Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs Minnesota Comment Count

Brian October 10th, 2013 at 3:30 PM

FORMATION NOTES: This is nothing out of the ordinary for Michigan, but who's up for a perfect overhead view of Michigan aligning in a 4-3 under?


There are your 6, 3, 1, and five techniques left to right across the front with Gordon hanging out in what I guess is an 8 or 9.

Michigan also showed over fronts, which they have to from time to time because Minnesota loves to flip its strength.


This did not result in a discernible uptick in effectiveness.

This is the Maryland I:

maryland i

This is Michgian in old friend Okie Zero.


SUBSTITUTION NOTES: A lot more nose tackle in this one; Washington got more time than he did in any game to date this year with Pipkins rotating in regularly; once Pipkins went down Ash did get a few snaps late. Rest of the DL was generally Clark/Heitzman/Black with Ojemudia/Wormley/Henry backing up. Glasgow got a couple snaps before the end as well.

Usual rotation at LB was halted after Bolden made some errors, and then it was just the starters. Secondary was the usual except that Avery was the starter at CB and Taylor only came in for nickel packages.

[After THE JUMP: this is the drive that never ends.]

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 over Run N/A QB power Clark 1
Minnesota flips a TE and motions a WR tight to provide more of a two-TE look, running power at the TE side. Black(-0.5) gets blown out by a double; Clark(+1.5) gets under the TE and drives backwards, picking off the pulling G and forcing the QB outside, where Ross(+1) reads and attacks, tackling(+1) at the LOS. Clark helps tackle.
O36 2 9 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 over Pass 4 TE cross Ross 3
Clark folds back as Morgan blitzes. Pressure(-1) not coming on this quick throw; QB might have a deeper route but settles for a little checkdown on Ross's guy. Ross(+0.5) seems like he'll hold this to four or so, TE falls over as the throw isn't great anyway.
O39 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Sack Black -3
QB sees a big gap open up in front of him as Heitzman(+1) drives way left on a DT twist and takes off just as Black(+2) comes around to tackle, incidentally stripping the ball as he takes the QB down. M recovers. (Pressure +2, stunt)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Power Morgan 3
M slanting; both LBs know it and flow to the hole. Minnesota adjusts to this fine and gets blockers on both guys, but Ross(+0.5) and Morgan(+1) take on their blocks and shed to tackle; Henry(-0.5) was slanting away but got clocked to the point where he ended up farther away than Washington; would like him to constrict that hole a bit.
O28 2 7 Ace 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Wormley 6
M stands up Ojemudia, giving the appearance of a 3-4 but the line is still shifted. M gets creased up the middle. Wormley(-1) seems to be the guy more at fault as Pipkins(+0.5) fights through a block to make contact about a yard downfield. Also, M is slanting such that Wormley should be in this gap; Pipkins is actually two-gapping this well. Ross(-0.5) and Bolden(-0.5) both had a hard time reading the play and neither shows up to help Pipkins until the RB can surge for a nice gain.
O34 3 1 Maryland I 4-3 under Run N/A Iso Bolden 2
M brings Gordon down off the edge for another guy in the box. This pulls both FBs to the backside of the line, leaving no one on either Bolden(-2) or Ross. Bolden in particular is definitely tasked with a backside gap and is looking straight at the play developing and instead of attacking this short yardage play he catches the tailback. Ross had to check some frontside gaps before helping. RPS +2; not much more you can do other than leave your MLB totally unblocked here. Pipkins(+0.5) occupied two guys and got some penetration; Wormley(-0.5) got washed down the line too much.
O36 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Improv Wilson 9
Initial coverage(+1) is good, and then mediocre pressure spooks the QB and he starts scrambling out, finding a lane between Black and Clark, who stunted. Lane is to the outside and not particularly conducive to exploitation(pressure -1) but once Leidner breaks the pocket Wilson(-1) comes up to contain the scramble and opens up a receiver for the QB; Ross(+0.5) looked to have this covered.
O45 2 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Pass N/A Screen Ross 0
