Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Iowa Comment Count

Brian November 9th, 2011 at 3:53 PM

Formation notes: Michigan debuted a big set that features two SLBs. Here Ryan is to the top of the screen and Beyer the bottom; Countess was lifted.


Michigan was in this set for both of the late third and ones on which Michigan punched Iowa off the field, though on the second they put Beyer and Ryan in a bear front.

Michigan also showed a fair number of over fronts with the line shaded strongside and the SLB off the line: 

form-4-3 over

They've dumped the flipping seen earlier in the year in favor of sucking it up and running this from time to time. I assume the flipping was a sub-optimal thing Mattison felt forced into because his defense couldn't run an over front effectively what with all the freshmen at SLB and WLB.

Substitution notes: Secondary was Countess/Floyd/Woolfolk/Kovacs the whole way with Avery the nickelback. The linebackers were Demens and Morgan for the most part—Hawthorne got one drive right after the "Morgan is killing us" touchdown drive.

Ryan picked up a stinger on the first play and sat out a big chunk of the game. Cam Gordon was in briefly before being replaced by Beyer for the bulk of the extra playing time; Clark assumed Ryan's role as a nickel DE. As noted above certain short yardage plays late Beyer and Ryan were on the field at the same time as Michigan lifted Countess.

There was less substitution on the line than usual. Campbell only got a few plays, I did not see Brink, and Black was an infrequent participant as well. It was mostly the starters. I don't think RVB and Heininger came off the field.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Van Bergen 3
M linebackers seem misaligned, too far to the weakside. On the snap Michigan slants strongside. Martin(-1) is doubled and gives a ton of ground—way too much. He does take both blockers the whole play. RVB(+2) drives his man down the line, eventually shoving him so far that Coker bangs into the left tackle. Morgan(-1) flew up past the Martin double to meet a G and gets pancaked at the line; Demens(+0.5) and Heininger(+0.5) manage to tackle thanks to the delay.
O27 2 7 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Martin -1
Ryan out with stinger; Cam Gordon does come in. This time the center ignores Martin(+2), leaving him to get cut by the backside G. This does not happen even a little bit. Martin contacts Coker three yards in the backfield; dude manages to burrow his way back to the LOS. Morgan(+1) did blitz effectively inside of a tight end and was the second man on the scene; even if Martin isn't here instantly Morgan is probably making contact behind the LOS. RPS +1.
O26 3 8 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Countess 44

The obvious problem on this play is Countess(-2, tackling -1) turning this from a first down into 44 yards by letting Davis outside of him. Then I had Heiko ask Mattison about what happened to open up the completion, whereupon Mattison answered:

What happened on Keenan Davis’s catch and run with Kenny Demens chasing him en route to a 44-yard gain? “That’s cover-2. Kenny Demens doesn’t have him all the way to the sideline. Kenny Demens has him to the hash and we should have had a corner that should have rolled up on that.” Was he Courtney Avery’s assignment? “No. [Avery] was the nickel. He was running with the vertical. When you’re playing that coverage, any time No. 2 runs up the field, he has to run up with him. So it comes all the way to the corner. The corner’s the flat defender. He turned his back trying to be physical with that guy, and the guy was by him by then.”

So Countess gets the ding there, too(-2, cover –3). Harsh, but if Avery's doing what he's supposed to do and the cover-two corner doesn't even tackle the guy after the first down it's all him.

