Upon Further Review: Defense vs Eastern Michigan Comment Count

Brian September 23rd, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Personnel notes: Michigan didn't change much at all from the Notre Dame game. Leach played basically the whole game for Mouton. Kovacs again got the fourth quarter when Mike Williams tweaked his ankle. Substitution on the DL continued as before. The only difference is that JB Fitzgerald did get in some as a replacement for Leach or Ezeh.

Michigan did debut a couple of new looks in this game, as described by Steve Sharik earlier this week. One was a pure 3-3-5 look that could have come right out of the West Virginia salad days; the deathbacker played as a MLB. The other was an aggressive eight-man front run defense Sharik calls "split" that M ran against a lot of their ace sets. I noted the 3-3-5 stack somewhat but not the split, which looked like an under to me. I'll work on it for next week. If Robinson stops adding packages I'll eventually be able to ID them consistently.

BTW: This completes Michigan's collection of fronts: They've run even and under 4-3 fronts, a 3-4, and the 3-3-5. Robinson was not kidding about "multiple fronts." The under is still the base, though.

Steve also talked about the "Down G" play that EMU ran a lot. The basic principle here is much like the basic principle was against Michigan State's power ground game the past two years: you are an unblocked DE; there is a guard pulling around who wants to kick you out and open up a crease inside you. You have to get into the guard and make the tailback bounce it outside, where a linebacker will pursue and clean up.

