Upon Further Review: Defense vs Illinois Comment Count

Brian October 8th, 2008 at 4:38 PM
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Run Triple option dive Graham 2
Yikes. Thompson(-1) starts moving away from the triple option side of the play without so much as a fake, and if Juice keeps this Illinois probably has a big gainer. As it is, he hands it off and Graham(+0.5), unblocked, tackles.
O37 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Counter draw keeper Ezeh -1
This is a Russian nesting doll of a play. They fake pass, then run a draw, except no that's a fake too, and Juice keeps the ball. Michigan's defending this like they know Juice is keeping the ball all the way, with Ezeh(+1) shooting out to the backside before Williams even makes the fake handoff; he tackles for loss. Is this an outstanding read or just reckless? You've got me. I guess I owe Ezeh another +1. This again seems like a missed read for Juice because he's got Benn sitting and waiting for the little delayed bubble action and Thompson bites like whoah on Williams.
O36 3 9 Shotgun trips Okie Pass Improv Graham Inc
Graham(+1) gets around the LT and pressures Williams before he can set to throw; Williams rolls out, breaking contain. A blitzing Harrison sees this and runs out to prevent him from scrambling; Williams finds Benn open downfield but he's got Brown sitting in front of him and the throw has to be high. It's too high. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O31 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Ezeh 9
I don't understand how this gets open because you can see Ezeh's zone drop taking him directly to the route. Then they roll off screen and Benn's open underneath three zone defenders for a nice gain. (Cover -1) Graham was plowing his lineman back into Williams and if this isn't open he's going to have to run around and stuff.
O40 2 1 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Ezeh 15
The first of Williams's crazy ninja ballfakes. This one suckers an unblocked Ezeh(-2) despite the fact Mouton is racing up into the same hole, beating a blocker to tackle the guy. Too bad he doesn't have the ball. Johnson(-1) also fights inside, opening up a cavernous hole for Williams. He shoots into the secondary.
M45 1 10 ??? ??? Pass ??? ??? 14
WHO CARES ABOUT THE KANSAS GAME? Also, could they have the decency to show a replay?
M31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass PA Circle Thompson Inc
Zone read action; Williams keeps with the intent to throw. Thompson(+1) is blitzing on the backside; the Illinois tackle who's pulling over to pass block stumbles a little. Thompson takes advantage getting position, and then does a good job containing, forcing Williams to throw too early. (Pressure +1)
M31 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Sweep Graham 0 (Pen+5)
Hard to tell what's going on here because ESPN misses the snap to show us Ron Zook, but I think this is supposed to be a sweep given the blocking. Graham(+1) shoots that to hell by shoving his man into the backfield. The RB is forced to cut back into pursuit; Ezeh makes a solid tackle. Michigan gets flagged for illegal substitution, as I believe Taylor was still on the field when they snapped the ball.
M26 2 5 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Run Zone read stretch Martin -1
Hell of a play from Martin(+2), blowing back the backside guard and running down Dufrene from behind before he can even get to the LOS. That is big time from a freshman.
M26 3 6 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Improv Thompson Inc (Pen-10)
Thompson blitzes as Graham slants inside, taking the tackle with him. He realizes his error too late and must tackle Thompson(+0.5) to prevent a sack. Flag. Williams rolls out and flings a pretty impressive pass down to the 5, which is OOB. (Pressure +1) We take the penalty, which I'm a little dubious of.
M36 3 16 Shotgun 3-wide 3-2-6 Dime Pass Throwback screen Williams 6
Michael Williams is making his debut on defense in this game as the dimeback, FWIW. On this play he reads the screen wrong and gives the OL an angle to block him, but makes up for it by shoving the guy downfield and tripping the screen recipient after a few yards. +1 Williams.
Drive Notes: FG(48), 7-3, 5 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Flag ??? 48
We are again watching something other than the start of the play; this director needs a horse-whipping. By the time we get back Williams is chucking it deep to a wide, wide open Benn. Brown closes to tackle, but this isn't his fault since he was attempting to cover someone running a fly in the deep middle of the field. Meanwhile, Harrison is about five yards from the LOS. WTF? Massive bust gets a (Cover -3), I think I blame Harrison(-1) but couldn't tell you for sure.
M21 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass Zone read stretch Taylor 11
