Upon Further Review: Defense vs Illinois Comment Count

Brian November 4th, 2009 at 2:24 PM

Video note: Unfortunately my computer rebooted itself after applying an "important update" last night, which obliterated a 14-hour process via which I convert the torrent into something clippable. So no video today. I will go back in an add it later, and I'll revisit the key points in a couple of Picture Pages posts.

Personnel notes: Leach replaced Ezeh until very late; Ezeh and Kenny Demens were part of the goal line package, though, with Leach apparently relegated to the bench because he's slight. The rest of it was as per usual, thought it seemed like the starting DL got more time than usual.

Michigan did continue its passing down substitution package, replacing Williams with JT Floyd.

Formation notes: This is what I'm calling "4-3 under split" based on an earlier Steve Sharik post:


Both outside linebackers are on the LOS with Leach a single middle linebacker. Michigan went to this frequently against 2TE formations.

And this is what I'm calling "nickel even":


It's not really a nickel package, with Brown on the slot receiver, but it functions more like a nickel package than a standard 4-3 as Michigan would play two deep behind it unless Williams rolled up into the box. Note the position of the DTs right on top of each other, with both guys playing 1-techs over the center. This was probably an adjustment to what Illinois runs more than anything else.

Possibly annoying terminology note: I tried to call Juice Williams "Juice" because if I call him Williams sometimes Williams does something to Williams and that gets confusing.

On with the show:

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under Run Inside zone Roh 0
Roh(+2) shoots inside the tackle at the snap into the intended hole, is held blatantly, and is basically tackled, but still manages to force the RB back behind the play and tackles with help from Mouton, who didn't have to do much other than clean up with Leshoure already going down by the time he arrives. (tackling +1)
O18 2 10 Shotgun 2-back Twins 4-3 under Run Triple option veer Graham 27
Uncalled illegal formation as Illinois only has six on the line. It's hard to hand out minuses here because I'm not sure who's got which assignment. Graham crashes down on the dive fake and tackles it; Mouton hangs inside and gets blocked by a guy who should not have an angle on him. I definitely blame Mouton(-1) for sucking in; even if this was a dive he was going to get obliterated by the tackle for not knowing WTF was going on; Warren comes up to support on the pitch guy but with no one on Williams it's an easy big gain. I also blame Graham(-2), though, because this dive was stuffed anyway and if he had stayed out Illinois had nowhere to go. Good job by Leach to hop into the appropriate hole, FWIW.
O45 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 nickel even Run QB counter trap Mouton 6
Both the backside T and G pull around as the rest of the line blocks down; Juice fakes a handoff to Leshoure that holds Graham outside. Roh(+1) actually does a good job of reading it and getting inside of the puling G, but Williams(-1) and Mouton(-1) run themselves into blocks passively; here the pulling OT has to route around the Roh-based disruption and he still gets a good block on Williams. Result: six yards.
M49 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Flare -- 14
Williams rolls up to the LOS and blitzes; no one gets out on the tailback rolling out of the backfield on a flare route and he's wide open(cover -2) for plenty of yards. I don't know if this is on anyone specifically; sometimes you have a blitz read that changes if you see the RB head out of the backfield like that, sometimes you don't. (RPS -1)
M35 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Pass Scramble -- 4
Busted play. Illinois wants to throw a long handoff to Benn but Benn runs a route. Juice improvises for a few yards; Leach did a decent job of reading it and coming to tackle.
M31 2 6 Shotgun 2TE 4-4 under Pass Long handoff Warren 12
Warren(-1) playing in the parking lot and giving this to Illinois (RPS -1, cover -1). He then misses a tackle(-1), adding several yards.
M19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 nickel even Pass Long handoff Warren 4
Man, Warren keeps bailing into three deep at the snap here and Illinois is looking for it; they get it again here but Warren and Williams do manage to hold it down to four yards. A small victory.
M15 2 6 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Speed option Williams 5
Benn goes in motion and Kovacs immediately signals for Williams to attack the LOS. Looks like Michigan has this scouted and expects Illinois to run a speed option to the now-overloaded short side. They do. Williams(-1) gets crushed by the TE and driven back; Warren is bailing out into cover-three and can't help on the edge.
M10 3 1 Shotgun 2-back 2TE 4-4 under Run Zone stretch(?) Brown 4
Illinois confuses Michigan by shooting one RB past Juice and using the other one as a lead blocker for him; Brown(-1) ends up sitting back the whole play, sucking inside when Williams does his draw fake and giving up the corner for the RB instead of following his assignment and getting out on the edge to hold this down. He was not blocked at all and could have crushed this since Graham absorbed a double team and no one was out on him.
M6 1 G Ace Twins 4-3 under split Run Inside zone Leach 1
Think this is just Michigan beating the Illinois playcall with this split formation. Playside TE is taken upfield by OLB Mouton; DE Roh slants inside, taking the tackle with him, and Leach(+1) reads the direction of the play, shooting into the hole to tackle with help from Williams. (RPS +1)
M5 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 nickel even Run QB zone stretch Leach 2
Roh(-0.5) is flowing down the line okay when he trips and hits the ground, opening up some space. Leach(+1) reads the direction of the play, flows outside too quickly for a guard getting a free release to get an angle on him, takes on the lead block from the RB, sheds, it, and tackles(+1). Very good play from him.
M3 3 G Power I ??? Run Power off tackle Williams 3
2TE, I-form, Benn lined up next to the fullback. You tell me what to call this. [Update: it's the power I.] Illinois runs a version of a power o; Williams(-1) is blitzing and gets in unmolested but goes inside of the fullback and fails to string the play out enough because Mouton got slightly chopped by a linebacker. Mouton keeps his feet but is off balance and in no shape to hold up to the RB's lead block. Warren makes a valiant effort to get out on the edge; Benn leaps over him for a score.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-0, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O19 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 nickel even Run Speed option keeper Roh 2
Roh(+1) gets into the DE, refuses to get sealed, and strings this out to the sideline, cutting off the room and forcing Juice OOB basically by himself. Leach had also flowed down the LOS and was there to assist on the escort.
O21 2 8 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Run Pitch sweep Mouton 6
Ford, the FB, motions out; Warren is in zone and follows. Play is a pitch sweep with pulling linemen on which Graham(+1) shoots into the backfield, taking out a pulling guard and absorbing two blockers. This leaves Mouton(-1) totally unblocked; he overruns the play and is fortunate to grab the RB as he passes; this could have been two yards and was six because of Mouton.
O27 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 nickel split Run Zone read stretch Van Bergen -1
Backside of the line just doesn't get blocked as Martin(+0.5) and Graham(+0.5) slice up, but the key is RVB(+1) coming upfield of an attempted double despite another blatant hold and getting in the running lane, forcing a cutback into doom. I don't know if this was a technically sound play by RVB, who ended up attempting to shove his back into the RB, but it worked. James notes that Williams is totally irresponsible on the read here, and this will bite Michigan later.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 2 min 2nd Q. Michigan muffs the punt.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M41 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 nickel even Run QB counter trap Williams 14
Same play as earlier, with the backside tackle and guard pulling around to the backside as the RB makes a fake out to the edge. Juice keeps it, following his lead blockers. Roh heads inside, drawing a blocker; Mouton(-1) also dives inside even though any tailback handoff is something he's not going to be able to get to; he's run himself out of the play despite a bleeding obvious double pull from the OL. This leaves Williams(-1) on the edge with an OL. He compounds matters by losing leverage and letting Juice outside of him. Even if Mouton had played this correctly, it wouldn't have helped. Juice breaks outside for good yardage.
M27 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 nickel even Pass PA seam Williams Inc
Play action gets Michigan sucking up, with Williams(-1) reduced to an ineffectual chuck on Benn as he realizes he's not about to get blocked into next week but is instead going to give up a wide open route(cover -1). Juice turfs it. Mouton(+0.5) did a pretty good job of avoiding the RB's block to get some pressure.
M27 2 10 I-Form 4-4 under Run Speed option Warren 6
Michigan drops back into a two-deep look as Benn comes across the formation with Warren dropping into a second deep safety slot; Illinois runs at the vacated area. Graham forces a pitch; FB crushes Williams(-0.5) back; he has no chance to do anything once he guy locks on. Warren(-0.5) reacts late and can only undercut the RB as he nears five yards; he cartwheels forward for more. (RPS -1)
M21 3 4 Shotgun 2TE Twins 4-3 under split Pass Hitch Brown Inc
RB motions out and Leach goes with him in man. Michigan sends six, with Brown(+1) coming unblocked to hit Williams as he throws (pressure +1), which might be the reason this hitch is thrown wide of the receiver. Might be just Juice, too. (RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(38), 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O10 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under split Run Zone veer handoff Mouton -3
If this is a read, Juice made the wrong one, because he hands off to the back when Mouton(+2, tackling +1) is coming up on him hard and it seems like an up-the-middle keeper is called for. This is impressive change of direction and tackling from Mouton.
