Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Purdue Comment Count

Brian November 3rd, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Formation notes: At this point it's less about looking at all the new stuff like the offense and more about figuring out what Mattison does with his base against various formations.

Mostly it's "bring in the nickelback," but not always. Here's Jake Ryan flared out over the slot:


This will not be a surprise since you've seen a zillion Big Ten cover-two-always teams run this against M's spread the past few years. Michigan uses the stack over the slot to spring some surprises:


That's basically the same thing; Ryan blitzed off the edge here. Tipoff is the depth of the FS, but not by much.

This is slightly more novel:


That's a pass-rush set with a couple standup ends and just one guy truly in the box with a couple guys hanging out over the slot. Guy truly in the box: Mike Martin.

This is Purdue's long touchdown as Michigan sent the world and left the middle even more open than it looks now. They shelved this for the rest of the day.

Substitution notes: DL was about how you expect with a little bit more Brink and a little less Black. Maybe a little less Campbell, too.

At LB, Morgan played the whole game until Hawthorne came in for garbage time. Demens was out for a series or two in favor of Fitzgerald; in the presser this week this sounded like a desire to get Demens some rest but Michigan hadn't been on the field much when he came in. Maybe it was part of a plan or something. Ryan played most of the game at SLB; Beyer did get some playing time early and did okay.

