Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs OSU Comment Count

Brian December 9th, 2011 at 3:58 PM

Formation notes: Since Brennen Beyer's fake injury kept him out of this game, Michigan had to adapt their big package. Behold a 5-3:

form 5-3-eagle

From top to bottom that is Black, Heininger, Martin, Van Bergen, and Roh on the line with Ryan, Morgan, Demens, and Kovacs in an umbrella behind them. Countess is pulled; Floyd is the lone corner and Gordon the free safety.

When there were more wideouts on the field this was the usual deployment:


Kovacs is rolled down into the box, reprising his days as a "bandit" in the 3-3-5. Rolling Kovacs into the box like this was referred to as "plus" in the UFR chart; any "plus" formation has a safety within four or five yards of the LOS.

Substitution notes: The usual most places. Very limited substitutions along the line, with Brink, Black, and Campbell getting a few snaps here and there. Mike Jones briefly replaced Demens at MLB during Ohio State's dispiriting 82-second TD drive after M had gone up 37-27; that came after the long Stoneburner catch and run that I thought Ryan was mostly responsible for, but more on that later.

Woolfolk started at safety but gave way to Gordon at times in the first half; the second half it was all Gordon.

A what-the-dickens-was-that-note: we talked about the oddity that was Michigan seeming to play with zero deep safety support the whole game in a Picture Pages earlier in the week. Chris Brown emails to suggest that what Michigan was doing was running Virginia Tech's defense:

Beamer and Foster also relied on a hybrid coverage of their own design: The "robber," run out of the "G" front. This coverage worked so well because it transformed an already run-heavy eight-man front into a nine man front, where they combined their 4-4 set with conventional two-deep principles: Instead of two deep safeties, they used two deep cornerbacks who split the field into halves. The free-safety then was free to play a "robber" technique -- that is, on pass plays, he read the quarterback's eyes and broke on intermediate routes, but on runs, where he truly became valuable, he was an incredible ninth run-stuffer in the box.

Although not the best against the pass, that wasn't the point. It was good enough (especially with dynamos like D'Angelo Hall at cornerback), and the focus was on stuffing the run or hitting the quarterback before he could release the ball.

That is exactly what Michigan ran much of the day, so keep it in mind. A fuller discussion after the play breakdown.

