Upon Further Review 2011: Defense vs WMU Comment Count

Brian September 8th, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Gratuitous video of the week: is obvious. Sorry about the weird audio delay. (Anyone know why compressing a ts file into a WMV would do this and how to fix it?)

Substitution notes: Massive in the front seven. After the first few plays there was no SDE; he was lifted for a safety. Martin, RVB, and Roh were frequently replaced by Heininger, Brink, and Black respectively. Campbell got a little time and didn't do well. The SLB alternated between Ryan and Beyer. MLB was Demens and Fitzgerald. Herron started at WLB and got most of the time; Mike Jones was the only other guy to draw in.

The secondary was consistent: Avery and Kovacs the whole way, Woolfolk until he got hurt then Floyd, Johnson after the first few plays until he was pulled in favor of Marvin Robinson late.

Formation Notes: Michigan's first few plays were in a 4-3, after which they lifted a defensive lineman for an extra safety (Johnson) and moved Gordon down to the nickel. Frequently they would put a nominal SLB, either Ryan or Beyer, in a three point stance as another down lineman.


As the game progressed, Michigan got more aggressive. This is what I called "Nickel press"—you can see the one deep safety with press coverage on the outside WRs and a 3-4 front. This was blitz-heavy:


And right at the end of the first half Michigan showed a something I called "Nickel eff it"…


…which was 11 guys within five yards of the line. This ended with Kenny Demens running straight up the middle at Carder both times it happened.

On passing downs we saw the return of Scot Shafer's "Okie" package, which is a two-deep shell behind a zone-blitzing 3-4 like so:


And that was it. Will be interesting to see what they do when ND tries to manball these guys.

