Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs EMU Comment Count

Brian September 21st, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Gratuitous video of the week:

Substitution notes: The secondary was Woolfolk/Floyd/Kovacs/Gordon almost the whole game, with Avery coming in on the garbage time drive and one snap for Marvin Robinson towards the end of charted time. When Michigan brought in a nickelback, which wasn't often, it was Raymon Taylor; they left Gordon at safety.

Demens, Hawthorne, and Ryan were almost always out there at LB. Fitzgerald, Morgan, and Beyer got one or two drives each as backups.

On the line there was more rotation. Black and Roh just about split snaps at WDE. Martin and RVB were usually out there and then Heininger and Campbell split snaps at the other DT spot. Brink and Washington made cameos.

Formation notes: A lot more 4-3 this week going up against a team that uses fullbacks and TEs and stuff. This is your 4-3 under in the flesh:


Line shaded to the weakside, Ryan on the line over TEs, two MLB types in the backfield.

There was also this, which I was at a loss to name:


Let's get a closeup of the line here:


You've got an undershifted line, linebackers shifted over… and JB Fitzgerald lined up shaded inside the TE. I called this 5-3 under. If anyone knows what an actual coach might call it let me know.

On with show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 I-form twins unbalanced 4-3 under Pass 5 PA Fly Woolfolk Inc
PA with two guys in the route. One is a fly on Woolfolk(+1, cover +1), who is stride for stride for the guy and has a play on the ball if it's accurate. It's not.
O10 2 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A Jet sweep Ryan 13
Pretty much all Ryan(-2), who flies directly upfield and loses contain instantly. Gordon and Woolfolk are on the edge with Demens pursuing from inside but not much chance for anyone to do anything about it since there's a blocker for each player and just tons of space.
O23 1 10 I-form 4-3 even Run N/A Power off tackle Heininger 6
Heininger(-2) clobbered off the ball by a double team. He gets shoved right out of the hole. Demens is immediately under pressure by a guy with a great angle on him and Hawthorne has to take on a tough lead block despite being 214 pounds. They both do credible jobs(+0.5 each). There is no crease for the back. Unfortunately there's another blocker coming and no one to tackle because of Heininger's play, so the pile lurches forward for a significant gain. Picture-paged.
O29 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run N/A Power off tackle Black 3
Taylor in; TGordon stays at S. RVB(-2) is blown up this time and Hawthorne(-1) is pancaked by the guy peeling off RVB. Large gap. Demens(-1) comes up to fill, this time keeping leverage when I'm not entirely sure he should. He's got Gordon as a free hitter outside of him. In any case, the blocker kicks his ass. This is about to be EMU RB versus Kovacs for TD when Black(+3) saves everyone's bacon. He shoved the TE into the backfield, forcing an awkward cut inside, then dove to tackle(+1) the guy as he passes. Major bailout.
O32 3 1 Goal line 4-4 even Pass N/A Flea flicker (scramble) Hawthorne 19
Black and Hawthorne both get in basically unblocked and are there to pressure(+1, RPS +1) Gillett. They miss because Hawthorne(-1) gets too fast and Gillett manages to move around them. Demens is then trying to scrape to wherever Gillett's going to pop up when Martin pops back out of his stance and trips him. Just one of those things.
M49 1 10 I-form 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Demens 12
Michigan is slanting away from the play(RPS -1), which makes it tough on the DL. Still, RVB(-1) should do better to hold his ground and Demens(-2) definitely needs to get outside the first blocker to funnel the RB back to his help. He does not. Ryan did okay on the edge, it's just everything else here. RB into the secondary Black(+2) read the OL pull (apparently we can do that!) and immediately peeled off to pursue from the backside; he is almost the only thing between EMU and a touchdown other than a blocked Kovacs. He gets there to tackle at the sticks. The +2 is just for the pursuit and the tackle; the forced fumble is a bonus.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Pass 4 PA Deep cross Ryan 18
This looks a lot like the shotgun counters that have burned Michigan the first two weeks: counter step from the RB, pulling backside G, another lead blocker, this time another RB. Instead of a handoff Gillett spins backwards and rolls out. Later this will hurt EMU. Ryan is sent on a blitz, reads the pull, and dives inside to blow up the counter he thinks is coming. Hard to fault him for that. This gets Gillett out on the edge; Ryan does come through the block to provide some token pressure. This isn't enough to throw the QB off; he finds a receiver open for a chunk. I guess you could blame Demens or Gordon here but that seems really harsh to me. (RPS -1, pressure -1, cover -1.) Kovacs(+0.5) comes up to tackle immediately. Picture paged.
O45 1 10 Shotgun 2TE unbalanced 4-3 over Run N/A Jet sweep Ryan 18
Ryan(-2) again gives up the edge on the sweep action. He compounds matters by falling to the ground as he tries to get outside. Demens is held inside by a QB run fake momentarily; Woolfolk comes up to the outside and is cut inside of. I do think Demens(-1) could have reacted more quickly here—RVB was going to be in the QB's face if he kept—and held this down to eight or so. BWS picture pages.
M37 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 over Run N/A QB down G Hawthorne 8
EMU motions a tight end over late and snaps quickly; Demens shifts a couple yards strongside but Hawthorne does not match him; on the snap they're right next to each other. As a result Hawthorne(-2) gives up the corner, getting blocked by the RB. Black(-1) had gotten blown off the ball by a double and there might have been room inside as well, but there's no question to the outside.
