Neck Sharpies: Not Getting Even

Submitted by Seth on December 2nd, 2015 at 10:11 AM

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This would not go over well.

After the injury to Ryan Glasgow Michigan has struggled to stop zone running. Indiana and Penn State tore the defense to shreds on stretch or outside zone, until Penn State decided the thing that got them two huge gains in three attempts wasn't worth using again (please keep James Franklin forever kthx). I drew that up last week and found Michigan was still trying to defend runs by shooting the DL upfield and dominating one-on-one matchups up front, as opposed to soundly preventing guards from releasing onto the linebackers.

With Urban Meyer, one of a few true masters of modern running attacks, doing the planning for the Game, we knew Michigan's defensive coaches would have to pull something out of our butts to stop it. Here's what we found in our butts:

Michigan broke out a 3-3-5 defense with an "even" front. Offensive coaches have different names for fronts but the basics are:

  • Under: NT on the center, shaded to strong. DT on a guard. (aka Weak, 50)
  • Over: NT on the center, shaded to weak. DT on a guard. (aka Strong)
  • Even: DL are lined up over guards, none over the center. (aka Split)
  • Okie: Center is covered, guards are not. (aka 30)
  • Bear: Center and guards all covered. (aka 46, Eagle, Double Eagle)

These can be split into "Odd" (under/over) and "Even" (Even, Okie, Bear). It is usual for just about any defense to come out in multiple fronts over the course of a game, though Bear and Okie are more rare than the other three.

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Anyway that's what that means. By putting guys over the guards it makes it tougher for them to release to the next level. Michigan State used to love their even fronts back when Bullough was their best run defender, and that tells you something about the design of this defense. Tweaking your defense is about making life hard on your better players so things are easier for the rest of your players. "Even" makes life hard on the MLB, since that center is getting a free release unto him.

There's nothing 100% unsound about this defense. Depending on the offense's play, one LB is likely to get a center on him but the other is often a free hitter. If your LB eating the block is good at beating those consistently, or your free hitter is a ninja who sniffs out the play and attacks ferociously, or your unblocked guy is coached to play aggressively against an option you can defeat a basic run play regularly.

[After the JUMP, we totally can't]

What did Ohio State do to us?

It was not always the case, but due to the covered guy, Michigan has numbers here, with Gedeon the 8th man in the box:

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Ohio State's play is a Midline Zone Read, a play that Smart Football drew up as a scrape exchange beater (and which starts with a photo of RR-era Denard because of course it would). One of the read-option's curveball plays, the midline play reads a DT instead of the EMLOS; in this case it's going to be Taco Charlton, who's lined up as a 5-tech.

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blue reads blue

I know, I know, an SDE isn't a DT. Except this play has an unbalanced formation (the TE is covered), which shifts the apparent front. They made this extra difficult by tempo'ing into it; Michigan did realize the TE isn't eligible before the snap but they haven't adjusted their gaps, as Taco Charlton and Ben Gedeon would wind up standing over the same hole.

Michigan's alignment has thrown off the usual blocking assignments; the RG will have to cross most of Henry to get his release while the RT could lose this whole play if Henry gets upfield and can't get shoved or cut.

The tradeoff is easier frontside blocks; the linemen step down, not sideways, off the snap, selling inside zone before sealing the next guy over.

By design, Michigan's DL are supposed to be preventing the guards from releasing. Wormley is into his guy, but the free releasing center (red circle below) isn't heading for the second level; he's about to seal Wormley:

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Moving up the line, Henry didn't even delay Elflein's release, a matter of Elflein being very nimble, and Michigan's aggressive scheme gambling that Henry can dominate a blocker set up so far inside of him.

Meanwhile on the backside:

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On the backside, Taco Charlton is getting read. He forms up in the hole so it's a handoff. However Gedeon seems to be hanging outside for a keeper as well. WTF? Having Taco play to handoff here doesn't make sense to me. I don't know what the coaching point is, or if this exposed a weakness in what Michigan's defenders are supposed to do against a read option, or perhaps somebody didn't know his assignment after getting tempo'd and having to process the unbalanced formation. But Taco isn't crashing, and Gedeon is watching that same gap.

