Linebacker fluff from WN

Linebacker fluff from WN

Submitted by Moleskyn on September 16th, 2011 at 11:49 AM

Over at Wolverine Nation, Rothstein wrote up a fluff piece on the improvement of our linebacker corps. 

CliffNotes version: he points to the new scheme and improved depth and experience as the main reasons for the overall on-field improvement. Which, like, duh.

Some interesting quotes:

"It's different," linebacker J.B. Fitzgerald said. "Everything is a little bit changed up when you change coaching staffs and all that. However, I think our comfort level this year is really good."
"We don't have to just count on our first string," cornerback Troy Woolfolk said. "If they go down or they get tired, our young set of linebackers will go in and do the job. It's not the man, it's the position."

Nothing really new or earth-shattering, but our linebackers haven't been terrible, and overall I'd say they've definitely been better than last year's group. Hopefully Cam can stay healthy the rest of the year. I am really excited for Jake Ryan's potential, the kid has looked pretty good in the first couple of games, especially if you consider the fact that he's just a redshirt freshman.

Moving Picture Pages - How Not To Defend Power, Part I

Moving Picture Pages - How Not To Defend Power, Part I

Submitted by Chris of Dange… on September 9th, 2011 at 11:04 AM

In case anybody's wondering, I'm Chris of Dangerous Logic here, but parkinggod pretty much everywhere else on the web, including YouTube.

(apologies to those who are familiar with MPP from last year; this is for the new folks)

  I love Picture Pages, but I'm so obtuse that I usually have to replay the video as I'm reading in order to understand what's happening.  Finally it dawned on me that I have the game footage, a video editor, and a little bit of free time, so (with Brian's permission) I have annotated the play with pauses, spot-shadowing, and other kindergarden video effects to make it easier to follow.  I notice that Brian has also started including an annotated version at the end of his regular picture pages posts (in this case,, but he points out different things there so I think this is still useful.

Setup: It's second and two on the Michigan 47 on Western's second drive of the day.  Western runs a counter out of the shotgun against Michigan's 3-4 front with corners pressing and only Kovacs deep.

Wha'hoppon: The LT ignores Brennen Beyer to double RVB. Beyer crashes into the backfield only to get hit by a pulling guard as the RB runs by him on the counter.  Demens steps up into the hole but loses outside contain, and the RB cuts outside and may well have had a TD if Kovacs doesn't make a tackle 25 yards downfield.


MS Paint - Kenny Demens

MS Paint - Kenny Demens

Submitted by Timnotep on February 15th, 2011 at 9:35 PM

So with the finishing of the 2011 Recruiting class came a renewed vigor to work on some of my unfinished MS Paint player portraits (that way I can make time for new players). The first one of which is Kenny Demens.

You can also view my entire album here:

(or by clicking on my signature)

Tackling Technique: The Season In Review

Tackling Technique: The Season In Review

Submitted by maizedandconfused on January 21st, 2011 at 1:32 PM


2010. A Defensive Odyssey

So. The 2010 Defense. The general consensus is a solid “WTFWTHCWT” (What the F? Why the hell can’t we tackle?). I decided to look at tackling, mostly to deduce whether it was coaching or just us being small and getting run over. Good tackling technique can be outstripped by superior strength/athleticism, so it was a valid consideration to look at technique of tackling to ensure that our defensive woes were a parallel to youth and not the infamous GERG. Considering both the change in coaching situation (Mattison for Mayor of Smackmouth-Swaggerville), it now makes more sense to look at these numbers mostly for future reference, as progression of freshman is inevitable, and with the number we played on D our chances for a leap forward are large.

About the analysis:

1. I regarded made tackles as anytime a player made contact with the ballcarrier and that ball carrier ended up down by contact using solid tackling technique. I did not look at technique of made tackles, as after 1/2 of tape review most of the tackles that were made were of good technique. Any tackle that forced the ball-carrier out of bounds was counted as a made tackle.