Show? Show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass 4 Bubble screen Woolfolk 6
Michigan comes out in a 4-3 with no one over the slot receiver and WMU probably has an auto-check into a bubble. I can't tell if what Woolfolk does is good or bad: he comes up hard and gets cut easily. He does force the WR inside of him—over him, actually. He manages to leap up and grab his ankles as he passes. Still a good gain. (RPS -1. I guess +0.5, tackling +1 for Woolfolk. ) Martin(+1) had torn through the center and hit Carder on a bubble screen. I be like dang.
O323 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass 4 Hitch Herron? 3
Soft corner from Avery means Herron is stretched horizontally. He drops into the inner route, opening up a short hitch near the sticks. Should have been seven or eight but Carder's throw was upfield, taking the receiver off his feet. RPS -1, cover -1.
O35 3 1 Power I Base 4-4 Run N/A Iso N/A 2
This was the chaos play Blue Seoul noted. They did get set eventually in a 4-4 with six guys on the LOS, including Kovacs and Herron and Demens as MLBs. They run at the gap in the shifted line between Martin and Roh, doubling both. Both hold up; Roh manages to slide inside the LT and restrict the hole but can't get any penetration. He's kind of being held but no way they call it. Herron (-0.5) reads the play maybe a hair late or is lined up too deep, meeting the FB at the first down marker instead of the LOS. That's a stalemate and the RB can fall down across the line in a heap of bodies.
O37 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass 4 Bubble screen Woolfolk 13
First DL backups in; I won't be able to track the comings and goings efficiently, I don't think. Doesn't matter here. Michigan again aligns to give the bubble and WMU throws it. Ryan(+1) is tearing out at it quickly and may be able to hold it down for minimal yardage but Woolfolk(-2) commits the cardinal sin of the bubble screen by losing leverage and letting the play bounce outside of him. Ryan still almost gets him on the sidelines but does not make the play; Gordon escorts him OOB after the sticks.
50 1 10 Shotgun diamond Nickel Run N/A QB draw Martin 2
Intended to go off tackle until a Michigan stunt gets Ryan(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5) enough penetration that Carder has to cut behind everything into the unblocked Black and RVB recovering from a cut. RPS+1
M48 2 8 I-Form twins Nickel Pass 4 Deep hitch Herron 12
Michigan is in a quarters zone that has four guys in short zones, or three guys in short zones and Brandon Herron(-2) running man coverage on a shallow crossing route, opening up a hitch between Gordon and Demens that should be exactly where he's sitting. (Cover -1) Martin stymied by a double; Black had fought through the RB's block to provide some token pressure. Still (Pressure -1)
M36 1 10 Shotgun empty TE 3-3-5 Nickel Pass 5 Flare Woolfolk 2
DL: Brink/Heininger/Black. Mike Patrick: “now they're back to more of a traditional look” instead of the odd stack they're in on this play. Michigan sends Ryan and Gordon and gets nothing, but this spooks Carder into a nothing dumpoff that Woolfolk(+1, tackling +1) reads and levels for no gain.
M34 2 8 Shotgun 2-back trips 3-3-5 Nickel Run N/A Triple option dive Demens? 9
Beyer in for Ryan. Unbalanced formation w/ covered slot. Michigan is ridiculously misaligned (RPS -2). Black charges upfield as the tackle releases and has to form up to respect the option. Beyer(-1) drops into coverage. Demens(-1) is originally lined up outside of the tackle and starts to come back inside but that just makes him a sitting duck: he's moving backwards as the OL impacts him and gives huge chunks of ground because of physics. Running back cuts behind him into gaping space because Beyer is still looking at the bubble screen.
M25 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass N/A Tunnel screen Gordon 1
This confusion might actually have helped M: they shift late with Woolfolk getting out on the outside receiver just as the snap is arriving. If they have an autocheck into this screen we may have dummied them into it. As a result the inside WR takes Woolfolk(+0.5), who does a good job to stand him up near the LOS, and the tunnel guy is running right into Gordon(+0.5). Gordon gets beat to the inside but slowly enough for the cavalry to rally. RPS+1.
M24 2 9 I-Form big Nickel 4-3 Run N/A Inside zone Demens 2
I think it's inside zone but might be wrong. Nickel personnel; Gordon as an OLB. RB takes the handoff to the side opposite to where the FB goes and will look to cut back. Martin takes a double and sits at the LOS. Gordon takes on G and gets annihilated but the RB cuts back. Probably a bad move. Demens(+2) is sliding playside, reads the cutback, and gets to the POA in a flash, making a diving tackle despite a lunge from the backside G, who fell trying to get out. He was supposed to be blocking Herron(-1), who ran so far to the playside that by the time the RB had cut back he'd passed Demens. I think RVB and Ryan are stunting and sort of think Ryan is doing a bad job but I'd like some outside opinions. This one is confusing.
M22 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 5 Deep hitch Gordon 14
Michigan sends five, dropping RVB and Herron. This gets Gordon(-1) in clean (RPS +1, Pressure +1), but he takes an angle too far outside and slips. He should be in the QB's face leaping at him and forcing him to bring this down. He's not so Herron is given the tough job of hauling ass across the field to hopefully cover the slot on the other side of the play. He doesn't, and he gets a (-1) for running away from the QB and letting the pass get over his head. He will do this better later. I have Picture Pages to show it. Cover –1.
M8 1 G Shotgun 2-back trips 3-3-5 Nickel Run N/A Triple option dive Demens 1
They figure it out this time with men tight over the WRs and one deep safety in an obvious run-prevent D as discussed by Blue Seoul. This time Ryan(+1) blitzes at the snap and drives past the G into the path of the RB; cutback. Demens(+1), now properly aligned, hits the LT while moving forward and pushes him back this time. Black(+0.5) forms up and crashes after the handoff; he and Demens tackle (RPS +1)
M7 2 G Shotgun empty TE Okie Pass 5 Hitch Johnson 6
RPS -2; Carvin Johnson(-3) leaves Avery on an island with two receivers. Avery(+1, tackling +1), does as good a job as possible in the situation he's put in, splitting the WRs and smashing the short hitch they complete short of the goal line. Too bad, too, because the blitz had gotten Demens straight up the middle untouched. Johnson aligning properly might make this a sack.
M1 3 G Wishbone Goal line Run N/A Iso Van Bergen 0
RVB(+1) times the snap perfectly, shooting through the G assigned to him and nailing the FB at the two. RB hits FB. Martin has made a pile at the one and the delay allows the massive pile of meat to not end up in the endzone. Whoah: actually, they messed up the handoff and Carder followed it up. Same result.
M1 4 G Power I Goal line Run N/A Iso squared -- 1
They get it this time by running everybody on their offense straight up the middle.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 4 Out Avery 7
Jones in at WLB; they send him while dropping Roh. WMU picks it up and hits an out in front of Avery(-1, cover -1). No chance for the D to get there if it's going to be first read three-step stuff.
M48 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Run N/A Counter Demens 25
Mattison is sick of this crap. Michigan goes into bump and run on the outside receivers and brings Kovacs into the box, leaving one-high. WMU gets a big gainer on a counter. Beyer(-1), unblocked on the backside, does not read the pull and rushes too far upfield. He's easily kicked out. That DE is critical on a power play like this; he needs to get into the puller and force a bounce or restrict the hole. He does neither. So it's a tough job for Demens against the pulling TE, but Demens(-2) pulls a Mouton by losing leverage. If he gets outside the blocker there's a decent chance RVB(+1) , who has given a little ground to get playside of his blocker, makes a great play to prevent this from going a long way. He'd have to do that because Johnson(-1) sucked up on the counter step and got lost in the wash. Picture paged.
M23 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 4 Tunnel screen Gordon -2
Gordon(+2) reads, attacks, and destroys.
M25 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 6 Fly Floyd Inc
