewan, donkey the DE to the backside, blowing him downfield. Molk(+1) seals the playside DE; Koger(+0.5) kicks out the LB. Big hole that Hopkins heads straight into, getting tackled by a linebacker after a bit.
RUN+: Lewan(1.5), Schofield(0.5), Koger(0.5), Molk RUN-:
O42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-4 Pass PA rollout something Koger? Inc
This time it's Schofield(-1) who's trying to pull to provide pass protection and he, too, slows up to maybe block the playside DE instead of hauling after the edge LB and ends up blocking no one. Robinson has to stop his roll, allowing the DE to get into him. He chucks it off his back foot, apparently to Koger, but misses badly. I'm torn between PR and IN. Let's be mean! (IN, 0, protection 0/1, Schofield)
O42 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Sprint counter Smith 8
Um... what? I don't think I've ever seen this before: Huyge makes the now-standard pull to the frontside of the play... and so does Lewan. So you've got two OTs crossing as they pull. Very weird. My assumption is that Lewan(-2) busted the playcall. If this was a crazy key-breaking call it would be a G pulling to simulate the pass blocking. So Lewan leaves this guy unblocked and the natural reaction of this DE is to get straight upfield to contain a zone read even though it's not even close to the play call. This gives Smith a window. He cuts up past the guy, then cuts behind Koger(-1), who totally lost his battle with the backside DE. Schofield(+1) got a good one on one kickout on one DT; Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) execute a good combo block to seal the other guy away and deal with a linebacker. Yes, this time Molk actually has someone to block. Smith(+2) cuts back outside, accelerating through the hole before getting chopped down by the safety near the sticks.
RUN+: Schofield, Molk, Omameh, Smith(2) RUN-: Koger, Lewan(2)
O34 3 2 Goal line 2 3 0 4-3 under Run Iso Toussaint 3
Watson motions to an H-back spot, which tips the MLB that this is an iso right over him. He attacks at the snap; Watson(+1) does a good job to kick him out. Lewan(+2) annihilates the playside DE, pancaking him. NT slants himself out of the play. Schofield(+1) and Hopkins(+1) get excellent second level blocks; Toussaint is about to jet for an easy TD when a blitzer comes around from the outside and chops him down.
RUN+: Lewan(2), Hopkins, Schofield, Watson RUN-:
O31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Drag Dileo 6
Robinson wants a fly route; covered, he checks down. He's a little late on the check down and his throw is a little low, taking Dileo off his feet and removing the possibility of YAC. (MA, 3, protection 2/2)
O25 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run QB Draw Robinson 7
Molk gives one DT a shove to help Schofield(-2) but Schofield doesn't get anywhere near a proper seal despite the help. This puts that DT right in the running lane. Omameh also lost his but he lost his upfield, which is fine. Robinson has to dance between the two. He does so, then dances past a guy Koger did kind of a bad job on. He gets past another guy thanks to a good sustained block from Smith(+1) and picks up the first.
RUN+: Robinson(2), Smith RUN-: Schofield(2)
O18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass TE Out Koger Inc
Not a very good read since this is covered. LB makes a play on the ball but does not get a PBU because the pass is perfectly thrown. He does incidentally trip Koger, making this reception even tougher than it already would be. Great accuracy here but still a bad read—the payoff is not worth the risk. (BR, 1, protection 2/2)
O18 2 10 Shotgun 2back 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Pass Quick out Dileo Inc
Minnesota sends the house, blitzing 8(!). Michigan's got an open quick out that Robinson takes. His throw is tough but catchable; Dileo bobbles it and brings it in but not before he goes OOB. (CA, 2, protection N/A)
O18 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Okie Pass TE Seam Koger 18
Seven rushers this time; Michigan has something on for it. Koger jukes the chuck of the LB on him in man and that's all she wrote as Denard hits him with a nice touch pass for six. (CA+, 3, protection N/A)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-0, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Toussaint 2
Blocked well; backside DL is slanting outside and is gone; Koger(+1) and Huyge(+1) kill playside DE; Koger pops out. Hopkins kicks out playside LB. Schofield finds a block, but it's the ninth guy in the box, a safety, who flows down over the top to tackle Toussaint. Would RPS minus this if the game wasn't long over. Think Toussaint has more yards here if he follows Schofield instead of getting outside and exposing himself.
RUN+: Koger, Huyge RUN-: Toussaint
M28 2 8 Shotgun 4-wide 2 0 3 Base 4-3 Pass Screen Toussaint -2
Smith motions out. Minnesota DL reads this as Molk(-1) just runs by him without selling the pass block, peels off, and tackles. (CA, 3, screen)
M26 3 10 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Nickel under Pass Deep out Hemingway Inc
Another rollout gets multiple linemen blocking no one and exposes Denard to pressure. Smith bumps a blitzer on the rollout side and lets him outside; Denard has to pull up. Unblocked guy from the backside and contain guy converge; Denard throws it off his back foot and sails one in the direction of Hemingway. (IN, 0, protection 0/1, Smith)
Drive Notes: Punt, 38-0, 11 min 3rd Q. OUTRAGE
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M46 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Zone read dive Shaw 5
Robinson(-1) misses a read as the DE is tearing after the RB. OTOH, four defenders are hanging out backside in case this is a keep so maybe not. Given the way the play develops I stand by the minus. Omameh(+1) kicks out the playside DT; Molk(+1) and Schofield(+1) batter the NT back. A linebacker inexplicably takes off after Robinson and Shaw is about to burst for a ton of yards when the crashing DE grabs him by his jersey. We need some slicker jerseys, man.
RUN+: Molk, Schofield, Omameh RUN-: Robinson
O49 2 5 Shotgun trips 1 0 4 Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Shaw 14
NT slants way out of the hole, so there's a big gap. Molk is doubling the other DT with Schofield, though, and there are seven defenders in the box against Michigan's five blockers, so that gap is filled with two defenders. Shaw could hammer it up for a few but decides to bounce. He always decides to bounce. This time it works out as Hemingway(+2) comes down to shove a safety past Shaw and picks off a linebacker as he does so. Corner achievement achieved.
RUN+: Shaw, Hemingway(2) RUN-:
O35 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 Base 4-3 Pass PA TE flat Koger 18 + 9 pen
I-form is our passing formation. Weird. Play action fake, Koger blocks a guy and releases, finding himself open. Denard tosses it to him; Koger is met by a DB who he stiffarms to the ground as he picks up the first. Who is your daddy. (CA, 3, protection 2/2.) Minnesota picks up a roughing the passer afterwards.
O9 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Sprint counter Shaw 8
More of this and Minnesota still has no idea what's going on. Molk(+1) and Omameh(+1) double the NT, blowing him a couple yards off the ball; Molk peels off to take an attacking LB. Attacking his way out of the play, sure, but whatever. Huyge(+1) sort of walls off the DE, who's happy to just hug Huyge for support. No effort to get off the block at all. Lewan pulls and that takes a linebacker out with him; Shaw(+1) hits the gap and gets down to the one. RPS+1.
RUN+: Shaw, Molk, Omameh, Huyge. RUN-:
O1 2 G Ace 1 2 2 Goal line Run FB dive Toussaint 1
Borges loves this.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 45-0, 8 min 3rd Q. Gardner comes in on the next drive; I'll cover it but we're officially in half-ass mode. Mostly looking for Gardner's performance and offense things, ceasing serious OL grading since we've established they murder this team.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Gallon Inc
Gardner stares it down and throws a soft toss out to the hitch, allowing the Gopher CB to make a play on the ball. Need to gun this in. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M47 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Shaw 3
Lewan(-2) loses his guy entirely, allowing him and a blitzer to come up the middle of this play unmolested; Shaw(+2) has to bounce this time and does successfully, getting the corner and turning a loss into a small gain.
RUN+: Shaw(2) RUN-: Lewan(2)
50 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under Pass Rollout bad idea Hemingway 14
Another rollout that ends up with the QB getting pressure on him thanks to a guy dedicated to getting the edge. Gardner has to pull up and tosses a soft floater across his body that screams INT but somehow finds its way to Hemingway for the first down. Results based charting, but this is asking for it against teams that have players on the field. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
O36 1 10 Shotgun 2back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass PA Hitch Roundtree Inc
Complete at the sticks except not complete because Roundtree drops it. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O36 2 10 Shotgun 2TE 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Iso Toussaint 16
Omameh watches his guy slant out of the play; Molk(+1), Hopkins(+1), and Gallon(+1) all get second level blocks; Toussaint(+1) makes a good cut behind the Hopkins block for a big chunk.
RUN+: Molk, Hopkins, Gallon, Toussaint RUN-:
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Zone read dive Toussaint 4
Huyge(-1) doesn't provide the requisite push to get the playisde DT sealed and Omameh(-1) loses control of him; Tousssaint(+1) manages to hop outside that guy's tackle attempt. His bounce takes him upfield into the kicked-out DE, who comes back to tackle. Dileo helped out by getting a safety.
RUN+: Dileo, Toussaint RUN-: Omameh, Huyge
O16 2 6 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Waggle scramble Gardner 4
Insert usual waggle/rollout rant here; there is a dude in Gardner's face immediately, trying to sack; Gardner goes all crazy legs, scrambling all the way back to the other sideline. He looks like he'll get taken down at the line, then powers through a tackle to pick something up. RPS has ceased but I want to minus this so hard. Picture-paged by BWS.
RUN+: Gardner RUN-:
O12 3 2 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Penalty Delay -- -5
O17 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel under Pass Scramble Gardner 2
Minnesota sends a couple blitzers; Michigan does a good job of picking them up. Gardner, perhaps used to being behind the sacktastic walkons of the second team, bugs out when he's got a pocket and some time to find the open guy, scrambling for minimal yardage. (TA, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(32), 48-0, 2 min 3rd Q. OL backups start coming in on the next drive. I'm not including those numbers in the run table.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run QB power Gardner 11
Molk out for Khoury, Huyge out for Mealer. Playside LB runs himself way out of the play. Moore(+1) rides the playside DE out; big hole. Schofield gets out in the hole but doesn't actually block the guy; Gardner has room because Mealer(+1) and Watson(+1) sealed LBs.
RUN+: Moore, Watson, Huyge RUN-:
M31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Sprint counter Rawls 25
Minnesota line basically seals themselves but Mealer(+1) does get a good block on the DE diving inside and this allows Lewan to pull around outside. Roundtree(+1) blows up a safety coming down and Lewan(+1) manages to peel back, shoving the last LB with a shot at Rawls upfield. Rawls(+1) is into the secondary, where he runs through a weak ankle tackle attempt and keeps his balance for a nice chunk.
O39 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Draw Rawls 1
Minnesota slants, which screws up intended lanes here; Hopkins(-1) does not read the play and take a blitzer off the corner. Rawls has to burrow behind him and because of the lack of space ends up tripping over Lewan's feet as the Gophers converge. Usual rant about I-form running.
O38 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Pass Hitch Gallon 12
Easy pitch and catch that may be a little late but is accurate; Gallon can turn upfield because the Gopher DB is very bad. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Run Inside zone Rawls 5
H-back headed backside. No cutback as Khoury(-1) gets blown back; Rawls does step around the block and get to the LB level; Omameh got a good block on the second level. I'm done with OL +/- at this point, I think, as walk-ons are in.
O21 2 5 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Rawls 7
Moore(+1) kicks playside DE down the line; Rawls(+1) does a good job of setting up his lead block from the pulling G, who is a walk-on with a complicated last name.
O14 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 under Run Zone read dive Rawls 0
Minnesota scraping the backside DE down the line and having a LB come over the top; no one blocks him as Moore-2) takes an outside contain guy and no gain.
O14 2 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 under Run Zone read dive Smith 0
Omameh(-1) and Khoury, but mostly Omameh, get beaten by the Gopher NT, who ends up in the hole outside that Smith wants after the scrape. This is bad; Omameh is playside of the guy on the snap.
O14 3 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Sack -- -7
Mealer(-2) gets Gardner sacked.
Drive Notes: FG(38!), 51-0, 9 min 4th Q. Charting ceases.