BONUS! In my never-ending quest to make UFR more complicated every year I've added a third defensive metric: tackling. Missed tackles get minuses, as do routine tackles on which the ballcarrier picks up YAC. Open field tackles, tough tackles, and tackles where the guy goes down right where he's hit get pluses. It's very experimental.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace trips 4-3 under Run Zone stretch right Van Bergen 9
Michigan in a two-deep shell and in man over the WRs so this is six blockers on six defenders even without the QB counting. RVB(-1) gets doubled momentarily and falls to the ground, opening up a lane, and Ezeh(-1) is tentative, which gives the OL sliding to the second level an angle; Ezeh attempts to go around him and takes himself out of the play. RB jets to the second level. Good open field tackle(+1) from Williams(+0.5).
O29 2 1 Ace Base 4-3 Run Zone stretch right Williams 0
Eight-man front from M with press man free on the outside. Williams(+1) times a blitz well and shoots into the playside OT before he can peel off Martin, knocking the OL back and erasing any potential lanes. On the bounce, Graham(+0.5) cleans up.
O29 3 1 Ace 4-3 under Run Zone stretch left Martin 2
Martin(+0.5), slanting, slips past a momentary block from the center and avoids getting scooped, which along with a quick reaction from Ezeh forces a cutback. RVB is flowing down the line behind Martin & Co and makes a good tackle(+1), but momentum carries the back forward for the first.
O31 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Fly Graham Inc
Williams rolled up and press man on the outside again; EMU attempts to test it. M blitzes Williams, drawing the OT, and a RB has to attempt to cut Graham(+0.5, pressure +1), who dives over the cut and gets into Schmitt a bit, causing him to shorten his follow-through. Receiver has a step on Cissoko (-1, cover -1) and room to the sideline, but it's overthrown.
O31 2 10 Ace Twin TE 4-3 under Run Power off tackle Martin -3
Tackle blocks down on RVB(-1), blowing him out immediately, and the guard to that side pulls around as EMU tries to attack the gap between RVB and Roh. No dice though as Martin(+2) shoots into the intended hole, forcing a bounce into Roh(+1), who's held up well and drives his man back. The bounce takes a circuitous route, allowing Brown(+0.5) to read everything and come up to make a solid, no-YAC tackle(+1).
O28 3 13 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5-ish Pass Screen -- Inc
Graham(+1, pressure +1) comes around the corner too fast for this screen to develop properly and forces Schmitt to throw it inaccurately. Looked like Brown and Leach had this well sniffed out. (Cover +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q. This drive is actually pretty solid, with one bad play followed by five good ones that saw Michigan defeat Eastern instead of Eastern defeat itself.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run Zone stretch right Van Bergen -3
Eight man front. Michigan slanting into the play here, which gets Van Bergen(+1) and Martin(+1) deep into the backfield directly in the RB's intended path. Surrounded, he's got no choice but to end up in RVB's arms. (Tackling +1) Martin twists an ankle and is replaced by Sagesse.
O22 2 13 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5-ish Pass Hitch Ezeh 10
Six yard hitch Ezeh(-1) is about four yards off of when it's thrown, allowing the TE to turn it upfield and pick up four more. (Cover -1)
O32 3 3 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Pass Slant Ezeh 2
Ezeh(+1) reads Schmitt's eyes and immediately takes off for the slant, arriving in time to tackle(+1) short of the sticks. (Cover +1) Very decisive here.
O34 4 1 Ace 4-3 under Run Dive Sagesse 22
Michigan still getting into alignment as the ball is snapped, which seems like poor planning since the snap comes with two seconds on the clock. Eight man front with press man and big spreads between the DL; Michigan is coming after it. Sagesse(-1) steps inside and gets sealed. This cedes a big crease with help from similarly creased Brown(-1). No linebacker help since everyone's selling out on fourth and one, and the RB is into the secondary immediately. Woolfolk takes a good angle and comes up to tackle after about ten, but misses it (-1, tackling -1), giving up another ten before Warren can haul him down.
M44 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Pass Fly Cissoko Inc (Pen +15)
Eight man front. Can't say M's not being aggressive here, though on this play the corners have backed off. You've seen this before. Cissoko(+1, cover +1) is running this guy's route and gets called for the world's worst PI. Roh was working his way to the QB, FWIW. Not plus-warranting but pressure was coming.
M29 1 10 Ace 3-3-5-ish Run Zone stretch right Sagesse -1
Sagesse(+2) shoots past the center's block and slants past the attempted scoop from the backside guard, jetting into the backfield and forcing the RB outside. With help from Roh(+1, tackling +1), Michigan picks up a TFL.
M30 2 11 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5-ish Pass Hitch Cissoko 9
Michigan sends three rushers against max protect so there are eight zone defenders and only three guys in patterns and there's still a wide open hitch five yards downfield that Cissoko is five yards away from at the catch. I usually don't give out personal negatives on zone coverage I can't see but here's a stern look (cover -1).
M21 3 2 Ace Big 3-3-5-ish Run Zone stretch right Sagesse -4
Slightly less impressive on replay than it was live because it's revealed that Sagesse was basically let into the backfield unmolested, as he's lined up in a zero tech (directly over the center) and slants right into the play. It's a good angle and he makes an excellent tackle(+1) so here's a +1. Graham(+1) also burst through so this was truly going nowhere.
Drive Notes: FG(42), 3-3, 5 min 1st Q. Not bothered by this drive, which was basically a couple of sloppy zone coverages, a gamble EMU won and M lost, and the world's worst PI call. Note that Michigan's running a lot of their 30 front and slanting directly into the stretch plays. This is progress from last week, when M had to discard the stretches because the angles were poor, and I'm betting is an adjustment EMU will make after this drive to open up their run game.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Down G Banks 2
Pulling guards and whatnot, a very Dantonio/Carr play. Michigan stunts, shooting Banks(+1) into the backfield and forcing the back away from the hole. Herron(+1 tackling) cleans up on the cutback.
O23 2 8 Ace 3-3-5-ish Pass PA TE flat Warren 2
Graham is unblocked and flies upfield at Schmitt after he diagnoses the play action, hypothetically opening up the TE flat sort of play that got Koger a big gainer last week but M is in cover two and Warren(+1, cover +1, tackle +1) reads it well and pops the guy as he makes the catch.
O25 3 6 Shotgun 2-back Base 3-4 Run Zone read keeper Brown 13
Brown(-2) overplays the zone fake badly and loses contain, opening up huge space for a first down. Worse: this is the backup FR QB, so obviously the run is a preferred option. Very poor.
O38 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5-ish Run Inside Zone Martin 2
EMU finally tries to run right at this three-man line. Leach(+0.5) kind of sort of cuts off an outside hole, which causes a cutback into a doubled Martin(+2), except Martin's shucked his blockers and tackles(+1) at the LOS.
O40 2 8 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass PA Cross Leach 7
Play action with a rollout and this is on Leach(-1, cover -1) for vacating his zone and aimlessly running forward to contain a rollout Banks(+0.5) has covered.
O47 3 1 Ace tight 4-3 under Run Dive -- 4
Fully ten guys in the box as EMU lines up in a tight set with both wideouts acting as quasi-TEs. They run right at a sizeable gap between Martin and Graham that Leach(-0.5) doesn't attack fast enough. Looks misaligned or mis-called or something because this didn't seem like a defense likely to prevent a quick burst up the middle.