In the secondary it was Countess, Floyd, Woolfolk, and Gordon the whole way. Avery was the nickelback. These guys didn't really come out even in garbage time. Thin, thin, thin.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form DForm Type Rush Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Reverse Roh 7
I don't see many reverses and am not sure what the issue is here. I don't think it's reasonable to expect Morgan to deal with this; by the time the second handoff is made he's way out of position and heading the wrong way. Roh(-1) could do better here; he's crashing down the line and ends up getting blocked by the QB. If he reads the reverse and gets upfield he's got a shot at a big play; instead the guy gets outside without delay. Floyd is out on the edge; he gets blocked inside by the WR who was initially running him out of the play, which gives up the edge. Gordon escorts the WR out of bounds after a decent gain.
O40 2 3 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 WR screen Floyd 12
This is the shot above, w Ryan off the line and the line shifted to the short side (boundary). Purdue throws a quick screen to the outside receiver; Roh(-1) is dropping off into the play as Ryan blitzes. He starts chasing it down; I think he gets ambitious and goes too far upfield. The bigger problem is Floyd(-2) getting chopped to the ground and giving up the outside, allowing the WR to dance down the sidelines for a big gain. RPS+1; this was two guys on one and should have been killed dead. With pics'd.
M48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Martin 0
Ryan flanked over the slot, not on the line, despite a TE. Purdue runs a zone that I think they want to get outside since they have a numbers advantage on the line but Martin(+2) drives his man into the backfield, forcing a cutback, and pushes back to tackle himself. Heininger(+0.5) also came through to help after the guy doubling him released. With pics'd.
M48 2 10 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Pass 4 Quick out Floyd Inc
This is open for about five; WR drops it. Coverage is a push: short route, probably no YAC.
M48 3 10 Shotgun empty Split 4-3 Pass 5 Tunnel screen -- 48
Michigan splits out over the slots so there are only five or six in the box with Woolfolk a single deep safety. They then blitz Martin, who was laying back a couple yards off the LOS as a quasi-linebacker. The five guys in the box are gone. And that's all she wrote. Countess can't beat a cut block to make a diving tackle; he comes close. Avery and Gordon are buried by OL. I do think Gordon(-1) needs to realize he's not going to run through this OL and take a deeper angle. Floyd(-1) takes an angle too shallow and is outrun to the endzone; Woolfolk had to take on an OL block and keep leverage just to give Floyd a shot. He avoids the cut and starts pursuing but can't catch up in time to tackle. RPS -3. Blitz + alignment = dead. With pics'd.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 13 min 1st Q. Goodbye, Purdue offense.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Demens 5
Brink in at SDE for RVB. Martin is doubled; Brink(-0.5) single blocked effectively. Demens(-1) gets pounded in the hole by the FB and spills the play outside instead of allowing Morgan to be a free hitter. Beyer(+0.5) peels to tackle.
O25 2 5 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass N/A WR screen Roh 0
Michigan still getting set when the ball is snapped, which fortuitously gets Roh running straight at the WR screen here. WR decides to duck inside of the charging Roh; Roh(+0.5) forms up and tackles with help from Morgan(+0.5). The RPS meter just exploded. Call it zero. With pics'd.
O25 3 5 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Run N/A Inverted veer Ryan -4
Wildcat type formation with Siller at QB; Michigan runs a play that seems specifically designed to crush the inverted veer. Morgan flares out along the LOS and blitzes from the outside as Ryan(+1) stunts around Martin, showing up in the hole Siller thinks he has because there's no WLB filling it. He pulls, Ryan is there, RVB(+1) beats a block to provide more pressure, and then everything caves in. Ryan(+1 again) gets another plus for making an excellent tackle(+1) in the backfield. RPS+2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 6 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O38 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A Jet sweep Gordon 4
Gordon starts creeping down when Purdue motions a TE to the wide side. He comes up further on the jet sweep action and bursts upfield to cut off the outside(+1). Ryan(+1) has held the edge, taking on a double and holding up enough allowing both LBs to flow unimpeded to the ball. Demens's tackle was a thump he fell off of. The tailback manages to fall forward for a decent gain.
O42 2 6 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Quick out Floyd 4
Floyd(+1, cover +1) is in good enough position to make a play on the ball if it's not low and to the outside, which it is. Receiver makes the catch; no YAC.
O46 3 2 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A FB Dive Martin 0
Martin(+1) shoves the center back into the intended path of the RB, forcing a cutback into Roh(+0.5), who tackles for no gain. Heininger(+0.5) held up to a block at the LOS and provides the restricted space that prevents Crank from falling forward.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 1 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O5 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 Sack Martin -5
Martin(+3) drives the LG back, chucks him, starts driving into TerBush, gets a holding call, facemasks a little, and ends up safetying the dude. Pressure +2.
Drive Notes: Safety, 9-7, 14 min 2nd Q. Is this a missed call or the sort of flag they got rid of when they got rid of the five yarders? I don't know.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O28 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 5 Waggle out Ryan 15 + 15 pen
Marve in for Purdue. Ryan(-2) sent on a blitz right at this (RPS +2). He's in, Marve's not that mobile, this should be doom. Unfortunately Ryan goes for a pump fake and leaps. His hand comes down, grabbing the face mask, and he still misses the tackle. Marve is now outside the pocket and lofts one to a wide open tight end. Not sure who this is on, but it is either Countess or Woolfolk. Guessing Countess. (Cover -2, Pressure +1, Countess -1).
