Upon Further Review 2010: Defense vs UMass

Submitted by Brian on September 22nd, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Substitution Notes: Starting secondary, Kovacs, Mouton, and RVB went the whole way. Patterson and Black got some time on the DL; Leach substituted in for Banks on passing downs and for Gordon a little bit. Moundros got one series at MLB; Fitzgerald came in for Roh a tiny bit.

Formation notes: More of the same, with Michigan spending most of the day in a stack but occasionally shifting to a 4-3 front (sometimes Roh did not put his hand down in the front but it was a 4-3) and using the same nickel rush package they've shown in the first two games.

Against the twin TE formation Umass showed a lot the stack looked like this:


Kovacs is rolled up tight to the line there. Michigan appears to be aligning based on pass strength, so whenever they saw a formation like this it was Banks and Kovacs to the run strength.

Chartin' note: the "Rush" column contains the number of pass rushers on a pass; on a run I attempted to determine to which side of the line it was run, doing this by the Michigan DE that was nominally run at. "Banks" is a run at (surprise!) Banks. NA is for something that went either right up the middle or the DEs weren't relevant.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Mouton 9
This is supposed to go right up the middle by the looks of the blocking scheme but Martin(+1) tears through the center's block and Ezeh(+1) shoots past an attempt to get him on the second level, forcing a cutback. Kovacs has cut past his blocker too and the RB has to head way outside, where Mouton(-1, tackling -1) is unblocked and has an opportunity to tackle for loss but overruns the play, which lets the RB dart upfield because Banks(-1) was easily single blocked and controlled. Floyd is also out there with Mouton but his weak diving tackle attempt (-1, -1 tackling) is run through.
O44 2 1 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Down G Roh 0
TEs originally split but one motions over the other as they test the other side of the M DL. Roh(+2) slants past the TE's attempted down block, sliding in between two guys and meeting the RB in the hole a yard behind the LOS. He comes around to tackle, but the RB can fall forward because of the OL blocking Roh. Ezeh took on a blocker in a way that would have funneled the RB to an unblocked Gordon, FWIW, if that was necessary.
O44 3 1 I-Form big twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Iso Banks 4
Martin(+1) blows through a double and occupies two blockers; Banks(-1) is bashed back and sealed by a momentary double, opening up just enough space for the RB to run through a Mouton tackle. No minus because he had to fight through a FB block and did well to slow the RB; Floyd(-1) is slow recognizing and can't clean up in time. His tackle(-1) is run through but the RB falls afterward; Michigan fortunate.
O48 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 PA waggle Rogers 12
First of the many rollouts. Gordon covers the short guy well enough but Rogers(-1, cover -1) has his hips turned way early on the play, even before people scroll offscreen, and is easily beaten on the hitch. Roh(-0.5) sucked into the PA and gave the guy a wide open corner (pressure -1)
O36 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Down G T. Gordon -2
UMass center stumbles as he gets out of his stance and Ezeh(+0.5) reads the direction of the play, flowing to it under control. They've only got two guys blocking three defenders as a result; Ezeh takes the correct shoulder of his blocker and T. Gordon is the free hitter. He makes a solid TFL in some space (+1, tackling +1). Lower than normal plus for a TFL because Ezeh had it easy on the stumble.
O38 2 12 Ace trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run NA PA draw Mouton 5
Bubble fake to a draw. Martin absorbs a double, getting pushed a few yards downfield but occupying two blockers for the duration. This gives Kovacs and Mouton free runs at the carrier; Mouton(-0.5) makes a dodgy tackle after slightly overrunning the play, turning 3 yards into 6.
O33 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel rush Pass 4 Slant Ezeh 14
The reason this simple slant on third and seven is wide open is Ezeh(-1, cover -1) bumping a tight end two yards from the LOS instead of getting a zone drop. A senior four-year starter doesn't know to drop to the sticks on third and seven.
O19 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass NA PA waggle hitch Floyd Inc
PA fake is to the backside of the play so the LBs are there; Mouton(+0.5) gets a bump on the releasing RB, forcing him into Ezeh and forcing a throw from the QB that Floyd(+1, cover +1) breaks on to break up.
O19 2 10 Shotgun twins 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Zone read inside Mouton 2
Center again stumbles. We'll give some credit to Martin(+0.5) since he's occupying those guys. RVB(+1) has also flowed down the line, occupying the hole; the RB cuts back all the way to the backside where Mouton(+1) has scraped and tackles with T. Gordon. RB does a good job of getting YAC.
O17 3 8 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Drag Leach 5
Leach blitzes from a slot LB spot as the other three DL and no one else come; QB has to roll out away from Leach(+0.5, pressure +1) and away from his trips bunch. One of those guys is on a drag route and the QB hits him; Mouton(+0.5, cover +1) is there for the immediate tackle.
Drive Notes: FG(31), 0-3, 10 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O49 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Inside zone Roh 1
Martin(+1) shoves his blocker back into the path of the RB, forcing a cutback into an unblocked Roh(+0.5), who closes from the backside to tackle for minimal gain.
50 2 9 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Hitch T. Gordon 3 (Pen -10)
T. Gordon(+0.5) gets out on the edge, forcing a throw on a short hitch that Rogers(+1, cover +1) can tackle on immediately. UMass gets a holding call but I have no idea who draws it because of crappy BTN production.
O40 2 19 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Down G Mouton 1
Banks gets doubled and blown back but does absorb two without crumbling. Mouton(+1) reads the OL pull and shoots into the play, cracking into one of the pullers in the backfield and drawing attention from both. This creates a pileup in the backfield; RB comes through the mess; the delay has allowed Kovacs(+0.5) to fill and tackle at the LOS.
O41 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel rush Run NA Draw Roh 3 (pen +5)
A give up and punt; Roh(-1) jumped offside.
O46 3 13 Shotgun 2-back Nickel rush Pass 4 Scramble Martin 6
Martin(+2) shoots past a double and is then flagrantly held, preventing a thunder-sack. He does force a rollout; no one is open and Havens has to run, whereupon the DEs converge. (Pressure +1, cover +1.)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Ace Base 4-3-ish Pass 4 Improv Roh 7
Moundros in for Ezeh. Roh as a standup DE with Gordon playing back; more of a standard 4-3 look. Roh pwns the TE(+1, pressure +1) but is almost literally dragged to the ground by the guy; no call. Very frustrating. He gets up and forces a scramble from the QB; as he rolls out he finds a TE open for several. He's immediately booted OOB. This drive likely ends immediately if the refs get this obvious call right.
O40 2 3 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Moundros 4
Backside G pulls around but is tripped because Martin(+0.5) is slashing into the backfield and pushed his guy back a little. Banks is cutting inside, as is Mouton, so this should provide an opportunity for Moundros to get a free hit if he hits the hole fast enough. Instead he sits around the first down marker and accepts a block(-1). Mouton rolls off a block and Kovacs comes up to tackle just past the first down sticks.
O44 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Banks 4
TE covered up and can't go downfield, so I'm a little disappointed Mouton isn't more aggressive here since he won't be threatened by the TE. Banks is sealed and bashed back a bit, allowing the RT to get a hat on Mouton and opening up what looks like a crease, but Banks(+0.5) fights through and sets up to tackle after a few yards. Cutback lane was there but untaken because Moundros(-1) immediately went into a pass drop without even checking a key.
O48 2 6 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-3-ish Pass 4 PA deep hitch Rogers 15
Covered TE. Martin is coming around on a stunt and is going to get there somewhat fast, but not fast enough if the primary read is open, which it is in front of Rogers(-1, cover -1) and behind Gordon(-1, cover -1) as he came up on a shorter receiver.
O33 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Power off tackle Van Bergen 1
RVB(+1.5) surges into the backfield past an attempted down block, cutting off the hole in the center and picking off the pulling guard. RB has to cut way outside where T. Gordon and Ezeh(+0.5 each) are waiting; they tackle.
O32 2 9 Ace 4-wide bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass NA PA drag Mouton 12
Pretty slick with the RB motioning in from an empty set and UMass faking a pitchout to him. This sucks in Mouton(-1, cover -1), opening up a drag route, though to be fair to the D the window here was not enormous because Kovacs was in decent position and this is just a good play. Catch is turned upfield for good yardage.
O20 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Flare screen Mouton 5
Mouton(+1) appears to be pass rushing. He bumps an OL and then reads the flare screen, getting out between the releasing OL and running the RB down for a minimal gain despite a corner blitz that could have made this very bad. RB does fall forward so no tackling +1.
O15 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3-ish Run Banks Reverse Banks 5
End around coupled with a reverse gets Michigan confused as the motion sends Michigan into a check they never get completed. Mouton gets chop blocked by a guy coming upfield of him, which was apparently a penalty on Kelvin Grady last week but isn't here... which is it? Kovacs bit; it's Greg Banks(+2) who sets up outside in a bunch of space, positions himself so the WR cuts inside of him, then disengages to tackle and possibly prevent a TD. (RPS -2)