That was fun!

Yes, our quarterback threw it at people!

Except when there was a rollout!

And our linemen often found themselves on the second level wondering if anyone was going to validate their existence!

Except when they went under center!

Which, to be fair, they did about twice!

So… same question that we asked about the D applies here: anything of meaning to be found?

Yes, probably moreso than the defense because certain things on offense are defense-independent, or at least sort of defense independent. The best way to show this is with a—


—chart. One you don't even cower in fear at.

[Hover over column headers for explanation of abbreviation.]

2009, All Of It 1 7 6(2) 3(1) 4 4 - - ? 44%
Notre Dame 3 25(8) 3(1) 4 1 - 4(1) 2 - 71%
Michigan State 4 14(3) 1 7(1) 1 - - 2 2 68%
Iowa 1 11(3) 2 3(1) 2 - 1 - - 64%
Illinois 4 9(1) 1 4 1 3 1(1) - - 60%
Purdue 2 12(1) 1 3 1 1 1 3 - 68%
WMU '11 - 6(1) 4 3 1 - - - 1 56%
Notre Dame '11 6 7(1) 1 6(1) 5 1 1 1 - 50%
EMU '11 1 10(1) - 5 1 - 1 1 1 59%
SDSU '11 - 10(2) - 4 2 1 - 1 - 53%
Minnesota '11 1 13(3) 1 3 1 - - - - 73%

Happy pony forever!

Now the caveats: Minnesota, for one. For two, virtually all of that was short stuff, with the Hopkins go route and another pass to Hemingway the only moderately long passes thrown. It is progress. It may not be meaningful against teams with a secondary.

Now the anti-caveats: The MA was a not-too-difficult completion that gained six and could have been a shaky CA, and I don't really blame Denard for any of those INs.

Who do you blame?

Not to tempt the wrath of Gordon Borges, but Borges. (Michigan was +12 RPS, FWIW, so regard this as the nit it is, Mr. Borges sir.) Rollouts are killing me, man. Maize Pages has been charting the Denard throws in some detail and reports back on the rollout situation from the last game:

There are so few incomplete passes that it's easy laying all 5 of them (4 + 1 PI call) out again:

  • 1+20 | shot | PA, rolls left, sets feet, pumps, bad feet, P3, throws up jump ball, PI called (incomplete)
  • 1+10 | shot | PA, rolls right, moving feet, P2, overthrows Hemingway (incomplete)
  • 1+10 | shot | takes 1 step back, sets feet, P0, throws to a tightly covered Koger out route (incomplete)
  • 2+10 | shot | rolls right, doesn't set feet, P1, throws to Dileo who bobbles could have been caught (incomplete)
  • 3+10 | shot | rolls right, sets feet, P2, overthrows Hemingway (incomplete)

Notice a trend? 4 of his 5 incomplete passes were on roll-outs. On my count, Denard rolled 6 times all game, giving us a completion rate of 2/6 out of the pocket. While it's become clear that Denard is more comfortable from the gun, rolling the pocket seems to be the bad within the good, unnecessarily complicating his footwork and taking him out of his comfort zone.

Borges referenced some of these incompletions in his presser and blamed footwork and protection, both of which are right. Denard's footwork was poor as he pulled up to throw off his back foot; on two of those the pulling G who's supposed to provide Denard some protection pulled up when two guys burst upfield and he couldn't decide who to block. If the guards shoot into the outside guy without hesitation…

Well, they probably still end up letting him onto the edge because he is coming hard, and then Denard has to deal with the guy on the inside, and you still have issues. You have fewer issues than you did in the last game but it's still not an ideal situation.

I'd rather keep Denard in the pocket, where people rush him gingerly, if at all, and have him zip it into receivers without having to set his feet. That's right: Denard is a pocket guy.

Meanwhile, BWS picture-paged Gardner's crazylegs scramble that started when he turned around on a waggle only to find a Gopher in his face:


The moral of the story is that when you put a Michigan quarterback on the edge you are exposing him to rushers that are unblocked or almost unblocked because the first priority of any opposing defense is to prevent #16 (or #7) from getting the edge. The only time a quarterback could get the edge was when the defense was freaking out about the other quarterback getting the other edge.

Okay, there was also this time:

When they didn't need it, Robinson had the corner wiiiide open.

And the waggle… guh, man, guh. That is the Atari 2600 version of the spread 'n' shred. You are turning your back to the defense and hoping that when you turn around you don't find an angry 250 pound man in your face. Since This Is Michigan (2011 edition) that always happens because power gains two yards and the quarterback leaves neutrinos in the dust. Priorities one through five for the defense are containing the QB.

This is why all that throwback stuff is working so brilliantly. How can we keep that—which everybody likes—and ditch the incompletions? I don't know, but apparently doing max-protect rollouts fools everyone all the time even without an actual threat of gaining yards on the frontside so lets keep doing that.

ANYWAY, you crab.

I'm not a crab. Let me prove this with more charts.

