Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs Notre Dame Comment Count

Brian September 15th, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Gratuitous Video of the Week: here's Will Campbell showing men of Thor who Thor really is:

More on him later.

Formation Notes: Michigan ran a lot of nickel against ND since ND ran a ton of three- and four-wide sets; this was usually an "even" front:


IE, both sides of the line are set up essentially the same way. You can see Thomas Gordon over the slot to the bottom of the screen.

When ND went to more conventional sets it was the 4-3 under. Here's an example you might recognize:


They also did their okie thing and nickel eff it, but you know about the latter from momentarily horrifying touchdowns.

Substitution Notes: much less rotation on the defensive line this time around. Roh and Black split time at WDE. Martin was almost always the nose. Van Bergen split time between three-tech and SDE, as did Heininger. Heininger also spotted Martin at the nose when he took a breather. Washington got in for a few plays; Campbell replaced Heininger late to excellent effect. Both were three-techs.

As you can see above, it seemed like Michigan had two different packages on the line:

  • Pass rush: SDE Ryan / NT Martin / 3TECH RVB / WDE Black/Roh
  • Run D: SDE RVB / NT Martin / 3TECH Heininger/Campbell/Washington / WDE Black/Roh Jake Ryan and Kenny Demens went the whole way at LB. The WLB was Desmond Morgan for the first four or so drives and then Brandin Hawthorne the rest of the way. Ryan also lined up at defensive end plenty when ND went to packages with lots of wideouts.

