Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs Michigan State

Submitted by Brian on October 14th, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Substitution notes: Black got some more playing time this week, seeing passing downs. He also got an entire drive in the third quarter. It was MSU's last touchdown drive and he was a big reason it happened, unfortunately. The rest of the line was as normal, with Patterson sometimes spotting Martin and RVB a constant. Roh was more DE than LB this week and played most of the game; Fitzgerald had maybe half a dozen snaps. At linebacker it was Gordon, Ezeh, and Mouton the whole way.

In the secondary, Cullen Christian came in for Rogers when he went out with a cramp. After Christian gave up an easy long touchdown they replaced him with Talbott. Avery saw time in the nickel and dime packages.

Formation notes: A significant shift. After playing almost no four man fronts against Indiana they played mostly 4-4 against MSU. The defense looked a lot like last year's. Michigan went to a nickel package early, replacing Thomas Gordon with Avery, but later they just left Gordon out there.

MSU did this thing:


I called that "full house," FWIW. I'm pretty sure that's not right but whateva, I nomenclature how I want.


Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-4 Run ? Zone stretch T. Gordon 4
Eight man front with a standard 4-3 even alignment for the LBs and Kovacs hanging out on the backside; MSU runs at Roh and Thomas Gordon. Some three guys sort of block RVB, getting slightly down the line and then popping a guy out on Ezeh. This leaves T. Gordon totally unblocked but he overruns the play(-1), allowing a cutback; Martin(+1) had avoided a cut and comes from behind to tackle as the RB crosses the LOS. They fall forward.
O24 2 6 Ace 3-wide Nickel Pass N/A Bubble screen Rogers 7
Avery in for Gordon as MSU goes three wide; Michigan shows man coverage and one-high with Avery tracking the WR across the field when he goes in motion. Rogers is focused on his man so does not see the play developing and sucks inside on the WR until he blocks Avery, at which point he chases down Martin but not before the first down. (RPS -1, Rogers -0.5)
O33 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-4 Run ? Power off tackle Roh 0
MSU pulls a TE across the formation to overload the short side. Dangerous as T. Gordon is going with the TE to that side in man coverage and he gets a block on Ezeh, effectively getting a 2 for 1. Roh(+2) takes on a block from the motioning TE and comes through it, grabbing the back at the LOS and tackling there; Mouton(+0.5) attacked the play and got his guy back far enough that there's no way for the RB to fall forward.
O33 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Out Floyd 14
Okay, so Kovacs doesn't quite get out in the flat fast enough to prevent this throw from being completed but with Floyd in a cover three behind it this should be five yards and a third and medium. Floyd(-2, cover -2) instead starts chasing inside against a TE he has no shot at and opens this up for an easy first down.
O47 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-4 Run ? Power off tackle Ezeh 3
Er. This is dangerously close to breaking through the line because Ezeh(-1) reads the play wrong and ends up running right into the last lead blocker; Mouton had hopped out to close off a gap further outside. Banks(+0.5) had managed to fight through his double and caused some linemen to fall; Ezeh gets pancaked but the hole's narrow enough that the RB trips over a mess of bodies. Video clipped for Ezeh complaint complainers.
50 2 7 Ace Base 4-4 Penalty ? False start ? -5
O45 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Mouton -1
Michigan blitzes right into the run play, sending Banks on a slant past the playside T and blitzing Mouton and Kovacs from the backside. Martin(+1) zips past the center and bumps the pulling G, knocking him back into the RB and allowing Mouton(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) to converge and tackle, though they do allow the RB to get two almost impossible yards. This is the kind of stuff our tailbacks have not done this year. (RPS +1)
O44 3 13 Shotgun trips bunch 3-2-6 dime Pass 4 Throwaway Martin Inc
Michigan aided by Cousins momentarily fumbling the snap. Michigan uses Roh as a blitzer up the middle on a stunt, which gets Martin(+1, pressure +1, RPS +1) around the C. He then makes the back miss and forces Cousins to scramble and throw the ball away. Black(+0.5) also drew a holding flag, though it was more poor play from the MSU OL than dominance. BWS picture paged this.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O28 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 PA TE seam C. Gordon 34
Plenty of time with the PA and a three man rush(pressure –2); Mouton(+1, cover +1) gets a really good drop that forces Cousins to toss a lob over his head and should set up a Cam Gordon INT or killshot; instead he takes a looping route too deep, allowing the TE to catch the ball just in front of Floyd. He hits Floyd, but Floyd(+0.5) does bang him to the ground, preventing a TD. Gordon gets -3. The coverage stays +1 since because of the good drop from Mouton this window was really tight and could have been nonexistent.
M38 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel Run ? PA power off tackle Martin 3 (Pen -10)
M shows man. MSU fakes a bubble and runs an off tackle power play from the shotgun. Martin(+1) shoots into the backfield as there's no one blocking him—guard pulls—and he doesn't buy the fake. He shoves the G and forces the RB outside of the intended hole. Roh(+1) sets up outside and would be in position to do something about the bounce but is thrown to the ground, drawing a holding call. This opens up the corner. Ezeh is out there--not sure if this is good play or good fortune that the intended hole is gone because he gets blasted pretty good. He does force the RB inside where Martin cleans up from behind.
M48 1 20 Ace trips TE Nickel Pass 6 Sack Van Bergen -12
MSU goes play action and Cousins sets up deep in the pocket; Van Bergen(+3) beats an offensive tackle and shoots straight up the middle of said pocket, sacking Cousins for a huge loss. (Pressure +2)
O40 2 32 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 6 Out Rogers Inc
PA rollout. Ezeh(+1) is in man coverage on the TE, I believe, and when Kovacs attacks upfield, drawing him inside, Ezeh attacks, forcing a quick throw (pressure +1). Rogers(+2, cover +2) is there to break it up.
O40 3 32 Shotgun 3-wide 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Slant Mouton 11
Dangerous pass from Cousins just in front of Roh but on the money. It's ten yards downfield, though, so BFD. Mouton(+1, tackling +1) delivers a big hit to finish it.