M30 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 over Pass 4 PA slant Demens 20
Iowa motions Davis outside of McNutt, drawing Countess wider and getting Morgan matched up over the slot. Not good. They run play action that sucks Demens(-2) up and Morgan(-1) lets McNutt inside of him after starting with a four yard head start to the interior of the field. Demens makes things worse by moving out on a nothing dumpoff, opening the center of the field like whoah. Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) makes a tough tackle on the catch; this was such a quick hitter that it looked like it might go the distance. RPS -1, Cover -2)
M10 1 G I-Form big offset 4-3 over Run N/A Down G Black 6
Narrow WR, TE motion to wide side, offset FB. They're trying the same stuff MSU did. Black(-2) fails to understand this and gives up the edge by moving straight upfield; he gets sealed out of the play. Heininger will end up closer to Coker than he does. Martin(+1) tears through the line and would kill this if there was any delay on the edge. There isn't. Morgan(-0.5) stood up by a cracking WR; tough with that guy's angle but still a missed opportunity to do something. Kovacs and Countess maintain leverage against two guys; Woolfolk is there to tackle with help from Heininger(+0.5) and the aforementioned Martin.
M4 2 G I-Form big offset 4-3 over Run N/A Power off tackle Morgan 4
Same setup with a widened WR; they run power at the same place that just ate the outside run. Black(+1) dives inside to cut off the intended flight path, taking out both the puller and the lead back. Morgan(-2) is a free hitter on the outside. He takes a crappy angle and sees his arm tackle run through(-1 tackling). Woolfolk(-1) was sitting in the end zone wondering what to do too long; by the time he makes a decision it doesn't matter what Coker picks because he can't do anything until the guy is already in the endzone. More on this later.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 10 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M48 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Pass 4 Quick out Floyd 4
Three step drop against soft coverage with an immediate tackle from Floyd(+0.5) to keep it down. Push.
M44 2 6 Ace twins TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Kovacs 3
Motion of a twinned TE to the two WR side. Kovacs starts signaling others but no reaction. Morgan(-1) doesn't react to the motion at all and runs too far upfield instead of widening out to cut off the outside. Roh took a double and didn't win; he also didn't get beat up enough to allow a linebacker out on Morgan... not that it mattered. Push. Kovacs(+1.5) avoids a cut block from the slot receiver and gets out on the corner himself, saving Morgan considerable blushes. He can't quite tackle; Countess(+0.5) finishes it off. Excellent edge play by the secondary. Martin(+0.5) again blew through the line.
M41 3 3 I-Form Nickel even Run N/A Iso Martin 3
Jesus, Iowa can't block Martin(+1) . This time he slants under the G in the intended hole and comes underneath him quickly enough to also take out the fullback. Michigan is in their nickel package with only six in the box so both linebackers still get blocked. Demens(+1) beats his and gets to the hole. Coker meets him a yard and a half short of the first; Coker pushes the pile because he is Coker. Morgan did a pretty good job too, and RVB beat a block and almost made a play in the backfield. RPS -1; an actual 4-3 against this I-Form and this is potentially a loss.
M38 4 In I-Form Nickel even Run N/A QB sneak Van Bergen 0
Excellent coaching for Michigan to know Iowa does this and show up in force on the interior of the line when Iowa hurries to the line. RVB(+2) is the key guy, getting under the G and push him back; Martin(+1) also got key push. RPS +2. Huge swing play due to coaching.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 10

I'm not 100% on this. What happens is Iowa runs a zone at the short side of the field, away from Beyer (over the slot) and at the overhanging Floyd. Roh ducks under the tackle at the snap, which gets him in the backfield. That and total inability to block Martin means Coker has to bounce, which he does. That duck inside should mean a LB is exchanging over the top, which would be Morgan, but Morgan sucks inside. Heininger is moving out but can't make the diving ankle tackle, leaving Coker the corner. Morgan recovers to tackle from behind after a big gain.

Heiko asked about this. Mattison's answer is below; in short, this is an RPS –1.