Don't know if this is luck or craft but Washington(+1) cuts, kind of tackles the center, so he can't get out. Ross(+1) is thus free to read and shoot between the two guys who did release to chop this down for no gain.
O45 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A QB sneak N/A 1
They get it.
O46 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Down G Beyer 0
Minnesota goes from an ace twin TE to I, and then motions in a WR-ish guy to have a full big lineup. This works not at all. Beyer(+1) slides down on the motion and then sees the playside G pull; he holds up and whaps the guy, also drawing the WR type, two for one. Heitzman(+1) swims past his guy and stacks up the FB. Clark(+0.5) comes from the backside unblocked to tackle once the RB has to stop; refs missed a chop block on Black as the backside end derped it by ignoring Clark.
O46 2 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 over Run N/A Power Bolden 7
Henry(-0.5) does an iffy job against a double; Bolden(-2) attempts to go hit the pulling G but flinches on contact and ends up getting blown up; with Morgan coming down off the slot if Bolden can even delay the back he's got a tackle for minimal gain.
M47 3 3 I-Form Big 4-3 over Pass 5 PA FB flat N/A 12
Michigan gets confused by all the shifts and ends up getting RPSed hard as they are clearly in man coverage and both Morgan and Gordon end up taking the tight end to the wide side of the field, with Bolden left thinking he has the tailback; no one gets the fullback. If Bolden goes for the FB, QB takes off or dumps it to a leaking RB. M can't win. (Cover 3, RPS -3)
M35 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Scramble Henry 18
QB wants a corner route it seems, coverage(+1) is good and then when he comes off the first read Pipkins(+0.5) has driven his guy back and leaps to threaten, putting QB off. He starts moving around. Henry(-2) isn't getting any penetration and ends up sealed next to Ojemudia, so there's a huge upfield lane when Wormley understandably tries to contain. Pressure -3. Can't get mad at the LBs here unless you don't want them getting depth on their drops.
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
M22 1 15 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Run N/A QB Draw Morgan 10
Black(-1) and Washington(-1) part like the red sea here in a cumong man obvious QB draw down and distance; Ross(-0.5) gets cut and Morgan(-1, tackling -1) misses an open field tackle without even slowing Leidner. RPS -1
M12 2 5 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Power O Black 1
M looks misaligned as they shift the line under but do not roll Cam Gordon to the LOS. Doesn't matter. Black(+1) takes two guys effectively without giving ground; Beyer(+1) burrows into the backfield, taking out the FB and pulling G. Morgan(+0.5) flows free and pops the RB, who's already slowed up by whacking one of the guys blocking Black.
M11 3 4 Shotgun trips Nickel even Run N/A QB draw Heitzman 4
This is the Cumong Man play with two safeties at the goal line and six guys in the box on the eleven dang yard line. M is stunting in an attempt to get this, I think. Beyer dives inside only to get popped by the RB, who then moves out on Ross to block him . Heitzman(-1) tried to swim upfield and ended up on the ground; Clark comes from the backside to tackle, but Leidner falls forward for the first down.
M7 1 G I-Form Big 5-3 under Run N/A Power O Washington 0
M slanting; Washington(+2) slides under the C and through, eventually drawing attention from four different blockers and also being right in the way of the RB. Ross(+1) read and fired upfield, dodging the pulling G to help tackle. Beyer(+0.5) also slid in to nerf the play.
M7 2 G Ace 4-3 even Run N/A Jet sweep Beyer 0
Beyer isn't blocked as Clark(+0.5) hits the TE lined up over him before trying to deal with a hypothetical inside zone; still that's a kind of DE in Beyer(+2, tackling +2) in a lot of space against a WR and he puts him to the ground.
M7 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Corner Countess 7
This is plenty covered(+1) by Countess(-1) but Countess doesn't make a play that is definitely there for him to do so. Think that instead of trying to rake down he needs to SHORYUKEN up through the TE, as previously picture-paged. No one near Leidner(pressure -1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 1 min 1st Q. Yeesh.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Pistol FB twins 4-4 even Run N/A False zone arc sweep Wilson 5