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-0, 14 min 2nd Q. What a quarter. I bet the rest of this game goes just as well.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O16 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-3 Run ? Zone stretch Ezeh 8 + 15 pen
Triple guh on a stick. Roh(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5) do a good job of stringing this out; Ezeh is fast enough to prevent the C from sealing him. He takes a hit and stays on his feet, flowing down into the hole Baker is about to hit. If he just runs parallel to the LOS he has the guy or he has him cutting back into Mouton; instead he takes an upfield angle and whiffs a tackle, but not before he yanks the facemask(-2, tackling -1). C. Gordon(-0.5, tackling -1) comes up for a killshot after four yards but doesn't wrap up; Baker bounces off. The delay is enough for Kovacs and Rogers to combine to tackle; Baker drags the pile four yards. Michigan has just failed to convert on a third and one because Vincent Smith couldn't drag one guy one yard, FWIW. The difference here is stark.
O39 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run ? Zone stretch Martin 61
Man, I don't know. Martin(-2) heads upfield, which allows MSU to easily scoop him and get a center out on Mouton unmolested. Mouton takes a shove from him, then another shove from a second OL who has messed up his assignment and is just pushing the nearest player. He gets shoved backwards and out of the play but this is not his fault at all. Banks(-3) is getting way too far upfield; on a stretch like this when you realize you are backside you flow down the LOS, disengaging from the OL and giving up ground if you have to so that on a cutback you are in position to make a tackle a few yards downfield. Banks does not do this, instead getting upfield and falling. Doom. Baker sees the unblocked guys on the frontside and slams it up in the hole Martin and Banks provided, and then he's gone. I guess I blame Gordon(-2) for not getting the cutback angle here but Baker got through a big hole immediately and is gone; he's not the main issue. (RPS –2; I'll explain later.)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 3-7, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O22 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run ? Power off tackle Van Bergen 3
MSU blocks down on RVB and tries to hit the gap by kicking out Roh and pulling the backside H-back around to pick off Gordon. RVB(+0.5) comes under a block and forces the back a little further outside, where T. Gordon(+0.5) has fended off the TE who was attempting to block down on no one and then peeled off on him, tackling as the back approaches the LOS.
O25 2 7 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Screen Floyd -3
Bell initially split out, then motions into the backfield. MSU runs a screen that JT Floyd(+2, tackling +1) reads and attacks, arriving as the ball does and tacking Bell down in the backfield. Martin(+0.5) was also there as he'd read it and flowed with the interior OL. (RPS +1, MSU was banking on man I think.)
O22 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Penalty ? False start ? -5
The false start on which Michigan sends the house and gets a dumpoff that Kovacs tackles on.
O17 3 15 Shotgun 3-wide 4-1-6 dime Pass 4 Slant Talbott 18
MSU throws a give-up-and-punt slant that MSU's Martin turns into a first down by cutting all the way across the field. I'm not sure who or what to blame. I guess Mouton(-1) gets too far downfield and allows the first cutback and then Talbott(-2) does the same thing but it's even more damaging because he's the outside guy and has to force Martin into his help. Once Martin goes around him upfield Kovacs is easy prey for blockers and Martin has room to pick up the first on the corner. Woo freshmen cornerbacks. (Tackling –2)
O35 1 10 Ace Base 4-4 Pass 7 PA Fly Rogers Inc
Receiver with a step but Rogers(+1, cover +1) is in pretty good position so this ball has to be perfect. It's not. Michigan sent so many because they were in man free and two guys stayed in; T. Gordon(+0.5) took a good run at Cousins and may have caused the long throw. (Pressure +1)
O35 2 10 Shotgun trips TE Base 4-4 Pass N/A Bubble screen C. Gordon 11 + 15 pen
Rogers(+0.5) attacks this quickly and gets walled off by the receiver but his reaction has pulled the blocker upfield and created a lane for Cam Gordon to flow and finish the play. Gordon(-1, tackling -1) whiffs the tackle, turning 3-4 yards into a first down; Rogers then gets a facemask penalty on top of everything.
M39 1 10 I-form Base 4-4 Run ? Yakety sax ? -2
Fumbled snap. MSU recovers.
M41 2 12 Ace 3-wide Nickel Run ? Inside zone Patterson 41
So on this play Fitzgerald is in for Roh at DE and Patterson in for Martin. RVB is between them. Patterson(-3) is completely obliterated, getting sealed and kicked down the line by a scoop block; Mouton is cut off by a guy who had an easy release at him. Ezeh is again shooting into the outside gap. He did that on the 61 yard run, the first snap of this drive, and on this. Alternatives: Ezeh is a total idiot who keeps doing something he's not supposed to do or this is the scheme because of man coverage. I know I called this clever when Martin was in but here you've got Adam Patterson, who is very liable to have this happen, in and it seems obvious that you should play this way more conservatively. RPS –3.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-14, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run ? Power off tackle Mouton 13
Banks(-1) blown out of the hole and does not require a double so a TE has an angle on Ezeh and blocks him. Kovacs and Mouton are on the edge and Mouton(-1) takes the wrong shoulder of his blocker; with Kovacs outside of him he needs to funnel the play to that guy instead of getting locked out of the play and giving MSU a crease. He's through into the secondary, bowling over guys for some YAC.
M46 1 10 Shotgun H-back Base 4-3 Run ? Counter off tackle Mouton 2
Counter step from the back then they run a power play off the right side of the line. Banks(+1) reads the guy blocking down on someone else and gets into a pulling G, forcing the play outside. This time Mouton+(0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) come on opposite sides of the lead blocker and give the RB nowhere to go, tackling him at the LOS.
M44 2 8 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Pass 4 TE flat Kovacs Inc
Three step drop pass to the TE in front of Kovacs in the flat; dropped. Probably turned up for five-ish if caught before Kovacs knocks him OOB.
M44 3 8 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass 4 Dumpoff Ezeh 5
First read is covered(+1) and then Black(+0.5) vaguely threatens Cousins, causing him to start moving around, at which point Martin is going to get to him so he has to dump it off to a covered(+1) RB. He's covered by Ezeh(-1, tackling -1) who misses a tackle at the LOS. Secondary converges to tackle short of the sticks, but the five yards given up allows MSU to go for it on fourth down.