This brought Gedeon in for a round of Twitter clucking (including from people who thought he was Bolden) but that doesn't seem fair to me. Gedeon's basically playing free safety here since Delano Hill, who probably had that covered TE in man, is now just the edge defender. So if this is play-action and one of that bunch of receivers outside comes across the formation, Gedeon's depth will be crucial. I'm just saying if you've got 8 men in the box, CRASH ON THE GORRAM ZONE READ.*

(On the other hand Gedeon IS the eighth man in the box, and therefore once the handoff is made he should be reading the ballcarrier and attacking the gap.)

Since the handoff is made let's get back to the point of attack. Henry's burrowing into that guy's shoulder to maintain his B gap, and if he can drive that down the line he's got a shot to end this or at least delay the RB while his teammates rally. Instead Henry gives ground at the crucial second; there's a gap.

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Again, you can let blockers get a free release if you can dominate your gap. Henry hasn't dominated that gap. He got shoved back a yard right when Elliott got the ball. Does he have his gap? Yes. Does this help much? No. If you give the guard his free release and fire into the tackle, a stalemate with that tackle is a net loss.

It's now down to three players: Desmond Morgan vs. Pat Elflein and Ezekiel Elliott. If Morgan can beat the block and make a tackle, which is super super hard, Michigan can live for another down.

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Ah hamburgers.

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Slo-Mo:

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Lessons:

Michigan still can't run a 3-3-5 correctly. When 3-3-5 or its cousin the 2-4-5 is used as a base defense, they make up for free releasing OL with blitzes from here, there, and everywhere. They're kind of the next iteration of zone blitz defenses, except every play is a zone blitz.

That's not what Michigan's doing here. Michigan's taking their regular 4-3 over front that survived on instant gap penetration and going extreme with smaller players. This worked at Florida because one of those guys was Dante Fowler. It worked at Michigan for a time because one of those guys was Ryan Glasgow.

Later Michigan would go full-GERG by lining Morgan up a yard from the line of scrimmage, giving him no time to set up his block. I have no idea why we did that then or now. Michigan State, who runs the most even fronts (from a normal 4-3) of teams I watch regularly, puts its MLBs about five yards off the line to read and react. They also blitz the A gaps a ton so offenses can't trust that space to be there.

Live, other than a 4th down play when they overloaded the wrong side, I don't remember the linebackers ever blitzing to punish Ohio State for running into those A gaps.

Just don't let guards loose unless the DL is rampant. I think Michigan would like to play that way, and going 3-3-5 seems like it was intended to ease the load on that interior rotation. This play could have been blown up if Wormley shot through his gap so the center couldn't seal without getting an illegal chop. Or it could have been blown up if Henry blew back the RT so much that Ellliott had to stop and reroute to get to Morgan's gap. Asking Michigan's DL to do that with consistency is a way to dominate if they can do that with consistency. But against an excellent offensive line like Ohio State's, they can't.

And they shouldn't have to.

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Don't let that guard cross your face without at least a delay, and Morgan gets to be first to the hole. That's the point of the whole alignment.

Life is hard for the middle linebacker. Notice on this play Morgan almost made the play anyway by having a second to see his block, take it on, and try to form up. That's versus perhaps the best guard in the conference and certainly the best RB in the conference and doesn't go well, but it nearly did, because Morgan popped the guy.

When we get to late spring and you're hearing about how great (walk-on MLB) Dan Liesman is in practices, that's because Liesman can read a play and hit a guy, and that's how you can win the two-on-one matchup Morgan got against a lot of comers. However to play this defense consistently you're going to need an ELITE middle linebacker. And against a team as uniquely suited for running as this Ohio State, we probably needed a better plan.

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*[Crashing Charlton here would be no guarantee since it puts Barrett in space against against a linebacker and, well, this was Ohio State's first touchdown:

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Comments

Ali G Bomaye

December 3rd, 2015 at 1:45 PM ^

Fournette might be the best RB in the country, but we've generally done well against pro-formation power-running teams, which LSU is.  Plus, LSU's passing game is terrible.  We could probably allow Fournette to go for 150 and still have a decent shot, because there's no  way they could pass on our defense.