O7 2 13 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 under Run Triple option dive Brown 8
This isn't so much a dive as an off tackle but eh that's life. Brown(-2) ends up totally unblocked in the hole as he crashes down from the slot receiver but whiffs a tackle(-1), turning zero yards into eight. Leach cleans up; I'm impressed Leach read the play well enough to get over to tackle. He's played well so far.
O15 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 nickel even Pass Sack Martin -9
DTs twist and Michigan blitzes two linebackers, causing Martin(+2) to slant into the backfield past the center and the guard, who have other problems, as the Michigan blitz causes Illinois to bust a pickup. (RPS +1) Martin gets there first and forces Juice to pull the ball down; RVB(+1) follows it up to crush Williams for a big loss. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 11 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Zone read keeper Mouton 5 (Pen -10)
Given future events this is scary: Illinois runs a read intended to shoot the right between the backside tackle and DT and should have a huge gainer, but Juice keeps it. I mean, really, if this is a handoff it could be a 70 yard touchdown. Juice keeps it and fakes a bubble, which is also there since Mouton(-1) has failed to cover either the handoff or the bubble or the keeper, and Williams picks up five before the other Williams tackles him. Holding brings it back.
O17 1 20 I-Form 4-4 under Run Speed option Williams 3
Usual course of events: Illinois doesn't block Graham and forces him to force a pitch; this time Williams(+1) gets to the outside shoulder of his blocker and drives him upfield, forcing the pitch man to the sidelines and making this a minimal gain. (RPS +1) Good blitz call.
O20 2 17 I-Form 4-4 under Run Inside zone Roh -1
Roh(+1) on a slant, he steps inside of the guard(!) and gets upfield into the path of the run, forcing the play to the backside. He gets a hand on the RB's thigh, slowing him and allowing Williams to finish with an easy tackle. (RPS +1)
O19 3 18 Shotgun 2TE Twins Nickel Pass Sack Graham -9
Williams pulled for Floyd; M drops seven guys off into deep coverage but it doesn't matter much because Graham(+3) murders the freshman RT and crushes Williams almost before he can set up in the pocket (pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-7, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Zone read keeper Graham 1
Graham(+1) stays home, drifting slightly inside. Juice pulls it out and Graham gets out on him as he passes, grabbing Juice from behind and tackling with help from Williams (+0.5), who makes the easy fill given Graham's presence all over Juice's back.
O30 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Speed option Williams 3
Williams(+1) reacts quickly and fills to the short side of the field. Unblocked, he tackles(+1) for a minimal gain.
O33 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Sack Leach -9
First read is a hitch that Roh(+1, cover +1) has dropped out on and covers; Juice probably has a slant against Woolfolk but can't find it before Leach(+2), who's looped around on a delayed blitz, gets in on Williams and forces him to take evasive action. Leach comes in under control and reads Juice's planned scramble, securing a solid tackle against a guy considerably more athletic than him. Very nice play; I've seen so many guys overrun this. (Pressure +1, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 13-7, 30 sec 2nd Q. Rodriguez doesn't call timeout with a minute left in the half. They go after the punt, but don't get it.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O1 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run QB sneak -- 2
O3 2 8 Ace Twins 4-3 under Run Zone stretch Roh 5
Frontside jammed up by Graham(+0.5) and Martin(+0.5), forcing a cutback into Roh(+1), who has zipped into the backfield. Ford ends up carrying Roh, though—he used power—a couple yards downfield, at which point Williams(-1) lays a wicked hit on... Roh. Leshore gets another three yards out of it. (Tackling -1)
O8 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Speed option -- 4
Illinois motions Benn to the short side of the field for a trips look and run their speed option. Michigan is slanting away from it, which means Graham sucks in and is blocked by the line as Mouton shoots upfield unblocked; Juice pitches outside, where there is no support. Would rather see Michigan force Juice to take the ball here, but that's not how they've been playing it. (RPS -1) Williams does come up through blockers to lay a pop on the RB as he reaches the sticks, but the RB wins that battle and gets the yard he needs.
O12 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-3 under Run Draw? Brown 1
Illinois OL sets up to pass block, sliding the line one way and then handing the ball off the other way. Handoff is awkward and almost fumbled but I don't think it would matter because Michigan's slant + RVB stunt leaves no holes and gets three guys in unblocked on the tailback. He goes nowhere. (RPS +1) I guess Brown (+0.5) for keeping contain.
O13 2 9 Shotgun 2TE 4-4 under Pass Hitch Mouton 17
Same setup as the previous play except Juice keeps it. TE Cumberland runs a good hitch route but Juice is a little late and Mouton has a shot at making a play here; he fails(-1), diving over the top without getting the ball and giving this guy another 7 YAC. (Tackling -1)
O30 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel under Run Zone read dive Leach 70
I don't know who's issue this is. Michigan is in a pure two-deep with Mouton rolled up the LOS and Brown over one of the slot guys, with Leach the only real MLB aligned like that. On the snap, Michigan's DL slides a bit and Roh gets kicked out by single blocking, opening up a hole here. Roh's not really defending Juice or the dive, so he gets a -1. Then: Mouton backs out and appears to be spying on Juice on a potential keeper, and Williams is sucking up as Benn runs a bubble route. Reasonable. However, Leach(-3) runs himself way out of the play in anticipation of a stretch that Illinois doesn't really run much; they run this all the time. He then compounds the error by not freaking out and running back downfield away from a releasing C; he gets blocked out of the play. Kovacs(-2) is dropping into a deep zone and does not come up soon enough to get an angle to slow the RB down, and he runs for a long way. Oh, and hell, Mouton(-2) had no idea who had the ball way too long and failed to close down either Juice or the RB.
Drive Notes: Touchdown,13-14, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Triple option dive Williams 27
Ugh, ugh, ugh. Illinois motions a guy into the backfield for a two-back look and Williams is keying on this so he flies to the LOS. Illinois runs a triple option look off of it; Williams(-2) blitzes into the backfield and has this dive dead to rights, but comes in way too hard and gets back-juked. Freakin' disaster. Opposite of what Leach did earlier. Guy now has a huge cutback lane since the linebackers are to the playside and Roh(-1) got his ass kicked and let himself get shoved out of the hole. Probably wouldn't have mattered much but might have held it down if Roh could provide some delay here. (Tackling -2)
O48 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-4 under Pass TE Wheel -- 34
Michigan in a two-deep zone that Williams cannot get out onto his guy on because he's picked by Benn and rode down the field. Probably should be offensive PI but they never call that. Can't really blame Williams here; he can't run through a dude. Result is an open bomb that Michigan can't do anything about. Pocket was great for Juice, too. (Pressure -1, cover -2, RPS -1)
M18 1 10 Shotgun 2TE Twins 4-3 under Run Zone read keeper Brown 2
Michigan slants so hard that the backside TE and OT have no one to block and can just roll downfield. Herron crashes down on the RB, causing Juice to pull it. Mouton(+1) came up to the line, read the RB's path, and hopped playside of the C's attempted block, which lets him flow down the line past the guys who released downfield, and Brown is unblocked coming in from the edge. This makes the bubble pretty open but it works. Brown(+1) sets up and makes a good open field tackle(+1).
M16 2 8 Shotgun 2-back 3-4 nickel Pass Wheel Brown Inc (Pen + 14)
Brown(-2) is decent position on this play but never turns around to look for the ball and ends up pushing this receiver before the ball gets there because it's underthrown. I hate these calls, which reward the offense for being inept more than anything else. Pressure was coming, possibly resulting in a marginal throw. I keep watching this and I hate this call so much. It's ridiculous. Guy is in position and trying to make a play and should have a right to his momentum; instead he gets a call.
M2 1 G Power I Goal line Pass Waggle flat Ezeh 2
