Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Illinois Comment Count

Brian November 10th, 2010 at 5:23 PM

Formation notes: More of the same mad scientist business, with Michigan rolling out a 3-4, a 4-3, and a 3-3-5 on various occasions. With Roh's move to the defensive line the fourth "defensive lineman" in the 4-3 was either Obi Ezeh or JB Fitzgerald, which had predictable results. Michigan seemed to save the stack mostly for spread alignments and used the other two in more traditional situations.

Substitution notes: The secondary was Vinopal, Rogers, Avery, and Kovacs the whole way. Fitz and Ezeh seemed to get equal time at the OLB/DE spot, with Cam Gordon getting maybe 80% of the time at spur. Thomas got some snaps. Demens and Mouton went the whole way at MLB. On the line Martin, RVB, and Roh started; Patterson, Black, and Banks spotted them periodically.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-3 Light Run Triple option pitch N/A 11
So Michigan comes out in a four man line with Fitzgerald as a standup DE, Mouton and Demens behind them, and Gordon flexed out over the slot receiver. Kovacs is rolled up a bit so it's like 6.5 guys in the box. Avery is at FS with Vinopal over the slot. Illinois goes to their bread and butter and Michigan is badly outflanked. The way they've lined up against it I don't think they can stop either the dive or the pitch (RPS -2). Kovacs is taking off for the backside of the play; Mouton is sitting on the dive because I think he has to, and Cam Gordon's on the edge with a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. He crashes on Scheelhaase; pitch back wide open. I'm not sure who to minus, so the RPS just has to stand. I guess I do think Rogers could have kept LeShoure from getting outside of him and held this under a first down so -0.5.
O44 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide tight 4-3 Light Pass Cross Demens 4
RVB(+0.5, pressure +1) swims through a double team and comes up the middle of the field, forcing Scheelhaase to dump it. Jenkins is a dangerous YAC guy that Demens(+0.5) is tracking through the zone; he makes a diving tackle after two. Jenkins can fall forward but that's a pretty good play in space.
O48 2 6 Pistol FB twins 4-3 Light Run Power dive Mouton 4
FB charges through a hole that's massive as Fitz(-0.5) gets kicked out and Martin slants outside. A guard pulls around to get a hat on Demens, which happens somewhat close to the LOS. That block is not tested as Mouton(+0.5) takes on the FB about a yard downfield, giving the RB the impression he should hit it outside. Mouton fights through the block and gets help from a filling Kovacs(+0.5); the pair tackles.
M48 3 2 I-form big 4-3 Light Run Down G Fitzgerald 5
No chance of stopping this power formation with this set of personnel on the field; they run right at Fitz(-1), who comes inside as a guard pulls around and gets plowed. He actually does a good job to get off the block and force the play back inside, where Kovacs and some linemen tackle. Michigan got caught shooting both linebackers up the middle of the field and left an obvious vulnerability open. RPS -1.
M43 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Roh 1
3-4 look is less goofy in terms of personnel. Illinois runs an inside zone; Roh(+1) flows down the line to shut off the hole and Martin(+1) reads the direction of the RB, slowing up and cutting inside his blocker instead of getting pulled down the line as if it's a stretch. The two converge to tackle at the LOS.
M42 2 9 Shotgun trips Base 3-4 Pass 4 Hitch Mouton 11
Gordon blitzes off the edge for a fourth rusher. Everyone's picked up, massive pocket (pressure -1); Scheelhaase finds a receiver in between three guys in the zone (cover -1). I think this is a bad drop from Mouton(-0.5), as Demens is going with one receiver on his little cross and Fitz is moving out to get the flat.
M31 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-3 Light Run Triple option dive Black 4
Black in. Black(-0.5) shoots upfield and opens up the dive but at least recovers enough to force the RB inside a bit, where Demens(+0.5) can fight through the free release of the playside tackle to hit the tailback after a few yards; help arrives.
M27 2 6 Shotgun trips Base 3-4 Pass 4 Scramble Patterson 10
Michigan covers(+1) a series of short hitches perfectly; Patterson(-2, pressure -2) gets way out of his rush lane, ending up next to Black, and gives Scheelhaase a wide open lane he exploits for the first.
M17 1 10 Shotgun 2TE Base 4-4 Pass 4 Throwaway Van Bergen Inc
Kovacs rolls up. Illinois runs mesh and both linebackers cover it(+1) so Scheelhaase doesn't have his first read. He can't get his second because Van Bergen(+0.5) drove into the backfield and got a hand up, causing a scramble and eventually a throwaway.
M17 2 10 Pistol FB twins Base 4-4 Run Triple option pitch Demens 0
Michigan stunting here, sending Roh inside of the DTs, which causes Scheelhaase to keep and sends Roh right into the hypothetical dive. Gordon(+1) gets out on Scheelhaase immediately, forcing a very quick pitch that Demens(+1) is assigned. In space with a good back, Demens comes up quickly but under control, forms up, doesn't bite on two different fakes, and delays LeShoure until he has to take off and get what he can. Rogers(+0.5) came in after a while to tackle but this is Demens making a play in space. (Tackling +1, RPS +1)
M17 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass Scramble Roh 9 (Pen -10)
Roh(+2) smokes the Illini RT to the inside and forces Scheelhaase to scramble; would have been worse for UI if the RT hadn't held Roh up, drawing a flag. Scheelhaase scrambles for near first down yardage because Demens(-0.5) overran the scramble by getting too aggressive on an underneath WR. (Pressure +2)
M27 3 20 I-form 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass FB screen Martin Inc
Martin(+1) comes through the line even faster than they want on a screen, nailing the fullback in the backfield and eventually sending him to the ground. Scheelhaase has no one to throw to and just gets rid of it. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: FG(44), 7-3, 9 min 1st Q. This isn't awful, really. Only the first play was a groaner. Everything else is understandable or actually good.
M47 1 10 Pistol FB twins 3-3-5 stack Pass PA corner Rogers 34
Triple option fake with McGee at QB and he pulls up to throw. We never get a good replay but Michigan is in cover three here and Rogers is going with the outside guy on a post instead of coming off on a guy running a corner route 25 yards downfield, so I think this is on him (cover -3, -2). McGee got plowed by Martin as he threw so no pressure minus.
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read keeper Ezeh 4
Ezeh in for Fitz at OLB. Mouton actually in the middle on this play. Roh comes down so Scheelhaase pulls it, but he's to the short side and he's got two WRs out there so Ezeh(+0.5) and Avery(+0.5) don't have a ton of room to close down once they come off their blocks, which they both do ably. With not much room and two guys coming at him Scheelhaase can't get much more than three.
M19 2 6 I-form 4-3 light Run Down G -5
Again going right at Fitz/Obi; here Obi gets blown off the ball. I can't tell if this is going to be nothing or a touchdown; Mouton(+0.5) gets outside of the pulling T and is either going to tackle for nothing or the RB is going to run right by him because Kovacs(-1) went way too far upfield and created a huge hole. We'll never know because the RB drops the ball and Michigan recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-3, 5 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read keeper Mouton 4
Roh(+0.5) is shuffling down the line and should have a handoff dead to rights if it's actually made but pulls off when he sees the RB doesn't have the ball. I think Mouton(-1) is supposed to be scraping outside but he doesn't read the play quickly and gets blocked by the RT, leaving Kovacs to fill quickly and cut off the outside; Mouton is flowing down the line and when Scheelhaase cuts back he bangs into the LT, allowing Roh to tackle from behind.
M29 2 6 I-form twins 4-3 Light Run Down G Kovacs 3
Again going at the LB/DE substance. Illinois gets everyone blocked but Avery and Mouton take on their blocks appropriately and Kovacs(+0.5) is in overhang mode, so he crashes down in the relatively small gap to make a solid tackle after a meh gain.
M26 3 3 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Flare Kovacs 0
Illinois slides their protection away from the spur and Gordon blitzes, getting in free immediately(RPS +1, pressure +1); dumpoff on the swing route as Kovacs is undercutting the slant. Kovacs moves to the swing and attacks. He whiffs but he whiffs to the outside and forces the RB to come to a near-complete stop. Mouton whiffs, Avery whiffs, Roh and Demens come in to clean up.  Kovacs +1 for an angle that allowed the gang tackle. BWS picture-paged this.
Drive Notes: FG(43), 7-6, 3 min 2nd Q. Gallon fumbles the ensuing kickoff.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-3 Light Run Power dive Mouton 3
Mouton(+1) attacks the leading fullback at the line, shedding him to the outside and forcing the RB back to his help. Still a big hole because Patterson(-1) got blown up; Demens(+0.5) scrapes to tackle without getting a blocker; it's clear the pulling guard did not expect Mouton to do this and had to improvise in space; he ends up blocking no one.
M29 2 7 Ace 4-wide tight 3-3-5 stack Pass N/A PA rollout cross Kovacs 13
Fake pitch with Scheelhaase rolling out. Kovacs is attacking but then pulls off, which is smart because there's a guy coming to the sideline right behind him. Unfortunately, as Scheelhaase nears the LOS Kovacs(-1, cover -1) blows his earlier good work by coming up and opening up a little flip pass at the sideline. This was going to gain yards either way but Mouton was coming, too, and it would have been less damaging to allow the scramble.
