Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs CMU Comment Count

Brian September 5th, 2013 at 3:09 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan played this one vanilla, opting for either their traditional 4-3 under…


…or a 4-2-5 nickel package…


Furman is offscreen on the right hash.

…with the occasional insertion of a 3-3-5 on passing downs. There was no okie stuff with seven guys at the line of scrimmage, and it was very rare to see a safety walk down. With the line ripping through Central's pass protection there was little need to do anything else. If Michigan could manage that against a tough opponent that would be nice.


Right. Seth has already covered this in exacting detail. In brief: the secondary was consistent, with Furman and Wilson at safety and Taylor and Countess the starting corners. When Michigan went to the nickel, Stribling and Hollowell were about even, with Stribling getting the first at-bats.

Inside linebacker was split almost evenly between Morgan, Ross, and Bolden, with Gedeon getting some reps later and RJS right at the end. SAM was about 50/50 Beyer/Gordon, except that a lot of that was at DE in nickel packages.

Okay. The line. Okay. Your nominal starters were Heitzman, Washington, Black, and Clark, except there was so much nickel that the nose was lifted half the time. Wormley, Pipkins, Glasgow, and Ojemudia got a large amount of time backing up the starters. Godin, Ash, Henry, and Charlton got in later. Godin actually split snaps almost equally with the other two SDEs; at the other three spots the third guy was definitively third.

[After THE JUMP: rotation, rotation, rotation. Pass rush! Safety assessments!]

