Upon Further Review: Defense vs Illinois

Upon Further Review: Defense vs Illinois

Submitted by Brian on November 4th, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Video note: Unfortunately my computer rebooted itself after applying an "important update" last night, which obliterated a 14-hour process via which I convert the torrent into something clippable. So no video today. I will go back in an add it later, and I'll revisit the key points in a couple of Picture Pages posts.

Personnel notes: Leach replaced Ezeh until very late; Ezeh and Kenny Demens were part of the goal line package, though, with Leach apparently relegated to the bench because he's slight. The rest of it was as per usual, thought it seemed like the starting DL got more time than usual.

Michigan did continue its passing down substitution package, replacing Williams with JT Floyd.

Formation notes: This is what I'm calling "4-3 under split" based on an earlier Steve Sharik post:


Both outside linebackers are on the LOS with Leach a single middle linebacker. Michigan went to this frequently against 2TE formations.

And this is what I'm calling "nickel even":


It's not really a nickel package, with Brown on the slot receiver, but it functions more like a nickel package than a standard 4-3 as Michigan would play two deep behind it unless Williams rolled up into the box. Note the position of the DTs right on top of each other, with both guys playing 1-techs over the center. This was probably an adjustment to what Illinois runs more than anything else.

Possibly annoying terminology note: I tried to call Juice Williams "Juice" because if I call him Williams sometimes Williams does something to Williams and that gets confusing.