O10 1 G I-Form Big 3-3-5 stack Run Power off tackle 10
They load up the short side with two TEs and pull a guard around to go with the FB: 4 blockers. TE blocks down on Banks. Kovacs and Mouton both attack, getting caught in the wash but also jamming up the LOS and wiping out the last TE and the two lead guys, leaving Floyd(-2) totally unblocked on the edge with a RB; he lets the guy outside; touchdown. Good lord, if you're going to get beat get beat to the inside. Turrible.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-10, 14 min 2nd Q. Floyd's run support: very bad.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O15 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run NA Inside zone Mouton 16
Ezeh back, Patterson in, and as always the opponent goes right at him. Patterson(-1) goes behind the single block of the center, which might work if the linebackers were making him right but Mouton(-1) starts flowing away from the play instead of attempting to fill his gap, which is a shame because Ezeh had gotten playside of his blocker and could have held this down to a few otherwise. I do not understand the gap integrity here, but what it looks like to me is Mouton thinking this is play action. Kovacs(-0.5) does just manage to tackle(-1), but it's very tenuous and gives UMass another 5 yards. Given the blocking scheme I don't think this is a good play by Patterson.
O31 1 10 I-Form 3-wide Base 4-3-ish Run Banks Quick pitch Mouton 7
The FB-dive/quick pitch combo suckers Mouton(-1), who should at least be looking at the tailback on a running play, and Banks, which is more understandable. Mouton closes it down fairly well but misses a tackle; Floyd(-0.5) wasn't much help on the corner.
O38 2 3 Shotgun twins Base 4-3-ish Run NA Inside zone Gordon 12
Guh, come on, you're on the backside of a run play that happens to have 2TEs to the backside, maybe a cutback is coming? Roh(-1) is ridden down the line out of the play; T. Gordon(-1), crashes down way too far, opening up the cutback, and Ezeh(-1) just eats a block as per usual. Mouton was free and could have finished a play if someone had funneled to to him, but no one did.
50 1 10 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Sack Martin -12
Martin(+3) tears through a double team and authoritatively sacks. Beast mode. (Pressure +3)
O38 2 22 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Down G Mouton 3
Mouton(+1) flashes to the hole immediately, blasting the pulling guard and forcing the play inside where Banks(+0.5) and Floyd can combine to tackle.
O41 3 19 Ace trips 3-3-5 stack Run NA Draw Martin 1
A give up and punt, but Martin(+2) still blazes past blockers and then forms up, having read the play, to tackle for no gain.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Banks 4
Leach in for Gordon. UMass runs power at Banks(+0.5) and he seems to get doubled out of the play but comes around it to help tackle with Floyd(+0.5), who set up well and came off a block to deal with it.
O25 2 6 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 PA rollout flat Roh 13
Roh(-1) sucks up too far after the play action instead of taking an angle that goes straight outside; Leach(-1) overruns the play and allows the receiver inside of him for big yardage. (Cover –1.)
O38 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Pin and pull zone Roh 10
New play sees three UMass players pull around. RVB(-1) gets pushed out of the play pointlessly, leaving Roh and Leach and Ezeh on three blockers. Play goes outside so Ezeh has no chance. Leach has to turn it inside and does. Roh? I think he's held, personally, but I'll leave the question open: is this is egregious or not? I am going to -1 him for not forcing it back inside. Michigan was caught in a slant away from the play, too. (RPS -1) Rogers(-1) was weak on the corner.
O48 1 10 Ace Base 4-3-ish Pass 4 PA Scramble Roh 3
Play action pass sees no one open at first (cover +1), at which point Roh(+1) spins off a blocker and charges in on Havens. He scrambles for a few yards. (Pressure +1)
M49 2 7 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Slant Leach 14
Leach's(-2) drop is terrible, opening up the easy slant because he took a step forward without so much as a PA fake (cover -1)
M35 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-3-ish Run NA Inside zone Mouton 15
More completely terrible outside angles reminiscent of last year. There is nothing inside thanks to RVB(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) shutting down running lanes and the bounce meets an unblocked Mouton(-2.5), who can force the play back inside to two unblocked LBs but instead lets the RB outside, turning nothing into a first down. Awful, awful, awful. Picture-paged yesterday.
M20 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-3-ish Run Banks Dive Banks 5
Backside G pulls; this is supposed to go more directly upfield. Banks(-1) gets rudely escorted out of the play like he's Kovacs, providing a ton of room the LBs can't shut down. Ezeh does force it back, where Kovacs(+0.5) tackles solidly.
M15 2 5 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Power off tackle Mouton 6
Sagesse(-0.5) gets pushed too far inside; Floyd takes out a blocker as the outside contain, leaving a guy one on one with Mouton and Kovacs coming up to help; Mouton(-0.5) doesn't really take either shoulder of the defender, instead plowing into him and giving the RB a lane to the inside that Kovacs can't close down.
M9 1 G Ace twins 3-3-5 stack Power off tackle Ezeh 9
Ezeh(-2) has a simple job: get the outside shoulder of the lead blocker and let unblocked Mouton pound the guy; he doesn't do it, instead letting the RB outside, where he scores a touchdown. His uncertain waddle to the line is incredibly depressing.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-17, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O36 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Rollout hitch T. Gordon Inc
Leach in for Banks with Roh playing DE. Mouton(+0.5) is blitzing from the backside and is fast enough to make this a problem; coverage(+1) is good enough for the QB to hesitate, then try to hit a drag route late that he ends up turfing. Rogers +0.5, T. Gordon +0.5, Ezeh +0.5.
O36 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run NA Inside zone Leach 20
Martin(+1) shoves his guy back and cuts off any holes in the middle of the play, forcing a cut outside. Leach(-3) is sitting approximately a thousand yards outside, sitting and waiting and watching the bounce here cut up for major yards. He should be there for a free hit, or at least a delay, on the back. Instead we again get a big gainer when the DL set the LBs up for a zero-yard run. Kovacs(+3) comes in from the side, strips the ball out, and recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 14-17, 50 seconds 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Ezeh 6
So in the 3-3-5 the job of the MLB is to make the NT right, which means when he closes off one A gap (between a C and G) you close off the other. Martin(+1) blasts the C back and cuts off one A gap; Ezeh(-1) flows into the same gap instead of shooting into the huge gap in the line on the other side of the center created because of Martin's disruption. This allows a G to come off and harass him and allows the RB to cut back. Banks and Kovacs are doing a meh job, standing up but not making any headway, and there's a TE out there to block Mouton. Mouton scrapes over; RB jukes out, Mouton cuts it off; Floyd's corner support does the exact same thing, meaning both guys head outside for a bit, providing a crease; Floyd and Kovacs tackle, but not before the RB plows for six. -0.5 Floyd, -0.5 Kovacs, though Kovacs's minus is simply because he's leetle.
O32 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide bunch Base 4-4 Pass 4 Out ? Inc
Roh hops down to the line and C. Gordon comes up in the box as a fourth linebacker. Simple out is open for the first (cover -1) but dropped. Pressure was getting there.
O32 3 4 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Out Floyd 16
Confusion from Roh as he flops over to the other side of the line only for Ezeh to point him back where he used to be. Doesn't really matter since six guys are rushing and Martin dropping off into one of those screen-destroyer zones; another quick out at the sticks is thrown, with Floyd making a great break on the ball but whiffing (cover -1), yielding a tackle and some YAC. Kovacs(-1) misses an open field tackle(-1); Martin is the guy who tracks him down. Actually, I won't minus Floyd here since he did deflect the ball and the receiver was just lucky it bounced off his facemask and into his chest.
O48 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run NA Inside zone Ezeh 4
Zone read look from UMass. Ezeh(-1) has another one of those plays where he just sits exactly where he is and eats a blocker as the line flows down, leaving absolutely nowhere for the RB to go (+0.5 Martin, Roh). T. Gordon(+0.5) maintains contain and then crashes down after the handoff, tackling the RB from behind as he passes the LOS.
M48 2 6 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Inside zone Martin -3
Martin(+3) blasts through the line into the path of the RB, tackling for loss by himself. Banks(+0.5) had also fought through a block and was there to help if Martin couldn't get the job done himself.
O49 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Stack rush Pass 5 Out Mouton Inc
Mouton(+0.5) gets a free run on a Michigan blitz, with Martin again dropping out (RPS +1, pressure +1). This forces an errant throw, though it's depressing how open this is in front of Floyd(-1, cover -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-17, 10 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-3-ish Run RVB Off tackle Ezeh 4
Michigan slants, leaving Ezeh(-0.5) alone with a motioning TE. He takes the wrong shoulder of the defender, leaving a big gap between himself and Gordon, who's set up outside the slot receiver; Cam(+1) fills quickly and makes a good open field tackle to hold it down(tackling +1)