M39 4 3 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Hitch Mouton 10
Mouton(-1, cover -1) gets too deep and opens up a quick hitch MSU takes. Kovacs was in the area but had to drop on the outside receiver.
M29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Hitch Kovacs 4
Hitch at the sidelines is open and complete. The receiver is taken OOB by the throw with Kovacs coming in to tackle. No +/- on four yard passes.
M25 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 7 Sack Martin -10
Martin(+2) blows through the center's attempted block and comes right up the middle just as Cousins tries a pump fake. Cousins has to roll out, at which point Roh(+2) comes around the tackle to sack. (Pressure +3)
M35 3 16 Shotgun empty 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Bubble screen Rogers 14
Michigan playing way off to get the stop so plenty of room. This gets dangerously close to the first down because Rogers(-1) let Martin outside of him; could have been a longer field goal if this was played better
Drive Notes: FG(38), 10-17, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Ace Base 4-4 Pass 6? PA TE cross Kovacs 15
Kovacs(+1, pressure +1) is blitzing off the edge to contain the QB and prevent play action from hitting deep. He does contain Cousins, forcing him to throw a looper off his back foot that's way high of the tight end. TE gets a hand on it and deflects it high enough for Keshawn Martin to catch the deflection on a ball that would have one-hopped to him. Rogers literally eight yards off of Martin as he catches it, but that was because of a cramp. Cullen Christian replaces him after the play.
O47 1 10 Full house 3-3-5 stack Run ? Counter off tackle Roh 6
This is an I-formation with another tailback next to the FB; probably not what this is actually called. MSU fakes an outside pitch and pulls a guard around to run a conventional power play. Martin gets a good push but is momentarily sealed away from the ball; guard gets a free release on Ezeh and blocks him, though Ezeh's in pretty decent position. T. Gordon(+0.5) comes up and hits the outside shoulder of the lead blocker, leaving the tailback for Roh, except Roh(-1) got suckered by the fake and went the wrong way around Ezeh. C. Gordon comes up to make another tackle, this one somewhat iffy.
M47 2 4 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run ? Zone stretch Ezeh 6
An aggressive RVB(-1) is cut to the ground on the backside, opening up a large cutback lane when nothing opens up on the frontside. This time Ezeh scrapes down the line gently and tackles the back. No plus since he's stationary and accepts a blow; he could have gotten more aggressive and held this down? I'm happy enough that he just makes a tackle, I guess.
M41 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Pass N/A Bubble screen T. Gordon 0
T. Gordon(+2) is the slot LB as Michigan shows zone. He gets out on the WR at the LOS, tackling(+1) for no gain.
M41 2 10 Full house Base 4-4 Pass 6 PA Fly Christian 41
Why the hell is Cullen Christian the guy in man coverage on a receiver running a fly route? Why isn't it Floyd? Christian(-3, cover –3, RPS -2) is smoked crispy as he bites on an out and up gives up the touchdown. Roh was about to hit Cousins but no matter.
Drive Notes: Touchdown,10-24, 12 min 3rd Q. For that matter, why is Christian in the game instead of Avery?
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O7 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-4 Run ? Zone stretch Black 11
Another cutback lane opened up by the backside DE not flowing down the line properly. Black(-2) is playside of his blocker but instead of heading along or slightly off the LOS he heads a yard into the backfield and can only wave an arm at Bell. A yard downfield and he's forcing a cutback all the way behind the backside tackle into an unblocked Kovacs. Floyd keeps contain and forces the tailback into Gordon(+0.5), who makes a good tackle(+1).
O18 1 10 I-form twins Base 4-4 Run   Zone stretch Martin 4
MSU tries to scoop Martin again; this time he does not get sealed by the guard and flows down the line; the C pops out on Ezeh and cuts him. Martin(+0.5) is fast enough to tackle(+1) after a few yards. Black(-0.5) was unable to get off a block to help.
O22 2 6 Ace trips TE Base 4-4 Run   Zone stretch Martin 4
Martin(+2) owns the center and is going to blow this up in the backfield when he's tackled from behind. No call. As a result there's a gap. Mouton(+1) stands up a guard and sheds him to the playside, forcing the back into Floyd, who makes a tackle but gives up a yard or two after contact.
O26 3 2 Ace twins Base 4-4 Run   Zone stretch Black 4
Michigan completely crushes the frontside of this play with RVB(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) getting playside of guys but Black(-2) is hurled to the ground on the backside, opening up yet another cutback lane. Mouton(+1) does a valiant job to shut it down but the RB has all the momentum and the pile falls forward.
O30 1 10 I-form unbalanced Base 4-4 Pass 4 PA throwaway Kovacs? Inc
First option covered(+1) with M in zone. Kovacs, Ezeh, Roh all +0.5 for good drops. The DL then drives through the OL and gets to Cousins somewhat quickly, causing a throwaway.
O30 2 10 Ace Base 4-4 Run   Zone stretch Kovacs 8
RVB(+1) slants into the play, blowing it up and forcing a cutback. Black(-1) is yet again blocked to the ground, leaving a cutback lane; Kovacs(-1) still has an opportunity to make a tackle(-1) at the LOS but misses it. Bell then runs through another tackle from Floyd(-0.5, tackling -1), turning four into eight.
O38 3 2 Ace Base 4-4 Run   Power off tackle Ezeh 11
Ezeh guh. This is supposed to go the TE side of the line, MSU brings the other TE in motion for use as an H-back but RVB(+1) stands up the OL and comes through as Bell approaches the line, forcing a cutback that's there because Martin(-1) got pushed out of the hole. Still, because Black(+0.5) slanted into the backside and occupied two blockers no one is blocking Ezeh(-2) at all, but instead of running through the window in the line and meeting Bell at the LOS he does the Ezeh sit-and-wonder. He's so slow here that not only does he not prevent a first down, he doesn't even touch Bell as he shoots through a tiny gap on a cutback, leaving C. Gordon to make a desperate tackle in a ton of space against a tailback who wasn't even delayed when he shot upfield.
O49 1 10 Wildcat Base 4-4 Pass N/A Reverse trickery C. Gordon 42
Cam Gordon(-3, cover -3) sucks up despite the fact they're pitching a reverse to THE QUARTERBACK. Floyd(+0.5) does manage to track the guy down.
M9 1 G I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Sagesse 2