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace trips 4-3 under Pass 5 Hitch Countess 17
Countess playing eight yards off at the snap with no one underneath him, so a hitch here is close to guaranteed. Countess(-1, cover -1) should be there to tackle on the catch; isn't, lets WR turn upfield for healthy YAC.
O42 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Morgan -1
The Morgan stick play. Black(+1) drives a guard two yards back; Washington(+1) does the same, so it ends up three blockers on two guys on the frontside with no holes. Easy job for Morgan(+1, tackling +1) to read, see the cutback developing, and move into Tipton for a bang-you're-dead TFL.
O41 2 11 Shotgun twins twin TE 4-3 over Pass 6 PA Wheel Countess? Inc
Michigan sends an MSU-style twisting double A gap blitz. QB pulls as Heitzman(-0.5) thinks the tailback has it and bites up a step. Only a half because he recovers to chase somewhat effectively. The other half of this play is a bubble screen/QB run option. Heitzman makes the QB run unattractive, and then M's DBs charge up, leaving the bubble receiver open up the sideline for a nice gain. Ball is deflected by Countess(+1). Cover –1 for the dangerous avenue up the field, though that play should have drawn an illegal man downfield penalty. Refs –1.
O41 3 11 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Beyer -2
Line is Clark/Wormley/Black/Beyer. QB has one read covered(+1) and then he's in trouble. M stunted Beyer and Black; Beyer(+3) burrows through two players to get six yards in the backfield; Wormley(+1) bulled a guy back as well. QB tries to scramble up through the pocket, at which point Beyer grabs him and sacks. QB is trying to flip to his RB, ball comes out.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q. Michigan blocks the punt and scores.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Hitch Countess Inc
Someone doesn't get a call here as Glasgow is absolutely stunting outside and Frank Clark is not diving inside. That seems like a Clark screwup, but Clark(+1, pressure +1) does beat up on a tackle and threaten the QB. QB gets off a wobbler hitch that's dropped; Countess(+0.5, cover +1) was there for an immediate tackle on a six yard completion this time.
O25 2 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Glasgow? 7
Very confusing play here as Glasgow seems to think he's stunting with Pipkins and then decides he's not. This has convinced the G over him to move on, so he gets penetration and almost tackles for loss. RB escapes. Now RB heads outside a gap where Clark(-1) is upfield and sealed and Ross is taking on not only the FB but the G who ignored Glasgow. He is to the correct side but can't disengage because he's held; no call(refs -1). Tipton through the line; quick fill from Wilson(+0.5) holds it down; Wilson's tackle allows some YAC. Glasgow -1, I think, as his weirdness here made it hard for Ross to do much.
O42 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel over Pass 4 Slant Stribling Inc
Stribling(-1, cover -1) cleanly beat on the slant; QB turfs the ball. Beyer(+0.5, pressure +1) got a run at at tailback and leap over it to bother, perhaps forcing the incompletion. Check out James Ross crushing a TE's route to the ground.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 12 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M6 1 G Shotgun trips TE Nickel over Run N/A Zone read keeper Taylor 1
Michigan shoots CGordon inside on the snap, blitzing Taylor off the corner. This both nerfs the inside zone and gets a pull that is contained. RPS +1. Taylor(+0.5) forms up and forces the QB inside, making contact behind the line; Bolden(+1) read and reacted well, finishing the play.
M5 2 G Ace 4-4 even Run N/A Inside zone Wilson 3
Pipkins(+1) takes a double and goes nowhere, which means Black is not getting addressed by the G; instead the tackle has to try to get him. He does not. Black(+2) shoots into the backfield and just misses a TFL. RB has to stop and cut all the way to the backside of the play and that should be it except Wilson(-1) sucked down and is not able to contain. Ojemudia(-1) also got handled back there, which didn't help Wilson make a decision. Furman(+1) reads the cutback and jets down into the melee, passing Wilson and making first contact as the play nears the sideline; Countess(+1, tackling +1) lays a pretty good lick to stop any progress.
M2 3 G I-Form Big Goal line Run N/A Iso Heitzman 1
C gets under Washington(-1) and drives him back. Heitzman(+2) slants behind that block and blows up the intended lane; Godin(+2) drives a TE back and to the inside, coming around after that guy releases to the second level to get a tackle in; Bolden(+0.5) redirected to find the hole and also help stop things. On the frontside, Black(+1) had beaten a block and absorbed his guy and the FB, leaving Morgan free to hit if it went there.
M1 4 G I-Form Big Goal line Penalty N/A Delay N/A -5
Drive Notes: FG(23), 7-3, 9 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 6 Drag Washington Inc
Hollowell in for Stribling. Michigan shows blitz with both ILBs and sends them; Clark gets a free run as the guy most distant from the QB(pressure +1). This hurries the throw. Washington(+1, pressure +1) bats it down. Countess(+1, cover +1) was all over this short drag anyway. RPS +1.
O20 2 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A Zone read keeper Morgan 1
Morgan moves up and thwaps Clark(+0.5) to move inside; he does. He then shoots upfield as this is a zone read and he's unblocked. He first seems to come down on the back and then redirects to the QB; given the way the play looks I think that is correct. An RB keep is a cutback and a lot of yards and Morgan is hanging out over the slot. WR shoots by Countess, who is now over the bubble option and Morgan(+1, tackling +1) comes up, doesn't bite on a throw fake, and makes another no-YAC tackle.
O21 3 9 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Screen Wilson -4