O34 2 6 Ace trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks PA draw Kovacs -2
Martin(+0.5) shucks the C to the ground and gets in on the G; RVB(+0.5) and Banks(+0.5) also do good jobs of driving into the backfield without vacating lanes. RB has to cut outside, where Kovacs(+2) reads the play, shoots the gap, and tackles(+1) behind the LOS, albeit a tiny bit shakily. He is a good linebacker. He should play middle linebacker. I am not kidding.
O32 3 8 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel rush Pass 4 Drag Leach 9
Leach(-1) and Ezeh drop super deep, leaving this simple drag route open for the first (cover -1)
O41 1 10 I-Form 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Quick pitch Floyd 8
No idea what Floyd(-1) is keying on but his run read is way late given the single receiver to his side is obviously blocking from the snap. Kovacs(-0.5) also could have read this faster.
O49 2 2 Shotgun twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run NA Inside zone Roh 1
Roh(+2) slants into the backfield into the path of the runner and tackles at the LOS. Since he gets no help from the LBs the RB can fall forward near the sticks.
50 3 1 I-form big 3-3-5 stack Pass NA Waggle out Rogers 9
Michigan in man, biting on the fake. (RPS-1) Open in front of Rogers(-1, cover -1) and UMass converts. RVB charging down the QB, but for naught.
M41 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Base 4-4 Run Banks Power off tackle Banks 5
Banks(-1) doubled and blown too far back this time. Ezeh(-0.5) sits and eats another block; Patterson(+0.5) does an admirable job to eventually fight through his block and make an ankle tackle as the RB slashes past the LOS.
M36 2 5 Ace 3-wide Base 4-4 Pass NA Waggle hitch ? 8
An absolute ton of time (pressure -2, RPS -1) as Michigan is slanting towards a run play and needs Mouton/Kovacs in coverage (cover +1), which they do well. Havens comes off those two guys, finding a third open for the first in front of Ezeh. No blame there; just too long.
M28 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Power off tackle Fitzgerald 0
Fitz in for Roh. Not sure about this play since it looks like an off tackle play with a backside guard pulling but the RB's angle is kind of directly upfield. Maybe a bust by the RB. Anyway, Fitzgerald(+2) is being blocked down by the TE but gets in the gap, picking off the pulling lineman and causing the RB to try to bounce outside; he can't because Fitzgerald throws him to the ground. Possibly the best play by a LB all day?
M28 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Seam T. Gordon Inc
Michigan sends six and does not get there (pressure -2); T. Gordon is in man on the slot receiver and his man gets a step (cover -1); ball is low and tough to dig out and not dug out. Probably a TD if accurate.
M28 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel rush Pass 5 Tunnel screen 0
Man to man, tight man, and Rogers(+1, cover +1, RPS+1) is right there for the tackle. Maybe some credit to Martin(+0.5) for harassing the QB and forcing a suboptimal throw? Sure.
M28 4 10 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel rush Pass 6 TE corner Mouton 13
Five or six sent; not sure WTF Mouton is doing. He chips the TE and then starts moving inside, which is weird since that means there's no contain to the short side of the field, where the QB rolls and finds the TE, who's broken just in front of Kovacs in man coverage. (Pressure -2, RPS -1) Anyone with a theory as to what Mouton's assignment is here please inform. Man cover on the RB?
M15 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 3-3-5 stack Run NA Inside zone Ezeh 9
RB makes a quick cut to the backside as Martin cuts off the playside A gap. Mouton attempts to funnel the RB to help, which is Ezeh(-1), who stepped to the wrong side of the play and had to leap a cut block and is late. A desperate ankle tackle from Kovacs(+0.5) prevents a TD. Please tell me if I'm right and Ezeh is insane or not here.
M6 2 1 I-Form Big 3-3-5 stack Run RVB Iso Ezeh -1
Martin(+1) pounds the center back, allowing Ezeh(+1) a lane he takes, shooting up between the C and G and pounding the fullback. No room, RB slides along the line, meeting RVB(+0.5) for no gain.
M7 3 2 I-Form big 3-3-5 stack Pass Waggle scramble Kovacs 7
Kovacs(-2) bites like a mother on the run fake, opening up the corner wide enough for Havens to stroll in. Mouton(-1) also bit, and then passed up a chance to pound the guy at the two.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 35-24, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Ace Base 4-3-ish Pass 3 Deep hitch Floyd 19
Just bad luck and bad refereeing here. Play action sees RVB and Martin through the line, with Martin(+0.5) recovering in time to force a throw(pressure +1) that Floyd(+1, cover +1) deflects. Receiver steps OOB, is STILL OOB when he touches the ball, and somehow gets credit for a completion.
O46 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE Base 4-3-ish Run NA Inside zone Ezeh 4
I am really, really frustrated with Ezeh(-1) at this point. Here he is totally unblocked but just sits on his ass the whole play instead of hitting it up in a gap that opens behind RVB and in front of Roh. RB goes through a gap, Ezeh tackles, but it's four yards instead of zero.
50 2 6 Ace Base 4-3-ish Pass Waggle hitch Rogers 15
No pressure (RPS-1, pressure -2) and all day for Havens to hit his receiver in front of Rogers(-1, cover -1)
M35 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run NA Inside zone Martin 0
Martin(+1) blasts the C back and sheds to the playside, forcing a cutback. RVB(+0.5) got inside the pulling WR block and forces the RB into Mouton(+1), who zipped past a blocker. The trio tackles for nothing.
M35 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 C. Gordon Int, fumble
Corner blitz from Floyd is picked up; Banks(+0.5) gets enough pressure to force a rollout from havens once his first read is covered by Ezeh(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5, cover +1). As he rolls out he throws it to a drag route still pretty well covered by Ezeh(+0.5 again). Pass is way overthrown and intercepted by Gordon, who runs it back to the 30 and fumbles it because of course.
Drive Notes: Interception, 42-24, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 stack Run Banks Down G Banks 5
Patterson in. Banks(+1) holds up to a double team well enough to occupy two guys and get Mouton in clean on the tailback; he hits him, so does Kovacs, and there are like five M guys and three UMass guys as this tailback just drags a pile five yards. I'm not minusing anyone because who do you minus? Impressive by UMass; kind of depressing for M.
M21 2 5 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 5 Slant Floyd Inc
Fake six, drop Ezeh into short zone, open up slant in man from Floyd(-0.5, cover -1) that is behind the WR and dropped.
M21 3 5 Ace Nickel rush Run NA Down G Martin 2
Martin(+2) shoves back the C, refuses to get sealed, fights off a hold, and runs down the tailback for nothing. Ezeh and Mouton were around but not needed.
M19 4 3 Shotgun 3-wide bunch Nickel rush Pass 4 TE out Leach 4
Wide open; totally lame coverage from Leach(-1, cover -1, RPS-1)
M15 1 10 Ace trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Run RVB PA draw Ezeh 6
Ezeh(-0.5) drawn out of position by the fake; RVB(-0.5) rushes upfield after the passer and vacates the lane.
M9 2 4 Shotgun twins twin TE Base 4-3-ish Run Banks Inside zone Ezeh 8
More zone read action. M slants the line again and totally destroys the play, with Martin and Roh ready to obliterate; Ezeh(-2) ran himself way to the frontside of the play, got sealed, and there's no one back there. T. Gordon blitzed at the QB, opening up a lane, too. (RPS -1)
M1 1 G Goal line Goal line Penalty False Start ? -5
M6 1 G Ace twins Base 4-3-ish Run NA Inside zone Martin 0
Martin(+2) flashes into the backfield impossibly quick and almost has a five-yard TFL but a last-second shove from an OL causes him to miss the tackle. Still, he's destroyed the play and Michigan just has to clean up. Ezeh(-1) overruns a stationary RB and Gordon has to clean up at the LOS.
M5 2 G Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 6 Waggle cross C. Gordon 5
Man coverage as Michigan is going heavy after the run; Cam Gordon(-1) is beaten easily by the WR, opening up an easy TD (RPS -1, cover -1)
M3 2pt 2pt Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Improv Kovacs Int
Drop eight, covering everyone(+1) for the first read, at which point the QB starts scrambling because of good pressure from RVB(+0.5, pressure +1). He rolls out, finds no one, and chucks a hopeless pass back across the field that Kovacs(+0.5) picks off.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2pt failed), 42-30, 5 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Ace 3-3-5 stack Pass NA RB scramble ? 5
They try a halfback pass but it's covered(+1). RB decides to scramble and picks up five. Not charting this one too harshly since this is such an outlier of a play.
M20 2 5 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 stack Pass 3 Out Rogers 7
Martin(+1) rips through the line instantly (pressure +1) on the roll but the soft corner (Rogers) opens up the little out for the first. (Cover -1)
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Dumpoff ? 6
Good coverage(+1) downfield forces a checkdown as Banks is collapsing the pocket; Ezeh tackles immediately.
M7 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 7 Fade Rogers Inc (Pen +5)
Michigan sends the house and gets there(Pressure +1) so the QB chucks one off his back foot that's too long; Rogers(-1, cover -1) is called for PI. Weak call, but they all are.
M2 1 G Goal line Goal line Pass 2 PA flare Kovacs 2 (Pen -5)
Kovacs(-1) overruns the play and the RB cuts past him into the endzone. This ceases to exist because of a false start but no one knew it when he scored.
M7 1 G Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 stack Pass 7 TE corner Mouton 7
Mouton(-2, cover -2) doesn't bother to cover the TE.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 42-37, 2 min 4th Q. M gets the onside kick and runs out the clock.

