Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs MSU

Submitted by Brian on November 6th, 2013 at 3:10 PM

FORMATION NOTES: On passing downs Michigan sometimes went with this 3-3-5-ish look with the line in a wide three-man front and the SAM hanging out next to one of the ends;

3-3-5-nickel

They also went with a weird wide even line against Ace, once:

4-3-even-wide

M rolled down Gordon in their under early:

4-4-under

And occasionally split their nickel package, leaving just one LB. I called this 5-1.

5-1-nickel

Oh and on the final drive MSU pulled out an unbalanced formation with two inline TEs to the same side of the line.

troll-game

Deliberately trolling Borges's unbalanced lines? Probably not, but I hope so.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Taylor, Countess, and Gordon went the whole way. When Michigan went to a nickel it was always Jourdan Lewis; Michigan also brought in Avery from time to time to spot Wilson, with iffy success.

Linebacker was the usual, except Brennen Beyer was moved to SDE, leaving SAM mostly Ryan with Cam Gordon backing; the three-man ILB rotation was still in place. Gedeon was sent to the bench again.

On the line Michigan did some weird stuff. Black(!) played nose tackle to open the game and would end up there periodically. Henry flipped between nose and three-tech; when it was Washington and Henry Michigan seemed to regard them as interchangeable. Clark went almost the whole way at WDE; very little Ojemudia. At SDE it was Beyer and some Wormley; no or very little Heitzman. Glasgow made a cameo or two.

[After THE JUMP: I mean, what did you expect?]