M29 2 2 I-form 5-3 under Run N/A Down G Van Bergen -3
Michigan crushes this. Van Bergen(+2) shoots straight upfield, blowing up the lineman trying to pull around and getting through into the backfield. Heininger(+1) slants past his blocker on the backside to show up in the running lane; Fitzgerald(+0.5) is three yards into the backfield taking on the puller RVB blew up, and Martin(+1) has shed a blocker. Nowhere for the RB to go. RPS +2.
M32 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run N/A QB power Hawthorne 4
S brought down for an extra guy. FWIW, Gordon is coming down instead of Kovacs. He's your SS. Ryan(+1) is left alone for a pulling guard to take. He takes the guy on a yard into the backfield over where the tackle was and stands his ground. Gillett doesn't really know where to go; the back also impacts Ryan to provide a corner. This gives Hawthorne(-1) a free run. All he has to do is form up and he's got a TFL; instead he misses the tackle(-1), allowing Gillett to spin inside and start picking up yards. RVB tackles from behind; Kovacs(+0.5) stands Gillett up as he nears the sticks, forcing a fourth down.
M28 4 1 Ace Firedrill Run N/A Tricky pitch Kovacs 14 + 7 pen
EMU to the line quickly and snaps before Michigan is prepared; line dive blocks as if they're going for the QB sneak. Everyone bites on it; they pitch outside, where there isn't anyone. Kovacs(-1) was the playside guy who did not stay responsible on the RB, but this is mostly an RPS play as EMU caught Michigan unprepared. Growing pains. RPS -2. Taylor gets a legit but pretty weak late hit after.
M7 1 G I-Form trip TE 5-4 under Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan 4
Either Ryan or Black screws up here. Black dives inside the last TE on the line, then heads upfield a bit to pick off the fullback. Ryan hangs outside as well, allowing the pulling G to not even block him. Need to have one of those guys cram that hole down. I vote Black(+1) for taking out two blockers and against Ryan(-1) for not even hitting a guy on this play. Kovacs(-0.5) is also slow to react, waiting for the RB to get to him instead of IDing the hole opening in front of him and hitting it.
M3 2 G I-Form trip TE Goal line Run N/A Power off tackle Van Bergen 1
EMU flipping TEs everywhere and Michigan not reacting quickly enough—Heininger is trying to get Martin to slide over at the snap. He does just make it. RVB(+3) blows this up himself, though, sliding through a downblock and into the pulling G. The RB has to cut behind this mess and ends up falling over the G RVB had put on the ground moments earlier. Martin(+0.5) had gotten through a block to show up in the hole just in case.
M2 3 G Power I Goal line Run N/A Iso Martin 1
Michigan again having a hard time lining up. This time Black trips over himself trying to get to the wrong side of the line. He gets up and just gets into place on the snap. Martin(+2) takes a guard's block and chucks the dude past him, then comes under the tackle trying to deal with RVB to meet the second FB—actually an OL—a yard in the backfield. The pile of meat gets a yard.
M1 4 G Power I Goal line Run N/A Iso Kovacs -
Everyone does the low-man-wins goal line blocking as EMU tries it again. Roh(+1) is in the path of the pulling dudes and wins his block, penetrating into the backfield. The second FB is tripped up/leaps from about the three. The RB tries the same thing only for Kovacs(+2) to roar around from behind him and stall his momentum, spinning him to a halt short of the goal line with an assist from Demens(+0.5). Picture-paged by MGoFootball.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 0-0, 4 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M24 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Down G Campbell 4
Campbell's been in a bit and this is his first noticeable play. This appears to be a slant to the playside here, which is good for M as it gets Campbell(+1) past his assigned down-blocker and into the guy lined up right over him who pulled. Roh(+1) swam through his blocker to set up outside of the Campbell mess; cutback. RVB(-1) is flowing down the line; he's too far upfield after shoving a DL and allows the guy to dive through an arm tackle for positive yards.
M20 2 6 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 even Run N/A Power off tackle Demens 2
Miss part of this play; looks like counter action from a tight shot of the RB. M gets lucky as the guy blocking RVB thinks the blitzing Ryan is a major issue and peels off; pulling G now has to take RVB. This leaves Demens(+0.5) unblocked in the hole. His tackle is spun through but that takes a long time to happen; Ryan(+0.5) comes from behind to finish the job but there's some YAC here.
M18 3 4 Shotgun trip TE 4-4 under Run N/A Pin and pull zone Hawthorne 7
Guh. Triple TEs to one side and Michigan slants away from it. Guys right over the LBs are pulling and both are so late. What can they be keying on? Hawthorne(-2) is especially late; Demens tries to shoot a gap without effect but it was a good idea given that setup. M blitzed from the weakside, had no support over the top, and even if Hawthorne plays this perfectly this doesn't look like a stop (RPS -2)
M11 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Pin and pull zone Van Bergen 3
Van Bergen(+2) shocks his blocker with a quick punch and gets playside of a downblock. He ends up driving to the outside, sucking up both lead blockers and forcing a cutback. Demens(+0.5) pops up in a hole; more cutback. Roh has hesitated a bit in case Gillett keeps, which is fine, but Heininger(-1) got blown up and ends up pancaked so when Roh comes down the line he's only able to tackle from behind; forward momentum is slowed by Hawthorne but not stopped.