2. I designated missed tackles as failing to make a tackle in space, taking an extremely bad angle on a tackle that should have been made, or simply just getting the hit but not bringing down the ballcarrier.

3. Bad Form takes into account any missed tackle that used any of the following:

  •        Head on the up-field side
  •        Arm/Jersey tackling
  •        Any hit at or above the numbers
  •        Getting "shook" in open field due to not breaking down or over pursuit.

The notable difference here is missed tackles sometimes come from being overpowered or stiff-armed, not a technique avenue. If the UM defender made the hit with the head on the right side and attempted to wrap up but the ball carrier just slipped through, I counted this as a missed tackle only. If, however, the same play happened with the UM defender coming in high and behind, this was counted as both a missed and bad form tackle.

To derive the "Tackling Efficiency" I used the following formulas as necessary:

Tackling Efficiency: (Made Tackles - Missed Tackles)/(Bad Form Missed Tackles+1)

This metric takes into account both total tackles made along with missed tackles. In my mind it should give a good representation of who is making the most tackles, while missing the least


Tackling Percentage (%):Made Tackles/Tackling Opportunities (Made + Missed)


This should just give a straight representation of “If I was in position to make a tackle, did I bring down the ball carrier?”

  • I included both metrics to allay the concern on a previous post that I was marginalizing the D-line due to limited numbers of tackles. As you can see, both metrics relatively correlate with one another, with both having one or two anomalous results.



Individual Players Tackling Efficiency:

A few notes from the individual analysis:

  • Our defensive studs are who you expected

Martin, Demens, Kovacs and RVB are monsters

  • Mouton was a beast outside of conference, but once we hit the B10 he dropped to about 3 tackles for ever 2 misses.
  • Ezeh really cannot tackle.
  • Roh was not as beast as he could have been
  • Underclassman tended to tackle less effectively in B10 play than upperclassman



Individual Players Tackling Percentage:

A few notes from the analysis

  • Our defensive studs are who you expected

Martin, Demens and RVB are monsters

  • Roh was a better tackler than it seemed with the efficiency index.
  • Upperclassman seem to tackle better in the B10 than underclassman, with less noticeable dropoff
  • Carvin Johnson has the potential to be a bad bad man. Dude can tackle. And more often than not, he puts the ball carrier down with authority.


A By-Class Anaylsis:

I stockpiled the numbers by year. 1st years are True Frosh and RS Fr, 2nd years are True Sophs and RS So’s etc.

(9 1st years, 4 2nd years, 3 3rd years and 6 4th years)

Tackling Efficiency:


Tackling %


This team is young (shocker). There were 9 players that were first year players, compared to 4 and 3 2nd and 3rd year players. Of the 6 seniors to play, only 3 had meaningful minutes (Ezeh, Mouton and Rogers). The trend is easily demonstrable, as you get older you get better at tackling. Ignore the 4th year numbers, as Rogers is absolutely terrible at tackling, something you would expect of a WR journeyman at CB. The most telling graph I feel is the tackling efficiency by class analysis. This clearly shows that, while there were less sophomores and juniors, they made more of the opportunities and made more tackles as a whole. Going forward, I think there are some players on D that are young that have the potential to be absolute stars. Carvin Johnson and Courtney Avery both flashed some absolutely astounding athleticism; however with a year in the weight room I think Avery could be a better tackler. Most of his missed tackles weren’t bad form, just simply not being strong enough to bring down the ball carrier.  


