Upon Further Review 2013: Defense vs UConn Comment Count

Brian September 27th, 2013 at 1:21 PM

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan alternated between their 4-3 with guys often split over the slots like so:

4-3 even

And their nickel package.

They also had some weird snaps where they would take their WDE and line him up like a SAM:


This was always a drop into man coverage on the TE by Clark. I did not call this out as a new formation. I probably will in the future.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Secondary saw Avery replace the youngsters as the third corner when Michigan was in nickel, which was quite frequently. The rest was Taylor/Countess/Gordon/Wilson as per usual.

At linebacker the usual rotation of Ross, Morgan, and Bolden. Beyer went the whole way at SAM, I think.

On the line, another light day for nose tackles. Both got some run but it was a lot of three-techs out there. Clark got the most run at WDE with Ojemudia backing up. Black was out there almost all the time; Henry and Wormley got more snaps than any other SDE/3T type with Heitzman also participating quite a bit. Glasgow and Godin appeared rarely, if at all.

[After THE JUMP! Points! Yards! None of those!]

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel over Run N/A Inside zone Morgan 2
Michigan has the LBs slid to the field and sends their line the other way. Black(+0.5) and Washington(+0.5) get through; Heitzman(+0.5) fills his gap, Morgan(+0.5) hits the releasing LT near the LOS and keeps contain. RB tries to go outside, cut off, manages to cut back inside for a couple as one of the UConn OL gave up on Washington and moved out late to get a block on Ross. Pretty good play by that OL there.
O27 2 8 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 over Pass 4 IV PA Pop seam Beyer 19
Inverted veer fake draws the LBs in. Unclear if this is Beyer not carrying down the seam or Morgan getting sucked up on a drop, but I think it's kind of both(-1, cover -2) since Morgan could drop better and get in the throwing lane and Beyer could carry this guy deeper. Spielman thinks it's Beyer(-1); I do think both could have done better. RPS -1; tough to read. TGordon(+0.5, tackling +1) with the immediate hit.
O46 1 10 Ace trips bunch 4-3 over Pass 4 Hitch Countess 4
Nothing hitch; Countess(+0.5, cover +1) is there to tackle on the catch.
50 2 6 Shotgun trips 4-3 under Pass 5 Hitch TGordon Inc
Beyer flared over the slot. M runs everyone's favorite double A gap twist blitz and gets Ross(+1, pressure +2, blitz) through clean. QB has to dump, does so, Gordon(+2, cover +2) gets a PBU on a throw at the sticks. RPS +1.
50 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 5 In Wormley Inc
M shifts to a heavily overloaded right side of the line pre-snap and sends a too-late safety blitz from Wilson(-0.5). UConn picks up the four rushers; Wormley(+1) gets his hands up and bats an attempted in down. Looked like both Countess(+0.5) and Avery(+0.5, cover +1) had plays on any pass that gets through to this side.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Pistol 3-wide? 4-3 over? Pass 4 Out Beyer 6
Pressure is meh(-1, line) Wormley has another shot at batting a pass but can't quite. Looks like UConn high-lows Avery, who sinks to a deeper route and opens up a short one. Michigan gets a little lucky that the WR slips as he catches it and can't get as much YAC as he would otherwise.
O29 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Run N/A Inside zone Clark 0
M doing their line flip Henry(+0.5) gets movement to the outside as the G goes with him; contain achieved. Clark(+2) does a good job to dodge around the tackle trying to block him and then shoot the gap for a near-TFL. RPS+1.
O29 3 4 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 5 Throwaway Ross Inc
Corner blitz sends Ross and Taylor to the boundary and drops Ojemudia. Ross(+1, pressure+2, blitz) doesn't tip it and rips up the middle; RB is late to pick him up. QB rolls, Taylor attacks him, hitting as he chucks the ball OOB. This was a packaged play from UConn as they checked the stick route first and the RB came in for a possible draw. They were going to go with the draw but the QB aborted once he saw Ross about to kill his RB. RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 over Run N/A Power O Clark 7
Clark(-2) gives back some of his good play on a previous formation flip, as this time he does not fold back at all. Black(+0.5) has the contain as he fires outside; Clark must not get the call, as he stays outside as the rest of the defense does the flip. Morgan(+0.5) pounds the FB at the line and if Clark executes this is no gain. Bolden(-1) started yelling something at Beyer, which only confused Beyer and got him out of position.
O32 2 3 Ace twins 4-3 even Pass N/A Bubble screen N/A Inc
Derfed. Avery looked to have this under control.
O32 3 3 Ace trips tight bunch 3-3-5 nickel Pass 6 Hitch Avery Inc
Blitz picked up (pressure -2, blitz); Avery in fine coverage(+0.5, +1 cover) on a four yard route but could not break it up if UConn executes, they do not.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Throwaway N/A Inc
This is busted so bad by UConn I have no idea what they're even trying to do. I guess it is an RB screen, but Whitmer never even looks at it. This should be grounding as there is no WR in the area and the ball does not reach the LOS. Refs -2.
O37 2 10 Ace 4-3 over Run N/A Power O Henry 3
WR motions in to act as a third TE; maybe he's actually a TE. Either way he blocks no one. Henry(-2) blown up by a double and chucked to the ground. UConn's blocking is still screwed up, though, as the guy releasing off Henry tries to get Morgan(+1) who just hops playside of him; pulling G goes for Beyer(-0.5), who was hesitant after getting burned earlier, but Morgan's filling that gap so he doesn't get punished. Ross(+0.5) is free and fills behind after Morgan forces it inside. Wormley(+0.5) did a good job on the edge to constrict the hole.
O40 3 7 Ace trips Nickel over Pass 4 Sack Clark -5
Initial coverage is good(+1) from Countess(+0.5) and Ross(+0.5) and then Taylor(+0.5, cover +1) makes a fade unappealing. This gives Clark(+2, pressure +2, line) time to drive the RT way back and shed to the inside to sack. Wormley(+0.5) helped constrict the space and remove rushing lanes.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 13 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O41 1 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 4-3 under Run N/A Inverted veer keeper Henry -3
Henry(+2) blasts a guard into the backfield, causing the QB to have to cut away from his blocking and murdering the play dead. Wormley(+1) had driven back, occupying two blockers, allowing Beyer(+0.5) an easy job to read the QB and tackle his slow ass. Clark(+0.5) played this pretty well.
O38 2 13 Shotgun trips TE 4-3 even Run N/A Inside zone Beyer 8
Michigan aligns itself into trouble as the LBs shift over the trips side, leaving Beyer acting as a defacto MLB. Clark goes upfield as the rest of the line slants hard left, creating a big cutback lane but keeping all the linebackers clean. Morgan is dropping to pass coverage; Beyer(-1) sits there, with no idea what he's seeing until it's too late. Cutback, Beyer reacts, OL has time to get out on him, RB cuts back and is finally cut down. RPS -1. Beyer as MLB works out like you'd expect.