  This Game   Totals
Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Hemingway 2 - - 5/5 4 - 4/5 6/7
Roundtree - - - 0/1 1 1/3 1/2 4/4
Odoms - - - - 1 - - -
Grady - - - - 2 - 0/1 2/2
Gallon 1


- 4/4 1 - - 12/12
J. Robinson - - - - - - - -
Dileo - - 0/1 2/2 - 0/1 1/2 2/2
Jackson - - - - - - - -
Koger - 0/1 - 3/3 2 1/2 1/2 6/7
Moore - - - - 2 - - -
Toussaint - - - 1/1 - - - 1/2
Shaw - - - - - - - -
Smith - - - 1/1 1 - - 5/6
Hopkins - - - 1/1 - - - 1/1
McColgan - - - - 1 - - 1/1

Hey, look: numbers. At this point in the season we can say that the top two receivers seem to be Hemingway and Gallon, with Roundtree evaporating but still third and Dileo seemingly fourth. Odoms and Grady appear to be down the depth chart as seniors, which is surprising. Odoms does have the hand injury.

Offensive line, keeping in mind that only 35-ish carries were charted after around 50 last week.

Offensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Lewan 5.5 6 -0.5 Yeah, surprised me too: had a couple busts and one bad whiff.
Barnum - - - DNP
Molk 14.5 4 10.5 Was always going to happen. Did miss some first level blocks, I thought.
Omameh 10.5 4.5 6 Stayed in late.
Huyge 5 2 3 Did not have a big role.
Schofield 12 4 8 Basically a sixth starter.
Mealer - - - Did pick up minuses but after I said no mas.
Watson 2 3 -1 Eh.
Koger 5 2 3 Better than last week.
TOTAL 54.5 25.5 29 +/- ratio holds steady at 2:1
Player + - T Notes
Robinson 7 3 4 Missed a couple reads, still got a lot of positives in six carries.
Gardner 2 - 2 Not Denard but effective.
Toussaint 10.5 1 9.5 Made many miss.
Shaw 5 1 4 bounce bounce bounce bounce
Smith 10 1 9 Good bit of this blocking.
Hopkins 4 2.5 1.5 Blocking erratic.
Rawls - - - DNP before charting seriously ceased.
McColgan - - - DNP
TOTAL 38.5 8.5 30 Excellent day by all runners.
Player + - T Notes
Hemingway 3 - 3  
Odoms - - -  
Gallon 4 - 4 --
Roundtree 1 2 -1  
Grady - - - --
Jackson - - -  
Dileo 2 - - --
TOTAL 10 2 8 record setting. srsly.
Player + - T Notes
Protection 27 4 87% Lewan 1, Omameh 1, Schofield 1, Smith 1
RPS 15 3 12 Borges hates lakes/Prince/etc.

The offensive line did about as well as it did last week, which may qualify as something of a disappointment or may just reflect how hard it is to get five to seven guys all doing the right thing on every play. The backs and receivers had excellent outings—that's how you get to 7.9 YPC from the 7.3 posted against SDSU.

So this Omameh business?

I can't help but wonder if he is struggling for reasons other than awkward change to a new system. When Michigan threw the second team OL out there they left him on the field. Michigan doesn't have much depth on the OL but they've got someone who can go out there leading Minnesota by 50 in the fourth. The other guard was a walk-on.

The lack of depth on the line is an argument to get Omameh out in my mind, since you really don't want one of your 7-ish plausible OL going down in garbage time. Leaving him on the field makes me think they're not happy with his play and are trying to get him more reps because they don't have other options.

And the shotgun/center run dichotomy?

There's nothing to talk about this week, as the only under center runs I have charted are two short yardage plays (a one yard Fitz TD and a three-yard Fitz iso on third and two) and a single second and two power from the eight that lost a yard. I think there were one or two more after charting stopped that also did poorly.

So we can't do it. Fine. Borges is adapting, which is great, and seems to be getting his MANBALL from other sources, like shotgun isos at spread out teams and a hell of a lot of sprint counter.

Sprint counter.

Yessssss. It's not quite TGDCD but it is ver' nice, especially when Molk gets his Lewan on. Minnesota was clueless the whole day and since it looks virtually identical to the QB going off tackle it is going to kill guys. They might have to break a key or two to keep it working later in the year since that tackle pull is a dead giveaway, but you know me, I love those interlocking plays.

You are still a crab.

So here's this, bolded alter-ego: I am going to go all sports talk radio on you, in gushing fashion. Maybe it was the proximity of this game to the flaming garbage dump that was MSU-OSU, but these players look exceedingly well coached. There were a couple plays where having that extra beat of patience paid off. One was the first third down of the game:

That extra beat he waits gets Minnesota's linebackers to drop into coverage and gets him the room he needs for the conversion. He moved so late that Gallon (who had a day blocking people, yo) has already buried the rolled-up safety by the time he reveals his intent.

And then there was Vincent Smith thespian school:

You know how you're watching a football game and it's just bleeding obvious that the RB/WR is going to throw? You ever get that feeling? I do all the time. I was shocked when Smith pulled up to throw, and so was Minnesota. I bet 95% of teams would have gotten suckered there.

Weekly tailback opinion?

I'm still in Toussaint's corner but the current breakdown between Smith and Fitz will find no complaints here. I think he's got better burst than Smith:

Smith brings a bunch of other things to the table and deserves about half the carries; I think Toussaint will end up the leading non-Denard rusher.


Pretty much everyone. Special commendation to the tailbacks and Borges.


Lewan did not perform up to his usual standard on the ground.

What does it mean for Northwestern and beyond?

The primary takeaway is that when in the correct situations Denard can be an effective passer. While his limitations are obvious by now, having him throw in better situations and giving him quick rhythm passes results in a 73% DSR. Borges is right that they have to open it up deep. There's a pretty good way to do that without jump-balling it: oh noes.

I hope what we saw against Minnesota is a precursor and Borges is going to continue installing and using innovative packages based on Denard's legs. There is a little bit of lingering fear that this was just a dog and pony show that they'll put away the rest of the year now that they've gotten everyone to prepare for it, a strategy that seems far worse than using those plays against a plausible opponent, but Borges says that's not the case and he seems pretty rad so far so I believe him.

The I-Form seems dead. They're not even bringing it out in garbage time against Minnesota to practice it against real opponents and they're using a two-back TE look from the shotgun that seems like a direct attempt to replace it. I'm okay with that since the shotgun still gives you that advantage by forcing the D to account for Denard's legs.

Other item: Shaw just confirmed the Smith/Toussaint 1-2 punch in the backfield.

UFR Errata: Indiana 2010

UFR Errata: Indiana 2010

Submitted by Brian on October 8th, 2010 at 2:40 PM

It's back. Sorry for the two-week interruption, but Forces Beyond My Control intervened.


Dorrestein love. GS put up run charts for UMass, Bowling Green, and Indiana. In sum:

  • UMass: Molk excellent, everyone else solidly positive, Lewan goes donkey, Dorrestein majorly positive.
  • Bowling Green: candy for everyone. Omameh gets the gold star.
  • Indiana: everyone positive, numbers depressed because they scored too fast, WOO DENARD, Lewan gets the gold star.

The major difference between my charting and The Other Brian's is a difference of opinion on Dorrestein. I evidently think he's treading water and just okay; TOB has him approximately equal with the other four guys on the line. Also he was quicker to catch the effectiveness of Michigan's TEs.

Devin zone read issues. After the BGSU game, BWS put up a post about Devin Gardner's zone reads and how they are "rough" if you're being nice and "sucky" if you're not; this was in agreement with the UFR's assessment. Michigan's coaches probably saw too; it appears Tate has reclaimed the backup job. Or maybe Gardner has tendinitis.

I don't hate Vincent Smith. Most of the offensive UFR comments were taken over by the comment war about Vincent Smith. To clarify:

  • Smith is a good pass protector and reliable run blocker, though his size makes his run blocking a little sub-optimal.
  • He's a good option out of the backfield but the way Michigan's offense is going this year throwing to the tailback is almost pointless.
  • He seems to have lost a significant amount of shake-and-bake because of the ACL injury.
  • He does not make a lot of yards himself, but he doesn't miss reads often either.

This adds up to an average back.

Finally. BWS has an excellent breakdown of the final drive and the importance of this moment:


This offense is not only explosive but S-M-R-T, kids.

And now on to the WARZONE:


Rollout mitigation strategies. Our Helmets Have Wings has a post based on this previously-linked BWS piece about defending the copious rollouts Michigan has endured. It evades easy summary but the idea is to take someone out of a deeper zone and have him play a flat zone close to the area the rollout is intended to go so he can pressure the QB.

Crab man. The Indiana UFR did not pick up a whole lot in the way of disagreements that are supposed to be the reason for this series, but this is an informative comment for doubters about Roh's DE potential from ironman4579:

While Roh has good athleticism for his size, the key term is "for his size."  His hips are fairly stiff in coverage.  He has great speed for a DE, probably average at best for a LB. He's not great in space. He has elite athleticism for a DE. He has below average athleticism for a LB. He's just too stiff.