M16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Black 9
Zone read look; Ezeh is the contain and forces a handoff. Major problem here is Black(-1) flowing way too fast down the line of scrimmage on the backside, giving the RB a cavernous cutback lane behind him and away from any of the linebackers. I think Ezeh(-0.5) does come up too hot and makes the read and cutback easy, but there's a lot of room.
M7 2 1 I-form big Base 3-4 Run Down G Ezeh 4
3-4 look but the same idea from Illinois: run at the guy out of position, which is still Ezeh(+1). This time he's not getting blocked at the line because of the alignment and gets into the pulling G in the backfield, which cuts off the interior hole. Black(+0.5) helped by not getting blown out this time. Ezeh then pops out to rub the FB, making it a tough bounce for the tailback and hypothetically a no gain. Kovacs(-1) is caught off guard by this development and takes an angle inside, then overruns it; he does tackle but this was set up to be a better play by Ezeh.
M3 1 G I-form big Base 3-4 Run Iso Martin 1
Nothing in the middle with Martin(+2) shucking the C, moving past a G trying to block him, and absorbing the lead block. RB cuts back, where three separate M players are with just one guy to block; they do an adequate job of getting him down. The cutback does gain a yard.
M2 2 G Goal line Goal line Pass N/A PA rollout scramble Demens 0
This is more run than pass here, I think, with just one option in the endzone, and that one decently covered by Mouton(+0.5, cover +1), though I think a more confident QB tries this. Scheelhaase is on the edge; Gordon(+0.5) bumps the underneath receiver and gets outside, cutting off the corner. This allows Demens(+1, tackling +1) to flow hard from the interior, grabbing the QB at the LOS and allowing Gordon to pound him for no gain. Gordon brings a physical intimidation factor the other two spurs don't.
M2 3 G Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run QB draw Kovacs 2
Ezeh(+1) blitzes right into the play, taking out the RB and the pulling guard and hypothetically giving Kovacs(-2) a free shot on Scheelhaase on an obvious playcall here, but Kovacs is wandering out towards the tight end for some reason and instead of a thumping TFL and a field goal Michigan gets scored on.
M3 2pt 2pt Shotgun twins 2TE Base 4-3 Pass 6 Cross Vinopal 3
A rubtastic rub route with rubbing rubs, although Illinois does it so that it's all on the up and up. Vinopal is in man over the slot guy and has to take slight deviations around one of his own men and an Illinois receiver, which is just enough for the Illini receiver to get into the endzone; Michigan sent six and was closing in with two guys just as Scheelhaase, who's had to back ten yards off the LOS,throws. Good coverage, good pressure, good play from Illinois. Nothing to get despondent about here.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT), 7-14, 14 min 2nd Q. Comin' up: despondency!
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O46 1 10 I-form twins 4-3 Light Run Inside zone Kovacs 6 (Pen -10)
Martin(+1) beats his man to the inside and is tackled, drawing a holding call. Play goes outside anyway, where there's no one blocking Kovacs after Fitzgerald does a mediocre job and Avery gets kicked out. Kovacs(-1) takes a crappy angle and can only make a desperate ankle tackle(-1) after two yards, giving the RB another four.
O36 1 20 Pistol FB 3-wide 4-3 Light Run Triple option pitch Mouton 64
Martin limps off the field after the last play. Determining blame on this one is difficult because it's hard to tell whose assignment is whose.If Kovacs is blitzing the dive he's fine. If he's blitzing the QB he makes a fatal mistake by getting sucked inside by the slot blocker and removing himself from contain. If he's blitzing the dive Mouton is at fault for not scraping over the top. Vinopal comes up and forces a pitch. He should be taking the pitch guy, who's most dangerous; Mouton is flowing from the inside after sucking in and has an angle to tackle after about 15 yards but inexplicably slows up and allows the RB to run past him, turning a frustrating gain into an enormous touchdown. Kovacs –3, as later we'll see these blitzes are to contain the QB; Mouton –3 for a really poor missed tackle(-2) that doesn't even slow the RB and turns a gain into a TD.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-21, 11 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Triple option pitch ??? 14
This one is just broken. Kovacs rolls up to the line and blitzes, forcing an immediate pitch from Scheelhaase, and then there's no one on the pitch. Mouton is again the closest linebacker to the pitch and is not getting out on it. (RPS -2)
O44 1 10 I-form twins 4-4 Light Run Off tackle Demens 5
Ezeh(-1) single blocked and buried as a DE, but that's not really his fault. This allows Illinois to downblock Martin and get a free release on Mouton. Avery has to contain against a lead blocker. Demens(+1) is about to take a cut block when he takes a step back, dodging it, and flows down the line past the Mouton blowup to tackle after on a play where everyone on offense had an easy play because Ezeh is not a DE. (RPS -1)
O49 2 5 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 Light Pass 4 Dumpoff Gordon 1
McGee at QB. His first read is covered(+1) and then Black comes around on a stunt up the middle and he has to dump it. Gordon(+1, tackling +1) is there as the ball is brought in and cuts the RBs legs out as he turns upfield.
50 3 4 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Hitch Demens Inc
Demens passes one hitch route off and is caught a little inside but reads Scheelhaase and recovers to make a leaping PBU on a five-yard hitch. Demens! (+2, cover +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-21, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Pistol FB 3-wide 4-3 Light Run Triple option keeper Banks 4
Somewhat bizarre as it looks like the pitch is again wide open but Scheelhaase decides to keep it and follow the dive play he just decided against instead of toss it. Patterson(+1) actually gets into his blocker and shoves him back, then sets up so he can come off on either side. He does so as Scheelhaase passes, tackling after a few yards. Banks(-1), in for RVB, got crushed, though, and it's five yards. Still fortunate, IME, but can't tell for sure.
O33 2 6 I-form twins 4-3 Light Run Off tackle Mouton 4
Virtual replay of the off tackle play on the last drive. Fitzgerald(-1) proves he's not a DE, going down to single blocking. This time Mouton(+2) evades a free release from the TE and pounds the RB as he crease the LOS; no YAC(tackling +1).
O37 3 2 Shotgun trips 4-3 Light Pass 4 Corner Vinopal Inc
Incredibly depressing as RVB(+1) has beaten the RT to the outside and slid inside the RB, coming up on the rollout to force a throw… to a vastly wide open receiver on a corner route for another 25 yards… which is dropped. Salutations! Vinopal the nearest guy but none of these replays are providing actual information. (Cover -3, pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-21, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Vinopal 16
Vinopal rolls down into the box on the snap. This is an inside zone; Patterson and RVB get doubled and don't go anywhere but don't penetrate. With nowhere to go on the inside LeShoure cuts it out, where there's a major gap because Gordon(-1) got way too far upfield. Demens has to scrape through a blocker to get outside but Vinopal is there as a free hitter... and whiffs(-2, tackling -2) entirely. Compounding matters is that he let LeShoure outside of him and did not funnel to help. He's into the secondary, where Rogers dives at his legs to tackle after 15.
M44 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Power dive Van Bergen 1
Michigan slants the line and sends Gordon from the edge, which gets RVB(+1) past a down block attempt and into the intended running lane, where he absorbs the pulling G. Gordon(+0.5) keeps under control and tackles on the slow cutback. (RPS +1)
M43 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 Scramble Ezeh? 8
Michigan sends Ezeh off the edge and slants the other way, which gets good pressure except for the fact that Roh and Ezeh split like the Red Sea and there's a huge lane for Scheelhaase to scramble into. I think this minus goes to Ezeh(-1) since he got way upfield; Roh was coming right up the middle and if he got out of a lane it wasn't by much. Downfield Mouton(-0.5) makes a dodgy tackle that gives more yards.
M35 3 1 Ace 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Ezeh 2
Kovacs comes down into the box and Gordon backs off to cover the slot. Patterson(+0.5 and Roh(+0.5) slant past OL and cut off any hope on the frontside. Ezeh(-0.5) is blitzing on the backside and can't quite get there to close off the cutback lane. He tackles but the RB's momentum takes him forward.
M33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 Batted Gordon Inc
MOTS, with one of the OLBs coming off the edge. This time it's Gordon(+1, pressure +1) coming around the outside to hit Scheelhaase's arm as the throws. The resulting duck hits the ground harmlessly.
M33 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 Fly Avery 33
Same blitz, but picked up better this time. No one bothers Scheelhaase (pressure -1) and he launches a deep fly route to a well-covered receiver that juuuuust evades the fingertips of Courtney Avery and is brought in for a touchdown. This is actually a +1, cover +1 that just got beat by a perfect throw.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-28, 1 min 2nd Q. Swanky kick return follows.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Cross Fitzgerald 6