O46 3 5 Ace trips bunch 4-3 over Pass 4 Swing Black -2
Black(+1) swims through a guard to come up the middle; Washington(+0.5) and Ojemudia(+0.5) also push the pocket(pressure +2, line). Whitmer has no choice but to throw quickly; Countess(+1) had seemingly covered a little hitch and now comes out to contain the swing; RB slips but likely dead meat anyhow with Ross coming to clean up if Countess couldn't tackle.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 9 min 2nd Q. Running into the kicker is not a big deal.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O44 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Run N/A Zone read keeper Black 1
M stunts on the backside of the play, with Ojemudia shooting down at the RB. This causes a pull. Black(+1) has shot around the corner and contains. Bolden(+0.5) is free to shoot the backside of the play; Ross(+0.5) hops around blocks designed for inside zone to help finish. RPS +1.
O45 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 Skinny post Avery 16
Pressure getting there but this is a rhythm throw so not much hope to do much. Black(+1, pressure +1, line) was bulling up the middle. Avery(-2, cover -2) is beaten easily on a skinny post; Gordon is almost there on the catch on a 16-yard play, so that's not on him.
M39 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass 4 Fly Avery Inc
Reminiscent of previous experiences with Avery at outside corner, as he gets slightly beat here and then demonstrates the opposite of recovery speed as he's trying to catch up to a possession-ish receiver and instead cedes ground. This does have to be a near-perfect throw to not give Avery a play on the ball; it is. A diving catch is not quite made, according to the replay official. Pressure(-1) was not great, though Clark came through to threaten at the end.
M39 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 5 Post Ross 18
M blitzes off the corner and also sends Bolden twisting around. UConn doesn't read it so Beyer gets a free run; it's too late, though, as Ross(-2, cover -2) is sitting five yards deep and in a virtual replay of the Akron game, CB with outside leverage has no shot of containing a skinny post and there's no one underneath. RPS -1; they should really be able to fix this. Pressure +1, blitz.
M21 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 under Run N/A Inside zone Henry 12
This really turns into five in the box with Bolden dropping into man coverage against the TE over the slot and two deep safeties. UConn has a blocker for everyone, then, and Henry(-1) gets knocked out of his lane enough to provide a crease. Pipkins(+0.5) got some push and almost came off to tackle; Morgan(-1) has a tough job in a lot of space but should probably force it back instead of letting it outside. RPS -1.
M9 1 G Ace twins 4-3 under Run N/A Power O Clark 0
M gets lucky here as Henry(-0.5) and Clark(-1) do not adjust to TE motion; Clark then gets busted inside by a tight end. Pulling G hits Morgan, who does not get outside; RB starts outside and then changes his mind, blowing his momentum and allowing Clark to recover when he tries to go inside. I guess Wilson was going to close on him, but this is bad. I guess Morgan gets +0.5 for banging the pulling G pretty hard and convincing the back to cut up.
M9 2 G Ace trips bunch Nickel even Run N/A Yakety snap N/A -2
M11 3 G Ace empty Nickel even Pass 4 Seam Bolden 11
I agree with Spielman: Bolden(-2, cover -2) has to carry the seam here and leave the underneath route open, especially on third and eleven. You have to believe you can rally to tackle on a pass to the five, and no one else can get under this pass.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 under Pass 4 Swing screen N/A Inc
UConn drops it. Ross(+1) had shot between the two OL releasing and was likely to blow this up anyway.
O25 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide jet Nickel even Run N/A Inverted veer give Beyer 10
Motion in a WR to take the veer handoff; no contain as Beyer(-1) doesn't get far enough upfield and gives up the corner. Rest of the D stretches it to the sideline where Avery(-0.5, tackling -1) makes a bleah tackle attempt that gives up some YAC as it pushes the back OOB.
O35 1 10 Ace trips TE 4-3 over Run N/A Pin and pull Taylor 16
Running at the vacated short side as M slides its linebackers to the WR. Ojemudia(+0.5) gets upfield and bangs one of the pulling OL, knocking him off course. This gives Ross a lane to attack; back manages to get outside of him about a yard from the edge of the field, where Taylor(-2) is not because he did not get outside a lineman coming for him and gets deposited ten yards downfield. RPS -1. Wilson(-0.5) and Morgan(-0.5) miss tackles(-2) for more yards.
M49 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 over flare Pass 4 TE Out Clark Inc
Clark in a two point stance a couple yards off the LOS. Weird. Unsurprisingly, he drops into coverage on the TE to his side. Coverage(+2) is good as the first read isn't there and then Clark(+0.5) is in good position on a two yard out that the QB turfs. Pressure coming-ish.
M49 2 10 Shotgun 2TE twins Nickel over Pass 4 Delay slant Clark Inc
Clark(+1, cover +1, RPS +1) drops right into a throwing lane for a little underneath slant that's basically a run play since the rest of the receivers in the area are blocking right from the snap. Badly inaccurate throw otherwise Clark may intercept.
M49 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Skinny post Bolden Inc
Michigan sends some guys and their right tackle just ignores Ojemudia(+0.5). Does he think the TE is helping him? He must. He's in free (pressure +2, blitz); Bolden(+1, cover +1) runs into the seam passing lane and forces a near impossible throw that is not made.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 2 min 2nd Q. Punt hits DaMario Jones, UConn gets it right back.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M9 1 G Ace 3TE 4-4 over Run N/A Power O Clark 2
Clark(+0.5) slides over right before the snap and shoots inside the guy who's supposed to down block him. Washington(+0.5) and Black(+0.5) also slant under guys, so the play is just blown up all over. There is a cutback lane, but Ross and Gordon are there unblocked to combine on a tackle for minimal yardage. RPS +1.
M7 2 G Ace twins twin TE 4-4 over Pass 4 Wheel N/A 7
A pure pick route that should probably get PI as the TE on the LOS just flat blocks James Ross and drives him into Morgan, who gets picked off. Wormley is dropping valiantly in an attempt to cover the RB but that's never happening. I guess this is RPS -1, cover -1. Refs -2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 2 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 over Pass 4 Waggle cross Morgan Inc
Morgan(-1, cover -1) beat and this is open for a first down; dropped. Heitzman(-0.5, pressure -1, line) did not get the corner.
O25 2 10 Ace trips TE 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Washington 1
M sends Morgan and folds back Clark. Morgan's blitz is headed right at a hole in the backside of the line that the line has left for this blitz. RB cuts away. Washington(+1) holds up to a double and drives to this hole, allowing Ross(+1, tackling +1) to flow and tackle near the LOS. RPS +1.
