Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Nebraska Comment Count

Brian November 23rd, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Programming note: Tomorrow will be somewhat lighter than usual but the Game waits for no man, so expect a UFR, an interview with Laquon Treadwell, and probably a UV type thing, along with Midweek Metrics. The timing of these things may be all wacky because of family obligations but UFR should be up relatively early. Recruitin' hits Friday.

Formation notes: The usual 4-3 under against plays with two guys blocking in the backfield and nickel against one or zero. They had a couple snaps in what looks like a 3-4:


This only came out a couple times and may just be a tweak to get the WDE in a pass drop. They didn't passively two-gap anything.

As for Nebraska, they spent some time in the shotgun above, ran a lot of pistol…


…and on their late touchdown drive they ran some I form pitches and broke out the flexbone:


Gratuitous okie shot:


Top to bottom: Kovacs, Martin, Van Bergen, Morgan, Roh, Demens, Ryan.

Substitution notes: Michigan is all but settled. Secondary is Countess/Floyd/Kovacs/Woolfolk with Avery coming in for nickel plays and Gordon subbing in for Woolfolk from time to time. Kovacs missed the rest of a drive after his immensely fake injury; Gordon came in for that as well.

At linebacker, Demens, Morgan, Ryan 95% of the time with occasional snaps for Brennen Beyer spotting Ryan.

On the line, RVB, Heininger, Martin, Roh most of the time with scattered snaps for Black and Campbell. Brink had a very brief cameo; when they got to the nickel they lift Heininger and put Ryan's hand down.