Designed QB run with the FB initially appearing to come down on the DE a la IZ and then flaring out. Playside TE blocks down, which may actually be unnecessary since Clark is hauling for the RB. Think that's the call since Ross(+1) is headed backside after setting up the OL; pops the releasing G and gets upfield, forcing a bounce that Wilson(-1) should have contain on but does not. Avery fills to hold the gain down.
O37 2 5 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Power O Heitzman 4
Heitzman(-1) does not hold the edge, instead coming inside to hit the pulling G, which Morgan also does; RB bounces. Morgan follows, can't quite make tackle, Gordon fills.
O41 3 1 Maryland I 5-3 under Run N/A Power O Heitzman 3
This is pretty well stacked up but Heitzman(-0.5) ends up falling to the ground on the backside so when the RB hast to cut back with Washington and Ross threatening him if he follows the lead blocks he can hop over the pile to pick it up.
O44 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Ross 2
End around fake paired here with deliberate cutback blocking that seeks to blow up Henry(-1) and hit a backside that's hopefully stretched by the fake. Henry does get blown up but Morgan(+1) thumps the center backwards and Ross(+1, tackling +1) immediately shoots the large backside gap, comes around the guys busting up Henry, and tackles at the LOS.
O46 2 8 Pistol 4-wide 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone read Morgan 3
Basically five in the box here rescued as Black(+0.5) shoots upfield between the G and C, forcing RB directly upfield and Morgan(+1) hits the gap hard, closing another gap before the guys doubling Wormley(-0.5) effectively can get out on him. RB can cut behind Wormley has he's given a little ground; Ojemudia(+0.5) comes from the backside to tackle. RPS -1.
O49 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble Morgan 5
Big gap opens up right up the middle and Leidner just decides to go. Morgan is sitting there waiting on him and makes an ankle tackle at the LOS, Leidner manages to step through it and fall forward for five yards. I guess this is -0.5, tackling -1.
M46 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Pipkins 2
Pipkins(+2) blows through the center, getting penetration and forcing the RB into one specific hole. This allows CGordon(+0.5) to come off a kickout block to tackle with help from Pipkins. Wormley was doing okay, I guess, but if Pipkins doesn't run the back into him I don't think he can make anything approximating a play. Henry(-1) got cut big time; if Pip didn't get into the backfield a cutback was going to be profitable.
M44 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A QB power Ross -1
M sending both ILBs. By the time the QB actually attacks the POA both guys have shot gaps on the backside and the play is blown up. Ross(+1) is the first there; Morgan(+1) follows quickly, and once the QB evades them he's on the backside and doomed. RPS +2.
M45 3 9 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 nickel Pass 4 Comeback Ross Inc
LBs come and both Black and Wormley drop out. This gets Ross(+1) through clean(pressure +2, blitz, RPS +1); QB starts scrambling up into the pocket and throws the ball just as Clark(+0.5) spins back to hit him. Way short.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O1 1 10 I-Form Big 4-5 under Run N/A Power Ojemudia 3
Black(+0.5) buries himself in the backfield trying to make a pile. Ojemudia(+1) gets past the TE, into the backfield, and stacks up the pulling G, causing the RB to momentarily stop in the EZ; he does bounce and there's just too much meat now for Ross to pick his way through. TGordon(-0.5) kind of gives up the corner as the back threatens to hit it up; bounce; Taylor finishes for eh gain.
O4 2 7 Maryland I 4-3 under gap Run N/A Inside zone Washington 1
Odd presnap alignment turns into usual thing as Washington slides back to where he'd normally be post snap. This gets the G to ignore him and puts him one on one with the C; Washington(+2) stands him up, discards him, and tackles. Wormley(+0.5) and Beyer(+0.5) prevented and bounce type activities and Ross(+1) again shot a backside gap ad came around to tackle.
O5 3 6 Pistol Diamond TE 4-3 under Run N/A QB power Ross 4