O26 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 6 Deep out Avery Inc
Ross sent, Wilson sent from deep, Heitzman drops off into a scramble-protect kind of thing but I'm counting him as a rusher since he's not a pass defender at all. Blitz doesn't have time to get there as Whitmer throws a rhythm deep out just as his WR gets out of his break. He misses. Avery in decent coverage only. Push all around.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-21, 10 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 4 PA pop slant Ross 16
Feel for Ross here as UConn is just flat run blocking and he sucks up a bit, opening this up. But ruthless! (Ross -1, cover -1, RPS -1)
M49 1 10 Ace 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Taylor 4
UConn motions a WR to a third TE spot. They seem to be targeting the backside of the zone. Taylor(+1) comes down late as that WR motions away from him. Pipkins does an okay job against a double; Ross does a meh job against a guy releasing right away, Taylor initiates a tackle.
M45 2 6 Shotgun trips 4-3 even Pass 5 Improv drag Ross 11
Cumong man. Michigan blows up a screen, with Ross(+1, cover +1) draping the running back, forcing the QB to scramble. He has a bail out option that's his TE rolling to the other side of the field that Bolden is right there on, and he hits it. Well. Okay. Good job, UConn.
O39 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under flare Pass 4 Comeback Taylor 14
Clark dropped off again. He folds back and runs with the TE on a seam. Michigan's line slant gets nowhere near the QB(pressure -2) and he can stand in and fire to Davis, which he does low and away from Taylor(+1, cover +1) in excellent position. Hat tip again.
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 even Pass 5 Sack Taylor -6
Coverage(+1) good for one read and then Black(+2, pressure +3, line 2, blitz 1) rips up the middle of the pocket. QB flushes right into Taylor(+0.5), who latches on and finishes the sack.
O31 2 16 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Run N/A Inside zone Black 4
Black(+2) blasts the center way upfield as M stunts behind him. RB has to cut behind, then cut back outside, allowing Black to peel back and tackle. RPS +1.
O27 3 12 Shotgun trips bunch Nickel over Pass 4 Swing Bolden -1
Taylor(+1, cover +1) in press and riding a slant the whole way, which is what Whitmer is looking at. He then dumps it off on a swing route that Bolden(+1) is out on. RB slips as he tries to cut; Bolden had it for a TFL anyway. Really seems like UConn is just going for FG positioning here. Black(+0.5, pressure +1, stunt) is coming through if this isn't a quick dump.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(45), 2 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O22 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Pass 4 Waggle drag Beyer 8
Beyer(-0.5, cover -1) is not in horrible position here but he does suck in enough to allow Whitmer to float the ball over his head for a nice gain.
O30 2 2 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Run 4 Midline zone read Bolden 3
M slants/flips with Clark peeling back and Beyer sent off the edge. Pipkins goes after the RB, so I'm surprised there's not a pull here; Whitmer must see Clark folding back. With Beyer containing and the linemen in front of him slanting under, Bolden(-1) should be able to fill authoritatively before anyone can get out on him but he doesn't seem to get it and holds up. Looks like he sees Whitmer's run fake after the handoff and hesitates. That's Clark's responsibility. Bolden does fight to the hole with a lineman on his back and makes a tackle from the side that gives up the first down. RPS +1.
O33 1 10 Ace 4-3 over Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
O28 1 15 Ace 4-wide Nickel over Pass 4 Skinny post Morgan INT
Plenty of time (pressure -2, line). Whitmer tries a skinny post that Morgan(+4, cover +3) leaps up to spear for an awesome interception. With Ross(+0.5) and Wilson(+0.5) bracketing this guy this wasn't going to go well for UConn either way.
Drive Notes: Interception, 14-21, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twins 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Ross 1
Looks like an attempt to quick-hit the backside of the line but no UConn OL even bothers to release to the second level. Woo! Henry(+0.5) may have some part in that. Ross(+1) reads reacts tackles.
O26 2 9 Shotgun twin TE twins Okie one Pass 4 Sack Ojemudia -10
Seven guys at LOS with Taylor overhanging; only the DL rush. Ojemudia(+2, pressure +3, line) goes right around a TE as a stunting Wormley(+1) slogs his way up the middle of the pocket on a stunt, dragging two OL with him. When Ojemudia has his tackle ducked under, Wormley is there to finish it.
O16 3 19 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Throwaway Black Inc
Pretty bizarre play by M as the three LB types just hang out at the LOS, so this is a three man rush against seven guys in, but without the extra coverage that implies. Must be man with a spy. M covers well(+2) and then Black(+1) comes through all the offensive linemen to flush Whitmer; he throws it away.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-21, 8 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel over Pass 4 Out and up Countess 14
Countess(-1, cover -1) bites and is beaten long for a first down.
O39 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel over Run N/A Jet sweep Avery 6
I'm a little bit at a loss here. Jet goes outside of Ojemudia quickly, but not sure what he's going to do about this since it's not veer. TGordon(+0.5) comes down quickly and takes a WR on who's trying to crack down on him effectively; this leaves Avery(-0.5, tackling -1) alone. He fills well but just about whiffs the tackle, allowing YAC.
O45 2 4 Ace twins Okie one Run N/A Power O Black 7
Black(-1) blasted inside, big gap, and with the LBs dropping out on the snap they have to stop and then accelerate forward; not ideal. RPS -1.
M48 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Pass 4 Throwaway Heitzman Inc
Clark in obvious-I'm-dropping stance. He drops, Beyer goes. Heitzman(+2) swims through the middle, flushing the QB; Beyer(-1) gets cut and Whitmer can escape the pocket. (Pressure +1, line). Whitmer rolls, can't find anyone (cover +1) and passes on five yards rushing to throw a ball OOB.
M48 2 10 Ace trips TE Nickel over Pass 4 Bubble screen Countess -3
Countess(+1, tackling +1) is ignored by the slot guy over him and shoots up to tackle.
O49 3 13 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
M threatens a blitz up the middle, drawing a false start.
O44 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 nickel Pass 3 Sack Clark -11
M sends only three and gets Clark(+3, pressure +3, line) alone on the crappy RT, who he destroys. He grabs the QB and holds on until Henry(+0.5) finishes the play.
O33 4 29 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Seam Wilson 26
Insane press cover on fourth and 29. Insane leaving two linebackers at the LOS doing nothing. Ends up in a great throw by the QB that Wilson(+1, tackling +1) ends immediately. Countess(+0.5, cover +1) was right there.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 24-21, 2 min 4th Q. M ends game.


