Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Notre Dame Comment Count

Brian September 12th, 2013 at 1:57 PM

FORMATION NOTES: A very passive, bend-but-don't break outing. Michigan started in their 4-3, eventually transitioning to a nickel package basically full-time in the second half. Almost the entire game Michigan maintained a two-deep shell. Canonical example:


Michigan walked Jarrod Wilson into the box for about two plays in the second half, after Notre Dame had gotten some nice runs.

4-3-nickel ND passed once, ran for two yards the second time (an offsides call that wasn't relevant to the play wiped that out) and then started passing again.

Late, Michigan started sending the house against Rees in high leverage situations. This is pure cover zero on which Michigan sent seven guys against six blockers. These are denoted as "Okie."


That one was actually in the first half; their frequency increased as Michigan got deeper into the game.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: The secondary was Wilson/TGordon/Countess/Taylor the almost the whole way with Hollowell getting all of the nickelback snaps (he was on the outside with Countess at nickel). Stribling got a little bit of time replacing Taylor in the third quarter and Avery got a few snaps instead of Wilson.

The ILB rotation was the usual three way split between Morgan, Bolden, and Ross. It seemed about equal to the CMU breakdown, with Bolden in on 50% of snaps and the other two around 75%. Beyer got a lot more playing time than Gordon because he was a nickel DE; Gordon got a significant amount of run only before the nickel switch.

On the line, Clark and Ojemudia split the WDE snaps, no Charlton. Black was out there for just about every snap, first as the three-tech and then as the nose as Michigan went almost the entire second half without playing a true nose tackle. Wormley and Glasgow rotated in at the other DT spot, with Beyer and occasionally Gordon on the other DE. Washington and Pipkins played somewhat in the first half, and then barely at all in the second. I actually thought Pipkins was getting a good bull rush and that removing him was weird; we believe that Washington was playing through injury.

[After THE JUMP: run at us! Please! We're begging you!]