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form 4-4 under Pass 5 Improv FB throwback N/A 49
Line is Beyer/Black/Henry/Clark. Yes, Black as NT. M brings Gordon down and sends him off the backside; he gets cut by the FB, gets up, continues chasing QB. FB gets up, looks around, starting hopping up and down and waving and probably screaming. Countess(+1, cover +1) all over Fowler, Beyer(+1, pressure +1, organic) comes through to force a scramble, throwback, many yards. Bolden(-1) took an angle too shallow and let the FB run outside of him, I guess. Taylor(-0.5, tackling -1) gave up an extra five by missing a tackle. But mostly just a WTF thing.
M26 1 10 Ace 4-4 over Run N/A End around Ryan 3
Ryan(+1) does a nice job to hold the edge here, forcing it back upfield just outside the hash and allowing Taylor(+0.5), who was tracking the WR in man coverage, to make a tackle with help from Morgan(+0.5), who read this faster than Bolden.
M23 2 7 Ace 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 PA Dig Avery Inc
Avery(-2, cover -2) sucks up really hard on token play action and is still scrambling to get back into position, opening up an opportunity for MSU to get inside the ten that they screw up. No pressure(-2).
M23 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 4 Hitch Morgan Inc
Clark(+1, pressure +1, organic) gets a good bull rush on the RG, forcing a throw. Morgan(+1, cover +2) is in the WR's chest and even if he's not looking at the dude the ball goes off him. Would have been tough to complete.
Drive Notes: FG(40), 3-3, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O14 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Run N/A Power O TGordon 1
MSU blocks this pretty well but Gordon(+1, tackling +1) is coming down at the snap and fills unblocked. M was slanting away from that Gordon fill and the rest of the D was middling at best; CGordon(+0.5) did shed and come back to help tackle. RPS +1.
O15 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone CGordon 5
This looks like about three if Langford just slams it up as the DTs are doing okay and Morgan's coming unblocked as Washington(+0.5) has prevented anyone from getting out on him. Langford wants to cut back; Beyer(+0.5) is in that gap; Langford has to go the whole way back, which he can because CGordon(-2) overcooked it. TGordon(+0.5, tackling +1) comes down to fill well, aided by the fact that Cook shies away from the block he could get.
O20 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 5-1 nickel Pass 5 Drag Taylor 1
Zero pressure(-2) despite sending five. Taylor(+1, tackling +1) reads the crossing route from some depth as he is in man that M tips when MSU goes in motion, and takes a great angle to tackle on the catch.
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-3, 4 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
50 1 10 I-Form twins 4-3 over Run N/A Iso Clark -2
M slant wrecks business. NT Black(+1) shoots upfield and gets in the intended lane. FB does a good job to get around that but RB does have to cut inside Black, where Clark(+2) has smashed through to TFL. RPS +2.
O48 2 12 I-Form twins 4-4 under Pass 6 PA Corner Ryan Inc
M changes late; TGordon ends up in man on this guy and is beat(-1, cover -1) somewhat. Ryan(+1, pressure +1, organic) blows up the FB, gets into Cook, causes him to shuffle his feet, and forces an errant pass.
O48 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Corner Countess? Inc
Three man rush, obvious three man rush, everyone doubled, no pressure. M still blows the coverage hard(cover -3) and MSU just misses. RPS -2. If I had to blame a specific guy it's probably Lewis for carrying his guy deep? Either that or Countess.
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-3, 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 over Run N/A Trap Henry 5 (Pen -10)
Henry(+2) rips through a guard trying to down block him like he's... uh... a Michigan OL. He's in the hole and that forces a bounce. Clark(+1) is on the edge to contain and gets held, allowing a bounce; Taylor(+1) forces a fumble that Michigan can't quite recover. Really impressive from Henry here.
O38 1 20 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 over Run N/A Power O Beyer 1
M blitzes CGordon off the corner, slanting to the play. Beyer(+1) drives parallel to the LOS, cuts down the hole, and initiates a tackle. Ross(+1) popped an OL and came through to help end it. Washington(-1) got blown off the ball, which provided the lane that Beyer filled. Clark(+0.5) helped tackle after popping outside.
O39 2 19 Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass 4 Drag Wilson 4
M sends Morgan, dropping Clark. This gets Morgan(+0.5, pressure +1, blitz) around the corner free. MSU hasn't had much time to get guys downfield; Cook takes a short throw to Kings that Wilson(+1, cover +1) blows up on the catch. RPS +1.
O44 3 15 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel over Pass 4 Skinny post Lewis 16
A DT twist gets Wormley(+0.5) pushing through to harass as Cook throws a bullet high and inside his WR, the only spot in which Lews(+1, cover push) can't do something about it. Apologize to the gypsy. Bolden(-1) is in a zone under this and could drop into the route here but is too close to the LOS, maybe?
M40 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Power O Morgan 2
Hard count, Michigan twitches, snap, M not firing off great. Beyer(+1) fires under his guy, extends his arms, controls his dude, and absorbs a second blocker as he hits the hole. Cutback there as Black(-1) spins off a block and falls, possibly held, but no call. Cutback still not there because Morgan(+1) dodged a cut block and is there to tackle.
M38 2 8 Pro Set 4-3 over Run N/A Jet sweep Morgan 1
MSU motions Langford out and then brings him across the formation for a jet sweep. Ryan(+0.5) flies up at it and gets blown up, but still forces the RB to bubble. Beyer(+0.5) is coming up the middle, expecting it, and forces it out; Morgan(+1) rips down the LOS to get outside Langford and the two LBs combine to tackle.
M37 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 dime Pass 4 Drag Taylor 8
Drag works this time as Taylor(-1, cover -1) doesn't get over to tackle in time, by a yard.
M29 1 10 Ace 4-4 over Pass 5 Throwaway Clark Inc
Cook feels he doesn't have anyone (cover +2) and it really doesn't look like he has anything. Clark(+0.5) rescues the rest of the line from a cover minus; he flushes; Ross comes up and almost sacks; Cook manages to get it OOB.
M29 2 10 Shotgun 2TE empty 4-3 under Run N/A QB power Henry 3
Langford motions out and my immediate thought was this was a run. They run. M gets fortunate here as they are trying to slant to the play as they send Morgan but both DTs get blown back. Henry(+2) is on the verge of a big minus for standing up straight and getting blown up when he simply throws the guy blocking him past him and makes a tackle after a modest gain. RPS -1; if Henry doesn't manage this it's a big gain.
M26 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Fade Lewis Inc
Ack three man rush. Lewis(+1, cover +1) is again step for step with his guy. He stumbles and that makes this looks open-ish for a moment but the throw is a bit short, allowing him to recover and rake it out. No pressure(-1). I guess RPS push because this is not open.
Drive Notes: FG(44), 3-6, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Run N/A Counter Beyer 4
Two deep safeties and Ross in a gray area well away from the play. Beyer(+0.5) gives ground to a double but eventually splits it, making contact at the LOS. He's unable to tackle since one of the OL is harassing him. Bolden(-0.5) sits and reads but can't get to the hole in time to make a stop for minimal yardage.
M48 2 6 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Power O Black 1
Jet sweep fake. M sends the corner from the vacated side; they also send Ryan off the other edge, backing Clark into a zone to the vacated side. Black(+1) slants around and through, picking off the pulling G; Beyer got blown up by a double and is now a lane behind, which forces a further cutback. Henry has pushed his guy but can't get out to seriously harass the back, but Clark(+1) is out there to bring the back to a standstill. He can't tackle; he does allow the D to rally. RPS +1.
M47 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Okie two Pass 4 Sack Avery -16
Avery and Ross sent. Wormley(+0.5)occupies two guys long enough for Avery(+1, pressure +2, blitz) up the gap between Wormley and Ross(+0.5), who is attacking the outside. Those two guys force a throwaway that's a grounding penalty as Cook does not escape the box. RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-6, 6 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 even Pass 3 PA quick seam Ross Inc
Ross(-1) and Bolden(-1) both suck up on IV play action and leave the TE wide open(cover -2). MSU TE drops it, bats it to Gordon, Gordon can't bring it in, gets to ground.
O25 2 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-4 over Pass 4 Fade Countess 23
MSU slides protection to put their back on Clark(+1, pressure +1, organic) and Clark goes right by him. Ball has to go and does. It's a perfect fade over Countess, who's in good position(cover +1) but can't make a play. SYGB.
O48 1 10 Ace 3-wide H 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Bolden 7
Single blocks for DL and instant release on the LBs. Morgan(+0.5) beats his guy to the frontside gap, cutback. Glasgow(+0.5) has held up and fills the next gap. Cutback again. Washington is there and makes contact but needs help; there isn't any as Bolden(-2) got chopped to the ground. Taylor(+0.5) comes up with a big hit(tackling +1) to cease forward progress.
M45 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 over Run N/A Counter Morgan 2
Henry(-1) blown up by a double; Clark drives his TE inside; RB slips. Pulling G adjusts, going outside of Clark, but the tailback does not, so Morgan(+0.5, tackling +1) is there unblocked to tackle. This was lucky. If Langford makes the same read his G does big gain.
M43 3 1 Goal line Goal line Run N/A Power O Bolden 3
M slanting away and neither LB goes aggressively enough to fill the vacated lane. M also playing this relatively soft on the outside with three guys off the LOS. Bolden(-1) is going straight upfield; he shoots inside of the pullers and almost grabs the back but does not; TGordon(+0.5) dove inside to cut and constrict space, offering the opportunity. Ryan(-1) got bowled over and did not get penetration needed to pick off a puller; with Bolden inside Morgan can only run out and grab Langford as he crosses the sticks.
M40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 TE Hitch Avery 12
No pressure(-2); Cook makes a terrible decision throwing at a blanketed TE. Ross is underneath the route and can't get a finger on it; Avery(+2, cover +2) jumps it and gets a PBU. Ball bounces up, right to the TE. Well, poop.
M28 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 over Pass 4 Hitch Taylor 4
Quick route, instant tackle from Taylor(+0.5), in bounds, TO.
M24 2 6 Shotgun 4-wide Dime press Pass 4 Fade Taylor Inc
Another quick seam thing on which the DB doesn't have time to get his head around but is in the chest of the WR, making this very difficult to complete. Taylor(+1, cover +1) gets his hand in to get a PBU, but it's a little dodgier than on first look.
M24 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 6 Drag N/A 10
M sends six, it is getting there, but TE seam plus drag route combo gets Taylor picked off and picks up the first down. RPS -2.
M14 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 4 Post corner TGordon 14
Lewis has help over the top and jumps the double move; TGordon(-1) is heading for the corner of the endzone as soon as he sees Cook looking to the outside on his side, and Cook just lays in a DO right in front of him. Gordon did slow up on a post fake by the WR and maybe could have gotten over without that; still, hit a small window here. Cover -1, I guess. CGordon(+0.5, pressure +1, organic) had spun free to get a hit.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 6-13, EO1H.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O36 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 3-4 Run N/A Busted play Ryan -1
MSU botches their exchange. Langford thinks it's PA, rest of team thinks its a run. Ryan(+1) blitzed and goes through Langford to get a TFL.