On with the show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under Run Inside zone Roh 0
Roh(+2) shoots inside the tackle at the snap into the intended hole, is held blatantly, and is basically tackled, but still manages to force the RB back behind the play and tackles with help from Mouton, who didn't have to do much other than clean up with Leshoure already going down by the time he arrives. (tackling +1)
O18 2 10 Shotgun 2-back Twins 4-3 under Run Triple option veer Graham 27
Uncalled illegal formation as Illinois only has six on the line. It's hard to hand out minuses here because I'm not sure who's got which assignment. Graham crashes down on the dive fake and tackles it; Mouton hangs inside and gets blocked by a guy who should not have an angle on him. I definitely blame Mouton(-1) for sucking in; even if this was a dive he was going to get obliterated by the tackle for not knowing WTF was going on; Warren comes up to support on the pitch guy but with no one on Williams it's an easy big gain. I also blame Graham(-2), though, because this dive was stuffed anyway and if he had stayed out Illinois had nowhere to go. Good job by Leach to hop into the appropriate hole, FWIW.
O45 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 nickel even Run QB counter trap Mouton 6
Both the backside T and G pull around as the rest of the line blocks down; Juice fakes a handoff to Leshoure that holds Graham outside. Roh(+1) actually does a good job of reading it and getting inside of the puling G, but Williams(-1) and Mouton(-1) run themselves into blocks passively; here the pulling OT has to route around the Roh-based disruption and he still gets a good block on Williams. Result: six yards.
M49 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Flare -- 14
Williams rolls up to the LOS and blitzes; no one gets out on the tailback rolling out of the backfield on a flare route and he's wide open(cover -2) for plenty of yards. I don't know if this is on anyone specifically; sometimes you have a blitz read that changes if you see the RB head out of the backfield like that, sometimes you don't. (RPS -1)
M35 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass Scramble -- 4
Busted play. Illinois wants to throw a long handoff to Benn but Benn runs a route. Juice improvises for a few yards; Leach did a decent job of reading it and coming to tackle.
M31 2 6 Shotgun 2TE 4-4 under Pass Long handoff Warren 12
Warren(-1) playing in the parking lot and giving this to Illinois (RPS -1, cover -1). He then misses a tackle(-1), adding several yards.
M19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 nickel even Pass Long handoff Warren 4
Man, Warren keeps bailing into three deep at the snap here and Illinois is looking for it; they get it again here but Warren and Williams do manage to hold it down to four yards. A small victory.
M15 2 6 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Speed option Williams 5
Benn goes in motion and Kovacs immediately signals for Williams to attack the LOS. Looks like Michigan has this scouted and expects Illinois to run a speed option to the now-overloaded short side. They do. Williams(-1) gets crushed by the TE and driven back; Warren is bailing out into cover-three and can't help on the edge.
M10 3 1 Shotgun 2-back 2TE 4-4 under Run Zone stretch(?) Brown 4
Illinois confuses Michigan by shooting one RB past Juice and using the other one as a lead blocker for him; Brown(-1) ends up sitting back the whole play, sucking inside when Williams does his draw fake and giving up the corner for the RB instead of following his assignment and getting out on the edge to hold this down. He was not blocked at all and could have crushed this since Graham absorbed a double team and no one was out on him.
M6 1 G Ace Twins 4-3 under split Run Inside zone Leach 1
Think this is just Michigan beating the Illinois playcall with this split formation. Playside TE is taken upfield by OLB Mouton; DE Roh slants inside, taking the tackle with him, and Leach(+1) reads the direction of the play, shooting into the hole to tackle with help from Williams. (RPS +1)
M5 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 nickel even Run QB zone stretch Leach 2
Roh(-0.5) is flowing down the line okay when he trips and hits the ground, opening up some space. Leach(+1) reads the direction of the play, flows outside too quickly for a guard getting a free release to get an angle on him, takes on the lead block from the RB, sheds, it, and tackles(+1). Very good play from him.
M3 3 G Power I ??? Run Power off tackle Williams 3
2TE, I-form, Benn lined up next to the fullback. You tell me what to call this. [Update: it's the power I.] Illinois runs a version of a power o; Williams(-1) is blitzing and gets in unmolested but goes inside of the fullback and fails to string the play out enough because Mouton got slightly chopped by a linebacker. Mouton keeps his feet but is off balance and in no shape to hold up to the RB's lead block. Warren makes a valiant effort to get out on the edge; Benn leaps over him for a score.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O19 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 nickel even Run Speed option keeper Roh 2
Roh(+1) gets into the DE, refuses to get sealed, and strings this out to the sideline, cutting off the room and forcing Juice OOB basically by himself. Leach had also flowed down the LOS and was there to assist on the escort.
