Upon Further Review 2012: Defense vs South Carolina Comment Count

Brian August 21st, 2013 at 5:38 PM


GENERAL NOTE: I am not doing the chart because of Michigan's uniformz. It was just about possible to tell white guys from black ones and big ones from small ones but an awful lot of the time I had no idea if a player was Beyer or Roh, Morgan or Bolden, Pipkins or Washington, Clark or Black. I noted this early but eventually I just started going "eh." I did do the plus minuses in the chart but adding them up is an exercise in futility that people will take as gospel in a year. Nope.

It's not going to be that exciting anyway. Because of the nature of the game the linebackers and linemen all had very few opportunities to even get +/- and the secondary just got destroyed. If you want to imagine it: Black and Washington are good, Campbell was bad, Wilson got destroyed, as did Taylor, Kovacs and Gordon are moderately negative, and all the linebackers get 0-0-0.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan had some oddities going on but the exotic packages were kept to a minimum by their inability to substitute in the secondary and South Carolina consistently spreading the field. One thing of note was Michigan's frequent deployment of a 3-4, like so:


South Carolina was little threat to run—the starting tailback had 5 rushes for 6 yards and the only reason SC got anything on the ground was two Will Campbell busts on midline zone read plays—and Michigan used this to send four man rushes from a variety of angles. A GERG-like side effect was a large number of three- and even two-man rushes.

They did this a bit on passing downs. Note that the DT in there standing up is a linebacker:

nickel rush

As per usual I called this 3-3-5 nickel.

SUBTITUTION NOTES: Again because of the uniformz I'm partially guessing here. Mostly, actually. The line seemed to be the usual in four-man fronts but Michigan spent a big chunk of the game in that 3-4; when they did that it was Roh/Washington/Black as your first options on the line with Clark and sometimes Cam Gordon as the extra LB type. In the linebacking corps, Kenny Demens left early and never returned (probably), leaving Joe Bolden to pick up a ton of snaps.

The secondary lacked JT Floyd, of course, and Michigan responded by putting Avery and Taylor outside and really, really trying to avoid nickel packages. When they did run nickel—mostly on the last drive—they brought in Jarrod Wilson and shuffled Gordon or Kovacs down as the nickelback. This would end in disaster.

[After the jump: a big damn table and moaning about big plays.]