M49 1 10 Ace 3-3-5-ish Pass PA rollout scramble Ezeh 24
Man, I don't know what the hell Ezeh(-2) is doing on this. Okay, I do: he's way over-reacting to where Schmitt's looking downfield. He takes himself so far out of his zone that he can reach out and touch Herron, opening up acres of space for Schmitt to either dump off to the running back or take off; he chooses to take off, getting huge yardage. (Cover -2, pressure -1)
M25 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run Counter pitch Heininger 0
Yeah, this is a counter, with an H-back pulling backside to block the defensive end as you've seen in Picture Pages frequently. Heininger(+1) reads it, gets into his blocker, and pushes him upfield, necessitating a cutback. Martin(+1) gets blown back by a double team before shucking his guy, reading, hopping to the LOS, and tackling.
M25 2 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Martin 10
Eight man front. Can't blame Ezeh on this one, as he reads and fills and probably had this snuffed out for little or no gain except for a cutback from the tailback that's open because Martin(-1) got chopped. Leach(-1) failed to read the play and got hooked by a downfield OL, leaving him out of position to deal with this slow-developing play and getting EMU's tailback into the secondary.
M15 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run Down G Graham 4
Trap blocking on this; Graham(-1) comes in unblocked but fails to read the pulling guard and doesn't get under him to spill the play outside. RB shoots untouched through the line where Leach(+0.5) makes a solid tackle(+1). This could be on Ezeh, actually... depends on what was called. He was heading outside, though, so I think Graham has to spill the play.
M11 2 6 Ace tight 4-3 under Run Zone read keeper Graham 11
Well, one: Graham(-2) irresponsibly charges after the tailback, opening up the QB keeper. Weird how this basic zone read defense step is one we can't get right. And two: JB Fitzgerald(-2) makes just an epically bad read, fighting to the inside of his blocker two seconds after everyone else on the defense is chasing the QB.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-10, 11 min 2nd Q. I'm actually way less bothered by this drive than I thought I'd be. It's basically four dumb plays, two on QB contain, two on boneheaded zone drops, and not any sort of EMU-blowing-M-off-ball sort of thing.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Ace trips bunch 4-3 under Run Down G X 2 Roh 2
EMU pulls two linemen around to the outside but the tailback just shoots straight upfield. Miscommunication? Roh(+0.5) charges from the backside to tackle; Graham(+0.5) had read the play and helped out, too. (Tackling +1)
O29 2 8 Ace 4-3 under Run Dive RVB 4
Running right at the gap between Martin and RVB; RVB (-0.5) gets trapped and creased; can't spill the play outside. Ezeh(+0.5) reacted swiftly, though he wasn't blocked, to tackle in the hole.
O33 3 4 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5-ish Run Triple option dive Ezeh 1
I don't know if this is good play or bad from Ezeh since there's a triple option going on outside and the only contain is Brown; this is probably not assignment football. But he's right, and results based charting and all that. Here he attacks the dive aggressively(+1), getting into the RB's feet and helping Graham(+0.5) pursue to the ball and stop EMU short of the first down.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-10, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace tight 4-3 under Pass PA Sack Roh -5
Roh(+1) is unblocked on the backside, reads the play, and tackles(+1) as soon as the QB turns around to survey downfield. Excellent read and good job to keep under control to make the sack. (Pressure +2)
O20 2 15 Shotgun empty 2TE 30 front Pass Hitch Warren 13
This is a whatever hitch for five yards if Warren(-1) makes a tackle(-1); he does not. Receiver spins around and picks up eight more because of the error.
O33 3 2 Ace 4-3 under Pass Hitch Warren Inc
Warren(-0.5) one on one with the WR; turns his hips and gets beaten by a little hitch route just past the sticks (cover -1). Ball is dropped.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-10, 5 min 2nd Q. Rough couple plays from Warren there.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M36 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run Down G Fitzgerald 11
Well... dammit. They've stuck JB Fitzgerald in the game and it's clear why he doesn't get more playing time. Herron(+0.5) gets into a pulling guard early enough to close off any potential off tackle crease, spilling the play outside where Fitzgerald(-2) should be there to clean up. He's come down inside and run himself out of position so he can't make what should be a TFL. The play springs outside for first down yardage.
M25 1 10 Ace Big 3-3-5 stack Run Counter off tackle Leach 9
They run a counter, pulling a guard across; Banks(+0.5) again gets into him and spills the play but Leach(-2) has gone into a pass drop already and is eight yards downfield before he realizes this was a bad idea. He runs around some blocks; Ezeh(+0.5) is the WLB here and runs from the backside to tackle. Good athleticism there from Ezeh.
M16 2 1 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Zone stretch right 4
Pretty good job by Sagesse(+0.5) and Banks(+0.5) to hold up against blockers and force a cutback, but there's no one on the backside to clean up because Williams(-1) got clocked. Cissoko cleans up.
M12 1 10 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Counter off tackle Williams 6
Michigan cramming the box now; Banks(-0.5) blown off the ball by a double team and Herron(-0.5) sets up too far outside to squeeze the hole and spill the play. Still, Williams(-1) is sitting unblocked in the hole and fails to tackle(-1) at the LOS, turning this from like two into five. Michigan TO.
M6 2 4 Ace 4-3 under Run Down G Leach 2
Slight variant here with EMU blocking down on the DE and bringing one guard around into two linebackers. Leach(+1) reads the play and attacks it, closing in at the LOS and tackling(+1) with help from Ezeh. Michigan TO.
M4 3 2 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Off tackle Williams 4
This is just tough when they line up two TEs to one side of the line and the three guys you've got over there are Roh, Williams, and Cissoko. Roh(-1) gets doubled and blown back; Williams(-1) gets crushed into the endzone, which prevents any chance of LBs flowing over. M should have been in a goal line set here. Error by Robinson.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-17, 2 min 2nd Q. Note the timeouts! Rodriguez has played enough XBox 360 to understand when he can get an extra possession out of the first half. Can you imagine Carr taking these? There is one run play before halftime but it's academic and not charted.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O12 1 10 Ace trips 30 front Run Dive Williams 6
Williams(-1) is half-rolled up and fills on this simple dive play; a solid tackle means this is like three yards (Leach(-0.5) crushed out of the hole by a G), but Williams lets the guy spin through (tackling -1) and pick up extra.
O18 2 4 Ace Twin TE 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Graham -1
Graham(+2) blows through his guy and crushes the play in the backfield with help from unblocked Roh(+0.5) on the backside. (Tackling +1)
O17 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Hitch Warren Inc
Warren(+1) reacts considerably more rapidly to this hitch than the last one and appears to get a hand on a poorly thrown ball breaking it up (cover +1). Effective blitz got a couple edge guys in (pressure +1) and may have contributed to a hurried throw.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-17, 11 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O9 1 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Off tackle Ezeh 3