Last year this section would be discussing the 16 position changes made at midseason.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read keeper Roh 5
Roh(-0.5) isn't far enough upfield on this to prevent a keeper from being a good choice so Martinez pulls and heads for the sideline. He's not going Clark here—he does run out on the edge—but he could have done better. Floyd(+0.5) comes up quickly to escort OOB after a modest gain. He didn't have to beat a block because the WR was anticipating the inside zone.
O45 2 5 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Ryan -5
Ryan(+1) on the edge here. He does a good job of getting width and forming up on the LOS, forcing a pitch that Gordon(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) seem to have contained w/ some help from Countess. We don't find out because the pitch is crappy and fumbled. Demens(-1) got cut to the ground alarmingly.
O40 3 10 Pistol trips Nickel even Pass 3 Comeback Floyd Inc
M flips Ryan and Martin and then backs Ryan out into a spy zone. Martin is one on one with the LT and gets decent pressure; Martinez throws. Floyd(+2, cover +2) is step for step with the WR and has as good of a chance to catch it as his opponent, but it's not well thrown and hits the ground.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O9 1 10 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Ryan 11
Ryan(-1) is in better position than Roh and is a bit faster on the edge and so almost tracks Martinez down before he can get to the LOS but stumbles a bit. Floyd(-1) has a tough job but ends up sitting a few yards downfield with a WR trying to block him; his move to tackle is late and futile. Could have shot upfield to force it back to Ryan. Martinez is on the sideline and picks up a first down.
O20 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Martin -3
Second TE is an an H-back spot over the strongside tackle. Martin(+3) annihilates the center and eats Burkhead in the backfield; RVB(+1) had beaten a block by sliding inside and was there to help clean up; Demens(+0.5) and Heininger(+0.5) also slid past blocks to make this a gang tackle in the backfield. RPS +2; Mattison got all the backfields. Worthy of screenshotting at BWS.
O17 2 13 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Pass 5 Quick out Countess 5
Mattison sends five, dropping Ryan into a short zone and sending Morgan hash to hash as Demens(+0.5) and Avery(+0.5) come. They time it well and get in on Martinez(pressure +1), forcing a quick throw that Countess(+1, cover +1) is there to tackle on. RPS +1.
O22 3 7 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 4 Seam Demens Inc
Roh gets a free run but forms up, afraid of overruning Martinez and opening up a scramble. Not sure how I feel about that. Martin(+0.5) is coming around to hit from behind as Roh decides to close; Martinez still gets the ball off without issue. It's a seam to a TE lined up in the slot that Demens(+2, cover +2) is running step-for-step with. He never gets his head around but when the receiver goes for the ball he gets his arm in the dude's chest and breaks it up. Example of NOBODY CARES coverage tech. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 6 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Run N/A Pin and pull zone Morgan 8
Heininger(+1) and Roh(+1) do a great job of slanting outside their guys and absorbing the two pullers. Burkhead has to cut back, which he can do because Martin(-1) got sliced to the ground a la Campbell, Morgan(-2) overran the play, and Demens(-1) ate a block well downfield. Morgan is running free here and should chop this down at the line even with the two guys who got blocked; instead this is a good gain.
O43 2 2 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 3
Martin(+0.5) beats his man to the inside and threatens to tackle for loss. RVB manages to fight through a double and falls at the feet of the RB, causing him to leap; Morgan(+1) takes on a block and comes through it to tackle the leaping Burkhead. He still picks up the first, but good play from Michigan. If RVB can keep his feet this is a minimal gain.
O46 1 10 Pistol Diamond 4-4 nickel Pass N/A PA post Gordon 54
M very confused, w/ motion up to and including the snap. Avery in the box functioning as a sort of playside LB. UNL goes with the same sweep fake Blue Seoul picked out in their game against OSU and sucks the linebackers up. Floyd(-3) is beaten and tries to tackle the WR; Thomas Gordon(-3, cover -5) sucks up way, way too much and we've got a Worst Waldo situation on our hands. Gordon and Countess wiping each other out is very yakety sax but ultimately irrelevant; this guy wasn't getting caught. RPS –1…  Michigan got beat here but there was a deep safety on the play who biffed. Not really on the coordination.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-7, 1 min 1st Q. Denard screen INT sets up next drive.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M34 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Martin -5
Mike Martin(+3), who is the nose tackle—THE NOSE TACKLE—forces a pitch on the speed option. He leaves the backside guard in a crumpled heap as he does so. Demens(+1) is flowing hard from the inside and Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) beats the WR to the outside. Burkhead has no choice but to try to bounce it. Kovacs puts him down.
M39 2 15 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Pass N/A Tunnel screen Van Bergen Inc
Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) leaps to bat it down. Roh(+1, cover +1) had dropped off and impeded the WR so this was either incomplete or dead anyway. RPS +1.
M39 3 15 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 4 Tunnel screen Demens 5
Demens(+1, tackling +1) and Martin(+1) combine to tackle here; Demens was dropping into a convenient short zone and Martin peeled back from pure pass rush.
Drive Notes: FG(52), 10-10, 12 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 Pistol offset 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read keeper Kovacs 16