I'd also disagree that he's undersized. Yes, he's a little light (I'd agree that he's definitely lighter than I'd like to see my DE's, but there's enough successful, disruptive light DE's out there in a 4 man line that I think he'd be fine. He might struggle a bit against the run, but I'd give up some in the run game to get an, IMO, vastly improved pass rush), but a guy like Aaron Maybin of Penn State had 12 sacks and 20 TFL's at 235 pounds. O'Brien Schofield was 248 pounds when he went ahead and got 12 sacks and 24.5 TFL's. That's just two recent examples. There are many, many others. Leverage plays a huge part, which actually leads to my next point.

craigrohcrazyninjastance_thumb5 I want people to watch Roh this week when he's at DE and when he's at LB. When he's at DE, he's what scout's call a "flatback." He's incredibly low in his stance. When he comes out he stays basically in the same stance, getting very low with great leverage.  He gets his hands out and keeps guys away from his body, and has a great initial punch. He shows a variety of pass rush moves.

When he's at LB, he gets very high.  He goes into blockers almost straight up. He lets guys into his body and almost seems to forget his hands until he's already engaged and the blocker is into his body (this is especially evident last year against ND on the Armando Allen hold run at the end of the game, but throughout the season this was a problem). He loses leverage regularly. When he rushes, it's almost always a straight speed rush. He gets lost in space.

The difference between Roh as a DE and Roh as a LB are night and day.  He has flashed the potential to be a fantastic DE. As a LB, I don't think he's going to be much more than an average to slightly above average player

I added the picture demonstrating Roh's crazy leverage stance before the snap. I'd like to see a lot more four-man lines this week.

An aside: the debate that's raged between what people are calling a 4-2-5 but is really just last year's defense and the 3-3-5 that's Michigan's run most of this year is really just debating what Craig Roh should do.

Cam Gordon confusion. I solicited opinions on whether or not Cam Gordon should have been able to do anything more than tackle on that corner route



…picture-paged yesterday. Many people said yes. Many others said no. Upon review I do think that Cam should have been a lot closer since there was no vertical threat from the inside. That probably wouldn't have let him make a play on the ball but he might have been able to tackle at the 25 instead of the 15. The counterargument:

The problem is, jumping the route too quickly can lead to long touchdowns.  Gordon does in fact make the right play here. If he jumps up, the experienced receiver will skinny his route and the 5th year QB will loft it over the crashing safety.  In a cover 2, the corner route will almost always beat the safety to the soft part of the zone; it's only when the corner drops back enough to disrupt this spot that this pass fails (and then the QB checks down to the out).  In a 3rd and long situation, the CB should focus on the deeper part of his zone, as it's always easier to stop a first down if the catch is made in front of the sticks.  A more experienced corner, or one that is just less hesitant to react, makes this a much more difficult play to complete.

As always, pass defense and linebacker play are mysterious since who's at fault can vary wildly based on assignments you're not privy to.

The larger point stands. Michigan's inexperienced secondary is not reading the opponent's routes at all (underneath) or quick enough (deep). Hopefully they develop this with time. Also, Chris Brown pointed out this is another variation on the snag concept that Michigan was running elements of earlier this season.

BONUS: Misopogon suggested that the issue was with JT Floyd not getting depth and letting Gordon out to the sideline, but I disagree. Sometimes I fail to explain things I picked up over the course of the game and people disagree based on the individual play, and that's the case here. Most of the time when Michigan went to this coverage, JT Floyd was acting as a Tampa 2 middle linebacker with responsibility in the deep seam. That's why he was at fault when IU hit a deep seam to the TE in the first half

Does the "J" in J.T. stand for Journeyman?

Floyd spent his second week in a row being moved all over the place.  I can understand why they're doing this (he's probably our best DB and we need to get our best athletes on the field.) But with all this moving around, you expect him to get confused occassionally.


On this play he gets caught looking at the underneath crossing route when what he needs to be doing is getting depth in his zone to squeeze off the seam route.  The cross will be picked up by the other linebacker, so his false step here was not going to help anyone.

… later in the game when Michigan had covered this bunch snag route a few times they went to a different variation where the vertical receiver ran a post and Floyd dropped right into it. He is not playing a deep half; he's playing a robber. On this pattern he will be of use when the receiver running a dig to the top of the screen clears the CB.

Zone! Man! Fight. BWS's thing this week is advocating more man coverage, complete with a chart of the results when Michigan ran man:

So in 12 attempts, Indiana had six incompletions, one sack, and five completions for approximately 69 yards. Is this statistically significant or proof that Michigan should use more man coverage? Probably not and no.

I'm not sure all of those were man, as BlueSeoul's continuing epic game breakdown series touches upon: 

Combo Coverage

When you're facing 4 or 5 WR, a 3 man rush is not a bad idea because it allows you to run combo coverage behind it.


2 Deep, looks like man coverage underneath, but really it's zone.  The man on the slot has good position for run support. The near cornerback is in bump n run with the tall and dangerous, but not necessarily quick, Belcher.


Everyone is covered, Rodgers even manages to stay close enough to his man to dissuade a throw against the confusing look, the 3 man rush gets pressure because Martin beats a double team. Plus we've got 4 extra men in coverage that are just waiting for Chappell to misread it as man coverage and try to force a ball in, so they can get an interception.


Chappell coolly throws it away.

So those numbers may not be right. It seems clear that whatever Michigan is doing in the dime they need to keep doing until they can do it right, at which point they can mix some stuff up. Man coverage is playing with fire every time because of…

James Rogers finally getting exposed. One of the main takeaways from BlueSeoul's post is something that was obvious in the Indiana game after Michigan managed to get away with it through the nonconference:

I've probably covered this enough already, but just to summarize, he is the weakest link.  No, that's not surprising given what's happened to the depth chart at corner.

It's so bad that it's hard to  tell who he's covering and whether he's supposed to be in zone or man.  He's just kind of over there on one side.  By the 2nd half, Indiana was actively targeting him on a large percentage of plays.  He's giving up the 7 yard out



I don't mean to beat up on him but I agree; he's Nick Sheridan out there. I'm half-expecting he gets replaced this weekend, probably by Avery, though I imagine he'll still have a job in the dime package. Whither Cullen Christian? (Blowing coverages against BGSU, is where.)

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs UMass

Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs UMass

Submitted by Brian on September 22nd, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Substitution Notes: Starting secondary, Kovacs, Mouton, and RVB went the whole way. Patterson and Black got some time on the DL; Leach substituted in for Banks on passing downs and for Gordon a little bit. Moundros got one series at MLB; Fitzgerald came in for Roh a tiny bit.

Formation notes: More of the same, with Michigan spending most of the day in a stack but occasionally shifting to a 4-3 front (sometimes Roh did not put his hand down in the front but it was a 4-3) and using the same nickel rush package they've shown in the first two games.

Against the twin TE formation Umass showed a lot the stack looked like this:


Kovacs is rolled up tight to the line there. Michigan appears to be aligning based on pass strength, so whenever they saw a formation like this it was Banks and Kovacs to the run strength.