In the secondary it was mostly Avery and Floyd with Woolfolk rotating in from time to time. Kovacs and Robinson played the whole way at safety; Thomas Gordon got all but a handful of snaps as Michigan spent most of its time in a nickel package.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 11
Morgan starts and immediately gives up a play. Wood's headed straight up the middle of the field but Demens is there, unblocked. Martin(+0.5) was momentarily doubled and then gets the inside guy to release downfield. He then sets up inside of the G. That plus Demens means Wood has to cut outside of the Martin block and inside of Roh. Morgan(-2) fails to read the play quickly enough and does not get outside to stand Wood up in the hole. Have to get here if you're unblocked. If he's there Wood has nowhere to go and this is a no gain. Instead he's late, missing an arm tackle(-1) and sending Wood into the secondary for Kovacs to tackle.
M46 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power off tackle Morgan 5
Heininger at the three tech with RVB at the five, except this is an even front with Roh on the strongside. Michigan slants its line away from the play; Roh(+0.5) shoots under the TE quickly enough to bang the pulling G. He's not far enough upfield to stop him cold but does slow him up and prevent him from effectively blocking Morgan. I am not entirely sure but I think Demens may have screwed up here—usually when you see a slant like this both linebackers will flow over the top behind it. Instead Demens goes straight upfield, getting knocked out by a tackle releasing downfield. HOWEVA, Gordon is blitzing off the edge so maybe Demens is doing what he should and it's Morgan who is making the error by not getting inside to bounce the play to his force help. So I just don't know. I think this is Morgan(-0.5) because of the blitz, and he did fall off the tackle(-1), but Demens(-0.5) also comes in for a wag of the finger.
M41 2 5 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass N/A Waggle out Floyd? 21
Looks like the same slant. Roh(-1) is left unblocked on the end, sees the TE pulling across the line, and crashes down the line at said TE. He gets chucked to the inside as he releases into the route. Rees has no pressure on the corner and finds Floyd wide open for a big gainer. (Cover -2, Pressure -2, RPS -1) Either on Floyd for going deep when he had help over the top or Gordon for not getting over fast enough. I'd be guessing.
M20 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Martin 11
TE originally spread out before coming in as an H-back over the gap between Martin and Heininger. Both linebackers flow to to the wrong side a step as the RB takes a counter step before cutting backside. Heininger(-1) was easily kicked out of the hole and sealed. Martin(-1) is slanting, I think, and also gets blown out of the hole. Morgan(-0.5) and Demens(-0.5) both get blown up by ND OL on the second level, and Wood just shoots straight upfield. Yuck.
M9 1 G Ace twins twin TE 4-4 over Run N/A Yakety snap -- 0
Fumbled snap.
M9 2 G Shotgun 4-wide Nickel over Run N/A Quick pitch Black 2
Eifert split out. Slightly, Michigan shifted towards him in case there is funny stuff. Morgan telegraphs his blitz, Rees checks. He checks to a quick pitch outside that takes advantage of that blitz(RPS -1). Black(+2) is left unblocked and starts charging up at the quarterback; on the pitch he changes direction impressively, gets out on the RB, and manages to tackle(+1) just as Wood crosses the LOS. Terrific individual play.
M7 3 G Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 7 Rollout out Gordon 7
Michigan sends the house; Notre Dame rolls away from the pressure and towards the out route Riddick is running on Gordon; Gordon has to set up with inside leverage and has no real chance at doing anything with this. Cover -1, RPS -1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel under Pass 4 Dumpoff Morgan? 15
This director is very frustrating because his shots are all super-tight. You can see literally three yards downfield. Is this zone or man? I don't know. I believe it's zone given the reactions after the dumpoff. Problem: Morgan(-2, cover -2) takes off on a drag route as if it's man, opening up this stupid dumpoff for a big gain. No pressure(-1), either. On replay, definitely zone except for Morgan.
O32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel under Run N/A Pin and pull zone Martin -3
Martin(+3) gets under the blocker assigned to him and shoots into the backfield for a TFL. Roh(+1) had set up outside in good contain position, removing any chance of a bounceout. Heininger(-1) got clobbered, though it didn't matter. RPS+1 for the slant.
O29 2 13 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power off tackle N/A 16
Kovacs and Morgan telegraph a blitz; Rees checks out of it; Michigan does not check out of their blitz. The check is a power play to the strong side of the line, where there are two Michigan defenders and four blockers with the pull. RPS -2. Hopeless. Heininger(-1) makes things worse by getting destroyed. RVB(-1) flew upfield, opening a big hole. Demens is almost triple-teamed as a result. Wood can go to either side. Gordon has to keep leverage and heads outside; Wood cuts in. Robinson(-1) comes up hard, misses the tackle, and gets lucky that Wood is forced into Floyd.
O45 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Out Demens 6
Zone blitz sends Morgan and drops Black. This gets a free run for Morgan and does see Black cover Eifert effectively, but no RPS because ND has a hot route they hit. Demens is in man on Riddick; Riddick runs an out; he was lined up way outside of Demens; all Demens can do is tackle. It is possible Gordon was supposed to be in zone here but I think it's just a tough cover for Demens as Mattison tries to confuse ND.
M49 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
Why does ND always have at least two linemen with full-on Viking manes? I can't think of a team more likely to have hair sticking out of their OL's helmets.
O46 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Drag Kovacs 11
Washington in. Morgan(+1) blitzes and gets in clean, lighting up Rees as he throws (pressure +2), but Demens has been run off (cover -1) underneath and a short crossing route is turned up for 8 YAC. This is not Demens's fault—he actually did a great job of passing Floyd off to the safety. Kovacs(-1) is the culprit I think; two ND receivers jumped inside and he was the nearest available defender.
M43 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Bubble screen Demens 8
Gordon(+1) does a great job of avoiding a cut block and is right there; Demens(-2) is flowing from the inside. He overpursues and lets Floyd back inside of him when the two of them had him pinned for a minimal gain. (Tackling -1)
M35 2 2 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Pass 6 TE In -- 13
Morgan and Ryan blitz and are picked up(pressure -2). Once that happens it's an easy matter to find the hole in the zone. Kovacs and Demens were the guys nearest but this is on the blitz not getting close to home.
M22 1 10 Shotgun empty bunch Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Morgan 14
Morgan(-1) again telegraphs his blitz, Rees checks, Michigan does not check, and it's easy as pie to throw it where Morgan blitzed from (RPS -2.) It's a matter of picking the wide open WR. Mattison getting torn apart so far. Kovacs(-1) misses a tackle(-1), ceding another half-dozen yards.
M8 1 G Ace Big 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Ryan 5
Michigan still slanting these. Unlike Roh earlier, Ryan(-1) does not get underneath his blocker. He's kicked out. The slant isn't helping Heininger but he gets annihilated(-1). Big hole. Morgan(-0.5) gets pancaked, but he wasn't done any favors. Held down by safety help near the goal line.
M3 2 G Ace Big 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Black 3
Same play they ran for 11 yards on the first drive. Black(-1) blown out by a double. Martin(-1) fights to the wrong side of his blocker; Morgan(-1) again goes with the counter step and again gets pancaked in the end zone. Demens(-0.5) can't do much. This is easy, yo.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-14, 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Trap? Van Bergen 2
