Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Northwestern Comment Count

Brian October 12th, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Formation notes:  Michigan spent the bulk of the first half in their nickel package with Ryan down on the line and Gordon and Johnson at nickel and safety, respectively. In the second half they took Johnson off in favor of using Ryan as a slot LB until Northwestern started their passing hurry-up on their fourth(!) drive.

Substitution notes: The usual defensive line substitutions, with Heininger and Black seeing frequent time, Campbell a little, and Washington maybe a snap or three. Michigan did briefly show Avery as the nickelback, but that only lasted a drive or two. Demens went the whole way; Morgan got a couple series late in the first half. Countess replaced Woolfolk in the second quarter and went the rest of the way.

Demens, Kovacs, Floyd, and Gordon didn't come off the field.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form DForm Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Bubble screen Floyd 7
Hawthorne starts flowing up into the playfake and there's no one to the short side, leaving the slot all alone; Floyd is playing ten yards off. With Hawthorne positioned like he is there is no way he's making this play anyway. RPS -1.
O27 2 3 Shotgun trips Nickel press Pass 4 Out Floyd Inc
Floyd(+1, cover +1) is right there on the receiver's cut, forcing Persa to throw it perfectly—upfield and away from Floyd. He does so; WR has a shot at a decently tough catch and cannot make it. Rushing lane was opening up but Persa did not take it.
O27 3 3 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel press Pass 5 Drag Demens Inc
Demens lines up right over the center and rushes, trying to take the center out of the play as Martin(+0.5) stunts around. This basically works; center slides off on Martin and Demens(+1) uses that opportunity to shoot up into the pocket. He's about to sack when an in the grasp Persa chucks it inaccurately in the vicinity of a receiver Hawthorne(+1, cover +1) is all over; may have a PBU if ball is accurate. Pressure +1, RPS +1. This is really close to a sack, BTW.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 14 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun empty quad bunch Nickel press Pass 5 Drag Van Bergen Inc (Pen +15)
Avery in as the nickelback. NW has a tight bunch to the wide side of the field and motions the tailback outside of those guys. Michigan is confused, with Demens eventually heading out there to deal with him, but late. Doesn't end up mattering this time. Michigan runs a twist that gets Roh(+0.5) through thanks to Martin(+1) threatening to shoot past the C. He's screwed either way. Persa has to dump it; RVB(+1) reads Persa's eyes and starts moving into the throwing lane, batting it down. Hawthorne(-1, cover -1) got beaten by Ebert on this drag and would have been able to turn it up for big yardage. Pressure +2. Roh picks up a roughing the passer call that is horsecrap. That's one step and then hit. Awful call. Refs -2.
O35 1 10 Pistol 2-back offset Nickel even Run N/A Veer triple option Kovacs 5
Colter in at QB; Michigan seemingly misaligned with no reaction to the strong side and Kovacs lined up a couple yards behind the LBs. They do not comprehend Colter is in at QB. NW runs an option to the wide side. Both LBs and Roh(-2), the playside DE, suck up on the dive fake. Mattison said DE == QB so I'm –2ing every DE who tackles a dive guy or lets the QB outside. Even Kovacs hesitates; no one is tracking the pitch back at all. Roh does recover to string the play out a bit, and Kovacs flows hard, forcing a pitch a few yards downfield. Colter didn't make Kovacs take him, though, and he flows down to tackle, preventing this from becoming a big gain. I have no idea who's at fault here. Either Roh or Demens needs to get out on the pitch and Kovacs needs to do so as well. Kovacs(+1) for getting out as secondary support and making a tough tackle(+1). RPS -1.
O40 2 5 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass N/A Bubble screen Woolfolk 14
Bler bler bler. Michigan has two guys to the wide side of the field that possesses three NW WRs. Those two guys are seven and ten yards off the LOS. Woolfolk(-1) then misses the tackle(-1) and turns this from seven into 13. RPS-1.
M46 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Improv Avery? 27
Black drops off into a zone before the play and Woolfolk blitzes from the other side. Unsurprisingly, this is picked up. Martin(+1) is coming through the line and is held; no call; Persa can flush outside of the pocket because Woolfolk got upfield. Outside of the pocket Persa is deadly; he finds a guy for a big gainer. Cover -1, Pressure -1, RPS -1.
M19 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Hawthorne 4
Yeesh, looks like Demens(-1) doesn't get enough of a drop and Johnson(-2) pulls up on a dig, leaving a post wide open for a touchdown (cover -2). Persa misses this and checks down. Hawthorne(+1, cover +1) with an immediate tackle. With Martin out and Campbell in there is no rush at all (pressure -2).
M15 2 6 Shotgun trips 2back Nickel even Run N/A Veer triple option Kovacs 15
Trips plus two backs equals a covered up WR, equals run, equals massive frustration that this catches Michigan off guard. Ryan(-2) crashes down on the dive fake; Demens and Hawthorne move forward despite this obviously being an option and get sealed away; Demens is playside so –1. Kovacs(-1) misses a tackle(-1) at the ten but that could be harsh since he is the only player on the edge against two other players. If he takes a more conservative angle Colter pitches and the RB walks into the endzone. At least Kovacs had a shot here. RPS -2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 8 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Pistol trips TE Nickel even Run N/A Speed option Demens 12
RVB(+0.5) and Martin are coming at the QB hard, forcing a quick pitch. That should be advantage D since the DL are stringing the RB out quickly. Gordon(+0.5) comes up to maintain leverage, at which point... no one comes up to tackle. Demens(-2) had gone upfield around a blocker for no discernible reason and is late as a result. Martin can't quite make up for his mistake; Hawthorne(-0.5) is there seven yards downfield. His tackle(-1) is run through but does force the RB OOB.
O49 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass N/A Flare screen Van Bergen 3
Woolfolk(-0.5) is caught up in man coverage here and never realizes this is basically a run play; he ends up on his butt. Gordon(-0.5) has the same thing happen to him. Maybe that's harsh for press coverage. Demens(+1) and Van Bergen(+1) read the play and get out on it to hold it down, with RVB actually making the tackle.
M47 2 7 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Run N/A Shovel pass Hawthorne 2
Yeah, technically a pass, but this is a run play in UFR's book. This is a variation on the Florida TE shovel this blog raved about the past couple years, with Persa running outside at first and taking Gordon with him, then shoveling inside to the pulling TE, who is actually WR Drake Dunsmore, as they run power. Ryan(-1) blown up and out. Big hole. One guy in space against Hawthorne; if Dunsmore cuts behind the block either Roh hacks him down or it's a big gain; instead he runs right into Hawthorne. I guess Hawthorne gets a +1, Demens a +0.5, as they tackle(+1) in space for a minimal gain, but we got lucky.
M45 3 5 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel press Pass 6 Out Gordon 6
Again with Demens lined up over the nose; Michigan sends the house. They don't get a free run and don't get a hurry (pressure -1) but they didn't give up anything big so no RPS -1. NW running some man-beater routes that force Gordon into an awkward path; this gets Ebert the step he needs to stab this pass one-handed and turn up the sideline for the first. Gordon was there to tackle so it's not like he did a bad job.
M39 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 3 Scramble Ryan 5
Tempoed, Michigan only has two down linemen at the snap (RPS -1). As a result, Ryan is lost in no-man's land. Coverage(+1) is good downfield; Persa takes off, diving as Ryan comes in on him.
M34 1 10 Pistol 2-back offset Nickel even Run N/A Veer triple option Hawthorne 23
