UFR Errata: Iowa, Defending Kenny Demens Comment Count

Brian October 27th, 2010 at 4:58 PM

taylor-lewan-michigan Offense

Lewan moving. Complaints here are always less strenuous, likely because it's way easier to tell what everyone's supposed to be doing. A few commenters noted that Lewan's been moving early, Jerel Worthy-style, for chunks of the year. Kilgore Trout:

From my vantage point on the east side of the stadium, it looked like he pretty clearly moved early.  I think he was doing it a lot against MSU and not getting called.  Either he's got considerably faster reflexes than everyone else on UM's O-Line or MSU and Iowa's D-Lines, or he moves early a decent amount.  To be honest, I think he's lucky to only have had two false starts called on him.

In retrospect I do remember Lewan getting a slight jump on the opponent; it's possible refs are now watching for this and Lewan got nailed.

Denard's accuracy. FWIW, this seemed interesting:

Looking at replays of his throws, he is not stepping into them.  His front foot is stepping to the side, causing him to open up his body when he throws.  This is causing him to be less accurate and also neutralizing his arm-strength.

All the passes where he throws the ball just short or one-hops the ball to the receiver is a function of not stepping into the throw.

He obviously looks great otherwise.

There was the usual war about Vincent Smith in the comments, but I've said my bit on that.


Demens defense. Most complaints center on the enigmatic anointed Kenny Demens, his +8, and the assertion that Demens is a clear upgrade over Ezeh worthy of a "wow." The general theory from His Dudeness:


I know you watch a TON more game video than I do and that you have a TON more experience grading out players than I do, but I have to fear that sometimes you overrate guys based on a single game. I do hope Demens turns into a great MLB, but to say he is going to be a quality MLB from here on out until he graduates may be setting the bar a little high based on one game? I certainly hope you are correct in your assessment, but I will hold off on my expectations that he will be our MLB savior Christ child. I like to expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised by what I get though, so that's my thing.

That's fair; I've tried to assert that Demens's performance was not necessarily replicable against teams that have seen him play and can identify some weaknesses. But he's a clear upgrade on Ezeh. Magnus suggests that Demens pluses would be Ezeh minuses:

I remember Ezeh being dinged for taking on blocks rather than getting around them somehow to make the tackle.  Now it seems that we're celebrating the fact that Demens took on a block from a lineman, even though he was pancaked after he plugged.

This is probably in reference to this play featured in part of the OMG Demens section:

As a couple responders said, the difference between Demens running up into an offensive guard here and eventually getting pancaked and Ezeh getting whacked while motionless is self evident from the result of the play. This was my thought process here:

  1. This is a zero yard run without an obvious Iowa error so the net should be somewhere around +2.
  2. There are no creases in the line. Why are there no creases? Well, the three guys on the frontside all stand up to blocks at the LOS but don't disengage so that's half-points for Kovacs, Banks, and Mouton.
  3. On this one Patterson is done instantly and the G has almost a free release at Demens; there should be a gap. There isn't because Demens hits the G right at the LOS. –1 Patterson, +1 Demens.
  4. Floyd comes up and contains unblocked. Half-point.

Net is +2. On a play where Ezeh consumes a block with gusto and the opponent gets a big gain the play is going to net out at –2 or –3 and he's going to take some of the blame. Iowa had almost no success running between the tackles, so plays on which Demens was involved in were usually + plays and usually he got a share of the +.

On the other hand, BWS took another look at the National Lampoon's Zone Vacation picture pages and suggested the blame was largely on Demens:


I disagree somewhat. Asking a middle linebacker to cover a receiver moving into the flat is either an incoherent defense that will get you killed long term or one of those pattern reading systems that require a ton of drilling. By appearances (and necessity) Michigan does not run fancy stuff; this was three-deep zone with four underneath defenders, except one of them was way, way out of his zone. One of them was somewhat out of his zone.

Avery needs to re-route the slot guy but once he does that he has to get back out into the flat, whereupon the WR gets forced back into Demens and Iowa kicks a field goal and Michigan has a chance to win the game at the end. BWS says "Avery wasn't in great position here, but he also wasn't in terrible position. If he hadn't fallen, he might've had a chance to make the play." The reason he fell is he was playing with his back to the quarterback and running at full speed inside in an attempt to cover a receiver he has no prayer of helping on. Physics is relentless.

It is likely that Demens wasn't supposed to re-route the TE because he wasn't going vertical, and he did drag out of his zone. The reason that's a fifteen-yard error instead of five isn't on him. I should have given him a –1; Avery still is the primary culprit IME.