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Pin and pull zone Beyer 7
Heitzman(+1) doesn't get a first level blocker and shoots upfield into one of the pullers, occupying the second puller and forcing a bounce. Morgan(-0.5) flows up unblocked and allows the back outside, but Beyer(-2) is really the issue since he's the force player and gets locked inside by a wide receiver, giving up the corner. Countess comes up to force it inside at the numbers; Ross and Beyer tackle.
O32 2 3 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Hitch Countess Inc
Rees wings it wide of Jones on a seven yard hitch. Countess was there to tackle, but as Hoke said they were giving up this route all night. Cover push.
O32 3 3 Pistol twin TE 4-4 over Run N/A Power O Clark -1
Michigan slides Clark inside and Beyer to the LOS just before the snap, allowing Clark(+2) to shoot inside the gap created by the pulling guard. Washington(+1) shot right and split two blockers, leaving Morgan(+0.5) a free hitter right up the middle. His services are not needed as Clark makes the play in the backfield. RPS+2. M had this dead to rights.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 over Pass 4 Flash screen Taylor 3
Taylor(+1) shoots past the blocking WR, forcing it back inside for a quick-reacting Clark(+1) to tackle after a meh gain.
O28 2 7 Pistol twins 2TE 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Glasgow 5
Variation here as the wing TE comes to the backside to take the end; Clark(-0.5) is thrown off by the OL over him not engaging and gets too far upfield. Glasgow(-1) is blown off the ball by a double; Bolden(+0.5) and Ross(+0.5) respond by flowing up into the gaps to either side to prevent serious damage, but when the DT ends up four yards downfield so does the back.
O33 3 2 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Ojemudia 1
Ojemudia dives inside not only his blocker but also Black, lined up inside of him. This leaves the defense no force player if they actually execute the end-around they threaten or Carlisle just cuts back. Mattison said a linebacker was supposed to have the bounce; Ross(-1) does not move out to fill Ojemudia's spot. Black(+1) and Pipkins(+1) effectively two-gap their guys as ND immediately moves to the second level and Ojemudia(+2) shows up in the hole to initiate a tackle. Countess(+0.5) comes up at the end to prevent the RB from leaning forward for the first down. RPS +2. Exchange got this.
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-0, 9 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Clark 12
With Gordon split over the slot this is six in the box; tough to stop. Pipkins(+1) wins a one on one battle with the C and drive him back, threatening to two-gap the RB if he goes anywhere on the frontside. Cutback. Clark(-1) gets shoved inside by the TE and gets no push, so there's a bounce; Ross hit it up the middle in an attempt to shoot a gap before someone could come off the Glasgow(-1) double since Glasgow got blown up. Wilson fills downfield and Ross/CGordon chase inside out to end it. RPS –1.
O37 1 10 Pistol trips 4-3 under Pass 4 PA Hitch Taylor 12
Taylor(+1, cover +1) is all over the WR and has a play on the ball to get a PBU; receiver makes a tough catch to bring it in.
O49 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Post Morgan 22
Clark in a two point stance off the LOS but the line is still in a 4-man front. Bit of a tip that he'll drop and Beyer will go; that does happen. Morgan(-2, cover -2) either doesn't get the right call or has a crappy zone drop because he goes with the RB wheel route that Clark is tracking and opens up the skinny post to the inside. That would normally be his guy but they flipped the D.
M29 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Corner Taylor Inc
No pressure at all, but this is an eight-man protection with four rushers, so no minus. Taylor(+1) and Wilson(+1) blanket the outside WR (cover +1) and Rees chucks it OOB. RPS +1.
M29 2 10 Pistol trips 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Washington 1
Michigan stunts Clark(+1) and Black, getting Clark through the LT and into the backfield. Washington(+1) and Heitzman(+1) stand up single blocks and when Clark forces the tailback to test them they both fill the hole to tackle for a minimal gain. RPS +1.
M28 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Okie zero Pass 6 Corner Wilson 18
Michigan shows no one deep; Rees checks. M does not back out. He motions RB in to block, Michigan does bizarre thing where four or five guys peel back after an initial attempt at pass rush with only Clark(+0.5) really charging. Clark chucks the RB, but by that time Rees has already gotten the mismatch he wanted (Wilson on TJ Jones) and hits it. Wilson -1, cover -1, RPS -1.
M10 1 G Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Pipkins 6
This is like five and a half in the box as M splits their LBs over the the slot. Glasgow(-0.5) gets upfield and bashed a yard or so outside, which prevents Pipkins(+0.5) from flowing down the line and tackling; he still almost makes that play. TGordon(+0.5) has a nice fill. RPS -1.
M4 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 4-4 under Pass 6 Corner Countess Inc
Mattison loads up, doesn't get anyone free. Rees is going for the corner all the way anyway so this pass was going up no matter what. Rees misses the fade badly; looked like Countess was beat-ish but made it tough.
M4 3 G Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 In Morgan 4
M stunts Ojemudia(+1) and Washington(+1), who both get past their guys and come right up the middle. Washington gets held a bit, no call. Rees has to get rid of it, chucks it a 100 miles an hour at Atkinson, deflection, catch. Morgan(+1, cover +1) was there to grab Atkinson's arm so that all he could do is make a one-handed stab at it. Pressure +1. File under pants.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-7, 2 min 1st Q. ND gets a 20 yard return because of archaic punt coverage.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M46 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Power O Washington 6
Bolden(-1) tiptoes his way to the line and actually heads outside of Wormley, the end, when CGordon is coming down as the force player. The pulling G barely has to block him to kick him out. Washington(+1) rips through a down block to tackle just as the RB shoots through the hole. Ross(-1) didn't read the G pull and got blocked out of the play.
M40 2 4 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Bubble screen Beyer 15
Beyer(-1) runs down on a hypothetical run despite Rees immediately turning to the bubble. TGordon(-0.5) misses a tackle(-1), adding a few but forcing it back into a recovering Beyer.
M25 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 over Pass 4 Swing Ross Inc
No pressure(-1); good coverage(+2) on two reads and then the checkdown. Crappy throw goes through the RB's hands.
M25 2 10 Pistol twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Zone stretch Bolden -1
Washington(-1) scooped effectively. Bolden(+1) shoots a gap hard, which only gets him clocked by the RT but does convince Atkinson to bounce and gets Heitzman facing a single team block quickly. Beyer(+1) sets the edge well, beating the second TE's block with ease; Heitzman(+1) spins off the other TE to tackle with help from Black(+0.5).
M26 3 11 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Beyer Inc
Line is Beyer-Black-Heitzman-Clark. Black and Beyer stunt. No one really gets through; coverage(+2) is good, and then the pocket has collapsed to the point that Rees has to do something. He's checking down for a minimal gain and gets hit by Heitzman(+0.5), ball falls incomplete. I guess Black also gets +0.5. Pressure push.
Drive Notes: FG(41), 10-10, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Skinny post Morgan 21
All ND needs to do to get a suck up from the LBs is be in the pistol. There's not even a fake here. Morgan(-1, cover -1) and Bolden(-1, cover -1) are both moving forward at the snap and that's all she wrote. Gordon and Taylor tackle immediately. This is still an impressive connection from Rees.
O46 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Zone stretch Wilson 3