Show show.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone read give Washington 0
Michigan lines up in an even front, shifting Gordon (probably) down over the trips side after the move and moving Avery (probably) down to hang out over the right tackle. On the snap, Washington(+2) and Clark (probably) stunt, with Washington swimming right through the unprepared guard and into the backfield. Avery, blitzing, is to the outside. Back tries to cut back but Washington latches on and hurls him to the ground. Even if he could escape, Ryan was sitting unblocked on the backside and this was not likey to go anywhere. (RPS+1)
O33 2 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 4-3 even Pass 3 Hitch Demens 11
Michigan drops out, rushing only three, no pressure(-1). A gap opens up in the zone despite the extra guy as Demens(-1, cover -1) is too far inside and Sanders picks up the first down. Ryan was moving out onto the flare route and it looks like both ILBs fail to recognize that they are needed further right.
O44 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 4-3 under Pass 5 Fly Taylor 56
Michigan sends a blitzer and runs a fire zone behind it with four underneath and two deep. Kovacs has to take the slot receiver going vertical, leaving the outside guy one on one with Taylor(-3, cover -3), who just runs right by him. RPS -1 for one one one coverage deep. One DL who I think is Washington (probably) gets some token pressure(-1) to force Shaw to move around a bit, but no one is following up. I hate these uniforms.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 13 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O31 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 over Pass 4 Zip screen Avery 0
TE split out a yard or two and stood up; Roh (probably) moves out and goes in a two-point with him. Play is a PA WR screen where the outside receiver peels back for the ball as the slot tries to block for him. TE is occupied by Roh. Avery(+1, tackling +10 reads it and rips past the blocker, tackling on the catch. Morgan(+0.5) also read well and was there to help.
O31 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 over Pass 3 Flare Ryan 3
Ryan(+0.5) and Bolden(+0.5) rally after the flare; SC failed to run off that zone effectively. Ryan tackles; Bolden helps.
O34 3 7 Shotgun empty TE Nickel Pass 3 Seam Wilson Inc
I'm totally guessing on the personnel grouping. Again no pressure(-1) on a three man rush with Ryan hanging out at the LOS, being all suspicious. Shaw loads up and tries to hit a seam route, leaving it short. This was a tight, tight window (cover +1) that Wilson(+1) had covered if the pass was accurate.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 10 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-4 base Pass 3 Out Avery 5
30 front with a guy standing up on the end; he acts as a QB spy as M again sends just three. Roh gets a decent rush; QB is throwing anyway, an out that floats and is way upfield. Avery and others rally to tackle thanks to that.
O39 2 5 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 even Run N/A Delay Pipkins -1
Pipkins(+1) drives the G back a couple yards further than he wants to go and then disengages as the RB threatens the POA. This forces him to bounce, where Beyer(+1), who also ducked inside, now bounces out with the RB, grabbing him and initiating the tackle. Pipkins comes through to help finish. Kovacs(+0.5) also beat a block quickly to assist; Ross(-0.5) got blown up by the FB.
O38 3 6 Shotgun 2TE Nickel rush Pass 3 Flare Gordon 5
Ross lines up as a nominal standup DT, doesn't come, M rushes three. Blitz was faked, which get Black(?) a nearly free run at the QB until the LT comes over late. That is enough to convince the QB to dump off a flare route that Gordon(+0.5) and Ryan(+0.5) are there to bump out of bounds short of the marker. (RPS+1, pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-7, 5 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-4 base Pass 4 Jailbreak screen Bolden -2
Nominal backup QB in for SC. Fake flare to a jailbreak screen to the other RB. Bolden(+2, cover +1, tackling +1) rips upfield and tackles on the catch. Normally a by yourself TFL is 3, but I think SC messed up, making it easier.
O23 2 12 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Dumpoff Morgan 3
Roh(+0.5) and Black(+0.5) get decent pressure, forcing a throw underneath after coverage(+1) is good downfield. Morgan(+0.5, cover +1, tackling +1) is there to put the guy on the ground immediately.
O26 3 9 Shotgun empty TE Nickel rush Pass 5 Seam Gordon 70
Kovacs sent from the slot as a delayed guy; Bolden also sent; M sends Morgan on a hash to hash drop that has no chance of getting deep enough to handle this vertical route. There's just no one in the middle of the field at all. A bust by someone... must be Wilson (cover –5, –5), as everyone else is playing a defense that makes sense if someone is playing FS, but no one is. 