Space Coyote

December 2nd, 2015 at 10:52 AM ^

Morgan has a hard assignment, what with a good blocker getting out free to him. But if Morgan did his job there is no way Zeke scores to the left of his blocker. That's Morgan's gap; the free hitter (Gedeon) is on the other side.

Morgan had a really hard job. He didn't do it though. He doesn't get a pass, as none of the LBs do in this game.

Jevablue

December 2nd, 2015 at 10:42 AM ^

too when it happened right under my nose in the South Endzone.  But upon review I saw Barrett as being able to slide to Bolden's left as he was initiating contact and really in a sense defuse the hit, which became more one of Bolden dragging Barrett than impacting him.  This was made possible by Barrett having a space as long as a minivan to operate in.

Should he have made the tackle? Sure, but he did not get the clean shot he wanted/needed either.

pescadero

December 2nd, 2015 at 10:55 AM ^

He's got him lined up - then hesitates.

 

I wasn't an especially good HS player - but as a LB the one thing you can't be doing is thinking and hesitating.

You have to see the play and pull the trigger - and it's better to choose wrong at 100mph than make the right decision at 10mph.

 

Bolden saw the play coming, squared up... then second guessed himself and hesitated.

Space Coyote

December 2nd, 2015 at 11:02 AM ^

He chose wrong on the snap. He went to the boundary because his initial read, based on tendency rather than actually reading the play, was QB sweep to the boundary. He was wrong. Then he freaked out and tried to get back into the play, didn't get square at the point of attack, and allowed Barrett to slip through the tackle. But it all starts with him "choosing wrong at 100 MPH" before correcting the issue.

FWIW, it's not as easy as it sounds. Both plays include blocking to the left, just one has down blocks and the other zone blocks. That's why they work together. But Bolden's job was to read OG to RB, which he didn't do because the OG is pulling and the RB is running to the field (though it's not necessarily that easy either because OSU will pin and pull the OG outside and run OG counter with the RB running away, another tendency in the red zone).

pescadero

December 2nd, 2015 at 11:37 AM ^

I'm talking about the 1st TD play - at 0:27 in this video.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB3-E4O6wkY

 

He took a step to the boundary because his initial read - but was square enough to make the tackle on Barrett before hesitating. It was the SECOND false step that killed him.

 

A the point of the image below - Bolden has already (successfully) redirected from his false step... but he hesitates and Barret beats him.

 

 

Space Coyote

December 2nd, 2015 at 11:59 AM ^

Look where he is, he's 2 yards off the LOS and forced to cover space. You saw Barrett break Peppers ankles in space when Peppers didn't successfully break down, what do you expect him to do to Bolden?

The last thing Bolden can allow is for Barrett to cut back across the grain. If he's not under control coming down into the hole, then he'll surely whiff the tackle. He's trying to break down on an elusive player in space, and that is a lot of space he's forced to cover. If he reads it correctly, he's square at the LOS. As is, he's forced to start squaring up on Barrett 2 yards off the LOS and in a bunch of space.

pescadero

December 2nd, 2015 at 1:23 PM ^

"what do you expect him to do to Bolden?"

 

Well - considering it's Bolden I expect him to either:

 

1) Run right by as Bolden hesitates

2) Get near a block and Bolden eat it

3) Run through Bolden's arm tackle that fail to bring him down

 

"The last thing Bolden can allow is for Barrett to cut back across the grain."

 

...and that is worse than what he did how?

 

The last thing Bolden can allow is Barrett to get by him. It doesn't matter whether Barrett gets by him cutting back or by running past his hesitation. The results are the same.

 

Your argument here seems to be - "Bolden isn't good at tackling in space, so what can he do"... my argument is that his hesitation that prevents him from making this tackle is part and parcel of WHY he isn't good at tackling in space.

 

 

 

Space Coyote

December 2nd, 2015 at 2:14 PM ^

Your first quote is out of context. If Peppers got his ankles broken by Barrett when he failed to break down in space, what would you expect from Bolden if he failed to break down in space like you are asking him to? I'm guessing you expect him to completely miss the tackle. That's what I expect most people to expect from Bolden. That's what I'd expect. Completely missing the tackle is bad, and it comes to your next fallacy.