FB and TE in this pistol set. Kovacs rolls down late and Nebraska does what I've always wanted M to do: FB comes down like he's going to attempt to kick out the DE. Black forms up to take the hit, expecting that he will have to get the backside gap on a handoff while Kovacs takes the QB. FB then jukes outside and gets a great block in space on Kovacs, opening up the edge. Martinez gets the edge and a big gain until Floyd vaguely forces him OOB. RPS -2; opposite of a Zook RPS. I do need to minus Kovacs(-1) for getting thoroughly owned on the block. Picture paged.
O34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Jet sweep Countess 23
Roh does a mediocre job of stringing this out but it's not too bad. Morgan flows out hard and while he gets chopped he drew the attention of a blocker and this allows Gordon a free run at the ballcarrier. Unfortunately Countess(-3) executes the cardinal sin, losing leverage and letting the guy outside. There is a bit of a hold here; it shouldn't have to come to that. That turns the play from a decent 4-6 yard gain, assuming a Gordon tackle, into a big play.
M43 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Down G Beyer 0 (Pen -10)
Unbalanced. Total OL ownage by the DL. Beyer(+2) gets into his blocker in a good position, causing the pulling G to run into his block. RVB(+1) comes under his blocker and takes out the fullback. Martin(+1) destroys the C and flows. Burkhead has to bounce; an unblocked Demens(+1) scrapes and flows to tackle for nothing. Beyer's guy picks up a holding call to compound matters.
O47 1 20 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Ryan -7
Ryan(+2) sets up on the edge well; Martinez makes a mistake by pulling. Even so he seems shocked by Ryan's upfield acceleration. Ryan tackles five yards in the backfield... Martinez escapes. He's still doomed. Martin(+0.5), Gordon(+0.5), and Avery(+0.5) are the effective pursuit. The missed tackle actually costs Nebraska two yards. (No minuses for missed tackle attempts that effectively end plays.)
O40 2 27 Pistol 2TE Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Ryan 2
Martinez with good time; he goes to two reads and finds nothing (cover +2, pressure- 1). At this point he bugs out; Ryan(+1) comes off a block to tackle just as he passes the LOS.
O42 3 25 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Martin 6
First read not there; not really enough time to get the necessary depth by the time Roh(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) flush Martinez. He scrambles, which like whatever. Demens(+1, tackling +1) does a good job to cut his gain down in space. (Cover +1, Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 3 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 TE out Martin Inc
Martin(+2, pressure +2) through the line instantly, forcing a quick throw. He's got a TE in front of Demens for a modest gain; dropped. Coverage push. Decent coverage on a short route.
O32 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Scramble -- 5
This is a pass but Martinez bugs out immediately, scared of the pressure. Kovacs comes up to shove him out after a modest gain. RPS +1 for Martinez happy feet.
O37 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Sack Ryan -2
This is the same blitz that Kovacs annihilated Alex Carder on in the first game of the year but Ryan(-1) screws it up by not ducking inside a la Kovacs. This gives Martinez a couple seconds when he should rightly be taking a helmet to his chest. Coverage(+2) is good, at which point the unblocked dude is relevant even if he took a crappy path(pressure +1) and Martinez bugs out into the arms of RVB(+1). RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 1 min 2nd Q. This first half is the long touchdown, one good RPS play, a freshman screwup, and jack else.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-4 base Run N/A IVSO Gordon 9
IVSO = inverted veer speed option. Nebraska runs the veer; Martinez keeps and Burkhead gets in a pitch relationship. Martinez heads to the line where Demens(+1) takes on a lead blocker and is reaching out to tackle along with Martin(+1) who did his usual jet through the line. Morgan(-0.5) reads it late and Gordon(-1) sucks in when he needs to have the pitchman. This is a Cool Play and therefore that is a little less harsh than I would otherwise be; Michigan does have this on film so it shouldn't be a total mystery. Beyer(-1) also could have helped out on the pitchman instead of sucking in. RPS -1.
O29 2 1 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Run N/A Inverted veer give Demens 16
Campbell in for Martin. Nebraska runs the veer at a two WR side and there is no contain, so give. RVB is optioned off. Now four blockers on three M defenders. Ryan(+0.5) does a good job of getting the edge, pushing his man back and forcing the play inside the hashes. Demens(-2) is cut to the ground way too easily; Abdullah is breaking past the secondary and threatening a big gainer one on one with Floyd when Kovacs manages to ankle tackle him. RPS -2; Nebraska attacked the perimeter here and by optioning RVB got a big numbers advantage.
O45 1 10 Pistol offset 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read belly Morgan 4
Inside zone blocking with the FB headed to the back. Morgan(+1) makes a good read this time and cuts backside to tackle; Gordon was creeping down and is also there. Burkhead gets a couple YAC.
O49 2 6 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inverted veer keeper Martin 0
Two playside DL are slanting outside so Martinez keeps. This looks pretty dangerous as Demens is left backside and gets swallowed on the second level but Heininger(+1) gets sufficient penetration to narrow the lane here and Martin(+2) beats the center and flows down the line to nail Martinez at the LOS. Morgan(+0.5) had gotten outside his blocker and may have been some help; he got held but it wasn't relevant at that point.