Black to the future. An email on Black:

Hey Brian-

I was really surprised by your rating of Black's play. I've watched the every defensive snap footage a few times, and to me it looks like Black is out there on about half the snaps, not barely playing as you indicated in the UFR. I also felt like he was a major culprit on a few of the big running plays. I feel like you may have mis-attributed  some negatives to either Banks or Sagesse that were on Black. I don't think Sagesse really played at all except in a few relief appearances for Patterson in the second half.  I'm not a coach or anything, but I played DL (and OL) in high school, and I'm fairly sure that Black had a fairly negative day. Looks to me like he only knows how to pass rush, and gets killed on run plays.
Thanks for all the hard work, as always.


I don't think I've mis-identified Black much; 55 is sufficiently different from 92 that I feel aware when he's in. Sagesse has not played much and I believe I've said that. But I agree that Black is a liability against the run. Michigan State glided down the field on a series of cutbacks he was on the ground for and a couple of runs that Iowa busted outside were partially (possibly largely) his responsibility.

Mouton defense disagreed with. Mouton came in for criticism on a number of runs outside the tackles including a Picture Pages dedicated to Iowa's fourth touchdown, and that criticism was criticized by people who sound like they know what they're talking about. MightAndMainWeCheer on the Iowa TD:

Banks gets hooked by the tackle (which is understandable considering he was lined up a shade inside of the tackle).  The tackle then executes a scoop with the guard; the tackle then releases and blocks Mouton.  Again, Mouton can't bail to the outside at the snap of the ball because there is a huge cutback lane between the B gap.  Kovacs is blitzing but predictably gets kicked out by the FB; in this case cutting the FB and making a pile in the backfield would have been useful in getting the RB to cut up in side or take the ball wider to the outside thus allowing help to arrive.  Again, Mouton is flowing down the line but gets blocked by a tackle (you can see a good view of it from the behind-the-offense replay in the youtube cutup).  Also Demens does a good job of escaping the wash at the beginning of the play but he doesn't take a very good angle to the ballcarrier at the end.

I totally disagree. I missed Kovacs's blitz getting picked off by the fullback and hadn't considered whether he should get minused there; I'm not convinced but I can see the argument. However, defending Mouton not getting outside the tackle just doesn't fly. Mouton knows Kovacs is gone. Banks is in front of him getting shoved inside. He knows he has no help to the outside, so his first priority must be to funnel the ball inside. If he doesn't it's an auto touchdown. He doesn't, auto touchdown. There is a big damn B gap, true, but his choice is between doing what he did and hoping Robinson doesn't run into the wide open field outside or keeping contain and hoping help comes. Also, criticizing Demens because he didn't take a good angle to the ballcarrier seems insane to me. He hit it up in the hole to get a third down stop and the play went outside.

There's another guy saying similar things on the Picture Pages post itself but Bo Schembechler himself could call down from heaven to say Mouton was innocent and I wouldn't believe him. He expected to have to do it all himself, tried to, failed, and gave up many yards. He has done this throughout his career. There are other problems on the play—Banks did get a minus—but thanks to Sagesse taking two blockers and Demens getting to the hole Mouton is the most obvious reason the play blew up.

I'm slightly more receptive to the idea that I should have been harsher on Black on the other run outside the tackle, as Mouton was given a difficult task:

Black got crushed but Patterson actually stayed playside of his attempted double and is flowing down the line into a gap that Mouton also attacks. Mouton running up into that gap doesn't help; if he flows down the line the gain is held down. Kovacs didn't make a heroic play but I'm not sure what he's supposed to do there. I give minuses to linebackers who hit already filled gaps, and Mouton hit one and let a guy outside again.



October 27th, 2010 at 5:12 PM ^

Certainly we're all happy to have a MLB who doesn't have the instincts of a drugged elephant; Brian's optimism re: Demens is appropriate here not because he's not Ezeh but because he's shown an ability to play the position.


October 27th, 2010 at 6:11 PM ^

from both these guys, not to mention skill. Lewans' ceiling is so high it's hard to see. The coaches will work on his timing, and he seems to be very coachable and eager.

Go ahead, be optimistic about Demens' potential. No one is going to annoint him MVP, buy why wouldn't we be excited about getting a glimpse of someone playing MLB that plays with intensity and trusts their instincts? Instead of looking at these plays with dread, wondering just how badly we are going to get gashed, it seems that there is a glimmer of hope now that we are going to make a play.


October 27th, 2010 at 5:14 PM ^

lewan has an easier assignment on the outside this week.  but at night, in happy valley, moving too soon can be a huge problem.


October 27th, 2010 at 5:47 PM ^

I think this week will prove to be a good week to evaluate Demens.  PSU will likely be hesitant to pass and will do their best to get Royster going.  If M can keep Royster in check, particularly between the tackles, then I see nothing but a bright future for Demens since he is only a Sophmore.

contra mundum

October 27th, 2010 at 5:54 PM ^

National Lampoon Zone Play

Looks like 3 deep 4 under. Avery should reroute the slot, open up toward the qb..drop to the curl, look for a threat in the flat.