Chartin' note: the "Rush" column contains the number of pass rushers on a pass; on a run I attempted to determine to which side of the line it was run, doing this by the Michigan DE that was nominally run at. "Banks" is a run at (surprise!) Banks. NA is for something that went either right up the middle or the DEs weren't relevant.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Mouton 9
This is supposed to go right up the middle by the looks of the blocking scheme but Martin(+1) tears through the center's block and Ezeh(+1) shoots past an attempt to get him on the second level, forcing a cutback. Kovacs has cut past his blocker too and the RB has to head way outside, where Mouton(-1, tackling -1) is unblocked and has an opportunity to tackle for loss but overruns the play, which lets the RB dart upfield because Banks(-1) was easily single blocked and controlled. Floyd is also out there with Mouton but his weak diving tackle attempt (-1, -1 tackling) is run through.
O44 2 1 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Down G Roh 0
TEs originally split but one motions over the other as they test the other side of the M DL. Roh(+2) slants past the TE's attempted down block, sliding in between two guys and meeting the RB in the hole a yard behind the LOS. He comes around to tackle, but the RB can fall forward because of the OL blocking Roh. Ezeh took on a blocker in a way that would have funneled the RB to an unblocked Gordon, FWIW, if that was necessary.
O44 3 1 I-Form big twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Iso Banks 4
Martin(+1) blows through a double and occupies two blockers; Banks(-1) is bashed back and sealed by a momentary double, opening up just enough space for the RB to run through a Mouton tackle. No minus because he had to fight through a FB block and did well to slow the RB; Floyd(-1) is slow recognizing and can't clean up in time. His tackle(-1) is run through but the RB falls afterward; Michigan fortunate.
O48 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 PA waggle Rogers 12
First of the many rollouts. Gordon covers the short guy well enough but Rogers(-1, cover -1) has his hips turned way early on the play, even before people scroll offscreen, and is easily beaten on the hitch. Roh(-0.5) sucked into the PA and gave the guy a wide open corner (pressure -1)
O36 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Down G T. Gordon -2
UMass center stumbles as he gets out of his stance and Ezeh(+0.5) reads the direction of the play, flowing to it under control. They've only got two guys blocking three defenders as a result; Ezeh takes the correct shoulder of his blocker and T. Gordon is the free hitter. He makes a solid TFL in some space (+1, tackling +1). Lower than normal plus for a TFL because Ezeh had it easy on the stumble.
O38 2 12 Ace trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run NA PA draw Mouton 5
Bubble fake to a draw. Martin absorbs a double, getting pushed a few yards downfield but occupying two blockers for the duration. This gives Kovacs and Mouton free runs at the carrier; Mouton(-0.5) makes a dodgy tackle after slightly overrunning the play, turning 3 yards into 6.
O33 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel rush Pass 4 Slant Ezeh 14
The reason this simple slant on third and seven is wide open is Ezeh(-1, cover -1) bumping a tight end two yards from the LOS instead of getting a zone drop. A senior four-year starter doesn't know to drop to the sticks on third and seven.
O19 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass NA PA waggle hitch Floyd Inc
PA fake is to the backside of the play so the LBs are there; Mouton(+0.5) gets a bump on the releasing RB, forcing him into Ezeh and forcing a throw from the QB that Floyd(+1, cover +1) breaks on to break up.
O19 2 10 Shotgun twins 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Zone read inside Mouton 2
Center again stumbles. We'll give some credit to Martin(+0.5) since he's occupying those guys. RVB(+1) has also flowed down the line, occupying the hole; the RB cuts back all the way to the backside where Mouton(+1) has scraped and tackles with T. Gordon. RB does a good job of getting YAC.
O17 3 8 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Drag Leach 5
Leach blitzes from a slot LB spot as the other three DL and no one else come; QB has to roll out away from Leach(+0.5, pressure +1) and away from his trips bunch. One of those guys is on a drag route and the QB hits him; Mouton(+0.5, cover +1) is there for the immediate tackle.
Drive Notes: FG(31), 0-3, 10 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O49 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Inside zone Roh 1
Martin(+1) shoves his blocker back into the path of the RB, forcing a cutback into an unblocked Roh(+0.5), who closes from the backside to tackle for minimal gain.
50 2 9 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Hitch T. Gordon 3 (Pen -10)
T. Gordon(+0.5) gets out on the edge, forcing a throw on a short hitch that Rogers(+1, cover +1) can tackle on immediately. UMass gets a holding call but I have no idea who draws it because of crappy BTN production.
O40 2 19 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Down G Mouton 1
Banks gets doubled and blown back but does absorb two without crumbling. Mouton(+1) reads the OL pull and shoots into the play, cracking into one of the pullers in the backfield and drawing attention from both. This creates a pileup in the backfield; RB comes through the mess; the delay has allowed Kovacs(+0.5) to fill and tackle at the LOS.
O41 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel rush Run NA Draw Roh 3 (pen +5)
A give up and punt; Roh(-1) jumped offside.
O46 3 13 Shotgun 2-back Nickel rush Pass 4 Scramble Martin 6
Martin(+2) shoots past a double and is then flagrantly held, preventing a thunder-sack. He does force a rollout; no one is open and Havens has to run, whereupon the DEs converge. (Pressure +1, cover +1.)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Ace Base 4-3-ish Pass 4 Improv Roh 7
Moundros in for Ezeh. Roh as a standup DE with Gordon playing back; more of a standard 4-3 look. Roh pwns the TE(+1, pressure +1) but is almost literally dragged to the ground by the guy; no call. Very frustrating. He gets up and forces a scramble from the QB; as he rolls out he finds a TE open for several. He's immediately booted OOB. This drive likely ends immediately if the refs get this obvious call right.
O40 2 3 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Moundros 4
Backside G pulls around but is tripped because Martin(+0.5) is slashing into the backfield and pushed his guy back a little. Banks is cutting inside, as is Mouton, so this should provide an opportunity for Moundros to get a free hit if he hits the hole fast enough. Instead he sits around the first down marker and accepts a block(-1). Mouton rolls off a block and Kovacs comes up to tackle just past the first down sticks.
O44 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Banks 4
TE covered up and can't go downfield, so I'm a little disappointed Mouton isn't more aggressive here since he won't be threatened by the TE. Banks is sealed and bashed back a bit, allowing the RT to get a hat on Mouton and opening up what looks like a crease, but Banks(+0.5) fights through and sets up to tackle after a few yards. Cutback lane was there but untaken because Moundros(-1) immediately went into a pass drop without even checking a key.
O48 2 6 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-3-ish Pass 4 PA deep hitch Rogers 15
Covered TE. Martin is coming around on a stunt and is going to get there somewhat fast, but not fast enough if the primary read is open, which it is in front of Rogers(-1, cover -1) and behind Gordon(-1, cover -1) as he came up on a shorter receiver.
O33 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Power off tackle Van Bergen 1
RVB(+1.5) surges into the backfield past an attempted down block, cutting off the hole in the center and picking off the pulling guard. RB has to cut way outside where T. Gordon and Ezeh(+0.5 each) are waiting; they tackle.
O32 2 9 Ace 4-wide bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass NA PA drag Mouton 12
Pretty slick with the RB motioning in from an empty set and UMass faking a pitchout to him. This sucks in Mouton(-1, cover -1), opening up a drag route, though to be fair to the D the window here was not enormous because Kovacs was in decent position and this is just a good play. Catch is turned upfield for good yardage.
O20 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Flare screen Mouton 5
Mouton(+1) appears to be pass rushing. He bumps an OL and then reads the flare screen, getting out between the releasing OL and running the RB down for a minimal gain despite a corner blitz that could have made this very bad. RB does fall forward so no tackling +1.
O15 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3-ish Run Banks Reverse Banks 5
End around coupled with a reverse gets Michigan confused as the motion sends Michigan into a check they never get completed. Mouton gets chop blocked by a guy coming upfield of him, which was apparently a penalty on Kelvin Grady last week but isn't here... which is it? Kovacs bit; it's Greg Banks(+2) who sets up outside in a bunch of space, positions himself so the WR cuts inside of him, then disengages to tackle and possibly prevent a TD. (RPS -2)
O10 1 G I-Form Big 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle 10
They load up the short side with two TEs and pull a guard around to go with the FB: 4 blockers. TE blocks down on Banks. Kovacs and Mouton both attack, getting caught in the wash but also jamming up the LOS and wiping out the last TE and the two lead guys, leaving Floyd(-2) totally unblocked on the edge with a RB; he lets the guy outside; touchdown. Good lord, if you're going to get beat get beat to the inside. Turrible.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-10, 14 min 2nd Q. Floyd's run support: very bad.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O15 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run NA Inside zone Mouton 16
Ezeh back, Patterson in, and as always the opponent goes right at him. Patterson(-1) goes behind the single block of the center, which might work if the linebackers were making him right but Mouton(-1) starts flowing away from the play instead of attempting to fill his gap, which is a shame because Ezeh had gotten playside of his blocker and could have held this down to a few otherwise. I do not understand the gap integrity here, but what it looks like to me is Mouton thinking this is play action. Kovacs(-0.5) does just manage to tackle(-1), but it's very tenuous and gives UMass another 5 yards. Given the blocking scheme I don't think this is a good play by Patterson.
O31 1 10 I-Form 3-wide Base 4-3-ish Run Banks Quick pitch Mouton 7
The FB-dive/quick pitch combo suckers Mouton(-1), who should at least be looking at the tailback on a running play, and Banks, which is more understandable. Mouton closes it down fairly well but misses a tackle; Floyd(-0.5) wasn't much help on the corner.
O38 2 3 Shotgun twins Base 4-3-ish Run NA Inside zone Gordon 12
Guh, come on, you're on the backside of a run play that happens to have 2TEs to the backside, maybe a cutback is coming? Roh(-1) is ridden down the line out of the play; T. Gordon(-1), crashes down way too far, opening up the cutback, and Ezeh(-1) just eats a block as per usual. Mouton was free and could have finished a play if someone had funneled to to him, but no one did.
50 1 10 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Sack Martin -12
Martin(+3) tears through a double team and authoritatively sacks. Beast mode. (Pressure +3)
O38 2 22 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Down G Mouton 3
Mouton(+1) flashes to the hole immediately, blasting the pulling guard and forcing the play inside where Banks(+0.5) and Floyd can combine to tackle.
O41 3 19 Ace trips 3-3-5 stack Run NA Draw Martin 1
A give up and punt, but Martin(+2) still blazes past blockers and then forms up, having read the play, to tackle for no gain.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Banks 4
Leach in for Gordon. UMass runs power at Banks(+0.5) and he seems to get doubled out of the play but comes around it to help tackle with Floyd(+0.5), who set up well and came off a block to deal with it.
O25 2 6 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 PA rollout flat Roh 13
Roh(-1) sucks up too far after the play action instead of taking an angle that goes straight outside; Leach(-1) overruns the play and allows the receiver inside of him for big yardage. (Cover –1.)
O38 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Pin and pull zone Roh 10
New play sees three UMass players pull around. RVB(-1) gets pushed out of the play pointlessly, leaving Roh and Leach and Ezeh on three blockers. Play goes outside so Ezeh has no chance. Leach has to turn it inside and does. Roh? I think he's held, personally, but I'll leave the question open: is this is egregious or not? I am going to -1 him for not forcing it back inside. Michigan was caught in a slant away from the play, too. (RPS -1) Rogers(-1) was weak on the corner.
O48 1 10 Ace Base 4-3-ish Pass 4 PA Scramble Roh 3
Play action pass sees no one open at first (cover +1), at which point Roh(+1) spins off a blocker and charges in on Havens. He scrambles for a few yards. (Pressure +1)
M49 2 7 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Slant Leach 14
Leach's(-2) drop is terrible, opening up the easy slant because he took a step forward without so much as a PA fake (cover -1)
M35 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-3-ish Run NA Inside zone Mouton 15
More completely terrible outside angles reminiscent of last year. There is nothing inside thanks to RVB(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) shutting down running lanes and the bounce meets an unblocked Mouton(-2.5), who can force the play back inside to two unblocked LBs but instead lets the RB outside, turning nothing into a first down. Awful, awful, awful. Picture-paged yesterday.
M20 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-3-ish Run Banks Dive Banks 5
Backside G pulls; this is supposed to go more directly upfield. Banks(-1) gets rudely escorted out of the play like he's Kovacs, providing a ton of room the LBs can't shut down. Ezeh does force it back, where Kovacs(+0.5) tackles solidly.
M15 2 5 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Mouton 6
Sagesse(-0.5) gets pushed too far inside; Floyd takes out a blocker as the outside contain, leaving a guy one on one with Mouton and Kovacs coming up to help; Mouton(-0.5) doesn't really take either shoulder of the defender, instead plowing into him and giving the RB a lane to the inside that Kovacs can't close down.