Ojemudia(-0.5) does a mediocre job on the edge, not getting sealed or letting anyone downfield but also getting put to the ground. Wilson(+1) sets the edge nicely and the rest of the line does an okay job preventing cutback lanes with Morgan(+0.5) hitting it up in a gap to force it further outside. Ojemudia trips the RB and Bolden was going to get him anyway; he can still fall forward for a decent gain.
O47 2 7 Shotgun empty TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Smash Morgan 20
All day (pressure -2); Rees finds Jones in a mismatch against Morgan and hits him with a DO that is basically unguardable. RPS -1; they effectively nailed the smash route.
O27 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 over Pass 4 Wheel Ross 16
No pressure(-1), but a quicker throw. Ross is headed out to the wheel as fast as he can and Rees just fits it in before he can get over. Cover push. This is Rees's dealin' phase.
O11 1 10 Shotgun empty 2TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Hitch Taylor Inc
Miscommunication between Rees and Atkinson; pass is wide. Looked like about four yards if complete. Cover +1 for forcing a checkdown like this.
O11 2 10 Shotgun empty TE 4-3 over Pass 4 Hitch Morgan Inc
Rees just misses on a hitch that would have been good for eight or so; Morgan(+0.5) was there to tackle and that's about all you can hope for in this situation.
O11 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel over Pass 4 Flare Countess 4
Bizarrely, Rees immediately goes with a flare route on third and ten from the eleven. Maybe if this is man they get the rubs necessary, but it's not and Countess(+1, tackling +1) makes a nice open field tackle. Gordon had it covered if he didn't. RPS +1? Okay.
Drive Notes: FG(24), 17-13, 6 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O42 1 10 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 Corner TGordon Inc
No pressure(-2); TGordon(-1, cover -1) is not over on this fast enough, there is a window, Rees misses.
O42 2 10 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 TE out Countess INT
Black(+1, pressure +1) gets around the corner on a stunt and convinces Rees to start rolling out. He finds his TE for about 15 yards but Countess(+4, cover +3) drifts back off his man into this route and picks it off. Replay.
Drive Notes: Interception, 20-13, 1 min 2nd Q. The next ND drive starts with 1:09 left in the half and is a hurry up drill.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 Stop and go Taylor Inc
Pressure(-1) is bleah. Rees and his WR miscommunicate, but Taylor(+1, cover +1) was in a better spot to catch this than anyone else.
O25 2 10 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Taylor 7
Trying to high/low Taylor(+0.5) again, he drops deep and then comes up to tackle on the catch. Fine given the situation. Ref insanely winds the clock despite the WR going OOB. Refs +1.
O33 3 3 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power O N/A 13
Well, yeah, they are going to pick up yards with M having maybe five guys in the box and Godin/Black as the DTs. M is trying to stunt, which creates a big gap up the middle and turns this into a large play as it's easy for ND to shoot two guys right up the center. TGordon(-0.5, tackling -1) hits Carlisle really hard, maybe fumble-causing hard, but doesn't wrap up and gives up a few extra yards. Giving the first down here was fine but the extra yards is a bit of a negative. RPS -1.
O46 1 10 Ace empty Nickel even Pass N/A Spike N/A Inc
Thanks, ref who wound the clock. 16 seconds left.
O46 2 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Pass 4 Corner Countess Inc
Rees spooks for no reason as ND holds both the RB and TE in and no one really gets close to him. He flips around and gets more depth, then fires a deep covered corner that goes OOB. Countess(+1, cover +1) all over it.
O46 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff N/A Inc
Coverage good deep(+1) as M has no one save the linemen within ten yards of the ball. Rees dumps down to Atkinson, who derps it.
O46 4 10 Shotgun trips TE Prevent Pass 3 Hail Mary Funchess Inc
Please Funchess don't hurt 'em. Why can't you hit this hard on offense?
Drive Notes: EOH, 27-13.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 over Run N/A Power O Black 7
Black(-2) blasted off the ball by a double team. Ross(+0.5) reads and fills, hitting the pulling G at the LOS and standing him up, but Black really gets blown up and there is a crease inside. Morgan had no chance to scrape effectively; he and CGordon do tackle just as Atkinson surges through the gap.
O17 2 3 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 12
M stunts Black and Clark on the frontside; Ross runs up and hits a releasing guard; there are two potential gaps; Washington does a meh job holding up at the POA against a double. Morgan(-1) gets into the frontside gap, leaving the backside open. Washington(-0.5) gave just enough ground to prevent Heitzman from collapsing down on this, and then RB is into the second level. RPS -1; this was always hard.
O29 1 10 Shotgun empty TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Out Taylor Inc
No pressure(-1); Rees overthrows an out. This was just ND biffing an open route(cover -1)
O29 2 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 over Run N/A Power O Ross 2 (Pen +5)
Michigan brings Wilson into the box as a seventh defender. Black(-1) jumps offside. The actual play is only vaguely affected by it as the pulling G gets delayed slightly but still impacts Wilson; RB cuts back into unblocked Ross(+0.5, tackling +1), who makes a tackle at the LOS. Jerel Worthy would have gotten away with this. Clark(-1) is way, way upfield and this would have been a big gain if the RB had just followed his lead blocker and cut outside.
O34 2 5 Shotgun empty TE 4-3 nickel Pass 4 Hitch N/A 8
Zero rush(-2); coverage(+1) holds; Rees checks down effectively.
O42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass N/A Dumpoff Taylor 5
Rees checks from pistol to shotgun and Wilson backs out of his LB setup. Coverage(+1) is good; Ojemudia looks like he's going to spin free before the TE buries him; Beyer(+1) does beat the RT and get Rees moving. He's about to hit as Rees checks down. Immediate tackle from Taylor(+0.5, tackle +1)
O47 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel over Run N/A Inside zone Wormley 6
Wormley(-2) blown up by a double and ends up behind the sticks at the play end. Black(+0.5) ripped through on a swim move and probably got held; no call. Linebackers do as well as they can with such a huge cutback available.
M47 1 10 Pistol 3-wide Nickel over Pass 5 Hitch Hollowell 7
CGordon slides inside as M blitzes Countess off the corner. This does get two guys in Rees's face, but the hitch remains open as M plays it soft and is completed. Pressure +1. Hollowell(+0.5, tackling +1) makes an immediate tackle.
M40 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel over Run N/A Power O Black 4
M actually stuffs this up rather well as Heitzman(+0.5), at DT, holds up well to a double and Clark(+1) crushes the TE inside, both holding contain and making the frontside hole nonexistent. Black(-0.5) stunts outside as CGordon goes in and gets way too far upfield, open a cutback lane; Gordon(-0.5) also got bashed inside. Cutback takes time and allows Morgan(+0.5) flow up after shedding a solid block.
M36 1 10 Shotgun empty TE Nickel over Pass 4 Out and up Taylor Inc
No pressure(-1); Rees has a small window to hit this as Wilson(+0.5, cover +1) is coming over the top and Taylor(+0.5) is not particularly fooled. Rees misses.
M36 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel over Pass 4 TE Hitch Bolden 9
Excellent timing route from ND, not much you can do about this, Bolden(+0.5, cover +1) is there to initiate a tackle on the catch and has a decent shot to do something good on anything other than a perfect metronome ball.
M27 3 1 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 5 Out Taylor 7
Beyer over the NT, which is still Black. Rees audibles from pistol to shotgun and throws a simple out for the first down. Taylor(-1, cover -1) made this too easy.
M20 1 10 Pistol 3-wide Nickel over Pass 4 PA TE cross Morgan 20