Colter magical option formation, and they give despite again having Kovacs versus two guys on the edge. Maybe Colter was worried about Black. I'm not entirely sure about what goes wrong here but it seems to me like Campbell(+1) takes on a double and beats his man to the inside as the interior guy peels off, which means the RB has to go behind him and the C trying to get out on Hawthorne(-2) would have no angle if Hawthorne read this and made his NT right. Instead he and Demens are a foot away from each other and when the RB cuts behind Campbell there is no one there.
M11 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Hawthorne 4
Good coverage(+2) means Persa can't find anything despite having a long time (pressure -1). He eventually rolls out; Roh(+0.5) and Hawthorne(+0.5) remain on their receivers long enough to force a scramble and then come up quickly to hold it down.
M7 2 6 Pistol trips TE Nickel press Run N/A Speed option Johnson 7
Demens(-2) again heads too far upfield too fast and gets himself into a lineman who ends up cutting him to the ground after they run down the line for a while. This is a speed option! Get outside! RVB(+0.5) forced a pitch and flowed down the line to make it difficult for the RB; Carvin Johnson(-1, tackling -1) comes up hard around the LOS and whiffs entirely. He does force a cut upfield, but because Demens is on his stomach the cut is not a modest gain but a touchdown.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 4 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O7 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Morgan 2
Morgan in for Hawthorne. Morgan(+1) bashes into the center at the LOS and drives him back on the dive; Martin(+1) fights through a double team, refusing to get sealed. When the G releases he's still playside of the T. With Heininger(+0.5) beating a single block there's nowhere to go.
O9 2 8 ??? ??? Pass 4 Scramble ??? 6
Good coverage(+1) causes a flush but because the DL split so badly that was kind of obvious; no second read here. (Pressure -2). Not sure who to minus specifically because tape is cutting out at the beginning of this play.
O15 3 2 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Speed option? ??? 12
Technical difficulties. We come back with the pitch already made. I am somewhat certain this is largely Demens's fault(-1), as he was lined up playside of Morgan presnap but when we come back Morgan is actually closer to the play. He then gets shot past the play. Morgan(-1) took a too-aggressive route around a WR and couldn't make the play; Johnson(+0.5) does come up to make a fill on a dangerous play, though his ankle tackle is maybe less than ideal.
O27 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass ??? ??? ??? Inc
Apparently this is just a misthrow, but I don't know.
O27 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass ??? Sack Demens -2
Oh, hell, BTN. I guess Demens(+1, pressure +1) is a minimum?
O24 3 13 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel press Penalty N/A False start -- -5
Derp
O19 3 18 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Black 6
Give up and punt.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-14, 11 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M41 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Martin 7
Zone blitz drops Roh and sends Morgan. Martin(+1) slants around the G and C to get a run at Persa(pressure +1) and bats the ball. The thing still finds its way to the receiver, but the delay allows an immediate tackle... that Demens(-1, tackling -1) does not make.
M34 2 3 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Zone read stretch Van Bergen 2
RVB(+2) shoves the playside OT back two yards, cutting off the outside and forcing a cutback. He disconnects when this happens and tackles himself for a minimal gain. Nice play; scary if he doesn't make this. Think he missed a check when Dunsmore motioned into play H-back, but he made up for it.
M32 3 1 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Run N/A Zone read dive Heininger 1
NW goes tempo. Heininger(+2) takes on a double and holds, going to his knees in the backfield and absorbing both guys without budging. Martin(+1) is single blocked. He stands his guy up and sheds inside to meet the RB a yard on the backfield. Momentum from him and a blitzing Morgan coming from behind gets the pile to the LOS but no farther.
M31 4 In Pistol 2-back offset big 46 bear Run N/A Speed option Roh -1
Roh(+3) takes on the playside TE and sheds him to the outside, then shoots up on Persa, forcing the pitch. Getting a forced pitch from a blocked guy is clutch here. Before the snap, Kovacs motions to Morgan, who takes a step shortside and then starts flowing hard; he takes the leading fullback's block, leaving Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) alone on the corner with the pitchback, who he cuts to the ground in the backfield. Watch Kovacs take the lighting quick path to the ballcarrier after the pitch. Baller. Also make no mistake: this is Roh's play at its heart.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 7-14, 8 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass N/A Bubble screen Floyd 6
There by alignment with no one on the the slot and Morgan reacting to the zone fake. Floyd does as well as he can to get into the blocker at about five yards but help can't converge for seven. RPS -1
O24 2 4 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass N/A Bubble screen Johnson 9
Another bubble by alignment; Gordon is over the slot but in these situations the guy grabs it and goes right up the hash, where there is no one. Johnson eventually fills and makes a dodgy tackle. RPS -1
O33 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass N/A Bubble screen Johnson 7
Exact same thing as NW goes tempo. RPS -1. Better tackle from Johnson.
O40 2 3 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Van Bergen Inc
Morgan(-1, cover -1) is now paranoid about the bubble, though he's not aligned any better, and starts outside as NW runs actual patterns. Slant is wide open. Persa throws it; Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) bats it down as he's come inside on a stunt.
O40 3 3 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Pass 5 Drag Martin 19
Zone blitz sees Martin left in man coverage on Dunsmore on a drag. That goes about how you would expect. (Cover -1, RPS -1)
M41 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel press Pass 4 Fade Countess 39
No pressure(-2); huge pocket for Persa to step into. Countess(-1, cover -1) gets flat beat on a go route and is a step and a half behind the WR; even though it's a little underthrown and definitely in the defeat-Michael-Floyd zone he cannot catch up and gives up the big completion. Does get a hand on an arm, but it's that half step that kills him.
M2 1 G Shotgun trips 2back Nickel even Run N/A Speed option Gordon 2
Covered WR with Colter in. RB motions to the other side; Kovacs goes with him. Speed option to the plentiful WR side. Gordon(-1), Demens(-1), and Floyd(-1) get blown up and after Ryan forces the pitch the RB walks into the endzone. This is clever by NW: Kovacs is the guy with the pitchman so they get him out of the picture and exploit the LBs. RPS -1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown,14-21, 2 min 2nd Q. This was pretty terrible on Mattison's part. Bubble bubble bubble Martin on drag no answer for option.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Roh 16
Martin(+1, pressure +1) goes right around the center and gets a hurry as Roh drops off and Morgan comes. Another zone blitz gets burned by the drag route as Roh cannot keep pace with Colter, RPS -1.
M36 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Comeback -- 13
No pressure(-2); Persa has plenty of time to survey and find the deep comeback coming open. Gordon the nearest guy but not really on him.
M23 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Morgan 16
Morgan(-1, cover -1) beaten easily by Colter. Morgan(-1, tackling -1) then fails to tackle. Quick throw leaves little time for pressure but the lack of push from the DL is worrying. Why is Morgan in the game against a spread offense when you have Hawthorne available, especially on a two-minute drill?
M7 1 G Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Demens 4
Black(-1) doesn't get upfield, causing a pull. If he was crashing on a scrape that's one thing. Here he's in no-man's land. Demens(+1) sets up a lineman, getting into him and then pushing out into the space Persa occupies; Gordon(+0.5) also flows down to help tackle, though he had an easy time of it because Colter didn't even bother blocking.