O33 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Martin 0
This is nuts. Every play Martin(+2) is beating blocks. This time he momentarily takes on the C before shedding him to the playside, which forces an uncomfortable cutback. I think Martin actually grabs a foot; either that or he trips. Heininger(+0.5) and Morgan(+0.5) did well to constrict the space so he could not fall forward for a gain.
O33 2 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass N/A Deep hitch Martin Inc
Michigan brings a safety down as a withdrawn MLB type person when Iowa motions a TE into an H-back spot; pass anyway. Martin(+1, pressure +1) beats the LG and forces a throw; Vandenberg has a guy open in front of Floyd(-1, cover -1) but airmails it.
O33 3 10 Ace 3-wide Okie Penalty N/A False start -- -5
Martin as quasi-LB. LT moves early.
O28 3 15 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Slant Roh 11
M stunts the DTs. Roh(+1, pressure +1) drives the RT back into Vandenberg as RVB(+1) arrives; he has to throw. Despite going to the ground as he releases this he gets off a dart to McNutt on a slant that Countess(+0.5, tackling +1) is there on; he tackles. Great play by Iowa just to get the completion.
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-7, EO1Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O22 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 27
I blame Morgan less for this than I did live because M was pretty screwed either way once Campbell(-2) was slashed to the ground. This is their first play without Martin. But... that just means he gets -2 instead of -3. When he shoots the interior gap he gives up the outside; Heininger is flowing well but once the tackle realizes he's got no one showing in his gap he doubles on Heininger and seals him; no chance. Even if Morgan pops out Coker probably picks up a big gain because not only Campbell but RVB(-1) got cut. It wouldn't be nearly as big because forcing him back inside makes Kovacs relevant. Coker runs through a Woolfolk(-0.5, tackling -1) tackle attempt at the end, getting five or so additional yards.
O49 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Pass 4 Waggle deep hitch Kovacs 14
Michigan burned on play action; Kovacs(-1, cover -1) does not get enough depth as he's running to the sideline and opens up a deeper route when he could have mitigated the damage that was coming. Countess has no chance; he does tackle immediately. RPS -1.
M37 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Demens 2
I keep using "inside zone" but the formations and motion provides subtlety no one other than the coaches will ever pick up, which is my way of saying this is kind of an iso. The TE motions back into a FB spot and then heads straight upfield as everyone else zone blocks. This clears the frontside as Martin and others fight to defend the zone; RVB(-0.5) gets sent upfield, though I think that might be part of a playcall. This leaves Demens(+1) one on one with the TE in a fairly big space. He stands up the guy; Coker bangs into the guy from behind. Morgan(+1) crushed his blocker backwards and now peels off to help tackle. Rare play from the LBs here.
M35 2 8 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Heininger 1
Michigan blitzes Floyd off the edge and stunts the DTs. Heininger(+1) ends up blowing up about three guys; Martin and Morgan flow to the hole. Coker has to cut back; he does. RVB(-0.5) has been blown down the line a bit too much and can only make a hopeful diving attempt on Coker. He runs through it; Martin(+1) does the same and manages to trip him up. Beyer(-1) took a turrible angle and is the main reason this is scary. RPS +1.
M34 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 6 Hitch Floyd Inc
Martin LB thing. Michigan doesn't get there with six(pressure -2) and Floyd(-1, cover -1) is beaten for the first down; dropped.
M34 4 7 Ace 3-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Out Avery 8
This is tough; Avery is in inside leverage, takes a shove, and has man on an out route. He gets beat. Sometimes that's life. I don't get what Morgan's doing; everyone else is in man and he's sitting in a short zone not getting after the QB or doing much of anything. Could be a call; who knows with Mattison. (Cover -1, RPS -1)
M26 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 PA deep hitch Countess Inc
Plenty of time(pressure -1) albeit on first down play action. Vandenberg looks for McNutt on a deep-ish comeback route that is low and difficult to catch; Countess(+1, cover +1) is there making life difficult and possibly getting a PBU.
M26 2 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Martin 13
Martin(-2) gets locked onto by Ferentz and blown out. He tries to chuck after he's given up a bunch of ground and still can't manage it; backside G peels off on Demens as the FB kicks Morgan. Both LBs hold their ground well enough but Martin getting blown up means a big crease and a first down. Kovacs comes in to tackle.
M13 1 10 I-Form Big 46 bear Run N/A Iso Demens 3
Vandenberg sees the bear front and checks. They run away from it, to ungood effect. Campbell(-0.5) gets kicked and pancaked. Morgan(+1) is moving to the play at the snap and takes on the FB at the LOS, funneling back to help. Demens(+0.5) does not get a blocker because RVB(+1) tripped his dude, whether accidental or not. Demens makes a decent tackle attempt but does give up a yard or two YAC before the rest of the defense arrives.
M10 2 7 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Waggle TE flat Kovacs 9
Kovacs(-1, pressure -1) is sent on a backside blitz and sucks in on the run fake instead of getting in Vandenberg's face. Morgan(-1, cover -1) does the same thing on the TE drag route, opening it up; Woolfolk(+1) does a good job of reading it and almost getting to it but can't; he tackles at the one.
M1 1 G Goal line Goal line Pass N/A PA TE flat -- 1
If you're going to call it, first down is the time. Damn you Ferentz. No minuses assigned for a difficult job not quite done.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 6-14, 7 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass N/A WR pass scramble Demens 7
Hawthorne comes in. Iowa goes for the jugular by running an end-around pass; no sale from the secondary(cover +1). McNutt runs. Ryan(+1) does a good job of stringing it out and live I was mad at Hawthorne but he is the LB away from this play and he beats Demens(-1) to the sideline by yards. He still takes a crappy angle(-0.5) and gives up an extra couple yards.
M24 2 3 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Van Bergen -3
Iowa derfs on their blocking and lets RVB(+3) through clean. He does take a good angle under the tackle and to the ballcarrier, getting the TFL by himself, so nice job. RPS +1.
M27 3 6 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Tunnel screen Avery 2
Not sure what Iowa is thinking here but they've got no one to block Avery on this play, so Avery(+1, cover +1) shoots up into McNutt and grabs him. He ends up missing the tackle but takes so long to do so three guys grab McNutt after two yards. I think Iowa might have screwed something up here.
Drive Notes: FG, 6-17, 2 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 Scramble Van Bergen 6
Coverage(+2) is good but pressure(-2) is stoned; Van Bergen(-1) is trying to get to Vandenberg and gets out of his lane, opening up a scramble.
O31 2 4 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Van Bergen 9
RVB(-1) sealed quickly; Demens(-1) gets locked away by a guy releasing off RVB, and that's enough for a crease. Coker picks up like 4 YAC on the Woolfolk(-0.5) tackle.
O40 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Pass 4 Sack Heininger -8
Martin(+2) chucks a center by him and starts attacking vertically once he reads the PA,which draws attention from the G and FB. His motion upfield accidentally takes out the legs of the guy blocking Heininger. Heininger(+2) takes advantage of the opportunity to sack. (Pressure +2)
O32 2 18 I-Form 4-3 over Run N/A Iso Morgan 2
Running at the gap between martin and WDE Black. Morgan(+1.5) runs downhill at the FB and meets him at the line; Black(+1) chucks his blocker to the outside. Martin(+0.5) does a decent job against a double to not provide a cutback lane. Play goes nowhere.
O34 3 16 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Sack Roh -4