Letting Barrett cut back across the grain is worse because there is no help in that direction. You act as if Bolden is the lone player on the field and it's up to him and only him to make the play. The fact is that while Bolden didn't get square in the hole (because of the false steps he initially took away from the hole) he was forced to try to make up ground and make a play in space (rather than in a confined area). By doing that, he had to break down and try to mitigate the bad and hope someone, anyone else on his defense would help him. No one did. It's not only Bolden. No one else got off blocks, despite there being several defenders in that direction that could have gotten off blocks and helped Bolden bring down Barrett.

So that's why it's worse. Football isn't binary. It's not just good or bad and nothing else. Bolden makes an initial mistake then has to correct himself and can only do so much. That "only so much" involves having to break down because he's going one-on-one with Barrett in space where if he doesn't break down he completely misses the tackle and gives the defense even less of a chance to make a play. No one else on the defense helps him mitigate his mistake, despite the fact that he got back in decent position for other guys to converge and help him.

You said above a terrible worded hypothetical about 0.000% chance and 0.0001% chance. The better chance for the defense to get a stop after Bolden first initial mistake (false steps away from the play) was for him to do what he did. He made a mistake, I get it, he didn't play very well in this game. But this idea where everything is on him like some people are trying to make it out to be (the fact that you are pointing out a different play where he made a mistake and trying to pin it all on him only proves that) is wrong.

pescadero

December 2nd, 2015 at 5:57 PM ^

The better chance for the defense to get a stop after Bolden first initial mistake (false steps away from the play) was for him to do what he did.

 

I disagree.

 

The best chance for the defense to get a stop after Bolden first initial mistake (false steps away from the play) was for Bolden to aggressively close and make the tackle.

 

I just can't buy the argument that for an unblocked linebacker looking at a runner in the hole - it's more important to prevent a cutback than make a tackle. I just don't philosophically think it's true.

 

Unlike my hypothetical - We KNOW what happened when he "played it right" after making the first mistake. We KNOW the result. It isn't hypothetical - it's a touchdown. So if Bolden lets him cut back it would be worse... and tehy'd score MORE than a touchdown?

 

He made a mistake, I get it, he didn't play very well in this game. But this idea where everything is on him

 

1) He didn't play well in this game

2) He didn't play well in the great majority of the other games either

3) It ain't all on him - the coaching decision to just keep letting OSU manhandle the defense is on the coaches, the poor play by the DL is on the DL and injuries, and Bolden's inability to shed blocks/tackle in space/make aggressive decisions is on Bolden.

He's a mediocre linebacker who regularly eats blocks and is way too hesitant in his decision making... and I think the evidence shows that higher variance is a better winning strategy than low level consistency.

 

The guy that average 5 yards a carry while breaking a couple long runs and giving up a couple TFLs will win you more games than the zero variance player that just gets 5 yards (no more, no less) every carry.

 

Space Coyote

December 2nd, 2015 at 6:51 PM ^

Here, you alter your argument to make yourself right. Your argument now is what the best play would be, which is "go fast and make a tackle as far in the backfield as possible." Well no kidding. But despite your use of hindsight with a sample size of one Bolden ain't screaming down like a missile and tackling Barrett in space.

No one is arguing it's more important to prevent a cutback than make a tackle. That's like arguing other players shouldn't maintain their gaps, they should just make the tackle. Well yeah, but that's not how it works. Bolden had a shot at a tackle and didn't finish. You think he was more likely to finish a significantly harder tackle. He isn't. He has to do his job and give the defense a chance to make a play. He gave the D a chance despite missing the tackle.

Your hypothetical at the end is pointless. Bolden false stepped, he was giving up yards. He could either put himself in a position to have a good shot at a tackle or put himself in an unlikely spot to make a tackle (and therefore likely spot to give up a TD). I'll take the likely shot at not giving up the TD than the likely shot of giving one up. The fact that the unlikely shot at giving up a TD ended up resulting in a TD doesn't change the odds unless you think flipping a coin twice automatically must end up once on heads and once on tails.

pescadero

December 3rd, 2015 at 7:57 AM ^

Bolden false stepped, he was giving up yards. He could either put himself in a position to have a good shoI'll take the likely shot at not giving up the TD than the likely shot of giving one up.t at a tackle or put himself in an unlikely spot to make a tackle (and therefore likely spot to give up a TD).