Michigan sends Ross and drops Clark out; M gets a screen at this action. Wilson is moving to the line at the snap to replace Ross, and for some reason the WR cracking down ignores him. It looks like he assumes he's getting Ross and when he blitzes he does not replace Ross with Wilson in his head. Wilson(+1, tackling +1) proceeds to annihilate the running back on the catch. Impressive speed and recognition, but not quite as awesome of a play as it seemed live. RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 5 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Ace trips tight 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Morgan 4
Somewhat reminiscent of last year as it the line slants without the linebackers understanding what that means. The DL all shift a gap over as Ojemudia backs out; Morgan(-0.5) does not trust that Beyer(+0.5) will dive inside the split-out two-point TE and gets clunked by the fullback two yards downfield. He keeps his feet and actually tackles after a mediocre gain, which is impressive and makes me want to delete the minus. But no. Ross(+0.5) had come under a blocker and was ready to cut this down for less if Morgan was ready to trust Beyer here.
O21 2 6 Ace 3-wide Nickel over Run N/A Inside zone Wormley 11
CMU gets a crease as Wormley(-1) gets comboed and sealed, allowing a blocker to pop out on Ross; Ojemudia(-0.5) also gets kicked out some distance to provide the crease. Ross(-1) maybe could have hit to the outside more and funnel to help but I don't know if that help would have been there as there was a backside crease as well. Taylor(+1, tackling +1) does a nice job to read it, come off his guy, and tackle before a safety could arrive.
O32 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 Post Furman Inc
Actually decent pressure as Wormley and Black collapse the pocket; can't quite get to the QB. Countess has shaded to the outside and funneled to his his centerfielder, which is Furman. I don't like that the WR seems over the top here but Furman does seem to be basically step for step and if he's got anything he's got makeup speed. Their legs tangle and both guys fall over. This seems like a push.
O32 2 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 nickel over Pass 4 Slant Taylor Inc
Wilson rolls down. Irrelevant, but hey. A slant that's behind the WR and dropped; Taylor (+0.5, cover push) was there to harass. Could have broken it up if it was better thrown.
O32 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Taylor 13
DTs stunt. Godin gets cut off by OL and can't get over to where Pipkins started from. Clark tried an edge rush, didn't get it, and got blown way upfield. Running lane. I'm not minusing Clark because it's third and ten and this guy is not Denard; go ahead. Taylor(-1) slipped as he tried to change direction and come up, which gives the QB the window he needs between Taylor and Ross to pick up the first with some help from a downfield blocker.
O45 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Black 16
Another slant with the WDE folding back. I'm not entirely sure what's wrong here. Could be Black flying upfield, providing a crease. Could be Ross not funneling back to Bolden. Could be Clark diving inside. I think it's a little bit of all three, but more Black(-1) getting too far upfield too fast and providing a big lane outside than any other one thing. Clark(-1) did end up buried; Bolden(-1) doesn't scrape over the top to help and maybe end this after a few yards. Godin(+0.5) swam through a guy on the backside to fill a hole very well; Washington(+0.5) held up to a double.
M39 1 10 Ace trips tight 3-4 base Pass 5 Waggle drag Morgan 7
Beyer flares out really wide, outside of all three bunched WRs as Furman pulls to the line. Central goes PA and then shoots a receiver backwards across the line. Clark attacks, then holds up. The WR does have to go around him and covering a receiver is not his job. It's Morgan's, who takes some steps to the run and then perceives what's happening, bailing out at a great angle to get depth and cut the WR off as soon as is feasible. I could give either guy a minus half, I guess, but RPS –1 seems better.
M32 2 3 I-form 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Morgan 4
Late motion in from a WR to make this an I-form from the ace trips tight. Michigan stunts Glasgow right out of the POA. Big crease. Morgan(+1) takes on a fullback head on, sheds to the playside, and gets a tackle in. Wilson also fills, maybe a little late, but this is mostly just an RPS play. RPS -1.
M28 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Power O Heitzman 0
Heitzman(+3) destroys the TE trying to block down on him, chucks him away, and makes a zero-yard tackle by himself.
M28 2 10 I-Form twins 3-4 base Pass 5 Post Wilson Inc
Ross and Morgan sent as Ojemudia backs out; CMU picks it up (pressure -1). Pipkins is surging through late but this is pretty decent time. Pass is a post that Wilson(+2, cover +2) almost picks off. Countess(+1) also in position to make a play on the ball.
M28 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Ojemudia 8 (Pen -5)
Ojemudia(+1, pressure +1) gets around the edge, flushing the QB. He hits a TE crossing route that Ross(-1, cover -1) left open in favor of charging the QB. Comes back for a illegal formation.
M33 3 15 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Seam Black Inc
Black(+3, pressure +3) rips up the middle in a three man rush, nailing the QB and forcing an errant throw. Ojemudia also was getting to the QB.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-3, 10 min 2nd Q. Punt from the M 33 goes in endzone. Student of the master.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Corner Wilson Inc
Ojemudia(+0.5) gets enough of a rush along with CGordon(+0.5) to induce a quick throw. It's a corner route that is OOB. Wilson(+1, cover +1) had that zone in a cover three and was in very good position.
M29 2 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Pass 4 Sack CGordon -5
CGordon stacked over the nose. M sends him and Ross up the middle. C is on the nose, G takes Ross, Gordon(+1, pressure +3) flies up the middle unmolested to sack. RPS +3. Mattison sacktacularrr.
M34 3 15 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
M39 3 20 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Corner Furman 23
Bolden bailing out into a tampa-two coverage so the two safeties have the outside zones in the three deep. Furman(-3, cover -3) does not get the memo and is way late on a corner route. CGordon(+1, pressure +1) had just come around the corner and was going to sack if the QB took one second longer.
