UFR Errata: Notre Dame 2010 Comment Count

Brian September 17th, 2010 at 5:11 PM

Didn't get any awesome emails this week but there are a few bits from the comments and other blogs. Anyway:


GS's run chart comes to a lot of reassuringly similar conclusions as the UFR did: the left side of Michigan's line struggled against Kapron Lewis-Moore but the right side and Molk got their pwn on; he was way more impressed with the tight ends (8-0=8 combined!) than I was and similarly down on Shaw. More Omameh hype:

Much better from Omameh. The 2* who was a 250 pound DE in high school crushed the 5* all-world linebacker multiple times, with brutal efficiency.

I meant to mention this in the UFR, but BWS also picture-paged some running back inefficiency. This is a key point:


As you can see here, the defensive end is staying high, forcing Denard to hand the ball off. But the Notre Dame linebackers have engaged with the offensive line before they were able to get upfield. If Michigan's linemen were given a free release to the second level, they're fast and smart enough to make the block. But instead, Notre Dame's linebackers were told to plug the holes at the point of attack and make Shaw slow down at the line and pick a hole. In doing so, it gives the weakside defensive end enough time to crash down for the tackle.

Last week against UConn we saw a lot of holes open up; this week ND linebackers were clogging the LOS. I made my position on this clear: Michigan really needed to exploit this tendency more. The other play he cites is the frustrating Shaw dance where this…


…turned into no yards because Shaw cut behind Schilling and then tried to spin to the backside of the play.

Magnus also criticizes the play design of the Te'o sideline to sideline play. Might and Main points out that Stonum got chewed out after the Vincent Smith swing pass that Calabrese killed for a minimal gain on third and seven. This is what I said:

Last week this was paired with a slant and I'm confused why it's not this week. ND is in man-to-man for once and the deeper hitch is covered by the CB, leaving the flare open; accurate, but Calabrese is all over it for minimal gain. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)

Given the reaction of RR, it's likely this was supposed to be a slant after all.


Didn't get much feedback this week, but here's Magnus making a valid criticism of the 53-yard touchdown breakdown:

Rogers shouldn't get a -1 for the 53-yard TD pass to TJ Jones.  Here's why:

In a Cover 2 defense, the flat defender (Rogers) is supposed to play any receiver in his zone.  If no receiver enters his area, he's supposed to gain depth.  On that play, an underneath receiver entered the flat zone; furthermore, the QB was rolling to his side.  When a QB rolls to the flat defender's side, there will always be a receiver in the flat - that's just how plays are drawn up.  So when that receiver enters his zone, Rogers had to suck up closer to the line of scrimmage.

Meanwhile, Cam Gordon's job is to play the deepest man on his half of the field.  Whether one, two, or three receivers enter his zone, he has to play the one who runs farthest down the field.  It was a well designed play to pick on an inexperienced safety.  Gordon got caught looking in the backfield and didn't see TJ Jones streaking up the sideline.  By the time Jones came open, he was no longer the responsibility of James Rogers - that was all Cam Gordon.

This is the exact reason that Michigan wants to run a lot of Cover 3.  Gordon doesn't have the speed/experience to cover a deep half, and Kovacs doesn't have the athleticism to make a play on the ball, either.

On the other hand, this seems reasonable to me too:

Magnus, I think you should look at the video again......Rogers doesn't even react to the fact that both receivers are going vertical.  He almost immediately looks up #3 and starts to jump the route (completely disregarding his coverage duties).

Rogers was the one caught looking in the backfield. He should be reading 2 to 1.  When 2 gets vertical, he should immediately get into phase on #1.  He jumped the flat route and disregarded the fact that 2 receivers had gone vert, putting Cam on an island.

Who is right? Video:

I can see it either way. It's tough to zone up when you've only got six guys in the coverage, and Rogers was faced with a choice of sinking back on the vertical routes, leaving Rudolph wide open, or leaving Gordon one-on-one with two guys. From his play it looks like he's not even considering dropping back into coverage, which is either a major bust on his part or just the way the D is drawn up. Either way I should have RPS –2ed the play.