There are like two DL with Kovacs, Morgan, and Demens hanging around the line and Martin a quasi-LB. Michigan zone blitzes, sending only four. As Martin drops into a short zone right in front of a TE slant. Vandenberg pumps, freaks out, starts running out of the pocket, and gets sacked by Roh(+2). Cover +1, Pressure +1, RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-17, 11 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 4
Running away from Martin at the overloaded side of the line; Roh(-0.5) manages to get outside and does not give ground but ends giving too much width. Morgan(+0.5) takes on a block okay and funnels to help; Demens(+0.5) fights through a block to get to the hole and tackle. Heininger may have had a play a couple yards further upfield but he was held. Refs -1.
O44 2 6 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Martin -3
They again run away from Martin; Martin(+2) slants under the guard as the C releases immediately—not a good idea—and runs right into Coker's path. Heininger(+0.5) also beat his block and would have been there to finish the play if necessary.
O41 3 9 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Slant Morgan Inc
Michigan tips a zone blitz early. It looks like it's about to get picked up when Vandenberg releases the ball seemingly too early. He's got two receivers within about a yard of each other. Morgan(+2, cover +2) makes the hash to hash zone drop with aplomb, getting a PBU on a ball that if better thrown could have been a pick. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 9-17, 4 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O38 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 PA hitch Countess 8
Easy pitch and catch that Countess(-1, cover -1) allows to be turned up for 4 YAC.
O46 2 2 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Morgan 3
Heininger(+1) fights through a single block to the hole and absorbs the FB. Coker has to cut behind. Morgan(+0.5) scrapes to the hole and hits at about the LOS; Coker falls forward. That's life against Coker. Martin(-1) was blown out by a double, which gave Coker the room.
O49 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Demens 4
No real creases. Martin(+0.5) fights through a double okay and Demens(+0.5) pops a releasing G near enough to the LOS to convince Coker to cut back. Heininger(+0.5) also deals with a double in a moderately effective way, preventing the second guy from really doing anything to Morgan. Coker falls as he passes the LOS; Morgan probably would have stopped this for a similar gain anyway.
M47 2 6 I-Form 46 bear Pass N/A Hitch Countess Inc
Vandenberg checks when he sees bear + man coverage. He goes after Countess on a McNutt hitch; Countess(+2, cover +2) is right there to break it up. Nice play. RVB(+0.5) was getting some pressure, perhaps forcing an inadvisable throw.
M47 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Hitch Floyd 15
Michigan shifts late and blitzes. Avery(-1) doesn't time it that well and is about a yard or two away from crushing Vandenberg from behind when he gets the ball off to McNutt. McNutt got separation from the press coverage of Floyd(-1, cover -1)
M32 1 10 Ace big 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Van Bergen 2
Third TE motions over Beyer and then runs straight to the safety. Weird. Iowa doubles RVB and looks like they will seal him and get a crease but he manages to get playside of the interior guy(+0.5) and force a cutback. Beyer(+0.5) fends off a block and starts tackling from behind when Martin(+1) and Demens(+0.5) meet him in the hole.
M30 2 8 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass 4 Hitch Countess 6
Countess(-1) is a little late here and is very fortunate his desperate lunging arm tackle(-1) brings McNutt down. A little more balance and this is six on a nothing hitch.
M24 3 2 I-Form Big 46 bear Pass 5 Quick out Floyd 4
This is tough to stop if executed well; it's a three yard route. Floyd can't do it, but I won't ding him.
M20 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 7
Campbell(-2) in; he is easily slashed to the ground by the backside G. Heininger(+0.5) does a good job of cutting off the frontside but that cutback is there all day with the NT on his knees at the LOS. Morgan, getting blocked to the other side, reaches out an arm and slows Coker down but there's no way that's actually going to get him to the ground. Kovacs comes up and gets plowed over, but that's not his fault. That's physics.
M13 2 3 I-Form Big 4-4 under Pass 4 PA throwaway Demens Inc
Kovacs rolls up. Iowa goes play action with essentially a one-man route... McNutt jogs off the LOS as a TE releases. No sale from Demens(+1); Woolfolk(+0.5) is over the top and Vandenberg chucks it OOB. Weird call. Cover +1.
M13 3 3 I-Form Big 46 bear Run N/A Lead zone Roh 13
Beyer and Ryan in the game at the same time, with Beyer the rolled up LB on the line. Kovacs is going in man with the TE coming across the formation. Roh(-2) gets blown up by that TE; crushed to the inside that is it for the line. Morgan(-2) runs straight into the LOS. Kovacs has to keep contain and gets kicked out; TD.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 9-24, 10 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 PA Dig Floyd 24
Floyd(-0.5, cover -1) beaten on a dig route for a round first-down yardage; Woolfolk(-1, tackling -1) whiffs embarrassingly on the tackle, running right by the dude without even getting a hand on him and banging into Demens. Morgan(-1) vacated his zone by biting on the PA as well.
O48 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 Slant Floyd Inc
An I form version of QB oh noes with the entire line blocking as if it's a run and Iowa throwing a wide open slant against Floyd(-1, cover -1); dropped. RPS -1.
O48 2 10 I-Form 4-3 over Run N/A Iso Heininger 9
Iowa runs at the strong side of the line. Martin(+1) beats the G and takes out the FB. Heininger(-1) is kicked out big time; Demens(-1) takes a block a couple yards downfield from a releasing G. Beyer(-1) fails to read the play and gets himself out of position, then absorbs Coker, falling backwards and giving up near first down yardage.
M43 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Demens 0
Beyer and Ryan in. Beyer rolls to the line when Iowa evens its strength so you've got a 4-3 under with SLBs on both sides of the line, basically. Heininger(+0.5) and Morgan(+1) do well enough on the playside to force a cutback, with Morgan impacting the FB at the LOS and removing any hole. Demens(+3) sees the iso and roars at the line, taking on a block from the second guy releasing off Martin at the LOS and getting outside of it. Coker runs into him and Demens friggin' sticks the guy, holding Coker not six inches from where the impact happened until the cavalry arrives. That is almost unbelievable.
M43 4 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Penalty N/A False start -- -5
Illegal snap prevents Ferentz from going for it here in a horrifying, exactly-right game theory play.
Drive Notes: Punt, 16-24, 5 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O36 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Demens 4
Beyer(+0.5) sets up well on the outside, restricting space but not offering a bounce. RVB(+0.5) is blown out by a double but recovers after the second guy releases downfield to trip Coker a couple yards downfield. Need Demens(-1) to do better here; he took a block and got shoved back, eventually doing nothing.
O40 2 6 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 5
Demens(+0.5) hits the LOS quickly and Martin(+0.5) shoots to the intended spot, forcing a cutback. Heininger(-1) has been blown off the ball by a double, so it's there, but he fights through the block; Morgan(-1) is the bigger issue since he took the block of the other guy and lets Coker outside. He gets off it to tackle but momentum carries them both forward three yards before they run into Kovacs and his blocker.
O45 3 1 Goal line Goal line Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan -1
Beyer and Ryan to one side of the line in a bear front. Iowa runs power at them. It is a heap of bodies. Ryan(+2) takes on a TE's block and sheds it to the outside, falling into Coker's feet in the backfield as Demens(+1) reads the G pull and scrapes to the hole on the outside; he's not needed because Ryan tackles but he would be there if needed. RVB and Martin(+0.5 each) help by standing up to double well enough that Coker couldn't try to cut it inside.
Drive Notes: Punt, 16-24, 2 min 4th Q. Michigan's next drive is the rest of the game. EOG.