Morgan(-1) sees a G over him pull and shoots that gap, which I'm fine with on third and two but hate on third and six. He's upfield and gone. Ojemudia(+1) shoots inside to spill this power play and takes out a FB and a pulling G. Ross and Wilson are on the edge against the other two lead blockers and force it back, where Morgan is not. Ross(+0.5) starts driving his guy back inside after Leidner commits upfield and constricts space; Black(+0.5) spins off his block and uses that to tackle.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 3 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3 over Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
More like nobel lies
O24 1 15 Pistol 4-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Washington 1
Washington(+2) rips through the G trying to single block him and plunders this play by himself. Morgan(+0.5) helps finish.
O25 2 14 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Power O Heitzman 0
Give up and half. Washington(+1) stands up a guy; Henry(+1) runs over his guy; Heitzman(+1) comes around his guy, doom.
Drive Notes: EOH, 14-7
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 Pistol FB Big 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Morgan -2
Fumbled exchange. Black(-1) got blown up; Washington(+0.5) held up pretty well; Clark (+0.5) went to the outside and then came back down effectively. Morgan(+1) shot through the gap, avoiding blocks and showing up in the hole, so this probably wasn't going for much anyway.
O16 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Screen Morgan 10
Ross(-0.5) and Morgan(-0.5) are tardy reading this and I'm about to give Morgan a bigger minus for going upfield of a blocker but then he comes all the way around that guy to initiate a tackle. RPS -1; Michigan was taken in by this, frustratingly.
O26 3 2 I-Form Big 5-3 under Pass 4 PA TE seam Wilson 16
Beyer(+1) leaps a cut block and just keeps his feet, hitting on the throw(pressure +1, organic); I'm guessing this is man since Countess is nose to nose with the sole WR, but Wilson is lined up outside of this TE and has not much of a shot to cover a route to the inside, especially once he bites on PA; the LBs are all dropping shallow, allowing a hit over the top to the TE. QB did a nice job to throw it away from Wilson, who recovers to be in decent position. He tackles immediately. Cover -1, and Wilson –1.
O42 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Run N/A Power O Pipkins 12
Pipkins(-2) gets blown up by a double and Henry(-1) ends up pushing too far upfield, so despite Morgan(+0.5) blasting a FB to cut off the original hole there's a cutback.
M46 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Pass 5 PA TE Out Wilson 14
Ojemudia(+0.5) avoids a cut and does get okay pressure. Downfield, Taylor gets run off by a fly route and Wilson(-1, cover -1) cannot react quickly enough to the tight end cutting out to prevent a completion for a first down. Immediate tackle.
M32 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 under Run N/A Zone read keeper Ojemudia 7
Ojemudia(-2) is shuffling down and Leidner beats him outside. M was playing with two guys over three WRs and seven in the box so there's no edge. RPS -1.
M25 2 3 Pistol trips TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Sack Black -4
Botched mesh point with RB going opposite way so no real PA despite the attempt. Morgan(+0.5) drops back into the TE seam that appears to be the first read(cover +1), at which point Black(+1) drives through his G and flushes; CGordon(+1) first comes up to hit the RB, then backs out as he sets up to block, then reads the roll and comes up to jump at Leidner as he nears the sideline, getting a sack by forcing him OOB. Pressure +1, organic.
M29 3 7 Shotgun trips Nickel even Penalty N/A Delay N/A -5
M34 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dumpoff Beyer 7
Beyer(+2, pressure +2, organic) beats the LT easily and forces a quick throw. Clark was also in the area but much better controlled by the OL. Morgan and Taylor rally to tackle.
Drive Notes: FG(44), 21-10, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O39 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Glasgow 5
Glasgow(-2) in at DT; gets chopped ostentatiously. This turns a nothing play into some yards as Washginton(+0.5) and Beyer(+0.5) had stacked up the front side.
O44 2 5 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 even Pass 4 Dig Avery 14
Glagow(+1, pressure +1) beats a guard and is pressuring up the middle, but first-read throw is there and taken. Avery(-2, cover -2) is in man on a simple little dig and lets this get quite open; he arrives at the ball at the exact same time TGordon does.