M8 2 7 Shotgun 2TE 4-4 over Run N/A Power off tackle Hawthorne 2
EMU seems to have a bad playcall on because there is no blocker for Hawthorne(RPS +1). Block down, pull backside T and G around. Ryan is kicked out by G. Demens kicked out by the T. Hawthorne(+1) is free to meet in the hole; Demens peels to help tackle.
M6 3 5 Shotgun 2TE 4-4 over Run N/A Jet sweep Demens 2
Finally some contain. Gordon(+1) is creeping up looking for this on the jet motion and forces a cut up, picking off a blocker. Ryan does better but still gets too far upfield, IME. No delay in the guy's path because of him. Thanks to the contain Demens and Kovacs have shots at this; Kovacs(+0.5) takes a hit from a block and stays upright; Demens(+1) has flowed to the sideline and tackles(+1) near the sticks. Picture-paged.
Drive Notes: FG, 0-3, EO1Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M47 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 Waggle Ryan 6
Morgan in. Waggle action from EMU is poorly executed so RVB is out on Gillett; he falls down (-1, pressure -1). Gillett can only come underneath to a WR drag rout a couple yards downfield. Ryan(+1, tackling +1) helped take away one of the deeper routes then rallies to tackle almost on the catch, holding this to a minimal gain (Cover +2).
M41 2 4 Ace diamond Firedrill Pass N/A Double pass Gordon Int
Michigan is horribly misaligned at the snap, with only three guys against the four out to the right. If this is just a screen it could get some yards, but it's trickery. Okay. Defense freaks out, TGordon(+4(!), cover +2) goes with the WR and makes an incredible one-handed INT. Should have tried the transcontinental here. RPS -1 for misalignment, or RPS +1 for covering the trick play? Aw, hell, the latter.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-3, 13 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Counter Iso Martin 10
Campbell in, Morgan still out there, Brink at SDE. EMU basically runs an iso but the RB takes a counter step like he's headed outside. This works like crazy, sucking every playside defender to the outside. Martin(-1) is the biggest offender; Brink(-1) is pancaked. Morgan(-1) is cut to the ground and Demens(-0.5) has a really tough job but pulls the Ezeh by just sitting there. Gordon fills to tackle. I am actually a fan of the EMU running game. They are a confusing bunch to work against.
50 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Counter Iso Ryan -2
Basically the same play from a different formation with the same counter step. This time Ryan(+1, RPS +2) is blitzing from the counter side and crushes the guy in the backfield. Martin(+1) had blown back blocking so even the cutback wouldn't have been there.
O48 2 12 Shotgun twins unbalanced 4-3 under Run N/A QB power Black 3
EMU flips their RT to the left side after they align and Michigan flips their entire front five in response. They run the jet motion but have the QB take it upfield with help from a puller. Martin(+1) beats a downblock and cuts off a cutback lane. Campbell is on the playside and doesn't do great. Black(+1) gets into the TE trying to double Campbell instead of shooting down the line, then takes on a block to the outside, defeating it. Campbell is just kind of there, being large(+0.5) so Gillett has nowhere to go except up the backs of some of his dudes; Black tackles.
M49 3 9 Shotgun trip TE 4-3 under Pass N/A PA TE flat Gordon 5
This orbit boot motion again; Black(-1) flies upfield at it but is chopped down by a cut block. Demens and Taylor are blitzing, though, and get through untouched to provide pressure(+1) and force a dumpoff short of the sticks. TGordon(+1, cover +1) belts him OOB.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 6 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O44 1 10 Ace 4-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Trap Heininger 0
Fitz in. Heininger(+1.5) is passed off by the G over him as he runs downfield to hammer Michigan's spread-out LBs. He keeps his feet and gets popped by a pulling G, fighting playside of him. Martin(+1.5) beat a downblock; the two DTs converge to tackle.
O44 2 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Counter Iso Hawthorne 0
M moves Kovacs down late for another guy in the box. Campbell(+1) slants under his blocking, which is pretty good on this play since they're trying to dupe you to head outside; this time he comes under and heads backside for the RB. Hawthorne(+2) read the play on the counter step and attacked the backside hole that opens up; FB can only make a diving stab at him. This does get him to the ground but he's falling forward into the path of the runner, whereupon he grabs ankles; Campbell comes in from behind.
O44 3 10 Shotgun empty 2TE Nickel Run N/A Jet sweep Kovacs 4
This is a formation with a covered up slot WR on third and ten and run a jet sweep towards it. I take back what I said about the EMU running game. Kovacs(+2) is sent on a blitz up the middle, reads the play, adjusts his flight path, and meets the WR after a couple yards to make a nice open field tackle(+1).
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 3 min 2nd Q. M scores, then squibs to terrible effect right before the half. Next drive starts w/ 33 seconds left.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass 4 Scramble -- 8
Clark in for the first time, I think. Four man rush gets nowhere(pressure -2) but the coverage is good(+2) and Gillett has to scramble out. He picks up eight, which seems more due to the situation than a breakdown.
M44 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 4 Rollout scramble Black 4
Sprint draw fake as the pocket rolls. Coverage is good(+2) but Black(-1) loses the edge and ends up falling to the ground, giving Gillett the corner.
M40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run N/A TGDCD Black 1