That was totally acceptable.


Was it better than acceptable?

No. It was exactly acceptable despite the low yardage totals. That was a short game. Iowa only had nine drives and scored long touchdowns on three of them; they did not turn the ball over. They didn't even come particularly close—the closest thing was a Desmond Morgan PBU (about which more later) that would have been a spectacular catch.

Iowa averaged 6.7 yards per passing play* and 4.6 per rush. That's meh. Vandenberg's actual YPA was 8.1—not good; Iowa averaged 5.3 yards a play. Etc. It all points to an average performance against an average offense. Iowa is hovering around 60 in all the yardage metrics and is 29th in FEI, Michigan gave up an average number of points, etc. etc.

*[IE: I added in Vandenberg's rushes to get 167 yards on 25 attempts]

But acceptable is good?

Excellence is good. Acceptable is acceptable, which is unbelievable in this context.

I'm confused.

This is what it's like to live in GERG's head, I think.


Okay, yeah, that's a good idea. Chart.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 11 4 7 Busy, busy. TFL or two and usual level of stoutness.
Martin 17.5 4 13.5 Essentially unblockable. What we expected from him the whole year. Think Iowa's inside zone game plays into his strengths.
Roh 3 2.5 0.5 Sack was kind of a gift from freaked Vandenberg. Didn't do much else.
Brink - - - DNP
Heininger 7.5 2 5.5 Quality day. Will take this the rest of the year.
Black 2 2 0 Limited time.
Campbell - 4.5 -4.5 Got cut to the ground and was a major culprit on two long runs.
TOTAL 41 19 22 The Mike Martin we've been waiting for; 2:1 ratio is the usual at this point.
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 9 12.5 -3.5 Not as bad as you might think, but still a problem.
Demens 10 6 4 Stuck Coker cold a half yard from a critical third down conversion. I be like dang.
Ryan 3 - 3 Michigan missed him.
Fitzgerald - - - DNP
Beyer 1 2 -1 Lacks the impact of Ryan, didn't do anything too obviously wrong.
Hawthorne - 0.5 -0.5 Brief cameo.
C. Gordon - - - One play, I think.
TOTAL 23 21 2 Average average average.
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 0.5 4.5 -4 Struggled with McNutt.
Avery 1 1 0 Seems quality at nickel.
Woolfolk 1.5 3 -1.5 Tackling questionable, not tested deep.
Kovacs 2.5 2 0.5 Ah, Kovacs.
T. Gordon - - - DNP(!)
Countess 4 6 -2 Great day except for the 44 yards that were all on him.
Van Slyke - - - DNP
TOTAL 9.5 16.5 -7 A bit of a letdown, but expected given opposition.
Pressure 8 6 2 Decent job; few blitzes.
Coverage 11 14 -3 Good recovery after weak start.
Tackling 1 5 13% Coker.
RPS 7 6 1 Old school push.