In this, at least, we agree. UConn had 13 drives. One of these was a quality 56-yard touchdown drive. One other set them up for a 45-yard field goal attempt they missed. One was a touchdown drive starting from the Michigan nine after the DaMario Jones punt incident. Everything else was a punt or a turnover. When Michigan was struggling badly in the first half UConn went three and out four consecutive times; for the game they ended up with six three and outs and two additional one-first-down and out including the game-turning interception.

Even if UConn is bad, and they are, that is what you're supposed to do to a bad team. Now, the—


—chart (I see we're not boycotting the defense)—


—is a little light on amazement as UConn had only 47 plays and on several of those plays they screwed it up themselves. Check the ratios not the raw numbers.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Heitzman 2.5 0.5 2 One nice rush up the middle.
Washington 2.5 - 2.5 Minimized by passing spread as usual.
Black 10 1 9 Effective interior rusher all day.
Clark 9.5 3 6.5 Welcome to 2013. Please stay.
Wormley 4 - 4 Helpful on multiple sacks.
Pipkins 0.5 - 0.5 See Washington.
Glasgow - - - DNP, I think.
Ojemudia 3.5 - 3.5 Smoked TE for sack.
Godin - - - DNC… did he even play/
Ash - - - DNP
Henry 3.5 3.5 0 Made a couple plays but got housed once.
Charlton - - - DNP
TOTAL 36 8 28 Very sold pressure number as well.
Player + - T Notes
C.Gordon - - - DNC. DNP?
Morgan 6.5 3.5 3 Saved the game.
Ross 8 3 5 people of earth please lay off James Ross
Beyer - 2.5 -2.5 No rush impact and got a little burned in space.
Ryan - - - DNP
Bolden 2.5 4 -1.5 Needed to carry that seam.
Gedeon - - - DNP
Jenkins-Stone - - - DNP
TOTAL 17 13 4 ILBs carried the day.
Player + - T Notes
Countess 4 1 3 Quiet, solid day.
Taylor 4 2 2 Was not attacked over the top.
Stribling - - - DNP
Hollowell - - - DNP
T. Gordon 3 - 3 Consistent, immediate tackles.
Avery 1 3 -2 Not great in run support still; didn't minus on almost bomb
Wilson 1.5 1 0.5 mmmm boring safety
Furman - - - DNP
J. Clark - - - DNP
Lewis - - - DNP (on D)
TOTAL 13.5 7 6.5 Solid day without many plays made.
Pressure 23 9 14 +14 line, +8 blitz, +1 stunt
Coverage 22 13 9 Too many coverages burst open so the ball was gone.
Tackling 4 4 50% Tackles are at least being made.
RPS 10 8 2 Basically a push.