Demens's delayed blitz gets him in free(pressure +1, RPS +1) but I wonder if he didn't time it quite right. Another step and Carder is seriously harried. As it is he gets off an accurate deep ball on Floyd's guy, who's got a step. Floyd runs his ass off, starts tugging jersey early, and... I'll be damned. He strips the ball loose(+2, cover +1). That was textbook. Gibson -1.
M25 3 12 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 5 Slant Van Bergen 2
Van Bergen(+2) slants past the G before he can react and is up the middle on Carder before his receivers can even get to the sticks(pressure +2). Carder dumps it off on a little in at the LOS that takes the receiver off his feet; Kovacs(+0.5) likely had it covered for minimal gain anyway.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(40), 7-7, 12 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run N/A Yakety sax -- 3
Looks kind of like a QB draw but this is a busted play. RB thinks it's a speed option; Carder extends for a mesh point. Then he runs. Frontside has a totally unblocked Fitzgerald because of the bust; Carder cuts it back. There's room because Campbell(-1) gave a lot of ground fighting playside. Fitzgerald(+0.5) chases Carder around RVB, who held up to a double, and tackles with help from Ryan(+0.5). Ryan flew upfield and recovers with a flying squirrel tackle.
M44 2 7 Shotgun empty 2TE Nickel Run N/A QB power off tackle Fitzgerald 6
Poop all around, I say! Campbell(-1) is blasted back by a double. He gives a couple yards and that's two too many. Roh(-1) runs too far upfield and almost doesn't have to be blocked; G peels at the last second when Roh finally starts coming down. Big hole. Fitzgerald(-2) doesn't read a single key ON A PLAY WITH PULLING OL and starts dropping into coverage, whereupon a TE cuts him. Carder's about to be one on one with Johnson for the endzone when Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) cuts him down after taking the exact right angle to get there.
M38 3 1 Wishbone Base 4-4 Run N/A Iso Herron 2
Someone's got to win an individual battle here to prevent this from happening and no one does. Martin holds up to a double; Fitz takes the FB, and Herron(-0.5) hits the RB after a yard. I think he can get to the hole more efficiently.
M36 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Nickel Pass 4 Screen Herron 7
This is tough for Avery since he's in press man. Hard to read this quickly. Herron would be the guy who could diagnos this early since he's dropping while looking straight at the QB; he reacts just as fast as Avery. Herron(-0.5) takes an angle a bit too far outside and allows the RB to spin through for an extra couple yards. Not terrible but he could have done better. Beyer did do a good job of recognition and helps tackle, FWIW. Tackling -1.
M29 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Penalty N/A False Start -- -5
M34 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 6 Improv -- 17
Michigan sends six and gets picked up (pressure -2) until Black(+0.5) worms his way through on a stunt. Too long; Carder rolls away from the pressure and hits a receiver. Kovacs(+0.5, tackling +1) is there immediately.
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Run N/A Counter Beyer 11
Beyer(-2) can't win for losing here: after getting burned by going too far upfield on the last counter he does squeeze down this time... way too far. He needs to thunder at the pulling guard and cut his ass to the ground in the backfield in a spot where the other lead blocker will run into the pile. Instead he just gets sealed and allows everything to bounce outside. Herron(-2) compounds matters by also getting sealed, not that it would have mattered much because Fitzgerald(-1) took a counter step and then got sliced to the ground on a cut block that also took out Johnson. Kovacs(+0.5) cleans up. It's like these guys don't have OL keys. Picture paged.
M6 1 G Shotgun 3-wide? Nickel press? Pass 6 Out Kovacs 2
Some technical difficulties. As we come back six guys are rushing Carder including Avery(!). Brink(+0.5) is running free (pressure +1). Carder dumps it off into the flat, whereupon Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) tackles immediately for little gain.
M4 2 G Ace 3-3-5 Nickel Pass 5 Batted Ryan Int
Ryan(+3) lined up as a standup DT next to Martin. He rips through the RG like he isn't there and leaps at Carder as he tries to get the ball out, deflecting it into the air. Herron(+2) makes the easy interception and then runs a long way for points. Should I give Ryan more here? I've never given more than +3 for any play. Picture paged @ TTB.
Drive Notes: Interception, defensive TD, 14-7, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Shotgun 2-back trips Nickel Run N/A Triple option dive Heininger 0
Heininger(+1) takes a double; Jones(+0.5) moves to fill quickly, causing the RB to hesitate as he nears the LOS. This is a bad idea, and Heininger(+1 again) eats him.
O30 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass 4 Hitch Heininger Inc
Looks like Carder is going to zing it on a hitch near the sticks that Mike Jones(-0.5) got a little out of position on; Heininger(+1, pressure +1) bats it down.
O30 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 5 Out Kovacs Inc
Blitz does not quite get home but RVB(+1) is pushing through the line just as the routes break; Carder has to throw to his first read. This is against Kovacs(+1), who is in good coverage(+1) against the outside guy as he breaks his route at ten yards. Carder's throw is downfield and the WR has to stab at it one handed; Kovacs hits him and breaks it up. Live I thought M got lucky here; on tape Kovacs's coverage is good enough to require a perfect throw. If this is just a little upfield he tackles short of the sticks.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 6 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O38 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Seam Johnson 20
Zone blitz sees RVB drop into a short screen-killing zone. Blitz does not get home (pressure -1). It's hard to tell who's at fault for the seam coming open but if I had to guess it would be Johnson(-1, cover -2), who is the deep center in a three deep and is way late, overrunning the play. Floyd comes from the outside to tackle.
M42 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass 3 Hitch Van Slyke 7
Martin(+1) bowls over the center and then fights past the guard to get pressure(+1) up the middle pretty quickly on a three man rush. Van Slyke gets a chuck on the slot receiver, who sits down in between him, Herron, and Demens; he immediately tackles. (Cover -1)
M35 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass 5 Out Johnson 16
Five man rush gets there(pressure +1) with at least two guys; Carder throws a quick out as Demens(+0.5) flies up the middle on a well-timed stunt past two guys doubling Martin. Johnson(-3) is late reading the little out and has already given up the first by the time he forms up; he then whiffs the tackle(-1), turning five yards into 15.
M19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Eff It Pass 7 Fly Avery Inc
Sends: house. Obviously something gets through(pressure +1); Carder chucks it deep to a fly route Avery(+2, cover +1) has step for step. He's right in the WR's chest as he goes up for the ball. WR leaps, then reaches out and low in an attempt to stab the ball. Avery rakes it out. Gibson -2. Demens(+1) leveled Carder, BTW.
M19 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 6 Corner Gordon Inc
Demens(-1) comes on the same blitz untouched (pressure +1); Carder dodges him. He sets up and chucks it unsurprisingly, the corner route was long. Gordon(+1, cover +1) was step for step with the slot.
M19 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Eff It Pass 7 Corner -- Inc
Demens(+0.5) charging again(pressure +1); this time the corner is more open but Carder chucks it way long off his back foot. RPS +2 for this sequence, which clearly got in the QB's head.
Drive Notes: FG(36), 20-10, EOH
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run N/A Zone read counter Martin 3
At first I thought this was a stunt by the DTs but not so much after I look at it a while; RVB(-1) just got bashed inside by a double while Martin(+1) read the G pull and fought through his downblock to flow down the line. Demens(+0.5) takes on that G about a yard past the LOS—not ideal—but does turn the play inside with an assist from Gordon(+0.5), who plunged down from the slot. Herron(+0.5) is about to tackle but Martin beats him to it.
O16 2 7 I-form 3-wide Nickel? Pass N/A Bubble screen Floyd 3