That God Damned Counter Draw... is defended. Wow. Martin(+1) reads the play and chucks his defender past him, peeling back to close down the hole as Hawthorne steps up to take on the lead blocker. Black(+2) collapses down to close off the hole outside Hawthorne, then extends back outside when the RB bounces, bringing him to a complete stop and eventually tripping him up when he breaks outside again.
M40 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 4 Scramble Martin 7
Roh(+0.5) gets around the T enough to force Gillett to step up, where Martin(+1.5) has beaten a couple blocks to rush up the middle; Gillett has to bug out lest he gets crushed (pressure +1). Gillett has room to run after he breaks the pocket but, like, fine.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(50), EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 PA sack Roh -7
This doesn't end up under because of motion, but whatever. EMU goes play action and Roh(+2) reads the PA seemingly before the mesh point with the RB. This is not hell-bent QB obsession, as he takes a step inside, sees the puller, and then heads upfield. He gets outside Gillett; Gillett slows up, Roh still grabs him; Martin(+1) beat a block and comes into finish the job. (Pressure +2)
O26 2 17 I-Form 4-3 over Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan? 5
Ryan(-1) is not used to playing off the line and it shows, as he sits in the hole way too long. RVB(-1) is the playside DE and fights inside his block, which seems like a good idea only if there's a LB containing—if you're in an under. They aren't. Here Ryan is off the line and once RVB fights inside there is a bounce. RB takes it. Gordon(+0.5) fills quickly; Floyd(+0.5) comes up on the edge to tackle.
O31 3 12 Shotgun empty 2TE Okie Run N/A QB power -- 5
A give up and punt. Jet sweep action, Michigan is pass blitzing. Combo is a bit odd and gets Gillett to the second level, where Floyd(+0.5) comes up to whack; Hawthorne(+0.5) finishes him off.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 7 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Power Campbell 5
DTs are Campbell (nose) and Washington (3tech). EMU runs a-gap power, pulling a G around into the hole between Campbell and RVB. Campbell(-1) gets pushed out of the hole easily and RB is into the second level without delay. Demens(+0.5) forms up, takes on a blocker, and disconnects to tackle with help from Hawthorne(+0.5). RVB(-1) was easily passed off, allowing that block on Demens to be executed.
O40 2 5 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Campbell 4
Campbell(-1) stands straight up and gets Heininger'd. This provides a small crease for decent yardage; RVB(+0.5) held on the edge and Demens was there to close it down.
O44 3 1 I-Form trip TE 4-4 under Run N/A Power off tackle -- 3
Line shifting in response to the formation flip and Michigan has this defensed for a loss except for a pretty good cutback by the EMU back. He just manages to squeeze through a gap between RVB and Martin's blockers, tripping as he goes; Demens is there to bump but the cutback was too quick—guy just went straight upfield, really—to do anything about it.
O47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Flare screen -- Inc
Dropped. May or may not have worked if completed.
O47 2 10 I-Form 4-3 over Run N/A Power off tackle Roh 1
Running at the strong bit of the line. Roh(+2) slants under the TE, gets held, takes on a lead blocker, and fights through all that to tackle for no gain. RVB(+0.5) held up well on his block and helps constrict the hole; this was a blitz that worked against power (RPS +1).
O48 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run N/A TGDCD Hawthorne 10
Kovacs(-1), blitzing off the edge, does not execute the look-for-puller-flatten key like Ryan did earlier and gets upfield/outside of the guy. Hawthorne(-2) reads the play and has no one blocking him but takes a shallow angle and misses a tackle(-1) that would boot EMU off the field.
M42 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Down G Hawthorne 10 (Pen -10)
Okay, Michigan is slanting to the weak side after aligning to the weakside, which means you're going to have a lot of players back there and not up there, if you know what I mean. In the past when I've seen something like this both linebackers bug out for the playside because they are needed. Here Demens does, getting outside and forcing a cutback; Hawthorne(-2) does not, getting blocked by the backside tackle. Ryan(+1), the SLB, had slanted inside the pulling T and was tackled, drawing a flag that erases the gain. Kovacs again cleaned up (+0.5, tackling +1).
O48 1 20 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Pin and pull zone Ryan 12
SDE Brink(-1) handled by single blocking from an EMU TE as two OL pull around. Ryan(-2) gives up the edge; three tech Heininger(-1) was blown up, erasing Hawthorne. Demens gets blocked by a puller. Black(+1) was tearing hard on pursuit from the backside and tackles from behind(!) after about ten yards. His pursuit has been outstanding; on this play all he needed was a little delay on the edge to tackle from behind at the LOS.
M40 2 8 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 over Run N/A Down G Black -2
Michigan slanting playside since they're lined up away from the strength of the formation. Black(+2)slides past the TE's block and gets into the puller in the backfield. Campbell(+0.5) threatens to get into the backfield and draws the C's attention; Hawthorne(+1) shoots the gap in front of him for a TFL.
M42 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 4 Rollout scramble Roh 2
Gordon to nickel as MRobinson comes in. Sprint draw fake to Gillett rollout. Roh(+1) is on the edge and starts chasing (pressure +1), causing Gillett to abandon things after his first read is covered(+1). His scramble goes for little.
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-3, 11 min 4th Q. Last drive is garbage time; not charted.