Taylor(-1) is lined up to the playside of the C but gets himself sealed by said C and the guard. Ezeh(-1) fails to read this, hesitating long enough for the C to get out on him on the second level. Johnson(+0.5) jumped a cut block and valiantly tries to track Dufrene down from behind; he can't quite make it. Harrison(-1) comes up, missing a tackle to turn this from 5 or 6 into 11.
M10 1 G Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Triple option bust Jamison 4
Juice expects the man on the dive to take the ball and has to improvise when he doesn't. He eventually follows the RB through the hole, turning this into a weird lead draw.
M6 2 G Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Thompson 6
This really has to be seen to be believed. Juice gives the RB a zone read fake that Graham swallows alive. Uh, okay. That's his job. Meanwhile, Johnny Thompson(-2), blitzing from on the other side of the formation, has no hope whatsoever to get anywhere near the running back. No matter! He runs RIGHT BY Williams, focusing on a man without the ball who is already being tackled. Ezeh(-1), meanwhile, has run himself out of the play, too.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-10, 14 min 2nd Q. I think that's the stupidest #$&*ing thing I've ever seen on a football field. I'm sure it isn't, actually, but right now it feels like it.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O16 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 Nickel Run Triple option counter Jamison 8
Clever alternate on the usual triple option look with the first option being a jet sweep instead of a dive. So Jamison sets up, unblocked, in the usual spot, and all of a sudden has to deal with a guy scooting outside of him. He can't make the play. Meanwhile, no linebacker notices the running back shooting backside until it's too late; Thompson(-1) was lined up to that side and gets blocked into oblivion.
O24 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Fly Brown Inc
One of the four or five times in the game that Williams just chucks a ball somewhere downfield; Illinois was fortunate none of these hit Michigan defenders. This is a zone read play action play upon which Brown(+1) is in unblocked on a blitz, hitting Williams as he chucks. (Pressure +1) Without that pressure we are screwed as Illinois is going four vertical and we have three defenders back with Harrison caught looking in the backfield.
O24 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Run QB lead draw Brown 3
Announcer's never seen this incredibly common third-and-short lead draw before and thinks it's a busted play. Not a big fan of a 3-3-5 with Martin as your nose on a third and two; they run between him and Van Bergen. Good job by Brown(+0.5) to come from the backside and tackle at the LOS but there's two guys on both Ezeh and Martin, so the pile lurches forward for enough yardage.
O27 1 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 Nickel Run Speed option Trent -5
Trent(+2) reads this beautfully, coming up to clock Benn just as he receives the pitch. Benn bounces off; his momentum has been disrupted and he is shoved out for a large loss.
O22 2 15 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Run Triple option pitch Harrison 12
ARGH. Again we have the unblocked backside defensive end swallowing the running back on the dive and a player idiotically chasing after a guy no threat to go anywhere. This time it's Harrison(-2) who overruns the play wickedly, opening up the sideline. Stewart(-1) misses a tackle, giving Benn another five yards. Ezeh does force a fumble. It goes OOB.
O34 3 3 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass Out Harrison 7
There's not even a play fake and the linebackers are sucked up. Benn runs an out in front of Harrison for the first. (Cover -1)
O43 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Wheel Brown Inc
All freakin' day for Williams as there are four rushers who get stoned. The linebackers, comically, get all the way to the LOS before backing out into zone drops; at that point just rush the QB, you'll do more good. (Pressure -2.) Brown eventually loses his guy on a wheel route (cover -1); Juice overthrows it.
O43 2 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Flare screen Harrison 57
Harrison(-1) slices up hard, cutting off the outside... and totally overrunning the play such that Dufrene doesn't even have to slow down. Trent(-2) comes up way too hard to the outside, too, turning this from a first down into a touchdown. Where are the linebackers? Well, Ezeh(-2) took an upfield angle around a blocker. A wholesale breakdown by three different players. Harrison's error was a tough play; Ezeh's and Trent's were not.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-17, 10 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O15 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Graham 6