Roh(+1) smokes the left tackle with a sweet move, heading inside and then spinning out to get quick pressure(+1) on Scheelhaase. He's forced to dump it to Fayson on a zero yard route; Fitzgerald(-1, tackling -1) comes up hard and misses a tackle, allowing Fayson to the outside for decent yardage.
O41 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Improve Mouton? 25
Roh(+0.5) does the exact inverse, this time threatening outside and spinning inside of the other tackle. He slips as he gets free but he does cause a scramble (pressure +1). Unfortunately there's a guy wide freaking open. Michigan moved to a three-deep late with Avery rolled up and the linebackers and Gordon underneath; at the end of the play Avery, Mouton, and Demens are all near a guy on a short out and no one is dealing with the slot guy's seam route. This is either on Vinopal or Mouton, the LB who was over the slot receiver and did not go vertical with him. Minus two for both? Sure. (Cover -3) I think Illinois was running four verts, BTW.
M34 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Scramble Roh? 8
A carbon copy of the scramble earlier on the drive where a gap opens up between Roh and Ezeh. This time Roh gets the minus; Ezeh was a lot less irresponsibly upfield and Roh seemed to be the one opening it up. (Pressure -1)
M26 2 2 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 Fly Rogers Inc
Rogers(+1, cover +1) in excellent position and the ball's overthrown anyway. Not +2 here because this was pretty obviously endzone or bust.
Drive Notes: FG(43), 31-31, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 Pistol FB ? Run Triple option dive Ezeh 3
Probably. We get to the play late. No idea what happens; Ezeh tackles after three so let's call it even.
O46 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Roh 1
Roh(+1) slants past the tackle and into the running lane. He gets pushed past the play and the RB can cut back but he must slow considerably, and then Roh gets an arm on him. Demens(+0.5) scrapes from the inside to get there at about the LOS and prevent the RB from falling forward.
O47 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 2 Improv Rogers 5
Starts out as a 3-4 then Michigan checks into the stack when Illinois audibles. Michigan rushes two(!), with Martin dropping off to act as a screen/QB spy. Coverage(+1) is good and then Scheelhaase's timer goes bing and he starts scrambling to the sideline. Martin runs at him. Gordon escorts the RB deep, leaving Scheelhaase an improv dumpoff for five yards. Rogers(+0.5) and Ezeh(+0.5) are there to tackle(+1) short of the sticks. RPS+1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-31, 12 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass N/A Waggle out Van Bergen Inc
Cameraman fooled, and so is Michigan. RVB(-1) is tasked with edge contain and gets beaten outside. The coverage(-1) is not so good as Scheelhaase has a wide open guy for a first down with linebackers chasing way out of position, and at the very least he's a fast guy on the edge against Thomas Gordon he can pick up some yards. Instead he chucks a ball at the sideline, which goes out of bounds and would have been very tough for the receiver anyway.
M31 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run QB draw Martin 4
Martin back in, woo. He shoves his man back into the pulling guard(+1) and causes him to be very late. Van Bergen(-0.5) gets blocked well out of the play on his slant. Demens takes on a blocker, funneling it back, and Mouton(+0.5) can tackle relatively clean since Martin delayed the guard. Martin also comes from behind to make sure.
M27 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 Scramble Van Bergen 5
Van Bergen(+2) swims through an Illinois OG like he is not there, but Roh(-1) got blasted inside and opened up another scrambling lane for Scheelhaase. It looks like he's going to get the first down easily when Avery(!!!, +1, tackling +1) sets up in just the right spot and '>'>takes out Scheelhaase's legs as he tries to cut outside.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(39), 31-31, 10 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M42 1 10 Shotgun H-back twins Base 4-4 Run Zone read keeper Demens 1
Black(-1) crashes in on something or another as the pulling FB bypasses him—this is a called keeper, not a read. He's gone. Demens(+2) starts scraping outside, taking on the FB block low and coming through it without damage. Gordon(+0.5) has set up outside so there's nowhere to go; Demens tackles(+1) in space.
M41 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 Hitch Ezeh Inc
Four guys don't get there right away and Ezeh(-1) faked towards the LOS then dropped straight back, so he's about two yards from Mouton and this hitch is wide open. Receiver juggles and drops the ball; Avery(-0.5) was also late-ish and though he's there to tackle he doesn't jar the ball free, it just comes out by itself. (Cover -1)
M41 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Improv Van Bergen Inc
RVB(+1) beats the tackle clean ot the inside and forces Scheelhaase to scramble (pressure +1). There's a ton of guys in the area; Ezeh does some chasing and Scheelhaase launches an ill-advised pass off his back foot; Mouton(+1, cover +1) is there to knock it away. Actually not the world's worst decision in the situation. INT here is almost as good as punt.
Drive Notes: Punt, 38-31, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O22 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Triple option dive Banks 3
Patterson takes a momentary double and does okay; Demens(+0.5) pops up and takes the peeling C at the LOS and there's no hole for the dive. Banks(+0.5) reads the cutback and comes off the now wrong-side block to tackle.
O25 2 7 Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Counter Banks 20
Kovacs rolls up late to make this an eight man front and blitzes; TE kicks him out. Fitz(-1.5) gets crushed by the tackle. Banks(-1.5) gets crushed out of the hole by the guard, and Mouton(-1.5) attacks the wrong shoulder of the first guy through, so LeShoure is through a massive hole without being touched. Vinopal and Avery manage to prevent a TD.
O45 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Power dive Mouton 4
Virtual replay of the last play without the counter step from the RB. Fitz(-1) kicked out wide, Mouton(-1) sits and eats a block two yards downfield. Patterson(+0.5) did a little better this time and the pulling G bumps his linemate, allowing Demens(+0.5) to run in to the hole and plug him at the LOS. Wad of bodies moves forward because Mouton got blowed up so good.
O49 2 6 Pistol 3-wide 4-4 Light Run Triple option pitch Kovacs -8
Kovacs(+1, RPS +2) again blitzes off the edge, but there's no TE this time to stop him and he smashes Scheelhaase almost before the dive fake. Scheelhaase still tries to pitch and chucks it over the RB's head. Mouton(-2) had again sucked in on the dive fake, leaving the pitch wide freaking open, but gets bailed out.
O41 3 14 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Post Fitzgerald 21
Three man rush on third and fourteen and a wide open guy in the middle of the field because Fitzgerald(-2, cover -2) did not get enough depth on his drop and opened up a post. Van Bergen(+0.5) was getting there to tackle Scheelhaase just as he released; time but not a ton of time. One more moment.
M38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Read option keeper Vinopal 3
Scheelhaase pulls as it looks like T. Gordon(-1) gets too aggressive, but Vinopal(+2) comes up, avoids a block, and makes an excellent open field tackle(+1) to hold it down.
M35 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel 4-3 Run QB draw Martin 8
This is so bizarre that I think it must be a stunt or something but Martin(-1) kind of sets up instead of attacking and then gets blown out of the hole. With Black slanting hard this seems like Martin's supposed to pull around him. Instead he just gets crushed. Mouton(-1) doesn't read the guard right over him pulling and sits in an area with no holes and a backside pursuit guy. Demens(-1) is outside and it seems like that's his assignment but then he engages a guy and goes further outside when it's clear where the ball is going. Van Bergen and Black reach out arms, slowing Scheelhaase, and Kovacs cleans up from behind.
M27 1 10 Shotgun 2-back twins 4-3 Light Pass 5 Wheel of doom T. Gordon? 27
New formation for Illinois and Michigan is confused before the snap. Also after. Illinois runs a weak stretch fake and rolls out; both outside receivers run posts that drag Avery and Vinopal with them, and LeShoure runs wheel route with nothing but grass around him. Who's responsibility is this? I'm not sure anyone's except GERG. T. Gordon does not know to carry the running back vertical. If he does the other running back will be vastly open in the flat because Demens is bugging out for the deep middle. Avery's going with the post, as is Vinopal, and Rogers is covering no one on the far side of the field. So... who and what can Michigan do to make no obvious touchdowns on this play? Don't know. T. Gordon -2, Cover -3, RPS -3.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-31, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M28 1 10 Pistol FB 3-wide 4-3 Light Pass 4 Triple option pitch Gordon 11
Scheelhaase pulls and now has Demens and Roh chasing at him from the inside, so he pitches. Cam Gordon's(-2) on the edge against a WR, gets too close to the LOS, gets blocked, gets held a little, and gives up the corner.
M17 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Off tackle Mouton -2
Michigan slanting their DL, including Ezeh, and this is still not a super idea since it just gives Illinois a hole and Mouton has to deal with a free releasing tackle. Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to the outside well, forcing a cutback the RB apparently did not expect. Mouton(+3) gives the TE an ole job and fills in the hole, tackling for no gain. (RPS -1)