M42 1 10 I-Form 4-3 even Run N/A Power off tackle Demens 6
Ryan off the LOS as the WLB, Roh SDE, etc. They're flipped from normal. Roh(+1) drives the TE back, making the FB useless; Morgan(+0.5) takes on the outside shoulder of the fullback, funneling to the unblocked Demens in the hole. Demens(-1, tackling -1) has this lined up for a nothing play and glances off the tailback, allowing him to fall forward for a significant gain. Heininger(-1) blown off the ball by a single block didn't help but this is an easy play for Demens that didn't get made.
M36 2 4 ??? ??? Run N/A ?? Morgan 0
Tape does not have this play.
M36 3 4 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel under Pass 4 Scramble -- 6
I'm probably supposed to ding a DL or two for opening up a lane right in front of the QB, so minus half points for Martin and RVB for getting too far upfield in their pass rush. Morgan does a fairly impressive job of tracking Marve down but it's not enough.
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Trap Heininger 14
Martin(-1) gets upfield aggressively and is trap-blocked as the RG pulls around into Heininger(-1), who was similarly too aggressive. This kicks both DTs out and gives Crank a lot of room. Both LBs have OL to deal with; they set up to one side and force the play back into... nothing. Beyer(-1) ran uselessly upfield and got sealed off by a slot receiver. Yerk.
M16 1 10 Shotgun trips bunch 4-3 under Pass 4 Hitch Floyd Inc
Hitch opposite the bunch. Floyd(+0.5, cover +1) is there to tackle on the catch after about four but it's dropped.
M16 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Throwaway Demens Inc
They roll the pocket. Roh(-0.5) gets cut to the ground; Demens(+1, pressure +1) reads the roll and shoots outside into it. Marve has nowhere to go because good coverage(+2) from Avery(+1) and Countess(+1) and chucks it OOB.
M15 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Tunnel screen Avery INT
Michigan much better prepared. Avery(+3) not only splits the two defenders coming out on him and is in position to tackle if this is complete but manages to make a tough diving grab on the ball when the receiver bats the poorly-thrown screen up. Roh(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) were flowing out from the line to deal with this as well; it was going nowhere. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Interception, 12-7, 8 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Pass 4 PA FB Flat Floyd 4
Fitzgerald in for Demens. Campbell and Brink also playing a bit on this drive. Waggle action and Marve has to take a checkdown(cover+1). Floyd is there to tackle after about two and gives up a couple more by almost missing.
O24 2 6 Shotgun 2-back TE 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Martin 4
Martin(+1) drives the playside G back; RB has to wait up as he is in the path. No help coming though with Campbell(-1) blown up and Fitzgerald(-1) doing the sit and wait; Ryan(+1) is over the slot, reads the handoff, and has time to get to the hole between Martin and Brink to hold the gain down.
O28 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Down G Roh 5 (Pen -10)
M shows man free and blitzes Fitzgerald(-1) up the middle; he trips over a guy who ducked to cut Martin. Martin stays up; guy who's not even getting blocked goes down. Once that happens it's tough for M to do anything on the edge because they don't have any LBs flowing. Roh(+1) fights through the TE's down block and is held; flag. Gordon(+1) gets into a block and comes through it to the outside as Bolden passes the first down marker. He can't tackle but he forces Bolden into two other defenders. He had a tough job and did it well.
O18 3 12 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Martin -2
Roh(+1) gets enough of a speed rush to spook Marve up into the pocket, whereupon Martin(+1) beats the center and blows back a tailback to complete the sack. (Pressure +2) Covered in With Pics(!).
Drive Notes: Punt, 19-7, 3 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O1 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Penalty N/A Offsides Martin 5
Doh. Martin -1.
O6 1 5 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Morgan 2
Michigan appears to be slanting away from the POA. RVB(+0.5) gets under a tackle and ends up taking a puller. They may be trying to go A gap here. Ryan(+0.5) quickly gets into the FB and cuts off the outside; there is a crease because RVB got hit and Martin is slanting away from the gap. An OL has released downfield into Morgan(+1) but doesn't have much of an angle because of the RB hitting a gap that is farther inside than Purdue wanted; Morgan plays off it, shoving the OL away and making a solid tackle(+1)
O8 2 3 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Ryan 3
Ryan blitzes late, timing it excellently. He gave nothing away before the snap. As a result the lead back runs right by him. Ryan(-1) then runs right by Crank, missing an arm tackle(-1). He does knock Crank off balance but that was a free run for a loss (RPS +1) RVB(+1) slants under the tackle and forces the RB backside, another reason Ryan should have killed this dead. This allows Morgan(+0.5) to run away from a block and scrape to the new POA; Gordon(+0.5) also came up well to restrict space.
O11 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Pass 4 Waggle out Woolfolk Inc (Pen +5)
RVB(-1) jumps offside. Play continues. Purdue runs a waggle with a TE running an out at about the sticks. Terbush comes up to fire at him; pass is accurate but Woolfolk(+2, cover +2) is there to put his helmet in the TE's chest and dislodge the ball.
O16 1 5 I-Form twins 4-3 over Run N/A Iso Heininger 0
No one gets out to the second level; Campbell(+0.5) does an all right job with his double and Heininger(+1) drives his man back a yard or two, which ends up absorbing the fullback and forcing a cutback. Demens(+1) does have an OL releasing into him late; he is too quick for that guy to get anything useful and tackle(+1) in the hole effectively.
O16 2 5 I-Form 3-wide 4-3 over Pass 4 Out Floyd Inc
Quick out—too quick—against Floyd as a hard cover two corner. Floyd(+2, cover +2) jumps the route and may have a shot at a pick if the ball isn't thrown way too high. As it is he gets a PBU.
O16 3 5 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Morgan 18