Jebus, Michigan is begging for a bubble in its face on this play. There is one player within ten yards(!) of the twins side, that being JT Floyd. Autocheck to bubble is autochecked to, whereupon Floyd(+3) dodges a cut block and tackles the bubble by himself for three yards. (RPS -2.) Great play on an island.
O19 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 5 Hitch Herron 7
Part II of “they can learn”: This is a very similar blitz and play to the previous Herron hitch that resulted in a first down. This time Herron's steps are better, as is his angle, and he's in position to make a play if he'd just look for the ball/get his hands up. He doesn't and Carder hits the small window provided. I guess Herron(-0.5), cover -1. Pressure -1 as well; Carder would have had time to go to a second read.
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Run N/A Yakety snap N/A -2
Who knows what this was going to be; the snap is high and Carder manages to bat it forward to his tailback, but then he's submarined. I think it was going to be a QB power off tackle, FWIW.
O24 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 5 Scramble Kovacs 3
Carder's first read is a hitch around the sticks that Kovacs(+1) has dropped right into from a blitz position(RPS +1) and is bracketed over the top by Avery. Late movement and a blitz by Demens(+1) flushes Carder up in the pocket, where RVB and Martin combine to tackle after an eh gain. (Pressure +1, cover +1.) Picture paged @ BWS.
O27 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 4 Out Avery 14
Avery(-1, cover -1) gets no chuck on the WR at the line in press and does not protect the sticks with his break despite having deep help; Carder hits his WR with a nice rhythm throw. Not horrible but you could do better.
O41 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel Penalty N/A Illegal Snap -- -5
O36 1 15 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run N/A Inverted veer Demens 1
Late shift sees Kovacs run down into the box as Herron blitzes. Herron is blown up by the RT, but that takes some time and prevents any release downfield. Beyer's upfield blitz convinces QB to hand off and takes the pulling G. Reason you run this is so that Beyer does one or the other, not both. The blitz means Kovacs(+1), who is now in the box, nails the FB near the LOS and turns it inside. Demens(+1) got a free scrape because of the blitz (RPS+1) and tackles with authorita.
O37 2 14 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass 4 Sack Kovacs -6
Yeah, that play that instantly changed everyone's opinion of Kovacs? Four man rush. NT Heininger backs out and two guys take Brink; Kovacs, who has been backing out on these so far, lines up outside of Herron, who also comes, and adjust his route after a beat. This allows those two guys to occupy themselves with Brink and gives Kovacs(+3) a free run at Cader, which he takes LIKE A BOSS, depositing his helmet on the ball and knocking it free. Herron(+2) gets more credit this time for the presence of mind to scoop and score. Kovacs. Like a boss. Picture paged @ BWS as well.
Drive Notes: Defensive touchdown, 27-10, 9 min 3rd Q. Do you know what I love? The camera settles on Carder after this play; as this happens the replay hits the scoreboard and the stadium goes “OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH." That is what I love.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run N/A Jet sweep M. Robinson 11
Marvin Robinson still in for Johnson. Here there are two keys. Black(-1.5) is unblocked and scoots upfield fast. He does not read the jet action until it's too late and runs by it without forcing the WR to orbit around him. He's never going to make this tackle but he can delay the opposition; he does not. By not blocking him WMU can double Demens, who read and flowed with aplomb but can't do anything about an OL and another dude blocking him. Gordon(+0.5) fills to the outside, forcing a cutback. Robinson(-1.5) is filling until a WR slices him to the ground. RB leaps over MRob and rumblestumbles for a first down.
O48 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Penalty N/A False Start -- -5
O43 1 15 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 6 Sack Kovacs -8
This does go one high because Kovacs is sneaking down, kind of telegraphing his blitz. Martin moves left, taking the G, as Jones moves up the middle. RG shoves Martin and moves to Jones; RB shoots up the middle, leaving both Martin and Kovacs(+2) unblocked. Kovacs has the agility to cut inside Martin and nail Carder again. By the time this happens Martin is already peeling back to the LOS in case this doesn't work out. Kovacs has this, ese. (Pressure +2, RPS +1)
O35 2 23 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Penalty N/A Delay -- -5
O30 2 28 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 4 Screen Jones 13
Stunt seems harmful here as by the time the four rushers realize what their lanes are and what's going on the screen is already happening. Martin(-1) should read what it is faster, I think, and peel back. Avery(-0.5) comes up a bit too hard and lets things in front of him; safeties are way off. Jones(+0.5) gets hit by an OL but recovers to make a diving dodgy ankle luck tackle. Dangerous. Demens(-1) also slow reading. RPS -1
O43 3 15 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 4 Out Kovacs Inc
Despite what Patrick says, blitz not actually coming; four guys. Martin backs out. Roh(+0.5) threatens to split a double and Ryan(+0.5) does the same, spooking Carder. Probably for the best since because of these things if Carder delayed Demens was going to annihilate him. Carder throws an out short of the sticks that Kovacs(+2) has dropped into and breaks up. Wasn't getting the first anyway. (pressure +1, cover +1) Picture paged @ BWS.
Drive Notes: Punt, 27-10, 6 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 I-Form tight Nickel 4-3 Pass 4 PA Out Ryan Inc
Ryan(+2) swims past the LT like he's not there and gets in on Carder just after he gets the PA fake off (pressure +1), causing him to throw his out wide. Good thing. Either Avery(-1) or Herron had biffed his zone drop (cover -1) and this would be open. I think it's Avery, but your guess is as good as mine.
O37 2 10 I-form Nickel 4-3 Penalty N/A False Start -- -5
O32 2 15 I-form Nickel 4-3 Run N/A Inside zone Martin 4
Martin(+1) splits a double and threatens to tackle in the backfield, forcing a cutback. He just misses a TFL. Herron(+0.5) reads the backside cut and does fend off a free-releasing tackle to get to the RB and begin the takedown. Kovacs arrives in time to take him down.
O36 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel press Pass 6 Rollout out Gordon 12
They're finally tired of getting destroyed by Kovacs and roll the pocket away from him. Martin(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5) still bust through blocks and force a throw (pressure +1). This is in front of Gordon(-1), who can't react quickly enough to tackle on the catch(cover -1) on a third and long, allowing the WR to fall forward for the first.
O48 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel Run N/A Inside zone Beyer 9
Martin(+1) slants past the backside G, getting playside and rapidly flowing down the line in the backfield; Black(+1) also gets good position and helps close down the POA for what should be a TFL... if not for Beyer(-2) tearing after the QB on his boot fake and Herron(-1) not reacting to the cutback as quickly as I'd hope he would. May be harsh on Herron.
M43 2 1 Ace 3-wide Nickel press Run N/A Inside zone Fitzgerald 4
A 3-4-ish look with press on the WRs leaves six in the box. Black(-1) gets banged inside as blitzers come from the edges, leaving a big hole for the RB. Fitzgerald(+1) takes on a block and bounces out to help contain, eventually making contact just past the sticks. MRob helps clean up.
M39 1 10 I-Form Nickel 4-3 Run N/A Power off tackle Brink 14
Brink(-2) at NT nailed inside, blown behind Heininger at DT. Really cannot give that much ground. Herron(-0.5) and Fitzgerald(-0.5) both have tough jobs and don't really do them, getting cut and not being able to slow the RB. This is really on the lack of impedance through the hole, though. Kovacs(-0.5) comes to fill and misses his tackle(-1); his angle did drive the RB into Gordon, who's angling back from his duties over the slot.
M25 1 10 I-Form Nickel 4-3 Run N/A Yakety snap -- 0
Fumbled snap that M recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 34-10, 3 min 3rd Q. Game is called on next drive.