Martin was crazy good. Just 1.5 TFLs but was the primary force for a large chunk of Iowa's other not-so-good plays, including the Heininger sack on which three guys tried to block Martin and Heininger squeezed through some befuddled dudes. This was all day:

Heininger, meanwhile, had his best day as a Wolverine. He looked like an above-average Big Ten player. I wonder if Iowa's interior line is not very good.

The linebackers felt Ryan's absence mostly in his lack of playmaking—both ways. Beyer was out there but not tested often. Demens seems to be topping out at just okay, but he had one of his better games of the year. Twice he took on a lead block and came off it to tackle Coker, and the second was a critical play I still find hard to believe:

If you could freeze time at the moment it became clear Coker was going to cut back into a blocked Demens a yard from the first down, what kind of odds would you get on a stop? I submit the odds would be very low.

The secondary… well, I think we knew something like this was coming. Countess froshderped that long completion on Iowa's first drive and Floyd is just never going to do well against top flight receivers. That's life.


He obviously had some problems but since we can now ask the coordinators direct questions and get straight answers we know it's a little more complicated than just that:

The first play of Iowa's third drive was an inside zone that bounced outside the end for ten yards. Roh dove inside the tackle. Was that something you called? “That would be me. In coaching Craig and watching everything they did -- I know exactly what you’re talking about -- every game that they’ve played so far this year, they’ve brought the tight end in motion, and he blocked out on the end man. Well when that tight end is in Craig’s area right there, most times you have him attack that tight end. Well they kind of wanted you to do that in other games, so now the tackle has an angle on you and he can knock you out farther. So I just told him, I said, ‘Craig, don’t mess with that. When that guy comes over in motion, just attack the tackle and hold the edge on the tackle.’ Looking back on it, I told him straight out, I said, ‘Craig, they changed. They did the same thing Michigan State did and they hadn’t done it all year. They kind of influenced him to keep him from being able to attack that tight end. That’s not him.”

MGoQuery: Was Desmond Morgan supposed to scrape over the top? “Desmond Morgan’s supposed to stack behind him. He’s not running outside of him. Because Craig didn’t play through the tight end like he probably thought he should have, and I wish I would have told him to do that, the guy got knocked back a little bit and got kind of in Desmond’s way and he got caught up in the trash. That’s what happened on that one.”

My natural inclination on that play is to ding Morgan because a junior dives inside and a freshman doesn't come over the top to pick up the trash. It turns out this is one of those hidden RPS things that we can never know, or at least couldn't before the Great Hoke Coordinator Presser Revolution, and that this is somewhat on Roh but mostly an RPS thing.

I do think Morgan has the opportunity to read what's going on in front of him and adjust to the changing situation to make a great play… when he's a junior, and if he's an All Big Ten level player. So I don't know if giving Morgan a –2 on the first Coker touchdown is actually right since Black might be freelancing inappropriately and Morgan's assignment is not something that matches my expectations. This is a necessary limitation of not actually being Greg Mattison. As always, numbers in these posts are helpful summaries and useful… but not gospel.

Anyway, Morgan did some good stuff. He actually executed a successful hash to hash zone drop:

I've seen a bunch of people try that this year. No one has actually done it until then.

Now that we've got the defending out of the way… yeesh, Morgan had some problems. This is not even a little bit of a surprise when you run a freshman out against Marcus Coker and Iowa's zone running game. It's a sore spot, though:

That is not good. /science!

Is there anything you have ever loved in your whole life more than the coordinator pressers?

Not related to football media. I think they even beat out Star Control II. I mean, you can ask Mattison about a specific ten-yard run in the first quarter and he knows exactly what you're talking about and can explain what happened. No longer do we have to have months-long arguments about whether Kenny Demens or a corner was the problem on a 44-yard drag. We can just ask.

I know I've been critical of Borges but Borges's pressers are about 95% as awesome as Mattison's. While I'm frustrated with the steep costs of the transition (on offense, anyway), reading the presser transcriptions from Heiko fills me with confidence this is going to be a national program once they get the pieces they need in. The contrast between this and GERG is immense.

Any other worries pop up?

Yeah, this was not a good game for Campbell. Contrast the above video, where Campbell gets put on his knees, with anything Mike Martin did. Campbell went down on two of the few snaps he was in and both of those turned into big runs. If Campbell is on his feet and moving on the above, does Morgan still run up into that gap? Maybe, maybe not. The dropoff from Martin to Campbell in this game was ominous. With Heininger established Michigan is now replacing 3/4ths of their defensive line with not a whole lot of playing time going to backup options.


Martin had his best day of the year; Heininger and RVB also played well. Mattison's short-yardage attack is killing people.


Countess is going to be a real good time, with emphasis on going to be. Floyd can't quite check McNutt, and the wildly oscillating item that is Desmond Morgan ended up considerably in the red.

What does it mean for Illinois and the future?

I'm sure the Illini will test Michigan with the triple option after watching them struggle with it against Northwestern… but I think Michigan will have ironed out many of their issues.