While the overall positives are mostly concentrated on the DL, an overall +6.5 from the secondary is pretty good and their coverage number is also good. The two starting ILBs had good days, but Beyer didn't have any notably positive plays. In his defense, his minuses were almost entirely a result of Michigan putting him in positions he is uncomfortable—covering down the seam, playing ILB.

The line's overall plus rate is not impressive but the near lack of minuses is. About the only things that went wrong were Henry getting blown up once and Clark not folding back, which we'll talk about in more detail in a bit.

You'll notice that I've separated out the rush positives in an attempt to see which are guys straight up beating OL, which are blitz-generated, and which are stunt-aided (almost all stunt positives will be paired with a line positive). This one was a straight up beating applied by Michigan's defensive ends and Black, in particular.

UConn's two actual drives featured a number of plays that were tip-your-hat moments, including a comeback that Taylor couldn't do anything about despite being in excellent position.

We seem to be getting burned in the short seams a lot.

Yeah, after Akron exploited that area a bit in the last game UConn had a large chunk of their limited success there. This strike to a tight end exploited both Brennen Beyer and Desmond Morgan:

Somewhat understandable that the ILBs would suck up on this as UConn pulls a guard and threatens to run the veer, but this is the third straight game in which Michigan has seemed vulnerable in these areas. We saw very little Cam Gordon in this game, and this is an area where he may be an asset.

Meanwhile this was a virtual replay of the Akron game down to the non-blitzing LB (Ross here, Morgan last week) and Clark hanging out uselessly close to each other and the far too easy inside releases against outside leverage without anyone underneath to cut that lane off:

We had a discussion about this last week after I wobbled about whether that was man or zone; people say zone, so fine it's zone. In that case I don't see how you can stop this without having some sort of robber in that area, whether it's a safety coming down or Ross dropping. UConn also hit an identical route against man coverage as Avery got beat.

And Bolden had a coverage error that led to a touchdown for the second straight week:

Spielman brings in Countess there as a potential culprit but Countess is lined up to the outside and I'm not sure what he can do even if he does try to cover this short seam. Look at that TE's route, meanwhile: he throws a slight jog in just as he reaches Bolden, which convinces him that he needs to check the inside route.

Work to do there, though the Morgan interception demonstrates the perils of going over the middle too consistently.

And we're dying on fly routes.

Well I don't know. For the second straight week it was just like…


Avery joins the lolwut you made that play club

if you're going to make that play, you're going to make that play, and no one can do a damn thing about it. It seems clear that Michigan's corners are either coached in such a way that they end up trailing or just aren't good enough to stay over the top, and that is a concern. It has taken perfect throws to beat them, or almost beat them, most of the time.

Black is good? We are not worried about Black? I'm still kind of worried about Black.

We're yet to see him play anything resembling a rushing offense, but he has been playing well so far. He provides a lot of pass rush for an interior player and his size makes him effective on Michigan's frequent stunts and twists. He's also generated some organic rush in the first four games:

And he has a relentless quality to him that provides a number of plays that aren't explosive decapitations of the quarterback but are important when Michigan's trying to prevent an iffy play from becoming a bad one. Here his legs never stop moving on one of Michigan's bizarre long yardage defenses and eventually he flushes the QB:

When Michigan's been bludgeoned out of a hole by a double team it has usually not been him. Minnesota will be an interesting test, as their system is moving towards what would happen if you put Tim Tebow through the tunnel in Being Tim Tebow. They have brutes at quarterback and run them all day.

The play immediately after the sack above was an encouraging note in that department:

Elsewhere in three-tech run defense Henry obliterated an inverted veer and seems to have emerged into the clear #2 at three-tech. We should slow the hype train a bit, though, as there were a couple plays in this game where Henry got blown up pretty good. The guy is an ox, but he's still a work in progress.

We have pass rush?

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. UConn is sack Santa this year; Michigan only treaded water relative to other opponents. It was an encouraging performance, as Michigan's four sacks were almost all generated by linemen beating guys. Ojemudia blew past a tight end, but often you're going to need a second guy on a sack, which Wormley provided here:

That kind of thing is what Space Coyote was hoping to get when he talked about how Michigan's line wasn't working as a unit and therefore wasn't getting pressure that led to anything. Wormley doesn't do anything other than push the pocket the whole play, but that's exactly what M needs to finish off a big loss initiated by Ojemudia.

The rest of it was probably UConn's backup right tackle being not good at all. Even so, it's nice to see something of what people were hyping up about Frank Clark:

Clark had a near-TFL on a play where Beyer blitzes and he folds back as a quasi-linebacker that I'm going to picture page later today, but he also blew an assignment on another one of those formation-flip playcalls that gave up a seven-yard gain that would otherwise have been similarly stoned. He's still busting too many assignments for my tastes.

Finally, Clark's first sack was a combination of the above themes. He went to work on the right tackle as the rest of the line stayed in their lanes.

It was a step forward; Minnesota will be a much stiffer test.

What the pants was that on fourth and a billion?

I don't know man. It's fourth and 29 and Michigan lines up two safeties in Siberia but puts four cornerbacks on the LOS, rushes three, and leaves two linebackers idling behind like this Whitmer guy is Michael Vick or Andrew Maxwell and is going to be able to run for it. Whitmer hits a 26-yard pass and all you need is one missed tackle from Jarrod Wilson and it's teeth-chattering time:

Meanwhile, Courtney Avery had been beaten over the top on a fly route that could have given UConn the first down.


That wasn't the only oddity on extreme yardage. On an earlier third and nineteen, Michigan lined up in a stack, rushed three guys, and had all three linebackers hanging out near the line of scrimmage but not rushing.

I can understand one spy-type person and assume the other two are in man coverage on the TE and RB. Super weird all the same.