M42 1 10 Pistol Diamond TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Wheel Wilson Inc
No pressure at all(-3); Ojemudia(-1) in particular gets hacked down and doesn't get up to harass on the edge. Wilson(+0.5) ends up in man coverage on Maxx and plays it pretty well; ball is excellent to the outside and could be completed; dropped.
M42 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Scramble Clark 8
Wormley(+1, pressure +1) gets a nice edge rush, leaping in the throwing lane and disrupting timing; Leidner takes off. Clark(-2) stunts inside and loses the plot, ending up in the same spot laterally as Pipkins does. Big lane, Leidner hits it. Pressure -2. Pipkins tears his ACL.
M34 3 2 Pistol Diamond TE 4-3 under Run N/A QB power Morgan 0
M runs a twist blitz and both LBs bring it. Ross(+1) is around a guard before he can react. Morgan(+2) flies over that guard, leaping, and lands right in the middle of the pulling G and one of the FBs. He keeps his feet and stands those guys up. That's nowhere to go, with Clark folding back and helping clean up. RPS +2.
M34 4 2 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Power O Black? 4
I can't be sure what exactly the issue is here. Ends up that Black slants along with the rest of the line and the playside G hits Ross, the WLB, as that he reads Washington slanting and just releases. Slant crams the playside immensely, RB cuts back, Ross gets impacted, RB runs up the back of his OL over Black(-0.5) for the first down. Black couldn't hold up to the pressure of an OL and the RB.
M30 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Pass 4 Wheel Wilson 15
This time Wilson(-0.5, cover -1) does get victimized, though mostly through a legal pick type thing by the Gophers. RPS -1.
M15 1 10 Pistol 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A Power O Ojemuda 2
RB doesn't like primary hole as Ojemudia(+1) stands up a TE and gets penetration into it. Morgan(+0.5) reads the cutback, sheds past an OL and makes contact at the LOS for a tackle. Henry had given some ground; Washington(+0.5) had held up against a single block.
M13 2 8 Shotgun trips 4-3 even Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
M18 2 13 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Pass 4 Improv Heitzman 8
Stunt almost kind of gets Heitzman(+0.5) in; he falls near the QB's feet and spooks him; first read(cover +1) seems no good. Leidner starts moving around now. Black starts chasing to force a throw, which is made; immediate tackle from Countess after a decent gain.
M10 3 5 Ace Okie zero Pass 8 Fade Taylor Inc
House sent; Minnesota tries large man versus small man fade; Taylor(+2, cover +1) gets put in trail position but plays it beautifully to get the PBU.
Drive Notes: FG(27), 28-13, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 even Run N/A Zone read keeper Morgan 1
Black(+1) clubs his guy into the backfield and will blow this up if the handoff is made. Ojemudia slides down so QB pulls but Morgan is coming off the edge in a scrape-exchange-ish reaction. He makes an open field tackle(+0.5, tackling +1).
O21 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Dig Ross 18
Zone coverage; feels like Ross(-2, cover -2) sucks up on a little RB dump that opens up a dig. If Ross drops QB checks down and it's third down. Stunt had gotten pressure(+1, stunt) through as CGordon(+0.5) and Black(+0.5) execute.
O39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Hitch and go Countess Inc
Black(+0.5) gets through but too late to get anything but a push; Countess(-3, cover -3) gets burned over the top and a good throw could be a TD; instead it's short and Countess breaks it up.
O39 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 even Pass 5 Wheel Morgan Inc
Twist blitz up the middle. It gets Morgan(+1, pressure +2, blitz) in free up the middle; Leidner throws off his back foot way short. Fortunate as this wheel had gotten a WR in on CGordon(cover -1) in man cover and this had a window for success. RPS push?
O39 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Throwaway Heitzman Inc
Stunt gets Heitzman(+2, pressure +3, organic +2, stunt +1) up the middle near clean but he does have to beat a guy to get the pressure; that accomplished Leidner chucks the ball away.
Drive Notes: Punt, 28-13, 7 min 4th Q. Last drive is 35-13 with two minutes left, not charted since it's all Minnesota running at Michigan in two-minute D. Here's Countess(+4) picking it off, though.