O35 2 11 Ace 4-3 even wide Pass 4 PA comeback Taylor 10
Some token pressure from Beyer does get Cook moving around. He still finds a guy in front of Taylor(-1, cover -1) for near first down yardage.
O45 3 1 Ace 4-4 over Run N/A Inside zone Bolden 1
Some zone: just an iso without a lead blocker. Bolden(+1) does work his way through traffic to make a hit that has a 50/50 shot at getting the stop; Langford falls for the first.
O46 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 Fade Countess Inc
No pressure(-2). Another fade, this one with Countess(+0.5, cover +1) maybe a half step off, small window, missed significantly.
O46 2 10 Shotgun empty Okie two Pass 4 Hitch Taylor 11
Taylor(-1) playing off and his tackle(-1) ends up making contact five yards downfield; WR gets eleven.
M43 1 10 I-Form Big 4-3 under Pass 5 PA TE Post Taylor 18
I guess this is man because even after the token PA passes no one tries to get a drop. TGordon is shading his guy inside, expecting safety help, Taylor(-1, cover -2) is 15 yards off and headed to the other side of the field as MSU looks him off  and cannot offer any help. Why is Taylor playing S, I do not know. RPS -2.
M25 1 10 Ace twins H 4-4 over Run N/A Trap Black 7
M gets confused by the motion and eventually the LBs flip but only after the play starts. Black(-1) surges into the backfield, cutting off the intended lane, but gets upfield very fast and allows the pulling G to change his plan and go inside of him. Henry(-1) locked out on the backside. Ross(-1) looked confused presnap and gets locked up by an OL.
M18 2 3 Shotgun empty 2TE 4-3 even Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
Probably another QB run coming.
M23 2 8 Shotgun empty 2TE 4-3 under Run N/A QB power Henry -3
And they still run it. No one's fooled, M was loaded in the box. Henry(+2) slants, gets upfield, and drives his guy back. Washington(+1) ended up taking on three guys and allows Ross to flow free, doesn't matter as QB is bouncing with a blitzing Bolden(+0.5) in pursuit and Clark(+1) coming off his block. RPS +1.
M26 3 11 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 nickel Pass 6 Drag Wilson 7
Replay of previous drag conversion basically except more yardage to get. Ross jams releasing TE, and WR goes around. Taylor actually has to go between(!) Ross and the TE; open; Wilson(+1, tackling +1) is waiting on it and makes a nice open field tackle to prevent the conversion. (Pressure -1, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: FG(35),6-16, 10 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Ace twins H 4-3 over Run N/A Pin and pull Ross 2
Center pulls here. Beyer(-1) blown up badly and sealed. Bolden(-1) shoots an interior gap and gets erased, out of the play. Ross(+1) beats a block and gets on his horse to get from the backside of the play to the POA; Ryan(+1) come in from the edge to undercut the H-back and bother Langford; he trips, probably on Ryan, as he tries to cut up. Ross finishes it. Dodgy.
O19 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass 4 Fade Countess 21
Man press, fade, Countess(-1, cover -1) gets beat, pushed off a little bit but still there is a bit of separation by the time the ball arrives and a not-great throw is brought in.
O40 1 10 Ace trips 4-3 under Run N/A Zone stretch Henry 18
RPSed hard here as Michigan is inverting their D, folding Clark back. Henry(-1) is now the intended contain guy and he does not get real flat, so it's easy for the guy no longer blocking Clark to seal him inside. Morgan(-1) also does not perceive the danger quite in time and can't get out on the edge. RPS -2, though, because this playcall was real bad for what M had on.
M42 1 10 Shotgun empty 4-3 over Pass 4 PA pop seam Morgan Inc
PA QB power from this empty set. Linebackers go oh noes and are dead. Morgan(-1, cover -1) gone; Bolden(-1, cover -1) gone, M fortunate that Cook fumbles snap and his resulting throw to the wide open dude is short. RPS -1.
M42 2 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run N/A Draw CGordon 0
M sending CGordon and moving a safety down to replace; CGordon(+2) beats the tackle clean, putting him on the ground. Blitzing Bolden(+0.5) absorbs the FB: Morgan(+0.5) is sitting and reading and will arrive with TGordon(+0.5) to kill this even if CGordon isn't ending the play immediately. RPS +2.
M42 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Seam Clark Inc
Clark(+2, pressure +2, organic) gets a one on one matchup as M shows some blitz and takes advantage, going right up the middle of the pocket and forcing a throw. Cook can't step in and it's long, good thing as Avery(-3, cover -3) moved up and stood next to Ross's drop instead of covering the deep seam and there's a huge opening for a first down.
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-16, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M47 1 10 Ace H twins 4-4 over Run N/A Pin and pull   2
Another C pull and zone-ish blocking on the front side. MSU can't move Henry(+1), who ends up in the gap the C is trying to hit. Beyer and Ryan are holding up okay further outside; cutback. Black(+1) has chucked past one G and flows down the line to tackle.
M45 2 8 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 nickel Pass 4 Improv N/A Inc
Milions of years as pressure(-4) is picked up. Coverage(+3) just as good for a long time until Cook finds a guy breaking open past Ryan and tries to hit him; relatively small window on the move and not quite hit.
M45 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Quick seam Wilson Inc
M shows a blitz up the middle after Cook lifts his leg for the snap; C gets head up, two bets, everyone IDed, Michigan runs that thing where they send both LBs and an S up the middle while dropping the ends. This still gets Wilson(+1, pressure +2, blitz) free up the middle and the hot route is not there as Clark(+1, cover +1) has dropped into it, albeit not facing the QB. Ball wide, incomplete. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 6-16, 4 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O47 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 over Run N/A Pin and pull Henry -1
Henry(+1.5) and Clark(+1.5) both drive their guys into the backfield, with Henry taking a blow from the center pulling around. Langford tries to bubble around that, Clark holds him up and then comes under to TFL once Henry re-establishes his position after the bump.
O46 2 11 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel over Pass 4 TE corner Taylor INT
Taylor(+4, cover +3) in a short hitch on Fowler and then bails as soon as he pulls up short; before he even looks at the QB he's moving back. He drops right into a poorly-thrown corner route for an interception that could have been vital, but obviously was not.
Drive Notes: Interception, 6-16, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 I-Form Big 4-4 over? Run N/A Power O? Ross 2
Come to this play midway through. Looks like plain old power. Ross(+1) darts through to the backfield to disrupt, forcing a bubble, and then TGordon(+0.5) and Clark(+0.5) have an opportunity to converge to tackle.
O34 2 8 Goal line 5-4 under Pass 5 PA FB flat Bolden 13
Assume this is man coverage as the TE motion draws Taylor on the H-back. That means Bolden(-2, cover -2) is the guy who's supposed to take the first back out of the backfield to the playside, and instead he sucks up on PA on second and eight, opening up a big easy gain for the FB. RPS -1.
O47 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Pass 5 Long handoff Taylor 6 + 15 pen
Standard quick throw for some yards to WR on which M is playing off. Taylor stops it after five with help from Clark. Clark gets a facemask call that's a little borderline. Do I neg facemasks? I guess I do. -1.
M32 1 10 Goal line 5-4 over Run N/A Power O Black -2
Black(+2) again shoots under the C block and gets into the backfield, following the pulling G. He TFLs; Ryan(+1) shed a guy and helped; Bolden(+1) also blew through blocking to help blow the play up.
M34 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Okie one Pass 4 Fade N/A Inc
Very quick fade pass in no one's direction as MSU miscommunicates.
M34 3 12 Shotgun 2-back Okie two Pass 4 Dig Morgan? 25
Zone blitz works fantastically with Bolden(+1) zipping right through an RB block, CGordon(+0.5) coming through the middle unblocked and Ojemudia(+0.5) coming around the end to make a choice between sack and death for Cook (Pressure +3, 2 blitz, 1 organic). Cook flings a looper in the middle of the field that goes just over Morgan's hands directly to his WR. FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU. I mean... ack.
M9 1 G I-Form Big 4-5 over Run N/A Iso Henry 3
Henry(+1) blows up his guy and gets into the lane; cutback. Beyer is driving back and does force a decent bubble into CGordon(-0.5), who contains and tackles, but I kind of wish he'd been able to hold this down more than he does.
M6 2 G I-Form Big 4-4 under Run N/A Iso Washington 5
Washington(-1) blown up and driven off the ball, creating a crease. Henry(-1) also blocked out of the play. Clark(+0.5) comes back off to help tackle with Wilson(-0.5), who feels hesitant here given the situation.
M1 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 5-3 over Run N/A Speed option Morgan 1
Obvious QB run is obvious; Ryan(+0.5) makes contact to slow as Cook just tries to shoot into the endzone; Morgan(-1, tackling -1) misses, not getting sufficient power into his hit that Cook tries to spin off and allowing his momentum to carry him into the endzone.
Drive Notes: Touchdown (PAT blocked), 22-6, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O3 1 10 Goal line 4-5 over Run N/A Power O TGordon 6
Personnel groupings for both teams end up with TGordon and Avery trying to hold up against OL types. M slants away, Morgan(-1) tries to shoot a gap, hits Beyer, falls, TGordon takes a momentary double before OL comes out on Countess; Avery shoved upfield; crease. Contact made at three yards; OL-provided momentum gets another three. RPS -1.
O9 2 4 I-Form Big 5-3 over Run N/A IZ cutback Clark 5
Unbalanced with two inline TEs to the field. Intentional cutback here with Clark initially unblocked before FB comes back for him. Henry(-0.5) doubled and gives some ground; Ross gets wiped out approaching the LOS but M is slanting in such a way as to make me think that's right. Clark(-1) avoids a cut and does somewhat delay the back but still gives up the edge; Taylor fills after the sticks.
O14 1 10 Goal line 5-3 over Run N/A Power O Ross 1
M blitzes Bolden and sends CGordon inside. Both guys get picked up; Bolden(+0.5) is close enough to the LOS that Langford doesn't like the bounce and runs straight into Ross(+1, tackling +1), who stands him up for minimal gain. RPS +1.
O15 2 9 I-Form Big 4-5 over Run N/A Down G sweep TGordon 3
Wormley(+1) steps away from the play and gets upfield; pulling G has to block him; tackle also chases, falling, two for one. That leaves TGordon(+0.5, tackling +1) on the edge by himself with Langford; he forces OOB for another minimal gain.
O18 3 6 Offset Maryland I 4-4 over Run N/A End around N/A 35
RPSed, as Michigan doesn't know what to do with this formation and ends up sliding both their line and their LBs away from the TE side. Taylor and Wilson are standing next to each other, pointing, on the snap as well. Wormley(-1) goes straight upfield on the backside; Bolden and Ross go at the iso fake. Two guys pull around in space only Gordon is in, big gain, RPS -4.
M47 1 10 I-Form Big 4-4 over Run N/A Inside zone Wormley 3
Taunting with unbalanced line again. Another cutback-oriented play. Wormley(+1) drives his guy back; Bolden(+0.5) folds back into the gap behind. Washington(+0.5) comes through along with Clark(+0.5) when Langford is forced to the front of the play; Henry(-0.5) gave ground on a double and provides the small amount of yards available.
M44 2 7 I-Form Big 4-5 over Run N/A Iso Morgan 4
Henry(-1) again giving ground; Morgan(-1) slips to start the play so he can't get to the POA with any momentum and ends up going backwards.
M40 3 3 I-Form Big 4-5 over Run N/A Down G Ryan 40
Ryan(-2) gets cut to give up the edge. Bolden(-2) goes straight upfield inside the pulling G and gets sealed; Morgan can't shut it down on the sideline; Taylor(-2) gets turned around without making contact (tackling –2). RPS –2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 6-29, EOG.