Yeah… they do all be runnin'.


It's a combination of things. Abitrary pie graph? Arbitrary pie chart:


For confirmation of this, let's check the


We already checked that.


Chart. A disclaimer: since Eastern hardly threw there were scant opportunities for DL to pick up bonuses on plays where they get collective minuses for lack of pressure, so even-ish is okay.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 8 6 2 Had some trouble holding up; also made some big plays.
Martin 10.5 1 9.5 Consistently fought playside of blocker appropriately but got bupkis for it.
Roh 7.5 - 7.5 Did some things.
Brink - 2 -2 Handled one on one.
Heininger 2.5 4 -1.5 Got blown up more often than he made plays.
Black 12 3 9 A monster in pursuit and played well at the POA.
Campbell 3 2 1 Doesn't seem that real.
TOTAL 44.5 18 26.5 Goal line stand is a major reason this is so positive, but, hey, goal line stand.
Player + - T Notes
C. Gordon - - - DNP
Demens 3.5 4.5 -1 Slow to diagnose some things.
Herron - - - DNP
Ryan 3.5 7 -3.5 Eaten up on the edge.
Fitzgerald 0.5 - 0.5 A few plays.
Jones - - - DNP
Evans - - - DNP
Beyer - - - Did not register.
Hawthorne 5 11 -6 Slow reads really got him.
Morgan - 1 -1 One drive.
TOTAL 12.5 22.5 -10 Edge edge edge edge edge.
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 0.5 - 0.5 Day off.
Avery - - - DNP in charted time.
Woolfolk 1 - - Day off
Kovacs 6 2.5 3.5 I don't even know what to do.
T. Gordon 6.5 - 6.5 Two solid safeties? Is this legal?
Taylor - 2 -2 Personal foul.
Robinson - - - One play before charting ceased.
TOTAL 12.5 4.5 8 Half of that the INT.
Pressure 6 3 3 Ignore
Coverage 9 1 8 Ignore
Tackling 3 2 1 Need Hawthorne to get guys down.
RPS 8 6 2 Hugely reduced numbers as M goes vanilla

So the defensive line numbers came out more positive and the linebackers more negative than I expected, but a quick glance at the chart above shows a lot of EMU success on the flanks, where linemen are doing well just to remain in the picture. Even on the power stuff the theme is obvious:

Demens(-2) definitely needs to get outside the first blocker to funnel the RB back to his help. He does not. ... Hawthorne(-2) gives up the corner ... they pitch outside, where there isn't anyone ... Guys right over the LBs are pulling and both are so late. What can they be keying on? Hawthorne(-2) is especially late ... Hawthorne(-2) reads the play and has no one blocking him but takes a shallow angle and misses a tackle(-1) ... In the past when I've seen something like this both linebackers bug out for the playside because they are needed. Here Demens does, getting outside and forcing a cutback; Hawthorne(-2) does not, getting blocked by the backside tackle.