How was that?

That was kind of like watching last year's Michigan offense.

Wait, what?

WMU's offense was like Michigan's offense last year insofar as they drove the ball down the field consistently but only got ten points because they missed field goals and shot themselves in the face with turnovers. The touchdown returns were a zesty bonus on top of the turnover sundae, but it was basically the same.

So we made Western look like Denard Robinson was their quarterback?

Er… not exactly. The Broncos had a distinct lack of explosion in their giddy-up, averaging just five yards a play. They were only on yardage parity with Michigan because of the two defensive touchdowns and their drives only got as threatening as they did because of some crappy special teams on Michigan's part.

By drive:

  1. 16 play touchdown. Bad.
  2. Drive starts at midfield, basically, and after a long run we discussed earlier WMU is booted off the field. They miss a FG. Correctable.
  3. WMU drives from midfield to the Michigan ten, whereupon Herron INT TD.
  4. Three and out.
  5. Two-minute drive starts at 40 and gets to the Michigan 19 before Mattison goes blitz nuts. FG.
  6. WMU finally has bad field position (their 13) gets a couple first downs, and then Kovacs fumble TD.
  7. One first down, then punt.
  8. Drive starts at 40, moves to Michigan 25 before fumble.

Carder started off hot and Michigan's defense was a confused shambles for the first drive. After that it wasn't too bad.

How about that Herron?

Er, it's just that…



[Introductory section for new people and those who need reminding:

UFR points are handed out to players who seem to have a direct impact on the success or failure of a particular play. The system has historically favored linemen, who are put in a position to Make A Play frequently, and been tough on defensive backs, who have usually screwed up when they are in your picture. I can't fix that without putting a crippling amount of time into grading players not directly affecting the play and frankly I am an amateur, so I might not do it right. By focusing on the directly involved I can used Results Based Charting: I can hand out things based on the success of the thing that actually happened.

Points usually range from –3 to +3 with half-points available. When particularly incensed I have given out bigger minuses.

There are also four metrics:

  • TACKLING: Points handed out for good open field tackles that cut down on YAC. Subtracted for whiffs that do not serve a purpose. (It's okay to whiff outside because you know there will be gang tackle when the guy cuts back.)
  • PRESSURE: Points handed out for getting to the QB, subtracted for not getting there. As a general rule when the QB is not able to get to a second read that's a plus. If he's able to get to three that's a minus. Pressure is graded on a curve: it's easier to get a plus rushing three than rushing six.
  • COVERAGE: Points handed out for covering a guy and subtracted for not doing so. Running a guy's route for him is a +2, being in position to do something about it is a +1. Usually you will have to be far enough away to allow YAC to get a –1. Huge minuses are possible here when you DON'T COVER THAT GODDDAMN WHEEL—ahem.
  • RPS: "Rock-Paper-Scissors." This is a proxy for the coordinator battle. When Michigan does something that the opponent can't deal with, like blitzing Kovacs into the QB's chest, they get a plus. When they send seven and get a screen on their face they get a minus. End section.]
    So I completely screwed up the RPS. The rest I'll vouch for.
Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Van Bergen 5 1 4 Not as much pass rush as you might want but did get a litte push.
Martin 6 1 5 Not really seeing the criticism. He made a few plays in about a quarter and a half of time and was often dropping.
Roh 1 1 0 This, on the other hand, was disappointing.
Brink 0.5 2 -1.5 Blown up on a run late.
Heininger 3 - 3 Made a few plays on a second half drive.
Black 2 2.5 -0.5 See Roh.
Campbell - 2 -2 This is not happening.
TOTAL 17.5 9.5 8 Uninspiring. Mitigating factors: heat, lack of 4th Q, zone blitzes, mega pressure number.
Player + - T Notes
C. Gordon - - - DNP
Demens 7.5 5 2.5 Kind of a rough start but played in odd conditions.
Herron 5 9.5 -4.5 Not good when ball wasn't finding him for touchdowns.
Ryan 8.5 - 8.5 Can really get to QB. Most consistent rusher on the day.
Fitzgerald 2 3.5 -1.5 Slow to react.
Jones 1 0.5 0.5 Not much to go on.
Evans - - - DNP
Beyer - 6 -6 Highly irresponsible against the run. Doubt we see much of him this week.
Hawthorne - - - DNP
Morgan - - - DNP
TOTAL 24 24.5 -0.5 Schizophrenic day; will get better with more Demens, less Beyer. WLB a concern.
Player + - T Notes
Floyd 5 - 5 One great play on a bubble, one endzone PBU.
Avery 3 3 3.5 Another endzone PBU but not so hot underneath.
Woolfolk 2 2 0 Mostly bubble action before injury.
Kovacs 13.5 0.5 13 Impeccable. Some of these points might belong to Mattison.
T. Gordon 4.5 2 2.5 I like him.
Johnson - 8 -8 Looked lost.
Robinson - 1.5 -1.5 Also not much to go on.
TOTAL 27 15 12 Wow?
Pressure 15 5 10 Alex Carder is still coughing up blood.
Coverage 6 11 -5 A lot of this was Herron, frankly.
Tackling 6 3 3 Meh.
RPS 10 9 1 A bit more on this later.

I think that's mostly on point. While the corners gave up some short plays they coped well with the bubble and both had endzone PBUs. Our first tenuous suggestion that Tony Gibson may be an evil spy has been achieved.

Meanwhile, Carvin Johnson had a rough day that ended with him getting pulled for Robinson, Jake Ryan was excellent, about which more later, and Michigan got very little out of the WDE spot. I'm not that worried about RVB or Martin since they didn't get much action and still had a few plays to their name; extrapolated across an entire game they'll be fine.

And then there's Kovacs. That is a record-shattering performance for a member of Michigan's secondary and it is absolutely deserved. Kovacs led the team in tackles, only half-missing a couple of those. He led ballcarriers into other defenders, which is why Western had to go on long marches—they couldn't bust it past Kovacs. He annihilated Carder on two sacks, one of which produced a game-sealing fumble. While Mattison got him those runs at the QB, his execution was flawless. On the first, he had the agility to slash back inside of Herron and the technique to put his helmet directly on the ball. And he added two PBUs for good measure.

But he's a walk on and not very good.

Screw it: Kovacs is good now, no qualifiers. I have just doomed him to awful play against Notre Dame, but whatever.

What about that RPS?

Obviously that should not be right when the QB has been forced into two turnovers and has been eating linemen all day. I think Mattison was brilliant, at least as far as you can be against a MAC team, and have to adjust my grading to account for these "blitz" things he's introduced.

Yeah, how about those?

Last year I started tracking the number of rushers M sent at the quarterback because Greg Robinson kept sending three, which I defended as not totally insane at the time. Like everything else, it was totally insane.

The number of three-man rushes against WMU? One. That stuff about being aggressive that every defensive coordinator says? 100% valid. The really cool thing about being aggressive? Mattison is doing it while often getting seven guys into coverage by bringing zone blitzes. 

This kind of stuff isn't anything new to NFL watchers or teams that deploy a non-GERG as a DC. But being able to do it well is a massive advantage because it makes life hard not only on the opponent's bodies but their minds. There were points in that game when Carder was just dumping the ball out of the endzone so Kenny Demens wouldn't hurt him so much, and Mattison confused the hell out of the Bronco OL.

Brandon Herron's two touchdowns make him awesome. /national award thingy guys

Er… no. I generously gave Herron four points for not dropping the world's easiest interception and doing the scoop and score on the fumble, and the fourth point is really just for running 100 yards without passing out. Outside of those plays in which other folks did the work Herron was –8.5 on the day.

A typical play follows. On it, Kenny Demens makes a tackle in the hole as Herron, who was lined up closer to the eventual hole, actually passes Demens halfway through the play:

That sort of slow reading was rampant.

Did anyone impress you, sourpants?

Apparently Jake Ryan can do what he did to a freshman walk-on in spring to backup JUCO MAC guard and an actual starting MAC guard, too. You've probably seen him rip through the line on the INT TD plenty but there was also this:

I have him down for a couple additional pressure and one hell of a debut. It sounds like Cam Gordon's out this weekend too; he might have lost his job by the time he gets back. Or maybe they'll move stuff around to get more production out of the WDE and WLB spots.


This was a very black and white game: Kovacs and Ryan were awesome.


The black: Herron makes me very worried about WLB, Beyer shouldn't have been on the field, and the lack of production out of WDE is alarming.