Rabble rabble. Mattison gets a pass from you. Rabble.

I think I'm going to do the drive thing again for context.

Context away, you mincing fop.

All right.

  1. 50-yard fullback fluke opener followed by three and out, FG.
  2. Three and out.
  3. Three and out.
  4. 26-yard FG drive starting on the MSU 48. Key play is third and 15 conversion against gypsy-cursed Jourdan Lewis.
  5. Three and out.
  6. 75-yard half-ending TD drive.
  7. 38 yard FG drive.
  8. 41 yard drive, punt.
  9. Three and out.
  10. Two and Taylor INT.
  11. 68 yard touchdown drive. Key play is third and 12 conversion on which Cook floats a ball off his back foot to his WR.
  12. 97 yard touchdown drive.

I'm just like… okay. That's kind of what this defense looks like against a not-horrible opponent with five opportunities to start from midfield. They get a few plays on their face, they end up giving up a few field goal drives and one touchdown early, and then once it's Henri The Otter Of Ennui time they cave.

henritheotterofennu_thumb[1]

And even the caving is like a cumong man throw and Michigan getting RPSed a couple times with the game nearly over. It's a B defense opposite an offense acquiring 168 yards. This is the result.

NOT HORRIBLE OPPONENT?

Unlike one particular team I could name, Michigan State's offense has gotten better since they settled on Cook. They're now a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten offense at 5.6 yards a play.

But they crumbled at the end.

Yes, the air went out of their balloon after they set up Michigan in MSU territory and the offense lost 21 yards on their last best hope to score. On the ensuing drive, MSU got Bolden lost in pass coverage on a fullback, got a facemask call on a long handoff, and then ended up in third and long, whereupon Michigan got heavy pressure on Cook, leading to a back-foot floated throw as he was getting hit that went over Desmond Morgan's hand by about six inches and went directly to a WR 25 yards downfield.

Sometimes you just get beat. Also, FFFFFFUUUUUUUU.

And then on the final drive… I mean, do we really want to put a lot of weight on a drive that started with four minutes left and Michigan trailing 22-6? MSU pulled out an end-around Michigan was unprepared for and got a big gain, and then Ryan got cut to give up the corner like he does sometimes as Michigan is being very aggressive on third and three. Is Michigan playing ludicrously in an effort to get the ball back? Yes, and MSU pulled out the scissors to M's paper successfully. Oh well.

Change of chance of winning on that drive: zero. Game was already gone. Be mad about if you want something to be mad about, I guess. Before that drive, MSU had 68 rushing yards. I mean… save for some throws Connor Cook made, that game was almost exactly what I expected.