Linebackers not getting to the hole, Hawthorne especially. This is a great example of the day's theme:

1: The three tech is not helping matters. Here it's RVB.
2: Hawthorne + block = done
4: Jibreel Black bailing our asses out.

Here's another one. Watch RVB get blown out and Demens not funnel back to Hawthorne, and Jibreel Black bail our asses out:

Why would Hawthorne be so disappointing a week after a good game against Notre Dame?

Hawthorne didn't blitz or cover against EMU, two things he flashed great skill at in the ND game. Instead of sending him places where he has a job and is suppose to do it, they asked him to play linebacker straight up and he got blocked tons. The rest of it is just not reading the plays quickly enough, something I noted last week.

I'm curious as to what he was doing when Michigan slanted its line, though. When I've seen this in the past—and I have plenty—what happens is the line slants one way and the LBs roar over the top the opposite direction. This eats up cutback lanes and gets that offensive lineman who releases downfield immediately blocking no one, leaving the weakside LB a free hitter. Michigan didn't do that when they slanted:

Look at this:


There's nothing but a TFL on the back side of this play because the line slanted to the weakside of the formation. Hawthorne has to get playside of that guy releasing because there's going to be a hole. It's going to be a hole without anyone to block him in it if he gets to it quickly enough; instead he gets hammered.

EMU also tested him—and the rest of the defense—mentally by changing formations and using motion constantly. He didn't do so well, and even when he did he missed some tackles. Just a rough day.

When he did things right—and he did a couple—he was a decisive slasher. He, more than most LBs, needs to figure out the play and hit a gap before blocking can get in place. He's not going to make a lot of plays by taking on lead blockers. Diagnosis skills are key for him.

I think EMU actually did us a favor here by exposing a lot of mistakes in the defense. The film room this week is going to have a lot of "ohhhhhhh" moments; hopefully we can iron some of this out before Ronnie Hillman shows up this weekend.

So, Jibreel Black and Craig Roh both did things.

Yes, yes they did. A lot of Black's positives are encompassed above, and Roh got off the stat schneid with a sack and some other tackles. It's not that Roh has been actively bad. He's done a number of quiet things that help the D without showing up on the statsheet. For one, he's the hidden reason Michigan made that fourth down stop on the goal line. He got penetration and caused a lead blocking EMU OL to leap at the endzone from the three. RB had to follow, Kovacs came in from the side, stop. He's probably not going to be James Hall at this point but he can be solid.

Black looks like a different player, though. That downfield pursuit on the fumble recover is both smart and fast. He did that all day. If anyone was holding the edge on a number of plays he would have been crushing dudes from behind. He's holding up at the POA better (against Eastern, granted) and seems to be emerging into a starter.

Here's a thing that has a 50-50 chance at happening: Michigan starts playing both at the same time, with Roh (probably) at strongside DE. Roh's bigger, Black's pursuing like a mofo, and Roh has far too much experience coping as an SDE, which he played as a freshman when he was too exploitable alone on the edge and sort of played last year when he moved to a three-man line. Is he ideal? No. Is it a way to get better personnel on the field? I think so.

What's wrong with Mike Martin?

I don't think anything is yet. He's having a hard time making an impact when everyone's heading outside.

The secondary?

They get an incomplete on the day, though Thomas Gordon did take another step forward, and not just because he speared a pass I would have rated an 0.5 if he was a receiver.


Jibreel Black had his best day in a winged helmet; Martin was solid inside; Roh got off the schneid; Gordon interception hello.


Pick a linebacker, with Hawthorne having the toughest day. Also the three-tech is a sore spot. Heininger got blown out, yeah, but you can see that RVB suffered the same fate in a couple of those clips above.

What does it mean for SDSU and the future?

Unfortunately, Hawthorne has not locked down the starting WLB job and will probably have to fight for it as long as he's not diagnosing pulling linemen more quickly. The three tech spot is a sore one and will need to be addressed if the interior run D is going to hold up; choosing between freshmen at SLB is leaving Michigan vulnerable on the edge.

I know everyone says the three tech gets one on one blocking, but that has not been the case so far this year and the inability to hold up there has caused a multitude of problems.

As for the rest of it… Black may or may not be a player. Check back in a couple weeks to see if he keeps it up against better competition.

This is the point at which we see learning happen—they're not very good right now but since they won't be swapping systems midseason these issues with play diagnosis should get better. We are all scarred by the last few years; here is where they start sucking less when people teach them how to play football.