M3 2 G Shotgun 4-wide Nickel press Run 5 Snag Woolfolk Inc
Pick play designed to beat man coverage. It does so but Persa is late, allowing Woolfolk(+1, cover +1) to recover and knock the ball out as it arrives. Pressure(-1) not getting to Persa.
M3 3 G Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 3 Post Johnson Inc
Three man rush gets nowhere (pressure -1); Johnson(-1, cover -1) gets outside and opens up the post. Persa hits him; dropped.
Drive Notes: FG, 14-24, EOH. Refs are idiots about the time either way here.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 under Run N/A Speed option Ryan -1
Ryan back at LB instead of DE and hanging out over the slot. They run a speed option; Ryan flies up on the edge. It kind of looks like he comes up on the QB and has just given the pitchman the edge but Persa doesn't think so, so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Ryan's(+2) excellent positioning prevents a pitch, forces Persa to cut it up, and results in nothing thanks to RVB(+1) and Martin(+0.5) flowing down the line well.
O39 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Sack Martin -5
Persa apparently looking at a hitch Floyd(+1, cover +1) has covered; he hesitates and never gets a second read because Martin(+2) bull-rushed the center back into him and Roh(+2) came under the left tackle; the two combine to sack. (Pressure +2) Hawthorne appears to have the TE seam covered; Countess is way off the hitch on the other side of the field.
O34 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Seam Van Bergen  
Van Bergen(+2, pressure +2) rips through the RG and gets immediate pressure up the center of the field. Persa fires too far in front of his receiver; Johnson nearly digs out the pick. Route was a seam or skinny post that Gordon(+1, cover +1) was in coverage on; incidental contact with the feet caused the WR to fall. He looked in pretty good position, FWIW.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-24, 9 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass N/A Bubble screen -- 6
Yay. Ryan is on the wide side slot but there's still no one over the short side, so they throw it. With Floyd playing very soft, no chance this doesn't pick up a pretty decent gain. Hawthorne does well to get out there and push him out before it's eight, I guess. RPS -1.
O24 2 4 Shotgun empty 4-3 under Pass 4 Rollout -- 9
No one on the edge (pressure -2) and Persa can run or throw for the first. He chooses the throw, hitting the second receiver, who's drifting outside of Demens's zone. (Cover -1) Countess makes a quick tackle.
O35 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 under Pass N/A Bubble screen -- 6
argh argh argh. Ryan blitzes off the corner; Persa sees this and immediately throws the bubble without a mesh point. Gordon(+1) is the only guy out there. He gets into the slot guy at the LOS, getting outside and forcing a cutback, then disconnects to tackle after just five. RPS -1.
O41 2 4 Shotgun trips 4-3 under Pass 5 Drag Hawthorne Int
Michigan tempoed and not aligned at the snap. Zone blitz gets Demens in but Martin(-1) has vacated his lane and Demens can't do anything about it as Persa steps up into the pocket. Receiver is moving to give Persa an option; he throws it to him for what will be seven yards and a first down if it doesn't derp off the guy's pads, allowing Hawthorne(+1) to make a diving interception.
Drive Notes: Interception, 28-24, 1 min 3rd Q. Dude... how was this not overturned? Poopin' magic yo.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O19 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Martin 6
Michigan spread out with LBs shaded over the slots so NW hits them inside. Martin(-1) fights through a block way upfield and opens up a big hole in the middle. Demens(-0.5) and Ryan(-0.5) sit back and accept blocks but at least they combine to force the guy into a tackle.
O25 2 4 Shotgun empty 4-3 even Pass 4 Hitch Countess 6
Schmidt motions out; there is a bunch to the wide side and then the RB outside of them. Quick hitch to the RB that Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) actually deflects, but the ball still goes right to the RB. Countess(-1, cover -1) is really soft, giving up the first down despite the ball taking a long time to get there because of the deflection.
O31 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Floyd 10
Floyd(-1, cover -1) beaten pretty clean by Ebert; this is a five yard route on which Floyd is at the sticks on the catch. Ebert picks up the rest of the first down as a result.
O41 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Martin 2
Martin(+1) and Heininger(+1) hold up to blocks, closing off holes up the middle of the field. Mark manages to pick his way through little gaps for a few yards, but that will happen.
O43 2 8 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 5 Fly Floyd Inc (Pen +15)
Floyd in press; Michigan zone blitzes behind it. Gordon gets in free (pressure +1, RPS +1); Persa throws it to the fly route without really knowing if it's open. Floyd is there, gets his head around, and seems to break up the pass... and gets flagged. On replay, yes, he got his hand on the shoulder pad and prevented the guy from jumping for the ball. I'll take that though, since it's subtle and you can miss it. I still have to (-1, cover -1)
M42 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 even Pass N/A Bubble screen Ryan 4
Finally something that looks like defense. Gordon(+0.5) flows up hard and Ryan gets outside of the slot blocker as Demens reads the throw and gets out there usefully. Ryan gets cut under; Gordon and Demens are there to tackle. As the WR is digging for an extra half yard Gordon(+3) strips the ball loose.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 35-24, 12 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O31 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Demens 5
M sitting back in an obvious four-man-rush zone as they work to not blow it; grades handed out with that in mind. Persa hits Colter underneath on a drag; Demens(+1, tackling +1) comes up to tackle immediately.
O36 2 5 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Hawthorne 9
Hawthorne(-0.5) comes up on a not very convincing run fake and opens the slant up for a first down.
O45 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Run N/A Jet sweep Gordon 6
Glerb. M blitzes into the sweep and Gordon(-1) widens out to blow it up; he misses the tackle(-1). This makes good play from Hawthorne and Demens to get outside their blockers bad play and the DL, slanting away from this on the snap, cannot pursue fast enough to prevent a gain.
M49 2 4 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Circle Floyd 6
Circle route high-lows the corner and Floyd sinks, opening up the short stuff.
M43 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 3 Cross Gordon Inc
Line slants right and Black drops off into a short zone... I think one of the LBs forgot to blitz. This means Persa has acres of space; he steps up and zings it to Colter... behind him. First down otherwise. (Pressure -2, cover -1)
M43 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass N/A Bubble screen Johnson 5
Late-arriving WR doesn't actually get into position so NW has five in the backfield. No call. These refs are idiots. NW throws the bubble and Michigan is finally playing it well. Gordon(+1) gets into the slot guy at the LOS in a good spot to force the WR upfield; Demens flows but misses; Johnson(+1) comes into finish with a good hit.
M38 3 5 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 press Pass 4 Hitch Countess Inc
Michigan in tight man on the first down line; Persa's first read is Floyd(+1, cover +1), which is not a good idea. Second is Countess, still not a great idea but gotta throw it, so he does; Countess(+2, cover +1) breaks it up.
M38 4 5 Shotgun trips bunch 3-3-5 press Pass 5 Sack Kovacs -10
Mattison sends Kovacs on a crazy ninja blitz from way deep; at the snap he's hurtling at the LOS at full speed. The seas part. Kovacs goes too high, though, and Persa ducks under his tackle. Tackle attempt pulls the helmet off, though, and that's a sack. RPS +2, Pressure +3—this was instant. Kovacs... +1, results based charting. And well timed blitz. Also wag of the high tackle finger. Gordon(+1, cover +1) breaks up the desperate improv throw Persa gets off after the helmet incident.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 35-24, 7 min 4th Q. Northwestern's last drive is down 18 with 2 minutes left and is not charted.