Let's go back to not horrible for a second.

Cook is erratic; he's also not nearly as bad as he was at the beginning of the year. This happens sometimes. In this one he missed some early throws, sometimes because he was throwing off his back foot due to pressure. He also dropped in that throw above along with their corner-route touchdown…

…and that Jourdan Lewis thing. There are defenses that can do things to stop those, but Michigan doesn't have one of those, which we all knew going in. QBs will get time in the pocket against them, and the secondary does not have an out and out star. They will get beat by perfect throws, and that corner can't be placed better.

MSU did let Michigan off the hook a couple times by derfing open receivers or catchable throws, but they offset those by doing certain hard things right. That makes them a C- outfit, one that played like it until Michigan gave up the ghost late.

WHY WE RUSH THREE

especially when we just let guys run open anyway

Michigan actually abandoned that about the instant twitter blew up about it. The rest of MSU's passing downs are at least four and sometimes up to six guys flinging themselves at Cook, which had its own cost:

Michigan showed man press coverage and MSU repeatedly picked it off to get those drag routes open. Oddly, they'd started the game playing a bit softer and found success when Taylor was unimpeded, and then went away from that.

As for rushing three: I am occasionally okay with it when you're showing some sort of blitz. The only other instance of M rushing three later in the game was actually excellent pressure by Clark as he got singled up after M's linebackers threatened to come:

It was also another spectacularly blown coverage despite dropping eight, this one probably on Courtney Avery since he's standing two yards from James Ross and playing a position he's not really comfortable with, but, hey: pass rush.

When you just rush three guys with maybe four near the LOS, that is death, as it gets all your dudes doubled. There were a couple instances here of Michigan getting profitably singled up on four-man rushes because they threatened blitz and backed out, which okay.

If you take a look at the—

chart

--chart… you okay?

I'm feeling a lot like Henri right now.

I feel you, but I wrote all this stuff. I will lay it on you.

[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  -   -   -  DNP?.
Washington 2 2 0 Still hurt? Played about as much as you would expect with little impact.
Black 5 2 3 Penetrating nose cameo was interesting.
Clark 14 2 12 Probably his best game at M.
Wormley 3 1 2 Mostly SDE.
Pipkins - - - DNP
Glasgow 0.5 - 0.5 Cameo
Ojemudia 0.5 - 0.5 Also a cameo
Godin - - - DNP
Beyer 4.5 1 3.5 Roh 2.0.
Henry 9.5 5 4.5 Up and down and mostly up is something I'll take from him.
Charlton - - - DNP
TOTAL 41 14.5 26.5 Two of MSU's big runs were RPS items almost entirely.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
C.Gordon 3.5 2.5 1 More PT with Beyer move.
Morgan 5.5 4 1.5 Okay.
Ross 4.5 2 2.5 Lost a lot of PT to Bolden, which is about to confuse me.
Ryan 6 3 3 Good until ARGH RYAN on final play, still doesn't seem all the way back.
Bolden 5 12.5 -7.5 Just seems lost to me. May be wrong.
Gedeon - - - DNP
RJS - - - DNP
TOTAL 24.5 24 0.5 I don't get Bolden getting so much PT.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Countess 1.5 1 0.5 One fade not his fault, one probably was.
Taylor 8.5 6.5 2 Drag route target, INT, whiff on a couple of tackles.
Stribling - - - DNP
Hollowell - - - DNP
T. Gordon 3.5 2 1.5 Maybe could have gotten over quicker on first TD.
Avery 3 5 -2 Seemed to blow a couple of coverages large.
Wilson 3 0.5 2.5 Why he's getting pulled for Avery is also a mystery.
Furman - - - DNP
J. Clark - - - DNP
Lewis 2 - 2 Always there, drawing perfect throws.
TOTAL 21.5 15 6.5 Cook dropped 'em in sometimes. What can I say?
Metrics
Pressure 15 14 +1 +7 blitz, +8 organic
Coverage 19 16 3 M got what they deserved, but on the wrong throws.
Tackling 8 5 62% Hurt Michigan on a couple of drives.
RPS 13 18 -5 RPS minuses piled up on final, not so meaningful drive.

Yes, I thought the line had a nice bounce-back performance. Very little on either of MSU's three successful runs—an 18 yard stretch, the end around, and the final TD—had anything to do with them; when they were involved against the MSU ground game the Spartans could barely eke out a yard. Pressure was only decent, and basically all of that was Clark and blitzes. The inability of anyone else to get to the QB is a detriment; Beyer has cooled off significantly after a hot start.

I feel crazy watching Bolden, who seems like he's messing up every game; his continued PT makes me think maybe I'm in confirmation bias land on him and off. But even with that in mind, consciously trying to be fair to the kid, he seems to be consistently the guy who doesn't execute and gives up big chunks of yards. Tell me if I 'm wrong.

Note that most of the numbers are in the push range except tackling, which hurt M on a couple drives, and the RPS number, but that RPS number was even before the final drive.

Is Raymon Taylor good?

I don't know man. He had twelve tackles, some of them good…

…and some of them very un-good, as when a five yard hitch on second and ten turned into eleven yards thanks to a terrible high tackle attempt.

He also had his second excellent INT in three games:

And a couple of additional PBUs. He had one of a few on which MSU tried quick seam passes to WRs with defenders in their chests but no time to get their head around on the ball; Morgan also had one of those.

I think he's pretty good; when he's not getting tempoed it seems throwing in his direction is a relatively risky proposition made up for by the occasional missed tackle or route on which he's playing too soft.

So we're at least seeing some development along the line?

Clark took over almost every last WDE snap in this game and seemed to deserve them. He had some organic pass rush to his name and flashed into the backfield multiple times for profit.

He drew a hold on Michigan's near-recovery on a Langford fumble.

He is still up and down; the trajectory of his season is now encouraging. He's gone from frustrating—to say the least—to pretty good, with a ceiling still some ways off. That's a narrative of progress we've seen before on the defensive line, and though it's still a weak point it's nice to see Michigan get some additional production there.

Meanwhile, Henry was very good for a redshirt freshman. There were a couple times he got fired backwards by double teams; most of the game he was eating blocks for lunch, none more so than this one:

You are dismissed, Spartan guard. That led to a bounce that would have been a Clark TFL if he wasn't held and did lead to first and twenty.

His technique is still erratic but his massive strength allows him to save himself from himself from time to time. On one of MSU's ill-fated QB runs he stands straight up at the snap like he's Will Campbell in high school, suffers the pad-level consequences, and then turns what looks like a nice gain for MSU into two yards by again simply discarding the guard, just like Will Campbell in high school:

When he did get pad level, he pad leveled people into the backfield. Pad level!