Another crazy ninja fake from Williams gets Graham(-1) to chase Dufrene and pulls Mouton out of position. He recovers and then overruns the tackle (-0.5), providing Williams with another three or so yards.
O21 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Taylor 3
Great push from Taylor(+1) and Graham(+1) should see this swarmed in the backfield but Ezeh(-1) and Johnson(-1) got cut to the ground and once Dufrene manages to slip by the DL he has room to turn a three-yard loss into a three-yard gain.
O24 3 1 I-Form twins Base 4-3 Run Iso Ezeh -1
Good blitz from Ezeh(+1) gets him in past the tackle; Thompson(+1) also timed his well and was past blockers, forcing a cutback into Graham(+1), who had also beaten his guy. Graham is falling and can't complete the tackle but the cleanup is easy work for Warren.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-17, 7 min 4th Q. We have been good on third and short this year.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Jamison 6
Jamison fights inside and Ezeh shoots up into the hole on this, forcing Williams to bounce outside. He does so; there's no one out there except a hesitant Thompson(-0.5), who sets up and slows Williams down for the pursuit to arrive.
O26 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Triple option pitch Warren 13
Jamison(-1) crashes down on the dive; this time Thompson does set up outside on Williams, forcing the pitch. Warren(-1) reads this way late, allowing the corner. Warren has to know that Benn coming into the backfield is a run tip.
O39 1 10 I-Form 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass PA Flag Warren Inc
Iso play action as three receivers head downfield on long routes. Johnson(+0.5) fights free of his blocker eventually, forcing Williams into a throw; the receivers are bracketed (cover +2) and Williams is just tossing this one away.
O39 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-2-6 Dime Pass PA Throwaway Williams Inc
Speed option action into a playfake; the LT ignores a blitzing Mike Williams(+0.5), who gets in on Juice Williams, forcing him to scramble around and throw the ball away. (Pressure +1.)
O39 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 Dime Pass Scramble -- 4
Rollout against a three-man rush and this time Michigan has it covered(+1); Williams ends up running for a few yards. Graham was tackled, BTW, drawing a hold that's declined. Graham didn't really force this one—stupid on the Illini player's part—so no plus.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-17, 3 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M21 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-2-6 Dime Run QB draw Graham -6
M sends six guys and the center completely ignores all of em, leaving Graham (+0.5) totally unblocked and running right at Williams. He tackles.
M15 2 16 Shotgun trips 3-2-6 Dime Pass Fade -- Inc
Obviously intended to go short as the DEs get cut instead of blocked; Williams throws a fade well OOB as everyone was covered(+1).
M15 3 16 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 Dime Run Speed option Mouton -5
Michigan blitzes right into this, with Mouton coming off the edge alongside Harrison(+0.5 each); they contain and Williams goes down for a sizable loss.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-17, 2 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Triple option dive Ezeh 1
Man, Illinois should never hand it up the gut on this; the outside is open again. But they do, and Ezeh(+1) slices past a blocker to force a cutback and a slip; Johnson(+0.5) got good push and helped out.
O24 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass TE Hitch Ezeh Inc
Three step drop and fire to an open-enough TE. Ezeh hits the guy, helping a drop, but it was already in progress. No, actually, on review Ezeh(+1) rakes that out. That gets a cover +1, too.
O24 3 9 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass Flare screen Harrison 13 (Pen-1)
Same play that lead to a touchdown earlier, and man, this it tough for Harrison with TE/WR hybrid Jeff Cumberland blocking his ass into oblivion. Michigan blitzed, removing the linebackers that might contain this ordinarily, and there are a ton of blockers—who are actually blocking, unlike Michigan's—downfield. Cumberland's block on Harrison is too aggressively hold-y, though, with both his arms on the outside of Harrison's shoulder pads, and it gets flagged.
O23 3 10 Shotgun trips Okie Pass Fly Stewart 77
Five rushers but a massive pocket for Williams (pressure -2). He throws deep to Cumberland, open between Warren(-2) and Stewart(-3), who makes a diving lunge at the ball and falls uselessly OOB. (Cover -3.) The director provides no useful replay indicating what the coverage was or who was at fault, so #$*# everyone. Okay, we do get a real replay, and I concur with myself: atrocious by both players but especially Stewart, who absolutely has a deep half here. I mean, okay, you're beat. Tackle the guy and they've still got 42 yards to go. I'm giving him another –1 out of rage.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-24, 13 min 3rd Q. RAAAAAGE