ND's second PA of the game works for obvious reasons, though I think you should be immediately suspicious whenever a WR pulls across the formation, as Jones does here. This is mostly on Ross(-2, cover -2), who starts heading outside on that WR crossing when he has a short zone defender outside of him. He just needs to be a step further inside and he will get a hand on the ball; as it is his suck-in and subsequent flow outside opens up the window. Rees throws this late, which makes Ross look better than he should. Once the TE's got it it's a touchdown.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 27-20, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
50 1 10 Shotgun empty T3 Nickel even Pass 4 TE out Morgan Inc
Basically a corner high low; corner goes with a circle route shallow and Morgan is beat outside by the TE. Rees throws wide. Pressure -1, cover -1.
50 2 10 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power O Wormley 5
M runs a blitz that sends Wilson to replace Ross, who shoots into the backfield as Gordon drops. ND gets a hole as Wormley(-1) gets blown up as he tries to slant under the C. Ross gets handed off by the playside G to the puller effectively. Nice recognition by the ND line. Guy who peels off Ross gets enough of a block on Morgan to send Carlisle to the second level, where a presnap filling Wilson and CGordon combine to tackle. This is a really interesting play that I don't feel like giving a much plus or minus on because everyone executed about right save Wormley.
M45 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Okie zero Pass 8 Out Countess 11
M sends the house. Countess is giving up the outside and is always beat out there. RPS -1, even as Wilson nails Rees as he throws. Damage here was minimal.
M34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Rollout out Countess Inc
Countess(+1, cover +1) in zone this time has a guy taking a deeper route and gets more aggressive with the out. He makes this a tough throw and threatens to INT if it's not outside; it's outside, too far outside.
M34 2 10 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 In N/A 10
M sends Ross and drops Beyer, getting Ross(+0.5, pressure +1) in free; Jones shoots underneath and is open; Rees hits him. This play combo and route combo can't be defended better than this if the O executes. RPS -1, but mostly just ND executing.
M24 3 In Ace 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Clark 2
M slants and hopes to get this play murdered behind. Clark(-1) gets blown way down the line by the TE and while Ross(+0.5) does a good job to come around that and tackle near the LOS he's hitting from the side and has no shot to stop this before the sticks.
M22 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie zero Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
Showing pressure earns some yards.
M27 1 15 Shotgun empty TE Nickel over Pass 4 Dumpoff Pipkins Inc
Pipkins(+1, pressure +1) bulls up the middle of the field and when Rees has nothing immediately (cover+1) he rolls to the sideline, firing a nothing route to Jones that Morgan(+0.5, cover +1) has for no gain even if caught.
M27 2 15 Shotgun empty TE Nickel over Pass 4 Middle screen N/A 13
Good call. M's line is going nuts for pressure; LBs are dropping deep. Would take a miracle for ND not to pick up a nice gain here. RPS -2. Morgan(+0.5) and Taylor(+0.5) kind of beat blocks to prevent this from being really hard for Wilson to shut down.
M15 3 2 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Flash screen Taylor -2
M sends Countess down and moves CGordon inside to shoot that gap; ND throws a WR screen with two M defenders five yards off the LOS. Taylor(+2, tackling +1) blows this up on the catch. RPS +2; Morgan was going to clean up even if Taylor blew this, and any run was dead.
M17 4 4 Shotgun 3-wide Okie zero Pass 8 Corner Countess Inc
Rees fakes a snap, gets two guys to jump, no snap, checks. M talks. They send the world anyway. Wilson(pressure +1) is bearing down as they try to hit a Jones corner on Countess. They've got a decent window that's missed. RPS+ 1; the back-foot throw forced was the difference.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 34-20, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power O Wormley 16
Ross(+0.5) comes up and pops the pulling G at the appropriate point; Wormely(-2) gets blown up and yields a crease to the inside. He needs to spin or something. Morgan was checking the backside gap and couldn't get over. Not hugely surprising as M has no NT on the field and six in the box. RPS –2.
M36 1 10 Pistol 3-wide Nickel over Pass 4 Hitch Hollowell 11
Hollowell(-0.5) is a little late on this and allows some YAC, but it's just the seven yard hitch M was giving.
M25 1 10 Shotgun empty TE Nickel over Pass 4 Corner Ross Inc
Beyer(+1, pressure +1) gets around the corner and threatens to sack; Rees must throw. He likes the corner route. This is a tiny, tiny window just behind Ross(+1, cover +1) that Rees just about hits but Jones ends up out of bounds. Wilson(+0.5) was also over the top. If ND hit this it was tip your cap time.
M25 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie one Pass 6 TE out Ross 2
Excellent Mattison blitz(RPS +1) gets two guys through up the middle and forces a quick roll. Ross(+1) times it perfectly and uses his speed to seriously threaten(pressure +1); Morgan is coming around the edge as well. Rees has to get rid of it and dumps it to his tight end for a minimal gain as TGordon(+1, cover +1) is there to bang him OOB immediately.
M23 3 8 Shotgun empty TE Nickel over Pass 4 Dig Ross Inc
Clark(+1) spins inside the RT and will pressure(+1) if Rees doesn't throw immediately. He does; Ross(+2, cover +2) is dropping into the route and nearly intercepts.
Drive Notes: FG(40), 34-30, 9 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Shotgun empty TE Nickel over Pass 4 Sack Beyer -9
Rees doesn't like read one(cover +1) and then Clark(+1) bulls the LT back nearly into him as Beyer(+2) does the same and then spins off as Rees starts evacuating the pocket to sack (pressure +2).
O26 2 19 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Hollowell 10
M giving this all day and given situation that's obvious. Hollowell(-0.5, tackling -1) does miss a tackle, giving ND a few extra YAC.
O36 3 9 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 Seam Ross 21
Ross(-2, cover -2) tries to come up and chuck, totally missing, and that opens up the TE for a big gain. No pressure(-1)
M43 1 10 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 In Taylor 12
Wormley(+1, pressure +1) shoots up and threatens to sack; Taylor(-1, cover -1) gets beat on what looks like a fade at first before turning into an in route and Rees nails him.
M31 1 10 Shotgun empty TE Nickel over Pass 4 TE Hitch Bolden 11
Decent pressure coming from Ojemudia; Rees firing quickly and M allowing underneath stuff. Bolden hits Niklas immediately but can't prevent him from surging for a first down.
M20 1 10 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 Fade Hollowell Inc
No pressure(-1); Hollowell(+2, cover +2) has this fade about as well covered as you can and would have a play on the ball if it wasn't OOB.
M20 2 10 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Morgan 7
M again giving the underneath; pressure mediocre; Morgan(+0.5, tackling +1) makes a nice play to come up and get Jones down immediately, running clock.
M13 3 3 Shotgun empty TE 3-3-5 nickel Pass 5 Out Countess 7
Morgan moves to the end of the line late and blitzes.He's through clean(+1, pressure +2); Rees chucks the ball before his WR is even in his break and it hits him in the chest; Jones reflexively catches it. Countess(+1, cover +1) is right there. Excellent play by ND beats good play by M.
M6 1 G Shotgun 3-wide Nickel over Pass 4 In Morgan INT
Lots of time(pressure -2); Rees takes a checkdown-ish route to his RB. Morgan(+2, cover +2) gets a PBU on it, as his hand is right there with the RB, then the deflected ball bounces off Taylor to Countess(+1), who intercepts. On replay you can see that Morgan is grabbing one of Atkinson's arms as the ball arrives.
Drive Notes: Interception, 41-30, 1 min 4th Q. ND doesn't get the ball back.