Whatever. Lower than the OL, OL goes backwards, Michigan eats run play. WSG Clark.

Henry is beginning to fulfill those breakout player predictions from the exiting seniors ESPN collected. You can see that he has a ways to go; you can also see that his upside is excellent.

Meanwhile, Beyer was okay at SDE. He has a bit of a Roh thing going on where he's able to get under OL with good technique* and set up so he can shed to either side. MSU tried to blow him up, as you might expect, and he even managed to hold up against double teams okay. He'd give some ground and then surge back through once one of the guys left to get a linebacker. Sometimes, anyway. Other times he just got blown up.

M may move Beyer back to SAM to give Ryan some cover next year but if they already like him enough to start him at SDE against MSU despite being 250 pounds, dollars to donuts they take the Roh comparison to 11 by having him add as much weight as possible and getting solid, RVB-minus production out of him as a senior. If I had to guess, next year's line now reads something like Beyer/Pipkins/Henry/Clark with Wormley/Hurst/Godin/Ojemudia backing up, though Henry is certainly big enough to be a nose tackle if Pipkins falters because of injury.

Finally, Black was surprisingly effective at NT. Michigan slanted just about every play when he was in there, which got the very quick Black into the backfield frequently. Here he follows a pulling G to blow up a run.

I'm worried about what'll happen once opponents can prepare for it, of course. As a one-off it was a positive move.

Washington… I don't know. It feels like he was not very involved for whatever reason. I'm surprised he's still not a major part of the gameplan; if I had to bet he's picked up some sort of sapping injury that he can still play on, like plantar fasciitis or something. That is total speculation.

*[probably]

You are seriously hating on Joe Bolden.

I don't know man. Linebacker judgin' is hard, just like linebacking, and acknowledge that I am entering confirmation bias territory here. I do not think he's playing well. Ross has not blown up like I expected so I can see some playing time for him, but to me Morgan is Michigan's best linebacker by some distance. He has made more plays in coverage this year than anyone else, hasn't busted coverages hard, and makes block-beating plays on the regular:

Bolden had a similar opportunity as the backside LB and ended up in a much different spot:

Those aren't entirely similar, sure. I see a lot of Morgan beating guys to a spot and not a lot of Bolden doing so; Ross is hot and cold.

I don't know if shooting this gap is a good idea; I also think maybe he should have been a lot deeper on that third and fifteen conversion that led to the second MSU field goal, because sitting in a zone at eight yards there does nothing but twelve probably cuts off that throwing lane. I am really trying to not pile blame on the kid now because I feel that the PT he gets necessarily means he's not as far behind the other ILBs as these charts are suggesting (he was –6 last week), but… yeah, I keep adding up the numbers and those are what they are.

Heroes?

Clark, and Henry, and we'll throw Taylor in there since I care more about the INT than the –2 he picked up on the last play.

Maybe not so heroic?

As discussed, Bolden. Washington for whatever reason is not making an impact.

What does it mean for Nebraska and the future?

Michigan's getting some development on the DL. Clark's trend line is up and down but still trending up. Once Henry gets some more game time under his belt he's going to be really good. Beyer's not great because he's too light but you can see that working out better next year. And they'll all be pressed from behind, so Michigan should be able to weather the departures of Washington and Black, especially because for whatever reason Washington's not having much impact.

I really don't understand why Bolden's playing so much. It seems to me like he's a consistent thorn in this own D's side.

Raymon Taylor is probably good. Tackling still a problem, but he's not letting guys get particularly open and he's making plays.

Michigan still doesn't trust Wilson entirely, which I also don't understand. Avery's PT in this game was a lot of busted coverages Michigan didn't get punished on; Wilson on the other hand was not tested.

Ryan's not all the way back. He's out there but he's not OUT THERE. He's coming along, seemingly.

This is still a B defense with some issues. Primary amongst them is a near-total lack of organic pass rush, though Clark is beginning to create some.

Comments

Don

November 6th, 2013 at 3:21 PM ^

I wouldn't care if our pass rush is made with every pesticide known to man, anal-leakage-inducing Olestra, the highest-fructose corn syrup available, saccharine, Red Dye #3 and 4, and all the melamine China can sell us as long as we can sack the shit out of the opposing QB before he gets rid of the ball at critical spots in the game.

howmuch

November 6th, 2013 at 3:29 PM ^

So many times I have read or heard people state that with enough time, someone will get open.  Why does the defense only rush 3 during numerous key plays of the game?  Seems like they hope everyone in pass coverage they can cover the recievers, but with no pressure, someone gets open.

Salinger

November 6th, 2013 at 4:15 PM ^

somewhere on this blog that this was one of the lone marks against Mattison as a DC, his reluctance to blitz on those longer 3rd Down-ish, typical passing plays. I could be wrong, but I think the evidence in the last few years bears that out. 

Generally I would agree with that too, but it would be nice if, in those circumstances, the LB would cover the middle a little better to prevent those back breaking 3rd down conversions.

ak47

November 7th, 2013 at 12:09 AM ^

It was a problem he had in baltimore too, he gets passive in big moments and end of halfs other than the random all out blitzes at the end of the bowl game and against akron on the goal line.  The man's philosophy seems to be to try to confuse the offense and have them beat themselves rather than dictate the game, it works on a lot of teams and takes away a lot of big plays, but hurts the ability to dominate a game with defense like an msu.

Blarvey

November 6th, 2013 at 3:47 PM ^

"Finally, Black was surprisingly effective at NT. Michigan slanted just about every play when he was in there, which got the very quick Black into the backfield frequently. Here he follows a pulling G to blow up a run."

On the video for this, it looks like Q and Henry are the DTs. 

Edit: Nevermind - I am wrong.

CLord

November 6th, 2013 at 3:51 PM ^

This D has a clear identity.  A little tighter on the coverage and a little more pass rush and this D is all we need going forward.  Just need them not to see 30 drives a game thanks to the O.  I'm liking our chances vs the two NUs thanks to this unit.

UMinTroyOh

November 6th, 2013 at 4:05 PM ^

Seems to be a carbon copy of last year. Makes tackles downfield only and always has his back to QB in coverage, He is likely a "practice" warrier. He is never on the negative side of the line and always seems slow to react. Only a Soph but Ross seems like a much better option.

maizenbluenc

November 6th, 2013 at 4:49 PM ^

at the HS technique school this summer. For coverage skills, they taught the linebackers go after the receiver facing the receiver, not the QB when in coverage. The idea was to focus on staying with the receiver and read his face for when the ball was coming, then break the pass up.

The we got back home and the HS coaches had the LBs dropping back and breaking like DBs.