Show? Show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under plus Pass 4 Hitch Floyd 5
Kovacs rolled up for the plus. Posey beats Floyd(-0.5, cover -1) but the throw is late and upfield, turning a first down (or near first down) into a meh gain. Floyd comes up to tackle with help from Ryan, who dropped into coverage on a shorter out route. Martin spun off a block to get some token pressure on Miller, barely avoiding the -1.
O25 2 5 I-Form 4-3 under plus Run N/A Inside zone Heininger 1
I'm not sure what exactly this is supposed to be but I think it is an inside zone; the fullback does not head outside like usual here but attacks the strong side of the line, likely in an attempt to break keys for the linebackers. Herron takes the ball to the other side of the line as OSU zones. RVB(+1) slants under the backside G; Martin(+1) chucks his blocker, and Herron has to bounce out into Heininger(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5) who had set up in their gaps and combine to tackle.
O26 3 4 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Pass 5 Flare Ryan 5
Snag package for OSU to the short side of the field; Ryan is dropping into the snag and Miller goes with the flare to the outside; Ryan does a decent job on it but can't stop it before the sticks. Push. Could have gone either way.
O31 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 PA Dig Morgan Inc
Speed option fake into a pass. Michigan's linebackers are suckered big time (Morgan -1, Demens -1, cover -2) and Miller has a huge lane in which to hit a guy on a dig route. He turfs the ball nowhere near his WR.
O31 2 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 even Run N/A QB draw Kovacs 15
M slanting to the short side with Roh dropping into coverage and Ryan blitzing off the slot. Ryan(-1) gets way too far outside and upfield and RVB(-1) gets way too far inside and upfield, opening up a huge lane. Demens(+0.5) does a good job to pop off a blocker and flow; Kovacs(-2) loses leverage and whiffs at Miller's feet, turning this from around five into a big gain that could be bigger but for that Demens flow allowing Countess(+0.5) to toss a blocker upfield and disconnect to tackle after the first down marker.
O46 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 over plus Pass 4 Waggle fly Countess 54
Roh dives inside the fullback on a play action power fake and gives up the corner; that's probably his assignment with Kovacs overhanging. Spill that. Michigan has no one on the edge; Kovacs(pressure –2) and Morgan are there, there's a pulling G in protection, and both guys plus Demens back out into a zone drop. Miller can pull up and fire to an incredibly wide open receiver. Assuming M is playing this VT D, Countess(-4, cover –4) has the deep half and blows it. RPS –2; two on two coverage and a ton of time.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 12 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 Dumpoff -- 2
No pressure(-2) at all as Martin is doubled and no one else can beat a blocker. Miller steps up into more pressure than there actually is. M in a two deep here and nothing's open deep (cover +2). Miller's inaccurate checkdown costs them a few yards.
O23 2 8 I-Form twins 4-3 even Pass N/A WR screen -- Inc
Well wide. Looked like five or so.
O23 3 8 Shotgun 2-back Okie two deep Pass 6 Sack Kovacs -11
Regular okie has seven at the line. This just has six. That's because Kovacs is coming from the safety spot. Everyone else rushes save Morgan, who drops off into a spy zone; OSU goes max pro and Kovacs(+1, pressure +2, RPS +2) still gets a free run. He whiffs; RVB(+1) has slanted past an OL to help clean up; he can't tackle either. Kovacs(+0.5) cleans up from behind. Tackling -1? Yeah, I guess.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under plus Pass 4 Post Countess Inc
Good lord. Woolfolk moves up on the underneath route, Countess(-3, cover –3) is setting up outside of Posey, and Miller misses an 80 yard touchdown. Countess is still in the frame so avoids a –4 but this isn't good. RPS –1.
O20 2 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under plus Run N/A Speed option Ryan 8 (Pen -10)
With two TEs to one side and Kovacs blitzing weak it seems like Michigan's LBs have to do a better job of getting outside. They don't; Demens(-1) is slashed to the ground and Miller gets the edge for near first down yardage before Woolfolk comes up to shove him out of bounds; Ryan(+1) did a good job of holding that edge until he got held himself, drawing a flag. RPS -1.
O10 2 20 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Penalty N/A False start -- -5
O5 2 25 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Run N/A QB draw Van Bergen -2
DTs stunt; RVB(+3) drives through a botched double that is botched because of the stunt and tackles Miller for loss. Given what we know about DT stunts it's possible RVB called this himself.
O3 3 27 I-Form Nickel even Pass 4 Post Roh Inc (Pen -3)
Roh(+2, pressure +2) speed rushes around Mike Adams and is tackled, drawing a holding call that will be a safety. With that guy tackled and only two other rushers Miller has plenty of time; Woolfolk has again come up on a shorter underneath route (on third and twenty seven!) and leaves Countess trailing Posey for a potential big gain; Countess(+2, cover +2) comes over the top to break the pass up. Still very dangerous. Picture paged.
Drive Notes: Safety, 9-7, 5 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 even plus Run N/A Iso Morgan 4
Morgan(-0.5) takes the lead block at the LOS but does not funnel to his partner; Heininger(+0.5) makes a nice play to come off a block and start an ankle tackle near the LOS, robbing Herron of momentum and making it easier for the rest of the D to rally.
O33 2 6 I-Form 4-3 under plus Run N/A Inside zone? Van Bergen 1
This has an attack point outside the tackles but features a lead blocker and looks like inside zone blocking. So... yeah. Morgan(-0.5) and Demens(-0.5) get swallowed up on the second level and again they have Kovacs behind them so I think they're not doing so well; it doesn't look like M is slanting hard. The DL cleans up for them. Ryan(+1) takes on Boren two yards in the backfield; Van Bergen(+1) drives his blocker in to the backfield, forcing a cutback into Martin(+1), who tackles. Good thing, too. Demens was literally ten yards downfield by the time the play was over.
O34 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 TE Out Morgan Inc
Man, OSU's gameplan is go after Morgan, go after Morgan, go after Morgan. Here he's in eh coverage(-1, cover -1) on their ponderous TE Fragel; ball is high and over the hands of the target.
Drive Notes: Punt, 16-7, 1 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Ace 4-3 under plus Run N/A Inside zone Martin 3
Martin and Heininger take doubles; Martin(+2) holds up until his guy releases and then sets up so the RB comes behind him, then disengages to tackle. Heininger(-1) had been blown several yards off the ball and Herron can muscle forward for a few yards. Dangerous without Martin here. Next year's run defense might be shady.
O33 2 7 Shotgun empty Wacky nickel Pass 4 Hitch Van Bergen Inc
Martin as quasi LB with Morgan on the LOS. Martin(+1) comes on his unsurprising blitz as Roh drops off; this time he shocks Brewster with his explosive contact and is about to pressure Miller when he throws; RVB(+1, pressure +1) is in the lane and deflects the pass. Open for around first down yardage if not batted.
O33 3 7 Shotgun 2-back Okie Run N/A QB draw -- 24
Full on man up okie; Miller checks into a QB draw that goes for a bunch of yards because he's running at Morgan backing out into pass coverage and everyone else is rushing upfield. Kovacs(-0.5, tackling -1) and Floyd(-0.5) miss tough open field tackle attempts to provide bonus yards. RPS -2.
M43 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under plus Run N/A Iso Martin 7
Martin(-1) is doubled and gives ground, eventually dropping to his knees a couple yards downfield. Demens(+0.5) does a decent job on the lead block and does not let it outside. Morgan(-1) seems unaware he has Kovacs helping behind on cutbacks and is hesitant; instead of scraping over to the iso hole he sits behind the Martin mess in case Herron cuts back and can only tackle after he decides on a hole. Heininger(+0.5) was there on the cutback as well.