Michigan slanting away from this so a little fortunate to hold this down. Only one player to the second level, who takes out Leach; Ezeh(+1, tackling +1) has a free flow to the POA which, to his credit, he attacks swiftly and makes a solid tackle at.
O12 2 7 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass TE cross Herron 5
I'm not sure what they're running here as it looks like man with Ezeh dropping into some sort of zone and Leach freaking out and attacking the LOS once the RB sets up to block a blitzing Williams. Fire blitz? Herron's in man on the TE, close enough to force a tough throw and no YAC, which is a win, I think. +1 for him, but not on the cover.
O17 3 2 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Dive Williams -2
Williams(+1) times a blitz well and shoots into the backfield, keeping under control and snuffing this out in the backfield with help from Martin(+1), who just crushed his guy, and Ezeh(+1) who aggressively sought the play out and cut through trash to make this a party in the backfield.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-17, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace Twins 30 front Pass PA TE cross -- Inc
EMU finally goes to a bootleg and gets Schmitt on the edge. Ezeh comes up to contain but not quickly so Schmitt has time to find the TE running open for a decent gain. Poor throw and an incompletion. (Cover -1)
O20 2 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass PA Hitch Warren 4
Martin(+0.5) and Roh(+0.5) are busting through the line to force a quick throw (pressure +1) on a hitch; Warren(+0.5) tackles(+1) immediately.
O24 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 2TE 4-3 under Pass Deflection Ezeh Int
Michigan sends a zone blitz, getting Ezeh(+1) in unblocked. He leaps in the throwing lane and bats the ball skyward, directly to Roh(+1), who brings it in for an INT. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Interception, 31-17, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 ??? ??? Pass ??? ??? 9
We totally miss this play. Arbitrary cover -1.
O49 2 1 Ace Big 4-3 under Pass PA Fly Warren Inc
Going for the home run with an almost-free play. Warren(+2) runs the guy's route for him(cover +2) and this has no chance of success. FLAG? Lol jk no.
O49 3 1 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Down G Roh 3
Kovacs is in the game for Williams, BTW, and will play the rest of the game. EMU goes back to their down G play, running right at Roh. Roh(-1) is in good position to squeeze the gap and force a bounce but basically gets run over by the G, which provides enough crease for the first. Should go low here, I think.
M48 1 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Pass PA Fly Banks Inc
Banks(+1) blows through the line on a slant, getting hooked and drawing a holding flag. Schmitt flushes from the pocket and chucks it deep to a double-covered WR, who falls. Woolfolk almost intercepts. (Cover +1, pressure +1)
O42 1 20 Shotgun 2-back 30 front Pass Screen Ezeh 9
Only rush four but playing man behind it so Ezeh is the only one looking at the tailback here and he's got a tough job against two OL. I guess you can ding him for reacting slowly(-0.5). He does force the play inside, where it dies after a good gain.
O49 2 11 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Pass Hitch Graham 6
Graham(+1) bursts around the corner (pressure +1), forcing a quick throw. It's open in zone; Brown and Warren tackle(+1) immediately.
M45 3 6 Shotgun empty 2TE 4-3 under Pass Hitch Woolfolk 13
Brown gets a free release on a blitz as Michigan goes man with no safeties; Woolfolk is playing off (cover -1) a bit and Schmitt makes a good throw for the first. Woolfolk(-0.5) then struggles to tackle(-1), providing another three or four.
M32 1 10 Ace Big 4-3 under Pass Flare Lynch 9
Little flare screen on the edge sees Kovacs(-1) and Leach(-1) both get engaged by blockers who drive them off the screen and entirely out of the play. Cissoko has no help and all he can do is delay the RB and wait for help to arrive downfield. (Cover -1)
M23 2 1 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Down G Kovacs 0
Kovacs rolled up. He attacks the pulling guard, standing him up and delaying the back. He tries to bounce outside, where Lynch is, and eventually just runs up into Kovacs(+1) for a loss.
M23 3 1 Ace Big 4-3 under Run Inside Zone Martin 3
Martin(-0.5) gives a yard or two, as does Ezeh, but that's not really his fault, and there's enough of a push up front to get the first.
M20 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 stack Run End around Brown 5
Not sure who's got the contain here but it's either Brown(-0.5) or Graham, and I think it's probably Brown's late reaction that barely opens the corner here for an okay gain.
M15 2 5 Ace Twins 4-3 under Penalty False Start -- Pen -5
M20 2 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Down G X 2 Brown 11
Variant of the down G here that's supposed to get outside the tackle. TE downblocks on Roh and the T and G both pull around into Brown(-1) who gets planted as you might imagine a safety playing LB would, and the play heads outside with ease. Ezeh(-1) also misreads the play and runs himself into a block.
M9 1 G Ace Twin TE 4-3 under Pass PA rollout -- 5
Zone stretch fake into a rollout that finds no one despite(cover +2) no pressure(-1) for a long time. Schmitt is able to cut it up for a few yards.
M5 2 G Ace 4-3 under Run Off tackle 2 Warren 2
Same play that just got 11 yards with a bonus blocker as one of the WRs motions in. So close to the goal line the secondary is active, though. One of the pulling blockers is picked off by Graham(+0.5) getting some penetration. Woolfolk pops up under the last guy, forcing a bounce into Warren(+0.5) who tackles well but does allow the guy to fall forward.
M3 3 G Goal line Goal line Run Down G Brown -2
Wing blitzes from Kovacs(+1) and Brown(+1) jet past blockers and the two meet the RB in the backfield for a TFL.
M5 4 G Ace 4-3 under Pass Fade stop Cissoko Inc
Receiver does get Cissoko to bite on a fade by turning his head inside, then whipping around to get open at the start of the endzone but can't keep his feet and the throw isn't perfect so it's incomplete. (Cover -1)
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 38-17, 9 min 4th Q. Jeez that was a long, uncomfortable drive. More on it later.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M47 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 stack Pass Sack -- --
The ugly play where Schmitt tears his ACL for no reason.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 38-17, 7 min 4th Q.
O14 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Run Triple option keeper Roh 3
Roh(+1) is unblocked, reads the dive fake, and comes out to tackle the QB by himself. Athletic move there; this is not a guy you want to read, I don't think.
O17 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Hitch Graham Inc
Graham(+1) is in the passing lane and bats it down. (Pressure +1)
O17 3 7 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Pass Screen Leach 7
Leach(-1) drops in his zone, reads it slowly, and can't recover to tackle. (Cover -1)
O24 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Pass Scramble -- 5
No one open (cover +1); decent pressure flushes the QB and he scrambles for a few.
O29 2 5 Shotgun 2-back 30 front Run Zone read keeper Fitzgerald 14
Fitzgerald's(-1) the guy with the QB, but reacts slowly, takes a block, and gets cut behind as the QB cuts it up.
O43 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 30 front Pass Hitch -- Inc
Wildly inaccurate for no particular reason.
O43 2 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Pass Scramble -- 5
Replay of the scramble earlier in the drive (Cover +1)
O48 3 5 Shotgun 2-back 3-4 Base Run Triple option dive Banks 1
Banks(+1) shucks a blocker and delivers a thumping tackle.
Drive Notes: Punt, 45-17, 4 min 4th Q. Charting ceases as the second team is put in for the rest of the game.