Hawthorne in. G pulls around Martin(-0.5) as the C kicks him upfield. Tough job to stay disciplined there but Martin could have done better. Hawthorne shoots the gap outside and misses but does get an arm on Wood, causing him to stumble. RVB(+1.5) fought inside a double and now gets in the way, forcing a spin; Demens(+0.5) and Kovacs(+0.5) converge to thump him down.
M37 2 8 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Out Floyd Inc
Zone blitz sees both DEs drop off as the MLBs blitz and Kovacs comes from way back. Rushers get picked up and Rees has a guy wide open on an out for the first (pressure -1, cover -1, Floyd -1), but instead of throwing it at the WR he throws it in the direction of Floyd five yards deeper. That's a letoff.
M37 3 8 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Hawthorne Inc
Hawthorne(+1) sent on the same blitz Morgan was earlier, but he doesn't tip it off, getting in free right after the snap (pressure +2, RPS +1). Rees chucks it in panic. General direction of a drag that probably won't get the first down; turfed. I have a new respect for giving free rushers +1s after watching Morgan earlier.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-14, 14 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O14 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel over Pass 5 Bubble screen Gordon 22
Blitz from JT Floyd in the slot and ND bubbles right at it (RPS -1). Gordon gets a chuck in press man on Riddick, then disengages as Kovacs comes up. Riddick takes Kovacs. Gordon is now alone with Floyd on the edge. Floyd smokes him(-2, tackling -1) to the outside and turns a moderate gain into 20 yards.
O36 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel over Run N/A Power off tackle Martin 0
RVB(+1) stands up to a double right at the LOS. This allows Martin(+1) to read the pull and pull himself, getting into the hole. Demens attacks and gets there at about the LOS; he turns it inside but I think he got bashed out the hole and would have given up a lane if not for Martin. Black(+1) set up, chucked the DE, and dove at Gray's feet as he passed—he's actually the first guy to tackle(+1). Well done all around by the DL.
O36 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Fade Woolfolk Inc
Hawthorne as a standup DE-ish thing and Ryan as an MLB. Blitz telegraphed? I don't remember this play. Survey says... yes. Ryan blitzes, Hawthorne drops into coverage, ND picks it up. Rees wants Floyd on a fade covered by Woolfolk. Woolfolk(+2) is step for step and uses his club to knock the ball away as it arrives. Robinson(+0.5) was there to whack him, too. (Cover +2)
O36 3 10 Shotgun empty Okie Pass 3 Hitch Kovacs Int
Massive coverage bailout: the one that worked. ND rolls away from pressure that doesn't exist and still lets the backside DE roar in free. Rees has a timer in his head and needs to chuck it; he does. Kovacs(+3) backs out into a zone, reads the roll and the QBs eyes, and undercuts Floyd to intercept. Only problem: Eifert is wide open in the seam for a touchdown. Um (cover +1, RPS +1). I guess. Picture paged by dnak438.
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-14, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Screen Black Inc
Black(+2) reads the screen, gets upfield, shoots out on the running back, and tackles him as Rees turfs the ball. (RPS +1, cover +1)
O24 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Run N/A Draw -- 20
Michigan shows the okie package on second and long; Rees checks, Michigan does nothing, and even after it's like “they called a play where they think we have no MLBs,” they still drop Mike Martin into a zone like it's third and twenty. Black did try to stunt inside and get crushed to the ground, so that's a -1. Everything else is on Mattison here. RPS -3. Little chance to defend this. I do wonder if the draw defense here was supposed to be Fitzgerald plunging down the line from outside.
O44 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Fade Avery Inc (Pen 15)
No question about this. Avery shoves Floyd OOB on a very catchable fade (-2, cover -1).
M41 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel press Penalty N/A False start -- -5
I bet they all saw “Thor” on opening night.
M46 1 15 Shotgun trips Okie Pass 5 Tunnel screen Fitzgerald 3 – 15 Pen
Michigan drops a couple linebackers and sends five. The blitz prevents any ND OL from getting out just because they're getting blocked, essentially, and Fitzgerald(+0.5) just has to form up; RVB(+0.5) tackles from behind. RPS +1. Thor gets a personal foul.
O43 2 26 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 5 Fade Floyd 26
Floyd on Floyd action. Floyd(+1, cover +1) has excellent, blanketing coverage on Floyd but the back shoulder throw is perfect and his hand is a half-second late. Floyd stabs a foot down and Floyd can't do much other than ride him out of bounds. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat. This is one of those times. That is hard. That is why Floyd (not our Floyd) is going to be rich in about nine months.
M36 3 In Goal line 4-3 under Run N/A Dive Hawthorne In
Linemen just fall all over each other, leaving Hawthorne(+1) to leap over the pile with beautiful timing and nail Wood in the backfield. Could be a stop but Wood does burrow for the first. Refs got this spot on the money.
M36 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Heininger 5
Heininger(-2) crushed out of the hole. He has to take the double there; he does not. He gets sealed instantly and in one motion the T is out on Hawthorne. LBs have blockers in their faces. Demens(+0.5) sets up well and gets Wood to commit inside, then pops off and falls backwards and causes Wood to fall; Hawthorne(+0.5) had taken the hit and gotten playside. Not heroic work but they held this down without involving a safety despite both getting blocked.
M31 2 5 Ace trip TE Base 3-4? Run N/A Down G pitch Demens 3
Ryan(-2) is on the edge against three freaking tight ends and doesn't try to not get sealed. He's not even slanting. He rushes straight upfield, gets sealed by Eifert, and doesn't delay the puller. Hawthorne(-0.5) is on the LOS inside of Ryan and meets the same fate. Hard to blame him. Floyd sets up outside to force it back; Demens(+2, tackling +1) is running his ass off to beat the blocker coming out on him and catch Wood. He does just as Wood tries to break outside of Kovacs(+0.5), who had taken on the last TE and gotten outside all textbook and stuff.
M28 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Penalty N/A Delay of game -- -5
Brian Kelly thinks he's coaching basketball yo.
M33 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel stack Pass 4 Out Avery 15
Avery on Floyd; I think Floyd pushes off here to get separation but there is no call. Avery -1, cover -1.
M18 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Pass 5 Rollout dumb Floyd Int
Rees goes “FLOYDFLOYDFLOYD” and throws it to him despite Floyd having three defenders around him, one directly in front of him. JT Floyd(+2, cover +2) picks it off.
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-14, 5 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
50 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Avery 12
Play action fake with a pull does suck Hawthorne(-0.5) out of position, but it's hard to not suck up given what's been happening. The bigger problem is Avery(-1.5, cover -1, tackling -1), who has no other threats than Floyd and would be fine if he just tackled on the catch here. He doesn't; Floyd breaks the tackle and turns five yards into a first down.
M38 1 10 Ace twins twin TE Nickel even Run N/A Down G pitch Black 3
Black(+1) slants inside the TE assigned to him, getting into the backfield. He draws one of the pulling OL and cuts off the outside, forcing a cutback. The TE peels back to try to deal with him and then thinks better of it. Wood cuts inside the Black engagement and would be in trouble if Heininger(-1) hadn't been completely handled by one-on-one blocking. If Heininger is just okay here this is no gain. Instead he's crushed, leaving a gap. Hawthorne(-0.5) was cut as well but gets up crazy fast; Demens(+1) avoided his cut and fills to thump.
M35 2 7 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Heininger 2