M4 1 G Shotgun twins twin TE 4-5 under Pass 6 Rollout out Taylor 4
Michigan shows man, runs it, Taylor(-1, cover -1) gets beat easily on an out.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-21, 10 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide jet 3-4 base Run N/A QB counter Bolden 7 + 15 pen
Very token jet fake into a QB counter play. Michigan sends Ross(-1), who doesn't read the C pull and flies up into the same gap Washington(?) is in. Bolden(-1) also follows the fake; big gap up the middle. Shaw gets a few until Taylor comes down; Bolden gets a miraculously weak roughing penalty for a reflexive shove on Shaw.
O35 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Ojemudia -3
Washington(+2) shoves the backside G three yards into the backfield, which causes problems. RB has to slow up, decide which side to go on. He chooses poorly. Ojemudia(+2) slides inside the RT in a flash and puts his helmet on the ball for a TFL and FF; Ryan(+0.5) gets a half point for the recovery because his speed after he recognized it was impressive.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 10-21, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Shotgun empty 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Corner Ryan Inc
Ryan(+1) beats a block around the edge and M sends Morgan(?) up the middle unblocked; Ojemudia(?, +0.5) also beats a block to get pressure(+1); three guys meet at Shaw just after he throws. Shaw tries a TE corner route that he misses; Beyer in decent at best coverage.
O27 2 10 Shotgun empty 2TE 3-4 base Pass 3 Scramble Beyer 5
Coverage(+1) good with eight in the pattern and then Roh(?) gets some token pressure that flushes shaw up in the pocket. Beyer is in a short zone spying, and also defending a TE. He can't quite get out on the edge to prevent a decent gain.
O32 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Run N/A Speed option N/A 11
With three linebackers shaded to field and only three linemen this was a first down on the snap. Black(-0.5) did not read the play and pop out on the edge, which could have helped; Bolden(? -0.5) got cut, but that was going to be super hard for him to make a play anyway. RPS -2.
O43 1 10 Shotgun empty 2TE Nickel even Pass 3 Sack Black -1
Coverage(+2) lasts through two short-side reads, and then Black(+1) comes through a double to flush, with Washington helping out. Clark, spying comes up, Shaw falls over.
O42 2 11 Shotgun empty TE Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Black -13
Blitz gets Cam Gordon(+1) in free as the RT aborts to take the MLB. Black(+2) makes the sack inevitable by ripping through a guard and coming through on the other side. He runs over Shaw. (Pressure +2, RPS +1)
O29 3 24 Shotgun trips Nickel rush Run N/A QB draw CGordon 4
A give up and punt. Michigan was sending three and dropping CGordon so he forces Shaw away from the middle and prevents any real damage.
Drive Notes: Punt, 13-21, 1 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Shotgun empty TE 4-3 over Run N/A QB power Clark 0 +15 pen
Clark(-2) gets good penetration by putting his hands in the face of the OL and eventually ripping off his helmet, drawing a flag. That penetration screws up one of the pullers; Kovacs(+1) blasts into another one, making for a constricted hole that the QB trips in.
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-4 base Run N/A Midline zone read keeper Campbell 64
M sends both outside backers. Both DTs get in the backfield clean, only one on purpose. Campbell(-2) goes after the back when the QB is his guy, and it's trouble. Kovacs(-3, tackling -2) misses a tackle at the first down marker, turning it into a huge play.
M11 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 5 Throwaway Morgan Inc
Morgan blitzes, and while he's effectively cut by the back that spooks the QB. He stumbles as he tries to esacpe the pocket and chucks one OOB as he's falling down. (Pressure +1)
M11 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Jet sweep Morgan 6 (Pen -5)
Morgan(-0.5) doesn't adjust himself presnap to the jet motion and is behind as he tries to get out on the edge. Beyer(-0.5) waits as if it's a read when the QB isn't looking at him and takes an upfield angle that the WR can get around. He is in position to tackle when a filling safety slows the ballcarrier down. It comes back because of a penalty we know not wot of because we have to talk to Marcus Lattimore for most of the third quarter.
M16 2 15 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Corner Avery Inc
Beyer(? +0.5) gets around the corner and provides some token pressure; Avery(+1, cover +1) is step for step with the wideout in the corner of the endzone but can't prevent this play from coming off if the WR plays it better since this is a perfect throw. WR gets turned around and can't.