M16 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel over Pass N/A Bubble screen Furman Inc
Countess shows blitz early. CMU checks into a bubble and misses it, but Furman had come down and was likely to blow this up anyway. RPS +1.
M16 2 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 even Pass 4 Hitch Countess Inc
Looks like the WR screws up as he turns this into an in and then starts backpedaling back to where he was once the ball is in the air; goes over his head. Probably a decent short completion if not for the screwup; good protection(pressure -1)
M16 3 10 I-form 3-wide Nickel even Run N/A Iso Bolden 6
Motion from a trips look to the I-form and then an iso on third and ten. Defensible if you're going on fourth down. They don't. Indefensible. They get past the LOS because M is pass rush focused but the FB screws up and turns around. Bolden is there to kick it outside; Hollowell(-1, tackling -1) shoots up to fill and gets run through. This turns two yards into six but this was never getting the first down. If Michigan did this I would RPS minus it.
Drive Notes: FG(27), 21-6, 8 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel over Run N/A Inside zone Ross 4
M understandably pass oriented with two minutes left in the half. Ross(+1) gets a good hit on a releasing guard to fill a hole and force a cutback, which allows Wormley(+0.5) to disengage and tackle(+1) after giving some ground. Given context, this yardage is more than acceptable.
O27 2 6 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Out Taylor 21
Good time (pressure -1); good throw to a WR who sits down in a hole in the zone. They went high-low on Taylor(-1, cover -1) and as a result of Taylor sucking up they give up the deeper throw. Wilson tackles quickly.
O48 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 6 Out Taylor 7
Quick hitter; Taylor pops the guy OOB on the catch. A push.
M45 2 3 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Out Taylor INT
And Taylor(+3, cover +3) makes 'em pay for picking on him. Taylor has no help here and may expose himself to a double move but results based charting yo. As the WR breaks out he jumps the route, picking it off.
Drive Notes: Interception, 28-6, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Waggle drag CGordon Inc
CGordon(+1, pressure +1) is on the corner and reads the fake. He runs up at the QB and bats the pass back in his face.
O10 2 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Draw Heitzman 4
Ross sent on a blitz; he ends up shoved past the play as the CMU G doubling Washington just does get a hand on him. Washington(-1) ends up falling to the ground. Heitzman(+1) gets some penetration and mucks up the run lane; FB hits the OL blocking him. Morgan(+0.5) takes that guy on at the LOS and CGordon(+0.5) has the presence to come off his blocker and tackle from the side.
O14 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Out Clark Inc
First read covered(+1); QB has to wait. This allows Clark(+1, pressure +1) to bull the OL back and eventually pop around him for an honest to God QB hurry not on a free run.
Drive Notes: Punt, 42-6, 11 min 3rd Q. Norfleet's PR comes back because of a penalty.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Power O Wormley 0
Wormley(+1) occupies both the TE and LT, so no one gets out on a linebacker. This is also seven in the box versus six blockers, so both ILBs are free and crush the back in the hole. Half points for Ross and Morgan. RPS +1, by default.
O25 2 10 Ace trips Nickel over Pass 4 Sack Beyer -7
Beyer(+3, pressure +3) rips around the right tackle and sacks. Ojemudia helped make the guy hold up, but also got shoved backwards elaborately first.
O18 3 17 Shotgun trips tight 4-3 even Pass 4 Sack Ojemudia -4
Ojemudia(+3, pressure +3) rips through the left tackle, gets held, and still sacks.
Drive Notes: Punt, 49-6, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Ojemudia -1
M stunts Black and Ojemudia(+1.5); Ojemudia comes between the two Gs and gets into the lane as one releases to block Black. Pipkins(+1.5) bulls two guys back and the RB has nowhere to go but down in the backfield.
O24 2 11 Ace twins 4-3 even Pass 5 Sack CGordon -7
M sends a twist blitz with Bolden and Gordon that gets Gordon(+1, pressure +3) through to sack. RPS+2.
O17 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Fly Wilson 43
Too much time(pressure -2), though Strobel does delay any throw by leaping as the QB looks to pass. Ojemudia eventually gets loose to hit the guy, but too late. He unleashes a deep ball that finds a guy wide open; Furman tackles just about on the catch. I do think this is on Wilson(-3, cover -3), who started chasing a deep cross late. But so much time.
M39 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 over Pass 4 Bubble screen Furman 9 + 15 pen
Furman(-1, tackling -1) comes up hard on this... too hard. WR ducks inside of him for a nice gain. Stribling tackles, gets a facemask tacked on.
M15 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Run N/A QB down G Charlton -3
Charlton(+2) blows the TE way in the backfield. Wormley(+2) does the same. Charlton misses but slows the guy significantly, buying time for Wormley, who does not miss.
M18 2 13 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 5 Slant Hollowell Inc
Too quick for anything to get home. Hollowell(+1, cover +1) makes a good break on the ball and would have a decent shot at a PBU if the WR hadn't flat dropped it already.
M18 3 13 Shotgun 4-wide tight Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Gedeon 1
Henry gets a decent rush; coverage(+2) is good; checkdown, Gedeon(+1, tackling +1) tackles in space easily.
Drive Notes: FG(34), 56-9, 11 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 Power I 4-3 under Pass 4 Slant Stribling 10
Stribling's playing a long way off and can't get there; he does rake out the ball as he tackles. Given game situation, skipping any minuses here. Stribling had no chance to defend this by alignment. Stribling(+1, tackling +1)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 56-9, 10 min 4th Q. When CMU gets the ball back it's time for the guys way down on the depth chart; charting ceases.