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass Improv ??? Inc
Juice doesn't like his first read (cover +1) and Jamison is threatening him at this point so he rolls out. Good, hyper aggressive attack from Mouton(+0.5) forces Williams into what appears to be a throwaway, as no one is open on the roll. (Cover +1)
O33 2 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Run Triple option dive Graham 2
Finally we blitz into this effectively, with Ezeh flying upfield and forcing a dive handoff that Graham(+1) beats his blocker on and hits at the LOS. Can't tackle, but others converge to snuff the play out.
O35 3 8 Shotgun trips 3-2-6 Dime Pass Cross Jamison Inc (Pen +10)
Three man rush upon which Jamison(+1) hits Williams as he throws, forcing an inaccurate throw. Harrison(-1) gets flagged for interference despite the ball being thrown well behind Benn and being completely &#@$ing uncatchable. Otherwise a legit call, because he got there way early. (Pressure +1, cover -1)
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Jamison 1
Jamison(+2) shoves his guy back five yards, disengages, and tackles. Unfortunate not to get some help and make this a major loss, as the DL had really owned the Illinois OL on this one.
O46 2 9 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 Nickel Run Speed option Harrison -6
Partially an error on Williams' part, as he double-pumps the pitch, drawing defenders to the pitchman, but Harrison(+2) makes an excellent read, jukes/defeats the lead blocker, and tackles for loss.
O40 3 15 Shotgun trips 3-2-6 Dime Pass Throwback screen Stewart 4
Juice rolls out a bit, then turns around and throws a little screen. Timing/blocking of this is all screwed up—no Michigan defender actually has to take on a block and Stewart, Warren, and Jamison converge after a minimal gain. +0.5 for all.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-24, 8 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass Hitch -- Inc
Juice airmails it; TE was open for 6-7.
O43 2 10 I-Form 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Iso Ezeh -2
Both linebackers who aren't out in the slot blitz at the snap, hitting the backfield immediately. Mouton(+0.5) absorbs the fullback; Ezeh(+1) tracks the RB and tackles for loss. Win for Shafer.
O41 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 3-2-6 Dime Pass Cross Ezeh 14
A three-man rush with the NT basically sitting back waiting for a draw or something; no pressure (-1). Williams has to check down to a crossing route, however (cover +1) and this should be trapped short of the sticks by a considerable margin. Problem: Ezeh(-2) overruns the WR as he cuts back since Mouton has forced him back upfield. He whiffs a tackle, allowing Illinois to convert. @#$*.
M45 1 10 I-Form 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass PA Seam Stewart 45 (Pen – 18)
Horribly prescient from the PBP guy: “you get the sense this game is reaching a crisis point for the Wolverine D.” Sure enough: PA fake, no pressure(-1), Benn wide wide open on the seam (cover -2), missed tackle from Stewart(-1), Illinois touchdown. Called back on a block in the back on Warren.
M18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass PA Throwaway -- Inc
Weak-ish zone read fake from Williams. He pumps; no one open (cover +1); he rolls, no one open (cover +1); he eventually tosses the ball away. Too much time. (pressure -1)
M18 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Run Zone read counter Jamison 4
Three man line allows two guys to double Martin and still block Mouton; this happens. But Brown(-1) is pulled up tight to the LOS and could fill the hole unblocked; instead he steps to his left erroneously, opening up a hole between Mouton and a well-positioned Jamison(+0.5), who disegnages and tackles as Dufrene moves past the LOS.
M14 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass Flag Warren Inc
Benn is indeed open on the flag route in between defenders (cover -1); Juice overthrows him. Would have come back anyway since Illinois chopped Martin in the middle.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(31), 14-24, 4 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M48 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Van Bergen 16
Van Bergen(-1) guesses wrong on this one, shooting out to tackle the RB who does not have the ball. Ezeh(-1) also takes steps out to the corner, opening up a massive hole for Williams. Assignment football argh.
M32 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Ezeh -2
Ezeh(+2) blitzes right into the play; good timing, good tackle, loss.