I guess we should point out that Wilson did not biff the tackle and in fact put the guy on the ground so fast that there wasn't any time to panic before Michigan had won the game. Michigan's only exposure on deep balls remains fly routes to the edge of the field on which it doesn't appear the safeties have responsibility.

I've heard that Michigan might play Jake Ryan at middle linebacker when he comes back?

Wait, what?

Yeah, man, the rumbles are rumblin'.

Not, like, permanently, though.

Naw, just as a changeup.

I'm still skeptical of this. Michigan actually ran a play with Brennen Beyer essentially functioning as an ILB thanks to a shift, and it went poorly:

That's the platonic ideal of your linebackers not understanding what your line is doing. The line is slanting to the playside except Clark, who is contain. This results in one large hole but no release downfield from any of the OL. Michigan is actually hoping to get that cutback from the running back because it should result in a thunderous hit from an unblocked linebacker. Beyer doesn't know what he's seeing and Combs gets a nice gain. SAMs are not ILBs.

If they do run Ryan out there on the interior it'll be part of a rush package, I imagine. It's a way to try to get Clark, Black, Beyer, Ojemudia, and Ryan all on the field at the same time. Even if you fold Clark into three-tech (something Michigan has not done so far) that's one too many pass rushers for your line.


If you're wondering why anyone would even be in the area, I am too. Michigan extending its blocks to and past the punt returner did pay off later with that Dileo return, but in the situation Michigan found itself if Dileo fields the ball at all he is making a fair catch. But in a pooch situation, Dileo is fair catching the ball 100% of the time he touches it. Michigan shouldn't have anyone inside the 20 other than the returner.


Black, Clark, Morgan, and Ross. And we should give a shout-out to both safeties, who have been delightfully invisible this season. When you aren't getting anything over the top and your safeties are immediately tackling on any throw over 15 yards, you are getting at least B+ play from them.

Maybe not so heroic?

Pretty much the only thing that looked bad on the day was the coverage on the seam TD from Bolden.

What does it mean for Minnesota and the future?

Probably not much. Sorry to say. But…

There is a blip of Right To Rush Four hope. Black, Clark, and Ojemudia all generated natural pass rush; Wormley pressed back into the pocket effectively. Michigan did much better at creating a constricted space that their playmakers can attack, and then they attacked.

Willie Henry is grabbing the backup three-tech snaps, and the rotation is narrowing. I don't think Glasgow played and if Godin got out there it was very briefly. Henry and Wormley are seemingly the primary backups at SDE and 3T, giving Michigan the eight-man rotation plus Beyer that seems to make sense.

Michigan does have good line depth. Wormley, Henry, and Ojemudia all turned in good plays. Pipkins didn't because this was another nose tackle light game.

Seriously, Ross is doing well. It's about impossible to tell live because it's just pass drop after pass drop and occasional run play on which he may not be involved because he's outside the box, but he's doing his job play in, play out.

There probably isn't much difference between Avery and Stribling/Hollowell/Lewis. Avery is more reliable; Lewis is faster; Stribling is bigger; Hollowell is feistier. They're all about the same player in overeall talent level.

The safeties… could be good? One more game out of the way without anything that could plausibly be blamed on a safety going down. That's four straight. Yeah, level of competition, but a lot of teams find ways to break down at safety even against good outfits. The immediate insertion of Avery at nickelback speaks to how far the coaches' confidence in Wilson has come over the last six weeks.



September 27th, 2013 at 1:42 PM ^

I still feel like the safeties are playing well because Mattison still has the training wheels on. Not to say that they wouldn't do well if given the opportunity, but it seems like things have been fairly vanilla and very "cushiony".


September 27th, 2013 at 2:02 PM ^

Probably true. I do, however, think it was notable that Greg seemed more willing to unleash some of the exotic blitzes that are in the D's arsenal--that puts pressure on the safeties and they're doing okay.

Also, they're not getting picked on, which suggests opposing coaches haven't found them to be a weak spot. It seems to me that you can kinda tell who is the weak spot of a defensive backfield by seeing which player gets tested deep. Coaches who spend hours watching film and have years of experience have a way of finding that, even if their players aren't actually capable of completing those deep balls often. Remember JT Floyd getting at least one deep ball test every week last year?


September 27th, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

What has happened to Dymonte Thomas? I thought coming out of spring ball he was going to play some at the nickel but it looks like he's disappeared. Did he get hurt and I missed it?

Zone Left

September 27th, 2013 at 2:47 PM ^

He's got to get ready to play. Ohio Stateand Nebraska are going to spread the field and then run right at us. I'd prefer Thomas and his size be at nickel for at least some of that instead of Avery and his lack of size. 

Avery will be a better player this year, but Thomas has physical gifts Avery can't match. Additionally, Thomas at nickel would push Countess back to corner, which would be a huge win for us against the best offenses we'll face.

Huntington Wolverine

September 27th, 2013 at 2:03 PM ^

Looks like an RPS evaluation

A pure pick route that should probably get PI as the TE on the LOS just flat blocks James Ross and drives him into Morgan, who gets picked off. Wormley is dropping valiantly in an attempt to cover the RB but that's never happening. I guess this is RPS -1, cover -1. Refs -2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-14, 2 min 2nd Q.



September 27th, 2013 at 2:00 PM ^

Do big time college programs and NFL teams break down their film immediately after a game so that the next day or less than 24 hours after the game, the coaches have scored and evaluated their position players? In other words, do they follow a system of UFR like Brian’s except with many more resources to speed the process and get into even more detail? It is helpful for me to better understand the details of individual players and/or team and to quantify strengths/weaknesses when I see Brian’s UFR. I love the analysis. Since I last played high school football before most everyone at MGoBlog was born, we just had some minor film sessions regarding the other team.