I feel bad about this.

But 281 yards and 13 points?

Weren't you just exhorting me about the short nature of this game in the other UFR?

Ok, ok. Meaningful drives:

  1. Three and turnover
  2. Ishtar TD drive
  3. 23 yards, punt
  4. Three and out
  5. 55-yard FG drive
  6. 51-yard FG drive
  7. 19 yards, punt

I can get why you're not thrilled after what Iowa did to them. Mitigating factor: a clearly hobbled Phillip Nelson was horrible against the Hawkeyes, rushing for –18 yards. Mitch Leidner had 66. Big swing based on healthy guy versus not healthy guy. Minnesota is probably not as bad as they showed against Iowa; they did put up a lot of points in their first few games.

This is not a great defense man.

No, it's not. It's a lot like the last couple years: solid all-around but with few stars or playmakers. That's what we expected going in, right?


Yeah, I'll give you that. Disappointing overall rush numbers against teams that aren't real good at pass blocking. When you look at the—


—chart, the line bursts out as a place where there's a lot of rotation in a bad way. Michigan's DL is like having two quarterbacks: when you've got eight guys, you don't have four.

[Reminder that DL is a MAKE PLAYS position and being neutral is bad; for a full game you want +4 to break even.]

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Heitzman 3.5 2.5 1 Plug plug plug.
Washington 9.5 1 8.5 Blow the dust off, he still works.
Black 7.5 3 4.5 Decent day.
Clark 3.5 2 1.5 Not everyone is UConn's backup RT.
Wormley 1.5 2 -0.5 Plug plug plug.
Pipkins 3.5 2 1.5 : (
Glasgow 1 2 -1 Only a couple plays, but impactful on both. Once in a bad way.
Ojemudia 4 3 1 Let QB outside of him on a keeper/
Godin - - - only played on uncharted drives
Ash - - - ditto
Henry 1 6 -5 Rough outing.
Charlton - - - DNC
TOTAL 35 23.5 11.5 Meh. Washington only impact guy.
Player + - T Notes
C.Gordon 2 - 2 Hey, playing time.
Morgan 11 3 8 First real test this year passed easily.
Ross 11 3.5 7.5 Ditto. These are very good LB numbers.
Beyer 8.5 - 8.5 Ryan-like tackle in space. Major bounceback.
Ryan - - - DNP
Bolden 4.5 -4.5 Yanked after infinite drive.
Gedeon - - - DNP
Jenkins-Stone - - - DNP
TOTAL 32.5 11 21.5 See below for extended discussion: these guys are good.
Player + - T Notes
Countess 4 4 0 Pick six! Almost gave up a 70 yard touchdown!
Taylor 2 - 2 Sole target was endzone PBU
Stribling - - - DNP
Hollowell - - - DNP
T. Gordon - 0.5 -0.5 No deep throws, no runs reached him.
Avery - 2 -2 One bad coverage instance.
Wilson 0.5 4.5 -4 Maxxxxxx got him a bit.
Furman - - - DNP
J. Clark - - - DNP
Lewis - - - DNP
TOTAL 6.5 11 -4.5 Grain of salt this given nature of game.
Pressure 13 11 2 +6 line, +4 blitz, +3 stunt
Coverage 6 11 -5 Yes, disappointing.
Tackling 5 2 71% Pretty good Beyer play in here.
RPS 7 8 -1 Push.

Michigan's getting some consistent starter-level play from Black, got an excellent game from Washington, and then it's a parade of guys just treading water. Compare this line versus what you saw OSU do in the Northwestern game. Yeah.

HOWEVA, the good news is the ILBs. I love the ILBs. You know why? Thomas Gordon had one tackle in this game. That's why. When Minnesota wasn't targeting Maxxxxx Williams against Jarrod Wilson, the safeties did not exist. Minnesota's longest run of the day that wasn't a scramble was 12 yards when Michigan's DL split on a power and a tailback cut back to where the linebackers weren't—and shouldn't have been.

Why aren't our linebackers doing anything?

Wait, what? I just was talking about… you don't see the table? Morgan and Ross combined for 19 tackles.

Yeah, but they weren't tackle-y tackles.

I don't understand you.

Jake Ryan for MLB!


I have actually seen these assertions across many a message board over the last few weeks and now again here, by someone who is definitely not me providing things to knock down. I think they're nuts. For one, who just saved Michigan's ass against UConn? Right.

For two, watch Desmond Morgan presnap and you'll see him correct the alignment of his defensive linemen and fellow ILBs a half-dozen times or more per game. He is this defense's Kovacs. For three, James Ross is reading and reacting quickly to threats despite a lack of playmaking in front of him. Here are both these things in one play.

Michigan's middling run defense is more on the defensive line, which is dealing with a rotation of underclass pluggers at SDE, a 280 pound 3-tech, and the sometimes erratic Frank Clark. The linebackers have been good overall. When given paths to the ball, Ross is going, and tackling.

Four: Morgan is a load to block or be tackled by. Michigan got Minnesota to fourth down on a twist blitz on which Morgan leapt over the legs of an OL trying to deal with Ross and went banzai into two offensive linemen he stopped dead in their tracks:

And he kept his feet and tackled! I be like dang.

Both linebackers were like dang on this one, as Willie Henry gets obliterated by a double and Minnesota gets almost nothing because 1) Morgan blows a free-releasing OL backwards and 2) Ross rips around the pile to tackle.

That is a blitz from at least Ross since you can see Wilson moving down to fill his spot, but even so that is a tough pair of plays executed correctly.

While these guys aren't perfect—sometimes they end up too close to the LOS and turn would-be checkdowns into 20 yards—putting a SAM back at ILB is going to be so much worse in that department. Michigan's sending these guys on effective MSU-ish double-A twist blitzes; they're running to the ball and thumping guys. ILB is the least of this defense's problems. Do you guys remember how hard it was to get these guys above zero a few years back? Having both guys +8 in the same game is unheard of.

QWASH is back. QWASH evaluation required. QWASH.

He remains a pretty dang good player. I'm going to embed this play again because it's a good example of his strengths:

He's got good enough movement to slant his way into a single block and when the time comes he simply chucks his blocker to one side and tackles. I'll stop agitating for more Washington in nickel packages since Pipkins's injury means they should shepherd their starting nose tackle snaps, but if it's a reasonable running down he's an asset.

