Upon Further Review: Defense vs Western Michigan Comment Count

Brian September 9th, 2009 at 2:43 PM

What in the hell is this? It's "Upon Further Review," MGoBlog's comprehensive, numbers-heavy breakdown of Michigan's previous game. It takes until Wednesday/Thursday because it's a lot of work.

A note on video: changes to the torrent format killed the thing I'd been using to cut clips out, unfortunately, and I haven't found a solution yet. I'm really trying to get this squared away and will add them to the post as soon as possible. For now, no video.

UPDATE! Video good to go thanks to askarpo.

A note before we start: attempted to assimilate the offseason knowledge I picked up about over, under, and 30 fronts and actually pick out which shift Michigan was in before every play. This did not go well, so take the below with something of a grain of salt. I do think I got the "Base 4-3" right but I was marking 30 fronts—two gap fronts akin to an NFL 3-4—4-3 under fronts most of the game. And I'm still a little hazy. This, I believe, is the 4-3 under we've talked about all offseason:


Roh is a stand-up guy outside the weakside tackle. RVB is in a 3 technique over the weakside guard. Martin is the NT, shaded slightly to the strongside of the center (a 1-tech). And Graham is in a 7 outside the strongside tackle. The linebackers have shifted to the strongside.

This is basically the same thing with Roh's hand in the dirt against an I-form tight formation; Michigan brings Mike Williams up for an eight-man front on short yardage:


And this is the under again against a balanced formation; you can see that Graham has taken a considerably more outside stance and the guard is "bubbled" over Ezeh, which means he can just run out and block him:


As for platooning: there was none. Michigan spent the entire game in a 4-3 if you count Roh a DE and Brown a safety. If you want to call it a 3.5-3-4.5 I wouldn't look at you funny. At least, not too funny. They did rotate in backups on the defensive line after the first few drives.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Shotgun Empty Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Graham 3
Wow. Mike Patrick in HD. Wow. Anyway: Graham starts off with a bang, blowing through the RT and hitting Hiller as he throws. (+1, pressure +1.) Ball is accurate but a short dumpoff that Ezeh and company snuff out after a short gain. (Cover +1, Ezeh +0.5)
O20 2 7 Ace Unbalanced 4-3 Under Run Dive Roh 3
Roh(+1), in a two-point stance as Michigan moves to an under look, attacks the RT. RT doesn't look like he's attempting to block Roh, as the play is supposed to go up the middle. This is a mistake: Roh gets underneath the guy and blasts him back into the ballcarrier as he passes. An unblocked Ezeh—no Broncos got off their doubles—cleans up. Michigan was in a pure eight-man front here, BTW, with a blitz off the edge from Williams absorbing a pulling TE. Would like Ezeh to be a little more proactive here and shut this down closer to the LOS.
O22 3 5 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Out Brown Inc
Quick out intended to exploit Brown in man coverage; Graham(+0.5) busts through the line a bit but it shouldn't be enough to throw off Hiller. Ball is wide of the receiver and dropped. Brown(+1, cover +1) was close enough so that a catch was unlikely to pick up the first down anyway.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q. The payoff of switching from Thompson to Brown at SLB is immediately apparent.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Cissoko 6
Quick hitch against Cissoko, who backed out before the snap and wasn't in position to defend this. Immediate tackle, FWIW, assisted by Mouton. No cover +/-.
O39 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Run Inside zone RVB 4
An attempt to plow up the middle sees RVB doubled and blown back a couple yards. Martin holds the POA pretty decently and Roh fights to hold the space down but RVB's loss of ground allows a guy to get to Ezeh's knees. RVB fights through the double to tackle two yards downfield; the RB falls forward for the first. I think maybe a -0.5 to RVB.
O43 1 10 Ace trips 4-3 Under Run Zone left Graham 2
Initially an I-form with a WR at FB; he motions out. Woo Debord-level deception. Graham(+1) blows the playside guard back, which forces a cutback into Mike Martin(+0.5), who avoided a cut and is the first of three or four tacklers.
O45 2 8 I-form 3-wide 4-3 Under Pass Throwaway Brown Inc
Western goes max pro as Michigan blitzes, which could be bad. But Cissoko(+1) is jamming his man all the way downfield, Brown(+1) has read this guy's crossing route and is running it for him, and Hiller has nowhere to go when the pressure, stymied initially(-1), gets through. He chucks it away. (Cover +2)
O45 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Fly Graham Inc
Graham(+2) zips right around the right tackle and deposits his face in Hiller's chest just as he releases a ball he shouldn't throw. The pass is a skyward duck that somehow manages to find turf. (Pressure +2) Also watch Roh(+1) set the left tackle up inside and then pwn him with a spin move to get free. If Graham wasn't eating the right tackle's baby this would be his pressure.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 8 min 1st Q. There are many good plays happening here. On next drive Herron in for Roh, Banks in for RVB.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 Under Pass Fly Warren Inc
Williams rolled up on the short side as Brown takes the slot. Hiller drops back and attempts to bomb it deep; Warren(+1, cover +1) has position and gets a bump before the ball is in the air, disrupting the pattern.
O40 2 10 Wildcat Base 4-3 Run Zone read fake counter Mouton? 6
Wildcat play with a tailback at QB; Michigan responds by pulling Williams to the LOS for another man in the box. This play sees two players pull to the opposite site of a zone read fake. The QB pulls the ball out of the RB's belly and runs a counter, using the RB as a lead blocker. I'm not exactly sure what the responsibilities are here but: 1) I think Herron correctly cuts off the guard and bounces the play outside of him. I think Williams does okay to get outside; I think Mouton's over aggressive, and I know Ezeh(-1) is hesitant and blocked out of the play. It's only a desperation tackle from Herron that keeps this down; Ezeh was done.
O46 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Pass Slant Warren Inc
Hiller rifles it high and too hot for Nunez. Warren was in good position to make a tackle and make this a tough catch no matter what, but this is probably a first down if thrown better. No cover +/-.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 5 min 1st Q. Warren in people's shirts and it will continue, to effects both good and bad.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O42 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Dumpoff -- 5
Four man rush gets nowhere against five blockers (pressure -2) and Hiller's given time to survey. With no one open (cover +1) he checks down.
O47 2 5 Ace Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Warren Inc
Simple five yard hitch open in front of sort of soft coverage from M; Warren comes up to belt just as the ball arrives, aided by the fact that Hiller's pass is a bit in front of the WR and leaves him out to dry. Warren(+1) has jarred the ball loose with his thumping hit.
O47 3 5 Shotgun Empty 3-3-5-ish Penalty False Start -- Pen -5
FWIW: Roh's been pulled off the line on this play and deployed as a Crable-esque freelance wreaker of havoc. He drops off into a short zone on this play. Which doesn't count.
O42 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5-ish Pass Comeback Cissoko Int
Michigan does the same thing, providing an accursed three-man rush. It works, though, as Hiller is forced to check down (cover +1) to a guy running a comeback with no chance at the first down because Brown(+1) has gotten a great drop. Hiller's throw is off and the ball deflect to Cissoko(+1), who intercepts.
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-0, 4 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 I-Form Tight Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Ezeh 3
This is a little better from Ezeh(+1), as he dodges one blocker and then gets inside of another one, disengaging to tackle after a few yards. Roh(-1) had given up the edge, shooting inside for pressure that was irresponsible and yielding the gap that turned Ezeh's good play into damage mitigation.
O30 2 7 I-form 3-wide 4-3 Under Run Draw Roh -4
All right, so this time Roh does basically the exact same thing, only this time he's crushed the right tackle and single-handedly blown up a draw play. +2; results-based charting service. Note that Van Bergen(+1) had also beaten his guy and would have crushed this a little less forcefully if Roh hadn't done it first.
O26 3 11 Shotgun Empty 3-3-5-ish Pass Hitch Graham Inc