M18 2 11 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Kovacs 17 (Pen -10)
Michigan gets lucky here, picking up a holding call on what looks like the Illinois LT just tossing Ezeh to the ground like a rag doll. I guess he grabbed him outside the shoulder pads but I've seen a thousand worse things let go every week. Zone read from Scheelhaase and he makes a questionable decision to pull with Demens scraping over. He has to cut inside, where Mouton(+0.5) is scraping to the play, and then he has to cut all the way to the backside, which is possible because Roh(-1) got way upfield and Kovacs(-2) started running to the frontside of the play instead of attacking the cutback lane. Vinopal has to scrape past the umpire and can only make a diving tackle at the sticks. The bad hold call brings it back.
M29 2 22 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Pass 3 Slot seam Mouton 23
Strange to have seven guys at nor near the LOS in this position. Slot guy runs right by Mouton(-2, cover -3), who stops his drop at ten yards for some reason, leaving an absolute cavern between the linebackers and the three-deep. Again, Michigan DL are getting to Scheelhaase--Roh this time--but because of crap like this it's always irrelevant.
M6 1 G Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Speed option Roh -1
Roh(+1) reads the play and hops out past the tackle before he can react. This forces a quick pitch. Gordon(+1) has to deal with the FB. He gets outside and strings it out perfectly; Rogers (+0.5) comes up to help tackle once the RB finally decides he has to go inside Gordon.
M7 2 G Pistol FB twins 4-4 Light Run Power dive Van Bergen 6
RVB(-2) gets doubled and crushed backwards as LBs ably fill the gaps on both sides of him. RVB can't anchor and ends up five yards downfield with his back to the football; LeShoure just has to run up those OLs' backs to get to the one.
M1 3 G Goal line Goal line Run Iso 1
LeShoure manages to burrow in, but it's not easy.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 38-45, 11 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O11 1 10 I-Form 4-3 Light Run Off tackle Black 7
Black(-0.5) gets a little push but not much and gets sealed inside by a single guy; TE gets a free release on Demens and seals him. FB kicks out Gordon; Vinopal(-0.5, tackling -1) fills after about three but has to hang on for dear life, giving up a chunk afterwards.
O18 2 3 I-form twins 4-4 Light Run Off tackle Van Bergen 2
Van Bergen(+2) crushes the C into the backfield, picking off a pulling guard and forcing LeShoure to dance outside the mess. This gives Martin(+1) time to flow down the line after beating his guy and tackle at the LOS. Could have been a no gainer or loss but for Banks(-1) getting blown off the ball.
O20 3 1 I-form big Base 3-4 Run Power off tackle Martin 1
Both safeties move down into the box and Avery sets up deep. Fitz(+0.5) blitzes off the edge and gets into the pulling G in a good spot, occupying both him and the FB and giving no creases for the RB. Martin(+1) flows into the gap behind him, beating an OL, and it's the two LBs versus the backside G and LeShoure. They've got him short until a second effort just gets him over the line. I'm fine with this, really.
O21 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read keeper Fitzgerald? 12
Not sure if this is on RVB or Fitz, but no one goes with the QB and this is easy. (RPS -2)
O33 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run QB power dive Fitzgerald 6
Martin absorbs two and does okay. Demens reads it and moves up to hit the pulling G at the LOS. Fitzgerald(-1) started running outside, read the play late, and is easily popped out of the hole by the RB, giving the QB an avenue for a nice gain.
O39 2 4 I-form 4-4 light Run Off tackle Roh -1
Vinopal rolled up too so this is nine in the box. Michigan stunts. RVB(+1) slants past the playside G, cutting off the intended hole and forcing a cutback. Roh(+2) splits two OL not expecting him on his stunt and comes through to TFL by himself. RPS+1.
O38 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Quick out Kovacs 4
Quick out thrown a yard short of the sticks and since it's not precise Kovacs(+0.5) can escort a leaping WR out of bounds short of the first.
Drive Notes: Punt, 38-45, 6 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Improv Demens Inc
Demens(+0.5, cover +1) drops into the hitch that is Scheelhaase's first read, and then Martin comes around to get pressure on a stunt. No rush lanes this time and Scheelhaase has to roll outside, where everyone is still covered(+1, with Vinopal(+1) tipping a dangerous pass away.
O18 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Mouton 9
Michigan seems to expect pass here, which is frustrating since given the down and distance and time Illinois almost has to run lest they give M another possession on an incomplete pass. Line slants down but there's no one filling the cutback lane after Roh gets past the tackle. This is either on Roh for slanting down the line too hard or Mouton for sitting back and eating a block--one or the other has to stay outside. Ezeh sits outside to dissuade the keeper then crashes down after the handoff, but he's too far away to help with Mouton getting blocked to the outside; Demens was dropping into a short zone to take away a slant, allowing Gordon to blitz from the frontside. Roh -1, Mouton -1, but I lean towards Mouton being the responsible party here for the usual reason: if you're a linebacker getting blocked flat-footed four yards downfield you're doomed.
O27 3 1 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Inside zone Vinopal 0
Vinopal rolls up late for another guy in the box. RVB(+1) gets under his blocker and into the intended running lane; Mouton(+0.5) fills a frontside gap hard, leaving Vinopal(+1, tackling +1) a free hitter in a constricted area. He brings enough wood to stand LeShoure up and the cavalry arrives.
Drive Notes: Punt, 45-45, 1 min 4th Q. Illinois' final drive of regulation is not charted because it's an extreme outlier. On to OT.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 I-form 3-wide Base 3-4 Pass 4 PA Scramble 6
PA is covered all over (cover +2) but Scheelhaase has epic time (pressure -3) and a rushing lane he takes for six.
M19 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read keeper Roh 15
Another instance where the DE shuffles down the line and no scrape from the LB. Mouton is blocked, Roh out of the play, and a big gainer happens. RPS –1.
M4 1 G Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run QB draw Mouton 2
Mouton(+1) recognizes the pull this time and slams into the guard at the LOS. He takes a hit from a tailback too, and gives ground. Demens comes up slightly tardy; Scheelhaase has to burrow behind the double on Mouton, allowing Michigan players to converge.
M2 2 G Goal line Goal line Pass 4 Waggle cross Inc
Michigan bites, with Gordon(-0.5) getting out way late on the corner and Mouton(-0.5) losing the TE(cover -1); Scheelhaase tries the more covered TE and ends up throwing it well behind him.
M2 3 G Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run QB draw Mouton 1
Demens(-1) reads this too slowly and gets hit a yard downfield, so there's a gap. Mouton(+2) jukes the RT, sliding inside of him and tackling at the LOS. Scheelhaase dives to about the inch line.
M1 4 G Goal line Goal line Run Down G Mouton 1
They block down on RVB and shoot the FB right at Mouton, who can't make a great play this time. LeShoure finds the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 52-52, OT
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Shotgun 2-back twins Base 4-4 Pass Wheel of doom ??? 25
Literally the exact same thing happens, though they're thrown at Mouton and Ezeh as the linebackers this time. RPS -4.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 52-59, OT2
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-3 Light Run Triple option pitch Avery 1
This is different than the other pitches since they run it away from the twins side of the field instead of to it. So. Fitzgerald comes down on the dive; a pull. Mouton(+0.5) gets outside his blocker and starts flowing; Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to take away the QB run. Avery(+1, tackling +1) was on the TE and got outside, shutting off the corner. He comes off to tackle, and Michigan finally stops an option pitch.
M24 2 9 Ace twins Base 3-4 Pass 4 PA TE throwback Fitzgerald 14
Really delayed this time as the TE gets caught up on Van Bergen before releasing. Kovacs has to go vertical with one tight end and Fitzgerald(-2, cover -2) starts running playside, getting way out of position and opening this up vastly. (RPS -2, because at least on this play I can tell who probably should have had the play.
M10 1 G Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Zone read keeper Roh 7
Same fricking thing, with Roh shuffling down the line and Mouton(-1) not getting in position to do anything on either the dive or the keeper; Scheelhaase pulls it and gets down to the three. RPS-2. They've had 100 plays to fix this.
M3 2 G Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Run Zone read handoff Roh 3
Fitz blitzes off the edge for contain and M slants; Roh(-1) gets pushed too far down the line and opens up a cutback lane; Mouton was moving inside his blocker and cannot adjust once the bounce happens, though he tries.
M3 2pt 2pt Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 light Pass 6 Sack Mouton -7
Same play as the previous one and Michigan is caught in man but Mouton(+2) leaps over a cut attempt from the LT and Roh(+1) stunts inside, coming free. Scheehaase has to try to get around Mouton but can't, getting ankle-tackled as he rolls out and going down to end the game. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT failed), 67-65, EOG.