Sagesse(+1) slants under the tackle and into the path of the play, absorbing a pulling blocker and still popping up in the hole. He causes a delay that Mouton(+0.5) picks through the wash to finish; Ezeh was also there but a step slower.
M7 2 G I-form big 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Banks 7
Banks(-2) obliterated in one on one blocking by the Spartan RT. Ezeh(-0.5) accepts a block from the TE and doesn't come close to shedding it. C. Gordon(-1, tackling -1) makes contact at the four and his tackle is run through as he tries to drag Caper down.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-31, 4 min 3rd Q. This is totally demoralizing and almost entirely the fault of Black and Gordon, two freshmen.
O18 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-4 Run   Zone stretch Martin -1
Hey, they adjust, probably after getting chewed out on the sideline. Martin(+1) slices through blockers and forces a cutback; T. Gordon(+1) also shot past a blocker and into a gap. Mouton(+0.5) and Banks(+0.5) have not been blocked into oblivion this time and converge to tackle.
O17 2 11 Full house 3-3-5 stack Run   Zone stretch Mouton? 2
No holes with Banks(+0.5) holding up to a double and Mouton(+0.5) slamming into the playside TE. No cutback available with RVB(+0.5) avoiding a cut and Roh hitting it up into the B gap; the play is strung all the way out to the sideline where Floyd boots the RB OOB.
O19 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 6 TE slant Kovacs 6
Replica of the play that Michigan got MSU off the field with except for a false start: M bring six, Cousins has to get rid of it, Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) allows the catch but tackles three yards short of the sticks. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-31, 1 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 PA throwaway Van Bergen Inc
Van Bergen(+1) isn't buying the run fake and is instead heading directly upfield at Cousins. When he turns around he's got DE in his face and chucks it away. Could be grounding but there are receivers vaguely in the area. (RPS +1, pressure +1)
O24 2 10 I-form twins 3-3-5 stack Run   Iso Mouton -1
Martin(+1) chucks past the center ridiculously fast and gets playside of a guard, driving into the play. Mouton(+2) defeats a block and shows up in the hole. Martin means no cutback and Mouton tackles with help from Kovacs and his man getting into the RB's legs.
O23 3 11 Shotgun trips 4-1-6 dime Pass   Drag Van Bergen 7
Michigan runs the same stunt they did earlier in the game with Roh attacking in the middle and Martin pulling around; this time Black is also rushing through the same gap and a bunch of feet get tangled and everyone falls. RVB(+1) is coming around the outside, though, and Cousins has to throw short because deep options are covered(+1); a dumpoff to Dell is tackled short by Avery and Talbott.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-31, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 I-form Base 4-4 Run   End around Mouton 15
Actually a great job by Kovacs(+1) to see the end-around fake coming and get upfield; he ends up taking both blockers out of the play. Mouton(-2) is running at the tailback and sees that he doesn't have the ball but for some reason steps inside and then comes up too fast, losing leverage and allowing Martin the gap that he hits. Gordon(-1) comes up and misses a tackle(-1); the secondary manages to stop it after another six yards.
O42 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run   Power off tackle Mouton 0
Michigan slanting away from the play so Banks gets shoved way down the line; Mouton(+2) is blitzing. He manages to slide under the attempted down block of the TE. He's into the backfield quickly enough to take on the inside shoulder of the second lead blocker and push him back into the RB's path. Mouton can't make the difficult tackle but the delay is substantial; Martin and Kovacs get him at the line.
O42 2 10 Full house 3-3-5 stack Run   Counter Ezeh? 8
Same play as earlier with the off tackle fake coupled with a counter coming underneath. T. Gordon(-1) is blitzing and takes off after the QB. I'm not sure what the LB responsibilities are but I think they're in man on their guys and Ezeh(-0.5) does not read the guy coming across the formation fast enough, getting blocked; Roh(-0.5) splits the minus because he's the LB to that side and is no faster despite not getting blocked. (RPS –1)
50 3 2 Ace Base 4-4 Run   Power off tackle Ezeh 3
They double Martin and neither guy gets out; RVB is the playside DT and gets blocked out of a small hole. Mouton, Roh, and Gordon are cutting off the frontside so there's just one hole to take. It is taken. Ezeh is there, meeting him after a yard… RB gets two more. This isn't exactly a bad play by anyone but this is the difference between a really good LB and a guy who's just a yard or two worse on a consistent basis. Michigan had this set up for a stop. They didn't get it.
M47 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-4 Pass 6 PA Corner C. Gordon 45
Motion drops Floyd back into a deep safety spot as C. Gordon comes up to the line. He and T. Gordon end up playing almost in the same spot because of? I don't know. I don't know what the coverage is supposed to be but it leaves a guy on a corner route wide open (cover -2). Could be Cam's fault or Terrance Talbott. Talbott(-1, tackling -1) whiffs a tackle to get this down to the two.
M2 1 G Goal line Goal line Run   Zone stretch Demens 1 (Pen -15)
RVB(+0.5) holds up to a double decently and is flowing down the line in the vicinity of the POA when the RB cuts up. Guy pops out on Ezeh, delaying him; Floyd is taking on the FB, so there's nowhere to go. Momentum and thudding power might get this into the endzone but Demens(+1) has come from his deep LB position in the goal line package, shooting through the gap between RVB and Campbell to tackle. Chop block brings it back anyway.
M17 1 G I-form big 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Waggle Kovacs Inc
Kovacs(+1) reads the TE leaking out into the flat—similar play to the Webb touchdown—and covers it(+1); Cousins comes off his primary read. Ezeh(+1, cover +1) is all over the other TE; Cousins throws it high and basically away. (Pressure -1)
M17 2 G Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run   Edge pitch Kovacs 2
Kovacs(+1) avoids a cut and gets into Cunningham, which allows Floyd to run up hard to the outside and forces a cutback. A chasing Banks(+0.5) and Ezeh converge.
M15 3 G Shotgun empty 3-2-6 dime Pass N/A Bubble screen Talbott 2
Give up and punt; Nichol actually at QB on this play for whatever reason. Talbott(+1) does a good job of stringing it out, FWIW.
Drive Notes: FG(34), 17-34. Final drive is after game is over and is not charted.