This is another three-man rush where Roh drops off into coverage; this time Graham(+2) again obliterates the RT and is in immediately, hitting Hiller as he throws and forcing a one-hopped throw to a guy who was going to get three yards anyway. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 2 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 I-Form Tight 4-3 Under Run Iso Ezeh 7 (Pen -5)
Not a good situation from M from the snap as the Broncos have overloaded the wide side with two TEs and a FB and just run right at Stevie Brown and... uh... walk-on Will Heininger. Heininger(-1) gets swallowed by a double; Ezeh(-1) “catches” a block in the words of Steve Sharik, and it's up to Woolfolk to come up and tackle after a seven-yard gain. Play comes back for illegal formation.
O24 1 15 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass Yakety Sax -- -14
Supposed to be a screen but Hiller pulls a Threet with it, losing the ball backwards for no particular reason and suffering a huge loss.
O10 2 29 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Cissoko 6
Okay, yeah, whatever. No problem with soft coverage on second and twenty nine. Cissoko makes a solid tackle.
O16 3 23 Shotgun trips 3-3-5-ish Pass Jailbreak screen Ezeh -1
Ezeh(+2) recognizes quickly, slashes past his supposed blocker before he can get out, and tackles immediately. (Cpver +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-0, 10 min 2nd Q. This was just Western shooting itself in the foot.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 ??? ??? Pass Rollout out Cissoko Inc
We don't get the start of the play because of a sideline reporter. When we come back, Hiller is rolling out. He pumps, then throws to a WR running an out that Cissoko(+1) has undercut and breaks up (cover +1).
O26 2 10 Ace 4-3 Under Pass Hitch Warren 5
Another one of those dinko passes; Hiller leaves this one a little upfield which probably costs Western a yard or two. Warren comes up and makes a solid tackle. No coverage; +0.5 for the tackle.
O31 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5-ish Pass Deflection Ezeh Inc
Roh lined up as a quasi standup DT a la Crable. He and Banks drop off into zones as Brown and Ezeh blitz from the other side. This gets Ezeh(+1) in unblocked; he leaps to deflect Hiller's pass, and Woolfolk nearly picks it off. Excellent coverage on the receivers Hiller was checking (Woolfolk +1, cover +1). Steve Sharik analyzed this play in a diary.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-0, 6 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form Base 4-3 Pass Dumpoff Brown 2
Michigan doesn't get lined up quite in time before the snap but still defends this well. Initial hitch is pumped but decided against (Warren +1, cover +1) and then Hiller comes down to a checkdown that Brown(+1) tackles immediately on.
O22 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Tipped Hitch -- 6
Four man rush doesn't get much pressure(pressure -1) and Hiller can check down to the tailback. If he catches the ball he gains like two yards because JB Fitzgerald(+1) is going to crush him as the ball arrives. Instead he deflects the ball into the air, where another WMU receiver snags it for decent yardage. Unfortunate. (Cover +1)
O28 3 2 Ace 4-4 under Pass Hitch Warren 11
Okay, Michigan has done this a few times so I'm going to dub it something: 4-4 under. This is a balanced formation with Woolfolk a deep safety and Williams pulled up to the line as an extra OLB. Warren is in man against an outside receiver who runs a two-yard hitch which is too open; he compounds this by slipping a bit on his break and therefore not being there on the catch to tackle. He sets up outside and forces the receiver back into Brown. (-1 Warren, -1 cover.)
O39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 Under Pass Hitch -- Inc
No pressure(-1) from a four man rush; Hiller finds a guy on a littler hitch for what would be four or five but turfs it.
O39 2 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Slant Cissoko 6
A two or three yard delayed slant; Cissoko's in man but doesn't break well, allowing the receiver to pick up a few yards after the catch. (Cover -1, Cissoko -0.5)
O45 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 Under Pass Out Cissoko 9
Hiller throws an out on-time and accurate in from of Cissoko (cover -1).
M46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone left Mouton 7
RVB(+1) blows the RG back, cutting off the frontside and forcing the RB to almost stop; that should be the end of the play, but either Martin or Mouton has taken a poor angle and given up an unnecessary cutback lane. I think I blame Mouton(-1), but this could easily be on Martin. Help from the coaching gallery? Also check out Woolfolk's track and tackle.
M39 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Out Floyd 9
Super easy as Floyd(-1) is playing soft and is nowhere near this WR's route when the ball arrives. Three yards of YAC. (Cover -1)
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5-ish Pass Hitch Warren 13
Warren bailing out into a three-deep zone that leaves a simple hitch wide open for a first down. Lot of irritating soft coverage on this drive. (Cover -1)
M17 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone left Graham -2
Graham(+1) blasts the LT back, causing a cutback, where Sagesse(+1) has burst through the line and tackle with an assist from Herron.
M19 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Scramble Graham 2
Hiller drops back and is looking for the endzone; first read covered(+1). Graham(+0.5) fights through a blocker eventually to flush Hiller, and on the rollout no one is open (cover +1); Mouton forces him out after a couple yards.
M17 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Sack RVB -9
RVB(+2) gets a great move on the G and shoots up into the pocket, which means that Roh(+1), who 's plowed the LT back, can't be avoided; as Hiller attempts to scramble out Roh grabs him and sacks. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(44), 31-0, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O3 1 10 I-Form Tight Base 3-4 Run Iso Graham 2
They shoot it up the middle and everyone holds their ground pretty well. Graham(+1) bursts inside and comes from outside to tackle at the LOS; a whole bunch of bodies fall forward.
O5 2 8 I-Form Tight Base 3-4 Run Iso Herron 4
This is actually a nine-man front, but Michigan is a bit confused about who should go where. On the snap Herron(-1) is confused and slants inside, so there's no one to take out the pulling guard and bounce the play. He recovers to tackle with Mouton but the pile lurches forward thanks to the guard's momentum.
O9 3 4 Ace 4-wide 4-3 Under Pass Slant Cissoko 13
Cissoko(-1) burned on the quick slant (cover -1) and isn't even in position to tackle immediately; when he does close the receiver runs through the attempt. Woolfolk cleans up.
O22 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Pass Hitch Warren 5
Again with the short dinky stuff; this one features an immediate tackle from Warren.
O27 2 5 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Drag -- 7
Four man rush doesn't get pressure(-1), leaving Hiller to check out his options. Finding no one open (cover +1) he comes to a checkdown on the crossing route that picks up a first. Decent enough reaction from the secondary. Very few missed tackles today.