I'm not really that impressed but then I look at the box score and I'm like whoah.

Yeah. 5.1 yards an attempt.

Alex Nisnak could start for Michigan State.

Oh man I hope they don't get better this week, because I've been riding that harrrrd.

Anyway: also 2.3 yards a rush and barely over 200 yards on the game, two turnovers acquired, and really about three points given up: two Central field goal drives started on the Michigan 6 and 29 yard line thanks to turnovers. Central had 12 opportunities, which is rather a lot, and went three and out five times. Dominant.

Caveat: this was a mediocre MAC team that lost its starting QB and RB early.

I marveled at this thing they did.

Oh yes?

So sometimes they had guys between Michigan's guys and the ball, and then at some point they were no longer between Michigan's guys and the ball. I felt this was a good thing, in general.

Ah yes, the ol' don't get blocked by a guy. Classic move. Michigan tried it with frequency. Why don't you look at this—


Are we still on with the whole chort thing? Really?


Fine. Chort.

Before we start: take any individual numbers in the front seven lightly. The chart tracks 51 snaps and the rotation was so heavy that hardly anyone got more than half of those. The nose tackles were only on the field for half of those 51 snaps, so if Washington didn't seem to do a whole lot that's because I've got maybe a dozen snaps for an interior DL playing a team that mostly tries short passes.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Heitzman 6 0.5 5.5 Had a couple of nice +2 plays.
Washington 2.5 2 0.5 Lifted a lot for spread business.
Black 7 1 6 Flashed pass rush a couple times.
Clark 2.5 2 0.5 Does seem improved.
Wormley 4.5 1 3.5 Nice push a couple times.
Pipkins 2.5 - 2.5 Spread also cut into his PT.
Glasgow - 1 -1 Seemed to miss a check on his minus.
Ojemudia 5 1.5 3.5 Sack + hold is not 4 points here, but could be in your heart.
Godin 2.5 - 2.5 Mostly a single goal line play.
Ash - - - did not chart
Henry - - - DNC
Charlton 2 - 2 Instigated late TFL.
TOTAL 34.5 9 25.5 SDE production the most encouraging thing.
Player + - T Notes
C.Gordon 5 - 5 Only got +1 for sacks as they were free runs. Willing to hear arguments that's too stingy.
Morgan 4 0.5 3.5 Crunch crunch bang bang
Ross 2 1 1 Quiet, as run game was pretty nonexistent.
Beyer 7 - 7 Wow experience.
Ryan - - - DNP
Bolden 1.5 1 0.5 Feelingsball take: looked more confident.
Gedeon 1 - 1 Young Skywalker.
Jenkins-Stone - - - DNC
TOTAL 20.5 2.5 18 Little got to them because of the DL number, and mistakes were rare indeed.
Player + - T Notes
Countess 4.5 1 3.5 Picked it up after first play was poor.
Taylor 5 2 3 Got picked on, then picked.
Stribling 1 1 0 Quite a rise.
Hollowell 1 1 0 Missed tackle a bit alarming.
T. Gordon - - - DNP
Avery - - - DNP
Wilson 4.5 4 0.5 I'm more positive on him in feelingsball world.
Furman 1 4 -3 Fast, but too many mistakes.
J. Clark - - - DNC
Hill - - - DNC
TOTAL 17 13 4 Safeties clearly the weak point.
Pressure 27 5 22 Hello!
Coverage 13 10 3 Getting greedy as I want this to be more positive.
Tackling 8 2 80% Morgan will stick you.
RPS 11 2 9 Injury to injury.

So… that's pretty awesome. CMU was overmatched and only got more so when their top QB and RB went out early; conclusions drawn here should be slathered with layers of disclaimers. But if you asked Michigan fans what they were worried about on defense, they would have said pass rush and safety.

The pass rush was dominant, sacking CMU five times and hurrying them another half-dozen. Most of those were not blitz-generated; a couple were Black roaring up the middle nearly uncontested on passing downs.

If that happens your best possible result is a flailing incompletion. Beyer, Clark, and Ojemudia all beat blockers to make plays. It was a good day.

The safeties… well, I did end up giving the big minus on CMU's long pass to Wilson. More on that later.

Finally: linebacker. I've got at total of 2.5 minuses, which is nuts. Playing linebacker is hard. Gameplan had a lot to do with that—freshman backup QB is not going over the middle, where linebackers often get minused—and Zurlon Tipton got hurt. Even so, I be like dang.

Are we still as excited about Not Jake Ryan as we were over the weekend?

Pretty much, yeah. On review those two guys didn't do much more than the spectacular stuff you are already aware of, but they didn't do much wrong, either. Four sacks is quite a return from one position, even if Beyer inexplicably didn't get credit for one. Beyer wins the cookie for beating guys on his sacks; Cam Gordon got help from Mattison on both of his. It was pretty shocking to see Beyer straight up pwn offensive linemen like this:

He was supposed to be the reliable, boring run defender guy. You can throw caveats at this all you want but you probably shouldn't: Michigan had one sack against UMass last year and Jake Ryan didn't play. The five sacks Michigan got from the SAM/WDE spots are only three and a half fewer than Michigan got from those positions all last year. Even if Central is a terrible team, Michigan still looks like they took a major step forward in the Right To Rush Four category.

The strongside ends are everywhere, scoring points.

Yes. There was little separation between them. Wormley made a couple plays, Heitzman made a very good one…

…and they seemed like they'd splits snaps all year. Godin even got in on the act, slanting under an OL to help tackle Tipton after Heitzman blew up the intended lane. I got the impression that CMU's tight end (the guy Heitzman blows up) was a very bad player over the course of the game and worry this is something that will evaporate in the heat of an actual opponent. Again, as first impressions go it was a necessary step towards optimism.

And what about Jarrod Wilson, you panic-inducing person, you?

His game mostly holds up. I do think he was the guy who was responsible for the long pass CMU completed, as you can (barely) perceive that he starts chasing after a deep crossing route, opening up the route behind that Furman tackles on.

I'm also a bit dubious about his actions on that cutback run that almost ended up in the endzone. He's hanging out on the backside of the play as the edge defender. The guy cannot get outside of him:

He gets bailed out by Countess and to a lesser extent Furman, who understandably steps playside but should probably not go under that linebacker once he sees the cutback. Furman makes up for it—you can see him outdistancing Wilson as they chug to the running back together—but that play should have been no gain or a TFL and it required Blake Countess bailing those guys out to stop it.

But Wilson blew up a screen, had nice coverage on a corner route that went out of bounds, and flashed that coveted free safety attribute on his pass breakup:

Ranginess. That is a high leap from a tall man that high-points a ball. I love Kovacs with every fiber of my being but he's never making that play. Nor is he vacating that zone above, yeah. If Wilson can just figure it out he showed athleticism that could make him very, very good. If.