M36 2 3 I-Form twins 4-3 even Run N/A Iso Morgan 1
Morgan(+2) slams Boren at the LOS and gets outside at said LOS; RVB(+1) has slanted under a tackle and forces the play out, where Morgan ends it for little gain.
M35 3 2 Diamond screen 4-3 under Run N/A QB draw Van Bergen 4
Diamond draws four defenders, leaving six on six in the box with Floyd overhanging. Van Bergen... argh, man, he had this after splitting a couple guys; his penetration into the backfield looks like it will doom the play, and then Miller jukes upfield and Van Bergen(sadface -1) bites on it, falling uselessly upfield as the blocker he beat takes that momentum and amplifies it. Martin(+0.5) and Heininger(+0.5) do a good job to converge on the guy near the LOS; momentum carries them across the line to make. Spielman says this a hold but I don't necessarily agree; Van Bergen never forced the issue by disengaging because of the fake so it's hard to tell.
M31 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under plus Run N/A Iso Morgan 5
Morgan(-1) does not take on the FB block at the LOS and gets crushed a yard downfield, giving ground. Martin(+1) fights through a block to get to the hole and force a cutback; Brink(-1) is in for RVB and gets handled by single blocking easily. With Demens(-0.5) also fighting through a block not very effectively there is a cutback; Woolfolk fills with help from Demens.
M26 2 5 I-Form 4-3 under plus Run N/A Iso Kovacs -2
I was nervous about this live because the line was Campbell/Brink/Black/Heininger and I loved this playcall, one of those Kovacs edge blitzes that gets him in unblocked for a TFL. It also got Heininger(+1) and Black(+1) past blockers into the backfield; with Kovacs(+2, tackling +1) roaring off the edge and tackling that's worth another couple of yards to the D. RPS +2.
M28 3 7 I-Form Nickel even Pass 4 Corner Countess Inc
Plenty of time(pressure -2); Countess(-3, cover -3) gets smoked in man coverage and should give up an easy TD but Miller misses. Picture paged.
Drive Notes: FG(45), 16-10, 10 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over plus Pass 6 Scramble Martin 8
DTs stunt and Martin(-2) gets pushed out of the lane he has to be in, so when he and RVB get some pressure after coverage(+1) is there to prevent an immediate throw, Miller can bust out into a lot of grass. Demens(+1, tackling +1) makes a good open field tackle to prevent bigger problems after Michigan rushed six and let the QB through.
M23 2 2 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Heininger 4
Heininger(-0.5) gets a double and gives some ground, though he fights through decently; Demens(+0.5) took on the iso block near the line and is the key tackler, though he is naturally giving ground as he does so. Morgan(-0.5) again not really relevant because he is hesitant.
M19 1 10 Pistol 2TE 46 bear Run N/A Speed option counter Roh 19
Whether this is brilliant improv or a called play Miller is busting backside on the snap and this is no field reversal based on the defense. Roh(-2) makes the cardinal and only mistake on the play by letting the guy outside of him. Out on the sideline on a counter everyone bit on understandably, it's JT Floyd, a blocker, and all of the air. Gordon(-1, tackling -1) could maybe keep this out of the endzone with an open field tackle; he whiffs. Understandable. RPS -2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 16-17, 7 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under plus Pass N/A WR screen Countess 9
This is doomed from the start with Countess eight yards off and dropping on the snap. RPS -1.
O43 2 1 I-Form twins 4-3 under plus Run N/A Iso -- 4
Campbell in; he's handled okay by a single block. Demens is running at the FB; Campbell and his guy get in the way. Both FB and LB are kind of like “what now?” If M's LBs were running hard maybe they stop this for a loss or no gain but that's not a good gamble on second and short. Basically a push.
O47 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 PA dumpoff Van Bergen 5
RVB(+1, pressure +1) slants a little, then beats the G and forces Miller to flush after an iso playfake. Miller breaks the pocket, gets pursuit from a couple of DL, and dumps it to Herron, where the LBs converge.
M48 2 5 Shotgun empty 4-3 even Pass 4 Out Morgan Inc
Miller has Hall wide open for a first down (cover -1) as Morgan is keying draw on the snap; he misses.
M48 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Flare Floyd 5
Roh(+2, pressure +2) again beats the LT, shoving him upfield as he tries to contain the speed rush and impacting Miller just as he checks down to his flare route after the first read is covered(+1). Floyd is there and shoves the guy OOB seemingly short of the first; they are awarded it. Hoke challenges, which is smart since it's not like challenges are actually useful in college and that's a big swing. He loses. Oh well.
M43 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under plus Pass 5 Corner Woolfolk 43
Pressure is not terrible but Kovacs(-0.5) should probably not get outside of Boren, instead he should hold up and not open up this lane. Miller steps up and finds a receiver breaking past Floyd and Woolfolk just as Roh spins off to deal with him. This is all Woolfolk(-3, cover -3) dying when Posey runs the same route that beat Countess.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 23-24, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under plus Pass 4 PA sack Roh -1
Gordon in at FS. Speed option fake and then Miller pivots to the backside of the play. Roh(+1, pressure +1) gets into the tight end on this and then shoots upfield once the TE releases into his route, forcing Miller back inside. Morgan(+2, tackling +1) sees the cut and immediately attacks, which is both smart given the QB and his relatively piddly short zone assignment and effective because he makes an open field tackle. Heininger(+0.5) was pursuing to help as well.
O24 2 11 I-Form twins 4-3 over Run N/A Iso Martin 3
Ryan over the slot and blitzes. Martin(+1) is not doubled and owns Brewster, shoving him back and into the path of the play; Boren runs into that mess, as does Herron. There's nothing there but no one can get through to tackle; eventually Herron pops out the other side and gains a few yards before Morgan and Floyd put him down.
O27 3 8 Shotgun 2-back Okie two deep Run N/A QB draw -- 9
Exact same thing as earlier okie, with guys flaring on the edge and no one in the middle once Morgan drops into a zone and gets blocked. Kovacs comes up on the snap but from the wrong side; Gordon(+1, tackling +1) actually makes a really nice open field tackle to almost kick them off the field but can't quite manage it. RPS -1.
O36 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 over Pass 5 Waggle corner Gordon 22
Gordon(-2, cover -2) beaten as he's poking his nose in the backfield; Miller has all kinds of time on the edge (pressure -2) and floats it in. RPS -1.
M42 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under plus Run N/A Iso Van Bergen -4
A bit slower developing as this is going at the tackle; Van Bergen(+2) dominates his guy, drives into the backfield, and takes out the FB two yards behind the LOS. Ryan(+2) drives Stoneburner back three yards and when Herron bounces he runs into the TE. Slowed, he stops and reverses field. Van Bergen robs this of its danger by getting upfield and forcing it back again, then he comes back to tackle.
M46 2 14 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Tunnel screen Kovacs 7
Posey decides to abort mission for some reason. Not sure why, looks well set up. Maybe RVB coming back? Anyway, it's a good decision as Morgan is out there getting doubled and Floyd has to keep leverage; Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) comes up hard to tackle as soon as feasible but still a good gain. RPS -1.
M39 3 7 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Run N/A QB draw Van Bergen 3
No okie and this is better defended. M stunts; RVB(+1) comes through into the rushing lane and forces Miller away from lead blocks. Martin(+0.5) and Demens(+0.5) are in the area to hold this down to a moderate gain.