 

He put himself in a position to have a good shot at a tackle, then did the one thing that basically guaranteed failure at making a tackle.

 

You think he was more likely to finish a significantly harder tackle

 

No. I don't agree that it was a significantly harder tackle. I think from my football experience that his hesitation and lack of aggression were what MADE it a significantly harder tackle.

 

I'll take the likely shot at not giving up the TD than the likely shot of giving one up.

 

I'll take the bet that the statistics say there was no "likely" shot at not giving up the TD. At that point on the field there is no play or series of plays  that is "likely" to prevent a TD.

 

What we're really talking about is "more likely" and "less likely" where even "less likely" is significantly greater than 50%.

 

...but this may just relate to my common football coaching complaint - extreme risk aversion and desire for control. I'm of the opinion that while aggression increases errors - the net sum of the cost/benefit analysis is positive.

 

In the following scenario -

a) 20% chance of winning with an 80% chance of losing 14-10 

b) 22% chance of winning with a 78% chance of losing 50-10

 

95% of football coaches choose A - even the ones that are considered "aggressive". They're more afraid of losing badly than they desire to win. It's why they punt from the 50 yard when they're down two TDs in the 2nd half.

MaizeJacket

December 3rd, 2015 at 3:15 PM ^

But I'm going to have to disagree with Space Coyote here.  Bolden didn't even make Barrett make a move to get by him; all Barrett had to do was run straight...touchdown.  At least if Bolden charges, Barrett is either tackled, hit and slowed down, or reads it lightning quick and cuts back, In either of the latter scenarios, the Michigan pursuit had a decent chance to get him (not saying they would, we'll never know, but four Michigan dudes are running downfield in the vicinity at that point).

Jevablue

December 2nd, 2015 at 10:38 AM ^

In one sense it is brutally painful to see this kind of autopsy.  On the other hand it gives me hope that the issues are as much coaching, learning, etc than raw athleticism (that according to some we lack, I do not buy into that).  I think that if Morgan is able to get his head across Elliot he probably makes a stop, and a split second defines that.  Timing was the issue in my mind and how that all played out was well illustrated by your discussion.

My question to you is this.  Harbaugh's offensive philosophical preferences are well chronicled. (As is his ability to adapt to realilty on the fly).   Is he similarly committed to specific defensive philosophy as well or does he grant more latitude and discretion to the D Coordinator for this?

 

Seth

December 2nd, 2015 at 1:36 PM ^

His defenses have been whatever his DC does, but he's tended to get guys who are all from the same tree, which is pretty much Bo's tree. This defense is Mattison and Durkin, and it's hard to tell where one stops and the other begins because they come from the same coaching tree pretty much. Yesterday's 3-3-5 stuff was vintage Durkin I think, except Mattison played around with it in do-or-die situations before.

Harbaugh had a different DC at Stanford every year, then kept his last DC at Stanford for his tenure with the 49ers.

2007: Scott Shafer you know. He was connected to the Michigan family via Bill Mallory, who gave him his start then was Novak's DC at NIU for a decade. Rich Rod hired him away from Stanford, from there Shafer was the Syracuse DC then HC. His 4-3 defense is very similar to Mattison's--press Cov 1 and attack the gaps, very basic stuff without frippery. I know it'd be weird but he'd be a candidate since he knows the town and his defense woudl be a pretty seamless transition.

2008: Ron Lynn is an older guy who was a longtime NFL DC int he 1980s and '90s. Harbaugh brought him out of retirement--Lynn hadn't coached since 2004 and hadn't been a DC since he was Norv Turner's assistant for the mid-'90s Redskins. Lynn is now the director of player development at Stanford and will probably remain there.

2009: Andy Buh was LBs coach at Stanford then took over the defense in '09. He bounced around a lot of places since--he was the LBs coach for Wisconsin in 2012, the DC and LBs coach for Cal in 2013, then joined Mike Stoops in Kentucky for 2014-15. 