O21 2 8 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Run Pitch sweep Mouton 6
Ford, the FB, motions out; Warren is in zone and follows. Play is a pitch sweep with pulling linemen on which Graham(+1) shoots into the backfield, taking out a pulling guard and absorbing two blockers. This leaves Mouton(-1) totally unblocked; he overruns the play and is fortunate to grab the RB as he passes; this could have been two yards and was six because of Mouton.
O27 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 nickel split Run Zone read stretch Van Bergen -1
Backside of the line just doesn't get blocked as Martin(+0.5) and Graham(+0.5) slice up, but the key is RVB(+1) coming upfield of an attempted double despite another blatant hold and getting in the running lane, forcing a cutback into doom. I don't know if this was a technically sound play by RVB, who ended up attempting to shove his back into the RB, but it worked. James notes that Williams is totally irresponsible on the read here, and this will bite Michigan later.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 2 min 2nd Q. Michigan muffs the punt.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M41 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 nickel even Run QB counter trap Williams 14
Same play as earlier, with the backside tackle and guard pulling around to the backside as the RB makes a fake out to the edge. Juice keeps it, following his lead blockers. Roh heads inside, drawing a blocker; Mouton(-1) also dives inside even though any tailback handoff is something he's not going to be able to get to; he's run himself out of the play despite a bleeding obvious double pull from the OL. This leaves Williams(-1) on the edge with an OL. He compounds matters by losing leverage and letting Juice outside of him. Even if Mouton had played this correctly, it wouldn't have helped. Juice breaks outside for good yardage.
M27 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 nickel even Pass PA seam Williams Inc
Play action gets Michigan sucking up, with Williams(-1) reduced to an ineffectual chuck on Benn as he realizes he's not about to get blocked into next week but is instead going to give up a wide open route(cover -1). Juice turfs it. Mouton(+0.5) did a pretty good job of avoiding the RB's block to get some pressure.
M27 2 10 I-Form 4-4 under Run Speed option Warren 6
Michigan drops back into a two-deep look as Benn comes across the formation with Warren dropping into a second deep safety slot; Illinois runs at the vacated area. Graham forces a pitch; FB crushes Williams(-0.5) back; he has no chance to do anything once he guy locks on. Warren(-0.5) reacts late and can only undercut the RB as he nears five yards; he cartwheels forward for more. (RPS -1)
M21 3 4 Shotgun 2TE Twins 4-3 under split Pass Hitch Brown Inc
RB motions out and Leach goes with him in man. Michigan sends six, with Brown(+1) coming unblocked to hit Williams as he throws (pressure +1), which might be the reason this hitch is thrown wide of the receiver. Might be just Juice, too. (RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(38), 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under split Run Zone veer handoff Mouton -3
If this is a read, Juice made the wrong one, because he hands off to the back when Mouton(+2, tackling +1) is coming up on him hard and it seems like an up-the-middle keeper is called for. This is impressive change of direction and tackling from Mouton.
O7 2 13 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Run Triple option dive Brown 8
This isn't so much a dive as an off tackle but eh that's life. Brown(-2) ends up totally unblocked in the hole as he crashes down from the slot receiver but whiffs a tackle(-1), turning zero yards into eight. Leach cleans up; I'm impressed Leach read the play well enough to get over to tackle. He's played well so far.
O15 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 nickel even Pass Sack Martin -9
DTs twist and Michigan blitzes two linebackers, causing Martin(+2) to slant into the backfield past the center and the guard, who have other problems, as the Michigan blitz causes Illinois to bust a pickup. (RPS +1) Martin gets there first and forces Juice to pull the ball down; RVB(+1) follows it up to crush Williams for a big loss. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Zone read keeper Mouton 5 (Pen -10)
Given future events this is scary: Illinois runs a read intended to shoot the right between the backside tackle and DT and should have a huge gainer, but Juice keeps it. I mean, really, if this is a handoff it could be a 70 yard touchdown. Juice keeps it and fakes a bubble, which is also there since Mouton(-1) has failed to cover either the handoff or the bubble or the keeper, and Williams picks up five before the other Williams tackles him. Holding brings it back.
O17 1 20 I-Form 4-4 under Run Speed option Williams 3
Usual course of events: Illinois doesn't block Graham and forces him to force a pitch; this time Williams(+1) gets to the outside shoulder of his blocker and drives him upfield, forcing the pitch man to the sidelines and making this a minimal gain. (RPS +1) Good blitz call.
O20 2 17 I-Form 4-4 under Run Inside zone Roh -1