All eleven players freak out assuming it'll be the same Benn sweep, leaving both TEs wide, wide open. Ezeh(-1) and Mouton(-1) and cover -2.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 13-21, 5 min 3rd Q. aaaargh
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M45 1 10 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under Run Inside zone Sagesse 5
Blocking the backside DE here and shoving Sagesse(-1) way down the line opens up a hole that Mouton can't fill fast enough despite reading the play quickly and getting to the ball as fast as you can reasonably expect. Hole too big and Sagesse moving too far out of it in anticipation of a stretch.
M40 2 5 Shotgun 2-back Twins 4-3 under Run Triple option dive Banks? 7
This really should go nowhere as the two backup DTs get some push and Brown gets past the slot receiver to sit unblocked in the hole. But Sagesse bulling his way into the back of the LT doesn't prevent the LG from getting out on Leach and when the RB tries to cut back into the mess that is the four guys in the middle of the line he somehow squirts through for first-down yardage. I'm not sure who, if anyone, is to blame here other than bloody-minded fate. I'm going to -0.5 Banks for getting kicked out of the hole eventually, I think.
M33 1 10 Shotgun 2TE Twins 4-3 under split Pass Sack Brown -8
OLBs flanking the LOS here on this two TE package and both are sent on a blitz. RB has the pickup on Brown(+2), who sets up inside then bursts upfield of his blocker, sacking Juice when he tries to move up in the pocket only to hit his own RB. Graham(+1) was driving the RG back into the pocket, creating the restricted space in which Juice had few scrambling options. (Pressure +2)
M41 2 18 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Fade Woolfolk 37
Of course. Michigan sends four with Herron backing out into a short zone and Graham(+1) immediately crushes the guard attempting to block him, hitting Juice as he throws what's basically and arm-punt, Juice Williams gets nailed as he throws. Juice Williams. His throw? Perfect. Woolfolk(-1) was beat deep in man press (cover -1), but not that badly and the receiver made a spectacular catch. I mean... Christ.
M4 1 G Ace Twins 4-3 under split Run Inside zone Martin 1
Martin(+1) back in; he drives playside of his blocker and forces a cutback into Herron(+0.5), who is one-on-one in some space with the TB and holds him to basically no YAC. Maybe one before the cavalry arrives.
M3 2 G Shotgun 2-back TE 4-3 under split Pass Zone read keeper Williams 3
Williams(-2), the contain guy, completely overruns the play and Juice takes it in for an easy touchdown.
Drive Notes: Touchdown,13-28, 1 min 3rd Q. Here's to you, worst third quarter ever.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 nickel even Run Veer handoff Martin -6
Play Illinois has run earlier with a veer outside look paired with the backside guard and tackle pulling around. This time Juice hands it off... for some reason. This doesn't seem like it can be a real read because it just doesn't block two guys on the frontside of this play, and Martin(+1) and Graham proceed to crush this guy in the backfield. No idea how this handoff ever works.
O15 2 16 I-Form 4-3 under Run Pitch sweep Mouton 4
FB motions out for three-wide look and Illinois runs a down G scheme with a pitchout, pulling the playside G around as the down-block Graham. Mouton(+1) gets outside of the pulling guard and upfield, forcing the play back inside to Leach, who tackles(+1) a couple yards downfield with help from Williams. Graham also did a good job of flowing down the line and preventing the other pulling OL from getting out on Leach.
O19 3 12 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under split Run QB draw Graham 26
Oh, right. This. This looks like a scramble at first blush but there are linemen releasing downfield, it's a called run. Graham(-1) comes too hard inside and vacates a passing lane. Martin(-1) is doubled and blasted way out of the center of the field; Leach(-1) ends up way overrunning Juice's cutback lane, and the safeties are nowhere to be found. (RPS -1)
O47 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Zone read dive Leach 5
Martin(+1) and Graham do a good job of cutting off any potential frontside holes and there's nowhere to go there; there's a cutback from the RB into unblocked linebackers since Martin absorbed a double. Leach(-1) does not read it quickly and ends up taking a hit from the RB two yards downfield, getting bowled over for another 3 YAC. Should have/could have reacted more quickly to hold this down.
M48 2 5 Shotgun 2TE Twins 4-3 under split Run Zone read dive Kovacs 22
Same play. Michigan is stunting, which ends up seeing RVB run outside and out of the play, opening up a crease. This time Leach(-1), who can't win, has delayed waiting for a cutback to the Martin/Graham side and gets sucked into a mess. Herron(-1) could not hold the POA on his stunt and gets blown back, which doesn't help matters. Kovacs(-1) then misses a tackle(-1) and turns this from a first down into lots of yards.
M26 1 10 Shotgun 2TE Twins 3-4 Base Run Zone read keeper Williams 23
is this on Williams or Mouton? Williams blitzes off the snap and can be thought of as a crashing backside DE. Is Michigan supposed to scrape here, then? That would make sense to contain this, as Williams has the dive dead to rights and Mouton could scrape out to contain Juice. I don't know which it is. I originally gave Williams minus two billion because I'm just fed up with him, but I think this might be on Mouton, who lord knows has had some serious mental issues this year. One of these two guys gets a negative two billion. I tentatively assign them to Williams.
M3 1 G Power I Goal line Run Speed option Ezeh 1
Brown pops up on the QB, forcing a pitch, and Ezeh(+1) manages to get outside the lead blocks from the FB and TE to force the play back inside where Demens and Graham are; RB falls, possibly because of Graham, for no gain.
M2 2 G Power I Goal line Run Iso Martin -4
Absolutely nowhere to go as Martin(+1) wins the battle with his guy and Graham dives forward, creating an impenetrable pile of bodies. Campbell(+1) cuts through a block on the backside and grabs the RB's foot, causing him to fumble. (For a loose definition of "caused".) Illinois gets it back, though a few yards short of the LOS.
M6 3 G Shotgun 2TE offset Goal line Pass PA TE corner Williams Inc
Unbalanced formation with both Ts on the same side of the line; this is an attempt to fool Michigan into leaving the RT—actually a TE—uncovered. That doesn't quite work but Williams(-1) gets beat by Cumberland and Juice can hit him for a TD; it glances off his fingertips. Brown was applying pressure on the corner. Bonus: Cumberland was covered up on the LOS and that went uncalled. Woo Big Ten refs.
Drive Notes: FG(23), 13-31, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O11 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run Inside zone Watson 8
For some reason, Steve Watson is in at deathbacker. Watson(-1) falls to the ground as Michigan flows down the line against the zone blocking, opening up a cutback lane the RB hits. Ezeh's in and gets blocked; Williams(-1) basically whiffs a tackle but the RB falls as he cuts behind it.
O19 2 2 Shotgun 2-back Twins 4-3 under Run Busted play -- -2
Juice fumbles the snap.
O17 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Speed option Watson 6
There is no one on the edge as Watson(-1) drops off into a zone, weirdly, and Mouton gets caught up in the wash of the WR blocking the hell out of Watson. Juice has an easy time moving up for the first down. (RPS –1)
O23 1 10 Shotgun 2TE Twins 4-3 under Run Zone read keeper Watson 1
WOOO THE DRIVE OF WATSON. Here Watson(+2) does a great job as the unblocked DE, convincing Juice to keep the ball by coming down a little bit on the RB, then hopping out to contain him. Forced back inside, Juice is tackled by Watson from behind.
O24 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Run Zone veer keeper Ezeh 11
Here's why Ezeh's lost his job. Michigan slants and shifts Ezeh right over the hole where this Illinois veer play goes if Juice keeps the ball. Mouton has shot upfield to erase the potential handoff, leaving Ezeh(-2) alone in the hole with one assignment: Williams. Ezeh, of course, decides to run out and try to tackle the tailback. Who Mouton has owned. And doesn't have the ball.
O35 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 nickel even Run Inside zone Mouton 3
Good by the DTs to hold the POA and Mouton(+1) attacks quickly, swallowing the RB in the backfield when he hesitates.
O38 2 7 Shotgun 2TE 3-4 Base Pass Long handoff -- Inc
Behind the receiver and incomplete.
O38 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Cross Brown 5
Dumpoff short of the sticks.
Drive Notes: Punt, 13-31, 4 min 4th Q. Charting stops. I would have stopped it already if I had known Watson was in. Graham(+3) blocks the punt.