A lot of yards, man. Feels not so good.

410 yards is a lot, yes. However, 20 were rather useless ones at the end of the first half and 59 came on Michigan's final drive, when they weren't trying to stop Notre Dame so much as give up yards slowly. In contrast, every one of Michigan's 480 yards helped them. Let's look at ND's nine drives on which clock stuff didn't apply:

  1. Three and out
  2. Three and out
  3. 9 play, 75-yard touchdown drive
  4. 6 play, 20 yard FG drive
  5. 8 play, 68 yard FG drive
  6. Countess interception on second play of drive
  7. 12 play, 90 yard touchdown drive
  8. 10 play, 33 yard turnover on downs
  9. 6 play, 29 yard field goal drive

That's actually pretty good. Notre Dame's offense scored 17 points on their own and then gets half credit for field goal drives starting from their 46 (dinosaur punt coverage) and 48 (shanked Wile punt); their turnover on downs came from the 50. They also coughed up a game-changing interception.

Michigan had a plan, and executed it everywhere except the pass rush. The end result was a respectable 23 point outing that allowed Michigan to distance themselves.

And I thought Tommy Rees was pretty good.


Rees is a senior who's been around the block, and he's got three excellent weapons in Niklas, Jones, and Daniels. He's miserable when he's forced to move around, but sometimes he did things like sense pressure behind him and get the ball out before the WR is even in his break:

Any time Rees tried to hit anything over the top it was a difficult throw to the edge of the field in a tiny window, and usually Jarrod Wilson was coming over the top. Live I thought he was just missing these things; now it's clear that he was asked to make a lot of difficult throws. He's got maybe a yard or two of space on the sideline to hit this:

This one is right on target and still out of bounds, as Ross and Wilson are again bracketing a 20-yard corner route.

Herbstreit kept saying Rees's throws were late; while that has some truth to it, he was trying to figure out if these windows were actually open. Other than one blown coverage by Morgan, Rees didn't have an easy decision to make on a ball more than five yards downfield all night. As I go through the clips, sometimes I have to refer back to the chart to remember why I thought a particular play was notable, and in this one I took a few just because I thought they were impressive throws by Rees.

He has limitations, but is there a better passer on the schedule?


Right. Is there a better passer on the schedule other than unstoppable throw-god Trevor Siemian?

Didn't you think that Indiana's passing game was really good after the 2010 game?

Uh, yeah.

And Indiana turned out to be terrible?


And Michigan's defense was also incredibly terrible?

Okay but in my defense LOOK A BEAR

Are we worried about the run defense?

No. Or, at least not because of this game. Michigan spent the entirety of the second half and large chunks of the first half daring Notre Dame to run. This screenshot is probably the best evidence of that:


This is first and ten from Michigan's twenty in the second half. Michigan has nickel personnel on the field, deploys both safeties 14 yards off the line of scrimmage, and is playing Black and Godin at defensive tackle. This is begging Notre Dame to run.

Meanwhile, this was a first and goal(!):


That's five in the box. Maybe five and a half. ND duly ran for six yards.

Or this on third and three:


ND picked this up on the ground, because it's third and three and the linebackers are six and eight yards off the LOS.

This was Michigan's gameplan: shut off long plays and dare Notre Dame to run. When they did run, they picked up yards, and then the instant Michigan did something like stuff a third down or move Jarrod Wilson into the box they immediately abandoned the run, even when it made little sense to do so.

Michigan spent the entire game assuming that third and one was just as good as third and ten, and Notre Dame played like it too. It seems like Greg Mattison is in Brian Kelly's head at this point.

With that in mind, let's look at the



Pre-chart context: don't forget to check out the metrics at the bottom before jumping on any particular thing. Coverage, especially, is important since it gives you an overview of the secondary's performance as a whole—and the linebackers in this game as well.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Heitzman 4 - 4 Lifted for much of second half.
Washington 4 1.5 2.5 See above.
Black 3.5 3.5 0 Had a little rush; got blown up on a run.
Clark 7.5 3.5 4 Much better than I thought live but not exactly BG
Wormley 1 5 -4 Blown out by doubles, but is RFr SDE playing DT against good line.
Pipkins 3.5 - 3.5 Should have got more PT. Just driving guys back into Rees would have been profitable.
Glasgow - 2.5 -2.5 See Wormley.
Ojemudia 3 0.5 2.5 Early third down stick.
Godin - - - did not chart
Ash - - - DNP
Henry - - - DNP
Charlton - - - DNP
TOTAL 26.5 16.5 10 Meh day.
Player + - T Notes
C.Gordon - 0.5 -0.5 Nickel ate up his PT.
Morgan 7.5 4.5 3 Coped pretty well in coverage. Responsible for both EZ deflections.
Ross 7 6 1 Not really at fault on the runs. Did blow some things.
Beyer 5 3 2 Most of this at DE.
Ryan - - - DNP
Bolden 2 2 0 Third LB not even negative.
Gedeon - - - DNP
Jenkins-Stone - - - DNP
TOTAL 21.5 16 5.5 No standouts; no one really victimized.
Player + - T Notes
Countess 9.5 - 9.5 TJ Jones got some stuff on him but he was really good.
Taylor 8 2 6 Targeted more than anyone else; covered eveything deep and gave up about two yards of YAC.
Stribling - - - DNC
Hollowell 2.5 2 0.5 Looked comfortable in coverage, missed a tackle.
T. Gordon 2 1.5 0.5 I love boring safeties.
Avery - - - DNC
Wilson 3 1 2 I love boring safeties.
Furman - - - DNP
J. Clark - - - DNP
Hill - - - DNP
TOTAL 25 6.5 18.5 Wow experience.
Pressure 14 16 -2 Better than it looked; Rees was firing fast a lot.
Coverage 31 14 17 Awesome.
Tackling 6 3 66% Gotta run the ball to get real numbers here.
RPS 11 12 -1 Minuses just runs yielded due to playing back.