Roh(+1) on a slant, he steps inside of the guard(!) and gets upfield into the path of the run, forcing the play to the backside. He gets a hand on the RB's thigh, slowing him and allowing Williams to finish with an easy tackle. (RPS +1)
O19 3 18 Shotgun 2TE Twins Nickel Pass Sack Graham -9
Williams pulled for Floyd; M drops seven guys off into deep coverage but it doesn't matter much because Graham(+3) murders the freshman RT and crushes Williams almost before he can set up in the pocket (pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-7, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Zone read keeper Graham 1
Graham(+1) stays home, drifting slightly inside. Juice pulls it out and Graham gets out on him as he passes, grabbing Juice from behind and tackling with help from Williams (+0.5), who makes the easy fill given Graham's presence all over Juice's back.
O30 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Speed option Williams 3
Williams(+1) reacts quickly and fills to the short side of the field. Unblocked, he tackles(+1) for a minimal gain.
O33 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Sack Leach -9
First read is a hitch that Roh(+1, cover +1) has dropped out on and covers; Juice probably has a slant against Woolfolk but can't find it before Leach(+2), who's looped around on a delayed blitz, gets in on Williams and forces him to take evasive action. Leach comes in under control and reads Juice's planned scramble, securing a solid tackle against a guy considerably more athletic than him. Very nice play; I've seen so many guys overrun this. (Pressure +1, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 13-7, 30 sec 2nd Q. Rodriguez doesn't call timeout with a minute left in the half. They go after the punt, but don't get it.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O1 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run QB sneak -- 2
O3 2 8 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Zone stretch Roh 5
Frontside jammed up by Graham(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5), forcing a cutback into Roh(+1), who has zipped into the backfield. Ford ends up carrying Roh, though—he used power—a couple yards downfield, at which point Williams(-1) lays a wicked hit on... Roh. Leshore gets another three yards out of it. (Tackling -1)
O8 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Speed option -- 4
Illinois motions Benn to the short side of the field for a trips look and run their speed option. Michigan is slanting away from it, which means Graham sucks in and is blocked by the line as Mouton shoots upfield unblocked; Juice pitches outside, where there is no support. Would rather see Michigan force Juice to take the ball here, but that's not how they've been playing it. (RPS -1) Williams does come up through blockers to lay a pop on the RB as he reaches the sticks, but the RB wins that battle and gets the yard he needs.
O12 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Run Draw? Brown 1
Illinois OL sets up to pass block, sliding the line one way and then handing the ball off the other way. Handoff is awkward and almost fumbled but I don't think it would matter because Michigan's slant + RVB stunt leaves no holes and gets three guys in unblocked on the tailback. He goes nowhere. (RPS +1) I guess Brown (+0.5) for keeping contain.
O13 2 9 Shotgun 2TE 4-4 under Pass Hitch Mouton 17
Same setup as the previous play except Juice keeps it. TE Cumberland runs a good hitch route but Juice is a little late and Mouton has a shot at making a play here; he fails(-1), diving over the top without getting the ball and giving this guy another 7 YAC. (Tackling -1)
O30 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel under Run Zone read dive Leach 70
I don't know who's issue this is. Michigan is in a pure two-deep with Mouton rolled up the LOS and Brown over one of the slot guys, with Leach the only real MLB aligned like that. On the snap, Michigan's DL slides a bit and Roh gets kicked out by single blocking, opening up a hole here. Roh's not really defending Juice or the dive, so he gets a -1. Then: Mouton backs out and appears to be spying on Juice on a potential keeper, and Williams is sucking up as Benn runs a bubble route. Reasonable. However, Leach(-3) runs himself way out of the play in anticipation of a stretch that Illinois doesn't really run much; they run this all the time. He then compounds the error by not freaking out and running back downfield away from a releasing C; he gets blocked out of the play. Kovacs(-2) is dropping into a deep zone and does not come up soon enough to get an angle to slow the RB down, and he runs for a long way. Oh, and hell, Mouton(-2) had no idea who had the ball way too long and failed to close down either Juice or the RB.
Drive Notes: Touchdown,13-14, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Triple option dive Williams 27
Ugh, ugh, ugh. Illinois motions a guy into the backfield for a two-back look and Williams is keying on this so he flies to the LOS. Illinois runs a triple option look off of it; Williams(-2) blitzes into the backfield and has this dive dead to rights, but comes in way too hard and gets back-juked. Freakin' disaster. Opposite of what Leach did earlier. Guy now has a huge cutback lane since the linebackers are to the playside and Roh(-1) got his ass kicked and let himself get shoved out of the hole. Probably wouldn't have mattered much but might have held it down if Roh could provide some delay here. (Tackling -2)