Roh(+1, pressure +1) gets a speed rush around the RT and nearly has a sack; he ends up flushing TerBush up into the pocket. Morgan(-1, cover -1) ends up in the same spot as Demens on their zone drops because he's looking in the backfield; this opens up a three yard drag Siller can turn up for big yards. Gordon(-1, tackling -1) whiffs a tackle after about six yards; Morgan(-1, tackling -1) whiffs another tackle; finally Siller goes down as multiple M players, including both DTs, track him down.
O34 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Run N/A Trap Van Bergen 1
Both DTs remain responsible, diving inside on the snap and eliminating the hole; they both get inside of the guys trying to trap them as they rush upfield. RVB, Martin +1. Morgan(+0.5); he did a good job of getting to the hole to help tackle.
O35 2 9 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Gordon 12
Simple zone blitz gets Morgan(+0.5, pressure +1) in unblocked but someone screws up their zone and allows the hitch right over Morgan to come open. This looks like Gordon(-1, cover -1)
O47 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Nickel 4-3 Run N/A Iso Morgan 4
Gordon walks down as an extra LB as M goes one high. DTs Campbell(+0.5) and Heininger(+0.5) do a good job of constricting this hole, forcing the RBs to dance through it gingerly. Morgan(-1) pops to the wrong side of the FB—he's at MLB in this formation and probably doesn't know where his hitter is—which allows Edison to dart through a small gap between the FB and Campbell.
M49 2 6 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel even Run N/A Pin and pull zone Heininger 0
Heininger(+2) does not get sealed; he does one better than that by chucking the OL blocking him to the inside and popping up into the hole, taking out a second blocker and forcing the RB to slow. With Beyer(+0.5) holding the edge the cutback is the only thing left; Ryan(+0.5) has that handled in pursuit.
M49 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Hitch Campbell Inc
Zone blitz from Demens and Avery doesn't have time to get home; TerBush throws a quick hitch in the middle of the field that Campbell(+1, pressure +1) bats down. Woolfolk(+1, cover +1) was going to be there on the catch to make this tough.
Drive Notes: Punt, 22-7, 5 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Diamond screen Nickel even Pass 4 Transcontinental Floyd 18
Double pass with two options, one a TE running deep that Gordon(+1) covers. The other is the transcontinental, which is the only real option because linemen are releasing downfield. Floyd(-2) doesn't realize this and comes up late, then lets Siller outside of him without even touching him (tackling -1), turning a first down into a big gain. RPS -1.
M46 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read dive Gordon 3
Beyer forms up on the QB; handoff. Nothing playside with RVB(+0.5) driving his guy in to the play and ditto Heininger(+0.5); the cutback is there until Gordon(+1, tackling +1) comes up to make an excellent open field tackle as the RB cuts back behind everyone.
M43 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Throwaway Roh Inc
Roh(+1, pressure +1) beats the right tackle, and though it looks like TerBush can step up he bugs out for the corner. Martin(+0.5) is pursuing out there and TerBush has to chuck it OOB.
M43 3 7 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Scramble -- 2
More double pass stuff; Michigan covers(+1) the first read and then Siller starts running around aimlessly, picking up a few yards. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 29-7, 1 min 3rd Q. Clark, Hawthorne, and other backups start rotating in after M scores to go up 36-7. Seriousness: declining.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 5 PA Quick seam Demens 23
Oh noes is less fun when it happens to you. Avery is over the slot; he blitzes. Demens(-1, cover -1) is dropping off in response, it seems, and is staring down the QB but not getting sufficient depth on his drop. The seam opens up. Woolfolk's tackle is a dodgy one but he does rope him down after a few extra yards given up. Call it a push.
M47 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Clark 41
Michigan in man free with Woolfolk as the deep guy, except he's not so deep, he's moving forward at the snap less than ten yards off the LOS. This becomes a problem when Clark(-2) ignores the QB contain, causing a pull. Everyone else is headed to the playside and Floyd(-1) moves up too quickly, allowing Terbush to run by him before he can angle him into the help that doesn't really seem to be coming. Woolfolk(-1) never figures out the pull and ends up going derp on the playside; Floyd eventually runs it down.
M6 1 G Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Marin 1
Martin(+1) passes off the RG and gets into the center in the backfield, forcing the same cutback he forced a few times earlier. Van Bergen(+1) holds up against a double well, so no hole; Clark(+0.5) comes down to tackle on the cutback.
M5 2 G I-Form 4-3 under Penalty N/A False start -- -5
M10 2 G I-Form 46 bear Run N/A Pitch sweep Ryan -5
Late move to the line by Morgan into the bear spot. Ryan is sent to fly off the edge. He's past the TE before he can get out on him, submarines the FB, and sends the tailback flailing skyward with a diving arm tackle. +3. Even if he whiffs here—a strong possibility—he's gotten a two-for-one on the FB and TE and Morgan should be able to force it back into unblocked help.
M15 3 G Shotgun empty 3-3-5 Nickel Pass 3 Quick post Morgan 12
Michigan drops eight, and I think it's either Ryan (who doesn't get over to the center of the zone fast enough, instead dropping too far into a post route in the center of the field that Gordon has) or Morgan (who's lined up over the guy and gives him inside position despite starting with inside leverage). Given the way the play looks—it appears to be man with three deep behind it—I think it's Morgan (-1, cover -1)
M3 4 G Shotgun trips 2-back Goal line Run N/A Yakety sax Demens 2
Slot covered, so pretty obvious run. What that run was supposed to be we'll never know because the two tailbacks run into each other. TerBush tries to improvise but gets chopped down short of the goal line by Demens(+1), who did beat a block to get to this quasi-hole. Ryan(+0.5) scraped way over to help, too.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 36-7, 9 min 4th Q. It's total scrub mode from this point on. Charting ceases.