Help me out coach types?

This one seems to be about three and a half mistakes, one from Black, one from Clark, and one from Ross, but I don't have a strong opinion here:

Black gets too far upfield. Clark gets beat up by his blocker in the end, and Ross leaves a gap to the outside… maybe. Maybe Black is supposed to be able to cut this off.


You can pick anyone who saw the field and have a pretty good answer. Black, Ojemudia, Beyer, and Cam Gordon stand out above a crowded field for decimating the Central Michigan pass protection.

Maybe not so heroic type persons?

Josh Furman did get lost a bit too much. His stock is actually up with me overall—he did look dang fast and laid a couple licks. Consistency is always the thing at safety, though.

I wanted Frank Clark to be more annihilating. He wasn't bad, necessarily, but he was overshadowed by not one but two other defensive end types.

What does it mean for Notre Dame and beyond?

Like the offense, a question-mark position did very well for itself, offering hope that it'll be night and day from last year. That was the OL on offense. Here it's the pass rush. We can't say anything for sure about either; both units turned in a necessary clubbing. In particular, Michigan's nickel package featuring Beyer/Clark/Black/Wormley looks very tough to block. And if they can flip out Wormley for Ryan midseason? Hoo boy.

Michigan is serious about their line depth. Everywhere except three-tech is in a co-starter situation, and in a good way.

Jarrod Wilson made a lot of progress over the offseason—or at least the last two weeks of it—and has a great package of size and speed.

Joe Bolden is basically a third starter at LB.

Strongside end is going to be a platoon. Early returns there are good. Like the pass rush, need more data before confidence comes.



September 5th, 2013 at 3:21 PM ^

Re: coach types, yes please. Very confusing. Some kind of weird twist? Fire zone? It was to the boundary and Mattison loves dropping ends into the boundary, so there's that.

Space Coyote

September 5th, 2013 at 3:50 PM ^

They are inverting the WDE and the SAM. Clark takes his initial step inside and then will drop into a flat zone. But he sees run so he doesn't keep dropping, he anchors and holds the OT at the point so he has outside force, as a SAM would on this play. The rest of the line is simply slanting. Black slants and absolutely beats his blocker clean but sucks himself too far upfield when he needs to break down there and come back into the play before getting that far upfield. That's how a 3-tech gets trapped all day.


September 6th, 2013 at 10:13 AM ^

Black* blew it. Not a huge issue if it was one play in the whole game, so I am not concerned. 

I also want to point out CMU's WR did a hell of a job blocking RayTay. Either that, or Taylor just sucks at run support. Which maybe? I am not sure. What is the consensus on that?

[Edit: Clark not Black, sry guys]

[Expanded coverage]
I would not fault Black here at all IMO. He does what QWash did last year, blow that shit up and wreck some havoc. If clark contains instead of shoot inside the tackle, the RB should run into a wall, or Ross, which isn't too far off from a wall either. Disclaimer: I am not a coach type, but my college roommate was the contain LB at Warren DLS, so he always stressed that crap to me. 


September 6th, 2013 at 11:20 AM ^

Guess Black is just too fast for his own good. I still think if Clark contains, the play is limited to 3-4 yards instead of 16. 

I am just a fan of a disruptive DT. I don't think it was his play to make. It's his job to get the LB's clean and Black's man is 3 yards in the backfield with him. So they kind of cancel each other. I don't think Black deserved a +1 or anything. 


September 5th, 2013 at 3:29 PM ^

Lots of positives to take away from this game. It's a good thing T. Gordon will be replacing Furman against Notre Dame since Furman seemed to be our biggest weakness. It's scary to imagine how good this defense will be next year (and the year after, and the year after...).

Space Coyote

September 5th, 2013 at 3:34 PM ^

I think you have it pretty much correct. The main guy getting it wrong is Black, who gets sucked up way too far and basically takes himself out of a play that's being run to him. This opens a gap inside, and suddenly Clark is trying to rip back inside to make a play. Problem is, he can't do that because he has outside force, and now no one has outside force.

So it's a mistake compounded with a guy trying to correct that mistake and making a bigger one. Ross actually plays this damn near perfectly. Hits the FB directly in the hole on the Iso. The FB has done well and come directly off his OL butt. Ross fights the FB, stays up, and manages to  get his outside arm free without giving up ground, Morgan/Bolden has the cutback so inside arm isn't a worry. So Ross has a free arm where the play is designed to be run and where Black just left making the hole a bit bigger. This play is absolutely dead if Black doesn't get too far upfield. But Ross can still slow him down and flow and support can help on an interior run. With Clark fighting inside he has left the outside, along with no one else, to defend the play. So it's kind of like Black (-1), Clark (-0.5) IMO, or at least that kind of ratio.

Space Coyote

September 5th, 2013 at 4:55 PM ^

Though I've heard the term. But yes, that is essentially correct. I think Ross originally actually gets his head to the right spot, as he attacks with the correct shoulder, but I think he may have an aiming point slightly too far inside, as when he picks his head up it's on the wrong side and he's forced to fight back across a bit. He's hitting it correctly, just think either his aiming point is a bit off or some how the blocker is bouncing a bit outside with his momentum.