SECOND HALF DOMINANCE

Er. So. I don't really think so.

A WITCH

Yes, yes, probably, but the things that happened in the second half were:

  1. Three and out, one contained speed option, two incompletions thanks to DL pressure.
  2. Bubble, easy rollout hitch, bubble, drag route for first down that bounces off receiver's numbers to Hawthorne (sort of).
  3. Inside zone, hitch, hitch, Inside zone (defensed!), legit pass interference on deep ball, bubble leads to fumble.
  4. Hurry up pass mode w/ Michigan in soft zone, drive ends with Persa IN, five-yard bubble, and two good plays by the D.

So… the move to have Ryan in the slot didn't really slow down the bubbles, which went for 6, 6, 4, and 5 yards. This is better than the 8 they seemed to average in the first half, but it is not a thunderous shutdown of the spread.

There were three drives on which NW was actually running its offense. On one the adjustment got a speed option contained and then Michigan got some pressure. On two NW has just picked up its second easy first down if the WR doesn't bat it into the sky. On three they have second and six after picking up a couple first downs when Gordon yanks the ball loose. What happens if the WR doesn't DROPX the drag? If Ebert's knee is down? What is your confidence level that Michigan is going to stop Persa & Co. if these things don't happen?

VERY HIGH THANK YOU

Wait… are you Joe Paterno?

NO I AM YOUR FILTHY IRISH ALTER-EGO

I see. So… what I am saying is that the vaunted second half adjustments are little data being made big and what we saw in the first half was very frustrating to me. How do you stop a bubble aligned like this?

bubble-my-face-plz

You don't. On Northwestern's final touchdown drive they ran three straight bubbles for 22 free yards. This is 2011. You should not have to adjust to the staple constraint play of the spread 'n' shred.

BUT MATTISON

Yes, well… I don't want to make too little data big again. I sure as hell don't know 10% of what he does and rushing to judgment about what Michigan's defense will look like once he's had them for three years is stupid. Mattison uber alles.

HOWEVA, it seemed like he was caught off guard by the spread 'n' shred. He's been in the NFL for three years but he was also the DC at Florida and Notre Dame over the increasingly spread-mad last decade of college football, so he should be familiar with it.

Were players not reacting appropriately? Maybe. Late the secondary did get more aggressive and helped hold the bubbles down. But that was the difference between 8 (or even 13) yards and 4-6. As I was UFRing this I was again thinking of Magee describing his philosophy, or rather WVU's defensive philosophy: they run the stack because it's built to stop the spread. Maybe Michigan needs a three-man-line package for games like this?

In any case, Mattison's admittedly hypothetical inability to deal with the spread 'n' shred in year one of his regime is a moot point. The remainder of Michigan's opponents are either pro-style (MSU, Iowa, sort of OSU), triple option (Illinois, Nebraska), or so incompetent it shouldn't matter (Purdue). I'm a bit worried that Fickell is installing a ton of bubbles right now, though.

DO YOU FIND THIS DEEPLY IRONIC

That Michigan can't defend a bubble but won't run a stretch because it's not preparing you for the Big Ten? Kinda. /ducks

I REQUIRE NOTES OF THE HUN

Chart?