O48 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-4 under Pass TE Wheel -- 34
Michigan in a two-deep zone that Williams cannot get out onto his guy on because he's picked by Benn and rode down the field. Probably should be offensive PI but they never call that. Can't really blame Williams here; he can't run through a dude. Result is an open bomb that Michigan can't do anything about. Pocket was great for Juice, too. (Pressure -1, cover -2, RPS -1)
M18 1 10 Shotgun 2TE Twins 4-3 under Run Zone read keeper Brown 2
Michigan slants so hard that the backside TE and OT have no one to block and can just roll downfield. Herron crashes down on the RB, causing Juice to pull it. Mouton(+1) came up to the line, read the RB's path, and hopped playside of the C's attempted block, which lets him flow down the line past the guys who released downfield, and Brown is unblocked coming in from the edge. This makes the bubble pretty open but it works. Brown(+1) sets up and makes a good open field tackle(+1).
M16 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 3-4 nickel Pass Wheel Brown Inc (Pen + 14)
Brown(-2) is decent position on this play but never turns around to look for the ball and ends up pushing this receiver before the ball gets there because it's underthrown. I hate these calls, which reward the offense for being inept more than anything else. Pressure was coming, possibly resulting in a marginal throw. I keep watching this and I hate this call so much. It's ridiculous. Guy is in position and trying to make a play and should have a right to his momentum; instead he gets a call.
M2 1 G Power I Goal line Pass Waggle flat Ezeh 2
All eleven players freak out assuming it'll be the same Benn sweep, leaving both TEs wide, wide open. Ezeh(-1) and Mouton(-1) and cover -2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 13-21, 5 min 3rd Q. aaaargh
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M45 1 10 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under Run Inside zone Sagesse 5
Blocking the backside DE here and shoving Sagesse(-1) way down the line opens up a hole that Mouton can't fill fast enough despite reading the play quickly and getting to the ball as fast as you can reasonably expect. Hole too big and Sagesse moving too far out of it in anticipation of a stretch.
M40 2 5 Shotgun 2-back Twins 4-3 under Run Triple option dive Banks? 7
This really should go nowhere as the two backup DTs get some push and Brown gets past the slot receiver to sit unblocked in the hole. But Sagesse bulling his way into the back of the LT doesn't prevent the LG from getting out on Leach and when the RB tries to cut back into the mess that is the four guys in the middle of the line he somehow squirts through for first-down yardage. I'm not sure who, if anyone, is to blame here other than bloody-minded fate. I'm going to -0.5 Banks for getting kicked out of the hole eventually, I think.
M33 1 10 Shotgun 2TE Twins 4-3 under split Pass Sack Brown -8
OLBs flanking the LOS here on this two TE package and both are sent on a blitz. RB has the pickup on Brown(+2), who sets up inside then bursts upfield of his blocker, sacking Juice when he tries to move up in the pocket only to hit his own RB. Graham(+1) was driving the RG back into the pocket, creating the restricted space in which Juice had few scrambling options. (Pressure +2)
M41 2 18 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Fade Woolfolk 37
Of course. Michigan sends four with Herron backing out into a short zone and Graham(+1) immediately crushes the guard attempting to block him, hitting Juice as he throws what's basically and arm-punt, Juice Williams gets nailed as he throws. Juice Williams. His throw? Perfect. Woolfolk(-1) was beat deep in man press (cover -1), but not that badly and the receiver made a spectacular catch. I mean... Christ.
M4 1 G Ace Twins 4-3 under split Run Inside zone Martin 1
Martin(+1) back in; he drives playside of his blocker and forces a cutback into Herron(+0.5), who is one-on-one in some space with the TB and holds him to basically no YAC. Maybe one before the cavalry arrives.
M3 2 G Shotgun 2-back TE 4-3 under split Pass Zone read keeper Williams 3
Williams(-2), the contain guy, completely overruns the play and Juice takes it in for an easy touchdown.
Drive Notes: Touchdown,13-28, 1 min 3rd Q. Here's to you, worst third quarter ever.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 nickel even Run Veer handoff Martin -6
Play Illinois has run earlier with a veer outside look paired with the backside guard and tackle pulling around. This time Juice hands it off... for some reason. This doesn't seem like it can be a real read because it just doesn't block two guys on the frontside of this play, and Martin(+1) and Graham proceed to crush this guy in the backfield. No idea how this handoff ever works.
O15 2 16 I-Form 4-3 under Run Pitch sweep Mouton 4
FB motions out for three-wide look and Illinois runs a down G scheme with a pitchout, pulling the playside G around as the down-block Graham. Mouton(+1) gets outside of the pulling guard and upfield, forcing the play back inside to Leach, who tackles(+1) a couple yards downfield with help from Williams. Graham also did a good job of flowing down the line and preventing the other pulling OL from getting out on Leach.