M16 3 15 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Improv Ryan Inc
Ryan(+1) smokes the left tackle and gets in immediately (pressure +1), but the QB manages to sense Ryan coming for the killshot from behind and spins out just in time. Thompson is on the corner with time but has a restricted set of options now; he throws it to the back corner of the endzone, where Taylor(+0.5, cover +1) is there to bother the WR and bump him. Only a half point because the WR had an opportunity here despite the coverage.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(33), 13-21, 11 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-4 base Pass 2 Dumpoff N/A Inc
A two man rush, ugh. A DE who may be Black fakes a rush and then drops into a short zone. Shaw doesn't like his first look (cover +1) and then rifles it at his tailback too hard, incomplete.
O25 2 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 3-4 base Pass 2 Seam Bolden 37
Getting frustrated here. Another no-rush situation. M drops nine and still gives up a huge frigging hole in the zone. Bolden(-3, cover -3) does not carry the tight end deep. RPS -2. WTF.
M38 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Black 2
Black(+1) drives a guard into the backfield; he gets a momentary double and then the C moves out, but RB has to cut back inside without question since CGordon(+0.5, ?) does the same with the T. Ross(+1) sets up outside that C and dives to tackle; Bolden was waiting if there was a cutback.
M36 2 8 Shotgun trips 4-3 under Pass 5 Tunnel screen Ross 1
M loads up a bit and sends a zone blitz, and this looks like a tunnel screen except there's not really anyone blocking. Bust on SC's part? Maybe. Ross(+1, tackling +1) is dropping hash to hash and reads and tackles effectively in space on Ace Sanders.
M35 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 5 Fly Taylor Inc
Black(?) gets pressure on a stunt as Michigan sends five, and Shaw just loads up and fires deep. Ball is outside but vaguely catchable and Taylor(-0.5) gets beat over the top. A better throw is six.
M35 4 7 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Sack Black -1
M gets a decent rush on a three man pressure by looping Roh all the way around the nose tackle thanks to Black(+0.5) occupying two guys and banging into the guy trying to check Roh(+0.5); Shaw can't find anyone (cover +1) and starts rolling around. Shaw fakes a throw, fumbling, and that's a turnover on downs.
Drive Notes: Turnover on Downs, 16-21, 4 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 3-4 base Pass 3 Throwaway N/A Inc
No pressure(-1), though with a TE staying in this is 2 on 1 everywhere. Shaw can't find anyone(cover +2) despite the time and eventually rolls to the sideline and chucks it OOB.
O17 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 over Pass 4 Dumpoff Taylor 11
Roh and Clark(?) get decent pressure on the edge but nothing that really affects the QB; coverage(+1) is good and SC has to take a dumpdown. Taylor(-1, tackling -1) should be able to close this down for five or so but gets juked by a TE and gives up first down yardage. Taylor slipped, FWIW, if you want to give that minus to Adidas.
O28 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Midline zone read keeper Campbell 11
Campbell(-2) again blows the QB responsibility and gives SC an easy march upfield. Gordon makes a nice fill and tackle(+1)
O39 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-4 base Pass 4 Fly Avery Inc
Nothing even approximating pressure(-2); Shaw can load up and go for a deep one. Avery(+1, cover +1) is step for step, ball is way underthrown.
O39 2 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Comeback Avery 20
No one even close again(pressure -2); this time Shaw comes down to a wide open comeback (cover -2). Avery(-1) got turned around and then slipped as he tried to recover.
M41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-4 base Pass 5 Bubble screen TGordon 8
Not really much Gordon can do about this since he's well off on the snap, but I guess he didn't crush the block so -0.5. No one else is in the zip code, easy eight yards. RPS -1.
M33 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Power off tackle Washington 4
Washington(-2) blown off the backside of the play by a single block. Campbell(+1) took a double and came through it as the RB threatens the POA, forcing a cutback. Beyer(+1) got into the hole as well.
M29 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 4-4 even Pass 5 Wheel Taylor Inc
Kovacs(+1) sent. He gets around the tackle and gets tackled; no call. Refs -2. SC has a wide open wheel route (cover -3) behind the Kovacs blitz as Taylor(-2) has to pick between a post and the wheel. I think the way to handle this is to slide to the wheel and rely on Gordon in center field to get over to the post. Shaw just whiffs. Fortunate.