A really interesting chart: no stars until you get to the secondary, and no one who did poorly except the second three-tech on the field, be he Wormley or Glasgow. Keep that coverage number in mind as you look up at the relatively pedestrian numbers for the safeties and linebackers. They share in that credit. Rees didn't have anything open big all day.

The pressure metric is not great but it's better than I thought it would be; same goes for Frank Clark. Rees was about to get lit up several times, but he threw the ball before it could have an impact. Often he had nothing good, like those corner routes above. Sometimes he was throwing those because the alternative was a sack. Overall… still not good. Not as bad as I feared.

I can't overstate how impressive that coverage number is. There were three plays that featured a –2; everything else was the occasional –1. Cover minuses occurred on under a quarter of Rees's attempts despite a mediocre pressure number. Even if the game plan was set up to acquire those kind of results, actually doing it is another thing entirely. I don't think I saw an out-and-out mistake by a member of the secondary all day. Think about that.



That rock paper scissors seems too even. You've been lauding Mattison's game plan since Saturday.

RPS is not a holistic look at coordinator performance; it came about because there were certain plays where Michigan stuffed someone on which I struggled handing out points because it was all the playcall. If it's massively positive or negative, yeah, someone won. If it's neutral that asks for thinking caps.

Michigan gave up the edge about as much as they got it with various playcalls, yeah. Mattison's approach to this game was a steady drip that put ND in position to fail before they reached the endzone. And by now he's in Brian Kelly's head.

Mattison is in Kelly's head?

Notre Dame's first two drives went three and out as Mattison schemed his way to short-yardage victory. On the first, a late shift of Frank Clark inside paired with a Beyer blitz to acquire Clark a TFL without really having to beat a blocker:

On the second, Mario Ojemudia stunts inside as the two DTs hold up to blocking and he snuffs the play out:

This was so weird that I had Heiko ask about it in the press conference. Mattison confirmed that yes, that was the call. Ross was apparently supposed to flare out for cutbacks; he didn't.

I don't think I've seen that second play before: it's kind of a scrape exchange on a conventional inside zone. It's a DE/LB stunt that should get two ND players blocking nothing since the tackle can't help with Ojemudia and the G releasing downfield should find Ross shooting up to the outside for contain. I should probably Picture Page it. Mattison is awesome.

That was about that for Notre Dame trying to move the chains on the ground unless, as above, Michigan was flat-out begging for it. Down two touchdowns at the start of the fourth quarter, Notre Dame threw a wide receiver screen against a cornerback five yards off the line of scrimmage rather than try to run the ball. The whole thing still strikes me as a crappy gameplan by Kelly, but without Mattison booting his offense off the field in their first two opportunities to do so, the door stays on the hinges longer.

This is the third straight year that Mattison has crushed Notre Dame on third and short. Mattison is in Kelly's head.

Are we worried about the pass rush?

Yeah, a bit. It's worth pointing out that Notre Dame's left tackle is also a highly-regarded NFL prospect, a fringe first-round type. That mitigates things. Also, Michigan would have had some opportunities to sack a quarterback who was less sure of himself and his reads. Rees was letting it fly, quickly.

I bet you have a complaint about punt coverage.

You know me so well, bolded alter-ego. This was Michigan's first quarter punt, which traveled 42 yards with excellent hang time:


There are more Notre Dame players within 20 yards of the returner than Michigan players. TJ Jones would pick up 20 yards without having to dodge damn near anyone. Death to NFL punting.


The secondary as a whole.

Maybe not so heroic?

Michigan could have stood up to ND's running with six in the box much better if Pipkins or Washington had been in during the second half instead of Wormley and Glasgow. If they were supposed to provide more pass rush; they didn't.

What does it mean for Akron and the future?

If Michigan has to face down a passing spread at some point in the future they should be able to cope just fine; they will have to be more aggressive against teams that can move their DTs off the ball on doubles or run with the QB. This capability should be useful against Indiana and the Siemian version of Northwestern.

Frank Clark made progress. He made some plays in this game, which is important since the hype didn't match the production against CMU. Also, Brennen Beyer followed up on a promising start with a bit more pressure.

The pass rush was still disappointing. One sack in 51 attempts is subpar, and the DTs didn't provide anything.

Jarrod Wilson seems fine. No errors in this one. Huge.

Michigan's corners are at least good and may be better. Countess was very good and Taylor just about matched him even without the pick. Hollowell didn't look out of place, either.



September 12th, 2013 at 2:20 PM ^

Agreed.  I thought Frank Clark had a pretty good game and this kind of confirms that.  I think our secondary might be the best in the conference by the time we get to November.  All in all, hard to find much to complain about on the defense, with the exception of the 5 tech and 3 tech spots.


September 12th, 2013 at 2:45 PM ^

"ND picked this up on the ground, because it's third and three and the linebackers are six and eight yards off the LOS."


I was screaming at the t.v. at this point to the LB's..MOVE UP MOVE UP!!! It's only 3rd and 3!!!

I guess daring them to run worked for the most part, but I feel 3rd and 3 isn't the spot to do that...but hey, I'm not a FBS coach.