Hypothesis! Michigan is going to start slanting heavily when they feel they're in trouble. The three tech is not holding up well, the linebackers are not good when being asked to read and react, but they've got a lot of DL who can get penetration when tasked with being aggressive one-gap players and linebackers who can come over the top to the other side. It will be a high risk, high reward system but against teams with good running games the alternative is getting bled to death because your guys are getting plowed or are hesitant.


Greg McMurtry

September 21st, 2011 at 4:17 PM ^

It looked like he was getting great push, way more than Heininger who was getting destroyed. BWC just needs to diagnose the play once he beats his man. It was kind of like: BWC pushes OG a yard or two back, but forgets to locate RB and tackle. Put those two things together and he'll be Good.


September 21st, 2011 at 5:15 PM ^

both of BWC's minus plays came when he was playing the nose so maybe he is a decent 3-tech and not so much playing 1-tech.  Unless one of the Q, Ash, etc. group comes on strong it appears Mr. Pipkins may get plenty of early PT next year.


September 21st, 2011 at 7:02 PM ^

This was used by the Bears D in 1985, and it absolutely destroyed offenses.  The Bears won the Super Bowl 45-10 or something like that over the Patriots, and many consider the 85 Bears D to be one of the top 3 defenses of all time, if not THE best.  It basically took away first and second down in an era where the run was the primary offense.  Then, on third (or if a team passed a lot, like the Marino-era Dolphins), Buddy Ryan (his sons Rex and Rob are in the NFL, with Rex being the NYJ HC and Rob the DAL DC) would dial up ridiculous blitz schemes and would just wreck offenses.

I haven't watched too much tape on them, but damn is that defense scary on paper.


September 21st, 2011 at 4:36 PM ^

BWC is still the key to the D IMO. No knock on Brink/Heineger but they both are getting absolutely killed at POA. Going into big ten season we are going to need beef up front. BWC must continue to improve and allow RVB to play on the end.

The idea of Black/Roh on each side is a fair one except then we dont have anyone to really rotate in and keep up the pace.

Granted charting stopped in the early 4th I just wanted to give a quick good job to Frank Clark...he played smart and kept contain most of the time he was in there. Wonder if he has earned any extra PT because he really seemed to have a big football IQ.


September 21st, 2011 at 6:00 PM ^

the beefer teams are either off the schedule or towards the end of the year which gives BWC some more time to develop.

Minny's the opener - might be beefy, but probably won't be one of the better oline's UM sees.

NU is up next, and I'm guessing they will have one of the smaller Big Ten olines that UM faces.

MSU - right not their oline is a mess.  Hopefully that doesn't improve to much over the next 3 weeks.

Purdue - see Minny.

After that, it's probably beefy olines and fairly solid olines too:  Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and OSU.


September 21st, 2011 at 7:58 PM ^

Northwestern is about 300 across the line, experienced but about an average Big 10 line.  Minnesota has a small guard but otherwise not  tiny, but not good.  Nebraska's center is tiny, but everyone else is 320-325.  I wonder if the line is mismatched to the spread style of play.  Regardless, Nebraska's line isn't good either.

steve sharik

September 21st, 2011 at 4:37 PM ^

...as Steel City Mafia correctly pointed out, is Buddy Ryan's 46 Defense, aka Bear Front.

The reason it doesn't seem like the traditional 46 (with the SS in the WILL position--Gary Fencik, the Bears' SS, wore #46) is that M has substituted an extra LB into the game, and Hawthorne is essentially playing that "46" position.


September 21st, 2011 at 4:38 PM ^

Roh - MM - RVB - Black

Ryan/Healthy Cam?? - Demens - Hawthorne/Herron??

TWoolf - Gordon - Kovacs - Floyd

And if so, what does that mean? Less D- Line depth for one..


September 21st, 2011 at 4:46 PM ^

I have no idea. But I trust the coaches to make the right personnel decisions. I think that Hawthorne had a great game against ND and I agree he looks long term like the best bet, especially comparing UFRs. But as Brian pointed out the WLB spot isn't solid yet, so I had no idea who to put there. I think it'll probably be some combination of those two until someone for sure wins the job. I'd give it to Hawthorne today... but I don't see practice (or coach football for that matter)

One Inch Woody…

September 21st, 2011 at 4:42 PM ^

It's not like these guys were running sweeps or draws or gap runs... they were doing jet sweeps and counter draws and all of these other spooky things. Which, as Brian pointed out, is actually quite a blessing for us because the decision making and diagnosing is something that can be taught.

I have faith in Mattison that he can teach them how to diagnose counters and counter draws because we have seen that he has taught them how to diagnose most power runs/gap runs as evidenced by Ryan/Beyer's improvement on the edge rush. Now our edge run defense should be bolstered by film sessions on the EMU game.