  • Cam Gordon is best suited to be a down-hill blitz type LB, as when he played in the box is when he was most effective.
  • Ray Vinopal should have been red shirted, however we did not have that luxury. He is definetly the gritty player we expected, just simply not big/strong enough to make the plays in run support we needed.
  • Mike Martin gets held. A lot. So does RVB.
  • Demens has the potential to be an All Big-Ten LB. He is that dominate. Once he starts learning some passing coverage and his reads are more instinctive, his tackles for loss will go up. He greets the runner with violence, and is all over the field shedding blockers and enforcing his will.
  • Carvin Johnson should be the freshman people are most excited to see next year. That kid has an absolute nose for the football, and plays with good energy.
  • Roh at the weak D end is a potential good fit, however he really needs to work on breaking down and containing the QB. Against OSU he continually broke contain and TP just stepped up and downfield he went.
  • Jibreel Black needs work, but he could be a good one. Really good moves and solid hand use

Moving Picture Pages - Lack of Massive Cutback Lane

Moving Picture Pages - Lack of Massive Cutback Lane

Submitted by Chris of Dange… on December 1st, 2010 at 12:37 PM

It is the Yang to last week's Yin (for Yin == "Swallowing Kenny Demens").  This play from the Wisconsin game has both Wisconsin and Michigan in the same formation, and Wisconsin runs essentially the same play.  This time, however, the backside OT releases downfield, and that makes about an 8-yard difference.

And I'm going to suck it up and stop whining now, because Brian undoubtedly spends about twice as much time doing the original PPs as I do on the MPPs.  If he can take it, I can take it.

Wha'hoppon:  Wisconsin has first-and-ten at the Michigan 41 on their first TD drive of the second half (Brian describes this one as a 'soul-crushing ground based TD drive,' and has to qualify that with 'first' in order to distinguish it from all the other soul-crushing ground based TD drives Wisconsin had in the second half).  Wisconsin again lines up in the I with twins right and TE left.  Michigan again is in the 3-3-5, although now Avery is playing up, Kovacs is playing back, and the backup DL is in.  At the snap, the backside OT immediately releases downfield, allowing Banks to slant inside the TE.  Patterson gets playside of the center, and Black cleanly beats the playside OT upfield.  Demens fills the hole at the LOS, neutralizing both the playside guard and the FB.

This time, Banks is sitting in the hole where the cutback lane would be, so the RB has nowhere to go and just plows into the pile for two yards. 

Original PP at

Moving Picture Pages - Swallowing Kenny Demens

Moving Picture Pages - Swallowing Kenny Demens

Submitted by Chris of Dange… on November 26th, 2010 at 11:09 PM

This is another illustration of how the positioning of the MLB so close to the line of scrimmage in Michigan's 3-3-5-that-isn't-really-a-stack renders him more vulnerable to being eaten alive.

In other news, I don't know if it's the prospect of the upcoming bludgeoning by Columbus Community College or the fact that most of these are of a play that didn't go well, but these are starting to get hard to do.  "Here's how we screwed up again, in excruciating detail."

Anyway.  Wha'hoppon: Wisconsin has second and three at their own 32 on their second drive of the day.  Michigan plays a stack over Wisconsin's I-formation.  The play starts out as an iso to the right. Martin stands up a double team and then slants playside, and Ezeh takes on the FB to close the playside hole.  The blocking works much better on the other side, with Mouton being erased by the backside guard, RVB being kicked out, and the playside guard releasing off Martin to devour Demens.  Avery fills the hole between the guard and tackle, but the blocks on Demens and Mouton leave a cutback lane open to the inside of the tackle and Montee Ball rolls through it for a ten-yard gain before Vinopal can chop him down.

Moving Picture Pages: This Is Not A Stack

Moving Picture Pages: This Is Not A Stack

Submitted by Chris of Dange… on November 5th, 2010 at 12:40 PM

This Moving Picture Pages (original PP is here) looks at one piece of evidence that Michigan does not run a true 3-3-5 stack: the placement of the MLB. Kenny Demens is positioned several yards closer to the LOS than the MLB is in the West Virginia implementation of the 3-3-5 stack. Brian compares the play below to a play in the 2007 WVU-Rutgers game, where the MLB is positioned six yards back of the LOS. I don't have video of that game, and I'm kind of relieved about that, because I'd be tempted to try a side-by-side mashup of both plays together, and frankly my video editing skills aren't anywhere near good enough to pull that off.