Good fightback from Heiniger(+1.5) here. He takes a one on one block and gets playside. This is definitely not supposed to happen since the H-back is running straight at this gap. Heininger is there; H-back runs into him. He holds. Running back now hits the pile; he starts to yield a little bit. He's still taken on two blockers and forced a bounce. An unblocked Demens(+0.5) is in the right place to lead the tacklers.
M33 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run N/A Draw -- 12
Same thing that went for 20 on an earlier drive, with Martin backing out into a zone as ND runs a draw right at it. It's even worse this time as there is no one in the center of the field not dropping into a zone. RPS -3.
M21 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Rollout throwaway -- Inc
Good coverage(+2) causes Rees to throw it away as he nears the sideline.
M21 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 5 Fade Van Bergen Inc
They back out the MLBs this time and send the DL plus the OLBs. RVB(+1, pressure +2, RPS +2) is instantly past the G assigned to him because of a poor pickup; Rees chucks a ball off his back foot that's not catchable. Eifert gives it a go, though.
M21 3 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Slant Gordon Inc
Gordon(+2, cover +1) gets an excellent jam at the line and disrupts the route. I think this was destined for the slot but it could have been Floyd. Throw was less awful if it was the slot.
Drive Notes: FG(38), 7-17, 1 min 2nd Q. Greg Mattison's getting a little fancy here.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Roh 4
Heininger out, Campbell in. I think Mattison knows Heininger has been getting manhandled. ND tries to run at Campbell; his(+0.5) response to a double is to burrow his way straight upfield. This does occupy two blockers for the duration of the play but I'm a little worried he went too upfield and didn't go down the line. This is still better than Heininger's output. Roh(+0.5) is also doubled and manages to split it after giving ground. This forces the RB outside, where Hawthorne can flow; Roh couldn't tackle but his penetration robbed the G of any ability to block Hawthorne. Would like Hawthorne to get to the hole quicker to hold this down a bit.
O24 2 6 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Quick out Floyd 7
Martin(+1, pressure +1) beats the center and threatens Rees up the middle. Doesn't matter because Floyd(-1, cover -1) is in the parking lot on a quick out for Floyd. Way too easy.
O31 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Martin 19
TE as H-back and lead blocker. Martin(-2) is clubbed, getting hit by a single momentary double and then sealed away by one guy after the G releases downfield. RVB(-2) gets upfield and is pancaked. Linebackers really have no chance here. Floyd(-1, tackling -1) is in overhang mode; he misses a tackle near ten yards and Wood ends up picking up 10 more.
50 1 10 Ace 2TE twins 4-3 over Penalty N/A False start -- -5
I bet they're all drummers, too.
O45 1 15 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass N/A Bubble screen -- 8
Tough to defend as aligned(RPS -1), with Woolfolk bailing out and Gordon trying to hold his ground at about five yards getting blocked. Gordon does force it back inside, where Demens and MRobinson tackle.
M47 2 7 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 5 Hitch Floyd 6
Heininger back in; they've flipped him to SDE with RVB at three tech. Hawthorne blitzes and is picked up (pressure -1); Rees hits Floyd on a hitch near the sticks in front of Floyd. Floyd probably gets the first down if he doesn't fall, but he does fall, so he doesn't. (Cover -1)
M41 3 1 Ace twin TE 6-2 Bear Run N/A Iso Van Bergen -2
Bear? Why the hell not. This is a line of six dudes across ND's line with the DL shifted one way and two linebackers lined up above SDE Heininger. Demens is the lone LB; Kovacs also ends up in the box at LB depth as Eifert motions in. RVB(+2) blows through his blocker and is into the backfield; Ryan(+1) blitzed untouched from the outside; Martin(+1) avoided a submarine block from the center and leapt into the path of Eifert up the middle, allowing Demens(+0.5) to charge through the gap unmolested and finish off the tackle RVB and Ryan started. RPS +3; big big stop.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-17, 10 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Run N/A Counter Ryan 38
Man, we suck at counters. This one is tough as Michigan has just six in the box against six blockers. Ryan(-2) plunges down the line and get annihilated by the RT. He is gone, he is being shoved into Martin, game over for the DL. Hawthorne(-1) sucked up to the LOS and gave the C a great angle to block him. I would be interested to know why Mattison doesn't key on OL pulls. There's got to be a reason. Anyway, with Hawthorne and the DL out of the picture, Kenny Demens(+1) is one on one with the pulling OL in acres of space. He sets up inside, realizes Gray is going outside of him, gets out to force a slow-down and cut-back, then gets plowed. Valiant effort there. Marvin Robinson(-3) then turns ten yards into many more by losing leverage. Kovacs had this covered at the sticks if Gray does not get outside.
M30 1 10 Ace 2TE tight 4-4 under Run N/A Inside zone Ryan 0
Excellent work by the entire DL here, as they flow down the line in textbook fashion. Martin(+1) controls the center and drives him back, flowing. Campbell(+1) takes a double but stays playside of it and occupies both blockers for the whole play. Ryan(+2) dominates the TE assigned to him, not only driving him into the backfield two yards but shoving him into Martin's lineman; Woods has nowhere to go except up his blockers' backs. RVB took a double too; he gave ground but it didn't matter. Wood then puts the ball on the turf; Campbell recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-17, 7 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Power off tackle MRobinson 24
Simply untenable, this. RVB(-2) shoots straight upfield. He does bump a puller and delay him, but he falls to the ground and is useless. Martin is on the backside and wasn't going to be able to do much but now he's totally out of the play. Black(-2) locks in with Eifert and then makes a critical error: instead of bulling him back and stringing the play out he attempts to disengage. He gets playside but gives up two yards of penetration and gets way too far outside in the process, now getting caught up with Hawthorne. Then he falls. Big cutback lane. Robinson(-2, tackling -2) whiffs so bad he hardly slows Wood, turning a nice gain into a huge one.
M47 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel under Run N/A Inside zone Black 0
Floyd(-1) telegraphs blitz, no check. ND runs away from it and might have a big gainer if they can get the edge sealed. This time Black(+2) stands up, chucks Eifert inside of him, and pops up on the edge a yard into the backfield, forcing a cutback. Martin(+0.5) has flowed down the line to cut off the immediate cutback and Demens(+0.5) comes in from behind to tackle.
M47 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run N/A Delay Demens 5
Michigan sends Ryan and Kovacs from the outside while dropping Demens and Hawthorne back to linebacker depth. This initially fools the LT, who ends up having to chase Demens(+1) as he scrapes to the hole to tackle. Demens ends up missing the tackle because the OL blocks him in the back (refs -1); Martin(+0.5) set up well and came off a block to finish the tackle. Should have been two yards or negative ten, but that's life. RPS +1
M42 3 5 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Pass 5 Rollout out Floyd 16
Floyd(-2, cover -2) gets killed on this little rollout out. Giving up the first down is one thing. Getting so far out of position on a five yard out that you can't even miss a tackle until the safety comes up and the WR has to delay is another. Easy.
M26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Van Bergen -4 (Pen +10)
M waits to tip its blitz until after the check, getting Gordon(+1, RPS +2) in off the edge on the playside. Michigan slants under the zone blocking and RVB(+1) gets through to tackle immediately on the cutback Gordon forces. Heininger(-1) erases all of that by yanking an ND OL by the jersey as he's cut to the ground.