What does it mean for Notre Dame and beyond?

That nickel package is probably going to be on the field a lot against ND's passing spread. Rees is not mobile and they seem mistake-prone so we could see a fair share of helmets deposited in to ribcages in the backfield.

Downfield they'll chuck it up to Floyd a lot, which means Woolfolk will need to be  back and healthy and he'll need some help. Though Avery and Floyd did well against Western, ND is a whole additional ball of wax. If Woolfolk does end up fully back—sounds like it—I wonder if Michigan will put all three corners in and drop Gordon back to the other safety spot. That will be key, as will getting a better performance out of WLB. And Craig Roh's got to step up.



September 8th, 2011 at 6:14 PM ^

I hope so because I can't remember one play that Roh was in on.  While it was hard to keep track of who was in at times, I was hoping for more production from Roh.  At one point I thought he got taken out because of an injury or benched.

Maybe he is still getting over the sickness he had during camp.  We all know how productive he can be, hopefully he puts it all together against ND.


September 8th, 2011 at 3:37 PM ^

Honestly, this UFR was more positive than expected.  I agree about Herron though, he seems to have just been in the right place to get both the interception and fumble, and I did see him out of position many times against Western.  We really need Roh to have a better game this week, we can't afford to have that much lack of production out of the WDE.  I will be interested to see that when Cam gets healthy if they try and put him, Demens, and Ryan on the field at the same time.  Even if Gordon or Ryan are not the correct build for WLB, wouldn't they still be better than our current options?


September 8th, 2011 at 3:40 PM ^

As always, just amazed at the details in the UFR! Interesting that Jibreel and Roh didn't seem to have produced as much, but its still just one game played in epic hail with a brand new coordinator. Maybe they were just amazed by the absense of a beaver on the sideline.

Also, its pretty encouraging that Brink and Heininger seems to have done a decent job.

S FL Wolverine

September 8th, 2011 at 3:41 PM ^


Great UFR as usual, but unless I totally don't understand your methodology, it seems the math on Avery is off:

Avery 3 3 3.5 Another endzone PBU but not so hot underneath.




September 8th, 2011 at 3:54 PM ^

Good writeup, Brian.  I agreed with the vast majority of what you said above.

As a commenter said the other day, I'm a very "results oriented guy."  Even though Herron got himself out of position at times, his interception and fumble returns outweighed those mistakes.  To a certain extent, I think you can have a guy or two who don't go "by the book" as long as they get the job done in some fashion.  The practice reports on Herron reflect exactly what we saw in this game: he's an excellent athlete who doesn't have great fundamentals/instincts.

It would be excellent if we had playmakers and fundamentally sound players all wrapped into one entity, but if 10 guys are doing what they're supposed to and the 11th guy is running in the wrong direction but ends up with the ball in his hands...I can live with that.

Promote RichRod

September 8th, 2011 at 4:40 PM ^

This makes no sense at all.  Why should Herron be commended for having the ball appear in his hands after someone else makes an excellent play?  The people making the play get the credit-they gave Herron the opportunity to run it back.  Anyone on the team could have done what Herron did (minus linemen that get caught from behind I guess).  Herron gets credit for catching a really easy ball and not falling over when picking up a fumble, that's it.  It shouldn't absolve him of his many errors...which will become apparent when he isn't gift-wrapped 2 TDs every game.

Do you credit the RB when the OL blast the DL so far out of a play that my grandpa could walk into the endzone?


September 8th, 2011 at 5:44 PM ^

I agree.  I'd rather have a guy who is causing the big plays or who is always in the position to make big plays than the guy who is lucky enough to have a big play handed to him.  I would hope any of our linebackers could do what he did.

This reminds me of a kid on my HS team who was often out of position, thus rarely played.  He was in the game in garbage time and the opposing QB threw up a duck nowhere near his intended receiver.  This kid was so out of position that the throw went right to him, which he caught and then fell down.  He then bragged about his INT the whole season, even though had be been actually covering his man, he never would have had a shot at the INT. 

Point is, these plays by Herron were awesome, but they don't make him good. 


September 8th, 2011 at 9:43 PM ^

I'm not taking credit away from Ryan and Kovacs.  They both did a great job on those plays.

At the same time, some people are playmakers.  They happen to be around the ball at the right time.  I don't know if Herron is one of those guys (one game isn't enough to tell), but if he is indeed one of those guys who just gets "lucky" frequently in the next few weeks...then hooray for him.  Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Also, Kenny Demens and J.B. Fitzgerald would have been caught from behind and tackled on one or both plays.  Herron deserves credit for being a pretty fast linebacker.


September 8th, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

I know not a thing about breaking down film, and Carvin's mistakes were bleedingly obvious to even me.

I'm starting to grow very pessimistic on Roh. He's yet to actually produce anything - Kovacs has more TFL's and Sacks in fewer starts, on their careers.

I'm excited about Ryan, and encouraged by Thomas Gordon and Will Heininger - neither appear to be liabilities.


September 8th, 2011 at 3:59 PM ^

Do we think we'll see this much D-Line rotation throughout the year? or was this a side effect of 120-degree field turf + MACakes.

A 3 man line of Black, Heininger and Brink just doesn't seem like a good idea to me. I know we need to sub, but I'd prefer individual subs than a whole line change


September 8th, 2011 at 3:59 PM ^

to except the fact that Will Cambell, while an incredible physical specimen, is simply not a football player? Very disappointing, but also fascinating that a guy could be that highly rated out of high school and be completely ineffective at the next level.