Picktown GoBlue

September 12th, 2013 at 2:50 PM ^

that does a chart of pass attempts completed/missed?  It seemed like Rees could not hit anyone towards the sides of the field/corner of the endzone to save his life.  The Secondary results above confirm that, but a chart of all his throws would be interesting.


September 12th, 2013 at 3:59 PM ^

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this defense improves as the season goes on.  Barring injuries, I believe they will be very good.  This UFR seems to point to a good start (and the genius of Mattison).

El Jeffe

September 12th, 2013 at 3:22 PM ^

So the Ojemudia thingy was a run stunt? Is that a thing, MGoCoaches? If so, why would Mattison want to do that--that is, have Ojemudia stunt and then have Ross flow to the outside?

I guess it's not unlike the scrape exchange way to handle the read option, but I don't see why you wouldn't want the LB to fill the gap that the DE filled and leave the DE to contain the edge, rather than vice versa.

Still, it worked. All Hail Swag Mattison!


September 12th, 2013 at 3:29 PM ^

Watch the play. By shooting over into the gap between the two DTs Ojemudia makes it impossible to the tackle to block him. To do so he'd have to go through the DT/OG block. Similarly, by shooting Ross to the outside, any interior OL releasing to block him is going to come up with air. It's kind of like teleporting Ross directly into the gap.

Space Coyote

September 12th, 2013 at 3:39 PM ^

And lo, look where Ojemudia lines up relative to the LOS (about a half yard back). The DT essentially does what the DL will usually do on a LB/DL stunt, which is hold the OL so the other guy gets a free shot, but here it works for two players while still holding the point in the run game. It's tough to communicate the pick up because it's two players down the line. It's an RPS to the extreme though.

If ND calls the correct play, they could really make Michigan pay (say a quick pitch with a frontside OG pull), you can lose gap responsibility fairly easily (see: Ross on this play).


September 12th, 2013 at 3:26 PM ^


410 yards and 23 first downs is still 410 yards and 23 first downs.  And no punts forced after the middle of the first quarter.  This was against an offense that wasn't very good last year.  ND scored more than 22 points only five times last year.  The gameplan worked, I guess, and the players executed it, for the most part, but the fact that we were forced into that ultra-conservative gameplan against a non-elite offense is still a concern.  NW is going to give us problems.  We'll have to outgun them.


September 12th, 2013 at 3:51 PM ^

Rees is experienced, makes decent decisions and gets rid of the ball well, but also is prone throughout his career to bad decisions, as we know. So they have neither an elite QB nor an elite RB, combined with an O-line that can likely be considered "good" but not more than that. I left the game, both watchings, feeling concerned about our D-line. We can certainly improve, and have time to do so, but it doesn't  look like we will exceed the expectations we had going into the year, which to be fair, were certainly not for a dominating defense.

Space Coyote

September 12th, 2013 at 4:07 PM ^

I do think ND's OL is good (not elite like the poster below said). I think Rees is a very good QB between the 20s, but struggles when windows get smaller (which is why they used Golson as their QB last year, not as efficient between the 20s but can finish drives better).

I really like this DL against the run as long as they aren't in their nickel package. I think the combination of Q and Pipkins are more than good at the Nose, and I think there is versatility and skill at the 3-tech for different types of offenses. There needs to be some work at the 5-tech, but luckily you can get away with it at that position if you can at any in this defense.

Now pass rush probably won't be great, but against most other offenses Mattison can afford to bring more exotic pressures. I do think they had a bit of an off game against a QB who could get rid of the ball quickly. They'll look improved from last year, but they still aren't LSU good as a 4-man-front in the pass game. They should be good enough to "earn the right to rush 4" at points though, just not consistently yet.


September 12th, 2013 at 4:03 PM ^

ND's OL is damn near elite. All bets are off. They have a lot more talent up front than NW.

ND will probably not lose more than once the rest of the year. Their offense has taken a step forward from last year in my opinion, trading an RS freshman for an RS senior at QB, retaining quality RBs, and adding a diversified pass game.

We just dusted the BCS championship runner up. I'm not too upset.


September 12th, 2013 at 4:01 PM ^

Saying ND only scored more than 22 points 5 times last year is a super weird and made up stat. First, because they won all their games but the one against Alabama and they were definitely only into scoring as much as they needed to. Second, because 5 is still almost half their games and they scored between 20-22 five more times.

Instead, let's look at their season averages--410 yards/game, 21 first downs, and 25.8 points.

So, Michigan held them to about their averages from last year even though this offense is most certainly better or at least more motivated to score. The yardage and first down numbers are troubling but that is what happens when you are winning big for most of the second half. It did not translate into points which is the critical issue.

Magnum P.I.

September 12th, 2013 at 5:20 PM ^

Thank you. You can put lipstick on this pig of defensive performance all you want, but to anyone who watched the game, it was clear that ND did whatever they wanted offensively outside of the red zone. We were stout in the red zone sometimes, but you'd like to see us stout outside of the redzone, too. Especially against a mediocre offense like ND's.

I can't imagine that the defensive gameplan going in was "have the offense score 41 points against the best defense on our schedule and play bend-but-don't-break to the tune of 30 points allowed." 


September 12th, 2013 at 5:32 PM ^

Read the Mattison presser.  The whole game plan was to take away the big play, and make them make mistakes in the short game.  That's exactly what the defense did.  Mattison was happy with the performance because they executed the game plan perfectly.  I'm sure they would have been more aggressive had we not been up 14 points for most of the game.  

If you think about it, it's a pretty sound strategy.  Rees is known to be a good passer, who occasionally makes mistakes.  Make him get as few yards as possible each play - ~5 ypa - and rely on him to turn the ball over.  Which he did.  Sure, they gave up the yards, but they gave up almost nothing after the catch and they didn't allow a pass over 23 yards in 51 attempts.  That's damn impressive.  I don't think the defense did poorly given the game plan, and Mattison doesn't either.  