M16 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Fade Floyd Inc
Floyd(+2, cover +2) in press here and stays step-for-step with Floyd on the fade, breaking it up as it arrives. Fade is not well thrown, which helps.
M16 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 two deep Run N/A Inside zone Demens 1
Three man line with Ryan as a Crable DT; they send him and Demens at the same gap. ND runs away from it. Trouble? Maybe. Martin(+0.5) and Heininger(+0.5) flow away from the blitz against single blocking and hold up; Demens(+2) keeps his head up, reads the play, gets into his blocker, and then releases down the line to tackle.
M15 3 9 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 two deep Pass N/A Drag Van Slyke 15
Three man rush leaves Rees all day(pressure -1) but does force a checkdown. Slot WR is running in front of Van Slyke(-2, tackling -1), who's too far behind to do anything but make a desperation dive that does not bring the WR down. That's the first down; the TD is mostly due to a stellar block by an ND WR that cut off three guys.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-24, 2 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 5 TE out Hawthorne Inc
Herbstreit is now circling our telegraphed blitzes. Rees is still checking out of plays. This time it's Kovacs rolling up and blitzing; ND rolls away from it. Rees seems to have a WR open but goes to Eifert, who is blanketed by Hawthorne(+2, cover +2). Hawthorne comes over the top to break it up. Impressive.
O10 2 10 Ace twin TE 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Hawthorne 8
Van Bergen(-1) is battered out of the hole but Ryan(+0.5) sets up right this time and Demens(+0.5) scrapes to hit the lead DE at the LOS. Narrow gap for the tailback that should be filled by Hawthorne(-1) but isn't because he shuffled to the LOS instead of flowing over the top and allowed the C to block him. Picture paged.
O18 3 2 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Power off tackle Hawthorne -2
Same play. Michigan sends Hawthorne on a blitz this time. RVB(+2) shoots upfield, getting his blocker in trouble and picking off a pulling G. He is surging through both these guys two yards in the backfield as Wood approaches. Ryan(+0.5) again sets up well on the edge. Wood is going to try to bounce, which will test Ryan severely because Demens(-0.5) is not in position to bounce with him. Moot, though, as Hawthorne(+2) has zipped through the crack provided by the pulling G and tackles for loss. RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-24, 13 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 PA TE drag Hawthorne 5
Rees goes play action and then finds his tight end for a moderate gain. Hawthorne tackles immediately. Pressure was getting-there-ish, coverage was okay, throw could have been better... this is average all around.
O45 2 5 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell 2 (Pen -10)
Campbell(+1!) bowls over the backside G. RVB(+1) has cut through his blocking on the frontside, which forces a cutback. Campbell might have as shot at a TFL but is held, allowing the RB past; Demens(+1) reads and slices through a gap to make an ankle tackle as Wood gets to the LOS. Black(-1) got blown up and pancaked by Eifert on the backside, which is why this became dangerous.
O35 2 15 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 3 Tunnel screen Black 0
Hawthorne sent; Black drops off. Think Rees puts this too far outside but Black(+2) takes advantage. He's chucking a TE on his drop who turns into his blocker; Black shucks him and tackles Floyd at the line. (RPS +1, tackling +1)
O35 3 15 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 TE post -- 21
No pressure(-1) on a four man rush allows Rees to step up and sling it in a very small gap between Hawthorne and Demens(+1); this is good coverage(+1) that Rees beats with a fantastic throw. Demens was right there, man.
M43 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel spread Run N/A Inside zone Gordon 2
Hawthorne split out in man and I think this baits ND since it looks like Demens is the only LB. On the snap, Gordon blitzes and the line slants. RVB(+0.5) gets some penetration and Wood cuts back. Gordon(+0.5) is there to contain; Demens(-0.5) gets too far outside and doesn't provide a thump to hold this to one yard. RPS +1
M41 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Slant Ryan 11
ND is taking a long time to get their plays called and M takes advantage, sending Gordon and Demens and dropping off Ryan. This is almost deadly. Rees hurries his throw and it's right at the zone Ryan(-1, cover -1) is dropping into except he's too far into the flat, so instead of going right to him it passes just by his outstretched hand. He drops properly and we could be talking pick six. (RPS +2)
M30 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 two deep Pass 5 Slant Woolfolk 8
ND runs double slants and Woolfolk(-1) is beaten to the inside; he does tackle immediately. (Cover -1)
M22 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Fade Avery Inc (Pen 15)
Kovacs rolls up; check. They take advantage of the man to man to take a shot at the endzone. Avery(+1, cover +1) is right in the WR's face as the ball comes in; it's low and to the outside and Avery can't do anything about the futile one-handed stab the WR makes, but it's a futile one-handed stab. Avery is hit with a terrible PI flag (refs -1)
M7 1 G Ace twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass 6 DERP DERP DERP
DERP. Michigan had blitzed and gotten Black(+1, pressure +1, RPS +1) in Rees's face so if this goes forward it's almost certainly getting batted anyway.
Drive Notes: DERP, 21-24, 6 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Campbell? 3
Campbell does okay with a double but only okay and starts getting shoved back. ND RT releases downfield into... no one. Weird. I guess I have to give Campbell +0.5 since one of his guys was probably supposed to get Hawthorne. Hawthorne is now unblocked so he is headed to the frontside gap; Wood cuts behind. Demens(+0.5) and RVB(+0.5) combine to tackle.
M23 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Out Woolfolk 6
No pressure(-1); easy throw for Rees as Woolfolk is in man. No minus here since it's a six yard completion with an instant tackle. That's kind of a win for the cornerback.
M29 3 1 Ace trips TE 6-2 Bear Run N/A Inside zone Ryan -2
Credit could go to either Ryan or Campbell. Campbell(+2) destroys the RT. He gets under him and pancakes the dude. He dead. This constricts the hole and picks off the pulling TE. Wood has to take it inside slightly, where Ryan(+2) blazed past the other tackle on an outside blitz and took a perfect angle to Flying Squirrel Tackle Wood; Demens(+0.5) was there to clean up if necessary. Either Ryan or Campbell was enough to stuff this. Both and you look dominant. (RPS +3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-24, 2 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O39 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 5 Fade Floyd Inc (Pen 15)
Hawthorne(+1, pressure +1) gets a free run at Rees so he chucks it to Floyd, Floyd(-2, cover -2) is beaten instantly and starts yanking the jersey in a desperate bid to not be an instant goat.
M46 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 3 TE In Demens 12
All day (pressure -2) on a three man rush; Rees patiently waits until he finds Eifert for a first down. Demens right there to tackle.
M34 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 3 Rollout out -- 5
No pressure on the roll but lots of coverage(+1) in the area because of the extra defender means Rees has to check down for a few yards.
M29 2 5 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 6 Fade -- Inc
Miscommunication between QB and receiver means pass is nowhere near anyone. Blitz was just getting home.
M29 3 5 Shotgun trips Nickel eff it Pass 3 Seam MRobinson? 29
This has to be a bust by someone but it's also hugely risky in an area of the field where you have another ten yards before you can really start bringing the heat. It must be Robinson(-2), but this is such a ridiculously hard thing to ask this kid to do that an RPS -3 is warranted. Picture paged by dnak438.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-31, 30 sec 4th Q