M29 2 10 Shotgun 2-back Nickel even Pass 4 Screen TGordon 5
M sends Morgan and drops out Clark. Clark drops into approximatley the screen area, so it's three on three. Clark keeps leverage, Bolden(+0.5) hops around a downfield block nicely but Gordon's fill is only meh, so it's a decent gain.
M24 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Run N/A Speed option Ryan -1
M shows blitz, SC check. They run the blitz, and should get burned as it's a speed option to the field and there's not much in the way of personnel out there after a double blitz up the middle. Ryan(+2) heads out to the pitch, convincing Shaw to cut it up. He then collapses down to tackle the guy with help from Roh(+1), who dragged himself across a blocker to cut down the angle.
Drive Notes: Blocked FG(42), 22-21, 9 min 4th Q. The block is nice but it's mostly because the kick was super low.
Ln Dn Ds O Form DForm Type Rush Play Player Yards
M31 1 10 ??? ??? Pass 4 Post Gordon 31
We don't get the snap because of Clowneymania. Pressure mediocre but kind of there; Michigan has tow guys in deep coverage against two SC WRs. TGordon(-1, cover -1) does get beat over the top but only by a step; perfect throw to beat the coverage.
M3 2PT 2PT Shotgun empty Nickel over Pass 6 Seam Wilson Inc
Michigan sends more blitzers than blockers, getting a run up the middle. Wilson is in decent position on the TE and kind of forces a difficult throw but there is a window that the QB hits. It's out front of the TE and he can't bring it in. Okay, I guess (+0.5 Wilson, cover +1) since he forced a difficult throw and catch attempt.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(missed 2PT), 22-27, 8 min 4th Q. Final drive starts with 3:23 on the clock, ton of time.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 3-4 base Pass 3 Dumpoff Ryan 4
All day (pressure -1) again; checkdown because of good coverage(+2) and immediate tackle.
O34 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 over Pass 4 Sack Black -4
M sends Ryan and drops Clark. Black(+1) shoots up in the pocket, flushing Shaw forward, whereupon Ryan(+1 comes off a guard to smother Shaw. Pressure +2, cover +1) as Shaw had a window to find someone before Ryan collapsed on him.
O30 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-4 base Pass 3 Hitch Taylor 7
All day (pressure -1); TE comes open for decent yardage and is hit. Throw and catch are meh otherwise this could be first down with some YAC (cover -1)
O37 4 3 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 5 Slant TGordon 6
Michigan brings six, dropping out a DE once he draws the attention of a RB. Gotta be quick; Sanders beats Gordon in man coverage and dives to preserve the game for SC. That is a tough matchup for a safety. (Cover -1, TGordon -1)
O43 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 nickel Pass 4 Comeback Black 7
This is kind of the game right here. Coverage(+1) prevents a first read throw. Morgan(+0.5) is blitzing and leaps/swims past the RB at the same time; Black(+1) has driven his guy in the backfield. Shaw starts to move around, away from Morgan and right into Black, then chucks the ball just as Black sacks him. This goes right to Ace Sanders. Gordon tackles, and it's not a huge gain but it is a 15-yard swing. (Pressure +1, cover -1)
50 2 3 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Dumpoff Black 7
Aaand this is also the game. Black(+1) beats the LT clean and tries to sack; he can only fling the QB in a circle. Shaw manages to keep his feet and dumps it off to Sanders, who Ryan(-1, cover -1) abandoned to come up on Shaw. Shaw is not the danger, man. Two yard pass turns into lots of YAC.
M43 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Hitch N/A 3
Short hitch that you can't cover or get to the QB on; minimal yardage.
M40 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel over Pass 3 Scramble Ross 1
Black(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5) both kind of get the corner as they are one on one with the tackles. NT is three on one and going nowhere. QB scrambles up; Ross(-1, tackling -1) misses him in the open field, turning a six yard sack into a small gain.
M39 3 6 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 nickel Pass 6 Tunnel screen Kovacs 7
M gets caught by the playcall. Kovacs(+1, tackling +1) does a good job to beat a block and tackle before this can get super dangerous. RPS -2.
M32 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel N/A N/A Spike N/A Inc
17 seconds.
M32 2 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Seam Wilson 32
M gets a free run with four guys, running a fire zone behind it. Kovacs is in a short zone; Jarrod Wilson(-3, cover -3) is dragged away from the center of the field for no reason and this is open all day.
Drive Notes: Touchdown (missed 2PT), 33-28, EOG.