Analysis and text courtesy of MGoBlog.

Wha'happon: It's the sixth play of PSU's first drive of the night. Michigan walks up Kovacs late to put seven in the box, which is a good thing, because he trips up Royster on the counter play. That slows him down enough that Demens and others could hold the gain down to four yards, when otherwise Royster might have broken it.

Brian adds a lot of analysis after the still shots, so be sure you go read the book after you see the movie, so to speak (oh, who am I kidding? You've all already read the book).

Upon Further Review: Kenny Demens

Upon Further Review: Kenny Demens

Submitted by tasnyder01 on October 20th, 2010 at 5:04 AM

[Ed-M: Cleaned it up and bumped to Diary for excellence, and because I'm as anxious as the rest of you for what could be the first UFR of middle linebacker competence since David Harris. In lieu of the real UFR, which I imagine Brian will have up in the next few days, here's a whet. Note, probably best to read it while re-watching game on DVR or torrent -- there's no context written in]

[personal note:
1.) I will not make any conclusions from this.  It is only one game.  However, feel free to look at my other post: which, together with this, describes all his playing time.
2.) I tend to be more negative towards Demens.  This is out of fear that if I get my hopes up I will somehow jinx him.  Therefore, what you see will be more negative than positive.  HOWEVA: He's still better than Ezeh.

3.) Thank you Mods for cleaning this up.  I am working on making all my future posts beautiful, but appreciate the help for a novice.
4.) BTW: this wasn't meant to be a diary but hell I'll take it.]

This is not a UFR but a UFR on Demens. I hope that this helps everyone and should be an addition to my earlier post about Demens' vs. Ezeh. Here is my analysis of Demens against Iowa.


First Quarter:

  • First play: Good read and was one of three tacklers
  • 3rd down: Bad angle, but the play was dead before he had to make a play. Lead to a PUNT!
  • Bit on the fake, but was there in time to make a nice hit
  • Almost intercepted pass, but not in his zone. Again bit up run, even though it wasn't even a play fake! Still was in the relative area of his zone. I’d give him a -1. On that though, Mouton was also in the zone. Someone help. MAGNUS/BRIAN/OTHER?
  • One other play we gave him a blitz, but it was a false start. He was blocked.
  • Pass play right to the guy that #22 was covering. Demens at least siddled back, but was out of the picture. I’m assuming he was the OLB on the top of the screen.  If he wasn’t apologies.

This is when Obi comes in and gets pancaked. Ignoring this crap/drive.

  • Demens back in at 2:02 and he either misses his guy or there are two in his zone.  Still can’t tell because he’s covering the deep middle, but isn’t that the safeties’ responsibility? Anyways, he gets the tackle after a bad (not poor, which I grade as “worse than bad” angle)
  • Next play: I blame this on Mouton. Demens gets off his block, but that was Mouton’s assignment.
  • Next two plays: I couldn’t tell if Demens was in (edit, it was Demens. Look at the time 2:57. That‘s him on the bottom of the pile), but the first one was a penalty on JT for “holding” or “PI” and the one after that the MLB stuffed the play. I don’t think it was Ezeh tho, so I’ll have to believe it was Demens.
  • On the TD that started at 3:06: Demens slams the TE to the turf then goes back to his assignment (the middle protect). This one wasn’t his fault since I believe we’re in a zone. Who had flats? #5. Damn his slip.