Just look at the first quarter, man. Time ceased after that.


Let's just get this over with, then? Chart?





Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 9.5 1 8.5 One impact sack, some additional pressure, solid against the run. Good player.
Martin 11.5 3 8.5 A good performance, but coming down from his ridiculous nonconference level.
Banks 3 6 -3 Didn't do well, pulled for Black, who did worse.
Sagesse 1 - 1 One good slant.
Patterson - 3 -3 Killed to bits on second long TD for MSU.
Black 1.5 5.5 -4 Pancaked multiple times on drive where he got most of his PT.
Campbell - - - One goal line play.
TOTAL 26.5 18.5 8 This week Roh was mostly DE so his +4.5 factors in here. Story: two good players and not a lot of help.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 2 6.5 -4.5 Sigh.
Mouton 11 5 6 At least he's turned it around.
Roh 6 1.5 4.5 Wasn't a liability in the run game against a pounding team.
Johnson - - - DNP. Has apparently lost out to…
T. Gordon 4 2.5 1.5 Doing fine for a freshman.
Leach - - - DNP
Moundros - - - DNP
Demens 1 - 1 Goal line only, again.
Herron - - - DNP
Fitzgerald - - - Did not get minus for long TD but I'm sure having him in couldn't have helped.
TOTAL 24 14.5 8.5 Actual LBs: Mouton good, Ezeh bad, Gordon neutral.
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 2.5 3 -0.5 Not victimized.
Rogers 3.5 1.5 2 Theory about displacement: fail.
Kovacs 6.5 1 5.5 Such a weird player.
C. Gordon - 11.5 -11.5 Of course.
Talbott 1 3 -2 Martin third down conversion largely on him.
Christian - 3 -3 Crispy.
Avery - - - Didn't register. Yay?
Ray Vinopal - - - DNP
TOTAL 13.5 23 -9.5 Less grim than the Chappellbombing. Still grim.
Pressure 11 5 6 Lot of max pro PA.
Coverage 10 11 -1 Big hits; underneath okay.
Tackling 6 13 -7 Very, very bad.
RPS 4 7 -3 Bad.

[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.]

So. That's a major falloff from the defensive line. RVB and Martin acquired above-average days and Roh was decent. The other guys combined for –9, which is really really bad. I think this bore out in the substitution pattern, too: Banks wasn't playing well so they tried out Black, who played worse, so they went back to Banks.

At linebacker, the usual. Thomas Gordon continues to impress by not doing anything particularly wrong. If Carvin Johnson was really good enough to beat him out before the season Michigan should be set at spur for a long time.

In the secondary, Kovacs is good, and the starting corners weren't a disaster. Everyone else… ugh.

Aaaargh GERG ffffuuuuuuu?

I don't know. I don't think I'll know at all this year. If you look at how Michigan State gashed Michigan the thing that jumps out is the shocking youth of the offenders. By touchdown drive:

  1. Ezeh takes bad angle on first play, tacks on facemask. On second play Martin and Banks fail; Cam Gordon turns large gain into touchdown.
  2. Talbott lets Martin outside of him on third and fifteen to give up a conversion. Cam misses a tackle on a bubble screen, robbing Michigan of an opportunity at third and medium. Patterson is destroyed on a 41-yard touchdown with a bizarre scheme that sees Ezeh fly out of the middle of the field.
  3. Fluke tipped completion, two six yard runs veterans are responsible for, Cullen Christian burned deep after Rogers goes out.
  4. Jibreel Black is a cutback-conceding machine on the drive he plays every snap of. Ezeh does his sit-and-wonder on a run of moderate length. Cam sucks up on the trick play. MSU finishes the drive by blowing up Banks and shedding another Gordon tackle.

Gordon was also responsible for taking a bad angle on the TE seam on MSU's second drive. That should have been an interception but he overreacted to his error from the Notre Dame game and played the angle too conservatively. We have one usual suspect in Ezeh. The other players largely responsible for the touchdowns are two freshman cornerbacks, a freshman defensive end, and redshirt freshman and position switch starter Cam Gordon. Oh, and Adam Patterson, a fifth year senior who's never played before this year.

I do wonder what the hell this was supposed to accomplish:

I know I called it "clever" in the picture pages when Martin was in but that's the same scheme with Adam Patterson in the game. I thought it was clever because it was relying on your best defensive player not to make a major error—Martin did that one time and Michigan got burned, okay. Doing it with Adam Patterson in the game is asking to get touchdown in your face, and Michigan got touchdown it its face. This was not Ezeh's fault. I watched him do this all day; he did it on the first touchdown, then went to the sideline and did it two more times on the next drive. If he had screwed something up they would have corrected it or benched him, right?

Michigan went away from this later but here's why you just tell Ezeh to do something and hope it works:

Maybe that's a cutback he's not expecting but good lord, find the gap in the line and hit it. Even if you're slow an arm tackle slows the guy down. For him to not even touch the tailback there is dangerous, as Gordon has to come up fast and almost misses a tackle with his dodgy technique. Here, and often in this game, RBs were untouched into the secondary, though, and when that happens your safety is under enormous pressure.