Drive Notes: lolpunt, 30-24, 4 min 3rd Q. Michigan moves it 40 yards and then the Hagerup thing happens.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M32 1 10 I-Form big 5-3 eagle Run N/A Power off tackle Roh 4
Without Beyer, Michigan's big package is a five man line with Black and Roh the ends with the usual suspects on the interior; Countess is lifted. This is counter action with the play going away from TE motion and an offset fullback. The DL eats this up, with Heininger(+1) and RVB(+1) coming through blocks into the hole; Martin(+1) has beaten a block as well but won't be relevant because Herron can bounce. Roh(-1) is in good position but not prepared to handle the bounce; Demens(-1) ate a block and ends up eight yards off the LOS [Ed-S: Not holding?]; Kovacs fills adequately but misses a tackle(-1). This does maintain leverage and slow Herron so that Martin can get him from behind, so no minus.
M28 2 6 I-Form twins 4-3 over Pass 5 Scramble Morgan 23
Play action. Michigan sends five with Floyd(-1) coming off the corner. He comes in hot and gets shoved way upfield by Boren; Roh is slanting inside of Adams; this opens up a big running lane (pressure -2). Morgan(-2, tackling -1) is in open space and lets Miller outside, turning a first down or so into a big gainer; Floyd does make some amends by tracking Miller down from behind. Without that this is a touchdown.
M5 1 G Pistol Big 5-3 eagle Run N/A Speed option Heininger 2
They go away from the strength of the formation; Heininger(+1) drives playside of his blocker and forces a Miller cutback. Martin(+0.5) is the next guy; he's taking a double at the LOS and Miller has to go behind again. RVB(+0.5) gets an arm on Miller as he cuts behind the Martin double and all the way back here there's no blocking and a lot of Michigan players; gang tackle.
M3 2 G Goal line Goal line Run N/A Iso Ryan 1
Boren's motion brings Ryan(+1) to the line and on the snap he is unaccounted for by the OL; he drives right at the FB and gets him two yards in the backfield with outside leverage, forcing the play inside. With the DL sufficiently occupying the OL there is one guy blocking downfield, that on Floyd, and Demens(+0.5), Gordon, and Morgan combine to tackle after a modest gain. RVB(+0.5) made the hole small.
M2 3 G Goal line Goal line Pass N/A Waggle sack Black -2
No sale! How many times do you see this become easy. Lots of times. Here Kovacs(+1, cover +1) and Morgan(+1, cover +1) flow out onto the receiving options and Miller decides to pull down. Gordon(+0.5) is out on the edge containing, forcing a cutback into Demens(+0.5) and Black(+1), who was unblocked on the edge and supposed to run himself out of the play or get chopped; he kept his feet and flowed from behind, making first contact and removing the chance of some Braxton Miller bull turning this into a TD. RPS +2. Michigan had this murdered dead, with five guys in the area by the time Miller got tackled.
Drive Notes: FG(21), 30-27, 12 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Pass 4 Dig -- Inc
Panic at the disco here as OSU flips their TE and Michigan tries to flip their formation instead of just shifting to the under. Roh and Ryan are late getting to their destinations. Van Bergen(+1, pressure +1) beats Adams easily and is about to nail Miller from behind when he finds a wide open guy(cover -2) 15 yards downfield. Ball is behind the WR and not brought in.
O20 2 10 I-Form 4-3 even Pass 4 Hitch Ryan 36
Miller drops with a token but not serious PA fake; Michigan rushes four and gets nowhere near. Ryan(-2, cover -2) vacates his zone to run up on a dumpoff route by the RB and opens up a pocket outside of Demens, who has the initial route covered. If OSU is throwing checkdowns at this point in the game, fine. Gordon has bugged out for the deep routes and there is no support after Stoneburner clears the second level resulting in a big gain. Pressure -2; Demens had this covered at first and then OSU was able to adjust because no one got to Miller. RPS –1.
M44 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Pass 4 Screen Jones 16
Jones in for Demens at MLB, maybe he screwed up on the last play. M stunts and all DL are out of commission; a bigger problem is Jones(-1, cover -1) never ever reading this and getting killed by a WR cracking down; Avery gets picked off and there's no one until Gordon. RPS -1.
M28 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under plus Pass 4 PA TE Drag Morgan 20 + 4 pen
Gordon in the box with Kovacs deep. Morgan(-2, cover -2) sees the TE dragging across the formation and gets a shove but not early enough or well enough and that guy breaks past him into open space. Morgan doesn't bug out for the sideline after the shove and this opens up the corner; Morgan simply lacks the athleticism to catch up with a TE. He and Kovacs eventually get him OOB after a big gain. RPS -1. Kovacs(-1) gets a late hit call that is deserved.
M4 1 G I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Floyd 4
RVB(+0.5) stands up his blocker around the LOS; Demens(+0.5) bangs the FB at the line, forcing it outside; Floyd(-2, tackling -1) is unblocked and attacking; he whiffs and lets Herron into the endzone on a play that should have gained a yard or two at most.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 37-34, 7 min 4th Q. Immensely disappointing here. M drives for a TD, gets awarded a FG, and OSU takes over down six with 1:59 on the clock.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Post Demens Inc
Good time (pressure -1) on a four man rush; Miller throws a wobbler on a deep post Demens(+1, cover +1) is running right with. Very narrow window of opportunity here that Miller cannot hit. Still no safety over the top here... worrisome.
O20 2 10 Shotgun 2-back Okie Run N/A QB draw Morgan 4
Miller checks and Morgan backs out before the snap. Instead of rushing the edges like M has before, Demens, Ryan, and Martin come inside; Morgan(+1) comes up to take on the center's block and sheds playside to help tackle with RVB(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5). RPS +1; Michigan baited OSU into blowing this down and running the clock; OSU burns their last TO. This will become relevant.
O24 3 6 I-Form 3-wide Okie Pass 4 Fly Floyd Inc
Plenty of time(pressure -1); Floyd(-3, cover -3) gets smoked on a double move and beat deep. Miller misses and everybody in the stadium dies from fright.
O24 4 6 Shotgun 2-back Okie Pass 4 Scramble Morgan 7
Four man rush gets RVB(+0.5, pressure +1) through on a slant; he's still getting blocked but he's threatening, so Miller pulls the ball down and starts moving. Lanes have opened up; Morgan(-1, tackling -1) seems like he's in a spy zone as he flies up to deal with what looks like it will be a scramble as soon as Miller busts outside the pocket. He misses, letting Miller outside. Floyd(+0.5) comes up and almost boots OSU off the field with a tackle at the sticks; Miller reaches the ball across the line as he leaps in the air.
O31 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Van Bergen -2
Morgan(+1, pressure +2, RPS +1) sent late as Roh drops off. OSU blows their pickup with the entire interior line trying to deal with a Martin/RVB stunt; Miller rolls away from the pressure and looks like he wants to fire deep but decides against it. Morgan is now coming from behind and Miller tries to come back to the other side of the LOS; RVB(+1, tackling +1) does a great job of anticipating that cutback and shooting up in the tatters of the pocket to sack.
O33 2 12 Shotgun trips Okie Pass 4 Drag Morgan 6
Ryan(+0.5, pressure +1) is coming in unblocked until a guard manages to pop outside and block him; Miller can't count on this happening and decides to go to his hot read, which is a little drag that Morgan(+0.5) is there to tackle immediately on.
O39 3 6 Ace trips Nickel even LOL N/A Spike N/A Inc
O39 4 6 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch Avery INT
Decent time; RVB is coming around the outside and Roh threatens to sack if Miller tries to step up. He throws about a ten yard hitch to a seemingly open guy that Avery(+3, cover +2) tips and then makes a diving interception on.
Drive Notes: Interception, 40-34, EOG.