2nd Quarter:

  • Demens slips outside with the TE then runs up on the QB. Not sure if this was him knowing or DERPing up. Either way, an incomplete pass.
  • Next: screen play. He’s the ONLY ONE who reads it. He gets blocked by one of 4 linemen in front of him. Still, he at least read it.
  • Failed on the counter. The gain was only 2 yards, but he bit.
  • On the weird “barely caught” TD: He was guarding the RB. Nothing special here.
  • Got blocked on the 4 yard gain. At least he attacked. At most he attacked.
  • Pass to McNut but Demens left his man open too on a man-to-man assignment.  The dude (that Demens was covering) was only a TE also.
  • Demens wasn’t on the screen in the next play, as Stanzi ran for like….1 yard?
  • Covered the RB out of the backfield so well he still pushed him after the incompletion.
  • Wasn’t in on the first down @ 4:38. That play was also a 3rd and 14, and Roh was the MLB.
  • Failed play on the 1st&10 that gave them 5 yards. The whole LB corps bit on that counter.
  • Blocked on the next play as well. Mouton makes the tackle.
  • Covered the RB but the play was away from him.
  • Last play of the 2nd quarter: misses the hole. Might have been assigned to the wrong gap, but he hit the non-RB hole.

3rd Quarter:

  • HIts the hole and stops the OL from doing anything. Hits it with authority. The play goes for nothing.
  • Pass play. Again he covers the RB. Again, not a pass towards him.
  • RVB makes the play, but Demens was blocked while trying to read the play. This was the only time I’ve seen him play like Obi so far this game. Seriously. Play starts at 5:45 for those lost.
  • After the punt: great sealing block by the lineman on Demens. Demens wasn’t out of position, just the OL was in great position.
  • Demens hits his hole with authority, preventing a cutback. The play is to Mouton’s hole, and Mouton makes the play.
  • 3rd down. He’s out of the screen because the play is a deep pass (Cam is the only one on the screen).
  • PUNT! (one of many, I just wanted to say it)
  • Lots-of-yards pass to McNutt: Demens didn’t screw anything up here. He had a zone, and he was in it. Maybe minus for him not seeing that no one was coming to his zone, but I doubt it. We’re not in the NFL. (We’re at 6:36 if you’re wondering)
  • Again, zone pass protect. He lost the #38 player (Rogers) here. Pass protect fail.
  • Good job reading the run on the next play and hitting his hole.
  • HIts the TE on the next play as the TE goes out on a route. However, he’s too slow to guard the TE. The play ends up going to another man, but Demens misses the play.
  • On the last play of the 3rd quarter TD: Demens does a great job and if Mouton/RPS (from Brian) doesn’t F-up then it’s a good play for Demens and the whole D.

4th Quarter:

  • Not Demens’ fault. Mouton misses the guy. (as an aside, listen to the splice of 7:27-7:32)  really funny how that worked out.
  • MY FAVORITE PLAY YET! Demens plays his hole, reads the OL, and then hits the RB backwards. Imagine the opposite. You’d have Ezeh. (starts at 7:47)
  • Gets blocked by the C but still makes the tackle even though the play runs towards Mouton’s side (away from him).
  • Bring the house blitz. Couldn’t do anything there. Maybe could have been offsides and sacked to stop the pass? (It went for a TD)
  • Reads, and the play goes to his hole. Tackles. 1 yard gain. Check that: he hits, but the RB goes forward after contact to make it a 4 yard gain. Fuuu…
  • Again, hits the hole. Doesn’t get off the block (nor does anyone for that matter) and the DBs have to make the stop. Also, the play was away from him. He again got mixed in the counter.
  • You might remember this play: ball is fumbled and we come down on it….anyways….false start.
  • RB runs a stretch and then tries to cut back. Demens says “no” and tackles him. PUNT!
  • Fake to the RB. Demens bites. So does everyone else. Play goes for a 1st BUT….illegal formation. HAHA
  • Then…(Is this a mistake?) the same play? Same exact results? WHAT?
  • Then Kovaks says “give me a 4 year scholarship” and gets a TFL. Demens sidesteps a defender on this play.
  • Demens has the RB again on a pass play, but McNutt gets the 1st.
  • Good flow to the ball and then gets the stop for ½ yards.
  • Couldn’t watch the last two plays.

This is supposed to be a summary of Demens' play.  I do not want to give him my UFR because me:Brian::suck:awesome.