So how was that?

I don't know, man.

I sentence you to death!

I'm already a condemned man.

I sentence your face to death!

Great. So Michigan gave up 31 points and 513 yards on Saturday. They acquired four turnovers, only two of which could plausibly be declared forced—the two fumbles were just ND players dropping the ball—and one of the plausibly forced also featured a hand-wavingly open coverage bust. Without Notre Dame literally handing the ball to Michigan they likely score between 37 and 45 points. Yeesh.

There is one major mitigating factor: drives. Notre Dame had 13. That's a lot, even more than last year's opponents averaged (12.4) during a time when every other play was a long touchdown. It's still tough to be encouraged when the opponent threw for 8.1 YPA and ran for 6 YPC.

But Notre Dame's offense is really good!

This I buy. Eifert and Floyd are a hell of a receiving combo, their line consists entirely of veterans who Michigan would have loved to have, Brian Kelly is an established offensive super genius, and I love Cierre Wood. If Rees ever stops turning the ball over they could rack up some silly numbers. Big if given Rees's tunnel vision for Floyd, granted.

A quick glance at the schedule suggests the only offense that looks anywhere near as talented is at—ugh—Michigan State. If your line coming out of this game is "this is the most talented offense we'll face," I'm inclined to agree given the dodgy nature of the State offensive line.

And we got a lot better late!

Also true, but first let's get some context, let's get—


He does make an appearance.


Will Campbell chart.




Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 11 6 5 Two huge plays on third and short pull him above average.
Martin 9 4.5 4.5 Had one trademark slash for TFL, was otherwise kinda eh.
Roh 2 1 1 Do something!
Brink - - - DNP
Heininger 2 8 -6 Consistently blown up by single blocking.
Black 11 5 6 Made a lot of plays on the edge.
Campbell 5 - 5 Please be real.
TOTAL 40 24.5 15.5 Decent but the "pressure" metric below is a downer.
Player + - T Notes
C. Gordon - - - DNP
Demens 13 4.5 8.5 Twelve tackles and few errors.
Herron - - - DNP
Ryan 6 6 0 Had some trouble holding up on the edge when asked to slant
Fitzgerald 0.5 - 0.5 About two plays.
Jones - - - DNP
Evans - - - DNP
Beyer - - - DNP
Hawthorne 6.5 4 2.5 Alternated nice plays, coverage, with slow reads.
Morgan 1 7 -6 Yanked. Back problem time?
TOTAL 27 21.5 5.5 Can Hawthorne hold up?
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 5 8 -3 Good PBUs deep, couldn't keep on the radar underneath
Avery 1 4.5 -3.5 Struggled, but PI unfair.
Woolfolk 2 1 1 Limited.
Kovacs 4 2 2 Less explosive day, rarely blitzed, but didn't get beat.
T. Gordon 4.5 2 2.5 I like him.
Johnson - - - DNP
Robinson 0.5 8 -7.5 Lost leverage twice, blew deep coverage twice.
TOTAL 17 25.5 -8.5 FS play killing them.
Pressure 7 13 -6 Front four not getting anywhere.
Coverage 17 18 -1 Good deep in press man.
Tackling 4 10 -6 Very poor day.
RPS 22 18 4 Big recovery late with third and short stops worth +8.

The defensive line generally emerged positive but throw in that pressure metric and it's a below-average day. No one is getting to the quarterback. Their big positives came when ND could not pick up third and short.

I struggled with what to do with plays like the Kovacs interception, on which I gave Kovacs a big plus and Mattison/coverage a small one. (Given Rees's rolling out the TE throw would have been tough.) The surprising net result: a positive RPS day after a lot of big minuses. That is due in large part to Mattison bringing out blitzes that stoned Notre Dame on third and short three times. Those are critical turning points that, according to the Mathlete, swung Michigan's run defense from –4 points above normal (PAN) in the first half to +4 in the second.

Would you like to debate the semantics of the word "sound"?

There's been some pushback (at BWS and also on twitter) on my declaration the defense is not "sound" after pointing out the various ways in which Mattison plus Michigan's inexperience yield a bunch of holes in the D. Some of this is my fault since I did not make it clear that when I was describing something as unsound it was the defense as a whole, not necessarily any individual play. I say this because of plays like this:

Is this a massive missed assignment that leaves essentially no one in the middle of the field? I suppose that's possible, but it doesn't sound like it:

Longer runs when Mike Martin dropped into coverage. How do you protect the middle of field? “The same blitzes that hit the quarterback from western -- [Notre Dame] obviously saw that and didn’t want that pressure to come at them, so what they did was check to a run whenever they saw that look. We have defenses that look exactly the same that are run defenses, and it’s the same thing. I called the pressure thinking it was pass, and in the back of my mind, I’m thinking I should have called the pressure for the run because maybe they’re going to do that, and sure enough they did do it. And the next one they ran it on third-and-seven. If a team’s going to run it on third-and-seven, you aren’t ever going to pressure if you’re worried about it. And some of the overloads on both sides -- they aren’t great run defenses.”

Sometimes Mattison runs sucky run defenses on second and ten. Sometimes he calls plays where there's no one deeper than five yards and would like a true sophomore in his first extended playing time to cover not only the deep middle but a seam route he's not even looking at. Sometimes he asks the WLB to run hash-to-hash with his back towards the QB and then do something about a seven-yard hitch. Are these plays sound? Maybe some of them are… on paper. In practice the kinds of zone blitzing Mattison uses give certain defenders massively difficult tasks.

Is that sound? Yes, technically, but only technically.

I don't have a problem with this, by the way, since it's the equivalent of taking over Michigan's 2008 offense. Do whatever you want. Caviar dreams appreciated.

Do we have a weakside linebacker?

I think we might. Desmond Morgan got a shot and looked like a true freshman. He tipped his blitzes, failed to scrape to the hole despite being unblocked, and had at least one instance in which he did the "I'm in man, everyone else is in zone" thing we saw too frequently last year and from Herron in the opener. Sad fugee faces.

Then Hawthorne came in, and while he had his errors he also flashed impressive coverage skills…

…and the ability to Ian Gold his way into the opponent's backfield:

[update: wrong video. fixed.]

The sample size is small but in retrospect that practice where everyone freaked out because Campbell wasn't starting, then breathed a sigh of relief because Brandin Hawthorne was in there at WLB so it couldn't have actually been the first team defense, was prescient. Hawthorne leapt to the top of the depth chart in the aftermath of his performance and will likely stick there until Northwestern, Michigan State, and Iowa test him down the road.

Do we have a three tech?

Come on, baby. It eventually became clear to Michigan's coaches that Will Heininger was a problem on the interior and they started rotating other options into the game. Quinton Washington got a few snaps and didn't do anything of note. Will Campbell, though, not only features in the above Gratuitous Video but a couple other instances where he all but threw Notre Dame offensive linemen into the ballcarrier. Here he's held!