What happened to all my beautiful defenses?

Mostly Devier Posey, and Mattison failing to account for Devier Posey because he'd played one game, and Jim Bollman going all Citrus 2008. Let's go back to the defense Michigan was running.

That is a run defense with two corners handling vertical routes from outside receivers, and if you've got D'Angelo Hall and the horde of quality VT corners plus a ton of pressure you can get away with it. Michigan did not get a VT level of pressure, whether because of OSU's OL or their fear of letting Braxton Miller's legs take over, and neither Floyd nor Countess had any prayer of covering Posey without help.

In the Picture Pages there were a couple plays in which Countess was beaten to the inside and not punished. The near 80 yard touchdown, for instance:

On the next play Countess recovered to get a PBU on the third and forever that would eventually be a Michigan safety. On their next drive, OSU would go three and out when Miller missed an open TE on third and medium. The drive after that they found themselves in third and medium again. Countess isn't going to get beaten to the inside again. He's done with that. He's learned. He's…

…oh, man.

That same route burned Michigan just before the end of the half:

And then there was this WTF moment on the last drive:

That's all three starters in the secondary getting pwned by Posey. I'm giving whoever drafts him in the second round an A+ for their day.

Mattison's defense was a good idea for the version of the OSU offense we saw most of the year, the one in which Miller has 12, 15, 18 attempts, not 25. He was caught off guard by OSU going to the air and his secondary suffered some confusion—the first TD was just a bust. More than that, they were just incapable of covering Posey one on one. Four times Miller had Posey wide open for touchdowns: the two above, the mindboggling Floyd bite on the last drive, and the actual touchdown. Miller hit him once.

But he had to put Kovacs in the box to contain the OSU running game.

I get the idea but in practice it was pointless. Kovacs had three tackles and an assist:

  1. Sack after blitzing from safety depth
  2. TFL after weakside edge blitz
  3. Downfield fill from safety depth
  4. Not sure if this was his assist, another safety fill

I get going into the game with a plan but they stuck with it way too long; going to a two-deep shell and forcing OSU to execute underneath would have been far less harrowing. Miller's accuracy is just as goofy underneath. Michigan dared OSU to beat them over the top and OSU was like "okay."

I mean, look at the—


Look at the chart.

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

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 17.5 2 15.5 Dang.
Martin 9.5 3 6.5 Slight letdown.
Roh 5.5 3 2.5 Got safety; let Miller outside on speed option counter.
Heininger 5.5 1.5 4 Quality.
Brink - 1 -1 Cameo.
Black 2 - 2 Part of big third down stop.
Campbell 1 - 1 Didn't register.
TOTAL 41 10.5 30.5 Caveat: pressure was –1 and DL didn't get much of it.
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 7.5 10.5 -3 Worrisome lack of athleticism evident on a couple plays.
Demens 5.5 4 1.5 Ate some blocks.
Ryan 5.5 3 2.5 Was not a major factor.
Fitzgerald - - - DNP
Beyer - - - DNP
Hawthorne - - - Garbage time.
Jones - 1 -1 Cameo.
TOTAL 18.5 18.5 0 Going to be hard to maintain D without increased production from these folks.
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 1 6.5 -5.5 Yeesh.
Avery 3 - 3 Game ending INT only time he was thrown at.
Woolfolk - 3 -3 One long TD on him.
Kovacs 5.5 4 1.5 Should probably be filed as LB.
T. Gordon 1.5 3 -1.5 Didn't give up anything huge.
Countess 2.5 10 -7.5 Could not deal with deep stuff by himself.
Van Slyke - - - DNP
TOTAL 13.5 26.5 -13 Thanks for being inaccurate, Miller.
Pressure 13 14 -1 Erratic, usually based on blitzes.
Coverage 11 30 -19 Not so much.
Tackling 6 7 46% Miller is tough.
RPS 8 15 -7 walrusball'd

I generally give out –3 for wide open dudes who are wide open and only exceed that for massive busts like the first TD, so that –13 understates the carnage. Mattison got burned up in this game, possibly because OSU flipped their personality.

A note on what might seem like some abnormally high defensive line numbers: they did create a safety and basically crush any conventional rushing attempts.

On 15 rushing attempts of the inside zone, iso, and power variety OSU averaged 2.3 YPC. QB draws on which Mattison got RPSed in the okie and Miller scrambles that the DL is only partially responsible for account for 71 of Miller's 115 rushing yards; outside of that Miller averaged 4 YPC. So… yeah, the DL was hugely responsible for the stops Michigan did get. They were a little disappointing as far as getting pressure goes; they were nails against the run.

That's another reason the gameplan was disappointing. Given the way M's DL was beating up the OSU OL they could have gotten away with a safer defense. This was Mattison's version of the Borges MSU gameplan: way, way too aggressive. Bad now, encouraging from a program standpoint since it'll work a hell of a lot better when the defensive backfield is full of bluechips or dudes who beat out bluechips instead of freshmen and sleepers.