What's this coming out of my eyes?

It looks like ichor of some variety.

Gross. Are you sure it's not blood?

I didn't think tentacled Cthulu-beasts had blood.

I thought I was Boubacar Cissoko.

Fine: tiny tentacled Cthulu-beasts with poor ability to model the future.

I think a chart might focus the pain emanating from my eyesockets into one white-hot point. I heard people undergoing torture do stuff like that Chart?


Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Graham 11 3 8 Not quite up to the usual standard as I think he got suckered on a couple of runs, but still pretty good.
Heininger - - - Didn't record anything.
Watson 2 2 0 Replacing Patterson because he got on the field late.
Roh 7 2.5 4.5 Effective slanting all day; not great in pass rush yet.
Herron 1.5 1 0.5 Eh.
Martin 7 1 6 No frontside creases all day; too bad about the linebackers.
Van Bergen 2 - 2 Not a major factor.
Banks - 0.5 -0.5 Played less.
Sagesse - 1 -1 Meh.
Campbell 1 - 1 Good play on the goal line.
TOTAL 31.5 11 20.5 Same total number as against Penn State, weirdly.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 1 3 -2 Managed to do this on like five plays.
Mouton 5.5 9 -3.5 The usual at this point. Excellent athlete, many mental mistakes.
Brown 4.5 5 -0.5 He's okay. 
Fitzgerald - - - DNP
Leach 4 6 -2 Better than Ezeh, and did okay, with half of his minuses coming on the big play.
TOTAL 14 23 -9 Also the exact same total as against Penn State.
Player + - T Notes
Warren - 1.5 -1.5 Not tested.
Cissoko - - - Happy trails.
Floyd - - - DNP.
Turner - - - DNP.
Woolfolk - 1 -1 The one bomb, otherwise not tested.
Emilien - - - DNP
Kovacs - 3 -3 Again burned as a deep half safety.
TOTAL 2.5 20 -17.5 Blar.
Pressure 9 1 8 Poor BG.
Coverage 1 9 -8 Argh.
Tackling 5 7 -2 First negative tackling day.
RPS 8 7 1 Scheme seemed fine.

[A reminder: RPS is "rock, paper, scissors." Michigan gets a + when they call a play that makes it very easy for them to defend the opponent, like getting a free blitzer. They get a – when they call a play that makes it very difficult for them to defend the opponent, like showing a seven-man blitz and having Penn State get easy touchdowns twice.]

That appears to be a huge negative number next to Mike Williams's name.

Yeah. First a disclaimer: it is possible some of those minuses should migrate over to other folks on the defense because Williams wasn't actually the guy who was supposed to have contain as Michigan was running a scrape exchange. I watched the plays a lot, though, and think there's only one instance where that is a serious possibility. On the others it seemed obvious that Williams was irresponsible.