Where did Bolden go?

The bench, and with haste after the epic TD drive. First, a defense. While he seemed to be the guy who should have been covering that wide open pass to the fullback, he was in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation.

TOP CENTER: FB goin'. BOTTOM RIGHT: two guys on TE.


Minnesota's shifts ended up getting Morgan and T. Gordon checking the tight end to the opposite side of the field, so if Bolden does shoot out to the fullback Leidner can either run for it or dump it to his tailback. IME that's Morgan or Gordon not getting Michigan in the right defense. It'll happen; that's why those shifts are part of the Gopher offense. AFAICT that was the only incident of the day.

If I was a coach, another play would have been the one that made me hopping mad. It's third and one on that same drive (all plays are from that drive, forever). Michigan loads the backside, slants away from that load, and both linebackers know it. They scraping to where the hole is probably going to be. This playcall is 100% successful, getting Bolden unblocked with the RB running right at him. Bolden stops and catches the guy at the first down marker:

Bolden reads, goes… stops. Ack.

That's the kind of thing he was doing last year frequently enough to feature in a picture pages entitled "here come the CRUMPETS"; there he at least had a blocker. This is worse. It's third and one, you've got a gap to shoot that is about to be filled with tailback, go get a TFL and then pound your chest like a badass. Here he actually reads the play and starts this process, then loses his confidence and halts.

Elsewhere on the infinite drive, Bolden gets crushed in the hole, turning little into several:

BONUS RYAN-TO-MLB-IS-NUTS ITEM: watch how slowly Beyer reacts compared to the actual ILBs.

Compare that to Morgan and Ross above; there is no comparison. The light has not gone on for him. I expect to see his role reduced going forward, because the other two guys are more assertive. Maybe next year?

Pressure is doom again.

As mentioned in the game column, Michigan's official scorer did stiff Black out of a sack on the opening drive. In general, I agree. Compounding matters is Michigan's continuing tendency to get out of rush lanes. Minnesota went max protection on Leidner's 18 yard scramble on the drive that never ends, had no one, and boom avenue up the middle.

That is on Willie Henry. Pipkins gets pressure, Ojemudia goes inside and then pops back out, and Clark ends up next to him. Often I'll see guys who get stuck at the line with a double give up and back off; that is to prevent things like this from happening.

Michigan's youth here is kind of like youth on the offensive line. It's not actually affecting them much in the run game, as Mattison calls a lot of plays where you slant into gap X and that's all she wrote. Rushing the passer is part feel and cohesiveness once the pocket breaks down and everyone's reacting to a chaotic situation. Michigan has been bad at that so far this year, because Black's the guy getting most of the pressure and leaving young (Heitzman, Wormley, Henry, Ojemudia) or erratic (Clark) guys to close down the mess.

They do get it right, as on this completion where Ross getting more depth probably results in a sack:

In other pressure-related news, after a one-week renaissance by Frank Clark, Brennen Beyer retook the lead in the "who plays WDE once Jake Ryan is operational" sweepstakes, getting more organic pressure than Clark did, stacking up run plays, and making an impressive tackle in space on a jet sweep.

That guy with all the XXXXX in his name was lighting up Jarrod Wilson all day.

Sometimes the guy who comes in the picture to make the tackle is not necessarily the guy who had a problem, and sometimes I do have to make an educated guess at who's the issue here, so don't take any of this as a Proclamation or anything.

I do think he had a bit of a rough day. His bite here on not very convincing PA gets him out of position and opens up a nice gain:

The wheel route Minnesota hit, while seemingly the best coverage of the day that isoed up Wilson, was a bit of a PA bite and a bit of a pick that he was a step slow on. The make-up speed is the good part; the recognition was not so good.

This was a learning experience for him.

Do you happen to have two contrasting examples of good trail technique?

You perceptive little minx, I do. Minnesota scored a touchdown by lofting up a fade against Countess and settled for a field goal after trying the same thing on Taylor. Michigan DBs had opportunities for PBUs on both plays, and Taylor got his with the SHORYUKEN technique described a couple years back after JT Floyd managed to press Michael Floyd and not die.

Taylor goes up through the chest of the WR.

Countess goes down through the arms.

Countess has better position here and that actually ends up to his detriment. Taylor is thinking one thing only, PBU. Countess wants to intercept, a gamble he loses. He got it back later, at least.