But we love Mattison!

Yes, yes. This was money:

It happens to everybody. You go into a game with a plan that falls apart upon contact with the enemy. Given what we'd seen from OSU earlier in the year the plan had sense to it, but M couldn't handle wildcard Posey, busted a couple times, and were caught off guard by the OSU gameplan. It happens. Michigan still got through, and it is worth pointing out that it wasn't quite that bad for the D. They picked up a safety and ten points were given up on drives that started around the Michigan 30. You should charge the D with about 26 points given up since they did get that safety and two field goals were likely after OSU got that starting field position.

Good? No, still no. Better? Yes.

What's this about being worried about next year's defense?

With the linebackers barely treading water most of the year it's a bit scary what might happen if the downgrade on the DL is severe. It was watching this play that gave me the heebie-jeebies:

If three different DL players (two and a half if we're talking about Ryan, I guess) don't execute well there isn't a linebacker in the picture once Herron makes it to the second level. That may just be the way the defense is supposed to go; if so you are heavily dependent on having players as good and active as Martin and Van Bergen. I wouldn't be surprised to see both current MLB starters see their positions come under threat.

The LBs were good at taking on iso blocks in this game but Morgan in particular struggles to scrape to the hole when there's any possibility of a cutback. That's better than being too aggressive but B- work at best.

If the defensive line is good next year, well, then we can just expect them to kick ass until Hoke or Mattison is out. Here's hoping.

Hey, have an unsung hero?

Yeah: Matt Wile. Remember Michigan's terrible kickoff coverage from earlier in the year? It was bad! I didn't like it.

That coverage has improved, but what's even better is the relative paucity of kick return attempts. Four of eight Ohio State drives that started on kickoffs saw Wile get a touchback. When Brian Fremeau debuted a special teams FEI Michigan was languishing around 80th; now they're up to 59th. Kickoffs (20th) are their best phase of special teams. A major reason for that is Wile started putting a bunch of them in the endzone. Thumbs up.


Ryan Van Bergen had a monster day, the best of his career. A fitting sendoff. Martin was also very good, and the two "also starring" members of the DL turned in big plays here and there. That DL laughs at all the Buckeye chatter about how no one on Michigan's team would start for OSU. Hell, the OL does too.

If you pool the two teams' lines and pick starters at their positions OSU gets two: John Simon at WDE and JB Shugarts at RT. I'm not taking a single other Buckeye OL/DL over their Michigan counterparts after watching that game. Will Heininger is flat-out better than Garrett Goebel. Just look at the RB YPC.


Mattison, the secondary.

What does it mean for the bowl game and the future?

Well, Michigan should probably take it easy with the hyper-aggressive-no-help coverage back there if Virginia Tech has a high quality wideout. I haven't watched any film yet to see whether Jarrett Boykin is that guy.

Anyway, the secondary was exposed. Countess is young and Floyd isn't ready to go up against a truly elite guy like Posey by himself; Woolfolk just never regained any form after his parade of injuries. Michigan needs reinforcements down the line.

The key matchup against the VT offense will be the Michigan DL working on that VT OL. If they can duplicate their success against OSU, David Wilson can be a scary dude and still creak out 3 YPC. That should mean a return to form.



December 9th, 2011 at 11:09 PM ^

got owned by that Illinois defensive lineman and Brian told us to abandon ship? Well yesterday he's good again.

Players on a football field get beat, run over, and tossed around, even the best ones. Molk - the Rimington AA - was lost during the MSU game.

These UFRs are getting too close to self-fulfilling, where 2 bad plays mean you start looking for a third. Then declare the trend

The 'Morgan not athletic enough' is bunk, passed from BlueSeoul to Brian to the rest of the blog. He's tough, smart, and athletic, but not extremely fast or big. Part of that last problem gets fixed in an off-season of lifting. He's got a lot of potential


December 11th, 2011 at 3:37 PM ^

True freshman linebackers rarely play.  The fact that he's a little slow is not too concerning, especially when my hypothesis is that he will be a middle linebacker once Demens graduates.  Morgan isn't perfectly suited for WILL, but apparently he's the best we've got.


December 9th, 2011 at 4:14 PM ^

That largely sucked.

That was how I viewed the game.  The problem for Mattison is, once the game plan was out the window, we really did not have the playmakers to change in the secondary and LB.

Morgan really worries me going forward.  He simply is not athletic enough for the position.  Maybe that changes, or maybe a Freshmen outplays him next spring.  I am wagering the latter.

The second time watching the game, it simply looked like Woolfork was simply not right.  I wonder if even having him out there benefited us in this game. 

The DL played great, but I think with our LB and secondary maturing, it is probably a wash for next year. But some new playmakers are going to have to come about, or we are going to struggle.


December 9th, 2011 at 5:31 PM ^

I don't think we should be too worried about Morgan for a couple reasons. 1. He's a freshman thrown into the lineup in the middle of the season as Brandon Hawthorne struggled. He's bound to improve through bowl practice and spring ball. 2. If he's just not athletic enough or doesn't improve, we have two freshmen coming in that are  almost always described as "college-ready" in Ross and Bolden. The staff has shown it can coach up freshmen to be ready by the time the big ten rolls around. Alabama's big interior linemen running downhill at Morgan is scary, but there are a lot of things about that game that are scary. 

There's also the possibility that Hawthorne will see the light go on after actually getting, you know, coaching.

Zone Left

December 9th, 2011 at 7:30 PM ^

Morgan needs to be a true middle linebacker. He isn't going to be really strong on the outside.

The strength on the line masks a ton of weakness elsewhere on the defense. For the first time since 2006, they could get consistent pressure with four and really cause havoc with five. Unless Roh, Campbell, and someone else can really develop, the defense could be in for a major regression.

All that said, OSU really had a near perfect gameplan given their personnel and our personnel. Miller throws a really nice deep ball, but he's not quite there accuracy-wise. Posey's return combined with Herron and Miller's excellent athleticism gave them a fantastic way to keep the defense spread out for Miller to carve us up on the ground. That, combined with 4-6 deep balls seems like a great plan to me.