O34 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Pass Flanker screen Brown 7
Brown, lined up in a blitz position, takes two beats before dropping off into a zone. This is called by Robinson no minus, but the delay allows the flanker screen to develop; Brown does track down to tackle eventually.
O43 2 3 Ace 3-wide 4-3 Under Pass Sack Martin -3
Martin(+3) blows right through the center and, when Hiller hesitates on his three step drop, sacks authoritatively. GET IN THE CAR. (Pressure +2) Replay.
O46 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Pass Fly Warren 23
Michigan sends a bunch and they're about to get to Hiller, Brown first, when he lofts one up to a guy that Warren has blanketed. As he turns upfield to find the ball and possibly intercept—he's got two steps on the receiver—the WR's feet get in his and he falls to the ground. I'm not going to minus this because it's pure bad luck on an otherwise great play. (Pressure +1)
M39 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Run Inside zone Ezeh 3
So, yeah, this is something Steve Sharik was talking about in his diary: the frontside of this play is completely jammed; the RB has nowhere to go, and Ezeh's watching the guy come right at him. He can attack this play for no gain or a loss. Instead, he's hesitant and allows the guy to get into the hole, then slip by him for four yards that should never have happened. (-1 Ezeh) Good play by Sagesse(+1) to close down that frontside.
M36 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Pass Slant Graham Inc
Graham(+1) avoids a cut, notices he's in the throwing lane, and bats the ball down. (Pressure +1)
M36 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Pass Drag Mouton 10
Graham's third near-sack of the day; he comes tearing around the corner(+2, pressure +2) instantly and has Hiller in his grasp about to sack when he dumps it off to a guy on a drag route in front of Mouton(-1) in man. Tough cover for a LB in man on a drag but results-based charting in most cases (cover -1).
M26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Zone read dive Ezeh 9
I can't tell if this is on Patterson or Ezeh. It's a zone read dive on which Patterson is unblocked but takes an angle that makes him unable to track down the RB. It's a pretty quick-hitting play and he might have contain on the QB, though Hiller's not exactly Denard. Ezeh, meanwhile, gets free of the LT with a sweet spin move... that sees him completely out of position. Without knowing who's responsible for what I can't really render judgement. -1 for both, I guess.
M17 2 1 I-Form Tight ??? Pass Long handoff -- Inc
Don't know what this defense is supposed to be because it appears Herron doesn't either. He's still trying to find out where he goes when they snap the ball. Hiller just airmails a long handoff, though.
M17 3 1 Shotgun Tight Base 3-4 Run QB draw Mouton 0
WMU screws something up because Mouton just isn't blocked and the pulling guard has no chance to get to him by the time Hiller arrives. He submarines and tackles(+0.5). Actually, this is the backup QB.
M17 4 1 Ace 3-wide 4-3 Under Pass Rollout out Brown Inc
This is open in front of Brown in man; he didn't look totally prepared for the snap. Hiller again does Michigan a favor and wings it wide.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 31-0, 1 min 3rd Q. After a very solid first half there's some confusion on a number of plays here.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Run Zone read keeper Mouton 11
Mouton(-2) crashes hard and this is no scrape, so Hiller just pulls it out and has tons of room.
O48 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-4 base Pass Fly Warren Inc (Pen +15)
Martin(+2) again blows through the center; the center sort of grabs at him, which slows him down and draws a flag. Hiller has just enough time to get a pass away. Again it's to a receiver that Warren has blanketed, but Warren doesn't get his head around for the ball and the WR tries to run through him and he gets called. I hate flags like this. Bad call. Penalties offset (pressure +2, cover +1)
O48 1 10 I-form 3-wide Base 4-3 Run FB Dive Roh 4 + 15 Pen
WMU runs the FB-dive outside-pitch combo, giving it off on the dive. They catch Michigan in a stunt so there's no resistance until Roh(+0.5) comes around to tackle. Their rock, our scissors... a little. Not like this was a big gain. Warren(-2) picks up a personal foul afterwards.
M33 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 Under Pass Yakety Sax Mouton Int
Corner/LB/S blitz from whatever the heck Williams is gets him in unblocked (+1, cover +1) after he slips by the RB coming out of the backfield. Hiller loads up to throw deep—FWIW this would have been a shot at Floyd and from what I can tell his coverage is pretty good as they run off the screen—but Threets it, fluttering a ball skyward that Mouton(+1) dives to grab.
Drive Notes: Interception, 31-0, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O15 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 Under Run Zone read keeper Mouton 3
Backup QB in. This has an option to pitch that the QB doesn't take. Good job by Mouton(+1) to wade through some trash, read the play, and tackle.
O18 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Pass Bubble screen -- Inc
Hiller back in and just overthrows this. He has not been good.
O18 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Pass Slant Warren Inc (Pen + 6)
Warren(-1, cover -1) is all over the receiver and gets a deserved flag.
O24 1 10 I-Form Tight Base 3-4 Run Iso Graham 3
Graham ends up fighting through a double but can't make a diving tackle attempt; his vacating the area leaves a bunch of linebacker sorts attempting to hold back a wave of OLs. The pile lurches forward for a bit and West can dive for a few. Em… nothing?
O27 2 7 I-Form Tight 4-3 Under Pass Post Floyd 73
The big touchdown. Floyd(-3) gets burned badly and Woolfolk(-3) is sucked up despite having the deep center of the field. Note that Graham was about to tear into Hiller, too. (Cover –3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-7, 12 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form 4-3 Under Pass Corner Floyd 29
Graham, Roh, Martin out FWIW, so it's getting pretty scrubby out there. I'm going to stop tracking pressure and cover at this point. Floyd(-1) gets burned on a corner route that Hiller hits.
O49 1 10 I-Form 4-3 Under Run FB Dive Sagesse 1
No push whatsoever from the line and no creases as Sagesse(+1) and RVB(+1) hold up against doubles. FB dive goes nowhere.
50 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Out Brown 11
Ezeh comes on a blitz and spectacularly hurdles the RB who attempts to block him, but Hiller's got the ball away. Good timing, good accurate route against Brown(a harsh -0.5).
M39 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Run Dive Martin 4
Martin(-1) has come back in and is clearly trying to do one of his crazy ninja pass rush moves because he hops outside a guard just in time for WMU to run a dive where he would have been normally. Linebackers converge with Ezeh(+1) raking the ball free. Michigan recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 31-7, 7 min 4th Q.