M9 1 G Ace twins 3-3-5 stack Power off tackle Ezeh 9
Ezeh(-2) has a simple job: get the outside shoulder of the lead blocker and let unblocked Mouton pound the guy; he doesn't do it, instead letting the RB outside, where he scores a touchdown. His uncertain waddle to the line is incredibly depressing.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-17, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O36 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Rollout hitch T. Gordon Inc
Leach in for Banks with Roh playing DE. Mouton(+0.5) is blitzing from the backside and is fast enough to make this a problem; coverage(+1) is good enough for the QB to hesitate, then try to hit a drag route late that he ends up turfing. Rogers +0.5, T. Gordon +0.5, Ezeh +0.5.
O36 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run NA Inside zone Leach 20
Martin(+1) shoves his guy back and cuts off any holes in the middle of the play, forcing a cut outside. Leach(-3) is sitting approximately a thousand yards outside, sitting and waiting and watching the bounce here cut up for major yards. He should be there for a free hit, or at least a delay, on the back. Instead we again get a big gainer when the DL set the LBs up for a zero-yard run. Kovacs(+3) comes in from the side, strips the ball out, and recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-17, 50 seconds 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Ezeh 6
So in the 3-3-5 the job of the MLB is to make the NT right, which means when he closes off one A gap (between a C and G) you close off the other. Martin(+1) blasts the C back and cuts off one A gap; Ezeh(-1) flows into the same gap instead of shooting into the huge gap in the line on the other side of the center created because of Martin's disruption. This allows a G to come off and harass him and allows the RB to cut back. Banks and Kovacs are doing a meh job, standing up but not making any headway, and there's a TE out there to block Mouton. Mouton scrapes over; RB jukes out, Mouton cuts it off; Floyd's corner support does the exact same thing, meaning both guys head outside for a bit, providing a crease; Floyd and Kovacs tackle, but not before the RB plows for six. -0.5 Floyd, -0.5 Kovacs, though Kovacs's minus is simply because he's leetle.
O32 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide bunch Base 4-4 Pass 4 Out ? Inc
Roh hops down to the line and C. Gordon comes up in the box as a fourth linebacker. Simple out is open for the first (cover -1) but dropped. Pressure was getting there.
O32 3 4 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Out Floyd 16
Confusion from Roh as he flops over to the other side of the line only for Ezeh to point him back where he used to be. Doesn't really matter since six guys are rushing and Martin dropping off into one of those screen-destroyer zones; another quick out at the sticks is thrown, with Floyd making a great break on the ball but whiffing (cover -1), yielding a tackle and some YAC. Kovacs(-1) misses an open field tackle(-1); Martin is the guy who tracks him down. Actually, I won't minus Floyd here since he did deflect the ball and the receiver was just lucky it bounced off his facemask and into his chest.
O48 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run NA Inside zone Ezeh 4
Zone read look from UMass. Ezeh(-1) has another one of those plays where he just sits exactly where he is and eats a blocker as the line flows down, leaving absolutely nowhere for the RB to go (+0.5 Martin, Roh). T. Gordon(+0.5) maintains contain and then crashes down after the handoff, tackling the RB from behind as he passes the LOS.
M48 2 6 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Martin -3
Martin(+3) blasts through the line into the path of the RB, tackling for loss by himself. Banks(+0.5) had also fought through a block and was there to help if Martin couldn't get the job done himself.
O49 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Stack rush Pass 5 Out Mouton Inc
Mouton(+0.5) gets a free run on a Michigan blitz, with Martin again dropping out (RPS +1, pressure +1). This forces an errant throw, though it's depressing how open this is in front of Floyd(-1, cover -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-17, 10 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-3-ish Run RVB Off tackle Ezeh 4
Michigan slants, leaving Ezeh(-0.5) alone with a motioning TE. He takes the wrong shoulder of the defender, leaving a big gap between himself and Gordon, who's set up outside the slot receiver; Cam(+1) fills quickly and makes a good open field tackle to hold it down(tackling +1)
O34 2 6 Ace trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks PA draw Kovacs -2
Martin(+0.5) shucks the C to the ground and gets in on the G; RVB(+0.5) and Banks(+0.5) also do good jobs of driving into the backfield without vacating lanes. RB has to cut outside, where Kovacs(+2) reads the play, shoots the gap, and tackles(+1) behind the LOS, albeit a tiny bit shakily. He is a good linebacker. He should play middle linebacker. I am not kidding.
O32 3 8 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel rush Pass 4 Drag Leach 9
Leach(-1) and Ezeh drop super deep, leaving this simple drag route open for the first (cover -1)
O41 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Quick pitch Floyd 8
No idea what Floyd(-1) is keying on but his run read is way late given the single receiver to his side is obviously blocking from the snap. Kovacs(-0.5) also could have read this faster.
O49 2 2 Shotgun twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run NA Inside zone Roh 1
Roh(+2) slants into the backfield into the path of the runner and tackles at the LOS. Since he gets no help from the LBs the RB can fall forward near the sticks.
50 3 1 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Pass NA Waggle out Rogers 9
Michigan in man, biting on the fake. (RPS-1) Open in front of Rogers(-1, cover -1) and UMass converts. RVB charging down the QB, but for naught.
M41 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run Banks Power off tackle Banks 5
Banks(-1) doubled and blown too far back this time. Ezeh(-0.5) sits and eats another block; Patterson(+0.5) does an admirable job to eventually fight through his block and make an ankle tackle as the RB slashes past the LOS.
M36 2 5 Ace 3-wide Base 4-4 Pass NA Waggle hitch ? 8
An absolute ton of time (pressure -2, RPS -1) as Michigan is slanting towards a run play and needs Mouton/Kovacs in coverage (cover +1), which they do well. Havens comes off those two guys, finding a third open for the first in front of Ezeh. No blame there; just too long.
M28 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Power off tackle Fitzgerald 0
Fitz in for Roh. Not sure about this play since it looks like an off tackle play with a backside guard pulling but the RB's angle is kind of directly upfield. Maybe a bust by the RB. Anyway, Fitzgerald(+2) is being blocked down by the TE but gets in the gap, picking off the pulling lineman and causing the RB to try to bounce outside; he can't because Fitzgerald throws him to the ground. Possibly the best play by a LB all day?
M28 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Seam T. Gordon Inc
Michigan sends six and does not get there (pressure -2); T. Gordon is in man on the slot receiver and his man gets a step (cover -1); ball is low and tough to dig out and not dug out. Probably a TD if accurate.
M28 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel rush Pass 5 Tunnel screen 0
Man to man, tight man, and Rogers(+1, cover +1, RPS+1) is right there for the tackle. Maybe some credit to Martin(+0.5) for harassing the QB and forcing a suboptimal throw? Sure.
M28 4 10 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel rush Pass 6 TE corner Mouton 13
Five or six sent; not sure WTF Mouton is doing. He chips the TE and then starts moving inside, which is weird since that means there's no contain to the short side of the field, where the QB rolls and finds the TE, who's broken just in front of Kovacs in man coverage. (Pressure -2, RPS -1) Anyone with a theory as to what Mouton's assignment is here please inform. Man cover on the RB?
M15 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run NA Inside zone Ezeh 9
RB makes a quick cut to the backside as Martin cuts off the playside A gap. Mouton attempts to funnel the RB to help, which is Ezeh(-1), who stepped to the wrong side of the play and had to leap a cut block and is late. A desperate ankle tackle from Kovacs(+0.5) prevents a TD. Please tell me if I'm right and Ezeh is insane or not here.
M6 2 1 I-Form Big 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Iso Ezeh -1
Martin(+1) pounds the center back, allowing Ezeh(+1) a lane he takes, shooting up between the C and G and pounding the fullback. No room, RB slides along the line, meeting RVB(+0.5) for no gain.
M7 3 2 I-Form big 3-3-5 stack Pass Waggle scramble Kovacs 7
Kovacs(-2) bites like a mother on the run fake, opening up the corner wide enough for Havens to stroll in. Mouton(-1) also bit, and then passed up a chance to pound the guy at the two.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-24, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Ace Base 4-3-ish Pass 3 Deep hitch Floyd 19
Just bad luck and bad refereeing here. Play action sees RVB and Martin through the line, with Martin(+0.5) recovering in time to force a throw(pressure +1) that Floyd(+1, cover +1) deflects. Receiver steps OOB, is STILL OOB when he touches the ball, and somehow gets credit for a completion.
O46 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE Base 4-3-ish Run NA Inside zone Ezeh 4
I am really, really frustrated with Ezeh(-1) at this point. Here he is totally unblocked but just sits on his ass the whole play instead of hitting it up in a gap that opens behind RVB and in front of Roh. RB goes through a gap, Ezeh tackles, but it's four yards instead of zero.
50 2 6 Ace Base 4-3-ish Pass Waggle hitch Rogers 15
No pressure (RPS-1, pressure -2) and all day for Havens to hit his receiver in front of Rogers(-1, cover -1)
M35 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run NA Inside zone Martin 0
Martin(+1) blasts the C back and sheds to the playside, forcing a cutback. RVB(+0.5) got inside the pulling WR block and forces the RB into Mouton(+1), who zipped past a blocker. The trio tackles for nothing.
M35 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 C. Gordon Int, fumble
Corner blitz from Floyd is picked up; Banks(+0.5) gets enough pressure to force a rollout from havens once his first read is covered by Ezeh(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5, cover +1). As he rolls out he throws it to a drag route still pretty well covered by Ezeh(+0.5 again). Pass is way overthrown and intercepted by Gordon, who runs it back to the 30 and fumbles it because of course.
Drive Notes: Interception, 42-24, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Down G Banks 5
Patterson in. Banks(+1) holds up to a double team well enough to occupy two guys and get Mouton in clean on the tailback; he hits him, so does Kovacs, and there are like five M guys and three UMass guys as this tailback just drags a pile five yards. I'm not minusing anyone because who do you minus? Impressive by UMass; kind of depressing for M.
M21 2 5 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Slant Floyd Inc
Fake six, drop Ezeh into short zone, open up slant in man from Floyd(-0.5, cover -1) that is behind the WR and dropped.
M21 3 5 Ace Nickel rush Run NA Down G Martin 2
Martin(+2) shoves back the C, refuses to get sealed, fights off a hold, and runs down the tailback for nothing. Ezeh and Mouton were around but not needed.
M19 4 3 Shotgun 3-wide bunch Nickel rush Pass 4 TE out Leach 4
Wide open; totally lame coverage from Leach(-1, cover -1, RPS-1)
M15 1 10 Ace trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Run RVB PA draw Ezeh 6
Ezeh(-0.5) drawn out of position by the fake; RVB(-0.5) rushes upfield after the passer and vacates the lane.
M9 2 4 Shotgun twins twin TE Base 4-3-ish Run Banks Inside zone Ezeh 8
More zone read action. M slants the line again and totally destroys the play, with Martin and Roh ready to obliterate; Ezeh(-2) ran himself way to the frontside of the play, got sealed, and there's no one back there. T. Gordon blitzed at the QB, opening up a lane, too. (RPS -1)
M1 1 G Goal line Goal line Penalty False Start ? -5
M6 1 G Ace twins Base 4-3-ish Run NA Inside zone Martin 0
Martin(+2) flashes into the backfield impossibly quick and almost has a five-yard TFL but a last-second shove from an OL causes him to miss the tackle. Still, he's destroyed the play and Michigan just has to clean up. Ezeh(-1) overruns a stationary RB and Gordon has to clean up at the LOS.
M5 2 G Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Waggle cross C. Gordon 5
Man coverage as Michigan is going heavy after the run; Cam Gordon(-1) is beaten easily by the WR, opening up an easy TD (RPS -1, cover -1)
M3 2pt 2pt Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Improv Kovacs Int
Drop eight, covering everyone(+1) for the first read, at which point the QB starts scrambling because of good pressure from RVB(+0.5, pressure +1). He rolls out, finds no one, and chucks a hopeless pass back across the field that Kovacs(+0.5) picks off.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2pt failed), 42-30, 5 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass NA RB scramble ? 5
They try a halfback pass but it's covered(+1). RB decides to scramble and picks up five. Not charting this one too harshly since this is such an outlier of a play.
M20 2 5 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Out Rogers 7
Martin(+1) rips through the line instantly (pressure +1) on the roll but the soft corner (Rogers) opens up the little out for the first. (Cover -1)
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Dumpoff ? 6
Good coverage(+1) downfield forces a checkdown as Banks is collapsing the pocket; Ezeh tackles immediately.
M7 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 7 Fade Rogers Inc (Pen +5)
Michigan sends the house and gets there(Pressure +1) so the QB chucks one off his back foot that's too long; Rogers(-1, cover -1) is called for PI. Weak call, but they all are.
M2 1 G Goal line Goal line Pass 2 PA flare Kovacs 2 (Pen -5)
Kovacs(-1) overruns the play and the RB cuts past him into the endzone. This ceases to exist because of a false start but no one knew it when he scored.
M7 1 G Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 7 TE corner Mouton 7
Mouton(-2, cover -2) doesn't bother to cover the TE.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-37, 2 min 4th Q. M gets the onside kick and runs out the clock.