So that was concerning, wasn't it?

Slightly, yes, but after looking at the tape I'm more encouraged than I was immediately after the game.

How can that be?

To explain that I think I need a—


Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Graham 10.5 3 7.5 Very little opportunity to get after the quarterback. Was good against the run, though he was one of the people responsible for Schmitt's touchdown run.
Heininger 1 - 1 Made one nice play.
Patterson - - - Scrub time only I think.
Roh 6.5 3 3.5 A couple of nice plays when EMU put him on the edge and tried to fool or read him. Athleticism should be an asset against zone read teams.
Herron 1.5 .5 1 Eh, ok.
Martin 7 1.5 5.5 Much better job getting off blocks this week and more active; this is probably because of the competition. Still, he's promising. Probably needs another year before he's truly an anchor.
Van Bergen 1 2.5 -1.5 Not holding up very well against doubles.
Banks 4.5 .5 4 Rodriguez mentioned he'd been playing well last week and he did make some plays here.
Sagesse 3.5 1 2.5 Big fourth down stop was a gift but made some other plays. Needs more PT.
TOTAL 31 11.5 19.5 Nice number, so the rushing yards were on…
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 6 5.5 0.5 Well, at least it's positive.
Mouton - - - DNP.
Brown 1.5 4.5 -3 Blew a zone read contain for some of his minus points, and got blasted back by guys 60 pounds heavier than he is on some others. Didn't think he played that bad.
Fitzgerald - 5 -5 Yipes. Huge missed reads for all five negative points. Looked lost. Athletic, but lost.
Leach 2 7 -5 Didn't make any of his tackles near the LOS, did the Mouton thing where you go into a pass drop on a run play.
TOTAL 9.5 22 -12.5 Could have gone better. 
Player + - T Notes
Warren 5 1.5 3.5 Mostly run support and a couple open hitches/blanketed deep routes.
Cissoko 1 1 0 "Hey, that guy isn't Michael Floyd."
Floyd - - - Scrub time only.
Turner - - - DNP
Woolfolk - 1.5 -1.5 Almost zero to in coverage. Missed a couple tackles but nothing serious.
Williams 2.5 4 -1.5 Like Brown, got a share of minuses just for being 100 pounds smaller than the guy blocking him.
Emilien - - - DNP
Kovacs 2 1 1 Hasn't cost Michigan anything yet..
TOTAL 10.5 9 1.5 Almost had the day off.
Pressure 10 2 8 Probably why they hardly passed.
Coverage 12 13 -1 Also a reason.
Tackling 18 5 13 No idea if this is generous or what to compare it to or what. I'm just building data here.

So… there you go. I'm still working on the tackling bits, obviously. I wouldn't take the minuses on the safeties too seriously.

Why does this make you less concerned than you were before?

We already knew that Ezeh is the kind of guy to get dragged out of position and open up a 24 yard scramble, and we had a strong suspicion that even though the starting linebackers were poor their backups were worse, and all this bore out. Most of the defensive line played up to expectations except Van Bergen, and Banks may add some additional interior depth going forward. The secondary was par for the course, too, and the tackling was pretty good.

Come on, look at that 36-yard all-run touchdown drive. This is Eastern Michigan!

Is that a question?

This is Eastern Michigan?

Fine, fine, okay, yes. It's not like I expect the defense to be good or anything. It's just that the EMU game didn't reveal anything particularly surprising or new. And ten of their points were on the world's worst pass interference call and a thirty-six yard drive. They gained under 300 yards and Michigan outgained them by 180-some. I'm fine with what happened, mostly.

The most disturbing bits were the zone read breakdowns. How does that happen when you practice against it all day every day? I don't know, but when any EMU QB pulled the ball out he had plenty of space.

Any hope for defensive depth in the future?

In the secondary and at linebacker, no. Leach slotting in ahead of Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald proving that wasn't a crazy decision with some really bad play indicates that there's no cavalry coming in the backups. Michigan is riding with Mouton and Ezeh, like it or not. Pray they improve. (To his credit, Ezeh was better at hitting the hole in this game. Baby steps.)

Meanwhile in the secondary, Michigan went the whole game with the starters until Williams got tweaked and Kovacs returned; no corner other than the starting pair saw a snap until uncharted garbage time, and that didn't even include uber-frosh Justin Turner. I did include converted WR/RB Teric Jones, whose redshirt is burned. Burning that redshirt is a whopping statement about where the secondary depth stands: next to Charlie Weis on a precipice, looking down at disaster.