Ross and Morgan were collectively outstanding. Beyer returned to impact football after a quiet UConn game. Quinton Washington is still quite good at NT.

Maybe not so heroic?

The rest of the defensive line had a collectively indifferent day. Wilson got a little exposed against Maxxxx.

What does it mean for Penn State and the future?

Michigan should be pretty good against conventional running offenses. Washington finally got to show what he can do and the Ross/Morgan pairing was near impeccable. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like Bolden has made much progress and they'll have to lean on their starters more heavily starting… now.

…but not great. Henry got beat up in this one and Black is always going to be fighting his size; with just one impact-ish DL against the run, Washington, the LBs are going to be cleaning up a couple yards downfield a bit too often.

Reiteration of Beyer disposition once Ryan returns. He should slide down to WDE and start. He is more reliable and a better pass rusher. Cam Gordon can and should deputize Ryan, and Michigan needs the help on the line.

Wilson needs to work on his man coverage. Now that's on film opponents will seek to test him.

There is still no clarity at SDE. No one is emerging there. They're JAGs right now. They've all got two more years, at least, and I think most people expected to get minimal production out of that spot; it still would have been nice to get a surprise from the three contenders.

Confirmation of what we already knew. Pass rush: meh. Defensive style: laying back two deep.



October 11th, 2013 at 1:42 PM ^

The stats won't really tell you which QB is more accurate.

Not all completions are created equal. Nor incompletions. Gardner didn't miss anyone like Liedner did when his receiver blew by Countess, but he did leave a lot of potential YAC on the film room floor.


October 10th, 2013 at 3:57 PM ^

Can someone explalin to me the lack of playing time for Dymonte Thomas?  I went back and searched through the boards but couldn't find anything.  I feel like I'm missing something


October 10th, 2013 at 4:02 PM ^

The way Ross and Morgan are reading and reacting to the ball is night and day from previous years. You can tell they're finally getting very comfortable in the defense. They aren't thinking anymore, they're reacting.

This is Ross against Iowa last year: 

Shuffle-stepping his way to the play. Big difference between this and last weekend.

los barcos

October 10th, 2013 at 4:26 PM ^

Is the defensive line performing far enough below expectations that it appears the Heininger Certainty Theory may not be so certain after all?  Or are we comfortable enough chalking this up to youth/inexperience?


October 10th, 2013 at 4:31 PM ^

The Heininger Certainty Principle refers to the coaches being able to take young or under talented performers and make them solid. Heininger was never a star. He was that 'plugger' guy; solid, you miss him when gone, but not a superstar. The defense is full of these kind of guys. The problem is that there is no JJ Watt Certainty Principle where the coaches can take 'under talented' or under recruited guys and turn them into all-stars.

Wee-Bey Brice

October 10th, 2013 at 4:45 PM ^

In order to get the JJ Watt Certainty Principle going we'd need players with JJ Watts ability. For the DL we have, the Heininger Certainty Principle is much more feasible. You can coach kids up fundamentally but you cant coach them into being freak athletes. No cake mix = No cake. In our case, no JJ Watt DNA = No JJ Watt production. 

Space Coyote

October 10th, 2013 at 11:06 PM ^

Against a lot of 2 TE or, 21, 22, or 12 personnel with a running QB and a very run heavy team, playing zone isn't necessarily in Michigan's best interest. Whereas against a more spread to pass team, even when it's much more balanced than what Michigan has seen in the past, Michigan can come out in more zone looks.


October 10th, 2013 at 5:23 PM ^

I got an idea when I was looking at Countess' chart- not sure if it's been brought up before or if it's even a good one, but here it goes.

What if Brian (during the offseason when he's got spare time) went back and charted games/a season of Charles Woodson or other greats from the pre-mgoblog era. It would be interesting to see how our current top level players stack up.

Your thought


October 11th, 2013 at 6:16 AM ^

"While these guys aren't perfect—sometimes they end up too close to the LOS and turn would-be checkdowns into 20 yards"

Exactly this. I felt for the first several games that the LBs were not dropping into the passing lanes nearly enough and EVERYONE was killing us repeatedly with quick slants. The only time I noticed this wasn't an issue was on Morgan's INT against UConn.


Also, Frank Clark only seems to make plays when he's unblocked. Ugh.


October 11th, 2013 at 10:33 AM ^

I'm open to seeing Bolden on the bench and giving some other guys like Stone some run.  What are the scenarios we see Beyer, Black and QWash on the line at the same time?  That front should get the most snaps.