 So this sounds insane after a 67-65 game but that was… less depressing?

Yeah? Penn State had nine drives on which they tried to score. On those drives their average field position was their 32. They scored 4.6 points per drive. They were the worst offense in the Big Ten before the game. Illinois was not a good offense, but they had 19(!!!) drives with an average starting position of their own 48 and scored 3.4 points per drive. Michigan forced six punts and had two other three-and-outs that Illinois got field goal attempts on because they started around the Michigan 30. Two of Illinois's touchdown drives also started around the Michigan 30.

By the Mathlete's reckoning, an average offense would expect to score 40 points given the 16 drives with great field position Illinois had in regulation; Michigan gave up 45. That is almost not awful.

But still pretty depressing?

Also yeah. "Almost not awful" does not include the three consecutive TDs Illinois scored in overtime. Also, an average defense going up against an average offense would expect to put up 40. Illinois does not have an average offense. Even after Saturday they're 71st in total offense; before it they were 85th. Illinois put up 43 on Indiana and 44 on Purdue. Multiple breakdowns were plays Illinois ran over and over again (triple option, wheel of doom, a simple zone read keeper) on which there was no Michigan defender with even a plausible chance of defending. The sheer number of wide open guys on passes, option pitches, and zone read keepers caused me to burble in disgust as I saw carbon copies of previous errors made deep into the game.

In addition, a number of the stops were of the Illinois-stops-self variety. UI receivers dropped two third down conversions, one of them a very long gainer, and their fumble was just a guy dropping the ball. Michigan had some fortunate breaks go their way to get the not-awful-by-the numbers performance.

I think there's some hope from individual players, but when some of that hope comes from Craig Roh checking in with a positive number because he's at DE after he was moved to LB in the fall, did poorly, played DE against Iowa and MSU, did well, and then was put back at a linebacker against Penn State and Michigan puts Obi Ezeh and JB Fitzgerald at defensive end for big chunks of the game, your coaching sucks.

I keep talking like this? Inflecting my sentences to make them questions?

You do. I wasn't going to say anything but you brought it up.


oic. Chart. Remember that these are going to be high amplitude because of the sheer number of plays and that you should turn the volume down by a third or so.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 10.5 3.5 7 Developing into a fine player. Now consistently putting up points.
Martin 8 1 7 Was more back than it looked live, but still out a lot more than usual.
Banks 0.5 3.5 -3 Little PT with the move.
Sagesse - - - DNP?
Patterson 2 3 -1 The usual dropoff but held his ground a bit better.
Black 1.5 2 -0.5 Off day.
Roh 10.5 8 2.5 Eventful; some minuses may be someone else's fault.
TOTAL 33 21 12 Not great; no production from the backups and too much time for them.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 3 4 -1 Didn't do anything outlandish, a lot of minuses not really his fault.
Mouton 15.5 16 -0.5 The most Mouton day ever.
C. Gordon 5 3.5 1.5 Far more clueful this week but also a lot more blitzy.
T. Gordon - 3 -3 Had the misfortune of being only plausible coverage guy on Wheel of Doom 1.
Leach - - - Did get in at least one play.
Moundros - - - DNP
Demens 10.5 2.5 8 Can play, yo.
Herron - - - DNP
Fitzgerald 0.5 11 -10.5 Um… not so good.
TOTAL 34.5 40 -5.5 Let's have linebackers play DE.
Player + - T Notes
Floyd - - - DNP
Rogers 2.5 2.5 0 I'll take it!
Kovacs 4.5 11 -6.5 Very bad day early.
Johnson - - - DNP.
Talbott - - - DNP.
Christian - - - DNP.
Avery 3.5 0.5 3 Two key tackles.
Ray Vinopal 4 4.5 -0.5 Some great tackles, a couple ugly whiffs.
TOTAL 15.5 18.5 -3 I'll take this, too.
Pressure 12 8 4 If only they covered anyone…
Coverage 13 24 -11 But they don't.
Tackling 9 7 2 Meh.
RPS 7 21 -14 Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

[RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]

Shave about a third off all of those and you get approximately a normal game. The defensive line did decently. The linebackers were slightly below par, the secondary was all right individually but as a whole there were vast openings in the zone that probably fall more on the LB's heads than anything else, and everything that's ever happened good or bad is because of Jonas Mouton.

Isn't Mouton supposed to be one of our better players?

Yes, I guess. I have been complaining about him all year, so not to sound like a broken record but man, whenever something awful happened to Michigan it seemed like the linebacker running his ass off in a vain attempt to get back in position was Mouton. Sometimes it's tough to tell exactly who has what assignment when Michigan is defending the option but 1) almost all of Illinois's successful option pitches came to Mouton's side of the field*, 2) on most of them they were playing three deep and blitzing a rolled up safety into the QB, and 3) Mouton was hanging out on the inside when a DE was crashing the dive.

This was the most blatant example—watch Mouton as Kovacs screams in on Scheelhaase:

There is absolutely no reason for Mouton to be anywhere near the interior of the play. Kovacs has the QB. The line/DE/Demens has the dive. The secondary is in a three deep. He should be the force defender and is so far out of position that if Scheelhaase manages to make an accurate pitch this is at least ten yards and possibly another touchdown. Either this is his responsibility or GERG's scheme to defend the option literally cannot work. I'm honestly not sure which it is.

On the 64-yard TD Mouton probably was supposed to be inside and Kovacs got blocked out of his blitz but man this is ugly when he tries to tackle:


Vinopal comes up and lets the play outside of him but either way Michigan's giving up lots of yards here since Kovacs blitzed inside the tackle and Mouton never scraped.

But wait! There's more! I'm not exactly sure who this was on, but Roh kept shuffling down on Illinois's inside zone keepers and Scheelhaase pulled, finding tons of open space because Mouton was sitting on the interior again. Since Roh is younger and just moved back to DE I thought it was on him, but I'm not sure if Mouton should get the benefit of the doubt. He gives up contain a lot. Roh shuffled on the third drive of the game and led to a keeper that Kovacs had to deal with, and kept shuffling, and Mouton never, ever scraped. One of these two people must be told to do something differently.

The most frustrating part of all of this is that these things kept happening. Michigan did not change their scheme at all and the option pitch was still open and Scheelhaase could pull in overtime just like he did before. No Michigan player altered their play, which makes it difficult for me to tell who was at fault because no one changed their behavior.