The line, though, looks like it might pick up another contributor in Greg Banks and at some point you figure they will unleash Will Campbell on short yardage. He was part of the goal line set that saw a few snaps and probably should have been in on a few more. He's a tough guy to move.

So… no on Fitzgerald?

Not yet, at least. Watch the linebacker to the top of the screen (not the guy on the line, the guy lined up on the 32, which is Fitzgerald) here:

Michigan was playing that play to spill all day, spilled it, and Fitzgerald was nowhere to be found. He is not mentally ready to play.

The safeties look halfway competent, don't they?

Um… well… mentioning this will probably doom them forever, but maybe? None of ND's long plays can be blamed on the safeties, though part of that was the defensive scheme and part of that was the ability of Notre Dame to exploit an injured, short Cissoko in his first start against a good offense. And Eastern didn't find anything long. The only play on which a safety got a big negative was the long Western touchdown. Just MAC teams, sure, but by this point in any other season there would have been two or more plays from the safeties that make you groan and clutch your rosary. Obi Ezeh's "so we got that going for us" quote about Woolfolk may be accurate.


The starting defensive line outside of Van Bergen, who didn't do much.


All linebackers not named Ezeh, who was decent.

What does it mean for Indiana and the future?

I'll keep it brief since this was a game against Eastern Michgian and you overrate it at your peril: the team is basically what we thought it was. If you want to load up against it and grind down the field you'll have success doing it, though I wonder if teams will manage to score a lot of touchdowns with that sort of approach. Michigan's going to bend a lot; hopefully they won't break.

Greg Robinson is busy installing all sorts of different stuff and slants and various games to cover up for the fact that he's got no depth, two seniors, and three walk-ons contributing. I think we're going to see a lot of instances where the games work and Michigan swarms something and a lot of instances where Michigan gets caught and gashed. There are places to attack this defense, and the safeties are going to have to do a lot of cleanup in Big Ten play.

Is there any upside for these guys? Maybe. It is a new system so Michigan is behind mentally and should improve more than veteran units whose failings are more likely to be physical shortcomings than mental errors. Look at Eastern's long touchdown drive: mental error after mental error. If Michigan can fix those things—or, more conservatively, mitigate them—they appear to have the horsepower to be completely mediocre. Again: getting Ezeh and Mouton up to a level where they are decent is the key to the defense's season.



September 23rd, 2009 at 2:43 PM ^

Does this reflect the depth issue, a systematic strategy, or both?

It seems to be more than just depth if we have our starters still playing in garbage time, though, so I wonder if this is what GERG does.


September 23rd, 2009 at 2:51 PM ^

Last season we saw what happens when a bunch of guys leave at once and we have a bad recruiting class. Maybe RRod is redshirting better freshman to help cushion the blow of any attrition or lack of a good recruiting year. Keeping Turner, Jones, Gordon, and Hawthorne off the field could mean he is just making sure that he keeps some experience around on defense for an extra year. Expectations were 7-5 for this team and I'm pretty sure you get that with the team we have. Do we want to blow redshirts for one or two extra wins?


September 23rd, 2009 at 4:45 PM ^

That is most likely the case, given what we've seen so far this season (more so if you trust the coaching staff's evaluation of said freshmen in practice). However, I do believe there are at least two freshman with the POTENTIAL to have that kind of impact, specifically Campbell and Turner. I believe that because it's improvements on the defense that will result in those "extra" wins. The biggest reason this all comes to naught is the fact that neither play linebacker, which is the most glaring weakness on D and therefore has the biggest potential for improvement.


September 23rd, 2009 at 4:39 PM ^

. . . to what Trout said. Even with top 15 (nationally) recruting classes in the next 2-3 years, burning those redshirts is totally worth a few wins this season. I expect RR to do much better than that anyway (thinking more like consistently top 10, with a top 3 here or there). Either way, the depth should be on its way.


September 23rd, 2009 at 2:59 PM ^

On the play that's embedded to illustrate the Fitzgerald read, watch Stevie Brown. He's out on the slot (Cissoko follows 1 WR in motion from trips, Warren has the other). Michigan walks a safety into the box and the other safety is lined up on the far hash. This means Brown and Warren are clearly man-up on the two near-side receivers. Yet Brown decides to fake a blitz. Really, we're going to leave a slot uncovered? That's fooling nobody. After the snap, he's in obvious man coverage which was no-less obvious after his "fake" blitz alignment.


September 23rd, 2009 at 3:02 PM ^

At linebacker, we seem to be recruiting a lot of converted-safety types. (Jones, Bell, newly assigned B. Smith) Do you think when they all reach maturity the coaches would like to employ our linebackers differently? Is it possible we are working with our personnel right now but envisioning something else?

Maybe a better way to pose the question: at linebacker, do you think we are recruiting for the positions currently being played? Building towards something else? Simply recruiting speed + skill + nasty?


September 23rd, 2009 at 4:57 PM ^

Gerg recognizes the usefulness of the hybrid DE/LB and LB/SS; the current Michigan system emphasizes athleticism, and as a purely physical matter, converted safeties usually have pretty solid frames on which to add mass. So, a bunch of those guys being recruited are to fill Stevie Brown's position, and others might be asked to bulk up and provide gap control, though I'd say the 'converts' are mostly for the S. Brown position. However, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that a former safety may be moved to OLB/Craig Roh position after the coaches get a feel for the player and his abilities.