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 10 - 10 Pressure and PBUs. I enjoy his contributions.
Martin 10 2 8 Not as many plays as you might want but it's hard when everything goes outside.
Roh 6 2 4 Fourth down play; needs moar pass rush.
Brink - - - DNP
Heininger 3.5 - 3.5 No real problems, but not tested much.
Black - 1 -1 Not much PT.
Campbell 1 - 1 One play.
TOTAL 30.5 5 25.5 Step back from last couple weeks.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
C. Gordon - - - DNP
Demens 5.5 9.5 -4 Did not get outside even on speed options.
Herron - - - DNP
Ryan 2 3.5 -1.5 Dodgy edge.
Fitzgerald - - - DNP
Jones - - - DNP
Evans - - - DNP
Beyer - - - DNP
Hawthorne 4.5 4 0.5 One big error on dive; good in coverage.
Morgan 1 4 -3 Struggled, pulled.
TOTAL 13 21 -8 Major problems containing.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 3 3 0 Push is good against Persa.
Avery - - - Didn't register.
Woolfolk 1 1.5 -0.5 Pulled.
Kovacs 4 1 3 Mostly neutralized because he had to try to tackle two dudes.
T. Gordon 8.5 2.5 6 Fumble half of the plus.
Countess 2 2 0 Beaten deep once, but also a push.
Johnson 1.5 4 -2.5 Not as bad as you might have thought.
TOTAL 20 14 6 Wow. I mean, no long stuff, right? Except the one.
Metrics
Pressure 16 17 -1 Bipolar day.
Coverage 13 15 -2 Not bad. Some issues getting RPSed.
Tackling 4 6 40% Not a good day; this is what the spread tries to do.
RPS 4 15 -11 Killed by easy bubbles.

So… I ended up thinking that it was crazy that none of the linebackers could contain on the outside and hardly tried. When people keep leverage and force the guy inside, as Johnson did and Kovacs did and Gordon did, and there is no one to clean up from the inside that is a problem with a linebacker, and that linebacker was more often than not Demens. An example from Blue Seoul:

6231719502_9d2026dc5d[1]6231719992_a7e7101f94[1]

6231720430_62d9c3945c[1]

Seoul says Gordon has to do a better job getting off the block but he forces this upfield at the numbers and there is no linebacker to clean up; backside guy Hawthorne is even with Demens.

Seoul also caught my complaint about Demens on one of the option touchdowns:

6231723730_6bb1ffe037[1]

Okay, Johnson missed. He missed to the inside, at which point a good D rallies to tackle.

6231724246_09ca5bf9d0[1]

Here a slow-reacting Demens gets caught up in an OL and cut to the ground. This is not even a triple option, it's a speed option, so, like… go. I've been taunting other LBs for being too aggressive this year but this is the alternative.

Demens did have a good blitz or two, FWIW.

The rest of the chart is basically as expected. No safety got burned on the pass and the missed tackles from Johnson were not too bad; he is still a clear downgrade from the starters. Van Bergen and Martin are high quality players; Roh is doing better but we still need more pass rush from both defensive ends. The cornerbacks are much improved but still not outstanding. Michigan got about a push in both pressure (four sacks but also a number of plays on which Persa had a ton of time or broke contain) and cover, and Mattison was slayed dead on RPS.

What was with the option success?

If you were suspecting that Heiko was the guy who asked this of Mattison

Northwestern ran the veer option with a lot of success against this defense, and there seemed to be some confusion with the assignments. For those plays, whose assignment is the quarterback, and who has the pitch man? “That’s why people run the veer option. And again, to play an option team, you have to be very very disciplined. You have to really feel confident in what you’re doing, and it’s happening really fast. There was a number of times where you might have seen Jake go down and hit the dive. Well, our ends had the quarterback all day, so right away you knew, ‘Uh oh,” and sure enough, now you have two guys on the dive and nobody on the quarterback, and that’s why people run that offense. It taxes young guys. It really does. So your next thought is to stunt it a little bit, move it a little bit, to try to make a play, and that quarterback was pretty good. Fortunately we settled down in the second half and the guys said, ‘Okay I got it now.’ Every guy that made a mistake like that during the game, they came out, they looked right at you, and they went, ‘I know.’ I said, ‘I know, too! That’s 20 yards down the field.’ But I was really proud of them.”

If you had to defend them again, who would be assigned to whom? “We do the same thing. The only thing we do differently, if we defended it again, is we would play it more honest like you’re supposed to and not cheat to take away one part of the game and not the other.”

Did Kovacs have the pitch man? “That was his job. When you’re playing the option and you’re playing man coverage, there’s a guy with a blocker on him. A guy who has man coverage and still is supposed to get off and try to make that play. Well if you’re stronger, better, faster, you can throw that guy away and make that play. So we had Jordan going through the alley, meaning he would go dive, quarterback, to pitch, and he made some good plays on it.”

…you are wise in the ways of how MGoBlog differs from other media. I wanted to know how Michigan planned to defend the option so I thought I'd have Heiko ask and Mattison gave a terrific, useful answer*. So now we know that…

…defensive ends were a big problem. QB outside of DE without pitching is a problem. Here Kovacs gets a 2-for-1 by forcing a pitch and still getting out on the RB, but Colter would learn from this and juke Kovacs on his first touchdown run. I don't blame Kovacs much, if at all, because he's on the edge against two guys. Forcing it back inside and getting any tackle attempt at all is better than letting the pitch guy walk in.

It wasn't all bad for Roh:

That is one of the plays of the game and it happens because he beats a block to force a pitch and allows Kovacs to do what Kovacs does best: take a great angle at speed.

Ryan had similar problems, and then there is the Demens complaining. So: better play from the DEs to force the play inside of them or at least force a quick pitch and getting those linebackers to the edge more quickly.

*[How much does everyone love the coordinator pressers? One million points worth, right? I mean, they give it to you straight and give you actual information and reassure you that the guys in charge are really smart.]

PUNTSHENANIGANS

Yes, again this week:

regular-punt-stupid-2

When those guys miss their tackles there is no one within 15 yards. Result: 20 yard return.

Heroes?

Martin, Van Bergen, and Gordon. Gordon's strip was a 100% player-generated turnover that is a reason to believe they are being coached on these things.

Goats?

Demens, and the inability to line up to defend a bubble.

What does it mean for Michigan State and beyond?

Well, I'll be extremely nervous when we come up against Nebraska and Ohio State since their mobile quarterbacks could force us into situations that will exploit the same things. I just watched that game and it doesn't seem like either team spends a lot of time threatening bubbles; both enjoyed themselves some pistol offset stuff with Nebraska having great success running the inverted veer out of that diamond formation becoming all the rage. Either could gameplan for the M game—Ohio State might well start preparing whatever package they think will beat M because it's not like they have anything else to play for.

As for this weekend, Michigan State is the opposite of Northwestern and the 4-3 under will be a much more comfortable fit against State's largely pro-style offense. HOWEVA, we have seen State prepare special packages for M since time immemorial and one of the recent ones was a trips-TE bubble package that exploited M in 2008 like whoah. If that's still on the shelf they might bring it out and force Michigan to line up against it. HOWEVA HOWEVA, that year they could run the ball; this year M might be able to defend it without giving up those pitches that killed them that year.