Magnus also disagrees with my minusing the linebackers on Armando Allen's nine-yard run off tackle late (the play before the epic Mouton hold:

By alignment, it looks like Kovacs has outside contain to the bottom of the screen.  He steps down to get a jam on the TE and replace his feet, but he then gets caught inside.  If Kovacs can keep contain here (like he did earlier in the game when he fought off a block from the pulling OT), he's funneling the running back to the inside.

If Kovacs holds the edge, Mouton is stepping up to take on the pulling OL.  Ideally, Mouton would stuff up the OL, cut his legs, or take him on with the inside shoulder and force the RB further inside.  But Mouton gets caught up in the wash of Kovacs getting blown down the line.

Meanwhile, Ezeh is scraping unblocked and would presumably make the tackle after a minimal gain.

This is plausible, but it's hard to see how Kovacs can possibly maintain contain when he's one guy lined up opposite two ND tight ends and the fullback. This is bad defense design and should have been RPS-1ed.


contra mundum

September 17th, 2010 at 6:22 PM ^

Jones TD is on Cam..you can see the LB (Mouton?) digging hard to get under the out route so that any throw there has to be arched giving Gordon time to respond..his angle to Jones is way  too flat, and a proper response and angle would have given him at minimum, time to keep this down to a 20 yard gain and should have allowed him a decent play on the ball, unless it's thrown just right. IMHO, he broke out too late.

On the nine yard run, JT should have filled quicker to the LOS once he read run and having no real pass receiving threat to play, this thing would have been kept into the 3 yard gain area.


September 18th, 2010 at 5:57 AM ^

This is a simple Cover 2 zone blitz.  Two linebackers blitz, one drops into zone and the 2 corners have flat responsibility.  Did Rogers try to jump the route in the flat?  Probably, but in no way is he responsible for the Fly route, that is on the deep safety.  Gordon just reacted late, and compounded the air by taking a poor route.


September 17th, 2010 at 7:20 PM ^

deeper that the receiver who got way behind him AND he was in between the two so QB would have hit a wide open under receiver and the deep receiver would have been blocking Gordon all the way to the goal line anyway. AND Rogers did bite and should have gotten deeper. That is they way I see it so three way cage fight?

Blue in Seattle

September 17th, 2010 at 7:37 PM ^

I thought that Cam Gordon had the speed to play free safety (recruited to be WR?) just doesn't have the experience yet.

I know the running style of that ND Receiver looked gimpy, but he has incredibly long legs, and I think that Cam isn't chasing because he's mentally crushed once he realizes what he's done.

He starts to chase and closes a little, but by then he can see there's no time before the end zone.  So is this play the only judgement that he doesn't have the speed?

Who does have the speed to cover the field sideline to sideline?  Remembering from Misopogon's Hero Attributes, it was Instinct that was ranked higher than speed.  I think Cam failed on the instinct and execution, and speed was no longer an assisting tool on this specific play.

Is everyone basing the lack of speed on Cam's relative 40 time?

I guess I'm not that worried about this one play so far.  We survived the game, in all other ways Cam appears intelligent and instinctual, and I think this young secondary will get tested again, but will be able to respond better and better.

In any case, it's exceeding my expectations given the pre-season DOOM and gloom.


September 17th, 2010 at 8:24 PM ^

Watched the replay over and over, and I concur that it is on both Cam and Rogers.

As pointed out, Rogers bites up immediately, and could have been more useful had he maintained some amount of deep leverage.

However, it seems to me that Cam didn't even see the outside receiver releasing deep and read only off of the 2. He assumed that it was an overthrown ball to the 2, leading him to believe that he would either pick it off or it would fall meaninglessly deep / towards the sideline. Had he played the deeper of the two vertical routes, neither likely results in the TD (though they definitely pick up the first on the throw to the 2 and who knows what happens on the 1 depending on how the coverage plays out).

Nicely drawn up by BK, but my take is that if both stay deeper, the result is better for UM. That said, those guys needed to be aware in run support and you can't just drop the whole secondary deep on every play. Given the rollout, though, I'd prefer that they cover deep and rely on the LBs to get wide to prevent the underneath stuff.

Annndddd looking at it ONE MORE TIME, I'm thinking that Thomas Gordon could have done a better job getting over to cover the 2 (looks like it could have been a 3-level zone, if it was an obvious roll-out, which is why Rogers might not be wrong biting up) - which would have allowed Cam to stay deep.