So I think Bolden is following the technique Michigan was teaching at the technique school.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 9:30 AM ^

In college, you need to get to a spot that much quicker in the pass game or it'll get exploited, and in high school, they really just want to keep your eyes on the QB. Still, I think it's a short cut that many high school coaches take that aren't doing their players a service if they have asperations for the next level (same thing happened at the CMU camp, oh, I dunno how long ago, but you can try to figure out my age).

Magnus

November 7th, 2013 at 10:14 AM ^

I don't think it does high school kids much good, but at the same time, I think it helps high schoolers hem in quarterbacks that could hurt them with their feet. A high school QB is often the team's best athlete, so if you turn your back to the QB and lose him, he can really hurt you on the ground. Completing passes is a much more difficult proposition, so if you can keep your eyes on the QB and not let him hurt you with his feet, a bad route, a drop, etc. is much more likely in the high school game.

michgoblue

November 6th, 2013 at 4:20 PM ^

In reading through this UFR, I couldn't help but get excited for next season.  Looking at the defense position by position, we lose virtually nobody, and several players should be ready to make a jump:

DL - Beyer, Henry and Clark are still young, and are going to be significantly better next year, given another offseason in the weight room and some more experience.  Adding in Pipkins (who already was looking pretty good pre-injury) and we are looking at a damn good DL, with great depth in Wormley/Hurst/Godin/Ojemudia.

LB - Morgan has been great.  Ryan is just off of an ACL injury and is showing signs that he will return to form by next season.  If he does, some combination of Morgan, Ryan, Ross (has been hot and cold, but keep in mind, that he is a true sophmore - it is reasonable to expect him to make a big jump next year) and Boldon (Brian, don't give up on him - youth, inexperience, has shown flashes)

CB - Countess is not Charles Woodson, but he is a good CB.  Certainly above average.  R. Taylor is a true sophmore, and I think that at this point, there is no longer a need to debate whether he is good or not.  He is, and he has shown that throughout the season.  Is he perfect?  No, but he is only in his second year.  I may sound like a broker record, but with youth, the expectation of improvement is reasonable.

Safety - remember when we all thought that this position equaled doom for us.  Wilson is young, and despite that, has been really solid.  D. Thomas is waiting in the wings and looks like he has real potential to live up to his recruiting hype. 

In a season that has been otherwise disappointing, the future of this defense is certainly reason for excitement. 

michgoblue

November 6th, 2013 at 5:22 PM ^

Who is this Jabrill you talk of?  kidding, of course.  I didn't list him because I am still hoping that we find a way to actually redshirt the incoming talent whenever possible.  Perhaps Jabrill is just too good to keep off the field, but I am trying to temper my expectations after spending much of this offseason thinking that Green would step in and magically fix our running game. 

michgoblue

November 6th, 2013 at 5:32 PM ^

I forgot that he came in the year before.  While I don't think that he is elite (although my definition of elite is fairly stingy), I think that he is already at a minimum solid, and with any improvement, he could be a "good big ten corner" (defined as above "solid").

Mike60586

November 6th, 2013 at 5:03 PM ^

On the interception by Taylor, I absolutely love the blatant block in the back at the end of the interception.  Whoever did it just destroyed the MSU bro.  It was also not called, so that was nice.  If we would have won the game you know all the MSU fans would be losing their collective mind about it. 

EGD

November 6th, 2013 at 5:08 PM ^

In looking at the 2014 secondary, It seems like (1) we are going to be loaded at CB, with Countess, Taylor, Lewis, and Stribling, plus Peppers coming in and Douglas coming off RS; (2) we are all set at FS with Wilson; and (3) OMG Thomas Gordon graduates and so does Avery., and who knows what we can reasonably expect out of Jeremy Clark, Dymonte Thomas, or Delano Hill?

Is it possible that the plan might be to move Taylor to S next season? 

michgoblue

November 6th, 2013 at 5:30 PM ^

I agree with your premise that we are loaded at CB.  Given their experience and good play, I cannot see us sitting either Countess or Taylor.  Assuming we regularly play nickel, there is a ton of talent fighting for that third spot in Lewis, Stribling, Douglas and Peppers. 

Before discussing the safety position, let's take Peppers out of this for a moment.  The kid looks like perhaps the best commit we have had in a while, but remember that he is still going to be a true freshman.  In an ideal world, given the # of talented and experienced players, this kid redshirts and comes in the following year and instantly takes hold of one of the CB spots.  So, we have Lewis, Strib and Dougless (who had some good recruiting hype) all fighting for one spot.  While this seems like a lot of players, when we roll with 3 CB, this is not much more than a 2-deep. 

Now let's look at safety.  I agree that we are set with Wilson at FS.  But, who is his back-up if he goes down?  As for the other position, I think that one of Clark or Dymonte will be very good, with the other serving as a more than adequate back-up. 

I guess that is a long way of saying that I don't see any of the CBs moving to safety, because while there are a number of CBs, there isn't as much of a position crunch as you think.

EGD

November 6th, 2013 at 7:13 PM ^

I'm not really understanding your reasoning here. 

Even if we forget about Peppers and Douglas for a minute, we still have four CBs returning next year who all look good: Countess, Taylor, Lewis, and Stribling.  But we only have one proven safety (Wilson). 

If Taylor can play safety (and I'm not saying he can--but it doesn't seem totally out-of-the-question, particularly with Avery playing there this season), then we can put four experienced DBs on the field--albeit with one guy at a new position--on standard downs and all five of them in nickel looks.  If Taylor remains a CB, then somebody who isn't playing now (other than on special teams) will have to become a starting safety while one or more experienced DBs stands on the sidelines.

It seems to me like the question is whether Taylor is a better option at safety than Clark, Hill, Thomas, or any of the other candidates.  Taylor is only abut 180 lbs., but seeing as he will be a senior with 2 years of starting experience (though at corner), it still seems like there's a good chance the answer to that question will be "yes."

umchicago

November 6th, 2013 at 7:52 PM ^

i was at the game, so didn't have the benefit of all the replays, but it appeared to me that taylor basically was playing safety some of the time in the nickel package.  he sometimes seemed to have deep responsibility while avery was playing underneath.  maybe someone brave enough to watch the replay of the game closely can confirm.

michgoblue

November 6th, 2013 at 9:04 PM ^

I see some of that reasoning. I guess my view is that Taylor has been really good at cb. If that is the case leave him there as let him have another year at the same position to get even better. All of the position moves that we have seen may be hurting some of these kids' development.

As fans, we always want to get our best players on the field. And sometimes that works. But, there is something to be said about a kid having years at the same position to develop instincts at that position.

Plus, I think that D. Thomas is actually going to be a stud safety. He has a ton of raw athleticism, is bigger and has been practicing at that position, so before switching a CB, if I were a coach I would want to see if either he or Clark can play safety well.

Finally, it is sometimes easy to forget how easy it is for a position group to become decimated by j jury. While we will have four experiences corners next year, all it takes is 2 acl or ankle injuries and we are back to playing newbies.