This is not a surprise. Williams was –6 against Iowa and –4 against Penn State, and the Penn State numbers were generous. It was evident Michigan was trying to use him to defend the long handoffs, which he could not do for whatever reason. Against Illinois he had a huge problems.

So… yeah. He's the reason—or at least, the emblem of the reason—Misopogon spent the last week of his life composing a master's thesis about Michigan's defensive recruiting and retention relative to its rivals. He's a weak link, probably the weakest, and Michigan has no alternative the rest of this year. Next year they'll have to hope he gets better or that one of the freshmen passes him. I can't see him getting any better after the last three games.

In an SAT analogy:

2009 Michigan Football : Mike Williams :: _______ : ________

A. 2008 Michigan Football : Nick Sheridan
B. Notre Dame Football : South Bend, Indiana
C. MAC Football Programs : Former Lloyd Carr Assistants
D. Life : Entropy
E. All Of The Above

Next year Williams will either be much better or on the bench.

Aren't those sorts of errors on plays Michigan practices against every damn day?

Uh… yeah. I do think it's a bad sign that Williams is making really basic errors that no one should make. "Hey, you have QB contain" is not a thing that should be dependent on which coordinator you're playing for. "Do not let the QB outside of you." Not hard. Apparently, Robinson has taken over coaching the safeties. Eventually he'll be the everything-except-DL coach.

So how was Kevin Leach?

He was okay. There were a lot of plays I thought he did well on that did not rise to the level of a + given the standards I've set for them over the past few years, and the mistakes he made were less mindboggling than the ones Ezeh did in his brief time on the field. Ezeh's main contributions were leaving an Illinois TE vastly wide open on first and goal and running out of a hole that Juice was in when he had the ball. It looked like he though Juice was the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog.

Er. Check that.


Leach did not remind me of any scenes from Monty Python. He didn't do anything that made me want to hit my head against a wall. There was the one big error on the 70-yard touchdown where he sucked out of position because he was keying on the OL instead of the backfield, but that error was shared by at least four other people.

After a game of Leach I do think he's better than Ezeh, which is a mindboggling statement in a thousand different ways. Redshirt sophomore walk-on > scholarship third-year starting linebacker (and Butkis semifinalist!). Is that a failure to develop talent or just an indictment of Carr's ability to recruit the right sorts of guys late in his career? I hate 'em both.

Should we be grumbling about Robinson? If not, who should we be grumbling about?

I can't imagine the defensive coordinator who can mash these parts together and come up with something good. I have been saying this since the start of the year, though: the linebacker play has been consistently terrible despite experienced players returning and at least some continuity at coaching the position. Maybe it's just that Michigan picked up a bunch of duds, but Mouton's stunning regression is a black mark from any angle.

Other than that, read the masters thesis. We dead, and we aren't going to be in a position to be good next year. Better? If not, heads will start rolling in earnest. Good? No.


Graham and Martin both played very well.


See SAT analogy above.

Also, Jordan Kovacs was much better in the quasi-LB role than he is as a deep safety. This is not really his fault.

What does it mean for Purdue and the future?

Oh, hell. It seems likely that one of these days Michigan is going to have a game in which they do not have huge screwups that yield long touchdowns for the opposition and everyone moaning about it is going to have to take a step back, but that day seems likely to come in 2010 at the earliest. The safeties are just totally inadequate, the linebackers remain subpar even after the Ezeh-Leach switch, and the DL is making a valiant effort only to see huge cutback runs and ridiculous lost contain submarine all their efforts.

As for Purdue, they picked up 140 yards last week, so there's a chance if we catch them on one of their bad Boiler days, but this is an offense designed to tear up the middle of the field with short passes and Michigan is uniquely positioned to not stop this sort of offense. The defense will remain terrible until 2010.



November 4th, 2009 at 2:40 PM ^

Maybe A?

A. 2008 Michigan Football : Nick Sheridan

Closest answer, but Sheridan also had Threet to come in and change the direction of the bleeding, sometimes for the less worse. There isn't another option here.

B. Notre Dame Football : South Bend, Indiana

Backwards? My hatred of ND makes me hate it where ever it is, be it South Bend or San Antonio. If it weren't for ND football, I wouldn't have anything against South Bend.

C. MAC Football Programs : Former Lloyd Carr Assistants

That Brady Hoke guy did well before leaving. Stan Parrish... not so much.

D. Life : Entropy

Entropy is what makes life interesting. Couldn't be this one.

E. All Of The Above

Definitely a negative.

Pea-Tear Gryphon

November 4th, 2009 at 2:48 PM ^

Seems to me that if they bring in Floyd for passing situations and move Woolfolk to safety, that maybe this is the D package they should run at all times. Slide Kovacs back to "run supporting" safety and keep Woolfolk as "don't get beat deep" safety. I would think it is easier to cover up a weak CB then it is with a safety.

I'm no coach and don't see them in practice, but you could at least roll coverage away from Warren to cover a young, inexperienced CB (Floyd).

That UFR score for Williams should at least prompt us to try something else, no?


November 4th, 2009 at 3:10 PM ^

I don't get why they don't just switch Kovacs and Williams. I'm guessing Robinson spent the week of the DSU game to try to come up with something to cover up the deficiencies of the secondary, but all the changes seemed to have made things worse. Kovacs was always bad in deep coverage but adequate as a quasi-LB, now he's always the deep safety which takes away his only strength. Williams can't play quasi-LB either so now we give up more big run plays too. Warren is always bailing deep to help Kovacs, which constantly leaves him vulnerable short.