Wait just a second, there's another caller on the line.

What do you make of the performance of the Michigan defense against Hiller and WMU?  My initial observation was that they just shut down a future NFL quarterback and that's a great sign for the rest of the year.  Upon further contemplation I got to wondering how much of a factor Hiller's health was.  He had off season knee surgery and when other players have ligament operations we tend to hear it takes them a full year to be completely confident in it again.  Is this the same for quarterbacks and if so, was this a contributing factor in Hiller's poor performance? 

Andy Heck

Hiller was not as advertised. He yakety-saxed a couple balls, airmailed a few others, and was considerably less accurate than Forcier. But the Michigan defense had something to do with that. They got a considerable amount of pressure for such a dink-and-dunk offense and usually covered Hiller's first read unless they were intentionally playing soft. And they tackled much better. It's a lot easier to see this in a—



Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Graham 12 - 12 Ended two drives  and should have caused two INTs with dominating pass rush; lack of a sack nearly inexplicable.
Heininger - 1 -1 Got one drive, maybe two IIRC.
Patterson - 1 -1 Came on after Heininger.
Roh 5.5 1 4.5 Pretty good debut; showed a variety of pass-rush moves including a sick spin.
Herron 0.5 1 -0.5 Did make one good tackle from behind to prevent a long gainer.
Martin 5.5 1 4.5 Two great pass rush moves on the interior are most of those points.
Van Bergen 5 0.5 4.5 More effective on review; did not give ground, albeit against a MAC team.
Sagesse 3 - 3 Functional. We haz depth?
TOTAL 31.5 5.5 26 Crushing; not surprising when Michigan picked up three sacks and should have had three more.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 5.5 4 1.5 Instincts did not seem vastly improved but wasn't exploited in coverage once, which is a major step forward.
Mouton 2.5 4 -1.5 Seemed irresponsible.
Brown 4 0.5 3.5 Way better than Thompson against the spread.
Fitzgerald 1 - 1
Demens - - - Don''t think he played.
TOTAL 13 8.5 4.5 Not a huge number but more on their coverage later.
Player + - T Notes
Warren 3.5 4 -0.5 Special breakout on Warren later.
Cissoko 3 2.5 0.5 Solid, not spectacular.
Floyd - 5 -5 Yikes.
Turner - - - DNP
Woolfolk 1 3 -2 Harsh; breakout section
Williams 1 - 1 I love 1-0-1 days from safeties.
Emilien - - - DNP
Jones - - - DNP
TOTAL 8.5 14.5 -6 "Coverage" to mitigate.
Pressure 16 6 10 A couple of instances where four man-rushes got slowed but a lot of pressure from little blitzing.
Coverage 16 10 6 A lot of the minuses came after the shouting was over.