My balls.

So what happened there?

A super weird game in which South Carolina did nothing or everything, with no in-between. South Carolina first downs in the first three quarters:

  • UNDER 30 YARDS: 2 (also one by penalty)
  • GREATER THAN 30 YARDS: 5. One 56, one 70, one 64, one 37, one 31

In the fourth quarter the Gamecocks went on a couple of actual drive-type substances; before that they did nothing save for four huge plays (and an Ace Sanders PR TD).

So let's take a look at those five plays and the sixth long one.

  1. Taylor smoked over the top one on one by Damiere Byrd
  2. M gets caught in a blitz and has three deep against four verts because there is no FS.
  3. Campbell blows a midline zone read and Kovacs misses his first tackle in like three years.
  4. Another all-verts finds a hole in the zone behind Joe Bolden.
  5. Thomas Gordon beaten over the top by Ace Sanders.
  6. FS is playing man on a TE rather than covering a post in the middle of the field.

Other than the once-in-a-generation botched fill by Kovacs (against a moderately mobile QB, of all people) those are all the secondary getting crushed by Spurrier's verts addiction and a lack of athleticism.

That's, like, the exact opposite of Michigan's defense the last three years.

They were already hanging by a thread with JT Floyd around, and without him Michigan had no answer to verts verts verts because their options on those seams up the middle of the field were

  1. Freshman linebackers.
  2. Not-that-quick Desmond Morgan.
  3. 110 pound cornerbacks.
  4. Slowish safeties.
  5. Bringing in Jarrod Wilson.

They took doors 1, 4, and 5. None worked. You're not just asking Michigan's secondary to keep up with average slot receivers, you're asking them to cover Ace Sanders, who turned in the top shuttle time at the most recent NFL combine. On his touchdown against Gordon his change of direction got him a step, and while it couldn't get him any more than that because Sanders's straight line speed isn't amazing one step was all it took.

Meanwhile, Taylor getting blown by was just a guy getting beat. He needed to bail out a lot faster there against a guy with blazing top-end speed.

It should be noted that South Carolina did a great job of maximizing their opportunities. No hands-on-helmet moaning for SC. When presented with an opportunity, they took it ruthlessly.

What happened on the last play?

A preview of life without Kovacs. If you look at the play from the Extremely Helpful Robot Camera Angle—which I love—you can see the problem. It's the two guys on the left hashmark:

wilson-bust-last-play - Copy

At the moment of the throw, Jarrod Wilson is on the opposite hash from Bruce Ellington, a lightning-quick slot receiver that Jordan Kovacs has carried about ten yards downfield and is playing outside of. Michigan ran a zone blitz on this play, and before the snap Wilson walks from the center of the field to the left hash and points at the tight end:


Wilson's approach to the play is essentially to be a deep bracket on that guy, as the rest of Michigan runs a three-deep zone. He blew it. He was out there because JT Floyd got suspended.

So… verts.

Michigan struggled to cope all day. On the 70-yarder Michigan runs a zone blitz with a hash-to-hash drop from Morgan. This implies there will be a deep centerfielder, because if the hash receiver goes vertical Morgan has a zero point zero chance of covering it. Instead it looks like both Avery and Thomas Gordon start playing outside-oriented man coverage… like there is a centerfielder.

long-bust-1 - Copy

There is no centerfielder. Kovacs was sent on a blitz, so who might draw that responsibility? Jarrod Wilson, who's in since this is a nickel package. Jarrod Wilson is standing on the 40 on the other side of the field:


I wish I had done this when I should do this, because then I could have gotten a proper head of steam on my panic about replacing Kovacs, and would have both welcomed and not been surprised by the Courtney Avery move.


The Floyd suspension blew it all up. Instead of bringing Courtney Avery in and relying on Gordon and Kovacs to fill centerfield, that duty fell to Jarrod Wilson, and twice Jarrod Wilson busted spectacularly. Those 14 points were enough to lose.


This is what its' like.

I remember feeling like this. I remember waking up and not knowing when the next fifty-yard touchdown was going to happen, but knowing it would be far too soon. I remember walking in the rain because I could feel no more. I was not dead then, but neither was I alive. I was… between.

This strikes me as a perfectly reasonable reaction to the situation.

Is there any good news?

When not being triple-teamed on three-man rushes, Washington and Black showed pretty well. Well… I think. Washington in particular was a guy that this game virtually ignored (five carries for the tailback!), but I'm guessing part of that was the fact that Washington indicated he wasn't going to be blocked on run plays on the first snap:

Washington was also a key actor on the fumble recovery, battering a guard way into the backfield and paving the way for Ojemudia to bring the wood.

Pipkins did a similar thing a little later:

I don't think South Carolina's offensive line is too good, but the DL was a positive in ways that do not include pass rush, and it's hard to ding them too hard there with all the three-man rushes.

Black actually flashed quite a bit in pass rush, ripping through a guard for a sack and then almost-but-not quite sacking Shaw on back-to-back plays on the final drive.


Black is about the only guy who had an identifiably good day. Washington as well, though he had few opportunities.

Not so heroic?

Wilson, Taylor, and to a lesser extent Gordon and Kovacs, much as it pains me to say it.

What does it mean for 2013?

Jarrod Wilson had a long way to go then and likely has almost as far to go now given that Michigan is trying to put anyone but Wilson in the lineup.

Jibreel Black feasted on some slow South Carolina linemen and may be productive against Big Ten guards.