I guess it's good the defensive staff tried to do something to fix the problems from the first half of the year. But so far the fixes are turning out about as well as the switch to the 3-3-5 did last year, with lots of blown assignments from people playing new-ish positions. The Kovacs move is the most puzzling to me though, since it takes him away from the one thing at which he was good so now both safeties are bad, and it makes Warren's performance suffer as well.


November 4th, 2009 at 7:09 PM ^

Absolutely horrendous Brian. I don't know much about this kid except that he was recruited by English in 2006 and had a 4* rivals rating but how can he be such a flop? I mean, this gives me the creeps when someone consistently plays this bad and was a highly touted recruit - #15 safety in the country in 2007. Is the scheme not suited to his talents?


November 4th, 2009 at 2:57 PM ^

What about weekly tryouts? "All people sitting in Section 33, row 15, please report to the locker room to try out for safety?"

On a serious note, is there anything schematically that can be done to hide the safety play more? I defer to the more football-savvy among us on this point.

Blue in Seattle

November 4th, 2009 at 4:52 PM ^

It's the combination of weak linebacker with weak safeties.

The DL is somewhat covering for the lack of linebacker on running plays, did you notice that options to the wide side of the field, that stretch out the D-Line have a high probability of success for yards 5+ but most other running plays are stuffed or less than 5 yards?

and once you get Steve Brown focused on covering that up, the offense switches to a dump pass in the shallow middle, which then potentially puts someone in space against...

it's like our scissors are too small to cut all the way through the paper, and someone dropped our paper in a puddle, so the rock or scissors go right through it.

so what plays would you call if you know the other team only has a rock?

Too bad the Simpsons are completely scrubbed off of YouTube, because this would be the perfect place to play the clip where Lisa and Bart are playing Rock, Paper, Scissors and you can hear the thoughts in their head,

Lisa - "poor Bart, always picks Rock"

Bart - "good old Rock, nothin' beats that!"

Bart (after losing to Lisa's paper) - "Doh!"


November 5th, 2009 at 10:17 AM ^

Really, thank you. This perfectly explained it to me. You very eloquently explained what my intuitive feeling was about the defense, that the D-line was covering for inferior LB and DB play. Of course, I kind of want to kick you in the balls now- not because you're wrong, but because there isn't a fix that doesn't involve different players not on roster/playing yet.

Homer's Brain: "Look sad and say 'D'oh.'"



November 4th, 2009 at 5:01 PM ^

no, you can't. At some point you need at least 1 adequate deep safety to play basic zone schemes. Alternatively, to play man you need to pick 5 pass defenders to man up on theirs. Past Woolfolk, Warren and Brown, who would you want to see on a WR/RB/TE of any kind? Like the '08 offense, we can't even run our basic sets without getting seriously exploited.


November 4th, 2009 at 2:57 PM ^

given Michigan's offensive struggles, the Illinois game might have been the first time that the M defense had seen the read option/running spread run correctly


November 4th, 2009 at 3:25 PM ^

I think thats why Roundtree got caught from behind. I dont know if anyone on our D can catch him or anyone else in practice. He was surprised that someone could really close in on him.



November 4th, 2009 at 9:50 PM ^

If I were RR, he would have been dressed up and down for not hustling to the endzone. I still can't believe he put himself on Cruise Control (75% speed) after catching the ball on the 70+ yard play. If he hustles, no way momentum swings to the Fighting Underachievers from Champaign.

Mon-L The Magn…

November 4th, 2009 at 3:00 PM ^

This burns my eyes.

I wouldn't pile on Williams too bad. That offense puts you in 1/1 binds a lot. Despite Juice's inconsistency and flaws as a passer, he is a crazy skilled athlete.

If GRob is really coaching safeties now, could be a major staff reshuffle coming up. Hobson's inside backers have been awful.


November 4th, 2009 at 6:18 PM ^

echoes something I said when RR was hired and he brought all his defensive assts with him, but not the DC. He's making the DC do with people who may not be ready to teach the same scheme as the DC is.
This blows.
It's nepotism.
Or cronyism.
Either way, it usually produces poor results.
I think this may be what we are seeing. Maybe not that RR's friends are bad asst coaches, just that they aren't necessarily the best fit for what the DC is trying to do.
At a minimum it's looking like Hopson should end up looking for another job and Gibson should be stripped of at least 1/2 his responsibilities and most of his pay.


November 4th, 2009 at 3:01 PM ^

Having played some DB* it's very frustrating to watch guys take consistently bad angles and also not be able to tackle. I've come to the conclusion that at some point after I grew up kids must have stopped chasing each other and fighting/wrestling for fun. It's made them bad defensive backs. Tom Sawyer would have been a good defensive back if he'd had the chance.

*and Man was I good...I'd be in the NFL now if I was bigger, stronger, faster, and in possession of a great deal more talent.


November 4th, 2009 at 6:05 PM ^

I played at a fairly high level, and while it's true that the better athlete you are the better tackler you can be in space, its mostly about discipline and positioning IMO. One of the simplest techniques is breaking down prior to the tackle, and not flying in like a missile and then get faked out of your jock. ANYONE can learn to break down.


November 4th, 2009 at 3:13 PM ^

I usually have a difficult time following what the defense is doing in real time (i.e. pointing fingers), but it was pretty easy to watch MWilliams get sucked into the fake hand-off, just to have Juice keep and scoot right around him to the outside for big gainers. I'm not a guru like so many people are on this site, but that has to be the EASIEST job on the field and MWilliams was just getting massacred on it. If he would just say to himself, "OK, forget the RB; Contain the Juice", that game could've gone quite a bit differently.