Just curious how much Moneyball type analytics goes into breaking down your own team these days and how much they use that to apply to the actual coaching? I’m sure it depends on the style and philosophy of the coaching staff. 

I would be interested in hearing from coaches and players.



September 27th, 2013 at 2:09 PM ^

the graduate assistants or the coaches at a lower rung of the coaching staff first break down films by charting pass/run, formation, down and distance with time, and personnel.  They complied the data into chart to give it to the head coach/coordinator so they can break it down even further by zeroing on plays, techniques and players performance.  All of it is always the next day sometimes even hours after the game is over.  The position coaches typically evaluate their own position grouping for individual performance breakdown.  All of it is self scouting.

They have to do some more film breakdown with opponent sending you gametapes.  People don't realize on how much work it takes to do film breakdown.  It's a grind.


September 27th, 2013 at 2:13 PM ^

I've often wondered if Michigan fans could provide a competitive advantage by doing this sort of thing after the game and having it available to the coaches. User generated, just like UFR but with many more resources. Similar to Wikipedia. Put all this passion to help the team?


September 27th, 2013 at 2:23 PM ^

The coaches are way ahead of us on this. Not only do they have better angles that show all 22 players on the field, they also know what's supposed to happen each play where Brian is forced to guess (and have Heiko ask in pressers) what the play is intended to do.

Zone Left

September 27th, 2013 at 2:52 PM ^

I would guess there's little hard core analytics work going into grading.

Traditional grading gives a player basically a plus or a minus for each play based on technique and result. There probably is no formal weighting based on the relative difficulty of a technique or assignment or an adjustment for going head-to-head against a guy like Taylor Lewan vice UConn's right tackle.


September 27th, 2013 at 2:04 PM ^

Valid question. I think, given the challenge most teams face in completing passes deep to the outside, that the area where he is weak is outweighed by the advantages of having a superior athlete in Countess at nickel. From that position he both covers dangerous receivers that are running easier-to-complete routes and is available to participate in blitzes, where I suppose Avery is less adept.

Ron Utah

September 27th, 2013 at 2:11 PM ^

To win the B1G, we'll have to beat Ohio, Nebraska, and/or Northwestern.

The great spread teams (ie any Urban Meyer team) use the slot receiver as security blanket, deep threat, and alternative to a RB.

I think Hoke/Mattison might be looking ahead to our stiffest competition in the B1G and wanting to have a superlative athlete at the nickel, where Ohio beat us up badly last year.  And given our early failure at covering the middle of the field, we need all the help we can get in there.

What's frustrating is that the job of the outside guy is much simpler in our defense, and we're making some silly mistakes.  I don't think that #3 CB job is settled.

Just a theory.

Zone Left

September 27th, 2013 at 3:09 PM ^

The coaches trust Countess in run support. That, and the need to cover against OSU and Nebraska you mentioned are biggest reasons he's playing nickel.

The ideal is that Thomas is almost ready to play, but I'm not confident the coaches are going to start playing a freshman during Big 10 play.

Ron Utah

September 27th, 2013 at 2:07 PM ^

Love the UFR.  I think it's interesting that Clark was moved to play against the RT several times during the game.  Clark is obviously one of our best athletes; putting him against someone he could run around pretty easily seemed like a smart move.  It also negated Beyer's usual contribution.

Black looks like the real deal.  I am interested to see how he holds-up against the corn-fed linemen in the B1G.

On the Bolden TD...this is a hard play to read.  It's almost certainly zone, as the defenders have their lanes, their eyes are on the QB, and their shoulders are square to the LOS.  I have watched it about 25 times and I'm still not sure exactly who messed-up.  

I think Bolden actually takes his assignment in a short zone.  I think Countess carries the man and is supposed to be forcing him to Gordon.  It looks like Countess pulls off because he thinks the play is going short.  It looks like Gordon might be a bit too deep.  I also think Countess has a view of the dig route coming into the picture from the outside WR, and sees the QB looking in the middle and thinks the pass might go short.

First of all, this is great play design againts our defense.  We have a softer middle by design (to limit plays over the top) but we should be tighter in the red zone.  So I would call this an RPS.

Second, my best guess is that the blown coverage is more on Countess/Gordon than on Bolden.  I don't think Bolden can leave that man--Countess was not going to cover him.  UConn just found the horizontal seam between our short zones (Countess and Bolden) and our deep zones (Gordon).  It was a nice play by them, and I think if anyone is going to defend it, it's Countess and Gordon.

But I'm really not sure.


September 27th, 2013 at 2:50 PM ^

My feeling is it's on Countess and Gordon (safety to that side).  The outside slot (#2) takes an inside release while the standup TE (#3) runs straight up field.  Coutess squeezes but not enough.  Gordon doesn't squeeze at all.

Contrary to what Spielman says, it does NOT turn into man-to-man.  Watch the Corner and LB on the left of the screen.  They are clearly in zone.

Space Coyote

September 27th, 2013 at 2:55 PM ^

Spielman had thought they were in some sort of cover 2, be it man under or cover 2 zone. But I do agree with your assessment, Gordon needs to be more aggressive on the seam and not worry so much about over hanging on the outside. He isn't really threatened outside, but you have to take away the inside pass before the outside one; the outside one has two boundaries to help the corner cover and is a longer throw over the top.

Space Coyote

September 27th, 2013 at 2:22 PM ^

TD pass to RB:

What Wormley is doing is what is called a peal rush. The LB stacked over him is sent on an inside blitz, and if the RB flares there is no one to pick him up immediately in the flat. Wormley's job is to peal to prevent the immediate swing pass from gaining easy yards, particularly if it's something like a flare screen where the OL will block everyone else inside.