So there you go: big plus days in both the metrics, and if I'd remembered I wanted to add "tackling" this year I can tell you that tackling would have been hugely positive as well. When you're looking at the numbers, keep in mind that a large section of the minuses are directly attributable to JT Floyd, which says a lot about Michigan's corner depth but not much about the starting eleven, and that Michigan got pretty soft late.

What about Brown at his new position?

As Greg—


As GERG said, possibly apocryphally, he's "a hell of a lot better player there." Stripped of the requirement to find cosines and the like, Brown was free to be a super-athletic linebacker who's good in man and good at short zone drops without being a touchdown magnet. He's a modern OLB. We've yet to see if he can hold up against big pounders but with Notre Dame missing its starting fullback and starting a wisp of a pass-receiving TE, that potential weakness won't get tested just yet.

Speaking of, initial GERG review?

His defense makes a lot more sense than Shafer's even if it's almost the same formation. Michigan never got away from its base set but that's a lot less infuriating when the guy you're running out on third and long is Brown, not Johnny Thompson, and you've got the flexibility provided by a deathbacker. Michigan never, ever went to a three-man line except on obvious passing downs, never found themselves on the wrong end of a hugely speculative playcall, and rarely found themselves uncertain of what to do before the snap. GERG simplified the defense, made it flexible enough to function against spread teams without getting out of base, and put his players in positions to do what they do well.

Thumbs up after game one; game two will be a much stiffer test.

So Warren's day was… interesting. Argh Michael Floyd?

Short of being totally awesome in all ways I thought Warren's day was as encouraging as it could be given the three penalties and a couple plays that came at his expense. His game looked like that montage in a superhero movie where the hero performs a slapstick routine of smashing cars, punching through walls, and burning innocent pedestrians to death before he gets a handle on his newfound powers. Warren was hyper-aggressive in his first game free from bone chip soup in his ankle; the results were mixed-to-encouraging.

Plays marked "Warren" above:

  • Busts up long route with bump; has better position than the receiver.
  • Good position on a third and four slant that was fired too high and hard.
  • Thumps ball loose on a hitch. (Or, at least, helps a receiver who was already dropping the ball finish dropping the ball.)
  • Leaves two hitches open on Michigan's soft pre-half drive.
  • Immediate tackle on hitch.
  • Running a guy's route for him and going to be in position to intercept when receiver trips him (not in a penalty sort of way).
  • Running almost inside a guy's jersey and gets called for interference, which I think is a crappy call.
  • Gets deserved PI on a slant he was too aggressive on.

So… yeah, Warren had a couple incidents where Michigan gave up yards but the bulk of his day was running Juan Nunez's routes for him. Sometimes this got flagged and once he got tripped. But I'll take that sort of aggressive clamp-down coverage any day when the opponent is Michael Floyd. If Warren ends up a yard in front of Floyd the three to thirty times Notre Dame attempts to hit him deep, Michigan's going to be in good shape.

What happens when Notre Dame goes to three-wide?

Nothing. Michigan spent the entire day its base set and has no corner depth. They do have guys on the edge who can cover Robby "That's Racist" Parris or whoever; it's not like Notre Dame's backup WRs are speed demons.


Graham is the most obvious answer, and everyone shared in an all-around excellent performance before the D got backup- and vanilla-happy late.


JT Floyd looked overmatched by a MAC team, which bodes very unwell for Michigan's corner depth. Jonas Mouton didn't have a strong game, though as mentioned it's tough to tell how good his zone drops were and the way the game went suggests they went pretty well.

What does it mean for Notre Dame?