Michigan needs to upgrade their athleticism in the back four badly, because ain't no Kovacs cleaning up mistakes.

That's about it. Run defense was nonexistent in this game.



August 21st, 2013 at 5:54 PM ^

Excellent! Any chance that some of the non-UFRed games from the past few years get one? It would be nice to have that historical data. As shitty as the OSU losses have been, I have always kind of wanted to see how the players would grade out. Brandon Graham, especially, in the 09 game.


August 21st, 2013 at 5:54 PM ^

Oh my goodness this is definitely the last thing I expected to read in late August so now I have to skip whatever I am doing now and finish reading the UFR thanks to Brian's work


August 21st, 2013 at 6:11 PM ^

Dear God...i forgot how bad the secondary was and also worried a lot about Wilson. Hope he can get it right because while serviceable I don't like the thought of Avery being our centerfielder.


August 21st, 2013 at 7:58 PM ^

Do any insidery people have any idea why Dymonte Thomas isn't getting looked at for FS? 

I know freshman equals sad otters and all, but wouldn't it be better since he was playing safety in high school and he's a lot bigger than Avery? Plus Avery could just play the nickle corner spot he was playing before. This is too obvious so I'm sure there's a good reason.


August 21st, 2013 at 6:12 PM ^

But there are reasons not to panic. Mainly, guys step up and improve. Imagine this board if Countess was injured before the season last year. Complete panic due to a lack of faith in Taylor.

Fast forward to now, no Kovacs but more depth and athleticism in the secondary (Avery at safety, Howell learning how to play corner, dymonte at nickel, etc). Sure, there might be headaches early. I trust our coaching to bring the best out of our talent in the secondary. Also, add in a more athletic dline hopefully leading to a passrush.

Everyone breath...


August 21st, 2013 at 6:31 PM ^

Yet, Michigan's safety play of the last decade suggests there's reason to fear the return of what once was. Off the top of my head, Michigan had Kovacs, Shazor, a serviceable Adams, and really nothing else over that span.

There's a reason why Angry Michigan Safety Hating God (blessed be thy name) became an MGoBlog meme.


August 22nd, 2013 at 1:48 PM ^

Brandent Englemon was one of michigans most under rated safeties of the past 25 years or so, and his absences in the first half of the APPY game for whatever reason was a direct cause  for the horror...



since then we have gone through so many tranisitions defensivly there hasnt been enough consistence to have a great safety.   Safety play varies  so much from coach to coach and scheme to scheme, problaby more so than any other possition.  It just isn't noticed as much.     kocas may have been more of the benefiiary of a little stability that resulted in his success,  as opposed to just being the little engine that could.   THe next two years should prove one way or another. 


August 22nd, 2013 at 3:50 PM ^

His primary MO was rarely being involved in any play of note. He usually scored in UFR in the +1/+2 range, which by Brian's metric suggests okay, but didn't play at strange times (injuries aside, why Mundy against OSU in 2006? why Brown in Appy State?). Perhaps that means he was excellent given that he wasn't tested much; I'd put him at least a tier below Adams if for no other reason than he didn't make his presence felt more. 

I'm not ready to buy the defensive transition argument; Kovacs was a part of those transitions in defensive scheme (including midseason; curse you Rodriguez and your meddling), but since his sophomore year has never finished below All-Big Ten honorable mention. In fact, the 2010 3-3-5 scheme was probably most beneficial for him, since it placed him into a hybrid safety/linebacker position that could accentuate his skillset better. He did improve to 2nd team All-Big Ten in 2012, but one can't simply conclude that was because of Mattison and Curt Mallory.

Ultimately, the big question being asked in this thread is whether one can replicate Kovacs' skills while still being as athletic as a scholarship player evaluated by scouting services. I think that's hard to do, and the benefits will not be seen until we get 5-star defensive backs with multiple years into the system. We won't see that this year and it's unlikely that we get it next year, even if Dymonte Thomas wins the starting safety job. At best, we can trade consistency for athleticism in the short-term, but I'd rather have a player in position to make a play but simply gets beat than a player out of position relying on athleticism to compensate.

Now excuse me while I go back and re-read HTTV.*

*Here, Brian states Kovacs was good enough to start on any Michigan team in the past 20 years. I'm in no place to comment on its truth.