September 8th, 2011 at 4:03 PM ^

Herron sure did look lost most of the game, which makes the two turnover-TDs all the more unbefreakingleavable.

The under-the-radar player this weekend for ND is going to be TB Cierre Wood who almost broke 100 yards and had 1 TD despite a poor OL.  I was really unimpressed with ND's OL play last week vs. quite possibly the worst USF DL ever.  QBs Rees and Chryst were never comfortable back there and both were sacked twice and threw 3 INTs (one was a receiver's fault tho').  ND could have killed USF with draws and screens, but chose not to.

I think Kelly does indeed try to man-ball it more this weekend on the ground against Michigan.

Michael Floyd is 6-3 and 220+lbs. and has great leaping ability. Woolfolk is the best DB Michigan has, but I don't think that will be good enough to stop Floyd.




September 8th, 2011 at 4:08 PM ^

So I believe Hoke said something along the lines that Herron started becasue Cam was going to miss the game, otherwise Jones is the WLB starter.  Anybody care to explain why this is so?  And man, we have got to get Ryan in the  game consistantly.  Especially on passing downs.  Love him (so far at least).


September 8th, 2011 at 4:12 PM ^

Yah, I really didn't get the RPS today. +1 for some blitzes, but not others... -2 for not lining up properly, then a +1 for the same thing when it luckily worked out in the end. That could use a bit of refining, imo. Also, tackling was just meh? By my count, we had 3 missed tackles all GAME. That is a tremendous improvement over teams of recent memory. Maybe that metric should be changed from a +/- system, because I don't get what the +s come from. A solid tackle is a solid tackle, imo. Other than that, Brian, you did a fantastic job. I love me some UFRs!


September 8th, 2011 at 4:16 PM ^

Given that our corners are going to have difficulty staying with ND's WRs (especially a certain Mr. Floyd), I think the game will largely turn on how much pressure we can get on ND's QB.  Watching Floyd, most of his catches over the past year or so are of the longer-range variety.  If Rees is under constant duress, those great receivers will be minimized.  The best WRs in the world will have very little impact if the QB is constantly running for his life and coughing up blood. 


September 8th, 2011 at 6:11 PM ^

and do what you can with the TE.  But Riddick is the team's next best receiver, and he was awful last Saturday with drops/routes/fumbles.  The Big House for a night game is a tough place to turn that around.  If the non-Floyd WR's start making hay, it's going to be a long day (also obvs).

Rather than blitzing, I'd like to see the corners take some chances on stepping into the passing lanes on short routes, especially early.  Give them deep help to protect for the double move.  But what the hell do I know?


September 8th, 2011 at 4:21 PM ^

I'll be brief, b/c it's my pet peeve and not THAT important, but schizophrenic does not mean having multiple personalities (e.g., Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde).  It's a disease which means a person is detached from reality (e.g., they hear voices, become excessively paranoid).

More info here: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/schiz.html

So unless the defense's "Schizophrenic day" was them hearing GERG's voice, which caused them to make some really good plays and some really bad one's, perhaps use "Spilt personality" or something similar.

With that now said, I will now go back to worrying about the DL.


September 8th, 2011 at 6:59 PM ^

I've emailed Brian about this a few times, and gotten thoughtful responses.  I don't think it's being a grammar nerd, but rather not furthering a stigma of a serious mental illness.  He agreed and said he would try to only use it when he was backed into a corner.  However, the word does seem to pop up a lot in UFRs.  When MSM journalists use "schizophrenic" (like cnn.com did in describing a stock market day last month), they are blasted with negative comments.  I hope he realizes at some point that seeing the word used like can be upsetting.


September 8th, 2011 at 4:51 PM ^


  beause he's a freshman??  I'm excited about seeing this and the next couple of classes in action, but in general True Freshman on the Field == Lost, and would be a bad sign for the 2011 Wolverines.  I really hope I don't see Frank Clark, Antonio Poole, Desmond Morgan, etc this year because that means the other LBs/DEs are Getting It


September 8th, 2011 at 4:25 PM ^

This UFR shows that we're not really there yet on defense. We have some good parts, no doubt, but not a complete package yet.

Luckily, we have some promising young players at most of our weak spots in addition to good recruits coming in. It shouldn't be long.


September 8th, 2011 at 4:38 PM ^

could we seriously expect to be "there" in the 1st game,  after one off season with the 3rd staff in 4 years?

Right now it's all about teaching technique, something that was probably, (obviously) lacking previously. 

But I have to admit that the improvement in the secondary, shown in this UFR, is promising.



Fuzzy Dunlop

September 8th, 2011 at 4:30 PM ^



This was a very black and white game: Kovacs and Ryan were awesome.


The black: Herron makes me very worried about WLB, Beyer shouldn't have been on the field, and the lack of production out of WDE is alarming.



September 8th, 2011 at 4:34 PM ^

the blitzes and showing 11 man fronts.

Defenses are supposed to be scary and confusing.

The only thing scary last year was MIke Martin and the poor guy's ankles couldn't carry the load of the other 10 men.



Fort Wayne Blue

September 8th, 2011 at 4:34 PM ^

For some reason, when Jake Ryan's Hello Post came up, I decided to like him... and when his name came up during Spring Practice for being tough and scraping the paint off of his helmet, I decided he was my favorite player on the Defense.... so it was AWESOME to see him perform like he did! I think he's going to be one of the best backers to play here in a LONG time, by his senior year!

Also, I say give him like a +5 for that deflection [+2], knock down of the QB [+1], and then 90-yard sprint down behind/beside Herron [+2]!