In Mouton's defense, he also made his usual array of flat-out great plays. The most obvious was the final one where he leapt an offensive lineman and shot in on Scheelhaase before he could force a fourth overtime, but scattered in between all that contain business was a guy who took on a lot of blocks, made a lot of tackles, and displayed the athleticism that made him a hot recruit and will probably get some NFL team to take a flier on him. So he's not all bad.

*(The one that worked and didn't featured Cam Gordon failing to maintain leverage on the RB as he was getting blocked by a slot, but at least in that instance there was a player in the vicinity who just made a mistake; there was not an obviously blown assignment.)

This will be a good segue: how intense does your GERG hatred run this week?

I'm keeping steady at a thousand suns. The inability to adjust to the option—the one time Michigan stopped it late they ran away from the twins side into Kovacs and Avery, who was in overhang mode and could get outside the TE easily to contain—or the wheel of death or a simple zone read keeper led to another monster negative RPS day. Whenever I'm not sure which Michigan player is making errors on a dozen different massive gains the defensive coordinator is going to get a huge negative RPS.

Meanwhile, Michigan finally put Roh where he should be but we're addicted to playing guys out of position so for long stretches of the game we had the privilege of watching two linebackers try to play defensive end, which they did not. They got no pressure and were blown up in the run game. They were better as 3-4 OLBs but Michigan had a gameplan and stuck with it, putting four men on the line in power situations much of the day and paying for it. I know Greg Banks isn't spectacular but he does make the occasional good play, unlike Fitz and Ezeh when they're shoehorned into playing defensive end. Fitz was particularly woeful. I'm not sure how he even got that massive minus but there it is. He only had one tackle, so there's some circumstantial backup.

This game provides no evidence Greg Robinson should be kept. Not that I have to tell you that.


Demens was again consistent on anything that got pushed to him, making a couple impressive tackles in space and making a breakup on a short third down attempt. Avery didn't seem victimized on anything and made a couple big tackles


Greg Robinson, for putting Ezeh and Fitzgerald in a position they'd never played before, and for moving Roh to linebacker in the spring, and for moving Cam Gordon to safety, and for never ever adjusting to 1) simple zone read keepers, 2) the basic triple option play that is Illinois's offensive staple, and 3) the wheel of death. I'm not even sure he knew what was going wrong. On film it's instantly obvious that either the DE or LB is not containing and something must be changed, but in the third overtime Roh was still shuffling and Mouton not scraping as Scheelhaase ran down to the three.

The alpha and omega, beginning and end of all things, the snake that eats its own tail, the world tree, the ever-expanding universe itself, the very Big Bang that brought matter into existence?

Jonas Mouton.

What does it mean for Purdue and beyond?

Michigan should either scrap the four man line or play an actual lineman on it. The 3-4 seemed to work much better, but what I really want to see is a personnel package that is simple and makes sense instead of Michigan trying to shoehorn every front they can think of into the same personnel. Be one thing and be good at it. I was so wrong about this in the preseason.

Long term, Demens now has three games to his name and is on the verge of establishing himself a guy Michigan can expect somewhat big things out of next year. Van Bergen is becoming a guy with some impact, Roh (surprise!) can rush the passer and is a much more effective DE than LB, and the guys moving around in the secondary seem less bewildered; Cam Gordon brings some pop and potential to spur if he can just get settled.

I'm not sure what to expect against Purdue. Maybe they'll play Denard at nose tackle. More likely they'll stick with the 3-4 that was the default against spread sets against IU and try to corral the Purdue running game. I hope to see a coherent defense next week, but don't expect one.



November 10th, 2010 at 5:44 PM ^

One thing that I did not see mentioned in the UFR was that overall, I found that the defense was tackling better and harder, and that they just seemed to be playing with more energy.  Yes, they were still bad and yes, they were playing against a sub-par offense, but nonetheless, there were times where they looked better (albeit for only a play or two at a time).  Did anyone else find the same thing?

Zone Left

November 10th, 2010 at 5:44 PM ^

I can't believe you did the whole thing.  If not for the win, I imagine this would have degenerated somewhere around halftime into an awful lot of "rabble rabble, I don't care how great his hair is, rabble rabble."


November 11th, 2010 at 1:39 AM ^

My girlfriend kept wanting to see Zook on the jumbo-tron just for his hair. She thinks that GERG's mane is not as majestic though. Maybe that is his problem. I had to repeatedly tell her that quality of hair does not equate to quality of coaching... Unless you are Nick Saban.


November 10th, 2010 at 5:47 PM ^

The one thing that I thought immediately after the game was that unlike against PSU, the D did come up with some plays when needed.  Demen's PBU inthe 2nd, Vinopal's stop on 3rd and 1 in the 4th, and the 2 pt. conversion in 3rd OT were 3 that stuck out.  Overall, the D is still very much bad; that being said, with this O, sometimes 2 - 4 big plays a game will make the difference.  Oh yeah, and get some effing takeaways


November 11th, 2010 at 11:41 AM ^

That could have been the play of the game when Avery made that open field tackle on the qb to force the (missed) field goal. I agree, some key stops, especially in the first quarter and beginning of the third when our offense went all yakety sax.


November 10th, 2010 at 6:00 PM ^

ugh, the worst thing about reading the defensive UFR is that I get excited when they get a stop, then groan because I have to jump into reading about the next drive with no offense in between.


November 10th, 2010 at 6:08 PM ^

We pick a front and stick with it, especially this late in the season. Hone in on assignments in a single front so the guys aren't confused about where they need to be.

I think they will look even better Saturday after coaches make some corrections.


November 10th, 2010 at 6:19 PM ^

It seems like the decision trees these guys have to go through are too long and complicated for them to be efficient in what they're doing.  They're too slow reading the offense, too slow reacting, too slow figuring out their assignments, and too often get it wrong.

Rather than starting with something simple and building, it's like they've had the whole system dumped on them in one shot and have been overwhelmed.  A couple guys have seemed to be completely baffled on nearly every play, and some clearly just say "screw it" and chase the ball.

The good news seems to be that it seems to be getting intuitive enough with many of them that they're becoming effective.  I hope to see a good performance against Purdue to confirm this.


November 10th, 2010 at 6:11 PM ^

Here's my break down of the defense hope vs FFFFFUUUUU factors for 2011: 


Hope: G E R G = G O N E.



Hope: Keep Tall.  Talent = good but thin, so recruit DLine (so far DE=okay, DT=dong punch).

FFFFFUUUUU: Somebody having Tall play LBs at DE.


Hope: G E R G = G O N E.  Demens 2.0.  Young guy stepping up, e.g. Kellen Jones?  Recruiting another good true LB.  Cam 2.0 at spur.

FFFFFUUUUU: G E R G ≠ G O N E.  Inexperience.  No young guy steps up.  Not recruiting another good true LB.


Hope: We know we are stuck with Gibson/Braithwaite, but WVU's 2ndry wasn't incendiary when they were there, so maybe it's talent and not coachihg.  Woolfolk back!  Avery 2.0. Young guy stepping up, e.g. Cullen Christian? Josh Furman?  We recruit good DBs like there's no tomorrow (so far CB=okay, S=dong punch).

FFFFFUUUUU: Gibson/Braithwaite are the problem and RR will never, ever get rid of them.  Experience still isn't great.  Young guys don't step up.  Recruiting yields no immediate help.


Hope like hell we recruit a ton of talent on D, our previous investments start paying off, and most of all...

G E R G = G O N E.


November 10th, 2010 at 6:15 PM ^

I'm certainly loathe to defend GERG at this point, because I agree with the conclusion of "he's gotta go", BUT - can't we get him at least an RPS +1 for that final play blitz?


November 10th, 2010 at 8:57 PM ^

I have been astounded with the RPS on D all year.  Some prescribe to the theory that RPS is luck-- but that would suggest things should even out over time.  We get killed every freaking week.  It is not luck, it is suck.

That said, GERG should get at least +2 RPS for the last play.  As a parting gift.


November 10th, 2010 at 11:48 PM ^

I didn't RPS it because Mouton got a big plus for beating an OL quickly. Usually an RPS comes in when I feel I didn't give out appropriate +/- for the result of the play and therefore the call must be a part of it. I guess the stunt  helped, but I'd alread handed out +3 and that felt appropriate. If Mouton doesn't make that play the dragging WR is wide open; this was more players making plays on a gamble than anything.