Down or across?


Should I cut down or across with the razor? The former is just a cry for help, the latter is srsly.

Maybe on the diagonal?


Yeah, okay… chart?


If you'd like an answer to "what if Brandon Graham played every snap against Delaware State like his life depended on it," here you go:

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 5 1.5 3.5 Lots of half points for doing decently on run plays.
Martin 25 - 25 I just write the numbers down! More on this later.
Banks 6 4 2 Not great but not the big problem.
Sagesse - 0.5 -0.5 Very few snaps.
Patterson 0.5 1 -0.5 Not exactly Martin but seems okay.
Black - - - Did play, didn't record anything.
TOTAL 36.5 7 29.5 Hulk smash.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 4.5 12.5 -8 Hopeless.
Mouton 7 10.5 -3.5 Reversion.
Roh 7.5 4.5 3 Okay, not great.
Johnson - - - DNP.
T. Gordon 3 0.5 2.5 Doing okay.
Leach - 8.5 -8.5 Extremely poor performance spotting Gordon and acting as a passing down LB
Moundros - 2 -2 Poor on single series.
Herron - - - DNP
Fitzgerald 2 - 2 +2 play may have been in error but it worked.
TOTAL 24 38.5 -14.5 What the hell happened? This was +21 last week against ND!
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 2.5 8.5 -6 Major issues in run support..
Rogers 2.5 5.5 -3 Guys were open in front of him consistently.
Kovacs 7.5 5.5 2 Michigan's best linebacker.
C. Gordon 1 2 -1 Not tested much.
Talbott - - - DNP
Christian - - - DNP
M. Robinson - - - DNP
Ray Vinopal - - - DNP
TOTAL 13.5 21.5 -8 Corners were exploited for the first time.
Pressure 12 9 3 Pretty mediocre.
Coverage 12 19 -7 Scary against a I-AA team
Tackling 3 5 -2 Dodgy.
RPS 1 11 -10 GERG fail.