"Total scrub mode?" A bunch of starters were out there!

"Total scrub mode if Michigan had available scrubs they weren't trying to redshirt," then.

What about Talbott? Taylor? Robinson (Marvin Edition)? Furman?

Hmmm. Taylor's hurt, I think. Meanwhile I'm guessing they're in maximum-snap-acquirement mode for freshman Countess. I'm not sure about the other guys.

But anyway I'm not charting that stuff. It is not representative of the football game. You know how I know?

I ask the questions?

Because Purdue acquired yards. On the ground.

At least give me that I exclaim chart!

You exclaim chart!

[Note: with Purdue unable to stay on the field and the last 13 plays excised for uselessness, this is only 43 snaps. IE: less than half some performance-type-substances from last year. Adjust expectations accordingly by multiplying by ~1.6 to get relatively normalized numbers.

You can also look at the +/- ratio, which is hovering around 3:1 for the DL (dirty) and 60% for the DBs (quality), with the linebackers hovering around planet okay.]

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 5 1.5 3.5 Somewhat quiet day.
Martin 11 2.5 8.5 Two sacks and a number of plays he forced away from blocking.
Roh 6.5 2.5 4 Got some useful speed rush; half sack in uncharted time.
Brink - 0.5 -0.5 Eh.
Heininger 5 2 3 Played pretty well; seems to turn in a play or two per week.
Black - - - Didn't register.
Campbell 2 1 1 Not getting a ton of push.
TOTAL 29.5 10 19.5 Clark also –1.5. Solid performance from the starters.
Player + - T Notes
C. Gordon - - - DNP
Demens 3 3 0 Not much got to him thanks to Martin.
Herron - - - DNP
Ryan 8.5 3 5.5 No argh moments, a couple wow experiences.
Fitzgerald - 2 -2 Behind Demens for a reason.
Jones - - - Garbage time.
Evans - - - DNP
Beyer 0.5 1.5 -1 Michigan working in their depth a bit more.
Hawthorne - - - Only garbage time.
Morgan 3.5 3 0.5 An improvement on Hawthorne, but still a work in progress.
TOTAL 15.5 12.5 3 Decent play from most, no real standout plays save Ryan's.
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 3.5 6 -2.5 Best cover guy now so keep that in mind; tackling struggles do not outweigh his contribution to the cover metric below.
Avery 4 - 4 Mostly the INT.
Woolfolk 4 - 4 Played well at safety. Not as solid a tackler as Kovacs but good in coverage.
Kovacs - - - Come back soon.
T. Gordon 4.5 3 1.5 Solid tackling day.
Countess 1 2 -1 No one was really tested back here.
Johnson - - - : (
TOTAL 17 11 6 Very good save Floyd's tackling issues.
Pressure 9 1 8 Most of this a four man rush.
Coverage 11 6 5 Excellent number given the ratio.
Tackling 4 4 50% Floyd on the edge can be not so good.
RPS 8 4 4 Didn't give up much schematically after the first drive.

That is a quality day from the secondary, albeit one racked up in limited opportunities against a team that hardly goes deep, if they ever do. I didn't chart the final two drives, during which the Boilers were 6/9 for 47 yards. The drive before that was also pretty whatever and it featured two completions for 35 yards, both of them seemingly on the linebackers.