Philosophically, it seems like our defense is measured to keep us in games given the notion that our offense is meant to score on a median of 6 drives per game, as per RR at presser (re: the offense). If you can cover the field and tackle in space, as safeties are brought up to do, then points allowed may be ultimately higher than some teams, but ought to be less than points scored on average.

I get the feeling that when RR recruits, and this is at any position, he recruits athlete first, position second. Once he gets "his guys", then he starts to piece together the puzzle. He does seem to have a sweet-spot for athletes of the safety mold; but with respect to measurables, it's not as rigid as finding the perfect CB or D-Lineman; you look for the guy who lives to hit, has good instincts, and seems most coachable. Basically, same traits as a LB.


September 23rd, 2009 at 3:03 PM ^

I know it's just three games this year, but so far I haven't seen anything to justify the opinions of those who were convinced that RVB was going to be a difference-maker on the DL, opinions that were almost entirely based on "he's got a non-stop motor!!" rather than on anything he's done on the field yet.

I think the coaches missed a great opportunity to get Campbell some significant PT in a game that we're in zero danger of losing. If all Campbell's going to be seeing is spot duty at the goal line, is it worth burning a potential red-shirt? Campbell is supposedly very deficient in the technical aspects of DL play, but if so why is he in the game at all?


September 23rd, 2009 at 4:34 PM ^

Although I can't attest to the pre-season hype, those who thought RVB would be anything better than servicable were deluding themselves. A non-stop motor isn't going to make up for a defensive lineman long on height, but short on size and instinct.

As for Campbell, I'm baffled. I'd like to think on-field experience would be the best thing for his long-term progression and for the line's depth heading into the Big Ten season, where we will need it most.


September 23rd, 2009 at 3:59 PM ^

wtf with this guy? Not only are we getting very little from the position group, we have not developed the talent we have and we have very little in terms of highly rated recruits for his positions. This guy was an actual consideration for DC? Talk about the wheels falling off.


September 23rd, 2009 at 4:29 PM ^

about his thoughts on the position coaches on WTKA earlier this week. I believe on Jay he said, 'if Obi Ezeh appears lost out there to you, it's likely because, well, he is..." in response to Obi's defensive grooming, but ultimately judgment was withheld on Mr. Hopson as a matter of "Obi being Obi, and his backups being walk-ons".

It's a point of interest though, because in my mind's eye, Jay Hopson was supposed to be much more than a LB coach, he was supposed to be our recruiting savant for the Mississippi delta. Hasn't exactly worked out on either fronts.

Then again...3 new defensive regimes in 3 seasons, limited talent to work with during his tenure, and a 3-9 prior season are all big factors, too. My own judgment is withheld...but looming.


September 23rd, 2009 at 4:29 PM ^

In general, I have to agree, but with the talent he has to work with, I'm willing to withhold my judgement on Hopson's teaching ability until at least midseason. If we don't see some improvement (which doesn't have to be exponential, but steady), playing against Big Ten teams, then I think it will be time to cut him loose.


September 23rd, 2009 at 3:09 PM ^

I just got pepper sprayed in the eyes this morning, so I was excited at the possibility of something nice to read about Michigan. Not as gloomy as last week. Maybe its just the OC spray though. By the way does anyone else think EMU would have wrecked our defense last season?


September 23rd, 2009 at 3:13 PM ^

Playing these guys sitting out currently doesn't equal wins necessarily. I'd rather give them an extra year to add bulk/technique. The big knock on these guys is lack of size but give them time and we could have a bunch of guys 225-245lbs running sideline to sideline. Where we're headed, we don't need roads, I mean safeties....


September 23rd, 2009 at 3:16 PM ^

Can someone that knows more football than I do critique the safety play on the embedded video? Did Williams take too aggressive of an angle, or was he assuming that the LB would get to the ball-carrier earlier and thus was correct in running straight at him after the hand off?


September 23rd, 2009 at 3:24 PM ^

I've never seen a starting Michigan linebacker run into more blocks, fail to read and react, over run plays etc.

He seemingly has the physical talent of a 4 start recruit and the awareness of a HS underclassman. He just does not have any FB instinct. At MLB instinct is critical and Ezeh just does not have it. He seemingly runs into blocks time and time and time again. It's not like he's filling the hole either, he's taking on the block 2-3 yards upfield from the LOS, that cannot be by schematic design.

Now, it could be because he's playing in his 3rd different defense in 3 years and he's simply not up to speed with the schemes -- but I just don't buy that excuse entirely.

At some point he has to play better or be benched. He has potential, but the light just has not gone on mentally for him.


September 23rd, 2009 at 3:32 PM ^

I'm no defense savant but it is more frustrating to watch the LBs than the DBacks. I see LBs getting blocked and locked down by Oline and missing a RB going through or bouncing around the hole. The Eastern rushing game showed that weakness the most. Two rushing TDs by Eastern where they essentially walked in untouched. Hopefully it was the "teachable" moment that RR stated and will be addressed ASAP.


September 23rd, 2009 at 3:37 PM ^

I watched the M-Miami(NTM) game from '04 the other day and watched Lawrence Reid. So much better at shedding blocks and reading plays. So much. Not '06 David Harris good, but damn. The difference between 1 and 4 yards is so often the linebacker and there's just no one on this current team (or next year's, it would seem) that's going to be doing anything of the sort.

That said, benching Ezeh isn't helpful. The point Brian made is that our backups flail even more so and aren't likely to help any time soon.


September 23rd, 2009 at 4:03 PM ^

by get benched I just mean for a series or two. Hopefully that would help to clear his head and make him realize he can't keep doing what he's doing and expect to be successful.