Down or across?


Should I cut down or across with the razor? The former is just a cry for help, the latter is srsly.

Maybe on the diagonal?


Yeah, okay… chart?


If you'd like an answer to "what if Brandon Graham played every snap against Delaware State like his life depended on it," here you go:

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 5 1.5 3.5 Lots of half points for doing decently on run plays.
Martin 25 - 25 I just write the numbers down! More on this later.
Banks 6 4 2 Not great but not the big problem.
Sagesse - 0.5 -0.5 Very few snaps.
Patterson 0.5 1 -0.5 Not exactly Martin but seems okay.
Black - - - Did play, didn't record anything.
TOTAL 36.5 7 29.5 Hulk smash.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 4.5 12.5 -8 Hopeless.
Mouton 7 10.5 -3.5 Reversion.
Roh 7.5 4.5 3 Okay, not great.
Johnson - - - DNP.
T. Gordon 3 0.5 2.5 Doing okay.
Leach - 8.5 -8.5 Extremely poor performance spotting Gordon and acting as a passing down LB
Moundros - 2 -2 Poor on single series.
Herron - - - DNP
Fitzgerald 2 - 2 +2 play may have been in error but it worked.
TOTAL 24 38.5 -14.5 What the hell happened? This was +21 last week against ND!
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 2.5 8.5 -6 Major issues in run support..
Rogers 2.5 5.5 -3 Guys were open in front of him consistently.
Kovacs 7.5 5.5 2 Michigan's best linebacker.
C. Gordon 1 2 -1 Not tested much.
Talbott - - - DNP
Christian - - - DNP
M. Robinson - - - DNP
Ray Vinopal - - - DNP
TOTAL 13.5 21.5 -8 Corners were exploited for the first time.
Pressure 12 9 3 Pretty mediocre.
Coverage 12 19 -7 Scary against a I-AA team
Tackling 3 5 -2 Dodgy.
RPS 1 11 -10 GERG fail.

[A reminder: 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.]

What didn't go wrong?

Mike Martin.

First a word on that number: holy pants. I don't even know if I can stand by that but what I saw is Martin either occupying two blockers or obliterating the blocking concept on almost every play. He tore into the backfield for +3 TFLs twice and got a a pair of +2 near TFLs. He was completely un-containable, and the number is just this side of literally incredible because what would happen if a ridiculously good player happened to be on a terrible defense that kept him on the field the whole game and saw the opponent put together multiple grinding drives on which to rack up points by destroying run concepts only to see the confused ducks behind you clack heads and fall over?

He would get a damn lot of points, is what. That's a UFR record.

Also, I went into the UFR after watching UMass go at Banks and Kovacs all day to good success and thought I would end up with big negatives for at least one of those two guys. I didn't. Neither exactly covered themselves in glory but both ended up on the positive side of the ledger, and on this day that makes you immune from criticism. RVB had a solid day. You'd like to see him do better than that against a I-AA team but he was not tested much what with all the running at Banks. For the record, I have ten rushes at RVB for 2.1 a carry and 18 at Banks for 4 a carry, so the intuition wasn't wrong: UMass ran at Banks a lot and did better than they did when they ran at RVB, but the defensive ends weren't involved in the big gainers much.

And that is all.

I trusted you! Linebacker GERG fairy theory! I HATE YOU

Yeah, man, hell if I know. A week after racking up thirteen tackles and getting talked up by the NFL risers and sliders guy, Mouton forgot seemingly everything he'd learned over the offseason, repeatedly getting lost. Ezeh, meanwhile, is back to that thing where he stands around until someone blocks him, whereupon he starts moving backwards and maybe falls over to make an ankle tackle:

And then:

And then:

At this point it's almost hopeless. What are the chances Obi Ezeh learns how to be a linebacker in the last ten games of his career if he's still making incredibly basic mistakes like that after starting for three years? This has nothing to do with scheme. This is basic play recognition/ability to remember how to make your legs go.

Mouton's mistakes, too, are things common to every defense like "don't let the tailback outside of you when you are a force defender," but at least he makes some plays to help with his deficiencies. The ugly fate foretold by the "Mark Moundros could start" preseason meme appears to be coming true.

Here is where I take up the shield of someone who knows what he's talking about to forestall the inevitable complaints that I'm not being very nice and we should really give Boubacar Cissoko a chance before declaring him not good at football: this is an opinion shared by former M LB Ron Simpkins, whose latest interview with Rivals($) has the word "inexcusable" in the title in re: linebacker play and is even less kind behind the paywall. These seniors are not good at football.

What are they so indecisive?

So I think what the coaches mean by "this is not a stack" is that in a stack everyone has a gap. The line will slant one way and from a combination of blitzes and other attacking bits all the non-DL gaps get filled. Usually the OLBs and DEs will have specific B and C gaps depending on the slant; the goal is to kick runs out to the spur and bandit or just fill your gap and tackle there. The MLB's read depends on the NT. The NT has to take a double, and then he has to slant into a gap, and the MLB has to figure out which gap he's covered and attack the other one.

Here's Ezeh not doing that even a little bit on a counter:

Ezeh does not key off Martin or he'd shoot the gap in the backside after Martin closes off the frontside A gap. He reads the running back, steps to the wrong side of the play, does not take the opportunity to shoot in a gap for a TFL, and allows the back to run up the backside of a bunch of blockers for decent yardage. He did this all day. He does not have a gap, he has to figure out what's going on and then try to close it down, usually with poo results of poo.

Why isn't it a stack?