I've sort of gone from thinking this is a bad matchup for Michigan to thinking it's an okay one or even good. Stick Warren on Floyd and Cissoko on Tate, give them deep halves help, spare the blitzing and let Michigan's diverse and sundry rushers attack the Notre Dame defensive line… I can see this working out. The prospect of a max-protect bomb still worries given what happened against Western, but if Warren's as ready to live up to the five-star hype—and he looked far more likely to in the Western game than any other to date—and Michigan can get away with shifting the coverage over to Tate and pulling up a safety into a robber zone to bracket Rudolph, I like Michigan's chances to hold Notre Dame into that 20-24 point range where victory seems a strong possibility. Notre Dame's run game has always been a finesse sort of thing heavy on screens and draws, which plays into the hypothetical strengths of Michigan's slimfast defense

I watched the Nevada game and a lot of ND's first half production was based on exploiting Nevada's "explosive pass rushers" at defensive end, which rushers also happened to be completely irresponsible. Graham isn't likely to be as exploitable, but Roh or Herron might be. I'd line up Graham on the strongside, which might induce ND to have Rudolph stay in to block, as they're going to double him lots anyway.

The key will be the safeties. Woolfolk is going to have to think deep first and not get caught flat-footed like he did on the Western touchdown; if Michigan loses to Notre Dame because of ND's ground game, well… that will be a surprise.



September 9th, 2009 at 3:00 PM ^

I thought that Warren looked really good last Saturday, and I'm glad that the UFR confirms it. Of course, Floyd and Tate are much better than Western's receivers; it will be an interesting matchup to say the least.

Brother Mouzone

September 9th, 2009 at 4:15 PM ^

UFR is here! UFR is here!

Thank for the consistent quality work Brian. Much like Coach Rodriguez you have had your share of distractions (good and bad) but manage to step up with a quality product again.

I thought the performance against WMU had the fewest YAC I have seen from a Michigan team in a very long time.

If true is this attributed to being in position and crisp tackling? Attributed to GERG's simplified scheme? The benefits of a speedy "Barwised" defensive group? Talent differential?


September 9th, 2009 at 3:13 PM ^

If I were one of the coaches, it seems like it would be worth my time to look it over; unless they have somebody on staff who puts out something similar, but even then it would probably still be worth a look. Perhaps I just exposed my ignorance about coaching?

I do not know how you did it last year. I could not even bring myself to read them; I cannot imagine having to do one for games like Toledo (for most of the games, actually).


September 9th, 2009 at 3:18 PM ^

Brian, you are a bad, bad man. Well done. Also, question for any MGoUsers out there, I'm having trouble finding a FAQ about these, and I would like to read up on how exactly the +/-'s are given to each player on a given play. If this is somewhere obvious, please forgive my UFR n00b-ness.

Durham Blue

September 9th, 2009 at 3:24 PM ^

probably have good reasons to play Floyd instead of Teric Jones or JT Turner. But -5 for the game, in a backup role? Ouch. I am wondering if Turner or Jones (in that order) would be worth a shot against ND?


September 10th, 2009 at 10:12 AM ^

would be that both Jones and Turner are ahead of Floyd on the depth chart by the end of the year but not by this weekend. They are both true freshman and have only been here a couple weeks. I had said before the season started that Floyd wasn't a Michigan caliber cornerback and got some shit for it. One game is not definitive but man he looked pretty slow for a corner.


September 9th, 2009 at 3:20 PM ^

I could be way off, but...

There was a point in my past when I had gotten in to pretty good shape and played a few games of pick-up tackle football with friends. I was amazed at how much easier it was to bring someone down when I had confidence that my speed and strength were going to be enough to get the job done and all I had to think about was some semblance of form.

I felt like the Michigan D tackled the same way against WMU. There was no hesitation, particularly when faced with making a tackle in space. The D seemed to react quickly and make solid tackles on play after play. It was one of the most refreshing things I've seen from a Michigan team in a while.

I'd like to see a (+1 Barwis) added to the UFR to account for this dynamic.


September 9th, 2009 at 3:23 PM ^

"What happens when Notre Dame goes to three-wide?

Nothing. Michigan spent the entire day its base set and has no corner depth. They do have guys on the edge who can cover Robby "That's Racist" Parris or whoever; it's not like Notre Dame's backup WRs are speed demons."

I am not sure you can expect him in the slot in week 2, Kamara and Shaq Evans are more likely to see playing time with them both being healthy. Evans saw the field week 1 but didn't get thrown to and that was with the 1s still in the game. Kamara is coming off a scoped knee and was in good shape but was lacking in the game prep department. So there is a bit more speed back there if they go 3 wide.

Otherwise that is an impressive and fair break down.