M34 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide 3-2-6 Dime Pass Flag Warren 19
A zone read fake sucks guys up and is coupled with a three-man rush that gets stoned (pressure -2); Williams has all day. Warren(-1) sucked way up and vacates the area the play goes into; Williams and Ezeh also chase (cover -2).
M13 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Triple option keeper Mouton 0
Mouton(+2) is blitzing into the area where the dive fake goes; he sees the dive guy does not have the ball and treats him as a blocker instead of tackling him; he smacks him in the mouth and cuts off the outside, causing Juice to cut up, then discards and tackles. Juice probably should have pitched it, but that looked covered too.
M13 2 10 Shotgun trips 3-2-6 Dime Pass Scramble Ezeh 11
Martin(+1, pressure +1) beats the center and heads upfield; Jamison has also shot into the backfield; an attempted cut block from the RB does knock him off balance and allows Williams outside of the pocket. Michigan is tracking him down as Williams takes off; Ezeh(-1.5) completely overruns the play, turning two yards into first and goal.
M2 1 G Goal line Goal line Run Option Harrison 2
Harrison(-1) meekly accepts a block from the fullback instead of getting upfield and forcing the play back inside; Thompson can't run Dufrene down.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-31, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Speed option Graham -3
Linebackers flow well to this (+0.5 for Ezeh and Mouton) but Graham(+1) made the play by threatening to shoot into the backfield. He gives Ezeh an easy lane to pursue in and forces the TE to double him instead of block Ezeh.
O29 2 13 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Cross Mouton 8
Plenty of time on a four-man rush (pressure -1), and Williams hits Benn on a crossing route.
O37 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Cross Ezeh Inc (Pen +4)
Ton of time (pressure -2) as Williams surveys; he eventually is forced to come down to a guy short of the first down (cover +1). Ezeh(-1) interferes, giving them a free first down. 1) this is short of the sticks, just let him catch it and tackle, 2) there's an umpire two feet from this who doesn't call anything and a guy on the sideline net to Zook gives them the call, 3) #$%*[email protected]!!!
O41 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run QB lead draw Graham 8
Jamison(+1) fights into the intended hole here, forcing a Juice cutback into an unblocked Graham(-2); Graham totally whiffs, opening up the outside.
O49 2 2 I-Form 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Fly Warren Inc
This is the ridiculous downfield bomb that Warren gets interfered with on twice with no flag. Michigan sent six and didn't get pressure(-2); Warren(+1) had this blanketed, though. (Cover +1) I mean, look at this. It's unbelievable.
O49 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run QB draw -- 50
Taylor(-1) blown off the ball a bit by a double but not too badly; Graham actually fights his way inside and looks to be plugging the hole, causing Williams to threaten a bounce; this draws Mouton and Harrison out and gets Graham to hop outside his blocker; Ezeh was blitzing to the other side—that's why Juice is even over on the right side of the line—and there's no one left. I file this mostly under “brilliant play by opposition”, because Juice was dead and then did something awesome. Okay, –1 to Graham for going back outside when that was covered by a couple players.
M1 1 G Goal line Goal line Run Iso Mouton 0
Mouton(+1) blitzes excellently; smacking Dufrene as he approaches the LOS and not allowing him forward.
M1 2 G Goal line Goal line Run Iso -- 1
They go with the random leap thing; it comes up just short.
M1 3 G Goal line Goal line Run Option pitch Mouton 1
Almost an exact replica of the play we ran on the goal line except Mouton(-1) does not get outside his blocker and the corner is thus open.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 20-38, 7 min 4th Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M16 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Zone read counter Mouton 8
Mouton(-1) picks the wrong hole, as he's got two sides of one OL to defend because Taylor(-0.5) was sealed by a double and Jamison(-0.5) couldn't prevent himself from getting creased.
M8 2 2 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Johnson 6
Cutback lane opens up because Johnson(-1) got cut to the ground and Ezeh(-1) was bashed back by an OL on the second level Van Bergen comes from the backside to tackle.
M2 1 G Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Zone read keeper Van Bergen 2
Van Bergen(-1) tackles the guy without the ball when he had outside help.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 20-45, 6 min 4th Q. Charting ceases; the last Illinois drive is just a bunch of who-cares runs to run the clock.