O49 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run N/A QB draw -- 1
Nebraska had it big time as M has three guys to one side and just one to the left of the center. That's three free blockers against air. Martinez inexplicably runs to the side where RVB and Martin are to get tackled. Let off. Martin(+0.5), RVB(+0.5), I guess. RPS -1. Hypothetical Nebraska UFR just gave Martinez -3.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-10, 8 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Inverted veer keeper Van Bergen 1
Martinez keeps when he should give; there is no contain up the field and Abdullah will be running at blocked guys on the edge. As a result, RVB(+0.5) gets inside and forces Martinez away from his blocking, as he alters the pulling G's path. This makes him useless and gives Demens(+0.5) a free run. Martin(+1) has beaten a block and also enters the picture; Ryan(+1) blew the slot receiver up with an explosive burst and there are four guys converging on Martinez at the LOS.
O27 2 9 Pistol 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Floyd Inc
Martinez is a little late here and the ball gets out as the WR is turning. He's got a crap arm so the ball floats, allowing Floyd(+2, cover +2) to jump it. It's two yards short of the WR or this is a pick six. Floyd tries to dig it out; he cannot. Normally I would give a jump like this three but this was easy pickings.
O27 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Skinny post Avery Inc
Martinez has time but happy feet also; he starts scrambling up in the pocket despite decent blocking. RVB comes off a blocker to force a throw, which is to a post route Avery(+2, cover +2) has dropped right into. He's in the WR's chest as the ball arrives; WR awkwardly backs off and bats the ball skyward; it falls incomplete. RPS +1; no routes open.
Drive Notes: Punt, 31-10, 4 min 3rd Q. Bad punt and good return sets the next drive up deep in M territory.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Pass 4 PA seam Woolfolk Inc
Time(pressure -1); Martinez throws too early to a guy who Woolfolk(+2, cover +2) has blanketed; Woolfolk bats it down.
M31 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-4 base Pass 4 PA improv Martin 12
Play action inverted veer catches M slanting away from the play and is either a brilliant call based on inside knowledge or damn lucky. Either way, Campbell(+1) and Martin(+1) slant through the OL and force Martinez to scramble. As he nears the sideline he chucks a ball you're certain is doomed that a WR plucks out of the air on the sideline. Well played? I guess. If they're going to do this, fine. Pressure +1.
M19 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Down G pitch Morgan 7
Roh(+1) doesn't get sealed; he flows out onto the edge with his blocker and drives him back, picking off the fullback. Kovacs(+0.5) is the outside guy and he maintains leverage inside the numbers, forcing Burkhead into a narrow crevice without a lead blocker. Morgan(-2) has no job but to flow to this (on a pitch) and has help behind him; he slows, actually briefly stops, and by the time he resumes his path outside he's too late to crush Burkhead at the LOS like he should. Floyd(-0.5) comes up and makes a dodgy ankle tackle that gives Burkhead a few extra yards.
M12 2 3 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Down G pitch Kovacs 2
Beyer/Ryan package. Looks like the exact same play but it develops differently; RB just runs into the back of blockers this time instead of trying to get to the edge. Beyer(-0.5) is cut to the ground on the edge; he does contain. Morgan(-1) is again late in case there's a cutback when the entire defense is behind him, which gives Nebraska some yards despite the lack of a FB again; Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) thunders down into the hole and crunches Burkhead after two yards, setting up third and short.
M10 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Down G pitch Kovacs 2
Seems to want to go inside since the FB does, taking out Morgan. Burkhead doesn't like that pile at the LOS and bounces outside since Beyer(-1) gives up the edge. He gets in the backfield but he does not maintain outside leverage. Bounce available and taken; Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) again shoots down to the LOS at great speed to tackle, but he can't prevent the first.
M8 1 G Flexbone 4-3 even Run N/A Outside toss Beyer 5
One of the flexbacks goes in the looping motion flexbacks do and takes an outside toss pitch. Gordon(+0.5) keeps the edge well; Beyer(-1) is chopped to the ground by a WR. Demens(-1) took a block and got blown into the endzone; this would near the goal line but for the pursuit of Martin(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5).
M3 2 G Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Run N/A Inverted veer triple pitch -- 3
Tip of the hat. RPS -1. Picture paged at BWS, because someone had to do it.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-17, 1 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Demens 7
In front of Demens(-0.5, cover -1); WR falls down or would have a YAC opportunity.
O32 2 3 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Morgan -1
Mild zone blitz sees Roh drop off and Morgan(+2, pressure +2) sent. Morgan does not get a free run; he gets the RB blocking him. He deftly steps around and threatens to sack, forcing Martinez up into the pocket, where Ryan(+1) peels off a block and steps up to sack.
O33 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Demens -1
Zone blitz is picked up; Martinez has happy feet again and scrambles into Demens(+1) and Ryan(+2), the latter of whom rakes the ball out for Michigan to fall on.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 38-17, 7 min 4th Q. Michigan scores on the next play and it's garbage time. Charting stops. The starting D does get the next drive but Taylor Martinez forced to throw is bloodsport, not useful.