At the end of the day... just tough to tell, but I'd say we had a bit of a breakdown on that entire side of the defense, leading me to believe that we just need to spend some more time preparing for combo routes on rollouts designed to beat 2-deep zones. If this went to Kovacs' side, I'm not sure that there is anything more positive that would have happened for us either.


September 17th, 2010 at 8:25 PM ^

Overall, I liked the game that Greg Robinson called and his zone blitzes and playcalling appear to be creative, but that 53-yarder to TJ Jones is on him.  There is no reason why you should ever run a cover 2 against a trips formation; it generally does not end well for the defense on a pass.

Looking at the pre-snap alignment, we were doomed from the start.  It was their 3 receivers against our 2 DBs.  Somebody's zone was going to get flooded, it was just a matter of whose; unfortunately it was our deep safety.  This is even further exacerbated by the fact that neither C Gordon nor T Gordon is wide enough to start the play.  There is no way C Gordon can get to the outside-most WR based on where he started; there is no way T Gordon covers the deep out based on where he started.  The only person who was in a good position to do anything was Rogers; he did what he was supposed to do by covering the the man in the flat. 

Robinson should have either changed the play call or called a timeout.  I hope this particular alignment/coverage scheme against that formation was not done intentionally or else we will have problems all year covering trips.

With this young secondary, Robinson needs to ensure that they are always in positions to succeed.  Judging by his experience/long track record, I have faith he will.


September 17th, 2010 at 8:45 PM ^

In Cover 2, the corner's responsibility is to read 2 to 1 (that is the middle slot & outside receiver).  The Sam backer (or whatever the heck that hybrid position is) should be leveraging #3 running to the flats.  The corner should be getting depth with #2 and ideally sqeezing the outside receiver to the safety.  The safety needs more depth so the he can see everything.  The way this play should have played out is with the corner dropping off on the deep 15 yard out and the safety taking the deep route running into his deep half.  If they would have thrown to #3 in the flats, you have two players (the corner and the Sam) with enough depth to rally to the ball.  It was a good call by the offense, but the defense was definitely in bad position.  If I were a coach grading the corner and safety, they both would have received a minus (maybe a double minus for the safety).  Neither of them were correct...

Chuck Norris

September 17th, 2010 at 11:21 PM ^

I am a high school defensive back, so I have some experience in this. Brian is 100% correct. When two go vertical, you have to go with them. Better to give up a gain in the flat than to give up a touchdown. And I'm sure it was a missed coverage call. In a trips situation it is better to go cover 8 (where the FS and the SS have deep corners, the Wide Corner has flats, and the Short Corner and Nickel Back cover the backside).

steve sharik

September 18th, 2010 at 3:24 AM ^

The biggest problem you're all having is the fact that this isn't Cover 2.


  • Cover 2 is 2-deep, 5-under.  We are rushing 5 here, and we are in 2-deep, 4-under, not Cover 2.
  • On Cover 2, the corner is supposed to funnel #1 inside toward the safety.  In this play, the corner isn't even aligned outside #1.

That said, I don't know what exactly the coverage is, however, the corners are jumping the flat now to take away hot routes and the safeties are likely playing deep half to take away the big play.  Such a coverage is designed to give up the intermediate throw, but the hope is the 5-man pressure gets to the QB before he has time to make such a throw.

The interesting thing is that Cam seems to be matching #2.  Go back and watch him match the 15-yard out (called a bench route) of #2.   (By the way, this route combination is a prototypical sprintout three-man flood route.)

It is my guess that Cam was playing a Cover 2-Read technique.  In 2-Read, the half safety reads #2.  If #2 is vertical the safety matches him.  A vertical route is defined as any route with a vertical stem of at least 10 yards.

Although I disagree with Magnus (and others) that this was Cover 2, I agree with him that Cam was responsible for the TD allowed.  I don't think this is a RPS -1, just a simple MA.


September 18th, 2010 at 10:56 AM ^

I've just gotta say that once again MGoBlog has proven to be quite possibly the greatest collection of football minds on the Internets. The level of detail that Brian, Magnus, Steve and so many others go into is astounding. Thanks again for all the analysis guys!


September 19th, 2010 at 1:18 PM ^

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