Reader71

November 6th, 2013 at 9:56 PM ^

Taylor's biggest weakness is tackling. Safety is a position which puts a premium on tackling. I think, if we see a position change, we'd most likely be seeing Countess move. When he's in at nickel, Stribling and Lewis have come in and been pretty good freshmen CBs. Assuming Peppers plays next year, he's probably going to be broken in as a nickel, ala Dymonte Thomas. And Thomas will probably get some play there as well. So, I'm seeing Stribling and Taylor at corner backed up by Lewis, Thomas and Peppers at nickel, and Wilson and Countess at safety backed up by Hill/whoever.

So, Countess is our best tackling CB, we have good cover there and at nickel, and as a 4th year guy, he would probably be called on to organize the secondary/make calls. This is done most effectively from the safety spot. Think Marlin Jackson.

Magnus

November 7th, 2013 at 10:05 AM ^

I guess in the truest sense of "an ideal world," Peppers would redshirt. But in a realistic ideal world, 5-star kids at skill positions rarely redshirt - and often for good reason. Corners, receivers, running backs, etc. are generally ready to play when they're ranked that high.

Blarvey

November 6th, 2013 at 9:17 PM ^

Taylor right now is too small to play safety. All of the safeties on the roster are 200+ lbs. and Taylor is at least 15 pounds shy of that.

My guess is that one of Hill, Thomas, Clark, or Peppers should be able to win the job.

slblue

November 6th, 2013 at 7:03 PM ^

It seems like Mattison is most concerned by our secondary.  MSU had some big, fast, athletic wideouts - or so it seemed.  How does our secondary matchup against the Nebraska receiving corps?

markusr2007

November 6th, 2013 at 7:17 PM ^

Michigan's defense played like a middling BIG10 defense on Saturday, which normally is a good thing when facing BIG10 opponents.

Michigan State's offense by now is pretty much equal to Minnesota's offense, except with something like  -200 more yards than da Gophers in penalties.  Usually MSU is more dangerous to themselves than their opponents.  They are improved though.

Things are going to get more challenging for the UM defense.

MSU's offense is only slightly worse than NW and Iowa.  Nebraska and Ohio are far better than MSU.

Nebraska - Scoring 4th (38ppg), Rushing 4th (468/g), Passing 8th)

at Northwestern - Scoring 10th (28ppg), Rushing 6th (Siemian!!), Passing 6th

at Iowa - Scoring 11th (25 ppg), Rushing 7th, Passing 9th

Ohio - Scoring 1st (48.2 ppg, OMG), Rushing 1st (301/g), Passing 5th

 

MSU - Scoring 8th (30 ppg), Rushing 5th, Passing 10th

 

 

YoOoBoMoLloRoHo

November 6th, 2013 at 8:17 PM ^

The Cook floaters and near misses reflect a D with not quite enough athleticism. Jake's injury has sapped the top playmaker and the group seems a 1/2 beat late.

That gap is the main reason why I think Peppers, Stribling and Dymonte play extensively next year - this D needs 2-3 playmakers more than a couple solid defenders.

abertain

November 6th, 2013 at 8:20 PM ^

My feelings about the defense from watching the game live were similar. I think Bolden may be a very good LB at Michigan in his senior year, perhaps sooner, but I don't know why he is getting snaps rather than Ross at this point. Again, if an injury happens, or after Morgan graduates, I expect him to start and be good, until then, it doesn't make sense to see him so frequently.

It also appears that Wilson has improved as the year has gone one. I don't think he should be ceding snaps to Avery. In some ways it reminds me of that time that T Gordon got benched to Woolfolk could get a look at safety. Other than loving seniority, it made no sense.

I don't know about SDE. I want Wormely to cut it loose. As for CB, Lewis has been unlucky in coverage, but I like Stribling more because he turns his head around. I know they are coahed to not turn their head. However, dammit, everyone else can do it, and I believe M can too.

Other than that, like every fan ever, I want to see more blitzes. I'm fine if they are zone blitzes, and I wish they did more from the secondary like they did when Kovacs was here. I might be wrong though. Every fan loves blitzes.

Magnus

November 7th, 2013 at 8:52 AM ^

I know this is asking a lot, but it would be nice if the plays in the UFR were labeled #1, #2, #3, etc. so references made in the comments can be directly referred back to the specific plays above. On Drive #3, Play #3 Jourdan Lewis appears to be the culprit. He's carrying his guy deep because both the #1 and #2 receivers start off running verticals against Cover 2, but when #2 breaks off his route, then Lewis should come off the #1 receiver and settle in the flat, leaving the deep route to be covered by Thomas Gordon.

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 9:32 AM ^

But a few things I'm not sure of on that play: it could potentially be cover 4 (I think it is because Lewis turns and runs immediately without worrying about anything underneath, but it could be because he sees #2 going vertical). If it is, and they're pressing, they may just match up in the secondary and allow Lewis to turn and run with the #1 because he can't likely see underneath him or even to the inside. In that case, I think Countess may need to carry deeper as there is no immediate flat threat, and Gordon (or whoever the safety is) needs to do a better job picking up the vertical route.

Magnus

November 7th, 2013 at 9:01 AM ^

On the play where you give Avery a -3 for allowing the deep seam, it looks like he's in some sort of robber coverage. I do not believe Avery is responsible for a deep zone. Michigan looks to be in Cover 3 right there with Taylor covering the near third and Gordon covering the deep middle. It would be nice if someone re-routed the receiver there, but that's not worth a -3, in my opinion.

Magnus

November 7th, 2013 at 9:09 AM ^

On Taylor's interception, it looks like a really crappy route run by Taylor's guy (Fowler, I think). As soon as Fowler ran such a terrible route, Taylor probably realized that it was a smash route because of Fowler's disinterest. This is probably something that Taylor and/or his coaches noticed on film. "When Fowler runs a lazy hitch, it's a smash route so jump the corner."

Space Coyote

November 7th, 2013 at 9:34 AM ^

Mine was that it was much more on Lewis than on Gordon. Lewis had outside leverage and over the top, inside help. Gordon needs to respect the post and come down on it too, Lewis can't let the WR get back outside so easily because that puts Gordon in a position where he needs to be extremely athletic to get back over the top after having to respect the post.

Thoughts?

Magnus

November 7th, 2013 at 10:11 AM ^

Yep. It looks like the corner at the top (Taylor, presumably) is playing 2 Soft coverage but keeps pretty good outside leverage on his man. With nobody threatening the flat, Lewis should be able to sink with Fowler and constrict the window, break up the pass, or make it a tougher decision for Cook to throw there. It would be nice if Gordon could make this play, but he's not blazingly fast so it's tough for him to make up for his corner's mistakes.