Miller is going to be really special if he can develop average accuracy.


December 10th, 2011 at 2:42 PM ^

You say "For the first time since 2006, they could get consistent pressure with four and really cause havoc with five".  On the other hand, Brian's analysis of the OSU game grades the pressure at -1, net, and he also states that the pressure was "Erratic, usually based on blitzes" Erratic, usually based on blitzes  ." and Bria

Let's be more realistic re our enthusiasm for Hoke and this year's play.

Zone Left

December 10th, 2011 at 5:39 PM ^

They couldn't get pressure this game, but they were also playing the standard contain a running quarterback who can't throw strategy.

The front four has been really, really good this year. My concern is that Martin's and Van Bergen's departure is going to leave them with real problems if the linebackers can't grow up pretty quickly.


December 10th, 2011 at 4:47 PM ^

No playmakers, but we knew that going in.  If we had a playmaker (*cough*Charles Woodson*cough*) we would've just had him on Posey the whole game.  Kovacs is the closest thing the secondary has to a playmaker but his strength is tackling scramblers in space.  Mattison put him right where he was needed most.

Mattison's said this before, but one other problem is that you can't just take an entire week's worth of preparation and toss it out the window.  An adjustment, fine, but in this case the entire coverage scheme was one big mistake.  Sure they could go back to something like Cover 2, in theory, but now all the keys are messed up.  For example, pulling Kovacs back would completely upset everything the linebackers practiced knowing the help would be there.

To Mattison's credit, he maintained composure and trusted Borges to bail him out.  If OSU was outscoring them by bunches, that would've been the time to get daring, call a timeout and overhaul.  But that's like hitting the Big Red Button -- don't do it unless you really, really mean it.  In a tight game like this one it's the lesser man who loses composure.

OSU was never more than a score ahead and Borges was doing fine.  Miller was overthrowing a lot of those fly routes, so. . . if the defense is working well enough, why risk a catastrophic breakdown?

I'm sure Mattison's kicking himself for underestimating Posey.  No man of his integrity likes getting bailed out.  But one key difference between Mattison and a lesser DC is that he doesn't panic and try to squeeze a miracle in a timeout or tell the players to try harder when they're already doing their best.


December 9th, 2011 at 4:21 PM ^

The above is why I'm concerned that a lot of people seem to expect a ten win season next year.  I hope that happens, obviously, and think it's possible, but to expect that seems a bit much. 


December 9th, 2011 at 4:32 PM ^

Its almost as if Hoke has now set his standard with 10 (11?) wins this season.  I fear that a 7-8 win season next year is going to be a shock to the fanbase.  I know I'm talking crazy right now but its almost as if 7-8 wins this season with 9-10 next season would have been better.  (I know, its crazy talk.  I just thought it was an interesting thought.)

Wolverine MD

December 9th, 2011 at 4:41 PM ^

Clearly, the schedule is a lot tougher next year. I thought with good improvement between Year 1 and Year 2 under Hoke would yield about the same win total maybe -1. But with 10 wins this season (I had us pegged at 9), I feel like some significant regression is to be expected. The losses on both sides of the line will be felt harder than the gains in experience from the offensive skill positions and back seven defensively. I still think it's going to take to Year 3 or 4 for Hoke's first B1G championship. The reason being that we're probably going to need a non-first year starting QB to get us over the hump, once we rebuild the lines and receiving corps. 


December 9th, 2011 at 4:38 PM ^

That seemed a bit much this year too.  We face a more difficult schedule and we lose a few guys up front, but that's pretty much it.  Remember, this coaching staff does a great job at developing talent, as shown by the constant improvement of almost everyone on the team throughout the course of this year.  We should expect that to continue into next year.  I'm not saying we will win ten games, but we should be competing for a B1G title next year.


December 9th, 2011 at 4:42 PM ^

Our OOC Schedule is much harsher (chances of 10 wins goes down) but our B1G slate isn't that much harder. We have OSU and Neb away, but we get the 2 teams that beat us at home. We still don't play Wisco or PSU.

IMO: Path to 10 wins - much harder

Path to B1G 'ship - a little harder

/talking schedule wise of course. Can we pretend that Molk and Martin don't graduate?


December 11th, 2011 at 1:38 PM ^

we lose a few guys up front, but that's pretty much it."

IMO that is a lot. The path to 10 wins looks WAY harder next year than this. Admittedely I had us at 8 wins this year, but I think it's fair to say most people did not forsee the B1G as weak as it turned out to be. OSU will be much tougher next year, Nebraska too, and that isn't even counting that we are on the road against them. And not to be Debbie Downer, but I would be simply shocked if we beat Alabama in our first game of the year with a new interior D-Line and new guys on the O-Line. IMO we'll be in every game, but a 9 win year will be ok with me and I think a good accompishment 


December 9th, 2011 at 4:30 PM ^

"I wouldn't be surprised to see both current MLB starters see their positions come under threat."

Uh just curious, who are the multiple players you would not be surprised to step up and challenge for MLB spots?  Beyer/Ryan moving inside, MOAR freshmen, something else I'm forgetting?

I get that Demens hasn't played like a superstar, but as long as he stays ahead of Morgan I don't see him losing his spot.

Here's to hoping Mattison learns as much from this game as he seemingly did from the WTF call in the 4th Quarter vs Notre Dame.

Blue boy johnson

December 9th, 2011 at 4:47 PM ^

I think Brian is overreacting a little bit, besides it wasn't a real strong statement to start with. "I wouldn't be surprised to see both current MLB starters see their positions come under threat." 

If it is because Morgan can't tackle Miller in the open field, then nobody is going to be starting. Think back to OSU and Nebraska and the plays Denard and Fitz made defenders look hopeless in one on one situations. Not many are going to look good trying to tackle an elite athlete in the open field. Mattison in a recent presser, when asked about poor tackling, said something along the lines of 'if you want to see poor tackling, just get one guy to the ball carrier". I know I don't have this quote correct, but the gist of it is; The more guys you get to the ball, the better your tackling will be.