In time that can be described as meaningful, Michigan gave up 140 yards on 16 attempts, 48 of those on the screen. That's 6.1 YPA on the other 15 attempts. Aside from Floyd missing some tackles they did a good job. I wouldn't take too much out of it since Purdue is the most relentlessly dinky opponent Michigan will face.

More impressive than that was the rush defense, which gave up essentially nothing until Clark blew his contain on the zone read. Removing four sacks for 20 yards and Purdue still had just 109, 41 of those in garbage time thanks to a true freshman who's got two guys in front of him on the depth chart. Bolden averaged 2 YPC. Runs that don't heavily feature Clark making a mistake he won't get to make in a real game were barely better at 2.8.

Mike Martin is back!

Yeah, after getting blown out on a number of doubles against MSU Martin rebounded with a strong performance both statistically and when it came to the sorts of things that Don't Show Up In The Box Score. A large portion of the Bolden futility was Purdue trying to single block Martin and getting their angles blown up in return:

Forcing the cutback is 80% of the battle there; coming off to tackle yourself is just a bonus. You try running a fullback dive when the center is two yards in the backfield.

You are aware that Martin essentially threw the left guard into TerBush for a safety, but it remains a good example of his day:

This is what I like to see from my Mike Martin. That and rag-dolling a tailback like he is not present.

If he can do this against Iowa Coker will have a hard time. Dude is surprisingly agile for a truck but cutting in the backfield is doom for anyone his size. I imagine Iowa will do more doubling of him—Purdue wanted to get out on the linebackers so quickly they never really gave anyone help on Martin. Even Heininger got in on some of the single-blocked action.

Jake Ryan is living up to the promise implied by Sixteen Candles!

I do think we should slow our roll a little bit here. At this rate Ryan is going to be hyped to the moon over the offseason and when he's only pretty good as a sophomore everyone's going to be disappointed. He is learning, he is destructive, I still want to see him put on another 20 pounds and absorb Ryan Van Bergen's tao of weeble-wobbling before I start penciling him on the next three All Big Ten teams. One of his big plays was manufactured by Mattison, after all.

The other was not, though:

That is MAKING PLAYS. That's a +3 all the way, what with beating a tackle and submarining another blocker and tackling the dude in the backfield.

I dislike JT Floyd!

I've seen a couple of the educated football folk in the blogosphere and my twitter stream grouse about JT Floyd this week, and the numbers above do back that up. Getting chopped to the ground by an outside WR on a bubble is pretty bad, and Floyd's eh speed will always be an issue.

HOWEVA, I still think he's the best corner Michigan has right now. I base this off plays when opponents run twinned routes and I can see a Woolfolk or Countess cover the same slant on the same call; almost invariably Floyd is hugging the receiver tighter. This is not the best example because the QB set him up for this one but whether it's in man or zone Floyd seems to get more plays on the ball than anyone else in the secondary:

Meanwhile, count the long receptions Floyd's given up this year… I've got one, an undefendable Michael Floyd fade on which he had a rake at the ball. When they go after Michigan deep it was Woolfolk and Countess getting most of the exposure. That's good enough for me when trying to figure out who's good in an area of the field you only see when someone hasn't been good (or one of Michigan's quarterbacks has decided they're tired of being on the field).

Floyd's not going to go down as a great or probably even get drafted; he's still Michigan's best corner until Countess takes that mantle from him.

Morgan is the WLB forever!

I think he's the long-term solution on most downs. I like it when linebackers can shed and form tackle, even if it's on a kickoff:


I still see a place for Hawthorne on the defense in a nickel package. Many of his plusses this year have been in tight, instant-tackle coverage on third and medium. Morgan had a not-so-much moment over the weekend:

Froshbits that will get better with time, yes. I still think if you've got a safety/LB hybrid who's shown an aptitude for playing underneath coverage on medium-length third downs there's a place for that guy on your D. When the run you're worried about is a draw I wouldn't mind seeing Hawthorne out there.

How plausible is this? Well, BWS caught a nickel blitz late that again showed Mattison's desire to have one of his linebackers bug out to an unexpected place on a zone blitz. Check #7:


They tried this earlier in the year with Herron and it didn't go well. They didn't bring it out until Hawthorne came in against the Boilers, and it seems like if there's anyone on the roster who can run like an NFL linebacker in coverage it's him. I wouldn't put it past Mattison to start using Hawthorne like a dimeback to give his zone blitz schemes a little more terror. He's an interesting player.