What's that? You like bloodsport? Okay. Martin. Kovacs. Campbell wsg Hawthorne.

So… this happened two weeks in a row. Something approximating total domination.

It did. It's almost as if one-dimensional teams who can't throw and only have one receiver, if that, are totally screwed against this defense.

Does this remind you of anyone?

Hush, now.

Was it as dominating as it seemed?

Almost. When Nebraska picked up yards I found myself not irritated with players or frustrated with the defense's playcalling but, well, like this.

I was annoyed because WTF was that? About half of the negative RPS points in this game I'm not even mad about. When that wasn't happening Michigan was strangling them.

The one issue that may have made things look a little better than they were were Taylor Martinez errors—give or keep, run into Martin and Van Bergen or away. Nebraska had some openings they failed to take advantage of. But not many.

So are we legit? Legitimately legit?

I still have a slight fear of what happens in the event Michigan goes up against a truly good offense. I don't see any of them on the schedule save Notre Dame, against whom Michigan struggled. Iowa is okay, MSU is okay, Nebraska is okay.

But dang, man, put them up against anything short of excellent and you're dead meat. Some of the issues from earlier in the season may be an effect of not having Mike Martin performing at an insane level.

Insane level you say?

You have to see this—



Note that a paucity of plays charted—only 40—means you should multiply numbers by about 1.5 to get an average day's work. I am going to work on something that fixes this variability for next year.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 5.5 - 5.5 The usual production adjusted for time on field.
Martin 18 1 17 No foolies. I mean, the guy forced a pitch on a speed option.
Roh 3.5 0.5 3 Didn't get much action his way and is frequent dropper in blitz packages.
Heininger 2.5 - 2.5 Has established himself an asset.
Clark - - - Garbage time only.
Black - - - Don't blame him for the Martinez run.
Campbell 1 - 1 Also crushed face.
TOTAL 30.5 1.5 29 Flantabulous.
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 4.5 5.5 -1 Still a bit slow reading plays.
Demens 9.5 5.5 4 Three straight +4s. Surprisingly good in coverage for MLB.
Ryan 8.5 2 6.5 First real impact game.
Fitzgerald - - - DNP
Beyer 2 3.5 -1.5 Nebraska went after him in the 4-4 package and got rewarded.
Hawthorne - - - Garbage time.
Jones - - - Garbage time.
TOTAL 24.5 16.5 8 Improvement here is palpable from beginning of year.
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 4.5 4.5 0 Two route jumps, one big error.
Avery 3 - 3 Excellent coverage on a post.
Woolfolk 2 - 2 Joined PBU party.
Kovacs 6 1 5 Some excellent tackling.
T. Gordon 1.5 4 -2.5 As guilty, potentially moreso, as Floyd on the long TD.
Countess 1 3 -2 Lost leverage on big run.
Van Slyke - - - Garbage time.
TOTAL 18 12.5 5.5 Check the coverage.
Pressure 9 2 7 Doesn't even count lets kill Martinez time
Coverage 17 6 13 NUTS
Tackling 5 - 100% I can't even remember a broken tackle.
RPS 9 8 1 Ain't even mad.

So you're probably like "LOL WUT MIKE MARTIN" and yeah. I cannot emphasize enough that he forced a pitch on a speed option. I don't… I…

…I mean… how does that even happen? Just look at the crumpled heap the backside G is in.

Martin did not show up in the box score as much as he impacted the game. I want to retroactively award him the EPIC DOUBLE POINT because dang, man. Nebraska's center didn't block him all day:

I should have checked whether the above statement is the literal truth or not. Martin's day is in the UFR hall of fame.