Morgan had an excellent game against the Buckeyes from my vantage point. The kid improved greatly as the season went on. Remember, Cam Gordon virtually never saw the field as an LB after he regained his health around the mid point of the season. Morgan had many more experienced players behind him as the season ended, he will be tough to unseat in the starting rotation.


December 9th, 2011 at 9:15 PM ^

Mogan alternates big plays and bad plays. Well...he's a true freshman, so you can read into that what you will, positive or negative. I think he's playing as well as a non-savant true freshman could under the circumstances, so it becomes a question of where his real ceiling is. I agree he looks more like a MIKE, and at the end of the day, if Ross is half the prodigy he's supposed to be, I wouldn't be shocked to see Ross take the starting spot.


December 9th, 2011 at 9:16 PM ^

Morgan alternates big plays and bad plays. Well...he's a true freshman, so you can read into that what you will, positive or negative. I think he's playing as well as a non-savant true freshman could under the circumstances, so it becomes a question of where his real ceiling is. I agree he looks more like a MIKE, and at the end of the day, if Ross is half the prodigy he's supposed to be, I wouldn't be shocked to see Ross take the starting spot.

Blue boy johnson

December 9th, 2011 at 9:45 PM ^

This is too reminiscent of three years worth of opinions of the worthiness of Jordan Kovacs starting for M, and we know how that turned out. Coaches seem to really like Morgan and probably with good reason. I know on OSU's last 3 plays, not counting the spike, Morgan looked pretty good.

1st down Morgan funneled Miller back inside to get sacked by RVB

2nd down Morgan drops into coverage and makes tackle of WR Smith as soon as he catches ball after a gain of 6. Setting up 3rd and 6, which became 4th and six after OSU spiked the ball.

4th down Morgan covered Herron coming out of the backfield and Miller threw INT to Avery. At this point Chris Spielman literally became speechless and has not been heard from since.



December 10th, 2011 at 2:39 PM ^

...Bolden, Ross, Royce, even Ringer are all more highly rated than Morgan was.
i recall NO talk after signing day, during Spring practice or even in Fall camp that Morgan was projected to start as a true frosh.
To say he could be beaten out by either a healthy Cam Gordon or any of the incoming LB sounds reasonable & even optimistic.
If playing Morgan this season is viewed as a worst-case scenario, injury & previous recruit bust induced, then suggesting he (or even Demens) might be supplanted - or at least rotating snaps - is pretty sound. I'm rooting for it!

M Fanfare

December 9th, 2011 at 4:38 PM ^

I totally agree about Bollman. By OSU's seond drive I was saying "This man watched Mike DeBord coach the 2008 Capital One Bowl." It's scary when a team comes completely out of its shell with dangerous players, something that OSU hadn't done much since Tressel took over.


December 9th, 2011 at 4:55 PM ^

I wonder if Posey had come back after the first 5 games, if OSU's offense would have been more similiar to this the second half of the year.

I remember reading a story where Carr said the plan in 2007 was to run an offense similiar to the one in the Cap One Bowl, but then Hart and Henne got banged up in the first two games and were never really close to 100% until the bowl game.

El Jeffe

December 9th, 2011 at 7:50 PM ^




*bangs head on table until blood trickles from ears*


December 9th, 2011 at 4:40 PM ^

Boo defense getting blown up at times. Hooray offense blowing up OSU worse!

Yes, this gameplan didn't work so great. But it worked well enough. Without some Replay-Official-Las-Vegas-Spread-Covering-Alterations we beat OSU by 10. Yes we gave up too many points, but we gave up fewer than they did. The "we dare you to beat us deep" gameplan only got  26 legit points (according to Brian's mind). Remember early in the year? Mattison had us running Ravens type defenses against ND (Think the Okie zone blitz that got Kovacs his pick but also got ND a TD). They worked well enough, but we also got burned some, so he shelved it. With both gameplans (ND and OSU) maybe he didn't learn/adjust as quickly as would have been ideal, but maybe he was still experimenting/gathering data. I trust this guy moving forward.


December 9th, 2011 at 5:25 PM ^

I forgot to congratulate the staff on the brilliant move selling Beyer's injury by keeping him out of the next game.  Now if only the media would ask Pelini what he thinks about that scheme.


December 10th, 2011 at 2:14 AM ^

Chris Speilman that planted the fake injury seed.  He kept going on and on about it to the point Urban Meyer had to shut him up.  If Speilman isn't spewing sewage during the game I don't think anybody else even thinks about it.  None of that, however, should excuse Pelini's infantile whining.


One Inch Woody…

December 9th, 2011 at 5:30 PM ^

I don't know... this seems to be too harsh of a conclusion. Ohio was a 6-5 team coming to play us, but how many of those losses were pre-braxton, herron, and posey? Penn State was the only game that Ohio should have easily won, but they threw the ball 8 times. With Mike Adams + Posey + Herron, Ohio demolishes MSU. With Braxton in the whole game, they beat Nebraska too. With Posey, they easily beat Purdue. 

I think if everyone was eligible to start the season, this is easily a 9 win team coming into Ann Arbor. But imagine if they had TWO receivers instead of just Posey?

Regardless, what I'm trying to say is, Miller and Posey are simply superior athletes to who we've got on our defense. Bollman must not have been calling the shots, because the OSU team that came to play us was certainly not the same one that played Penn State, even. They unleashed the athleticism of Miller and Posey on us and we were very foolish to try and take Posey on with a Cover 1 Robber defense. I think you should ease up on the minuses for countess and floyd but add those equivalently to the RPS. Playing man under or Cover 2, there's no way those long touchdowns happen.

I hope Mattison realizes that we have improved enough on defense that a vanilla/base-set/whatever you call it defense should do the trick against VT. 


December 9th, 2011 at 7:45 PM ^

Like I said before, it's not an excuse for our secondary breakdowns in The Game, but - really - how much successful passing game footage did we really have from OSU this season to analyze? :P