Don't know. I think it should be because anything that gets Ezeh moving forward is good. Especially when you've got Martin, an incredibly active NT who is going to be able to close off big gaps frequently, I'd rather have Ezeh shoot gaps and get guys in the backfield or at the line than rely on all this reading business that the linebackers suck at and ends up bleeding the kind of yards UMass had on the ground last week. My complaint here is they didn't go far enough.

What can we do?

The worst part is that when Michigan got tired of Ezeh they put in Moundros for a series and Moundros proceeded to do the exact same things, except in his case it's obvious why: he was a fullback last year. He's no substitute, and he's the #2 guy on the depth chart! JB Fitzgerald and Kenny Demens: where are you? You are nowhere.

Everyone's got their crackpot theories of how to fix the defense with random positions switches or, in the case of a couple dedicated caterwaulers, overhauling the scheme to be more of a 4-3 to take an extra defensive back off the field, which makes zero sense because Michigan's 4-3 would have the exact same personnel as last year's 4-3 and this year's 3-3-5. None of that is going to do anything, and Will Campbell is not a useful football player right now.

My suggestion is going to sound utterly ludicrous but here it is anyway: replace Ezeh with Kovacs and bring Marvin Robinson in. This is nuts, I know. Kovacs is a leprechaun-sized walk-on. But I go back to the stack DVD Casteel put out back in the day. In it he made two things clear: the NT is by far the most important player in the defense and makes things go (check), and the middle linebacker can be spectacularly undersized as long as he is a heady, instinctive player who can put a hat on the right shoulder of the right guy at the LOS after "making the nose tackle right". Casteel specifically says that the player they had the previous year was 190 pounds. Raise your hand if you'd take West Virginia's 2002 defense right now. That's everyone.

I mean, Kovacs does this:

He is a decisive slasher. Mike Martin is peeling the faces off of people right now and Kovacs will have free runs to the ball plenty. It won't be good, lord knows, but it almost can't be worse.

Enormous secondary minus?

Part of that was the return of rollout doom reminiscent of that Toledo game. Midnight Maize tallied up the results of those:

  • Out of 11 Roll Outs or Moved Pockets UMASS hit on 8 of them. Two were good Michigan defense and one was a UMASS holding call.
  • UMASS gained 87 yards on Roll outs
  • James Rogers was to blame for 5 of them.

This is also a major source of the crappy RPS metric; Michigan had no effective response to these all day, though that may be due to the fact they couldn't consistently stop a I-AA team's running game.

Not sure what to do about that since M is in cover three a lot and the cornerbacks are so weak they have to play soft, basically. Floyd did make a few plays on the ball, though he had the misfortune to see two deflect to his receiver anyway; Rogers was not going to challenge anything. I might do more edge blitzing against QBs who can throw on the move, and though Rogers hasn't been a huge liability it might be time to start seeing some of the freshmen work in.


Mouton and Ezeh primarily with assists from the corners. Especially Ezeh. Also Kevin Leach managed some impressive minuses in a brief window. Missing Herron and Jones is hurting; where is Hawthorne?


Mike Martin a thousand times. Not exactly heroes but okay: the Gordons, Kovacs, the DEs.

What does it mean for Bowling Green and the future?

It means the linebackers are going to either revert back to their decent form of the first couple weeks or it's happy-happy walk-on time again, at which point they'll basically play like the starters and we'll get a rotation and everyone's brains will explode. I do think this game was a perfect storm of crappy play by Michigan and excellent execution by UMass and that there will be a couple Big Ten teams that get Denarded this year and fill their message boards with threads like "but UMass scored 37, fire everyone!" Michigan did not see that level of offensive execution from their first two opponents and it's hard to picture some of these upcoming Big Ten foes matching it what with their freshman quarterbacks and stapled-together run games.

But, really: it's time to replace Ezeh once and for all, except they can't. Mouton will turn in up and down games but as long as Ezeh is on the field Michigan is going to get gashed, nice guy though he may be. Who do you do that with, though? Michigan's inability to see the enormous problem mounting here and have four kids shoehorned into the position who aren't former walk-ons is a failing on par with starting Sheridan over Threet. Fitzgerald and Demens should have been backing Ezeh all year; their failure to develop, and Michigan's failure to acquire and keep any reasonable linebacker sorts in the last three years, is killing the defense.

QB pressure does remain an issue, though against passing teams Michigan has used a series of blitzes that get free guys in because you have to deal with Mike Martin before outside threats. Play action and rollouts will be issues; passing downs will be okay if they can just get some zone drops.



September 22nd, 2010 at 5:41 PM ^

It's interesting that he did so well even though it was perceived (by me as well) that he might score low. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that he was properly positioned in so many plays, but was let down by the contain support from other players. Also speaks to how often he was around the ball. The guy flies around the field, especially given his relative slowness, which I've always associated with the speedy OLB / SS players like Polamalu.

Kovacs is rapidly becoming my favorite player on this defense.

The Harbaughnger

September 22nd, 2010 at 4:42 PM ^

...Ezeh looks to me like he's trying to avoid collisions, which might be causing the hesitation.

He just doesn't have the mindset to go blow up his blocker to keep separation.

He also drops his head a lot when he's bracing for hits and that's candy to a lineman- it basically takes away all your ability to fight off the block...

Just doesn't look like he's hungry to hit- which is a big part of a LB's job no matter what the scheme.


September 22nd, 2010 at 5:15 PM ^

My thought exactly!  Its almost like he's too nice of a guy to play MLB (as if being a nice guy makes a difference).  That position is the one position (and safety too, I guess) with guys most famous for being a little crazy (Ray Lewis, Mike Singletary, Brian Urlacher, etc.).  I just don't think Ezeh has enough fire in his eyes for the position.  But this is coming from a 5-9, 175 pounder so what the heck do I know!?


September 22nd, 2010 at 4:43 PM ^

Good stuff, Brian.

Lot of freshmen and youngsters on D, getting used to being the BOMB after two great emotional wins. Color me not stunned that they struggled in an obvious let down game. Wrong team to do that too since UMass is better on offense with what they want to do than half of the FBS.

Based on his first two games, I am fine with Mouton. I share everyone else's frustration with Ezeh.

Bottom line, you trained me on the podcasts on the concept of 'competition invariant'.......are we not thinking the same thing this year? I am? The D played well enough the first two games that we can beat anybody. They played poorly in Game 3 where we could lose to anybody.

Sounds like the summer diagnosis of this D to a T.  Give the kids time, we're already looking better than a year ago, just based on getting takeaways alone.



September 22nd, 2010 at 4:53 PM ^

Props to Brathwaite - two red shirt freshman and Kovacs are playing well.  Carvin seemed to be doing well in the 2 series he had.

Ezeh being Ezeh I don't think can be blamed on GERG and there seem to be guys in position to MAKE PLAYS a lot, they are just not getting it done.

Floyd's tackling is horrible.  Keep you head up and keep you feet!  duck & dive is not what they are teaching you (ditto for Christian).  

Theory:  Mike Jones and Herron getting hurt has really cramped the play-calling and killed a lot of scheme we had last week.  Obvs Ezeh needs to drink about a pot of coffee before games, but I think Herron would have wrecked some fools last week.

contra mundum

September 22nd, 2010 at 4:52 PM ^

Let me say this about the DB's vs. the waggle. If your contain people don't keep the QB somewhere close to the pocket, then the angle at which you normally have a receiver covered changes dramatically.


For instance, if Mouton (who in my opinion cleary has contain on the 4th down play) does his job, he keeps the QB in the pocket and the angle of throw is much, much harder as Kovacs has his man pretty well covered..but if the QB breaks contain, the throw is much easier because of the angle.

Look at replays of when we successfully stopped the waggle pass..you'll probably see we had some pressure on the passer.


September 22nd, 2010 at 4:54 PM ^

The logic that next year's linebackers will be worse because they can't beat out this year's linebackers is obviously faulty.  If that were the case, then all of college football would see a monotonic deterioration in quality punctuated by freshman playing and excelling.  Yes, you can infer that the backups can't beat out the starters this year.  But, what you can't infer is that they will not be better than this year's starters next year. 


September 22nd, 2010 at 5:52 PM ^

Lower than normal plus for a TFL because Ezeh had it easy on the stumble.

His uncertain waddle to the line is incredibly depressing.