Jake Ryan candle count?

Getting up there. If 16 is the maximum number of candles Jake Ryan can have I'd say he's gone from a 4 or 5 early in the year to 10 around now. He's already made about as much improvement as he will over the rest of his career. This does not mean he's going to top out at not awesome. When Taylor Martinez pulled on first and 20 late in the first half Ryan had sucked in a bit and you could make a case he made the right read, especially with a WR forming up for a pitch relationship outside.

Then Ryan leapt on his face.

That is great technique combined with great athleticism. He even cleverly misses the tackle to induce Martinez to give up another two yards. ("All in the game," he tells Martinez afterwards.)

Ryan with another couple candles is All Big Ten.

Did we all get too excited about Floyd last week?

Maybe a little but I'm not that down on the guy when he jumps two different routes in the same game, one of which would have been a pick six if Martinez throws it well, even if he did get sucked up on play action and help give up the long one.

Yeah, help. IME, Thomas Gordon is as much or more at fault since he is in a deep centerfield role and biffs hard.

That is not cover zero. Watch Countess on the other side of the field give up inside position on the post; he expects deep help and has none because Gordon's gone. If Gordon does not bite harrrrrrrrd on the play action this is much more difficult and possibly not a touchdown even if complete. Floyd blew it; Gordon blew it harder.

Anyway, Floyd isn't perfect. One big mistake in 11 games makes him good, though.

[SIDE NOTE: apparently Worst Waldo has not entered the vernacular here yet. An explanation: a Worst Waldo play is one like the above on which the receiver is the worst Waldo ever because he's the only one in the frame (or at least would be if the throw was any good). Some receivers, like Manningham, can generate these on their own. Usually it's the effect of a bust or a secondary overreacting to play action.]

What of Morgan?

Morgan is about where Ryan was halfway through the season. This makes sense because he's had about half the playing time and was reportedly laid up with a nagging injury of some variety. As a result he's still missing some plays available. When Nebraska started their pitch series on their final touchdown drive Michigan had the first one thumped but for #44:

While he's clearly getting better, linebacker hesitancy remains an issue with the D that may bite them if they ever face a team that can throw again.

By the way, the back to back pitches here are a great way to contrast the fill skills of Floyd (above) and Kovacs:

Floyd is bad, Kovacs elite.

What's the point of those wacky pass defense formations that have Martin as a quasi-linebacker?

I was wondering this myself, and then the answer came to me when Nebraska decided they would get Martinez killed try to make the score look nicer. When he is a delayed blitzer many teams will treat him like a linebacker, which means deploying the running back to block him. Here's how well that works:

This is also a reason Michigan's okie package flares him outside the tackle, I'm guessing.


Martin. The secondary as a whole except for that one play—take out the cover –5 on that one and the day is 17 to 1 positive, which is nuts. Ryan, RVB… take your pick, really.


Floyd, sort of, and Thomas Gordon. Basically for that one play.

What does it mean for the Game?

Michigan's tackling in space will get a test against Miller, who's liable to say "eff it" and do whatever he wants as soon as his first option is not there. What's more, Michigan's defensive line is going to see their level of competition take a big step forward.

I know OSU fans just grunted derisively at this statement, but it's true. When not snapping it into his ass, Mike Brewster is an NFL prospect at center worlds better than the fools Martin has been pwning the last three weeks. Ohio State has shown it can move guys off the ball with frustrating regularity and we may see our Will Heininger renaissance disappear into some frustrating Dave playcalls. Michigan's linebackers have been iffy at getting off blocks and will continue to be iffy this weekend.

In the air? If Posey doesn't blow up they aren't moving the ball except in erratic chunks that won't make drives. Michigan's blitz packages seem like a perfect fit here; if Miller gets spooked and scrambles there are usually seven guys in coverage. Michigan can go with a delayed blitz/spy package without making too many compromises downfield.

OSU's not going to get crushed like the last two opponents. It is not possible. They are going to have a hard time moving down the field without hitting big plays, of which there will be a couple. Miller's a scary dude like that and Posey may provide some deep passing OSU has not had to date.