Something in the same vein:

Michigan has that stopped. They have a third and two and have forced the tailback to run through a tiny window filled with an unblocked middle linebacker, but Ezeh is hesitant like always and catches the tailback. He never hits anyone.

Demens any different?

I have no idea. Here's your sum total of Demens hope:

His job in the goal line package is to come from way deep and flow to the hole. This is of interest because look how WVU aligned their linebackers back in the day:


That's way off the line. Michigan has not done this yet but it might be something to try since Demens has been doing that in the goal line package, and doing it well.

Other scheme complaints?

It was insane to put Cullen Christian on an island against BJ Cunningham in a one-receiver formation. JT Floyd was in overhang mode against a TE; why not put your non-true-freshman on the receiver?

So I'm not entirely happy with GERG. But I'm also not sure what the hell you're supposed to do when Rogers goes out and your five-man secondary reads freshman, freshman, freshman, sophomore, sophomore and your nickel and dime packages add in two more freshmen.

Didn't you just say you liked Cam Gordon?

Uh… yes. And then he was terrible against MSU. His shoulder-block style of tackling was something he got away with before he faced Michigan State but against MSU he was bouncing off ballcarriers because they were big and strong enough to take the blow. Then he would try to drag them to the ground, which only worked sometimes and always gave up YAC. He blew a chance to intercept that TE seam, or at least separate the guy from the ball. He took a very bad angle on the first touchdown and got burned on the trick play.

This is a guy who does not have confidence in his angles:

Too aggressive against Notre Dame, he was too conservative here; later he would get too aggressive again. This is what happens when you flop someone in spring practice and have him start at free safety. He has a long way to go. He was just as bad as Michigan's debacle at the spot last year, unfortunately, and while there are  good reasons for that the fact he's stuck at free safety when he's linebacker size and linebacker fast is just another symptom of the roster explosion.

Is anyone, you know, developing?

Ryan Van Bergen appears to be emerging into a player who makes an impact. He had a slow start but two weeks in a row he's been basically on par with Martin as Michigan's highest-scoring DL. If he can do something similar against Iowa it'll be time to ramp up expectations for him to fringe All Big Ten.

Also, Kovacs may have had his best game at Michigan. He's so reliable; on a day when Michigan couldn't find a tackle it didn't want to miss, Kovacs twice dragged down TEs in space to boot MSU off the field. Only one counted, unfortunately.


Martin, Van Bergen, and Mouton are all guys who would start on nine Big Ten defenses, and they're playing like it. Kovacs is the complete opposite of the rest of the team.


Player retention, youth, the defensive end not named Roh (Banks and Black were collectively –7), Ezeh, the cornerback not named Floyd or Rogers (freshmen CBs collectively –5), and Cam Gordon.

What does it mean for Iowa and beyond?

Apparently that Kenny Demens is going to emerge from the boonies and try to tackle people instead of catch them. Keep telling yourself he's just a sophomore, try to ignore the redshirt bit or the Moundros dalliance, and tap your heels together. If Michigan can upgrade there they might have a chance to hold down the Iowa running game. Michigan State has somehow acquired the without-question best stable of tailbacks in the league; Iowa's Adam Robinson isn't bad but he's not the equivalent of Baker/Bell/Caper, and there's only one of him.

I'm not sure how meaningful Iowa's statistics are in this department. They had three games against totally overmatched opponents. A fourth against Penn State saw Iowa bash into the PSU line over and over because they correctly guessed that Robert Bolden was not going to score on the Iowa D. The fifth saw Iowa gaffe their way into a big hole and abandon the run game in the second half. But for the record, Iowa tailbacks had 17 carries for 35 yards against Arizona (which has a kickass run D) and 28 for 95 against Penn State (which has an okay run D). They could be sort of okay in this department.

That will likely mean Ricky Stanzi is called upon to rain fire on the Michigan secondary, which he will do with aplomb. The Rick Six is a thing of yesteryear, apparently. I have some vague hope that the MSU and Iowa passing games are about equivalent but the MSU run game is a lot better and Michigan can hold Iowa to like 24 points or something.



October 14th, 2010 at 6:48 PM ^

Fortunately the coaches have the rest of this season, all of spring practice, and arguably part of fall practice to evaluate these guys.

a. How much progress will C Gordon or Vinopal make at deep safety?

b. How much progress will Avery, Talbott, or Christian make at corner?

This is oversimplifying but basically if a > b, put Woolfolk at corner. If b > a, put him at safety. All else equal it would benefit Woolfolk to stick to one position early, but he'll be in his 5th year in the program and does not have nearly as much room for growth as the freshmen do. At this point I think we have to hedge our bets and see what the freshmen can do before committing Woolfolk to one position or other. 


October 14th, 2010 at 4:01 PM ^

Ezeh is just a lost cause out there.  I dont see any benefit to keeping him out there.  He is gone after this year and can the backups be that much worse?  Seeing his play over and over again I can't imagine that much of a step down by replacing him.   Wouldn't it be better to cut the cord and get Demens, Fitzgerald more PT and experience?

Pay the Dragon

October 14th, 2010 at 5:30 PM ^

agreed, I couldnt think of a better way to describe it.  If he isnt responsible for some of those plays that Brian pointed out, then he shouldnt be a MLB.  If your job is to just shoot to a gap regardless of the read then you are worthless, and when all you do when you shoot the gap is get blocked and pushed wherever they want its hopeless. At least Demens gets going downhill and looked to be able to make a read.  

Greg McMurtry

October 14th, 2010 at 4:06 PM ^

Ezeh is filling the wrong gap on all of those long runs.  I mean on one of the plays, the "WTH is this supposed to accomplish play," he jumps outside and the RB makes a B-line right to the gap Ezeh started the play in.  I can't fathom Ezeh having outside contain on that play, vacating his lane and leaving a 5 yard crease to run through, when the RDE makes a move to the boundary.