Now, I think Morgan needs to do a better job aligning here. There are a couple bodies over there and you don't want to group up too much, but sometimes you have to tip your hand a little so you can actually succeed in coverage. The RB is lined up essentially like a split back, behind the OT at the snap. Morgan doesn't have a chance to get over the top to help Wormley because he gets picked, but that could be helped if he lined up with the RB. My guess is UConn saw something on film that showed how Michigan went man in these situations or checked to something like this where the LB blitzes off the knob side (no one lined up outside the TE or just a TE and wing).


The seam TD:

The reason Spielman throws in Countess here is because he isn't sure what kind of communication Michigan is using. You'll notice the receiver Countess is lined up over dips inside underneath the seam receiver. A lot of teams, if those receivers are initially close, will play an inside/outside coverage or a high/low check so the LB isn't forced to carry deep (basically meaning Countess would take whoever goes deep and Bolden would stay underneath where he isn't forced to play in as much space). The question is, what is Michigan's check for this? How wide can the split be to still run this? As much as I do think it's Bolden for not carrying the seam, because I think the split is too wide to necessitate that check, what is more clear is that this is miscommunication on what each defender is supposed to do. That needs to be better as that's happened more than a few times this year to Michigan.

Ron Utah

September 27th, 2013 at 2:28 PM ^

I agree, but think your initial analysis was correct.  Bolden doesn't even consider carrying that seam.  On his other mistakes, he has at least tried to carry the seam, but hasn't done a good job on his drops.  On this play, he sits down right away, and it makes sense that the coaches are trying to keep him away from covering the deep seam since he seems (HA!) to suck at it.

I do think this is on Countess, but his positioning looks like he's trying to carry the TE to Gordon.  So maybe Gordon is late too.

Space Coyote

September 27th, 2013 at 2:36 PM ^

I thought it was man under, but upon looking again this is pretty clearly cover 6 (1/4, 1/4, 1/2). I also think Countess is responsible for carrying deep because those two will likely play it high/low in that situation. Was editting it when you replied.

Countess could have carried it quicker, but I think it's also on Gordon as well, who is in a 1/2 coverage deep. No one is treatening outside, this play crosses the GL, and he hasn't come down on the seam yet. You'd like this to pretty much turn into a bracket coverage with Countess playing underneath and Gordon over the top, but both of them are a little late breaking on their intended assigment, IMO.

Space Coyote

September 27th, 2013 at 2:52 PM ^

ND was the first to heavily exploit the seam. They did it a lot in the first half and Michigan never really adjusted by rerouting or carrying the seam. Whether it's a systemic problem or something else I'm not sure, but it needs to be corrected because the film is out, has been out, and it has maybe been corrected a little bit, but inconsistently.


September 27th, 2013 at 3:01 PM ^

I get the impression that Mattison is ok giving up the middle seam with 2 deep safeties, so long as they make the tackle after the catch.  Based on what I see, I think they are more concerned about the outside receiver running a post route and exploiting the seam between Gordon and the corner.

Space Coyote

September 27th, 2013 at 3:20 PM ^

Because as much as we ride the LBs for not dropping well enough (or carry, or redirecting), the safeties have also not been extremely aggressive in stopping that seam. They have played it with more caution, I think to prevent the big play over the top of the outside receiver, and also so that they don't get burned by a poor angle for a TD.

Still, on the seam near the GL, you can't afford to play it like that.

Space Coyote

September 27th, 2013 at 3:18 PM ^

The only reason that I think this is on Countess is because of the initial release off the LOS by the WR he's lined up over. The initial release is inside, basically making him and the TE stacked. If that WR releases straight up field, he and the TE aren't really that close and then Bolden must carry the seam, not Countess (who would have to make sure his guy wasn't running a hitch or an out).

So it's the initial release that causes the communication to be bad. It's still a communicaiton issue though.

Ron Utah

September 27th, 2013 at 2:25 PM ^

I love Mattison, but Brian is right to point out to dubious play calls in this game.  I empathically believe Michigan should be playing more bump-and-run, but on 4th and forever?  With the LBs both doing nothing?

The 3rd and 19 play is almost as frustrating, and may have been saved by great play from the three-man rush.  Why not drop your three LBs into short (or even medium) zones and just keep the ball in front of you?

Those are both lousy calls, IMO.

Also, it's alarming how much of UConn's yardage came on passes to the middle of the field.  We need to do a better job of defending that space and making people pay when they use it.  Certainly worth monitoring going forward.

Ron Utah

September 27th, 2013 at 3:43 PM ^

But why play press man on 3rd and 19?  Why not play softer coverage when you know a slant or hitch won't hurt you?

If you're going to press on 3rd and long, you better be forcing the issue.  We did a great job on a three-man rush, but I sure wouldn't count on that too often.

The play itself is fine, the timing of the call, I think, was poor.


September 27th, 2013 at 2:27 PM ^

Disagree that those four CBs are all similar in talent level.  Lewis and Stribling are true freshmen.  They both have more talent, but just lack experience. 


September 27th, 2013 at 2:28 PM ^

Am I the only person not freaking out about the defensive formation on the last play? It seemed to me like the corners were in press to take away any attempts to throw it short and run it across, and the safeties were there to clean up any long pass attempts. Given where Wilson came from to make that last tackle, I'm pretty sure he would still have been in position to take away any passes down the sideline if the QB had noticed Avery getting burnt. I don't think they were flirting with as much danger as everyone else seems to imply.

Ron Utah

September 27th, 2013 at 2:31 PM ^

But why flirt with danger at all?

There's no reason to worry about short routes on 4th and 29.  We play with big cushions all game, then go bump-and-run on a 4th and 29?  That makes no sense to me, unless we're blitzing.  Which we didn't.

I love Mattison and he called a very good game, but this one stunk, IMO.