Unfortunately, AJ Jenkins is going to be an issue. I assume Woolfolk will be over the top on him. That will be a test for a guy who's bounced back and forth from safety and hasn't really gotten his feet under him since returning from his ankle injury.

As for the near term future, it looks like Cam Gordon is way down the depth chart and the defensive line is going to be an issue next year. On the bright side, for the rest of this year it looks like we may be getting an improved (healthy?) version of Mike Martin and Will Heininger seems to be approaching average.



November 9th, 2011 at 4:14 PM ^

I don't see how Demens doesn't at least get a -2 on that 44 yard pass.  It might not be his fault that the play goes 44 yards, but he's nowhere near the guy when he catches it and he allows an easy first down.  If Demens does his job does that play not end at the 30 yard line folllowed by a punt?


November 9th, 2011 at 4:45 PM ^

Demens job is to be there until the hash and his corner should be right there waiting for the switch.

If Demens follows that leaves a huge gap right behind him because Avery is taking off with the seam.

That play was strictly on Countess. It was a freshman making a mistake that I am sure will be solidified this week.


November 9th, 2011 at 4:35 PM ^

Was a beast in this game. Obvious comment is obvious, but for real, he's been a stalwart. Brian - what was BG or Lamar Woodley's best day against good competition? +13.5 against Iowa/Coker is a pretty damn good day. I dunno that Martin is BG/Woodley level, but that just means he might not be a 1st or high 2nd round pick... which is still pretty damn good.


Edit: Also, I really like the "Okie" package with Martin standing up. In obvious passing downs moving Martin around lets him dictate how he is blocked, rather than the other way around. When MM is at the nose in a passing down, the G and C can know that they are going to double him. When he's 3 yards back and "blitzes" it's a whole lot harder to plan a double. Especially since there is film of him dropping into coverage - makes it even more realistic of a blitz. I definitely prefer this look to the one from the ND game where he bailed out from the nose into coverage - where Rees checked into runs. Mattison did very similar stuff with Ngata in Baltimore, good for Mike. This stuff can only help his draft stock


November 9th, 2011 at 4:32 PM ^

...is terrifying for next year.  Who is going to play there?  This is an extra shame, because I feel kind of...good(?!) about the LBs and secondary for 2012.


November 9th, 2011 at 4:46 PM ^

Thus the urgent feeling amongst many of us since the Spring that we need more DTs.  This led to consternation (to put it mildly) when we passed on Tommy Scutt and cooled on Danny O'Brien.   Pipkins is a gem and will play from day one.  Somehow we must fashion the combination of Q, BWC, Ash,Rock  and/or another freshman into a serviceable DT rotation.  Scary,  but my faith in Mattison abounds, and since it was his decision to stop after Pipkins I'll suspend my angst.


November 9th, 2011 at 5:41 PM ^

Roh probably switches to SDE and Black plays WDE, since Roh is the bigger of the two and we lack other experienced DEs. Clark will play some, probably mostly as a pass rusher. Behind them we just have Brink and guys who haven't played. At DT only Campbell will have much experience, and he will probably have to rotate out a lot. We will have to cobble a rotation out of him, Washington, Ash, Wilkins, and Pipkins. At least we will have 5 scholarship guys, 4 of whom will be in at least their 3rd year in the program and the other a highly touted freshman, although I wouldn't assume that Pipkins is going to be able to step right into the starting lineup fresh out of high school. 

The DL looks like the weakest unit on next year's team, but LB and DB look like our strongest units. We will have decent veterans at every position and experienced backups at least at LB.


November 10th, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

before the season.  But first Heininger then Brink playing ahead of Ash/Wilkins/QW have changed my mind.  I'm not writing them off, and I hope they have great offseasons and do what their recruiting profiles say they should.  But Mattison loves rotating guys and those those 3 haven't seen the field much.  Says a lot. 

Maybe it's not a talent thing, it could be they don't play "Michigan Defense" yet (which I believe means sprinting to the ball on every play, and I think Mattison is serious about).  That can be fixed quickly.


November 9th, 2011 at 4:34 PM ^

I applaud and agree with the section regarding the coordinator pressers.

I was somewhat surprised that Mattison answered those detailed questions so explicitly.

There has been a growing sentiment, mostly amongst the commenters, that some of the coaches are stupid idiots and Heiko needs to go to the pressers and make them see how stupid they really are because everything is just all black and white and so simple.

That kind of thinking is just not at all good or interesting or reasonable and is mostly stupid and dumb.

El Jeffe

November 9th, 2011 at 4:56 PM ^

Well, there has never been sentiment, growing or otherwise, that Mattison is anything other than a righteous angel of death.

As for Borges, my take on the criticism is that it is not so much that he is stupid, but rather two types of lamentations:




That's what it is for me, anyway. I get that he is installing his stuff, just like RR did, which I defended mightily, btw. But with Borges it's more that he has shown flashes of willingness to call plays that fit Denard's strengths (EMU(!); the last two drives of Iowa), but then seems to revert to things that are not Denard's strong suits at odd times (MSU; all but the last two drives of Iowa). That is frustrating, but I certainly don't think Borges is stupid.