O19 3 12 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under split Run QB draw Graham 26
Oh, right. This. This looks like a scramble at first blush but there are linemen releasing downfield, it's a called run. Graham(-1) comes too hard inside and vacates a passing lane. Martin(-1) is doubled and blasted way out of the center of the field; Leach(-1) ends up way overrunning Juice's cutback lane, and the safeties are nowhere to be found. (RPS -1)
O47 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Zone read dive Leach 5
Martin(+1) and Graham do a good job of cutting off any potential frontside holes and there's nowhere to go there; there's a cutback from the RB into unblocked linebackers since Martin absorbed a double. Leach(-1) does not read it quickly and ends up taking a hit from the RB two yards downfield, getting bowled over for another 3 YAC. Should have/could have reacted more quickly to hold this down.
M48 2 5 Shotgun 2TE Twins 4-3 under split Run Zone read dive Kovacs 22
Same play. Michigan is stunting, which ends up seeing RVB run outside and out of the play, opening up a crease. This time Leach(-1), who can't win, has delayed waiting for a cutback to the Martin/Graham side and gets sucked into a mess. Herron(-1) could not hold the POA on his stunt and gets blown back, which doesn't help matters. Kovacs(-1) then misses a tackle(-1) and turns this from a first down into lots of yards.
M26 1 10 Shotgun 2TE Twins 3-4 Base Run Zone read keeper Williams 23
is this on Williams or Mouton? Williams blitzes off the snap and can be thought of as a crashing backside DE. Is Michigan supposed to scrape here, then? That would make sense to contain this, as Williams has the dive dead to rights and Mouton could scrape out to contain Juice. I don't know which it is. I originally gave Williams minus two billion because I'm just fed up with him, but I think this might be on Mouton, who lord knows has had some serious mental issues this year. One of these two guys gets a negative two billion. I tentatively assign them to Williams.
M3 1 G Power I Goal line Run Speed option Ezeh 1
Brown pops up on the QB, forcing a pitch, and Ezeh(+1) manages to get outside the lead blocks from the FB and TE to force the play back inside where Demens and Graham are; RB falls, possibly because of Graham, for no gain.
M2 2 G Power I Goal line Run Iso Martin -4
Absolutely nowhere to go as Martin(+1) wins the battle with his guy and Graham dives forward, creating an impenetrable pile of bodies. Campbell(+1) cuts through a block on the backside and grabs the RB's foot, causing him to fumble. (For a loose definition of "caused".) Illinois gets it back, though a few yards short of the LOS.
M6 3 G Shotgun 2TE offset Goal line Pass PA TE corner Williams Inc
Unbalanced formation with both Ts on the same side of the line; this is an attempt to fool Michigan into leaving the RT—actually a TE—uncovered. That doesn't quite work but Williams(-1) gets beat by Cumberland and Juice can hit him for a TD; it glances off his fingertips. Brown was applying pressure on the corner. Bonus: Cumberland was covered up on the LOS and that went uncalled. Woo Big Ten refs.
Drive Notes: FG(23), 13-31, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O11 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run Inside zone Watson 8
For some reason, Steve Watson is in at deathbacker. Watson(-1) falls to the ground as Michigan flows down the line against the zone blocking, opening up a cutback lane the RB hits. Ezeh's in and gets blocked; Williams(-1) basically whiffs a tackle but the RB falls as he cuts behind it.
O19 2 2 Shotgun 2-back Twins 4-3 under Run Busted play -- -2
Juice fumbles the snap.
O17 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Speed option Watson 6
There is no one on the edge as Watson(-1) drops off into a zone, weirdly, and Mouton gets caught up in the wash of the WR blocking the hell out of Watson. Juice has an easy time moving up for the first down. (RPS –1)
O23 1 10 Shotgun 2TE Twins 4-3 under Run Zone read keeper Watson 1
WOOO THE DRIVE OF WATSON. Here Watson(+2) does a great job as the unblocked DE, convincing Juice to keep the ball by coming down a little bit on the RB, then hopping out to contain him. Forced back inside, Juice is tackled by Watson from behind.
O24 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Zone veer keeper Ezeh 11
Here's why Ezeh's lost his job. Michigan slants and shifts Ezeh right over the hole where this Illinois veer play goes if Juice keeps the ball. Mouton has shot upfield to erase the potential handoff, leaving Ezeh(-2) alone in the hole with one assignment: Williams. Ezeh, of course, decides to run out and try to tackle the tailback. Who Mouton has owned. And doesn't have the ball.
O35 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 nickel even Run Inside zone Mouton 3
Good by the DTs to hold the POA and Mouton(+1) attacks quickly, swallowing the RB in the backfield when he hesitates.
O38 2 7 Shotgun 2TE 3-4 Base Pass Long handoff -- Inc
Behind the receiver and incomplete.
O38 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Cross Brown 5
Dumpoff short of the sticks.
Drive Notes: Punt, 13-31, 4 min 4th Q. Charting stops. I would have stopped it already if I had known Watson was in. Graham(+3) blocks the punt.