Other items:

  • Michigan continued to prove the secondary is much improved and the safeties are for real, especially the starters.
  • Heininger held up pretty well, caveats about limited tests included.

Comments

FgoWolve

October 12th, 2011 at 4:05 PM ^

Brian is starting to do this more and more and it's bugging me. He always comes out with a "but if the offense/defense did not catch these lucky breaks, and you remove these four drives, and Dan Persa was allowed five downs......then I am not impressed by this." I mean, obviously when you tinker with the data set to no end, of course things look differently.

I think his analysis is on about bubble screens and such. We don't defend those well. But when making sweeping judgments about a unit as a whole, you have to include the entire data, even if it includes a Northwestern team derping. So even if we do have errors, the end results are speaking for themselves.

Huntington Wolverine

October 12th, 2011 at 4:15 PM ^

When the sweeping judgment is, "we made some plays but we dodged a few bullets because while standing in the middle of the OK Corral," I'm okay with it.

Brian's assessment is accurate in looking at the story behind the numbers and not just the numbers themselves.  I'd rather have the honest assessment of "we're better this year but things have also broken our way" instead of uninformed ESPN version of "How about those 2nd half adjustments that never actually changed anything schematically?"

jwendt

October 12th, 2011 at 5:18 PM ^

I think Brian's points are fair. NW was getting solid yards on low risk plays. in the first half, they turned that philosophy into points. In the 2nd, two turnovers on low risk plays killed drives.

On the flip side, 3 turnovers and a relative lack of big plays made gave NW a nice halftime feeling. In the 2nd, we avoided the TO and forced them to do simple things right a bunch of times in a row. This is not easy to do without making a mistake. Many a good defense (see Cover 2) is built on a philosophy of forcing the offense execute consistently for long drives.

jwendt

October 12th, 2011 at 5:18 PM ^

I think Brian's points are fair. NW was getting solid yards on low risk plays. in the first half, they turned that philosophy into points. In the 2nd, two turnovers on low risk plays killed drives.

On the flip side, 3 turnovers and a relative lack of big plays made gave NW a nice halftime feeling. In the 2nd, we avoided the TO and forced them to do simple things right a bunch of times in a row. This is not easy to do without making a mistake. Many a good defense (see Cover 2) is built on a philosophy of forcing the offense execute consistently for long drives.

jericho

October 12th, 2011 at 4:35 PM ^

I know what you mean, FgoWolve.  Michigan has held the other team scoreless in 6 of the last 8 quarters that they have played and I still come away from the UFRs thinking that we just plain old suck.  Don't get me wrong. I LOVE UFRs.  It is one of the things that set this site so far above all the others, but man they are sometimes depressing.

Blue in Seattle

October 12th, 2011 at 6:00 PM ^

The game film review goes the same way.  But it's WAY more painful after a loss, so the team's got that going for them.  Which is nice.

But you really have to give Brian credit for pointing out where his judgement has changed once he does have the data.  As in the favoring of the random turnover gods, "knock on wood". (I think Hoke and the Coordinators have used that phrase in at least one press conference!  I think they see the same things Brian sees).

So yeah, reading UFR's isn't the uplifting emotional ride of the locker room interviews of players on the winning team.  But they sure are nicer to read when you can say, "wow there's still a lot of work to do, but it's nice to get a win".

Sorry coach Hoke, I know, that's your line.

wolverine1987

October 12th, 2011 at 6:34 PM ^

film review between our coaches and players has a lot of resemblance to the tone Brian takes in UFR. Our coaches say constantly, after every win, that we have tons of improvement to do. Position coaches always point out the improvement opportunities on a play by play basis in meetings with their players. I don't think Brian is being a downer at all, I'm certain that every single misread or lucky break is pointed out in minute detail to these players.

go16blue

October 12th, 2011 at 5:19 PM ^

Agreed. That line of reasoning doesn't make sense for the same reason I can't say "this defense is amazing, if we had gotten a few more lucky breaks it would show this."

On every play in a football game, there is at least one opportunity for a really good thing to happen, and at least one opportunity for a really bad thing to happen. Over the course of the game, these seemingly flukey things average out, and therefore saying "we would have sucked if it werent for X, Y, and Z" doesn't make sense.

PurpleStuff

October 12th, 2011 at 5:58 PM ^

Brian isn't saying "We sucked but for X, Y, Z."  He's just saying that the silly "Halftime Adjustments WOOO!" talking point that is being espoused by countless numbskulls doesn't really have much validity.  Michigan played at close to the same level in each half and didn't make any really big tactical changes.  When those flukey things began to average out on both sides of the ball (no more INT's from Denard and Northwestern makes two big mistakes), the game dramatically changed course, but the line between Northwestern dominating the first half and Michigan destroying them in the second half was a fairly thin one, with reality looking a lot more like the final score. 

In the same vein, failing to make halftime adjustments isn't the reason the offense slowed down in the second half against SDSU or took until the fourth quarter to get going against ND.  The guys just didn't play as well and made the kind of critical mistakes that kill drives.

Eye of the Tiger

October 12th, 2011 at 4:07 PM ^

As I think the conventional wisdom was that he did a good job, but I guess that's biased towards just looking at plays where NW ran inside (and they didn't do that too well, or too often).  

Blue in Yarmouth

October 13th, 2011 at 8:45 AM ^

Because the "conventional wisdom" that you are speaking about isn't wisdom at all, it's uninformed opinion. Seriously, many pundits felt that Ezeh was a great LB for UM (until he got benched for Demens) simply because he showed up on the stat sheet with lots of tacles. They were completely unaware that most of the tackles happened 5 yards further down field than they should have because he was too tentative.

Lots of people are looking at UM right now and checking out the scores from our games and believing we are a very good team who must be playing brilliant football. The UFR gives people an opportunity to see if those ideas are really fact or a lot of fiction. 

I think we have played much better than last year and have exceeded my expectations on defense, but these UFR's show we still have a long way to go (which is what the staff keep saying). So I am fine with Brian putting in the what if's because whether or not they impact what is in the past, they give us a better idea of where this team is heading in the furture. 

edit....sorry, this was supposed to be a reply to the guy who didn't like Brians hypotheticals.