If we can get past SDSU without a loss, I'm sure our LBs will be much improved in their run defense against pro style teams

(And if we come out in a 4-3 under base for Michigan state then I will cackle in knowing glee when Ryan gets blocked by an OL/TE and allows Martin or Campbell to be single blocked)


September 21st, 2011 at 4:47 PM ^

On this play:


O47 2 10 I-Form 4-3 over Run N/A Power off tackle Roh 1
Running at the strong bit of the line. Roh(+2) slants under the TE, gets held, takes on a lead blocker, and fights through all that to tackle for no gain. RVB(+0.5) held up well on his block and helps constrict the hole; this was a blitz that worked against power (RPS +1).

what is Demens supposed to be doing?  Is he supposed to fill that hole on the left (between the tackle and center after the guard has pulled) or is he actually supposed to follow the pulling guard and runner and get blocked in the process?  It seems like there was a big cutback opening for the RB but maybe it was not a possiblitity on this play?

/showing my ignorance

We Do Not Sow

September 21st, 2011 at 5:23 PM ^

On this play Demens should be flowing down the line to get over to the point of attack but he's still responsible for middle cut back lanes. Looks like a broken play for EMU due to an RPS from our blitz. The TE does a poor job of getting across Roh's face and whiffs his block on him. The LT only looks to help seal Martin, who is slanting to his left, so when he sees that is good he books it for Demens. Since the LT on EMU doesn't need to help on the NT he can clobber Demens before he can pursue the play. So I think Demens getting stuffed is a result of the RPS of the play more than anything.

a non emu

September 21st, 2011 at 6:20 PM ^

Seems like he actually leaves his feet and DIVES for the ballcarrier literally catching him by his ankles in mid-air. That is an insane play. I couldn't stop watching it after it happened. For all those claiming Kovacs lacks athleticism/speed, they need to watch this play a few more times.

We Do Not Sow

September 21st, 2011 at 5:06 PM ^

RVB essentially made the same mistake in the two embedded videos included above. When you're the DT and you feel the double team coming on you, you must not allow yourself to get blown back into the second level (where the LB's are). I was always taught the best move in this situation is to first fight the double, but if you're unable to do so to drop to the ground and bring BOTH blockers down with you. Literally you grab their jerseys and pull them down with you. It may look like a pancake, but you're creating two problems for the offense by doing this. First, you make a pile at the point of attack and second you remove the offense's ability to get to the LB with the releasing lineman.

Basically, if you're gonna get taken out, make them use two blockers to do so - don't get scooped.

We Do Not Sow

September 21st, 2011 at 6:29 PM ^

Indeed. In order to execute this move, you must not have much separation with the offensive lineman. You would want to close the gap between yourselves, then use their top heavy momentum to pull them towards you as you crumple into a pile, preferably towards the outside of the line where the play is going.


September 21st, 2011 at 5:31 PM ^

I was glad to see Roh step up his game. There was an article in freep today about how he had an 'epiphany' this past week about the his game. I'm hoping this is the beginning of a good trend for him.


September 21st, 2011 at 5:38 PM ^

Okay, so clearly he made some errors including several missed tackles, but he was in position to make several big stops because of his speed and insticts. I was actually encouraged by his play, failing to wrap up is very correctable, ability to shoot gaps to get into the backfield or chase down plays is more innate. I think he will be very good as he continues to get experience, but he will probably continue to have some ups and downs as most young players do.


September 21st, 2011 at 6:06 PM ^

Really like the way Black seems to be progressing.  Seems like he has a motor that goes 100% all the time and he has some speed for pursuit.  He could be a monster by the time he's a senior.



September 21st, 2011 at 6:15 PM ^

Is there a running total of everyone's +/-?  It would be cool to see over the course of the season who is consistantly playing well, and who our "MVP" on each side is.


September 21st, 2011 at 6:23 PM ^

No. The numbers do not have enough fidelity to be used in that way. Discussing them in context is valuable but the vagaries of the grading system mean the many, many attempts to turn them into real stats always make me wince a bit.

This is Michigan

September 21st, 2011 at 6:26 PM ^

Either the announcers on the  BTN failed to note why the ball was placed at the 2-3 yrd line after Gordon's interception or I missed something, but does anyone know the ruling on that. I always though that if momentum dragged you into the end zone and you were down in the endzone then it is a touchback. From the video posted above, it doesn't look like he was down before he got to the endzone.

Dan Man

September 21st, 2011 at 6:52 PM ^

Youtube is saying the third party complaints are from "Thought Equity Motion."  I wonder if this is someone acting on behalf of the Big Ten Network.  I hope there is some way around this; it would suck not to be able to have videos used in the UFRs.