What's this coming out of my eyes?

It looks like ichor of some variety.

Gross. Are you sure it's not blood?

I didn't think tentacled Cthulu-beasts had blood.

I thought I was Boubacar Cissoko.

Fine: tiny tentacled Cthulu-beasts with poor ability to model the future.

I think a chart might focus the pain emanating from my eyesockets into one white-hot point. I heard people undergoing torture do stuff like that Chart?


Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Graham 11 3 8 Not quite up to the usual standard as I think he got suckered on a couple of runs, but still pretty good.
Heininger - - - Didn't record anything.
Watson 2 2 0 Replacing Patterson because he got on the field late.
Roh 7 2.5 4.5 Effective slanting all day; not great in pass rush yet.
Herron 1.5 1 0.5 Eh.
Martin 7 1 6 No frontside creases all day; too bad about the linebackers.
Van Bergen 2 - 2 Not a major factor.
Banks - 0.5 -0.5 Played less.
Sagesse - 1 -1 Meh.
Campbell 1 - 1 Good play on the goal line.
TOTAL 31.5 11 20.5 Same total number as against Penn State, weirdly.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 1 3 -2 Managed to do this on like five plays.
Mouton 5.5 9 -3.5 The usual at this point. Excellent athlete, many mental mistakes.
Brown 4.5 5 -0.5 He's okay. 
Fitzgerald - - - DNP
Leach 4 6 -2 Better than Ezeh, and did okay, with half of his minuses coming on the big play.
TOTAL 14 23 -9 Also the exact same total as against Penn State.
Player + - T Notes
Warren - 1.5 -1.5 Not tested.
Cissoko - - - Happy trails.
Floyd - - - DNP.
Turner - - - DNP.
Woolfolk - 1 -1 The one bomb, otherwise not tested.
Emilien - - - DNP
Kovacs - 3 -3 Again burned as a deep half safety.
TOTAL 2.5 20 -17.5 Blar.
Pressure 9 1 8 Poor BG.
Coverage 1 9 -8 Argh.
Tackling 5 7 -2 First negative tackling day.
RPS 8 7 1 Scheme seemed fine.

[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.]

That appears to be a huge negative number next to Mike Williams's name.