Martin in particular but the rest of the line as well—constant harassment of the QBs and the opponent had no running game at the same time your MLB had one solo tackle.


Floyd's edge tackling was a source of problems. Pretty much the only one except a bad playcall on the first drive.

What does it mean for Iowa and the future?

I stole my own thunder above talking about Coker, but to reiterate: the key in the ground game will be to get the penetration they were getting today and slow Coker in the backfield. He takes time to get up to speed and is a one-cut-and-go type guy. If Martin/RVB can make him a one-cut-and-stop type guy they'll go a long way towards… uh… holding most of his runs to like four yards because you can't stop the guy from falling forward. I don't have faith in Michigan's linebackers to be able to stop that guy in his tracks. Kovacs's health will be important here—the downgrade in tackling from him to Woolfolk is obvious.

As for Iowa's passing game, prepare for a stiff test. Michigan hasn't faced a player of McNutt's quality in an environment that will allow for throwing instead of hoping since Notre Dame, and they escaped from that mess by the skin of their teeth. McNutt isn't on that level… quite.

LT Reilly Reiff, hyped up as a possible first rounder, struggled alarmingly with Minnesota DEs; if Michigan can get the same kind of pressure with their front four Iowa fans have been bitching all year about a certain deer-in-the-headlights quality to Vandenberg when he gets pressure. 



November 3rd, 2011 at 2:39 PM ^

The only secondary player we graduate is Woolfolk. Countess and Floyd start at corner back. Avery is our nickleback and Kovacs/Gordan are our safeties.

So for future depth we have Taylor, Talbott, Carter, Hollowell, MRob and Furman developing and we are bringing in 5 (maybe up to 7!) DBs next year. I think our depth will be fine starting next year.

That's at least 16 players for 4-5 spots. We'll be fine.


November 3rd, 2011 at 1:54 PM ^

I'm not sure what the DE's actual responsibility is there, but after watching football for all my life I know when teams go to the diamond formation there is a 99% chance one of 4 plays are going to be called.

1. Quick pass to the back diamond guy and he runs.

2. QB draw

3. Double Pass

4. Screen to TE on weak opposite side.

The DE on the TE side(Roh) goes crashing down and starts running toward the diamond.  Why?  No idea.  He has no chance of helping when he throws it to him and he's going to be burned if they go to the 2 constraint plays avilable,

I think this is just a terrible feel for football here unless someone else is supposed to be scraping over the top helping him out. 




November 3rd, 2011 at 1:54 PM ^

During the ND game we basically tried to shut Floyd down. While we couldn't stop him from gaining his yardage he never scored on us, and we basically made ND beat us with the other WRs for touchdowns which they did. Do you think this is the plan we use against Iowa to slow down McNutt? In that light, how good are the other Iowa WRs?

As for stopping Coker, do you think we use the 46 front that we used a couple times effectively against MSU? I know its weaknesses come when the opponents have an experienced QB that gets the ball out quickly, like Cousins did, but I don't know if Vandenberg is on that level.


November 3rd, 2011 at 2:01 PM ^

Morgan didn't score higher. I thought he really turned a corner last week. I guess it's the coverage that is holding him back. That being said I really think he has a bright future.

I think the same can be said for quite a few other defensive freshmen (countless, clark, beyer, taylor). Although we don't want to see that many freshman playing, it is nice to see them stepping up to the plate, and also makes the future of this defense look very promising.

Yinka Double Dare

November 3rd, 2011 at 2:15 PM ^

Michigan hasn't faced a player of McNutt's quality in an environment that will allow for throwing instead of hoping since Notre Dame
Forecast for Saturday is "breezy" with 15-25 mph winds blowing directly down/upfield. That's not trash tornado, but it's likely to have some significant effect again.


November 3rd, 2011 at 3:24 PM ^

Mostly it's "bring in the nickelback," but not always.

Brian, please never repeat this statement. Dave Brandon may read this blog and take that as a mass fan appeal to have nickelback play the OSU half-time show.


November 3rd, 2011 at 4:33 PM ^

The names Demens, C. Gordon, Ryan, Morgan, Hawthorne, Beyer, Poole, Ross, Jenkins-Stone, Bolden and Ringer will be on the backs of some Michigan jerseys next year.  The guys wearing those jerseys will be coached by Greg Mattison, most for their second year of his tutelage.

I refuse to temper my expectations for next year or any year after that into the near future.