2010: Vic Fangio A longtime NFL DC (Panthers 95-98, Colts 99-01, Texans 02-05, Ravens 06-08). After a  year at Stanford Fangio followed Harbaugh to the 49ers. Fangio's defense is identical to Michigan's--they call it a "3-4" but the Buck is half-DL. Fangio is in his first year as the Chicago Bears DC so there's no way we're getting him. He's a Mattison-level guy.

Tex_Ind_Blue

December 2nd, 2015 at 10:38 AM ^

So it boil downs to the dreaded 'execution'? I am hoping with more practice during the bowl preparation and a full off-season to go, Michigan D will be ready next fall. The question is what wrinkle would Urban throw up next year? 

sidebar: Did anyone notice his initials are UM? never mind. 

Jevablue

December 2nd, 2015 at 10:50 AM ^

was not that we tried this, but that we kept trying it in the face of overwhelming evidence it was not working.

And Rich Rod, putting up arguably the three worse defenses in the history of the storied program with the 3-3-5, really tarnished that scheme in a lot of people's minds.  Mine included, fair or not.

pescadero

December 2nd, 2015 at 10:57 AM ^

Keep shoving guys into the box until you stop the run.

 

If that means 11 guys in the box playing a 6-5-0 and getting burned over the top by passes - so be it... but you make a guy beat you shooting jump shots, not driving to the hole.

somewittyname

December 2nd, 2015 at 11:08 AM ^

People are acting like JT can't throw. He beat out Cardale and Braxton for a reason. He dropped a couple dimes on us too to prove the point.

The Meyer offense was in full gear with their various NFLers stepping up to the plate. We got our hopes up that we'd see another performance from them similar to most of the season but instead we saw one similar to their playoff run. When a team like that plays to their full strength vs. a team with our deficencies at LB and missing starting NT, the latter team loses.

Jevablue

December 2nd, 2015 at 11:17 AM ^

Barrett can obviously throw.  But he can run better. His TD pass was damn well covered, I tip my hat to him and the reciever on that and frankly thought D Hill made a great effort.  I can take losing like that.  If I am going to lose, I want to at least decide how I go out, after exhausting every possible option before hand.  They dictated everything and we took it.  Hence my disgust with the approach.

pescadero

December 2nd, 2015 at 11:24 AM ^

People are acting like JT can't throw.

 

Nope.

 

I'm acting like having him throw is a lower percentage success than what was happening with our defense and stopping the run.

 

We saw they were unning all over us. They MIGHT have passed all over us.

 

Would stuffing the box have worked? Maybe, maybe not. Did not stuffing the box work? Nope, and we knew it early in the game.

dragonchild

December 2nd, 2015 at 11:24 AM ^

First off, football is not basketball.  This isn't like double-teaming a ballhog.  Just putting more guys in there doesn't make them more sound against the run if they don't know what to do.  The front 7 had been defending the run without that extra safety all year; throwing in another body when no one's repped a quarters-style defense all year is a great way to have multiple defenders attack the same gap and trip over each other.

Second, did you watch your own team?  The run scheme is different, but Michigan had been scorching defenses overplaying the run for half a season by throwing screens to Darboh/Chesson for 7-15 yards a pop and you're talking about putting 11 in the box?  I hate Urban Meyer but he's not stupid.

There's trying to check a strength and then there's overplaying it to the point that everything else becomes easy.  OCs WANT you to do the latter.

pescadero

December 2nd, 2015 at 11:40 AM ^

Would they have scorched a stacked box? Maybe.

 

Were they scorching what we were doing? Definitely.

 

Did stacking the box have a chance of success? Yes, although it may have been 0.0001%.

 

Did what we were doing have a chance of success? No.

 

Would you choose a 0.0001% chance of success (as bad as that may be) over 0%?

dragonchild

December 2nd, 2015 at 12:39 PM ^

Did stacking the box have a chance of success? Yes, although it may have been 0.0001%.

Did what we were doing have a chance of success? No.

Would you choose a 0.0001% chance of success (as bad as that may be) over 0%?

That is a lot of fallacies to break down at once.

The first is just your perception.  You find comfort in seeing a stacked box.  That's understandable, emotionally.  Tactically, you're wishing an illusion, like protecting yourself from a bullet by hiding under a blanket.  The safety isn't helpful if he doesn't know what to do, and Michigan hadn't run quarters all season.  On the other hand, OSU knows what to do with a rolled up safety -- especially one who doesn't know what he's doing.