Yeah. First a disclaimer: it is possible some of those minuses should migrate over to other folks on the defense because Williams wasn't actually the guy who was supposed to have contain as Michigan was running a scrape exchange. I watched the plays a lot, though, and think there's only one instance where that is a serious possibility. On the others it seemed obvious that Williams was irresponsible.

This is not a surprise. Williams was –6 against Iowa and –4 against Penn State, and the Penn State numbers were generous. It was evident Michigan was trying to use him to defend the long handoffs, which he could not do for whatever reason. Against Illinois he had a huge problems.

So… yeah. He's the reason—or at least, the emblem of the reason—Misopogon spent the last week of his life composing a master's thesis about Michigan's defensive recruiting and retention relative to its rivals. He's a weak link, probably the weakest, and Michigan has no alternative the rest of this year. Next year they'll have to hope he gets better or that one of the freshmen passes him. I can't see him getting any better after the last three games.

In an SAT analogy:

2009 Michigan Football : Mike Williams :: _______ : ________

A. 2008 Michigan Football : Nick Sheridan
B. Notre Dame Football : South Bend, Indiana
C. MAC Football Programs : Former Lloyd Carr Assistants
D. Life : Entropy
E. All Of The Above

Next year Williams will either be much better or on the bench.

Aren't those sorts of errors on plays Michigan practices against every damn day?

Uh… yeah. I do think it's a bad sign that Williams is making really basic errors that no one should make. "Hey, you have QB contain" is not a thing that should be dependent on which coordinator you're playing for. "Do not let the QB outside of you." Not hard. Apparently, Robinson has taken over coaching the safeties. Eventually he'll be the everything-except-DL coach.

So how was Kevin Leach?

He was okay. There were a lot of plays I thought he did well on that did not rise to the level of a + given the standards I've set for them over the past few years, and the mistakes he made were less mindboggling than the ones Ezeh did in his brief time on the field. Ezeh's main contributions were leaving an Illinois TE vastly wide open on first and goal and running out of a hole that Juice was in when he had the ball. It looked like he though Juice was the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog.

Er. Check that.


Leach did not remind me of any scenes from Monty Python. He didn't do anything that made me want to hit my head against a wall. There was the one big error on the 70-yard touchdown where he sucked out of position because he was keying on the OL instead of the backfield, but that error was shared by at least four other people.

After a game of Leach I do think he's better than Ezeh, which is a mindboggling statement in a thousand different ways. Redshirt sophomore walk-on > scholarship third-year starting linebacker (and Butkis semifinalist!). Is that a failure to develop talent or just an indictment of Carr's ability to recruit the right sorts of guys late in his career? I hate 'em both.

Should we be grumbling about Robinson? If not, who should we be grumbling about?

I can't imagine the defensive coordinator who can mash these parts together and come up with something good. I have been saying this since the start of the year, though: the linebacker play has been consistently terrible despite experienced players returning and at least some continuity at coaching the position. Maybe it's just that Michigan picked up a bunch of duds, but Mouton's stunning regression is a black mark from any angle.

Other than that, read the masters thesis. We dead, and we aren't going to be in a position to be good next year. Better? If not, heads will start rolling in earnest. Good? No.


Graham and Martin both played very well.


See SAT analogy above.

Also, Jordan Kovacs was much better in the quasi-LB role than he is as a deep safety. This is not really his fault.

What does it mean for Purdue and the future?

Oh, hell. It seems likely that one of these days Michigan is going to have a game in which they do not have huge screwups that yield long touchdowns for the opposition and everyone moaning about it is going to have to take a step back, but that day seems likely to come in 2010 at the earliest. The safeties are just totally inadequate, the linebackers remain subpar even after the Ezeh-Leach switch, and the DL is making a valiant effort only to see huge cutback runs and ridiculous lost contain submarine all their efforts.

As for Purdue, they picked up 140 yards last week, so there's a chance if we catch them on one of their bad Boiler days, but this is an offense designed to tear up the middle of the field with short passes and Michigan is uniquely positioned to not stop this sort of offense. The defense will remain terrible until 2010.