The cupboard is bare behind him and unfortunately he's the best of a bunch of bad options.

Additionally, I really don't think he's going to substantially improve his instincts at this point. We can only hope the coaches makes his keys as simple as possible so as to put him in a position of success.

that said, thank god UM is 3-0 because baseball is dead to me until the off season and trade/fa intrigue starts.

Might watch some of the playoffs, but not really that into it right now with FB season in full swing.


September 23rd, 2009 at 4:27 PM ^

fucking white sox.

as for Ezeh improving, he really doesn't look much better than '07 when i spent so much time documenting his suck. i guessed last year he wouldn't improve much just because he looked so lost and that's only gotten somewhat better.

he's still a good blitzer at least. i kind of think he might have been better off as a SAM/DE.


September 23rd, 2009 at 3:29 PM ^

I was at the game and I saw the throw coming before it was released. I immediately looked at the receiver. Cissoko could feel that the ball was in the air but he hadn't turned around to find it yet. He immediately slowed down and crouched with his hands slightly out, halting the receiver. Then Cissoko found the ball. All you see in the video is after Cissoko found the ball and I agree that if this is all that happened, the only call you can make is offensive PI (especially with that rake at the end). However, immediately when the ball was released, Cissoko bumped the receiver before finding the ball. I don't think it's worth calling and I think a defender like Warren is able to be more subtle about this where it's never called, but I wouldn't label it the "world's worst PI". Maybe I'm completely wrong. Maybe it's OK to slow down and bump a guy when you're running in front of him, but I don't think so.


September 23rd, 2009 at 3:43 PM ^

As Brian and others have said is that when you call something like that you are basically saying that the DB never has any right to space or to the ball. If that was a WR on the inside against a DB on his back we would say "wow great job WR stupid penalty on our DB" but it wasn't. Cissoko had the inside position and got called because he apparently has no right to the ball or to space.

03 Blue 07

September 23rd, 2009 at 5:53 PM ^

Yes, they have the same right to the ball once they're in position to make a play on it/catch it, but the point he was making is that the only part you can/could see on TV is the part of the play that makes YOUR point. HIS point was that at release, in the second or seconds the ball was in the air prior to the camera panning to BooBoo and the receiver, BooBoo did things (slow down, get in the way of the WR, crouch down) that are not allowed once the ball's in the air- by either person. You can't impede a guy running his route once the ball is in the air. That is you impeding his right to go to the spot where the ball is going to land. That's you slowing down and crouching and blocking him (which is what he says he saw live) which is not so YOU (defender) can get the ball, it's so he (receiver) CAN'T get to the spot where the ball will come down, at which point you will each have a right to go up and get the ball without doing so in a way where your blatant and obvious goal is to mug the other guy. But you gotta let the guy get to that spot. (Perhaps, though, defensive holding or illegal contact would have been more apropo given the description of the play by the poster.) I agree with Brian- no reason to neg him.

03 Blue 07

September 23rd, 2009 at 9:55 PM ^

Intentionally slowing down. If you were that slow in the first place, on a fly pattern like that, you'd have already gotten passed by the receiver. Intentionally slowing down and getting in the path of a receiver, say, 10-20 yards from where the ball lands is defensive PI, I'm pretty sure, if it's blatant that this is what you are doing and it looks like you're doing it for the sole purpose of physically stopping the receiver from getting to the ball by just stopping in his path/slowing down in his path so he can't get to the ball. You're not trying to get to the ball, either, at that point. The whole thing is, you have to make it seem like you're going for the ball. If you're just stopping/slowing down in front of the other guy to make sure HE doesn't have a chance at it, they're going to call it...which seems dumb, because preventing the other guy from getting to an area where he can catch the ball would seem like, you know, the whole point of covering him.

Now, if BooBoo could've sold it better, then it would (hopefully) be different. Like if he slowed down and acted like he thought the play was over or it was a run play or something, and sold it reeaaly well, etc. But that didn't seem to me to be what was being described.

03 Blue 07

September 24th, 2009 at 11:09 AM ^

The argument here is over what was not seen on the view from television, not what we saw on tv. The replays and the video from the game make it seem like, hands-down, the worst PI call ever. The point I was making in reply to the first comment from the poster who was actually there was, if that commenter saw correctly, then what Cissoko did BEFORE the camera panned to him is what got called. I think everyone agrees that what we all saw on TV was a horseshit call if that's all that happened.


September 23rd, 2009 at 3:31 PM ^

The one thing that I do like about the defense this year is that Robinson seems be able to get our boys to make adjustments at the half. Its a work in progress, but I really like that they are better in the second half than the first.

Old School

September 23rd, 2009 at 3:52 PM ^

Yikes, you guys can be brutal. Yes, the defense may be average -as I understand it, currently 5th in the league. So, it may not get any better until defensive recruiting fills the gaps. But, we have won three games in a row on offense - an offense that is 3rd in the nation. Get that? Offensive players that have been dormant since they came to Michigan have sprung to new life under Rich Rod's spread. I saw and suffered through many a bowl game that we lost simply because our offense was so darn predictable and stodgy and couldn't score enough points to keep up with the opposition. And, total reliance on the defense in those close games did not work. Frankly, the decline of the defensive secondary showed under Lloyd Carr. I would cringe in close games as they picked it apart. But, anyway, Rich Rod's forte is scoring points, and we are going to surprise a lot of Big Ten teams and win by outscoring them!