November 11th, 2010 at 10:06 AM ^

And if he didn't do an all out blitz, Scheelhaase has time to at least put something in the air. If it was just Mouton rushing, he could have rolled right and found a guy open. It wasn't; the line was overloaded to the point that they let 3 guys through; it was a huge blitz that paid off.


November 10th, 2010 at 6:19 PM ^

that GERG needs to go and possibly ther entire D staff then nothing will.  Have you ever seen worse tackling from an upper teir D-1 school?  Enough with the experimental defense and the "humpfh, let's try that guy over there...what, he's never played there, so what, let's roll the dice."

DB better call RR in the ofice after the season and say get a new DC and staff and let them come up with  a defense and let them coach it.   We'll never get past .500 in the B10 with this scheme-less experimental crap.

This stuff is nuts.


November 10th, 2010 at 6:19 PM ^

As the season progresses, we can see many of the rookie players individually getting better... (Demens, Avery, Vinopal).  We expect this.

We also see veterans struggle more (Mouton, Ezeh, even Roh & Kovacs).  We do not expect this.

IMHO, as this season progresses, and the defensive disaster continues, the scale tips more and more to the problem being Schizophrenic Defensive Coaching, not rookie players.


November 10th, 2010 at 6:20 PM ^

Other random thoughts - Martin and RVB can be the anchors of a good defensive line, and if Roh stays there, we should have a pretty good unit going forward.

Demens seemed, to me, to be the best player on the D. Agile, instinctive, sure tackling. This is what competence at LB looked like!

Co-signed on Mouton. Streakiest player ever - he's like Crable on amphetamines. I will at least say that he's been memorable.

I thought Avery played really well - remaining largely invisible as a mildly-recruited true freshman is an accomplishment, and he made two great tackles.

Crime Reporter

November 10th, 2010 at 6:22 PM ^

Say what you want, but this defense really stepped up when we turned the ball over on three consecutive plays. After the first turnover, we were still winning 7-3.

The D forced a fumble. We proceed to throw a pick. The D holds Illinois to a field goal. Ensuing kick off. We fumble, and again put the D on the short field. This time, they break and give up a TD and subsequent two-point conversation, making it 14-7.


It could have been much worse. After those turnovers, we could have been down 24-7 and had to play that desparate catch-up we all know and love from the past three games. The D gets props.

Also, Avery and Vinopal's key third down tackles can not be understated.


November 10th, 2010 at 6:23 PM ^

at season's end.

Michigan is not getting better defensively.  Players are still hesitant, running in place. They're not developing or improving.  Well before game 9 in a football season it's reasonable to expect these responsibility mistakes to taper off, having been addressed in the film room and at practice.  I hope GERG doesn't know what the hell he's doing or is not recognizing these player mistakes, because if he does know, it means he's taking little to no action to correct them. This would mean he's not "coaching".

What really bugs me is that Robinson doesn't recruit.  At all.  Player development, consistency and understanding of scheme, and recruiting - These would otherwise be three damn good reasons to keep a DC in place and not keep swapping out as Michigan has done since 2005. 

Wisconsin and Ohio State loom ahead with pretty good offenses. Michigan's defense is going to get absolutely curb stomped in these games.


November 10th, 2010 at 6:30 PM ^

Exhibit 1A in the "fire GERG" argument should be his RPS record in Brian's UFR's.  I remember he had a good RPS rating for ND - but the rest have been negative. 

Enjoy Life

November 10th, 2010 at 6:32 PM ^

With the 5 TOs (and only one takeaway), there is no way this game should have been tied at the end of regulation. The D had to do some things well.

Points per possession in regulation were 2.6 which is the lowest in Big10 play.

(Uh, this does not mean GERG should stay -- unless the D pulls a miraculous 180 in the last 4 games [including the bowl game].)


November 10th, 2010 at 6:33 PM ^

Martin dropping back to cover the screen pass was a good adjustment.  Screen passes murdered us in the PSU game.  GERG +1 (keeping his total at negative infinity)


November 10th, 2010 at 6:34 PM ^

I couldn't watch the game live, and watching the "highlights" of the game, I thought this was going to be much worse. I feel... better? I still need a drink.


November 10th, 2010 at 6:39 PM ^

On "Breakdown",  Chris Martin said that it was Demens' responsibility to stay with the RB on the wheel, but instead he bolted for the middle of the field.  Perhaps he mistakingly played zone when it was man?

Blue in Seattle

November 10th, 2010 at 6:49 PM ^

I lose faith in the consistency of judgment in this UFR analysis when comments like these are typed.

Whenever I'm not sure which Michigan player is making errors on a dozen different massive gains the defensive coordinator is going to get a huge negative RPS.

Seriously, does that mean you couldn't tell the defensive alignment from the video?  or that you just see so many individual fails that you're assuming it just must be coaching and you remember that you never liked Greg Robinson hire from the beginning?

I can definitely agree that we've seen quite a bit of experimentation on the defensive personnel, the schemes and the tactics.  But at this point in the season what I see is a coaching staff that has been making decisions based on winning games first over putting people in the optimal positions and taking the time to train them correctly.  Roh is the biggest example of this.  Yes he's best as a DE, and I can't believe the coaches failed to evaluate this.  But what I think the coaches correctly evaluated is that they do not have any LB's at all and they are facing teams that know it and are sending4-5 recievers into them to shred them up!.  Even this UFR acknowledges that the schemes and tactics provided the pressure from the DL but it frequently failed because of the nearly complete lack of coverage.  But which player in the secondary was actually on the field for UCONN?  Kovacs and Gordan?  and Kovacs is the only one who has kept his position!

I think only two things have changed from last year.  Without Brandon Graham we truly see how horrible our LB's are in stopping the run, especially running plays that don't run directly into them where their inability to get off the block at least slows down the running back so the Strong Safety can make the tackle.

And the secondary has a photoshop picture where everyone with any experience is making an appearance except for Kovacs!

What the hell would you do if you were a coach?!?

At this point, things at least feel like the deck chairs have been re-arranged enough, the Coaches have accepted what they have, they are probably all praying nightly that no one else breaks their ankle, and if this consistency doesn't produce results in execution, then I will finally agree that GERG has to go.

But what I believe will happen is that we'll get the same small incremental lift on defense that GERG provided last year (assuming no further injury) and that lift (again assuming no massive attrition happens) will carry forward into next year as a large bump up.

As final proof that it's not the coaches, go watch the RVB presser video where he states, and I summarize, the last play by the defense where they rushed 7 men at the QB was the same call when Illinois succeeded at making the two point conversion.  Illinois ran the same play and Michigan ran the same play, two completely different results.

And on that play, 3 defenders were converging, and Mouton still took the inside shoulder to tackle when he clearly had help from TWO PEOPLE TO HIS LEFT.  Only his athleticism saved him, and the play, because he forced Roh to change course, and as he was falling in his dive for a weak leg tackle he tripped up Cam Gordon.

If you don't get it by the time you are a senior, I don't think any coach is going to get through to you.  All they can do is pray that the Mouton coin flip comes up heads when they really need it.

But that combo between RVB and Roh makes me feel very glad for the near future and next year.

Now is there any way we can clone Demens in less than a week?

oh, and I guess I do have to comment on using Obi as a DE.  I was tired just reading all the plays in the UFR, I can't imagine what it would feel like to be a rushing off the edge DE for every single play and have no one replace me from time to time.

This isn't XBOX-Madden where all that you get is a blister on your thumb.  This is sweating 3 quarts of water out of your pores in 3 hours kind of effort.





November 11th, 2010 at 7:39 AM ^

It's fine to say that it's time to find another DC because they'd be a better fit, but at this point, Brian, it's like you're putting your thumb on the scale. Frankly some of your descriptions suggested to me that the person who doesn't understand the zone read option is you, not GERG. RPS is a subjective measure that can be used for good or evil.

I like UFR because I feel like I'm getting analysis, not a screed. Defensive alignments are about tradeoffs and we have seen this team make adjustments in other games, so if we are seeing consistent success against some parts of an option read, then that may be the best choice available in that alignment.

Not sure what to say about the wheel route, but seriously, Brian, I saw a pretty good defensive scheme this week that was beaten by a few big plays. How on earth you got to -14 on RPS is beyond me.