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

What didn't go wrong?

Mike Martin.

First a word on that number: holy pants. I don't even know if I can stand by that but what I saw is Martin either occupying two blockers or obliterating the blocking concept on almost every play. He tore into the backfield for +3 TFLs twice and got a a pair of +2 near TFLs. He was completely un-containable, and the number is just this side of literally incredible because what would happen if a ridiculously good player happened to be on a terrible defense that kept him on the field the whole game and saw the opponent put together multiple grinding drives on which to rack up points by destroying run concepts only to see the confused ducks behind you clack heads and fall over?

He would get a damn lot of points, is what. That's a UFR record.

Also, I went into the UFR after watching UMass go at Banks and Kovacs all day to good success and thought I would end up with big negatives for at least one of those two guys. I didn't. Neither exactly covered themselves in glory but both ended up on the positive side of the ledger, and on this day that makes you immune from criticism. RVB had a solid day. You'd like to see him do better than that against a I-AA team but he was not tested much what with all the running at Banks. For the record, I have ten rushes at RVB for 2.1 a carry and 18 at Banks for 4 a carry, so the intuition wasn't wrong: UMass ran at Banks a lot and did better than they did when they ran at RVB, but the defensive ends weren't involved in the big gainers much.

And that is all.

I trusted you! Linebacker GERG fairy theory! I HATE YOU

Yeah, man, hell if I know. A week after racking up thirteen tackles and getting talked up by the NFL risers and sliders guy, Mouton forgot seemingly everything he'd learned over the offseason, repeatedly getting lost. Ezeh, meanwhile, is back to that thing where he stands around until someone blocks him, whereupon he starts moving backwards and maybe falls over to make an ankle tackle:

And then:

And then:

At this point it's almost hopeless. What are the chances Obi Ezeh learns how to be a linebacker in the last ten games of his career if he's still making incredibly basic mistakes like that after starting for three years? This has nothing to do with scheme. This is basic play recognition/ability to remember how to make your legs go.

Mouton's mistakes, too, are things common to every defense like "don't let the tailback outside of you when you are a force defender," but at least he makes some plays to help with his deficiencies. The ugly fate foretold by the "Mark Moundros could start" preseason meme appears to be coming true.

Here is where I take up the shield of someone who knows what he's talking about to forestall the inevitable complaints that I'm not being very nice and we should really give Boubacar Cissoko a chance before declaring him not good at football: this is an opinion shared by former M LB Ron Simpkins, whose latest interview with Rivals($) has the word "inexcusable" in the title in re: linebacker play and is even less kind behind the paywall. These seniors are not good at football.

What are they so indecisive?

So I think what the coaches mean by "this is not a stack" is that in a stack everyone has a gap. The line will slant one way and from a combination of blitzes and other attacking bits all the non-DL gaps get filled. Usually the OLBs and DEs will have specific B and C gaps depending on the slant; the goal is to kick runs out to the spur and bandit or just fill your gap and tackle there. The MLB's read depends on the NT. The NT has to take a double, and then he has to slant into a gap, and the MLB has to figure out which gap he's covered and attack the other one.

Here's Ezeh not doing that even a little bit on a counter:

Ezeh does not key off Martin or he'd shoot the gap in the backside after Martin closes off the frontside A gap. He reads the running back, steps to the wrong side of the play, does not take the opportunity to shoot in a gap for a TFL, and allows the back to run up the backside of a bunch of blockers for decent yardage. He did this all day. He does not have a gap, he has to figure out what's going on and then try to close it down, usually with poo results of poo.

Why isn't it a stack?

Don't know. I think it should be because anything that gets Ezeh moving forward is good. Especially when you've got Martin, an incredibly active NT who is going to be able to close off big gaps frequently, I'd rather have Ezeh shoot gaps and get guys in the backfield or at the line than rely on all this reading business that the linebackers suck at and ends up bleeding the kind of yards UMass had on the ground last week. My complaint here is they didn't go far enough.

What can we do?

The worst part is that when Michigan got tired of Ezeh they put in Moundros for a series and Moundros proceeded to do the exact same things, except in his case it's obvious why: he was a fullback last year. He's no substitute, and he's the #2 guy on the depth chart! JB Fitzgerald and Kenny Demens: where are you? You are nowhere.

Everyone's got their crackpot theories of how to fix the defense with random positions switches or, in the case of a couple dedicated caterwaulers, overhauling the scheme to be more of a 4-3 to take an extra defensive back off the field, which makes zero sense because Michigan's 4-3 would have the exact same personnel as last year's 4-3 and this year's 3-3-5. None of that is going to do anything, and Will Campbell is not a useful football player right now.

My suggestion is going to sound utterly ludicrous but here it is anyway: replace Ezeh with Kovacs and bring Marvin Robinson in. This is nuts, I know. Kovacs is a leprechaun-sized walk-on. But I go back to the stack DVD Casteel put out back in the day. In it he made two things clear: the NT is by far the most important player in the defense and makes things go (check), and the middle linebacker can be spectacularly undersized as long as he is a heady, instinctive player who can put a hat on the right shoulder of the right guy at the LOS after "making the nose tackle right". Casteel specifically says that the player they had the previous year was 190 pounds. Raise your hand if you'd take West Virginia's 2002 defense right now. That's everyone.

I mean, Kovacs does this:

He is a decisive slasher. Mike Martin is peeling the faces off of people right now and Kovacs will have free runs to the ball plenty. It won't be good, lord knows, but it almost can't be worse.

Enormous secondary minus?

Part of that was the return of rollout doom reminiscent of that Toledo game. Midnight Maize tallied up the results of those:

  • Out of 11 Roll Outs or Moved Pockets UMASS hit on 8 of them. Two were good Michigan defense and one was a UMASS holding call.
  • UMASS gained 87 yards on Roll outs
  • James Rogers was to blame for 5 of them.

This is also a major source of the crappy RPS metric; Michigan had no effective response to these all day, though that may be due to the fact they couldn't consistently stop a I-AA team's running game.

Not sure what to do about that since M is in cover three a lot and the cornerbacks are so weak they have to play soft, basically. Floyd did make a few plays on the ball, though he had the misfortune to see two deflect to his receiver anyway; Rogers was not going to challenge anything. I might do more edge blitzing against QBs who can throw on the move, and though Rogers hasn't been a huge liability it might be time to start seeing some of the freshmen work in.


Mouton and Ezeh primarily with assists from the corners. Especially Ezeh. Also Kevin Leach managed some impressive minuses in a brief window. Missing Herron and Jones is hurting; where is Hawthorne?


Mike Martin a thousand times. Not exactly heroes but okay: the Gordons, Kovacs, the DEs.

What does it mean for Bowling Green and the future?

It means the linebackers are going to either revert back to their decent form of the first couple weeks or it's happy-happy walk-on time again, at which point they'll basically play like the starters and we'll get a rotation and everyone's brains will explode. I do think this game was a perfect storm of crappy play by Michigan and excellent execution by UMass and that there will be a couple Big Ten teams that get Denarded this year and fill their message boards with threads like "but UMass scored 37, fire everyone!" Michigan did not see that level of offensive execution from their first two opponents and it's hard to picture some of these upcoming Big Ten foes matching it what with their freshman quarterbacks and stapled-together run games.

But, really: it's time to replace Ezeh once and for all, except they can't. Mouton will turn in up and down games but as long as Ezeh is on the field Michigan is going to get gashed, nice guy though he may be. Who do you do that with, though? Michigan's inability to see the enormous problem mounting here and have four kids shoehorned into the position who aren't former walk-ons is a failing on par with starting Sheridan over Threet. Fitzgerald and Demens should have been backing Ezeh all year; their failure to develop, and Michigan's failure to acquire and keep any reasonable linebacker sorts in the last three years, is killing the defense.

QB pressure does remain an issue, though against passing teams Michigan has used a series of blitzes that get free guys in because you have to deal with Mike Martin before outside threats. Play action and rollouts will be issues; passing downs will be okay if they can just get some zone drops.