By the end of the game he'd racked up a +5 with no minuses. This came a week after WMU lit him up and he got promptly yanked.

What changed? Michigan's scheme probably helped. Against WMU they ran a lot of three-man lines with a nose tackle and a couple ends. Against ND it was all four-man lines in which Campbell was the three-tech. That makes him harder to double and apparently allows him to chuck a three-hundred pound redshirt senior like he's Sam McGuffie.

This almost can't be real, so let's say it's not. Likely scenario: Campbell is making some progress but needs to be constantly reminded of his technique, applied in limited situations in which he can succeed, and gets tired really quickly.

Do we have a free safety?

No. Best hope there is for one of the corners to take over at nickelback and get Thomas Gordon back there.

Do we have a weakside defensive end?

Maybe, but it's not the one people expected. Jibreel Black didn't get any quarterback pressure on his own but he still racked up a nice day thanks to athletic plays like this:

He's chucking tight ends out of his face and holding up on the edge (usually) and may have passed Roh. Now about that pass rush…


Kenny Demens was probably Michigan's best defender on the day, and when Campbell and Hawthorne's powers combined on the final four drives Notre Dame averaged 3.3 YPC on twelve attempts.


Marvin Robinson lost leverage frequently and busted the final TD. Anyone covering Floyd on anything but a fly route was helpless, but that can't really be held against them. Morgan and Heininger were poor before being lifted.

What does it mean for Eastern Michigan and the future?

The next three weeks will be spent consolidating a starting position for Hawthorne, working out what Campbell's role can be, working on reducing the number of busts, and hopefully finding someone to play free safety. IME this has to be Thomas Gordon, so look for Blake Countess to begin rotating in as a nickelback so Michigan can develop the corner depth they'll want to keep Gordon at safety full time.

They could look okay by the end of that period. I'm extremely worried about the pass rush from the front four, though. I assumed that would be a strength and it has not been anything close. If they don't get more they'll be totally reliant on wacky blitz packages Michigan's transitioning defense clearly isn't doing a great job of executing. That will make for a  rollercoaster.



September 15th, 2011 at 2:32 PM ^

Brian's last paragraph hit it right on the head - the lack of pass rush is perhaps the greatest concern.  Aside from the fact that this was supposed to be the only strength of the D, if Mattison has to constantly dial up wacky bltz schemes, our DBs are on their own, and quite frankly, none of them have enough talent/experience (yet) to handle that.

A solid pass rush would essentially mitigate our somewhat weak secondary - something that will be essential if we are going to keep teams under 30.

Let's hope that we use the next 3 weeks to fix this unit.


September 15th, 2011 at 3:18 PM ^

As a Bears fan, our whole D is predicated on pressure with the front 4. If you can get that, you're gold.

But remember that in this game we were playing a very good, veteran O-line. I know they struggled against western as well... but we'll see.

Is there another O-Line this good on the schedule until Nebraska?

Blue in Seattle

September 15th, 2011 at 3:20 PM ^

Hoke and Mattison have continuously expressed their concerns about the DL, and from all reports of fall practice it seems to be the most coached area of the defense, DL Coach, DC and HC all focusing on 4 positions.  On top of that BWC drops into a backup role for the first game.  So I say, if ND is truly in the top 3 of Offenses we will face this year, then I've greatly encouraged about the progress "in game" that the DL made, even if they still have a ways to go.  But let's not kid ourselves that the DL was going to be the solid part of the defense.  I mean, the only name that was solid from the Spring Game to now was Mike Martin and RVB, and with RVB he's filling in for a sub-optimal role, and thus got the "grit hard grit worker gritness" seal of approval.  If the ND game finally showed BWC what he can achieve when he does what the coaches coach, then it's a strong upward trend, and plenty of play time in the near future to build a foundation.

And actually, having BWC "get it" is critical to next year, when Mike Martin and RVB are gone.  Bring on the Exhibition Games!!  And prepare for Michigan to not cover the spread, because these coaches are going to take the risk of "teaching" over "domination and Stats".  Especially expect even less Denard run option from shotgun, while the rest of the team learns how to play MANBALL!



Michael Scarn

September 15th, 2011 at 2:37 PM ^

One thing, I think on the zone blitz where Martin drops where you debate the "soundness" of our D, there's a chance that Demens makes that play if it's him instead of Fitzgerald.  Make the right read, take the right angle and bend hard towards Wood and thats a no gain.  Obviously it's not a run blitz so that's part of the problem, but I think the instinctual and quicker Demens makes that play, or at least comes a lot closer to making it.  


September 15th, 2011 at 3:37 PM ^

Against muncipal strictures I own a manpanda.  Bamboo is cheap, manpanda gets the occasional beers in its water bowl, and manpanda seems be so damn happy at times.  But manpanda needz the obediences trainings that will teach it to harness the killing power so I gets the bodies on the floor and select heads over the fireplace mantle.  Otherwise, manpanda gonna receive cold water hoze again.  Sad manpanda.


September 15th, 2011 at 2:43 PM ^

This week's UFRs in particular were extremely informative as I was at the game and missed a lot of the nuances on both sides of the ball, what with being distracted by the lights and whatnot.

Its funny because after all of the gyrations of Will Campbell, rather than being annoyed at his lack of output the last two years I am rooting more for him than most (except Denard, of course).  I very much want him to succeed and maybe he's on his way!?



September 15th, 2011 at 6:17 PM ^

"Brian himself says that the UFR are sometimes flawed in favor of certain positions, so take it with a grain of salt."

This is not true. The UFR +- point system is not "flawed" because one positions' amazing performance number is another's mediocre. The UFR is not perfect, as it does not know what play was called a priori, but in lieu of saying "Demens didn't get to his assignment in this play" we can say "Demens was involved in not stopping this play because he overran the hole." The only one who can assess individual players on an assignment basis is Mattison.


September 15th, 2011 at 2:48 PM ^

The D-line has been abysmal thus far. I'm pointing to Martin, RVB and Roh namely. I can't recall many (if any) times where Rees was hurried by just a four man rush. For once, I have to agree with Brian. If the veteran D-line doens't step it up, we're gonna have major issues.