November 11th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

I appreciate both you and the poster you are replying to risking the massive neg bang to tell how you really feel.  I admittedly don't have nearly the football knowledge or experience to understand this, but it's nice to see that Brian's word is not merely taken as truth and is at least questioned.

While I watch the struggles on Defense, I find it difficult to know who to blame.  I think there is certainly culpability on the coaching staff for much and likely the majority of the issues, but I also think that sometimes we want to point to the coaches as utter failures because this also gives us hope that by switching the coaches all will be made right in the world.

Clearly, there are many factors that affect the defense.  One that we have been hearing about all season long is youth compounded by injuries at positions of no depth.  This is still a factor and worsening.  However, other issues are clearly there with scheme or lack thereof or change of scheme.  It's all been a real shitshow, but it's not just one thing and it's important we're careful not to believe that there is a quick fix.

Still, I am hopeful for the future for the defense as when combined with our offense we can truly be a force in NCAAF.  I can also understand that GERG will likely be a casualty of our defense's failings who is also likely deserving of being said casualty.

Captain Obvious

November 10th, 2010 at 7:04 PM ^

You just assume he's playing people out of position because he's a bad coach, but you fail to consider the circumstances surrounding the moves and possibility that some moves were necessary.

Ex. A: complaining about Cam at FS.  Who the hell else was ready to play there?  Vinopal had stepped on campus 4 weeks ago or whatever and clearly was not ready.  Woolfolk was hurt.  I can't say I necessarily blame GERG for putting a RS freshman out there rather than a 4 week old undersized true freshman.  As Vinopal became even marginally ready he was inserted into the starting lineup and Cam moved to his natural position.  Even if you argue that it could have been sooner - who backs up Vinopal?  Cam's at linebacker and Carvin was hurt for a good stretch of time there.  We would have been starting a non-EE true freshman at FS with *literally* no one behind him.

Ex. B: Demens.  It's been beat to death but he didn't practice well and we had a 5th year senior we were hoping would step up.  He didn't, and Demens came in certain goal line situations.  He then was given a chance to take the job and he did.  It's hard to complain that he should have been there sooner when we aren't at practices.

Ex. C: Roh at LB.  Herron's injury, a lack of other players to play his position and Roh being good drove this decision.  Roh is clearly better on the line but we saw the dropoff that occurred when placing him there - Fitz and Ezeh come back in the lineup.  I'm not sure what's up with Herron.  It's an open question as to whether that dropoff is larger than the gain realized from putting Roh on the line.  It's not as clear cut as people want to make it out.

I'm not a GERG cheerleader - far from it - but when the bias invades the analysis, the analysis suffers.  Everyone is better served when we consider every possibility before just assuming everything he does is wrong, always and forever.


November 10th, 2010 at 7:34 PM ^

You make some good points. Have heard from insiders that Roh was put at LB by default. GERG knows Roh is better at DE and maybe it works best for the defense to have Roh at LB. After Penn State game, it is now known that Roh told GERG that he was totally confused and was not helping the team at LB. This forced GERG to move Roh to DE even though it may not be best for the team. Look how Fitz and Ezeh scored this game.

Great to see Craig much more active in his position..Made lots of great plays and will get nothing but better from here. 3 man front is still not great for him but his better than
LB. He is wired to be a WDE but the 3-3-5 does not have than position. 


November 10th, 2010 at 10:06 PM ^

is the seeming incoherence of the "multiple" scheme.  It's difficult to believe that a defense this young could be capable of being able to successfully pull off the myriad alignments asked of them.  Rich himself has said scheme doesn't matter all that much (and I believe it).  If so, what's the deal here?  They should all be able to produce a coherent and simple system.  The other side of the ball has been simplified and then gradually expanded.

That doesn't exactly refute your point.  I think the RPS metric is tough on a defense since most offenses at this level are designed to get numbers at the point of attack, passing or running.  You play good defense by beating blocks or reading patterns such that you negate that advantage.  Overly simplifying it, I think this comes down to deciding to make teams beat you based on whether you show pass or run strength.  Do you play 8 in the box with 3-deep and make them beat you with the pass or do you take a guy out of the box to play pass defense somewhat better and induce them to run?  When this team stacks against the run, they're still prone to giving up the long TD thanks to mental and talent deficiencies.  If that's the case, how much does scheme matter?

Captain Obvious

November 10th, 2010 at 10:55 PM ^

with the multiple scheme.  I think the "scheme doesn't matter" line means that, no matter the scheme, players' basic responsibilities stay relatively constant.  If we ran the same basic scheme every down I'm guessing we'd become even easier to pick apart--it's not like we have the experience or athleticism to challenge offenses to out-execute us.  I'm guessing we run multiple schemes to at least have a chance to confuse the offense and make some plays rather than the IU death by a thousand cuts routine.

The people that should be the most suited to multiple schemes (Ezeh, Mouton) were the ones that most often hurt us by being out of position.  The young guys seem to be in the right spot most of the time but inexperience or physical deficiences pwn them.

Even so, some players are clearly lacking fundamentals in coverage techniques and tackling.  I'd put that on coaching moreso than the scheme being too complicated.

J. Lichty

November 10th, 2010 at 7:59 PM ^

Vinopal made a great play, but that was one of the most uninspired runs by a big back I have ever seen.

LeShoure stoped moving his feet when contact was made (despite the weight advantage) and then turned his back to Vinopal and kind of ran in place while help arrived.

Each of the backs we played in previous weeks would have at least driven Vinopal past the sticks on that one before help could arrive. 


November 10th, 2010 at 9:22 PM ^

I don't think you're giving Vinopal enough credit for what is a really REALLY technically good tackle. 

I play rugby, where the rules require wrap tackles of the sort made by vinopal in that play.  I'm 5'8 195lbs playing against guys 6'2 230lbs and up, and being a small guy I have to be very good at these kinds of tackles or I'll be run over whenever the ball comes my way.

I can tell you from experience that a really solid tackle where you get up under the ball-carrier and wrap legs legs up like that doesn't leave the runner a lot of options.  They can't fall forward because of how low  the tackler is (being that low means you've got your entire body braced against them, keeping them standing), and they don't want to fall back, so they have to try and power their way over the tackler, which requires time.

If you can get a good low tackle like that, you can stand up pretty much anybody.  The hard part is getting them to the turf without being out-muscled.  :)

J. Lichty

November 10th, 2010 at 11:24 PM ^

I am not taking anything away from Vinopal, but rather from LeShoure who did not give a very good effort.    I get that Vincent smith does not move guys frequently - Leshoure should have been able to - and he didnt give himself a chance because he stopped moving on contact and then turned his body and just started to tap dance and almost box out.  Vinopal took advantage - and that is a huge improvement over others on the team. Vinopal did everythign right and still based upon physics, if that is Robinson from Iowa, Royster on Penn State, Willis on Indiana, or any other power back -- which LeShoure is, Vinopal does not stand him up.

I also play rugby. On the rugby pitch you do not stand guys up who outweigh you by 40 pounds if they have a head of steam and keep their legs moving.  When you stand a bigger guy up it is because they do not have much momentum or they stop driving their legs. 

I Bleed Maize N Blue

November 10th, 2010 at 8:50 PM ^

Who'd have thought that defense mattered in a 67-65 game?

But when we turned over the ball early - and often - I had the sinking feeling that we'd give up easy TDs, which would lead to more TDs, putting us in a deep hole, only to have us make a valiant but ultimately futile 4th quarter comeback to make the score look not quite as bad as it really was.

But, lo and behold, the D held them to FGs.  Of course then they did the usual forgetting outside contain, fall for the not being seen receiver trick, but mixed in some stops.  And OMGWTFBLITZ at the end!!

The sixth win was oh so sweet after the bitter bowlessness.


November 10th, 2010 at 9:23 PM ^

Why in the world are we moving Ezeh and JB down on the line.  Why can't we used Rvb, Martin, Some other DT and Roh.  If we play that front, I feel like Wisconsin will run right at Obi and JB. 


November 11th, 2010 at 10:19 AM ^

Agree...with the move of Roh to DE in the 3 man front, they should bring in Banks when they want to go with as four man front and move Roh to the WDE. Fitz or Obi on the end doesn't gi ve us much punch. A line of Roh, RVB, Martin, and Banks seems a lot stronger to me.