Demens has the TE threat between he and Mouton. He chucks TE, but IMHO is late on the drop.

If Demens leaves the TE and drops correctly, likely the ball would not have been thrown..and hopefully Mouton would have taken care of the TE. If Avery drops correctly, we stopp this short of the sticks.


The Iso play against Kovacs was on Mouton. Kovacs may have over penetrated a bit, but Mouton is basically unblocked.

Michigan doesn't really ask most of it's DLs to take on doubles..instead, the lighter guys are  asked to work under the first and over the second block. So, Mouton should know that Banks has his inside, Kovacs is forcing to him, and he should be outside the OT, and at the worst, this is forced into Banks or a possible fill from Demens.


October 27th, 2010 at 6:56 PM ^

and leverage correctly we might have something mediocre down the stretch.

p.s. assuming Mike Martin stays healthy enough to be effective.

Chris of Dange…

October 27th, 2010 at 6:29 PM ^

I got tired of not being able to follow Brian's analysis through the still pictures (must just be me), so I got the idea to put the PP text on the video.  Brian was kind enough to let me do it, so here you are.  I'll probably be doing these for the rest of the season.


October 27th, 2010 at 8:38 PM ^

Let's face it, the Iowa coaches are seasoned veterans and they knew they were going against some young defenders.  They ran that mesh route knowing there was a high probability the LB would get caught in the wash, thus freeing up the backside/crossing TE.

That's just good coaching/game planning.


October 27th, 2010 at 6:32 PM ^

oldcityblue, i think you nailed it right on! Personally him hitting the gap and tackling robinson early in the game set the tone for me.  Instantly I thought wow, a MLB hit a gap and made a TFL. If GERG can just preach contain for the DEs and Mouton, less gashing and more stops will come!


October 27th, 2010 at 7:15 PM ^

No way Demens is responsible for the td unless we are in an extremely exotic d which considering our d the chances are zero.

If Mouton isn't responsible for the outside Greg Robinson is just inventing defenses that don't work.


October 27th, 2010 at 7:29 PM ^

For the record, I'm not saying that Demens should receive a minus for taking on blocks and getting pancaked.  Sometimes that's a defender's job (well, except for the "pancake" part).

My point was only that if taking on a block in certain situations is good for Demens, then the same logic should be/have been applied to Ezeh's play at times early in the season.

For the record, I was pleased with Demens' play and I'm looking forward to seeing if he can keep up the good work.


October 27th, 2010 at 7:50 PM ^

Admitedly, all I can do is combine the things you guys point out and parrot pieces of it in a way to make sense of it.  But, it seems to me that the difference between Demens and Ezeh taking on blocks is that Demens charges into it, so that it occurs at the LOS.  With other bodies around a gap is filled.  Ezeh waits 2 yards behind the LOS.  Sure, the same blocker is erased, but now the RB has at least one lane and probably both sides of Ezeh to cut through. 


October 28th, 2010 at 10:57 AM ^

FWIW, Quarterbacks are taught to step slightly to the left of their intended target to keep their hips open and allow them to follow through toward the target. If they step directly toward who they are throwing to, they can't follow through properly. It's not a baseball throw where a follow through ends down by your knees. A football throw is shorter and quicker and thus the adjustment. I haven't watched the film but that may be what that person was referring to. If the ball is sailing, that generally means that "camera 3" (imaginary camera that would be on the right shoulder that should "take a picture" after the ball is released) is not getting all the way through.


October 27th, 2010 at 8:43 PM ^

On the TD, Black is in a 5technique (outside half of the tackle).  There's no way he should get scooped like that.  My guess is he's looking in at the ball to know when to "go" (which we also teach our kids) and by the time he looks up to read the block, it's too late.


October 27th, 2010 at 10:54 PM ^

I've thought that UM has been moving prior to the snap a lot this season.  At first I figured that I was just seeing things, but, I'm not that old.  I'm not surprised that Lewan got caught for some against Iowa.  I think it's been happening all year.  Hopefully it will be corrected come Saturday.  This team can't afford that many mistakes.


October 28th, 2010 at 1:20 PM ^

even on the play Demens gets "pancaked", I'm going to throw more glow at him.  It's actually the center, not the guard, who gets on Demens.  But look at his head snap back when Demens engages.  It's the left guard who gets in Demens way, as that guy was wandering around the area of Banks - the momentum of this guard moving forward and a feisty center staying on Demens is what results in the "pancake".  It ends up being a double team of sorts, momentum-wise

If that LG stays committed to another player instead of accidentally plugging the hole our man was headed for, KD could have been in on that play, or at least available.