Greg McMurtry

October 14th, 2010 at 4:18 PM ^

I also watched the play myself.  Watch the play I reference and explain to me why he vacates his lane and fills the boundary when the RDE is filling the boundary.

Comment directly from the UFR:

"Ezeh is a total idiot who keeps doing something he's not supposed to do or this is the scheme because of man coverage."


October 14th, 2010 at 4:21 PM ^

Brian is pointing out that this is the scheme. He also wrote this:

This was not Ezeh's fault. I watched him do this all day; he did it on the first touchdown, then went to the sideline and did it two more times on the next drive. If he had screwed something up they would have corrected it or benched him, right?

Beating up on Ezeh is all the rage around here, and the second time I watched the game I came to conclusion you did, but I was wrong. Ezeh is doing what he's supposed to do. The dude has all kinds of problems. But he filled the right gaps on both plays


October 14th, 2010 at 4:07 PM ^

At least the offensive UFR (while still painful) had some positives and left open the chance that last week was an anomoly.  This UFR inspired about as much hope as a terminal diagnosis.  Wow.


October 14th, 2010 at 4:10 PM ^

First of all, he's gotten better. Look at last year's UFR and you'll see that the major complaint about him was positioning. That problem is basically gone now. His awkwardness as a tackler and defensive player remains, but it's harder to teach the muscle memory of a Linebacker than teaching a scheme to an intelligent player. Okay, so here's why they're playing him:

1) He's relatively mobile and does a pretty good job in pass coverage.

2) He understands the schemes (say all you want about his physical execution, GERG has managed to get him to be where he is SUPPOSED to be all the time. This was not the case last year and is a tribute to coaching schemes.)

3) He weighs 240 pounds, and it's a pretty compact 6'2" 240. Roh is 249 and he's a rangy 6'5". In other words, Ezeh can plug holes.

If I'm GERG and my secondary is filled with small, inexperienced true freshmen who can't tackle, I want the reassurance of someone who can at least put their finger in the dike.


October 14th, 2010 at 4:26 PM ^

Brian, Magnus and a number of very experienced, thoughtful football defense guys are wrong. They all argue that Ezeh is in the right place on that play. The Defensive End - Banks - is supposed to fill that hole, not the Mike.

Hey, here's Brian's take on it in a lot of detail if you want to check it out:



October 14th, 2010 at 4:41 PM ^

Sharik, GSimmons, other defensive coaches who've posted on here in the past think Ezeh is subpar.  Many fellow former football players I know also think Ezeh is a very poor MLB.

Time to put in Demens.

Or if Ezeh is being coached to do such idiotic things, time to fire GERG.

So...I say let's play Demens and see if he does the exact same stupid shit.

Then we'll have a pretty good idea whether or not it's the coaching.


October 14th, 2010 at 4:45 PM ^

I don't think Ezeh is a good linebacker. I think the criticisms of his physical play, his instincts, his tackling, all of that are true. 

All I'm saying is that he is GOING WHERE HE'S SUPPOSED TO GO. That's huge when you have such a poor secondary.

Oh, and he's big(ish).

He's what we've got. Demens is also big, he's aggressive, but we don't see him in practice. Maybe he doesn't go to the right spaces, and as a result create even more big errors because of gap issues. We don't know. But given all of Ezeh's faults as a linebacker, he must in there because he gets the schemes, that's the only real explanation.


October 14th, 2010 at 5:24 PM ^

Maybe Demens will go to the correct gap that his coaches don't want him to go to and, you know, make the tackle!


We all need to remember that RR built his offense from the ASHES as well.  He had 2 or 3 solid players on his offense.  The defense had about that many on defense. Yet look what he has done from ground zero in 2008 up until now.

WHY do we hold the defensive side of the ball to such a lower standard or expectation?

The offense has gotten gradually better since 2008.

The defense has gotten gradually worse since 2008.

It is seriously going to be RR's undoing if he doesn't fix that shit.



October 14th, 2010 at 7:30 PM ^

I have a suspicion that RR and GR and the rest have not suddenly forgotten how to coach.  There's an old saying that fits here - "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."  There is no magic wand to wave over these guys and suddenly make them good.  I'm pretty confident that if there was anybody better on the bench they'd be in playing.


October 14th, 2010 at 7:55 PM ^

Except that there is nothing sudden about GERG's failures.  He's fielded terrible defenses for the better part of the last decade.  After he was fired by Syracuse, he actually called RR up and begged for the job.  RR may be wondering now if he made the right call by giving GERG a soft landing.


October 14th, 2010 at 4:19 PM ^

isn't that kind of the point? He isn't filling holes (or anything else for that matter). That's why Kovacs is such an anomaly. He doesn't have the physical attributes necessary to excel at this level yet time he again he's in the right place making plays. I can't think of one time this season where Ezeh has blown something up without it being directly attributable to RPS...


October 14th, 2010 at 4:49 PM ^

He usually fills holes, he just usually doesn't fill them quickly or authoritatively because he is slow to read plays and react. Kovacs is very quick to read plays and would be a great MLB if he were about 40 pounds heavier.


October 14th, 2010 at 5:17 PM ^

Sorry to be contrarian, but Ezeh does not fill, shoot, scrape or press the gaps and often runs to piles instead of the gaps where the RB is going. When he does get to an open gap, it takes everything in him to make the tackle.

Ezeh is clueless and doesn't belong on the field.

I like your Kovacs assessment, however.

Arsenal Fan

October 14th, 2010 at 4:13 PM ^

I think Gerg is a good coach, not the greatest, but he is no slouch either.  We are just very young and inexperienced at practically every position on the field on defense.  The positive side of this is that we are getting a lot of experience for our guys for next year. Coming in to this season it seems we all knew about where we stood on defense, then Woolfolk got hurt which made us even thinner.  I think (and hope) that by the end of the season we can see the strides our very young team is making and head in to next season with a much better defense, and not to mention practically every one on offense coming back. I still DO beleive that our D will begin to make more plays as they get more opportunities, but that may also involve some tweaks at certain defensive positions. 