FreddieMercuryHayes

October 12th, 2011 at 4:13 PM ^

This game had me questioning Mattison a little bit.  I was a little bit baffled by the alignment of the DBs he chose, especially after getting beat by all those bubbles.  Consistantly having your DBs off the line 10 yards just lets teams bleed you.  Perhaps he was worried about the ultra accurate Persa beating us deep instead?  Considering the lack of adjustment in terms of bringing up the DBs to cover those passes, it just make me wonder if Mattison will be able to correct this before every team we play changes their game plans to bubble screens.

JT4104

October 12th, 2011 at 5:09 PM ^

I truly believe Mattison is purposely keeping the secondary safe with the cushions we get. if anything under RR the one thing we did well was fake the bubble and hit somone on a slant/post with no one around him.

Mattison clearly is willing to give up 4 to 8 yds on the bubble instead of a corner/safety going balls out to stop the bubble and getting burnt on a pump fake and the outside blocker  going untouched for god knows how many yards. When we can get faster I will bet the farm we will challenge it more but for this defense clearly the best method is keep it in front of you and make the first tackle. As long as they can do that then I think we should be happy and it should give them chances to get off the field.

JT4104

October 12th, 2011 at 5:37 PM ^

Ummm, I'm talking about the play from the offensive perspective of it.

Simply put RR ran a lot of bubble screens and when you started to cheat a little he would hit you over the top. Not sure what your really getting from that. Maybe I didn't explain it good enough.

Again as I said...I think Mattison is simply keeping plays in front of him and that is why the bubble is always there, as long as we come up and tackle I think he will live with 4 to 8 yd gains on a bubble instead of trying to attack the bubble and getting smoked behind it.

Blue in Seattle

October 12th, 2011 at 6:36 PM ^

Some people are just too emotional to allow their brains to read the words correctly.

Mattison is definitely attempting to cover up weaknesses in the defense.  What I think people are missing is that he did start off with a faster defense on the field.  And he did adjust in the second half by going to his base defense.  Brian threw out a hypothetical statement in that the 3-3-5 might be better at defending the spread bubble play, but I don't necessarily buy that completely.  I do think that the players typically recruited for a 3-3-5 on the outside are smaller and faster, but that's what Mattison is saying this present Michigan Defense lacks.  Even when he puts his nickel package out there, which takes away one of his down lineman (the 5-tech/SDE I believe, since Roh stayed out there) and drops his SAM down to a DE and then brings in an extra safety to replace the LB, he's pretty much shifted the team makeup into lighter faster guys, with the majority skilled in the technique of pass coverage.

The problem seemed to be that the lighter guys weren't responding fast enough.  Or basically weren't doing the job expected and what the formation/scheme called for.  In addition the run option was also attacking this weakness.  Then the third thing is that apparently the coaches prepared their defense for a running back who was injured and didn't play.  Possible assuming that there was an adequate replacement.  So basically this was an RPS fail on the scale of the entire game, since NW didn't really replace their RB, they added their youner QB who can't throw well in as a sometimes option back, and whoever 5 is, might be their lightning/situational changeup back and didn't have their inside pounding threat.

Mattison's response was to basically say, "well Jake Ryan is bigger, but younger, but he's actually freakishly fast for his size, maybe putting him back at LB level in the base will allow him to read and react and at least add a body into those bubbles so the freaking safties and CB's have one less guy blocking them way too effectively.

Now, what I say to all of that is, "what did you expect the former 110th best defense to be doing at game six versus a high speed spread attack this season?"  And then to realize that while everyone has bemoaned the fact that Denard will be less effective adjusting to Borges, in reality if Denard just doesn't throw those interceptions, I'm thinking at least two of those drives end up as Field goals at worst, and 3 touchdowns at best, considering how well the offense was moving when he didn't throw interceptions.  I mean, did Michigan ever punt?  Wasn't it like 3 interceptions and one missed field goal? seriously when did you see Hagerup, except for the confusion on that one 4th down, that Michigan ended up converting?  This game was like playing a junior verions of our offense saddled with our last year's defense (almost, NW did stop the running backs and kept Denard to just over 100 yards rushing)

This offense is still explosive, can only be stopped if Denard stops himself, and the defense seems to be able to stop at least half of the opponents drives from scoring.  I mean that game without interceptions is 48-24 to 63-24, instead of 42-24.

So you have to be kidding me that after last year's performance you don't have a huge amount of optimism with the season's statistical turning point complete?

I mean Fitzgerald's press conference was essentially summed up in one opening statement. "we got Denarded"

I mean it wasn't SDSU "we're too busy crying to come out of the locker room" Denarded, but NorthWestern was still Denarded.

 

greenphoenix

October 12th, 2011 at 10:20 PM ^

The secondary was so young, and so thin, that Gordon might have been the only player with even reasonable speed who didn't make big mistakes in practice. Who would we have put in at free safety last year? It's hard to describe how completely miserable it was to have four true freshmen to choose from.

jmblue

October 12th, 2011 at 11:38 PM ^

There were other candidates.  Thomas Gordon is in the same class and has better speed.  Carvin Johnson was a true frosh but he played right away (though at the LB/S hybrid - another bizarre personnel decision).  If they were willing to put up with a guy with sub-optimal speed, they could have just stuck with Kovacs, who played there the previous year.  In the end they went with Vinopal.

Cam Gordon was about the strangest possible option - a guy who didn't have the physical makeup or instincts for that position at all.  When your free safety allows a tight end to get behind him and then can't make up any ground on him on the ensuing 50+ yards of running (as in the 95-yard TD in the ND game), he shouldn't be playing free safety. 

It's noteworthy that before the end of 2011 spring ball, our current staff had already moved multiple defensive players (players that this staff had never seen before January) to more optimal positions.   

chitownblue2

October 13th, 2011 at 8:49 AM ^

Well, the four players we've played at S this year were all on the roster last year, yet Cam played over them.

Also, there was the guy that replaced him at safety - Ray Vinopal.

Regardless, my point wasn't that Rodriguez's defense was being stupid (though it probably was), but that Bouje seemed to be under the impression that it had succeeded, in any fashion, in being a "bend but don't break" outfit.

joeyb

October 12th, 2011 at 4:19 PM ^

"I'm a bit worried that Fickell is installing a ton of bubbles right now, though."

Fickell thinks that installing bubbles involves soapy water. I wouldn't worry about it.

Beavis

October 12th, 2011 at 4:22 PM ^

UFRs - the best (only?) quality of MGoBlog these days.  