Uh… not exactly "Eye of the Tiger."

No, not exactly.

How do you go from Eye of the Tiger to Barbie Girl in one week?

The opponent had something to do with it. By the end of the year I assume we'll all rank Illinois' offense well above Wisconsin's plodding thing. And I have to give Juice Williams a ton of credit: that was not the same Juice we saw last year, when downfield throws were a comical exercise. Now he is the most terrifying football player nicknamed Juice, which is saying something.

Those ball fakes! These people were fooled on that early touchdown run: Brandon Graham, myself, the cameraman, and Johnny Thompson—despite, of course, Thompson's complete inability to do anything about that other guy who didn't have the ball.

But Michigan also had a lot to do with it. That touchdown run is an illustrative example: Thompson has no damn business attempting to run down that guy. This happened time an again when and Illinois fake drew multiple Michigan defenders. They did not stay in their lanes; they did not stay with their man. They attacked the ball, only to find the "ballcarrier" bereft when they got there.

This is what people mean when they talk about "assignment football." You play assignment football against the option. You cover a gap, you cover a player, you don't take off willy-nilly because some other guy got the ball.

Also, you'll find the "pressure" metric depressing…



Player + - T Notes
Jamison 5 -1.5 3.5 Largely a nonfactor despite the pretty score. As mentioned, check the pressure.
Johnson 1.5 1 0.5 Hard for these guys to do much against an offense that runs away from them all the time.
Taylor 1 2.5 -1.5 Didn't do anything.
Graham 7 4 3 More effective in the run game than others, but was exploited a couple times.
Patterson - - -  
Banks - - -  
Van Bergen - 2 -2  
Martin 3 - 3  
Ezeh 8.5 12.5 -4 Only a sophomore… only a sophomore… only a sophomore.
Thompson 2.5 4.5 -2 Should probably get bonus negatives for that play.
Panter - - -  
Evans - - -  
Mouton 5 2.5 2.5 Was better suited to defend this offense than the more lumbering guys.
Trent 2 2 0  
Harrison 2.5 7 -4.5 Brutal
Warren 1.5 4 -2.5 Bad
Stewart 0.5 6 -5.5 ARGH
Brown 1.5 1 0.5 It wasn't his fault.
Williams 1.5 - 1.5  
"Pressure" 7 14 -7 Owned.
"Coverage" 12 15 -3 Actually pretty good outside the massive breakdowns.

There is nothing good in here, and there shouldn't be: Michigan gave up 45 points and 501 yards.