October 14th, 2010 at 4:35 PM ^

Someone needs to strike Obi down so that he can become more powerful than we can imagine.

Also, Kovacs has such inspiring performances, I think someday they could make a movie about him.


October 14th, 2010 at 7:31 PM ^

Someone needs to strike Obi down so that he can become more powerful than we can imagine.

That's the funniest thing I've read here in awhile, damn near spit coffee out of my nose.


October 14th, 2010 at 4:41 PM ^

Is anyone else having problems watching YouTube videos?  My internet connection seems to be fine, but everytime I click on a YT video, it starts playing and then stops three seconds in. 


October 14th, 2010 at 4:44 PM ^

If we can hold Iowa's offense to 24 points, I think we have a good shot at winning this game.  If Iowa scores any more than 24 it will be extremely difficult.  Unless of course their defense is overrated and Dilithium comes back to true form.

Go Blue!


October 14th, 2010 at 5:03 PM ^

but lots of folks are here right now, so i will throw this out there.

glad to see that the "post-michigan game important player from the other team" hating god is in effect.

Darius Willis of 3 tds vs UM is out for the year and didn't play vs OSU

Chris L Rucker obviously has his issues to deal with after getting a pick last week.

next up, Stanzi goes all scientology after scorching UM's defense this week? (please no)


October 14th, 2010 at 5:24 PM ^

Since our def is close to the bottom in the FBS is not the bottom, why not come at teams with all kinds of blitz packages and then live with the results? I feel that was the tempo of the 1st quarter versus MSU. Just send people from all over.


October 14th, 2010 at 5:49 PM ^

It was asked in the UFR why Cullen came in as the corner instead of Avery. I have no idea if this is true, but is it possible it was done because Cullen has been practicing at the outside corner position while Avery is usually practicising in the slot? I know corner is usually the same position all over, but with as much zone we usually run, I would think the two positions would have different responsibilities in this system.

Of course, he was in man coverage on the play in question, so I may have no idea what I'm talking about, or it was maybe just an awful play call. Just seems like a possible reason for Cullen coming into the game.


October 14th, 2010 at 5:51 PM ^

Against running/power teams

UConn -3.5

UMass -8

MSU -4.5

Non-power teams

Notre Dame 3

Bowling Green 2.5

Indiana 3

Sure, he can play against Purdue.  But, I don't know about the rest of the Big 10.  I'm just saying.


October 14th, 2010 at 6:23 PM ^

and wins there mean 7-5 and a bowl.

If (when) he struggles against the rest of the schedule, well, there aren't a lot of alternatives, otherwise we'd have seen them.

If a bunch of amateurs and a few people with experience can look at TV shots and say gee, that Ezeh guy isn't doing that well, I'm sure the coaching staff is aware of it too. The presence of Ezeh on so many plays seems to suggest that there isn't a better option, even if the one we see plays like a guy playing Road to Glory mode who keeps bumping the stick at the beginning of the play and then forgetting that it stops the computer from moving him automatically after that.

North Star

October 14th, 2010 at 6:20 PM ^

M obviously missed a ton of tackles Saturday - it looked like our guys were tackling high - led to a couple of face mask penalties but mostly backs / receivers just ran through the tackle - it was consistent enough that even my wife was complaining - when I played (light years ago) we were taught to drive through the mid-section - for those that are more current in the coaching world, has conventional wisdom changed on tackling technique? 

contra mundum

October 14th, 2010 at 6:21 PM ^

 If obi is right on the two long TD's, then all the other players on the defensive front are wrong..because Obi fill a gap that is already filled.

I think Obi got his wires crossed on what the call actually was, because I can't figure out what he's doing..if he was run blitzing, the the players to the side he's blitzing in should all be slanting and they aren't

contra mundum

October 14th, 2010 at 6:41 PM ^

Looked at the Bell TD run a little closer...


I think the motion here got Michigan out of alignment in the secondary, and that C.Gordon should have moved to his right. We are outmanned on the shortside of the field. Obi  moves to the gap, but I think he should have played it a little differently, with a shuffle and reading the RB. However, we were outmanned on that side and probably should have shifted the NT to the TE side A gap.

Patterson isn't stout enough to hold up to a double, and I think Michigan wants the NT to go under the C here and stay in front of the G. Patterson doesn't do this reall well and is getting moved off the ball. It's a shame BWC isn't ready. I'd prefer to see Sagesse in this spot.

Mouton needs to see this happening, and flow over the C's block quickly. If Mouton moves over the top quickly, we can get this stopped at 8-10 yards.

IMHO, the best thing would have been for a shift up front, or for C.Gordon to have taken the motion man, allowing Floyd to fill from the backside of this play. As it is, there is no way our S can get to this in time.

So, if this was really aligned as per GERG's instructions, it's a bad defense. If not, someone messed up and didn't shift correctly with the motion.


October 14th, 2010 at 7:46 PM ^

I can't start a thread, so I don't know if this'll even get read back here...however...

Could someone please make a composition of all the Demens plays (This looks like it'll be hard, so I'm sorry whomever has to do it).  A lot of people are pulling the "I hate Obi" redundancy, and I'd like to see how much better Demens is doing.  Plus, we'd all actually be able to see how well he does for once instead of just speculating on how good he is.



October 14th, 2010 at 7:53 PM ^

Hopefully Cam G and othe other young DB's continue to show improvement. Cullen just doesn't look ready to cover college receivers and Talbott and Avery seem more ready to play. It would be interesting to see GERG go with more cover 2 using JT as the safety with CC and Talbott at the corners so they can get a little better feel for the game without as much risk of being burt. I guess that requires at least LB's that can cover - i answered my own question. Well let's just hope they keep improving and Stanzi somehow implodes.