Here he is totally unblocked but just sits on his ass the whole play instead of hitting it up in a gap



Zone Left

September 22nd, 2010 at 5:06 PM ^

I really wish Campbell was ready to play.  A middle two composed of him eating blockers like so many pre--Barwis pizzas and Martin slashing into the backfield like he does all the time would completely change how teams played Michigan's defense.  Strength up the middle is extremely difficult to defend, and basically ruins most game plans.


September 22nd, 2010 at 5:17 PM ^

See you stopped taking your antidepressants again...that is more like it.  

I agree with the Kovacs and Mrob thing.  Mrob would at least add speed, and he can't be the disaster Ezeh is...can he?  Kovacs is many things, but he is at least smart.  He is unlikely to make really stupid plays.  

Here is the scary part...if none of these guys step up...our LB corps could be worse next year.


September 22nd, 2010 at 5:29 PM ^

roh reminds me a lot of this former bronco LB/DE.  they used to move him around to different positions in any given year; even during games.  i would like to possibly see roh replace ezeh and black take roh's spot.  my only concern is that these guys are so damn young.  could they make more mistakes than ezeh?  doubt it.  but i guarantee they would make a hellava lot more plays.  i think making this move during BG and IU weeks might work.

i like kovacs as a tackler (probably best on team in open field) but am afraid he would get lost in the crowd at mlb.


September 22nd, 2010 at 5:34 PM ^

M defense gave up 15 plays of 10 yards or more, which is like, disgusting.  The play of Obi Ezeh and the lack of development of guys like Demens, and Fitzgerald really have me worrying about the coaching at that position.  Robinson is not the answer and I think we should look for a linebackers coach after this season for sure.  I like Brian's idea of moving Kovacs replace Ezeh, I think Kovacs would make a lot better reads and is much better at tackling.  Ezeh had so much promise, it's sad at how he has never improved and that he will leave the University of Michigan with a player bio that should read, "Very nice guy, enjoyed getting blocked too much."  Kellen Jones is a big pick up in our current class, I think Jones is going to be the closest thing we have had to David Harris in some time.

J. Lichty

September 23rd, 2010 at 12:58 AM ^

While he is a good tackler and does a good job of closing and shooting gaps.  I think his shedding and scaping abilities would dq him from that role.  He is just too small to be taking on the beef he will see as an MLB, even if his sideline to sideline speed is probably adequate given his smarts, but that is a marginal call - and certainly we have seen his limitations in pass coverage.

There have been some successful undersized, and/or slowish MLBs, but I think Kovacs is much better suited as a box safety (ahere he is at) or hybrid than as an MLB.

When I think of successful undersized MLB's I think of Nguyen who used to play for Texas A and M and the Cowboys, but he weighed a lot more than Kovacs and was much quicker.

Kovacs does bring probably the best football sense on that defense to table, but I just think his physical limitations


September 22nd, 2010 at 5:37 PM ^

Can someone talk me down a little on this subject? Because our offense is already next-year good. But if our D is going to be this year bad. . . I was convinced that we could buy RichRod one year, but two?

I thought GERG called a pretty good game against ND, but the inferences from UMASS from people in the know (see above, see the DetNews) seem to be otherwise. . .

Space Coyote

September 22nd, 2010 at 6:57 PM ^

And am going to seem very argumentative, but Brian, you seem to want our LBs to do everything.  You seem to want them to get up field as soon as they see a running back move a direction, but you also want them to read and react and find where the RB is going.  LBs should read and react, you've been calling for Ezeh to just shoot gaps for a while now, and now that he is kind of doing that, you blast him.

Look, our LBs aren't good, but some of the examples you show are pretty poor.

I trusted you! Linebacker GERG fairy theory! I HATE YOU

Play 1: Ezeh is lined up to the two TE side.  We bitch bitch bitch about our LBs being terrible on play action TE coverage.  Guess what, Ezeh is responsible for one of those TEs.  He is also responsible for the counter that we bitch bitch bitch about.  If the backside guard sweeps around and Ezeh isn't there, guess what, it's six.  Ezeh should have noted the depth of the offensive line and started reacting up field, he's not perfect here, but he's playing his responsibilities, and there is a free player there to make the play.  At best Obi should be one yard closer to the line.

Play 2: Obi has to force that back inside, yes, but look at the size of that hole.  That's not all on Obi because he can't tackle everything in a 10 yard area while taking on a blocker.  He does need to get better position and anchor to force back to Mouton, but you can't put this all on him.

Play 3: Obi reads offensive line flow and RB, Mouton preferably makes the RB cut a bit more as Kovacs has the outside help.  If a O-lineman doesn't randomly fall at Obi's feet he's in perfect position to make the play.  This was kind of a freak play.

Also, you said something along the lines of a LB in stack only has gap responsibility.  This is false, they have two gaps, depending on the direction of the run.  On the play you highlight (14) Obi reads lineman flow and initial RB step.  Martin fills A gap, Obi B gap, DE C gap, and so on.  Obi also has A-gap responsibility to the side the run ends up going.

 The LBs then read counter late.  Mouton should just fill the backside gap as he was originally attacking rather than shooting outside.  We now have 4 guys essentially being blocked by 2 offensive players.  Obi should then shadow the RB, as he does, and be able to make the play.  Preferably Martin wouldn't allow the double team to release for a perfect angle at Obi.  You complain about Obi not attacking though, now he attacks, and sets himself up for an easy combo block.  Roh and Gordan (I think) both get pushed off the ball and the RB squeaks through.  Obi actually does a really nice job beating the combo block and getting back to his gap responsibility.  It's the lineman and LBs at the point of attack toward play side that get pushed out.  Obi does a good job flowing to action and making a play.

Again, not all the stuff they are doing is perfect, I agree.  The biggest problem is between the LBs and line being inconsistent in their responsibilities.  This appears to highlight Obi even when he shouldn't be.  Obi isn't the most gifted at naturally reading plays, and obviously he was doing a lot of thinking rather than reacting out there, you can tell by the way he's playing.  That comes from not being prepared.  It should be better going forward, though this isn't all on him here.

I guess what frustrates me most is that it seems you want Obi to be and do everything.  You want him to wait and react, and attack, and be in on every tackle.  Obi isn't David Harris, we get that, but Obi is facing a lot of blockers, and was obviously not prepared for that game.  His teammates were in the same position, but it's harder to highlight those responsibilities when you don't play MLB, and it makes it a lot easier to see "miscues" when you are the MLB, even when they aren't necessarily on the MLB.

Alright, I've basically written a diary here defending Obi.  I know I'm going way against the grain here, and admit myself Obi isn't playing well, though I think he is at least average and the pieces around him are failing him and really not saving him whenever he does make a mistake.  I guess I'll end my rant here, because most of you will think "what you "just said, is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard.  At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought.  Everyone on this [board] is now dumber for having [read] it.  I reward me no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."



September 22nd, 2010 at 7:28 PM ^

Martin is getting +1 for "near tackles for loss", and linemen get praise for occupying blockers, but if a linebacker occupies a blocker, so someone else can make a play "he's being blocked". (The U-Conn goal line fumble comes to mind). What happens behind the line is an obvious positive. But if it's 3rd and 14 and it's the job to not give up a first down, so you don't let yourself get beat, and give up 8, that's going to be negative, or break even, or at best a minor plus. When the goal is to not give up 14, and get the ball back. But there doesn't seem to be much Differentiation between giving up 1 on 1st down, or 15 on 3rd and 20. Equalizing field position, which result would you rather have?


September 22nd, 2010 at 7:37 PM ^

On the counters, what is Ezeh supposed to do (I'm genuinely asking)? In clip 14, it appears his responsibility is to the gap off Martin's right shoulder. If he maintains that gap he certainly doesn't get to the RB, so when he sees it's a counter he makes a move the other way. I guess I tend to agree with Larsonlo (on the counters) but don't trust my analysis.

Deep Under Cover

September 22nd, 2010 at 8:06 PM ^

I think to say Ezeh is playing at an average level is giving him far too much credit.  We put tackling on the LBs because that is their role in most defensive schemes.  If your DL can make a play, great, but their job is first to stuff gaps and open the linebackers up to make a play.  