The defensive line was disappointing, getting very little or no pressure on Williams all day. The linebackers were erratic, mostly bad. And the secondary gave up a 77 yard touchdown pass on third and ten to a tight end.

Dude… dude. What now?

I don't know. After the Post Apocalyptic Oregon Game last year Michigan's defense rebounded pretty well, and they won't be facing a guy like Juice Williams every week. I think Illinois' spread plays into all of the weaknesses Michigan has: they're undisciplined, they linebackers are subpar and inexperienced, the safeties are prone to explode spectacularly. It neutralizes the defensive line. It forces the corners to play run defense a lot. It's kind of a nightmare.

But they only scored 20 against Louisiana-Lafayette!

Dude, I don't know. Football is weird sometimes. Williams occasionally just chucks it and if his accuracy is off… maybe? In their other games they put up 42 against Missouri and 24 against Penn State and put up over 900 yards between them. That looks more like one extremely bad day than any sort of projectable trend.


Pick a player, any player. This was a wholesale implosion.


If you're really searching: Graham was probably the best DL and Mouton had a solid day.

What does it mean for Toledo/the future?

It means our already-dim chances of beating Penn State now look a lot shakier. Penn State's offense is basically Illinois' and they've got a better OL and comparable runny-type-guys. It means that whatever grand hopes we had for the D are now officially in the dumpster. It's ugly.


Jim Harbaugh S…

October 8th, 2008 at 5:14 PM ^

the Illini offense got humming - I was having flashbacks to the Oregon debacle.

I don't recall the Zooker asking to get the scoreboard in the shot after the game though.

Call be crazy, but based on the way juice looked in this game combined with the Bucks ineffectivness against the spread - I see the Illini beating OSU again this year.

What is the deal with Zook and the swinging gate on PATs - I remember he (as coach of FLA) tried that crap in the Outback bowl and IIRC they tried to get a sneaky two pointer and it back fired.

The Other Brian

October 8th, 2008 at 6:04 PM ^

Horrifying. Weird how it's always more graphic on TV than live. I mean, it was obvious in person that we were getting worked like mules, but watching the video clips makes me want to scream. Just terrible.


October 8th, 2008 at 6:10 PM ^

There were 5 plays of 40+ yards for Illinois.  Tommy Tuberville wants to fire Scott Shafer.


Brian, you said if Illinois only gets 1 or 2 big plays Michigan could win.  I think they would have been in the game to the very end if that was the case.  Damn we have a moronic set of LBs and Safeties.


October 8th, 2008 at 6:11 PM ^

You are not the only one who thinks its even more unlikely that we beat PSU. The odds have shifted from PSU -14.5 to PSU -18.5 in recent weeks/days.

Thats up from -10 in the preseason and -14.5 which I first saw in mid september.

Penn State is now favored by more over us than OSU, which is "just" laying 18.



October 8th, 2008 at 6:57 PM ^

which really sucks...but it's got to be on the quality of the players.  it looks like lloyd's recruiting had some pretty critical gaps between the secondary and the linebackers that we thought would be resolved to some degree this year. trent apparently can't be relied upon, which was a pretty fundamental assumption in evaluating this defense before the season began.  stewart had been fairly solid..but in limited action.  and we saw why; he played a lot against illinois and imploded. remember earlier in the year when you complained about going 4-3 against the spread?  i think Shafer thought that was the best allocation of talent given the relative lack of size in the secondary.  Harrison had a poor game, but i think his size against the run is much like chris graham trying to play linebacker; even if he had played as well as he could have it would have been rough.  likewise, Warren is stlll fairly slight.  and Trent apparently doesn't have a brain.  Brown had the best game...perhaps because he was most physically and mentally prepared for such an offense?

anyway, as you said the defense was likely ill-prepared to face the illinois attack in the first place and on top of that a few disappointing performances made for a rout.  