Second, "success" is relative here.  We lost by 30 points and that sucks, but what no one wants to accept here is the possibility that if Durkin did something more drastic like coach Cover 4 in a week, the margin would've been worse.  And with the knee-jerk rejection of that, everyone's armchair coaching from the perception that anything would've been better than what we did.  Well, that just makes everyone look like a frickin' genius.  But it's wrong.

Which makes the last question a false choice between two hypotheticals.  There isn't a good answer to a disingenuous question.

pescadero

December 2nd, 2015 at 1:37 PM ^

The first is just your perception.  You find comfort in seeing a stacked box.

 

1st half:

13 runs vs. single deep safety, 11.15 ypc, median 6 yards per carry; 6 carries gained less than 5 yards, 3 of those were misreads that would've been significant gains

 

2 runs vs. 2 safeties at most 10 yards deep, those went for -1 and 2 yards.

 

2nd half:

18 runs vs. -1 in box, 8.78 ypc, median 9 ypc, only 2 of those runs went for less than 4 yards, and one of those was a misread

9 runs vs. even numbers, 3.33 ypc, take out a 13 yard TD run by Barrett where an unblocked Ross whiffed, and it was 8 carries for 18 yards with one carry longer than 3 yards, and that was a 4 yard gain.

 

For the game:

 

Against a short box: 31 carries, 303 yards, 9.77 YPC

Against an even or better box: 11 carries, 31 yards, 2.82 YPC

 

...and even if nothing would be any better, it's still better to at least TRY something than to do just continue doing what you KNOW won't work.

 

Pepto Bismol

December 2nd, 2015 at 1:37 PM ^

Michigan has all 11 defenders within 4 yards of the line of scrimmage on this play -- and OSU waltzes through while barely breaking a sweat. 

More bodies is great.  But when 2 of those guys (Charlton/Gedeon) are on the wrong side of the play staring at JT Barrett, it obviously doesn't matter.

Seth

December 2nd, 2015 at 11:54 AM ^

MSU runs a different defense that they have been practicing nonstop for years. That defense is weak this year because it puts hard responsibilities on the safeties who are not very good.

However Ohio State for whatever reason didn't test those safeties very much. It was baffling. Ohio State had a far better game plan and a far better game in this one. So much so that you can't really compare the two.

I think if Michigan tried to install a quarters defense in one week it would not have gone well. We don't have the outside linebackers for it, it would waste Peppers as a spacebacker unless we made him the deep safety, and most likely it would have been a disaster for our safeties who've never practiced it. Plus do you really want to Dymonte Thomas to have 3 reads every play?

AC1997

December 2nd, 2015 at 1:09 PM ^

Seth - 

 

You're probably right about installing a true Quarters D and implementing any significant deviation from their base against a great team like OSU is playing with fire.

 

But what bothered me is the lack of agression.  We sat our LB 5 yards deep and let them wait for OSU to do something and then react, while there was always a safety sitting deep.  There's nothing worse than getting humiliating with constant 5 yard runs when you know what's coming.  Send the house - force a behavior change.  I wanted to see OSU pass since we've trusted our DBs all year.  

It felt like the D we were running invited them to run the ball, which not only couldn't we stop but we were highly unlikely to generate turnovers.  At least with the passing game we have a chance at a strip sack or interception.  Additionally, it felt like Peppers was mostly used in coverage and couldn't attack as often since they played Ross more.....who added little obvious value in this game.  

Finally, I hate the "talent" argument when compared to MSU.  Sure, OSU has a roster full of NFL guys that would start at every position but TE on our team.  But when you compare the MSU defense to our defense that's not a talent gap.  They have a good DL, but so do we.  They have good LB and we have three seniors.  Our DBs are better.  And they somehow convinced OSU to stop handing the ball to Elliot while we paved the way for him to get a trip to New York for the Heisman.  While OSU clearly came to play this week more so than any other time in the season, we were the worst defense they played.  That's not just talent - that's coaching and preparation too.  And while Glasgow, Ojemudia, and Mone would certainly have helped - they weren't going to suddenly shut down this level of performance without help from the scheme.