In the first play we can clearly read run the whole way.  If Ezeh comes up to fill a gap he eliminates the cutback and that play is made at the line.  What does he do though?  Shuffle around a bit and catch a lineman as he prances out to block him.  The other linebackers are at least reacting to the play... There is no reason Ezeh should be making contact with a lineman 5 yards downfield on a run like this.

The second play he reacts fine, but when you are covering a hole that big you want to squeeze it back toward your help.  I think what bugs me most is how he seems to brace for the oncoming lineman.  It almost looks like the lineman lets up because he feels bad...  I admit this play was pretty much F'ed from the start with a hole that size, though.

Third play, all I have to say is if that lineman doesn't fall at Ezeh's feet then he is blocking Ezeh well out of the play.  He has perfect position on him.  Even still, Ezeh is STILL just shuffling around after he recognizes the play.  He is just too slow to make a move.

None of our LBs looked particularly good, but my biggest thing is I would rather you make a mistake being aggressive than a mistake sitting on your ass.  Mouton is aggressive, Obi is soft.

steve sharik

September 23rd, 2010 at 12:37 AM ^

...to pick apart your post point by point, but let me just say that I disagree with a lot of what you're saying.  I think Brian is much closer to the truth than you are when it comes to ILB play in this game.

One main bone to pick I have is you talk about their gap responsibility, keys and reads as if there is only one way to do it.  There isn't, and you have no way of knowing what their rules are.

Long story short, I think Obi is poor at reading, slow to react, and just not a good Mike at this point.

P.S. Kovacs at Mike would be an absolute apocalypse.  Any player who gets pancaked by WRs (UConn) and run over by a true freshman (Stephen Hopkins) on back-to-back plays cannot play Mike.  Period.

Space Coyote

September 23rd, 2010 at 1:11 AM ^

But I have never heard of a defense where a LB has one and only one gap responsibility.  I've never looked at a 3-3-5 and seen that.  Clearly Obi isn't responsible for one gap.  But if he's responsible for 2, then I think I have it right (and to me it appears he's reading RB movement to guard, then shooting the appropriate gap, if the G to Obi's side was pulling to indicate counter and Obi was still making the mistake then I would feel totally different about his abilities, but that's not happening), if he's just reading clear/cloudy, then look at the last video, he attacks clear to what appears to be the inside zone run, if he's reading the triangle, his initial read is correct, it's his slow reaction to the counter (because he is crashing and doesn't have the ability to plant and scrape across).  There are no tip-offs that indicate that that play is going anywhere but to the hole Obi is filling until after the counter step, when Obi slides over into the other "clear" hole.  Either way, it appeared to me that Obi was clearly thinking and not reacting to the plays.

I agree he isn't great at reading and is slow to react, I pretty much said as much in my post.  I don't think it's as bad as Brian is leading on, especially not in the plays mentioned.  I feel like this team wasn't prepared for what they saw.  I also think Obi has trouble going from horizontal movement to lateral movement, or in other words, has trouble on counters because he doesn't transition from shuffle to crash or crash to scrape well.

  Either way, my biggest beef is thatI feel like there is a lot of flip-flopping around here about what people want Obi to do.  The truth of the matter is some people are expecting him just to crash a gap, others are expecting him to read and react, and it should be more in the middle of the two.

Either way I think Obi is the best Mike we have at this point, and I think he is probably an average to slightly below average Big Ten MLB.  

I also didn't get to watch the game live and have yet to see many of the plays.  So there could be a lot Obi was doing terrible in other plays, I haven't broken down the film.  I just think those plays that were given as examples were either not that good of examples, or they were good examples of the grading system being to harsh on Obi, as I don't think any of those plays were particularly terrible (the second video with the huge hole was the worst IME, but yeah).

By the way, the little counter off the inside zone play U-mass was running is the play Michigan should have been running in their Rose Bowls against USC, who crashed particularly hard to flow side every time.  I only saw Michigan run the counter off the zone once, and it went for about 8 yards IIRC.

As far as Kovacs to Mike, I agree 100% with you.  Just because you can crash a run play hard from the safety position doesn't mean it automatically translates to Mike.  And being his size would get him pushed out of every play by interior linemen.


September 22nd, 2010 at 7:03 PM ^

Too long; Too Painful to Read. Had to jump to "charts?". It's not Brian's fault; there were just that many plays against us. Though I am curious if the defensive line did do that well, why we can't get any sacks, and people still run all over us. If the players are playing that well, and that is the strength of our defense, it says our scheme isn't utilizing them in the best way. Having them fill holes and shuttle people to the linebackers rather than attacking might not have been the best way to go.


September 22nd, 2010 at 7:34 PM ^

The only issue with moving Kovacs (and somebody hinted at it) is that he'd have to learn a whole new position in a couple of weeks. Unless he's Albert Einstein in pads, this won't turn out well.*

*Somebody with more knowledge than me: How similar is the Bandit/LB positions in the 3-3-5 Unstacked?*

I think you have to seriously look at anybody and everybody who can play LB. This could be a pretty damn good team (and a contender next year) if we can find LBs and Martin returns.

Give Fitzy a shot. Or Demens. Or Roh and move Mouton inside. Whoever has worked with the LBs gets to play against BGSU on Saturday.


September 22nd, 2010 at 8:52 PM ^

I'm still struggling to believe the same 11 players can defend any offensive set.  Nickel and Dime have been used with success for years by just about every team in the country but Peyton Manning taught GERG you should never substitute.  It just seems crazy to me.


September 22nd, 2010 at 9:00 PM ^

not sure WTF Mouton is doing

Was wondering that myself while re-watching the game.   He jumps inside for some reason, although he was lined up as if he was going to rush the QB.   On top of that he got off to a painfully slow jump off the ball.

Only thing I can think of is what Brian thought of, he had the RB?  Leach was blitzing in, the RB stayed in to pick up Leach, so I would have thought Mouton would have just tried to progress to rush the QB from the outside shoulder of the OT.

Watching again - could this been some sort of DL stunt?  Probably not since who would have had contain then?  Magnus or Steve Sharik care to expound on this topic?

steve sharik

September 23rd, 2010 at 12:57 AM ^

It looks like a 6-man pressure with man-free behind it. 

I believe Jonas was lined up way too far off the line, first of all.  Second, I think he's supposed to blitz off the edge.  The RB is assigned to the blitzing LBs.  If the RB flares to either side, the edge blitzer is to hug him up and/or peel off and run with him.  If the RB tries to slip underneath into a checkdown, he should be jacked by a DL or blitzing ILB.  If not, then one of those defenders is free and there is little chance a QB could throw over a free blitzer to a checkdown directly behind them.

I believe Jonas was confused and thought he had the RB whereever he went instead of only if he flared to his side.  If Jonas lined up on the LOS and blitzed off the edge, he would've had a kill shot on the QB (he and Roh).

As an aside, Kovacs should've kept this as an incompletion even with the MA by Jonas.  It's man-free and his man (TE) is aligned inside the divider (1 yard inside the #s).  Therefore, Kovacs should have outside leverage and funnel any inside route toward the FS (in this case JT).  Instead, Kovacs plays inside leverage, gives up the outside where he has no help, and allows a first down completion on 4th and fucking 9 against a FCS school.


September 22nd, 2010 at 9:03 PM ^

wow brian, do the coaches go through film like this?  To me i can make those plays, and im 177lbs.  So frusturating watching those films, seeing Martin rip off the double team.  No MLB insight to get a TFL.  If im Gerg im showing these LB's this over and over again.  Stop reading the play, or watching the backfield.  Shoot the gap. Bottoms up, here's to our boys getting it right this week! Love to see them shut em out! I will buy Cabo tequilla for all!


September 22nd, 2010 at 9:21 PM ^

coaches do go through films like this except that it's much more detailed than the one on tv.  They have their own gamefilms which shows the whole 11 guys on each side on the field.  You can see the coverage, what routes the WRs/TEs are running and the QB's progression reads(generally you can make out what he's looking at).  On tv like Brian have has limited view of the field and you can't see everything going on on the field.

Pibby Scott

September 23rd, 2010 at 12:30 PM ^

here and spoil the fantasy train....but these are the most cringe inducing fan moments....when, from the comfort of their living room sofa they proudly declare, I COULD EVEN MAKE THAT PLAY


yes, Billy, I'm absolutely certain you could!