October 8th, 2008 at 9:40 PM ^

Gotta agree with you that the coaching looked poor. Which is even more distressing given RR's press talk on this game (transcript). Although he did mention that he and the coaches shared responsibility for the players being "soft", he always qualified that assertion as regarding the players' overthinking... which doesn't seem to be the case on film. If anything, on D at least they should be thinking more and realizing the feint-within-a-feint offense employed by UI (especially later in the game). It doesn't look like oft-emphasized softness causing the loss out there (when they bit on the fakes, they hit hard); rather, overall lack of preparedness. Sloppy. Bummer.


October 9th, 2008 at 9:15 AM ^

The D was brutal but if they could have got a break with a couple calls or not been complete morons or had the offense implode it could have been a lot better.

On the Dufrene screen TD Harrison gets shoved in the back right at the line of scrimmage, he may not have made the tackle with his horrible technique but he mayhave slowed him up a little.

The 2 PI penalties that kept drives alive when a) the pass had no chance of completion or b)was short of the sticks were brutal as they were pass interference but totally unneccesary and sometimes are forgiven by the officials because they don't want to bail out the offense.

My maize and blue glasses are starting to fade off, but I still think this d has a dominant game left in it that will help us  pull off 1 more upset, but it's getting harder to try and convince myself of that. 

My advice to Schafer is that it appears we are in pretty good shape and have good athletes that are not that smart so maybe we need some more man to man and blitz the fuck out of these teams... we're giving up the big plays anyways why not go down swinging and it should be less hard( me major in Ingles) for these knuckleheads to screw up.  Trent this is Benn guard him got it??? or do we need to go over it again. 




October 9th, 2008 at 9:59 AM ^

Not in defense of Thompson, but we’ve seen that run by the QB with the ball trick before, in bigger games by more accomplished players. 2005 Rose Bowl against Texas, Marlin Jackson blitzes off the corner right into VY’s read option. Jackson runs right by VY to get a close look at the DL swallowing up Corbin Benson (Cedric whatever.) VY converts one of his 52 critical third downs. I went to the video to find it but it was too much. After all this time, I still can’t take watching Shazor flash by completely out of position and Michigan players slide off VY like rain water. Then Massey spun VY around allowing him to scramble for the TD… Dusty Magnuson… I’m dying here.


All is not lost. Old School Big Ten offenses (MSU for one) will still struggle against this defense. I am not convinced that Pryor will be able to replicate Juice’s success. There’s also an excellent chance Juice will slice up OSU (can Illinois stop Wells or just out score him?) OSU could host Michigan with 3 losses.


October 9th, 2008 at 10:46 AM ^

The D was clearly overrated with typical preseason hype generating hope beyond any real basis for such fanaticism.  It happens every year and this year's placing most hope for a decent season on a "dominating" D was indeed, in retrospect, foolish.

We knew the LBs were inexperienced and unproven except for OE.  Even Thompson had very little PT in the last 2 years.  As Brian has pointed out, there isn't a lot of talent at LB today.  Many of these guys have very low ceilings.  The play todate reflects this harsh reality.  It's hard to expect much improvement this year unless maybe Fitz get some PT at LB and setle on Mouton and OE for the balance of the season in prep for next year.

The safety position was a crater of poor performance which was hyped as making giant strides in the off season.  The reality is that the crater is deeper than most could imagine.

The DL has been OK but far from dominate.

So, with an OK DL and a back 7 of pure imperfection realism is called for.  It is foolhardy to expect PSU, MSU or O$U to be held in check by this D.  Yes, it could happen but now we are talking possibility versus probability.  We will have trouble with every remaining opponent while we try to eke out 4 more wins.


October 9th, 2008 at 11:29 AM ^

we need to STOP holding up David Haris as the expectation for our LBs. Harris might be the best LB to ever wear the Maize and Blue.  He's going to be an All-Pro, and after his rookie year he was so damn good that the Jets said, "yeah, um, we can go ahead and trade All-Pro Jonathan Vilma now..."