September 15th, 2011 at 3:14 PM ^

If Heininger and Roh are single-blocked then that means the two interior linemen can be double-blocked. From what we have seen, if BWC can play like that consistently, move RVB to the outside and adding Black to the mix would theoretically put at least 3 guys on the line that require a double-team.


September 15th, 2011 at 2:51 PM ^

Demens is the one making the play in the second Hawthorne video, so you might have linked the wrong one mistakenly.  Granted, it does look like he shed his block rather well there and would have been in position to at least get an arm on the ball carrier.


September 15th, 2011 at 2:55 PM ^

I know we haven't really seen much of anything (from a playbook standpoint on offense)

Does anyone believe mattison has emptied the cupboard yet for the D?  I am sure there are a few special plays left for Ohio State which they practice every week

Also, today's D will evolve from to a different looking D we play in October, just a guess


September 15th, 2011 at 2:57 PM ^


If there was one D lineman to lead pass rush I would have thought that one Michael Martin would be that guy.  Still dunno why Greg coached Martin preseason to do the ineffective "stunt thing" rather than designing scheme to unleash Martin's inner manbeast rage.  Concern about health issues, arm tackling, height, tendencies -- I am so confused.  Was this a ploy to coax the other D line players to step up pressure early in the season as a unit?  Regardless, unless D line pressure emerges by the MSU game we are going to get picked apart the entire last half of the season after Cousins provides those teams with the roadmap to easy victory.  Do something Greg, please, else I may hop onto the Paxil bandwagon.


September 15th, 2011 at 2:57 PM ^

Hey Brian - when I'm reading through the UFRs, I often find myself wondering about the quarter, time on the clock, and score at the beginning of each drive. I don't know how much of a pain this would be to add to your format, but I think it might be useful to have a Drive Notes section at the beginning of the drive as well for a little extra frame of reference since the Offense and Defense UFRs are split up. I know it would help me remember exactly what drive you're referencing before I even get into the analysis. 

Blue in Seattle

September 15th, 2011 at 2:58 PM ^

it's 12 noon here in Seattle, and the Mike Martin drop into coverage/huge gaping hole run is the first video, and not in the position the video descriptions indicate. I ran the first video multiple times, because I couldn't find BWC anywhere, and it's because it's the wrong play. I haven't gone through everything, but the video where the Martin hole is supposed to be is #7 doing a great PBU.  maybe it will be fixed soon?


September 15th, 2011 at 2:59 PM ^

I don't know anything about anything when it comes to schemes and what not.. BUT,...

The one consistient theme seems to be that the coaches are seeing the same thing as Brian and reacting accordingly.  (in terms of personnel).  I don't remember the last two years being like this.

Desmond does bad, gets yanked.  etc.

I guess i'm feeling good about progress as the season moves on...


September 15th, 2011 at 4:09 PM ^

Not much of an X's and O's guy, but one theme I also noted was the adjustments that led to better D line penetration.  The match ups weren't providing much of it during the first half, but the punts we were forcing and the turnovers as things got stacked up at the line (during the second half) tells me the right adjustments are being made.  That and we got a lot better at reading the audibles Rees was making at the line.


September 15th, 2011 at 3:01 PM ^

A Greg Mattison called defense reminds me a lot of Jonas Mouton.  When he hits a play, its huge and amazing and everyone be like damn.  When he whiffs on one its seriously bad news as evidenced by that last ND touchdown.  It will get better as players get more accustomed to it but until the personnel improves it won't you will continue to see huge RPS numbers both ways.  Hell I don't think Gerg ever got a +3, I'm sure he got plenty of minuses though.  In that respect alone its a step in the right direction.


September 15th, 2011 at 3:02 PM ^

Mattison is not yet throwing the proverbial kitchen sink in his defensive alignments / plays but he's getting close.  I suppose it would make us hard to scout.  He has to be thinking that the talent is sub-par so he has to make up for it with schemes and unpredictability, banking on the likelihood that the average college QB can't adjust quickly enough.  High risk? Of course, but thank goodness we have him.  Just be glad we're not facing Wisconsin's offense this year.  They've been IME the most impressive B1G team by far.

Yinka Double Dare

September 15th, 2011 at 3:59 PM ^

I think Wisconsin's offense is probably very good, but it's hard to fully judge based on their competition so far.  The teams they've beaten have, in their other games, lost by 52 to Washington State and lost to 1-AA Cal State-Sacramento (who went 6-5 last year and lost by 21 to Southern Utah this last week). 


September 15th, 2011 at 3:08 PM ^

I think unsound is a good description of the coverage that resulted in both the Kovacs int and the late TD. That defense only works if it succeeds in confusing the QB into checking to a quick short throw.

It basically asks too much of the FS playing the deep zone if the ball's thrown deep. He's got to go from the line of scrimmage into a 25-yard-deep zone while keeping track of guys potentially running routes on either side of him if the offense is running vertical routes. It wasn't so much that Robinson busted the coverage (though he did check his drop too soon), it's that the receiver was running behind him as he ran into his drop. By starting so close to the line of scrimmage, that defense prevents the deep safety from back-peddling into his drop, which means that he can't keep sight of the receivers. 


September 16th, 2011 at 9:41 AM ^

Another person to blame on the last touchdown is Thomas Gordon. He doesn't disguise the coverage at all. The instant the ball is snapped he runs to cover Floyd. When Kovacs ran the same defense, he backpedaled a little, like he was going to cover the TE, and that is what Rees saw. Then when Rees went to Floyd, he broke and got the INT. That is a very subtle thing that makes Kovacs excellent.

I also think the ND offensive staff saw the first play and coached Rees up so that if we did the same thing again, throw the seam. I think it would be a really tough cover for Marvin Robinson, but not impossible. If he doesn't turn his back to the receiver and if when he sees the receiver running a fly he immediately sprints to the deep spot he has a chance to break it up.

los barcos

September 15th, 2011 at 3:09 PM ^

int ESPN did a pretty nice breakdown where jt floyd looked like he was going to cover the underneath reciever which would have left michael floyd 1-1 with a safety in the endzone. thats what rees was seeing when he threw the ball. but instead of covering the underneath route,  jt turns the other way to follow michael floyd as rees throws the ball.  it was a misread by rees but also, i think, a disguised coverage by our D.