I mean, who is to doubt the veracity of your imagination?


September 22nd, 2010 at 9:08 PM ^

I've suggested it as well.  He's probably too small for LB this season,  but seems his best trait is run support.   He's only a RS soph, so he's got 2 more years.  Let him Barwis-ize and put on extra muscle, he'll make a great LB.   

People have complained that he's too slow for safety, so OK, add muscle and move down to LB.   Why not?



September 22nd, 2010 at 9:20 PM ^

I'm taking the stance that Roh, Mouton and a few others simply had a bad game due to a lack of focus in practice.  Sadly, Ezeh is just occupying space and I'll simply pray for 0s on his future UFRs.


September 22nd, 2010 at 9:53 PM ^

Well I coach 8th grade and we had the exact same problem with our linebackers. We had some big boys (3 kids @ almost 200 pounds) who were receiving running backs like a catcher's mitt. We totally tore down the defensive scheme we were doing. We put one at the defensive end position and sent him every time. It forced him to be aggressive. His first game at defensive end he recorded 3 sacks. Then we brought in two safeties to play outside linebacker.

It worked great. My down linemen kept the linebackers free and they flowed all over the field slashing inside and making plays. We caused 6 fumbles, recovered 3 and the smaller guys stayed healthy and clean all game. Why not Kovacs? Ezeh doesn't have it guys. You either have it or you don't. The point is...with down linemen that eat up the OL your linebackers are free to make plays. I watched the UMass game in disgust because I saw Martin rewriting the book at nose and there was no one there to clean up his effort.   


September 23rd, 2010 at 3:28 AM ^

Minimizing the idea because it comes from a coach of eighth graders avoids you thinking about it analytically.

I think the big difference in this approach is that it requires an aggressive blitzing strategy with devensive ends, which unclogs the secondary. Since our secondary is so suspect, we don't have the kind of ability to manage a passing response to blitzing ends. This is also one of the reasons we only rush three. Until our secondary gets better, it will be on the linebackers to stuff runs and make plays, competing with the big lineman in the gaps and in the second level.

I'll bet the moment GERG feels comfortable with the secondary he will start to send four and will use a more mobile player in the linebacker role.


September 23rd, 2010 at 9:26 AM ^

I understand that...but football is a game that is technically the same from Pee Wee to the pros. Blocking, tackling, shedding blockers, defensive alignment, etc...

Yes the schemes and plays aren't as complicated, but a linebacker filling a hole and playing his responsibility and running through his reads correctly are all things that are done at the lower levels.

When I see a Division I college player making the same mistakes as an 8th grader...how is it any different? They are bigger humans....that's about it.

Space Coyote

September 23rd, 2010 at 10:26 AM ^

First, they actually do this a lot, but usually it's right when they arrive on campus.  Look at Texas roster, most of their DEs are LBs, and half their LBs are safeties according to the recruiting sites.  So teams already do this.

Ok, for a reason teams don't just do it mid-season is because the reads are drastically different and playing is drastically different when you're lined up in a box with interior linemen coming at you and the possibility of you having to read which way the ball is going and fill.  LB is a completely different position then safety, and at this level they do not translate right away, it takes years of practice.

Another reason is because most linebackers aren't spending most of their time learning rush moves, or taking up blocks, as DEs often have to do.  Many of them are smaller so they can't take on as many blocks in such a tight space and not get blown back.  It takes time to get comfortable with the whole leverage being so much more important than just being more athletic, which you can't rely on as much because you're not in the open field but in a confined area.

So those are three pretty big reasons.  At this level it's much more then just having 11 guys on the field that are athletic enough to run to the football.  If you're too small you'll get put on your ass.

Durham Blue

September 22nd, 2010 at 10:00 PM ^

This is very presumptuous, and probably wrong, but to me it seems like he is shying away from the play to avoid contact.  Maybe saving himself for the combine?  It's hard for me to believe that someone with three years of playing experience at the same position could perform this badly.


September 22nd, 2010 at 10:59 PM ^

...was not helped by: 

1.  20 minutes of possession time for Mich offense.

2.  Playing the 2nd most  important position on the team.

3.  The 3-3-5 exposes LB's weaknesses.

4.  Every week of this season is a potential program killer.( Try that on for size, stone throwers!!!)

Brian, I fully understand the need to breakdown the teams defense as a way to help the football novices in ur adoring throng of 12-20 year olds but this constant second guessing of coaches, mainly Greg Robinson, is really getting old fast. 

I'm sure you could somehow pass on ur enlightenment to both RRod and GRob and somehow  save this undermanned  defense from further futility-23 scholarships on the D side. Yours in Maize and Blue.


September 22nd, 2010 at 11:05 PM ^

Thanks Brian. Spoiling us with your effort like every week.  

I learned a lot from the comments too.

I didn't see a lot of posts questioning the fundamental drilling of Ezeh on the points Brian and a lot of you are bringing up.  The basics of the position type points.

Is it fair to ask how well the defensive coaches have been driving home the basics of playing the position? He has been in the program for years now.  Different coaches and all, but these are basics that any coach would drill regardless of the system right?

How to read your nose and pick the correct gap and then take the right approach angle.

If another guy like Kovacs can better do these things to execute the scheme, definitely worth looking at.

With that out there, a play or two executed well on any series can blow up the possession and get us the ball back. So hopefully it isn't a huge deal to get real improvent from this game. 




September 23rd, 2010 at 1:02 AM ^

Great analysis Brian.

Jeff Casteel was the co-DC in 2002.  His sidekick?  Current Tulsa HC, Todd Graham, was Rodriguez's DC that year, and also WVU's LB coach.

2002 was Rodriguez's 2nd year and the depth posiiton at LB was far from ideal going in ot the season because WVU lost 3 starting LBs to graduation in 2001: Kyle Kayden, Corey McIntyre, and Shawn Hackett.

The replacements however were experienced upperclassmen and quite talented.  Some considered Wiley and Davis to be two of the best LBs ever at WVU:

Grant Wiley - Jr.

James "Dirty" Davis - Sr.

Ben Collins- Jr.

They also had young, but capable reserves that rotated in regularly in 2002: Adam Lehnortt- So, Alex Lake-Fr. and Shane Graham - So..

Michigan's situation at linebacker in 2010 is worse precisely because the younger talent is not challenging the starters nor gaining significant experience.  Why not? For some reason they are simply not ready for live play. They are not in any rotation. This could be all coach's responsibility, but what are the UM coaches supposed to do when the players on the field AND on deck simply "don't get it"?  The only option is to have a redshirt burning rally out there on defense, take major risks by blitzing LBs like a mo-fo, and then pray that the Michigan offense can just outscore them all (like in the UMass game).

In my opinion, if there was one major error in judgement by Rodriguez when he left WVU in 2007, it was his failure to convince Jeff Casteel (a proven DL expert, recruiter and an excellent DC) to head to Ann Arbor with him.  For some reason, Casteel wanted to stay with Bill Stewart.


September 23rd, 2010 at 2:04 AM ^

Martin was taking on two OL , why couldn't our DE just blow away the remaining umass OL? IMO...there should have been a lot more sacks, pocket containment with very few roll outs. I was disappointed by the lack of pressure.

If Ezeh plays another clueless quarter he should be benched!!!!  We should just let Fitzgerald take over.  This very poor LB play will cost us some b10 games.  I say the coaches better start finding solutions.  Solutions should have been in place after the way Ezeh played last season!  This falls right on GREG, he's the DC and LB coach. No excuses.

But hopefully the defense can improve just enough to allow our offense to stay on the field more and score a lot of points. Our best defense may be our offense.


September 23rd, 2010 at 8:37 AM ^

1) UMass' OL is, I believe, the biggest we have faced.  They averaged over three bills, and were comparable to, if not larger than, UConn's line.  I wasn't thrilled with the DE performance, but expecting them to blow that much weight off the ball on a snap-by-snap basis is asking a lot.

2) I'd love to replace Ezeh... but if he's the best of the group, what good does it do to replace him with the next guy on the depth chart?  It doesn't mean he's good, but he may be the best option (and as I type that, I take another drink).  Besides, Fitzgerald is currently playing Deathbacker behind Roh; it would be Demens.

3) Agreed.  Run, Shoelace, Run.