Tom Pickle

September 9th, 2009 at 3:33 PM ^

If you were banking on the torrent being an .avi file you can use a program to convert the file like WinFF.


Another option would be making moving .gifs, they do cause a pretty fair amount of slowdown in older computers with minimal RAM or people using slower internet connections.

ex:Image and video hosting by TinyPic

If they're under 5 mbs or so it shouldn't be that big of an issue, especially if you just link to them rather than embedding them in the posts.

Not sure if this should have been an e-mail.


September 9th, 2009 at 3:41 PM ^

I was sitting around all morning thinking that this might be coming today. I found myself sitting here twitching in anticipation and scratching my chest like Tyrone Biggums. Now I am in my post-fix afterglow. Thank you Brian...UFR dealer.

I will co-sign with all comments regarding tackling. I have been in a constant bitch about the tackling since the NW game in 2000. It seems that now we have learned to use our hands to tackle rather than thinking our shoulders could do all of the work.


September 9th, 2009 at 3:46 PM ^

.....is it middle next week already? Sweet!!!

I kid, I kid, I kid.

Excellent stuff as always and thanks for providing this content. Takes me back to that sleepy day in what seems years ago when I first stumbled upon your humble e-blog. Always impressed at how the quality of this feature continues to get better each season.

Looking forward to tonight when I have a bit more time to digest all these glorious three and outs forced by the D.


September 9th, 2009 at 3:46 PM ^

ND can keep Rudolph in to block all they want. I would much rather have him attempting to block than running a pass route. Go back and watch the Nevada game and count how many times he just whiffed on guys.


September 9th, 2009 at 4:09 PM ^

I am sure Irish will chime in, but I am in total agreement with you on Rudoplh. Anytime he is in blocking is a win for Michigan because A.) he's not running routes, his speciality and B.) he is a liability blocking.

ND has not been able to run the ball consistency for a few seasons now and a lot of its is a personnel issue.

They have not found a back who runs as well as D. Walker, or a fullback who blocks as well as Schwap and while Rudolph is great passing catching TE, he is not half the blocker John Carlson was.

Please Charlie, block with him all day. No need to throw to him.


September 9th, 2009 at 4:29 PM ^

He did absolutely whiff on a couple blocks, with at least 1 allowing the Dlineman to blow up a run, but he is still a true sophomore so he will make mistates. It is a lot easier to forgive him with a TD reception though.

As easy as it would sound to identify a 6'6" 260lb TE running straight into the secondary, it amazes me how often he is just ignored, and not just by Nevada's secondary.


September 9th, 2009 at 4:36 PM ^

Weis should get credit for that. He is an excellent play caller when he has the right personnel, and form what I saw Saturday looks to have his play call mojo back up and running. Get used to seeing Rudolph wide open all season.

Not sure if he'll come around as a blocker, but you're right he is young and still growing a frame.

I am curious about some of those points I brought up and if you agree or not. I feel Walker might be one of the more underrated backs in ND history and they still have not found replacement legs for him, IMO.


September 10th, 2009 at 12:15 AM ^

My rant in the off season that I continually pounded on ND boards was why Walker was so successful. He didn't have amazing size, power or speed. It really came down to his vision to see the hole or look for a new one, and his patience to wait for a lineman to get down field and lay a block on a LB.

My basic impressions of the run game were fast running backs running into a tackle, and not necessarily running to get yards. Hopefully that makes some sense, but both Hughes and Allen had negatives against them. Hughes did not use his power or size, he needs to run through people, instead he kept trying to make tacklers miss which prevented him from building any momentum; Allen could not bounce off a tackle even when they didn't engage him and would go down too easily.

Since then, we have added a new Oline coach who also coordinates the run game and a new RB coach. The run game was promising in the spring game, but you can't draw a real conclusion from that, and showed well again during the open practice in the summer. Until the Nevada game there wasn't any proof that they had improved, but Allen showed great patience with the screen passes waiting for blocks to come and the vision I stomped about in the off season. Hughes has since moved to FB for at least this week and will be replacing Aldridge(separated shoulder). Jonas Gray is now the #2RB, and he was very impressive last weekend. Also, I didn't mention it in my other write ups but Nevada's run defense last year was 8th in the nation, allowing something like 88 yards per game.

If your interested in actual plays head over to bluegraysky.com they have a few queued up in their break down of the game


September 9th, 2009 at 4:59 PM ^

I don't know if anyone has commented this or maybe it's even fixed, but the video links are off by one. I think it starts with the first interception video being linked in a later play, but I could be wrong...

I don't know how anyone finds the time to do all this in such amazing detail, great job Brian!