November 9th, 2011 at 4:48 PM ^

I'm gonna disagree on Coker's 30+ yard run. 

Roh defeats the hook block but then gets too far upfield, creating a seam.  If he builds that wall and stays at the heel depth, I think that play goes for no gain.

The DT (can't read his number) fights down the line correctly.

Morgan fills an enormous gap that, had he scraped WAY over the top, outside of the DT, would have created just as big a run for Coker.

Demens is sealed by the center, but he's actually not in terrible cut-back position because he has Morgan's help there.

Of course, Big Will getting cut sucks bad.

I'm guessing that play was SUPPOSED to go where Morgan is standing.  The playside T actually leads outside to help kick out Roh.  Since Roh went too far upfield, he wasn't needed and was able to help seal our DT.

I don't know.  Maybe it was supposed to be an off-tackle play and Morgan was supposed to scrape over the top, but he went with an LB instinct gamble that didn't pay off.


November 9th, 2011 at 4:52 PM ^

By the way, on Demens 3rd down stuff, you can credit Morgan with absolutely stonewalling the FB in the hole.  I remember Spielman commenting on the play during the game, saying Coker should have followed his fullback.  He couldn't.  Morgan stuffed it like a pro.  You can hear his pads crack on the video. 


November 9th, 2011 at 4:55 PM ^

And realize how amazing it is that the defense this year is average.  It's a miracle of epic proportions, and the nits that we're all picking with this and that just pale in comparison to that one amazing fact.

Mattison uber alles.


November 9th, 2011 at 5:01 PM ^

I thought he was in on some plays?? Perhaps I'm wrong though as I was watching it with my dad who likes to have the TV volume one notch away from mute so catching names can be impossibly at that point.  Granted, I don't think I missed too much w/ Spielman. 



November 9th, 2011 at 5:15 PM ^

I don't understand the negativity toward Heininger.  Maybe this is misplaced (I'm not going to check the other game posts) but I feel he has gotten railed on all year about being below average and he has a good game and now he's "approaching average". 

He's the starting DT on a good defense (better than we've seen in years), he's beaten out scholarship players and he's basically irreplaceable from what I've seen from the backups.  It sickens me to think he might hear Michigan fans consider him to be "approaching average" after all work he's no doubt put in to earn a starting position.


November 9th, 2011 at 7:58 PM ^

"Sickens" is a bit melodramatic. Sometimes players aren't average even if they work hard. I don't think he's an average Big Ten DT given the way he's played. I don't think he's far off now, but he was getting blown up pretty good earlier in the season.

Blue boy johnson

November 9th, 2011 at 5:18 PM ^

I find it humorous that Brian gets the best Xmas gift ever; getting his questions answered respectfully and in detail at the pressers, and now believes...

reading the presser transcriptions from Heiko fills me with confidence this is going to be a national program once they get the pieces they need in.


November 10th, 2011 at 10:50 AM ^

But I think everyone, but most especially Brian, would feel better if we had personal coordinator pressers on Sunday morning, just to sooth and make Brian feel better. (Saturday night would still be too emotional)(And I am in no way saying I think Brian or anyone else are self-important enough to say they DESERVE this....just the difference between Monday and post coordinator pressers is striking).

Really, unless you're horrified you have a complete boob running one side of your team, why doesn't EVERYONE do this? I guess some, in the Bo mold want to control the message, and other's, Lloyd like, dont' want to give the media anything.  But if they can go out there and coherently give out their views, it not only shows they know what they're doing, and know what the problems are just as well as the guy watching on tv, but it also humanizes them, and slows down a little of ARGH FIRE THAT FACELESS GUY WHO MAKES BAD CALLS JUST TO MAKE MY LIFE MISERABLE!!!!  Borges is good at it...Mattison is magic.

Admittedly back pre-internet you had only lazy paper writers who had their column 3/4's written and just wanted to plug in some quotes, and had only so many column inches, but with 24/7 radio and online venues it shows Hoke has adapted in ways to things guys from Bo's era never had to deal with.


November 9th, 2011 at 7:19 PM ^

What pieces are missing right now to stop this team from being a "national program" (whatever that means)?  Anything close to an effective gameplan on offense against MSU and Iowa would see this team sitting at 9-0 right now. 

Right now the cost of the offensive transition is a trip to the Big Ten Championship game. 


November 10th, 2011 at 4:25 AM ^

If you could freeze time at the moment it became clear Coker was going to cut back into a blocked Demens a yard from the first down, what kind of odds would you get on a stop? I submit the odds would be very low.

No. They would be high. Low probability = high odds.

Pet peeve.

Deep Under Cover

November 10th, 2011 at 11:06 AM ^

I can't help but feel like Morgan is not all to blame for jumping inside on that play and missing the tackle (the "sore spot" video).  Seems to me Roh got too far upfield and pushed out of the play, where he really should have been in position to turn the play back inside. If he turns it back inside, Morgan is in perfect position to make the play.  Maybe Morgan made a move too soon, but I thought it was an aggressive play that probably should have paid off.