August 21st, 2013 at 6:38 PM ^

Every other team in the country lost people too.  South Carolina doesn't have Ace Sanders, for example, because he's now playing in Jacksonville with Denard.  Michigan will likely be just fine unless you think "fine" means "national championship contender," in which case you're probably in for a disappointment. 


August 21st, 2013 at 7:24 PM ^

Ugh now I remember how frustrating that last drive was. BLACK YOU HAVE HIM MAKE HIM FALL DOWN! My soul dong aches. Jeebus. Shades of 2005.

Please tell me the offensive version of this exists to relieve some ennui.

PS the fact that the coaches still refuse to spread punt after this game boggles me. I vote for that to be the new Heiko crusade now that bubbles are less sensible.

ND Sux

August 22nd, 2013 at 9:20 AM ^

In fairness, I think Avery has held up pretty well.  He's experienced, knows the schemes and is usually in decent position, tackling isn't notably poor either.  I'm glad he's back, as I feel more comfortable with him at safety if Wilson isn't the answer.  Either way, I trust the coaches to find the best spots for these guys.  .


August 21st, 2013 at 8:18 PM ^

This doesn't really qualify as a bright side, but after reading this and peeking at the videos through my fingers, now I'm kind of glad that Avery is going to be our safety instead of Wilson.


August 21st, 2013 at 8:27 PM ^

Rk Offense Def.
Rk Std.
Rk Pass.
Rk Rushing
Rk Passing
Rk Drive
21 Ole Miss 113.9 106.8 40 105.0 46 122.3 21 113.5 25 105.9 43 136.3 10 -1.048 27
22 Penn State 122.0 116.1 21 121.5 10 101.8 59 115.9 19 116.6 21 125.9 23 -1.040 29
23 Boise State 124.9 118.3 19 115.1 19 108.2 41 107.1 43 117.1 20 120.8 28 -1.240 13
24 Kansas State 115.7 109.1 35 111.6 25 112.2 31 110.4 33 113.6 25 129.6 15 -1.211 14
25 Ohio State 114.7 110.3 30 104.3 49 128.1 14 115.0 21 110.5 32 126.4 19 -1.174 17
26 Oregon State 114.5 112.1 24 102.5 56 137.8 7 112.7 27 112.1 29 122.9 27 -0.990 32
27 Tulsa 116.5 114.3 22 108.6 31 114.9 28 105.6 47 112.2 28 120.6 29 -1.123 19
28 Rutgers 122.2 117.9 20 117.9 17 109.1 36 127.8 6 106.2 41 115.7 34 -0.876 35
29 Michigan 113.7 107.3 38 107.4 34 107.2 45 116.3 18 102.0 54 125.9 24 -1.121 21


The fact remains that Michigan was pretty mediocre last year against the pass.  I don't see us sliding into the bottom half of pass defense this year - even with some obvious questions.


August 21st, 2013 at 8:49 PM ^

To the casual football fan, the Jadeveon Clowney hit was big.  But in my opinion, it wasn't that great.  Yes it was a game changer, but Clowney's hit was mostly a result of our OL not blocking him.  The hit by Ojemudia is better to me since he fought through a block and the RB had a chance to avoid the hit.


August 22nd, 2013 at 12:11 PM ^

Fuck yes. I am so sick of how much that Clowney hit is overplayed. You leave a frak of nature unblocked and he'll make a big hit, sure. But, Christ, there were much better plays made by people on both teams on both sides of the ball during that very game. Ugh. I hate ESPN.


August 21st, 2013 at 10:15 PM ^

i saw brian walking on the sidewalk, alone, in the rain after the 2011(?) @msu game, the bumblebee one, the trash tornado one, the victory so close you could feel it until a blindside 4th and short destroyed your childhood. it was the saddest thing i have ever seen, i felt bad for even being warm and somewhat dry. i wanted to comfort him, to hug him, reassure him that the sun would come up one day and flowers would smell beautiful and a woman's kiss would cause his loins to stir. then i realized that he had to UFR that game and thought - "he is absolving me of my misery, he is dying for their sins, i should lump my misery on him because he can take it. he will analyze defensive line sets, he will record the backup guard substitutions. he is not the martyr we deserve, but the one we need right now."