After the biff by Gordon on the deep pass I'm not sure I'm totally comfortable with him in that role. Woolfolk may be less prone to breaking down and I expect to see him most of the day. Kovacs will be roving around the box for 60 minutes.



November 23rd, 2011 at 4:36 PM ^

Poor Burkhead picking up a blitzing Martin....I was laughing so hard on that play I literally had tears coming down my face. That just wasn't fair.

Blue in Seattle

November 23rd, 2011 at 5:07 PM ^

... I think got hit with a stiff arm to the chest that may have knocked the wind out of him. After watching it multiple times my best guess is that Martin got his hands into him hard right in the center of his rib cage. Martin's momentum spins the guard a little but doesn't really throw him back because the guard is already stunned and just waiting for gravity to take over on the acceleration. I think training as a wrestler helps DL have fast hands. Martina's first move puts all his energy into his hands. I think MSU effectively doubled Martin and still got the edge gambling on the the DE and LB to not contain. With the improvement to those positions I don't think teams really have that luxury anymore. Or Nebraska just sucked at doubling Martin.


November 23rd, 2011 at 4:47 PM ^

If ever there was a week to do a special teams UFR, it's this one. I don't think OSU is getting crushed like Nebraska because the odds of OSU fumbling two kick returns AND getting a punt blocked are nil. Our offense and special teams helped out the D this week by limiting Neb to 54 plays, with drives often starting in poor position.

Martin is a BEAST. One MOAR WEEK PLZ.


November 23rd, 2011 at 5:43 PM ^

Martin a +17 in what, barely 20 minutes of game time?


Love it!


November 23rd, 2011 at 5:51 PM ^

On the Ryan video, watch the very end of the play when the wide receiver (#6)  tries to block Mike Martin.  It's like watching someone trying to block a cement truck.


November 23rd, 2011 at 7:27 PM ^

Ryan: assume you're saying that going from 4-5 to 10 is an improvement of 6, and if his max is 16, he can only improve 6 more?  So he's already (in one year) made as much improvement as he can over the next 3 years.  That's impressive, but the way it's phrased sounds like you're saying he's topped out. 

Morgan: on that pitch play, I think he's just incorrectly filling that gaping hole inside the OT.  Following the FB, which he needs to do, there's a huge lane there if they cut it up (the FB actually does hesitate and end up cutting inside the tackle).  I'm sure you're saying that gap is for Demens and he needs to get outside, but it's a reasonable mistake.  Yes the play is designed to go outside (playside G is pulling and clearly headed that way), but that's a lot to process in a few moments.

Martin speed option: I think the LT steps on the OG's foot.  Even for Martin, that was a little too much destruction.  What an absolutely dominant game, though.


November 23rd, 2011 at 11:22 PM ^

"OSU's not going to get crushed like the last two opponents. It is not possible. They are going to have a hard time moving down the field without hitting big plays, of which there will be a couple. Miller's a scary dude like that and Posey may provide some deep passing OSU has not had to date."

This is why I'm spotting OSU a couple TDs on their own.  They're too good athletically to not reach the endzone a least a couple times.  That said, they're too inconsistent to sustain drives.  If OSU wins, it'll be because Borges/Denard gave them silver-platter field position with picks or I-form 3-and-outs.  The offense just won't be able to consistently push 70-80 yards; they're too predictable.


November 23rd, 2011 at 11:45 PM ^

I love the play where Campbell just crushes Martinez.  What makes it so impressive is Campbell was on the side away from the play and hustled across the field and then just flattened Martinez.


November 24th, 2011 at 5:07 AM ^

In the Ryan video, it is impressive how after the QB gets away from him...he takes a proper persuit angle to the sideline......and doesnt give up on the play at the same time...that is instinctual and well coached too...kid is going to be a heck of a football player.


November 24th, 2011 at 10:15 AM ^

The play where Ryan misses the tackle on Martinez on the zone read keeper is one of my favorite this season. The way the whole defense senses the wounded QB on a busted play and speeds in for the kill makes me very happy. Ryan just pops up and resumes the hunt.

I'm all like HUZZAH! for good offense but defense is really what makes my heart sing.