FWIW, the FB is absolutely trying to seal Ross inside here, so it's a two way fight.

Michigan Arrogance

September 5th, 2013 at 4:56 PM ^

I'm just thinking that if Ross can get "across the face of the Blocker" then that prevents the runner from getting outside for those extra 5 ish yards.

I'm sure there are other player who, if they played it perfectly, would have accomplished the same. I just noticed it 2-3 times with Ross for some reason and hear Hoke say he was skightly dissappointed in leverage the next day. /confirmation bias

Space Coyote

September 5th, 2013 at 5:03 PM ^

As I said, I think his aiming point was off. What it comes down to is something similar to what I said with Bolden below. Bolden does his assignment. He could have done more. Ross accomplished his assignment on this play, but a better aiming point may have allowed him a better release to track down the RB from the backside. He could do more, but he's at least doing his assignment. What would actually show if Ross had enough leverage or not would be if Clark stayed outside his man as the force player. Then, with the hole being the size that is was. would Ross be able to release and wrap the player. I don't think he would have been, because he was still fighting across. He could have at least slowed the player though. But if Black does his job too, then I think Ross would be able to make the play he's supposed to.

Moral of story: Ross does well, but you're correct, he could have done better. So it's not a -1 play, it's just not a +1 play necessarily.

Space Coyote

September 6th, 2013 at 12:36 AM ^

It was just supposed to be a few drinks, we told ourselves the next day. Just a few drinks and a fastidious foray into football. We didn’t anticipate what would happen.

A few drinks, sure, we had those. And then we had more. And then more. The detailed banter that surrounded our beloved Wolverines turned to slurred meanderings and drunken posturing. Whispers became bellows, laughs became cackles, and all along we drank more and more. By then the tête-à-tête inadvertently turned to a debate about authors; Brian, of course, had the pomposity to discuss David Foster Wallace. I’d have none of it. I’ll take the masculinity of Hemingway or the prose of Steinbeck and leave it at that. But he wouldn’t leave it at that. And I wouldn’t leave it for him not to leave it at that. And so, at the time of our smashed stupor, we thought there was only one thing to do: a friendly game of bishop. Oh you know, the ol’ five finger fillet, stabscotch, the knife game, whatever you wish to call it.

Needless to say, somehow Brian ended up chopping off my finger. Granted, it was a hilarious prank and we all had a good laugh. We then stole a bottle of the worst whiskey from behind the counter and headed for home, home being an abandoned building Brian had apparently frequented in the area. When we got there the bottle was empty and we realized the stakes must be higher and more realistic if we wished to resolve our differences. As we pondered our options with a fifth of scotch that we found from one of Brian's previous visits, a fun viewing of “The Deer Hunter” seemed appropriate on the 18 inch flat screen that was placed alone in the sparse room. Inspired by this, we finally understood what must be done.

Brian hopped on a chair and pulled a 9 mm from the ceiling tiles and set the weapon on the table. He stared at me, I stared back. And then we spun. When it landed on one of us we would pick it up and press the cold steel up against our temples. With beads of sweat running down our cheeks, we’d unrelentingly pull the trigger.

Neither of us knew how long this went on through the night and into the morning hours. When we awoke it was noon and the memories from that point to the moment I stuck that gun to my head were erased. His memories, apparently, had been flushed down the toilet… and strewn upon the couch, and the floor, and on his shirt, and for some reason inside his pants. He lost enough memories to possibly forget the whole night even happened. As for the gun, it had never been loaded, which may have been a good thing.

It was just supposed to be a few drinks, we told ourselves the next day. Just a few drinks and a fastidious foray into football. From that time on we determined it may be best that we didn’t work together, at least not yet, at least not now.


September 5th, 2013 at 3:37 PM ^

After reading the UFR I feel even better about the defense than I did watching the game over the weekend. 

Only thing I was wondering about was why Dymonte Thomas wasn't in at all on defense.

El Jeffe

September 5th, 2013 at 3:51 PM ^

Seems like that's the Channing Stribling domino effect. So WOTS is that Thomas is slated for nickel, but they moved Countess inside for that and put Stribling at corner. If Stribling weren't blowing up then maybe Dymonte would have gotten more run at NB. But, perhaps Hollowell would have taken the CB slot if the coaches didn't have so much confidence in Stribling, so who knows. I bet Thomas will be worked in as the season goes along, since, as the punt block showed, he could be a terror coming off the edge.


September 5th, 2013 at 3:53 PM ^

The 4-2-5 isn't a nickel is it? Beamer/Foster run a 4-2-5, and I don't think it's similar to a Nickel in the safeties nor the positioning.

Nor would a 3-3-5 on passing downs make sense, since isn't the 3-3-5 known as a run defense?