One gripe - Countess a push?  Really?  He is the best cover corner we've had since Leon Hall (and yes, I know Donovan Warren played since Leon Hall).  Bringing TWoolf out and putting in Countess is a huge reason for our success in the second half, IMO.  

UM Indy

October 12th, 2011 at 4:29 PM ^

First, Northwestern with Persa is a really good offense.  They can score on just about anybody.  I'd say giving up 24 points is very respectable, regardless of how that number was achieved.  Second, don't you shudder and cower if you transpose the defenses from the last 3 years into Saturday night's game?  They would've given up 50 easy. 

This D is getting lucky, but also making its own luck.  In my wildest dreams, I didn't anticipate this kind of improvement - and I'll stick by that come what may the rest of the year.

Blue in Yarmouth

October 13th, 2011 at 9:03 AM ^

The past three years we had to score on virtually every possession if we hoped to win a game. Our defense would provide a token stand here or there but essentially the outcome of the game rested on the offense scoring on every drive.

This year our defense is actually making stops. Also, we are just making stops in terms of forcing a team to punt, but forcing turnovers as well, which is something we were miserable at the past few years.

I look at this defense and see distinct progress over hwat we have seen the past few years. I know after those three years we are all a little leary to get excited about anything and it seems like we are all just waiting to for other shoe to drop (i know that is how I have been feeling), but from this point I am saying screw it and getting excited about this team!

I didn't think it was possible for a team to make such a turn around in one year but I am choosing to believe it's real and we will keep improving every game throughout the year. We're 6-0 and I honestly wouldn't have believed that would be the case at the beginning of the year. GO BLUE!

greenphoenix

October 12th, 2011 at 4:30 PM ^

All this week I was thinking "It wasn't the defense that stepped up; it was the offense that stopped giving the ball away." To prove I wasn't crazy I did a little test of average YPA in the first half and second half and realized that the average distance per play only dropped from 6.9/attempt in the first half to 6.1/attempt in the second.

So, better, but not dominance. What really changed is that Michigan scored on 5/6 drives and Northwestern turned the ball over twice on VERY close calls.

joeyb

October 12th, 2011 at 4:40 PM ^

If they line up close to defend the bubble screen, then they are opening themselves up for big plays. Lining up that deep is low risk, low reward. Lining up a yard or 2 off the receivers is high risk, high reward. You say yourself that the personnel is not where it should be, but we are covering up our weeknesses, which you wouldn't be saying if we were in the high risk, high reward defenses. If anything, everyone here should know that the spread offense is based off giving what the defense gives you (and they have to give you something). If we try to stop the run and short passes, then that leaves the deep passes open and that's what NW would take.

Seattle Maize

October 12th, 2011 at 4:51 PM ^

I think this is exactly it.  Right now we just dont have the talent to be an Alabama like defense. Once we have safeties with great range, lockdown corners and dlinemen that can generate a lot of pressure then I would expect to see more press covereage and risk taking.  Until then I think that giving up 12ppg defensivley is about as much as you can reasonably ask for out of this team.

jmblue

October 12th, 2011 at 6:21 PM ^

Until then I think that giving up 12ppg defensivley is about as much as you can reasonably ask for out of this team.

Giving up 12 ppg, at season's end would likely put us in the top 5 in the country. I don't know if it's reasonable to ask that of the D. Anything under 20 ppg would be good.

joeyb

October 12th, 2011 at 6:34 PM ^

Last year, we were asking for anything under 24 or 28. 24 would have put us around 60th in the country. 20 ppg, at first, seems like a pipe dream, but really, that would be 28ppg for the last 6 games, which would actually not be that great.

readyourguard

October 12th, 2011 at 4:41 PM ^

When a team is not following their assingments in the first half and they correct those mistakes in the second half, that is what we call in the business A HALFTIME ADJUSTMENT.  It's not "a little data."  It's big.  See the Kovacs play above:  Roh didn't peak in to look at the dive.  He followed his assignment and took the quarterback, leaving Kovacs to handle his assingment (the pitch).

 

WolverBean

October 12th, 2011 at 7:31 PM ^

I think this is a semantics argument.  I would argue (and I think Brian is using terms this way as well) that there are two different cases here:

1.  The coaches change the scheme at halftime, by, say, substituting in a different player, or using a different alignment.  This is a halftime adjustment.

2.  The coaches don't change the scheme, but do remind the players what their correct assignments are in that scheme.  This isn't a halftime adjustment; it's just coaching.

Using this breakdown, splitting Jake Ryan out wide instead of having him on the line is a halftime adjustment, whereas Roh following the correct assignment in the second half and going for the QB instead of the dive is just coaching.

Ziff72

October 12th, 2011 at 4:50 PM ^

I need an expert opinion.   I remember when Schefer was brought in Gsimmons pumped me up that this is what he believed.   I didn't see it too much, but here is my question.

If you are in zone defense why doesn't one of the db's get super tight to the LOS to scare the bubble?

All you have to do is fake like you are in man to man then bail or move around on the different WR's and you make this play go away.   If he has flat responsibilty and help over the top it is a low risk way to negate this easy play.   I just don't get it.   Get up tight and then when they get ready to snap bail.   I know offenses have adjustments, but if you are lined up over the WR's they will never run it so you can just bail at the snap and not get beat.

I will never understand how a defense by allignment can just surrender 5-10 yards?   It seems insane. 

JT4104

October 12th, 2011 at 5:16 PM ^

Well more times than not in zone coverage your trying to make it look like man. Again the bubble allows the Qb to see what you are trying to do. NW for instance would take the snap and Persa had a good almost 2 secs to make the bubble pass if it was there.

So, now your asking our Safeties who dont have elite speed to get over playside if the CB in the flat is playing straight out bubble. Also, NW clearly had other options off the bubble.

Simply when the talent improves and the speed improves we wil defend these better until then as others have said it is low risk/low reward to keep plays at minimum and not have monumental busts.

blueloosh

October 12th, 2011 at 5:34 PM ^

My bold theory for defending the bubble, that I would love to see some DC try, is to run what I would call a "bubble blitz."  What you would do is have a defender floating out near the receivers, may five yards off the line and a few yards inside of the near receiver -- and you'd have him try to time up a run at the line of scrimmage on the snap.  But not toward the backfield -- toward the flight path of the bubble pass in its last few yards, just short of the receivers.  I.e. if done perfectly, and the pass is thrown, it's a pick 6. 

Now -- could a defense simply pull out this stunt and expect an interception?  No.  But wouldn't you be terrified as an offense if you knew there was a chance some crazy defender might be streaking into your pass lane?