September 12th, 2013 at 7:25 PM ^

I agree that Mattison wasn't necessarily forced to be conservative against ND, but killing the clock defensively with the lead and with Devin slaying them made sense I think. Seems like Mattison got much more aggressive in the second half when the offense was going through its rough patch.

NW will be no pushover but I still don't understand the handwringing over them. Their offense is solid but their defense is flat out bad with no upside in sight. Devin should devour them.By the time Michigan plays NW, we'll have faced the full gamut of offensive styles NW can put out there: Nebraska, Indiana, and Penn State. We'll know what they can do and how we do against each style. Secondary is doing well so far. Jake Ryan should be back in the saddle by then.

I guess we'll see but I think M should beat NW without too much drama. We'll have to work for it, sure, but I dont think we struggle to pull it off.


September 12th, 2013 at 3:35 PM ^

I like the stratagy, its not something I think we would of saw if we weren't up 2 scores.  Very few College teams can effectively come back from 2 TD defficet without big plays, if you stop them from getting the big plays, they have to dink and dunk down the field without make mistakes, VERY HARD to do even in the pros (Tampa 2 crazy from years back anyone?)  

This stratagy is kinda like the reverse of going concervative on offence with a lead.  basically you keep the pedal to the metal on offence with the lead and then go into bend not break mode with the D.


September 12th, 2013 at 4:13 PM ^

... and this confirms it - there are a lot of "undefendable", "DO" and "right on the numbers" type remarks up there. It seems like he should have picked us apart but the coverage held up.

I wonder how we feel if that last pick comes back for PI on Morgan? It seems like that was a subtler version of the PI calls we were screaming for on Butt a couple of times.

BTW, I'll bet that if you were to pick 10 plays from this game and really scrutinize every player with all-22 HD film, you'd find by-the-letter-of-the-rules holding on at least 9. You get called when your number comes up or you do something blatant in front of an official.

The problem is that with "routine" rules violations on every play, calling them not every time makes them have disproportionate effect. Every official has their own standard so it feels random and unfair. Holding calls are essentially random, but not phantom.

Blue in Seattle

September 12th, 2013 at 5:12 PM ^

Herbstreit brought up the fact that Kelly was calling the offense for just over half the game many times and that the game started with the OC calling the plays.

The first pass completed in front of Countess I was thinking, "what is up with Countess? why isn't our stud corner contesting those short passes?"  But then I watched both corners and they were doing the same thing and I concluded it had to be the plan so that it helped out the safeties keep the long pass routes double covered.

The Heavy use of Nickel didn't start until the first half was coming to a close with michigan up by a TD 20-13.  It only took two plays on that drive to get the interception, and one that Countess reads Rees's eyes or just bets that he should cover the deeper receiver and get's in the way of Rees's pass.  Then Gardner takes that gift and Hoke goes all in on a pair of Kings in his pocket.  Up two scores, Mattison Finishes the next drive entirely in Nickel, knowing that with Kelly behind in the chip count Michigan just needs to lean on them.

The first ND drive of the second half opens in the 4-3 buts ends in Nickel, and then it's mostly Nickel the rest of the way as Kelly has taken over OC duties because he can't believe that Gardner is a Throw God on the run, and is also being called Denard because the running backs are just blocking now, despite wearing the Ol 98 jersey.

So I think the DL did well and I'm willing to bet if you measured the average time Rees held onto the ball it would be half the time Gardner held onto the ball.  Rees never had time to progress past the second read. Sure there was only 1 sack, but the short passes weren't getting YAC and the defense couldn't stop "6.5 points in the Red Zone" Gardner.

Conclusion, do not play poker against Hoke with your own money.



September 12th, 2013 at 6:47 PM ^

I think some of you guys are being too critical of the defense.  The gameplan was to play a bend but don't break style for the majority of the game.  Mattison was more aggressive at the outset, but once he saw the offense playing well he dialed it back playing with the extra possession the offense gave him for the majority of the game.  I believe that he would have switched the defensive style had the game gotten tighter, but time was Notre Dame's enemy throughout and they had yet to prove that they could finish in that game.


September 12th, 2013 at 6:53 PM ^

This game was the best executed game since Carr's retirement. Start to finish, against that defense, with Rees playing like a legit QB. Look at the terrible numbers in the trenches. How do you win like that? And make it look easy? This coaching staff man. And the DBs!


September 12th, 2013 at 7:55 PM ^

It was definitely frustrating watching our line get no pressure and seeing them pick up chunk after chunk of yards. But it seemed like we got stops when we really needed to for the most part.


I would really like to see the coaches give Henry and Taco more reps. Even if they are raw they both made a couple really nice plays in the very little playing time they had, which is more than you could say for a couple guys getting a ton of time ahead of them.

Michigan Arrogance

September 12th, 2013 at 8:15 PM ^

they gave up 23 pts on how many drives?

I think we were frustrated with the run D, but given that they didn't have a NT in there 90% of the time, the YPC was pretty good.

I think people give Rees a hard time b/c he's not a play maker (doesn't make the tough big time throws), makes the occasional D'OH throw... but in between those he gets the ball to the WR accurately, knows where to go based on pre-snap reads, and makes good decisions.

i think we played the right strategy with him... don't let the WRs & RBs make big plays, b/c Rees won't be able to w/o them. He's due for 1-2 mistakes a game when things break down, but won't make the big play when things break down. He's the bizzaro DG98, basically.



September 12th, 2013 at 8:43 PM ^

demonstrates why Mattison is DC and we are not. Mattison structured a defense that if/when the offense had made some room in the score would keep ND from blowing the game open. Would I have liked to see clever blitzes and Rees getting dropped on his ass? Of course. But that would have risked him burning us on a deep play. 

I'm confident that had we been knotted up or behind through the game, we'd have see blitzes and all manner of defensive gambles. We were not knotted up, and for most of the game had ND in hand. So the defense was structured to support that. It may not have been flashy, but it sure as hell won.