Space Coyote

September 5th, 2013 at 4:04 PM ^

4-2-5 and 4-2-5 nickel are the distinctions here. 4-2-5 is a base defense with two box safeties. This is what Foster runs at VT. A 4-2-5 nickel is what your standard video game nickel would be. 4 DL, 2 LBs, 2 safeties, 2 CBs, and a NB.

You can view the 3-3-5 nickel and 3-3-5 in a similar manner.


September 5th, 2013 at 3:58 PM ^

I think you're being a bit harsh to Wilson and easy on Black on the 2nd and Goal play following the first INT. I do understand Wilson isn't playing his assignment, but Black absolutely roared through and had the RB dead to rights, only to let him go. With how much Mattison stresses running to the football, I can't blame Wilson for leaving his edge responsibility to help tackle, only to get caught at a bad angle when the RB inexplicably breaks free.

Space Coyote

September 5th, 2013 at 4:01 PM ^

You run to the football within your responsibility. In this case, if Wilson wants to "run to the football", he has to do so while containing any play back to the playside and not letting it back outside.

Black makes a nice play but misses the tackle. That nice play should result in someone else doing their responsibility and cleaning it up. Though it would be best if Black made the play himself, he has made other people's job significantly easier, but they need to follow through with their assignment.


September 6th, 2013 at 9:17 AM ^

Inquiry: Is the penalty for blocking in the back only possible on special teams plays? The first time I saw that play, I was all, "ARGH! Black why you no make TFL?!?" After I watched it again and it seems that the CMU tackle blocks Black in the back just as he is about to hit the RB, shoving him off course. Why no penalty?


September 5th, 2013 at 3:56 PM ^

For any complaints about Furman it looked like his one mistake was not being on the same page with the defense and not getting his responsibility right.

Not bad angles.

Not bad tackling.

Not too slow.


Just a play where he wasn't in the right position but sped up to get the tackle after a 23 yard catch.

This is good news.


September 5th, 2013 at 4:06 PM ^

I think this would be fine at any position except safety (see exhibit A: Jake Ryan). Not being on the same page as the rest of the defense as a safety is a recipe for disaster. I think he freelances on a couple of other plays too, notably the early play Countess tips INC, saving a long run after catch. Burgeoning Wolverine Star picture pages it here:http://www.burgeoningwolverinestar.com/2013/09/how-blake-countess-saved-certain.html Safety's definitely a position you'd rather trade athleticism for never blowing assignments (see exhibit B: Jordan Kovacs).


September 5th, 2013 at 6:53 PM ^

Well, we just don't know here. On the video, he pauses at the 7sec mark and then jets after the QB. If you look at his head, he should have the OL in his view. If he sees those 2 OL 5 yards downfield, then he didn't blow his assignment, he read a key and it couldn't legally be a pass.

We don't really know, however, the fact that he started and may have played well is a VERY positive thing in my mind, given his speed and the fact he could be a 5th Senior starter at SS next year if he beats people out.


September 5th, 2013 at 3:59 PM ^

Doesn't look great dropping into coverage (obviously not what he's designed for). On the Black SMASH play he kind hung out about 2 yards from the line of scrimmage not covering anything. Had he dropped into the mid zone it looked like he should be covering, he coulda picked off the duck.  

Small complaint for someone who was +7, I know, but I think he's really an end, not a LB. 


Space Coyote

September 5th, 2013 at 4:04 PM ^

He's playing 2v1 coverage with the other ILB. The RB releases to the top of the screen and the MIKE goes with him. Beyer then has responsibility for the QB, he's spying and trying to read the QB's eyes and drop into that area/attack the QB if he steps up in the pocket.


September 5th, 2013 at 4:04 PM ^

The line does a slant to the right. Black (I think it's Black) shoots way too far upfield. He needs to get a yard to a yard and a half deep and stop. He could have junked up the line and stopped this for no gain.

Ross fills the gap and takes on the fullback like a man. MANBAWL. I think he does a good job here. 

Clark gets caught in deadman's land where he's damned if you go inside, damned if you go outside. He shoots inside so lineman washes him down and back cuts outside off of him. The end is supposed to have contain so... probably not the best move. 

Furman comes up and takes the cutback lane. No problems here.

What is Bolden doing besides accepting a block? After Ross takes on the fullback he needs to scrape over the top better. 


That's what I got.


September 5th, 2013 at 4:15 PM ^

The slant puts Godin into that A gap though, doesn't it? And Furman really does a nice job coming up back side and pursues the play nice.

I dunno. I'm probably wrong. I just thought Bolden has to be an athlete here and make that play for a 3-5 yard gain. EDIT: Even though this is Black's play to make

Space Coyote

September 5th, 2013 at 4:22 PM ^

If you are watching the play from the endzone you'll see two openings in the line. One that the FB attacks (the hole where the play is designed to go) and the cutback hole to the backside. Bolden has responsibility that the Iso/Inside zone doesn't cut to the backside A gap. Furman coming up has the outside bounce so that the play can't reverse field; he's the guy that needs to keep everything inside of him. What Bolden could do better is disengage from the OL once he releases to him. He stays pretty stuck to that guy so he can't get off and track down the play.