I don't think he lacks the athleticism, but does lack the mentality for defense at this level.


November 4th, 2009 at 4:03 PM ^

at him many times through my tv on Saturday. I do blame the coaches somewhat because I feel like they should have told him to just destroy Juice. Hit him and don't worry about who has the ball. It is a clean play if the hand off is close and then you have a chance at a big tackle or a fumble and you don't let the qb kill you. Of course, that means you have to trust one of the linebackers to get the RB...

Blue in Seattle

November 4th, 2009 at 5:08 PM ^

remember these are young kids, and the coaches have experience, so is it usually the teacher not teaching or the young student forgetting what they were told?

also do you follow the press conferences, or the presse notes at all? the theme of "people need to play their position" is starting to crop up again.

the drop off at the end of the year is more about the strength of the teams we are facing in general getting better, as well as these teams have more video tape to watch and find all the holes to poke at in the veneer that Robinson it spreading over this defense.

forget about the defense, just start praying the offense gels and keeps them off the field as much as possible,

thank god the purdue game is at home


November 4th, 2009 at 3:21 PM ^

What evidence do we have that this defense will be better in 2010, BG graduating, Warren possibly to the NFL, 2010 we could see an even worse defense. I hope not, but I am not optimistic on that side of the ball.


November 4th, 2009 at 3:33 PM ^

The only real hope is that everyone returning gets better and that any incoming freshman (and redshirt) we have are able to play and contriubute right away. But considering that a lot of the returners on D appear to have gotten worse or made no progress from last year to this year and that we don't have any blue chippers waiting in the wings on D, I don't think its looking so hot...


November 4th, 2009 at 4:10 PM ^

The majority of players improve each year. Just because Mouton and Ezeh haven't, doesn't mean its true for everyone. Martin, Warren, Brown, Graham have all gotten better. I believe Roh, Van Bergen, Sageese, Herron, Kovacs, Leach, Floyd and Williams could next year.

Also, GERG will be in his second year.

Also, our two five star freshman will be in their second year, not to mention help at safety in Emelien and Gordon and a plethora of lottery tickets at linebacker(Jones, Smith, Hawthorne, Demens, Fitzgerald).

There is hope...for competency. Still thin, still not great, but they will be better I think.


November 4th, 2009 at 3:22 PM ^

I will never take solid defense for granted again.
I will never take solid defense for granted again.
I will never take solid defense for granted again.
I will never take solid defense for granted again.
5833 times


November 4th, 2009 at 3:23 PM ^

We all freaked about having to using Kovacs, but as it turns out he's ok with run support. Nice little find. To see him have to play the deep safety just seems like taking a blow torch to house money (trust me, that is something I know about. But, whatever).

I would echo those who call for a lineup of Dwar and Floyd at corner with Troy playing deep and Jordan playing run support safety.

That said, lets not close the book on Michael Williams. I am frustrated as everyone else when a higly ranked recruit does not pan out initially.....but I am equally distressed when we decide the kid sucks and decide he should never see the field again.

Sometimes kids dont bloom right away. With Williams, you have a kid who has never had a set position, has had three DCs chirp in his ear while at UM and in his first year of really playing gets shuffled around from position to position in the ever changing, ever confusing UM DB lineup.

He has two years left of eligibility at Michigan. Hopefully, they can stick him in one position and some cohesion with the defensive system with GERG sticking around helps him improve. I also think he'll have a lot more competition next year with Vlad and Turner possible options. I dont know.

I thought it was a mistake to bury Stevie Brown on the bench in 2007 after one game. And, we paid for it with a kid last year basically playing for the first time. I kinda see the same thing with Williams, except he's taking his lumps from start to finish, and should be a much better player for it with 10 months of an off season and the same defense for the first time evr. I think he can still make a leap and be a serviceable player.

Or, the drinking and smoking have set in.



November 4th, 2009 at 3:38 PM ^

have you seen how that girly man tackles? He is obviously afraid of contact and has never, at least in any game I've watched, actually finished through (i.e., drove his hips into the ball carrier and through him to make the tackle). The kid never brings the most important part of his body to the play and that is concerning because this is something you're taught from bantam league football on.

Greg McMurtry

November 4th, 2009 at 4:27 PM ^

respectfully disagree with you on Mike Williams. I just can't see him ever excelling at either safety position. His play at safety reminds me of how poor Stevie Brown was at the coverage aspect of the safety position. Williams just does not seem to have the instincts needed to excel at the position. He seems to not understand his responsibilities and takes poor tackling angles week after week with no improvement whatsoever. I would really like to see someone else take over the position. He is not the only player who needs work on this defense, but I think that he needs the most work and perhaps looking to someone else would be the solution.


November 4th, 2009 at 3:23 PM ^

I watch Purdue fairly closely because my wife is a grad from there (we'll be talking smack all day Saturday) and what Brian says is right. Their offense does target the short passes in the middle that we seem to have so much trouble with. Before last week I was ok about this game. Now? Shit.

S.G. Rice

November 4th, 2009 at 3:27 PM ^

FWIW I think giving Leach a -3 on the 70 yd TD run by LeShoure is a bit harsh. With the slanting of the defense to the left, I would expect the design has him moving that way. You can see that Mouton loops back off the line and also moves a bit in the direction of the defensive slant.

Meanwhile, as Leach is taking his one step forward and one left, the offensive center or left guard has disengaged from blocking and released out to the second level. Way too easy with the slant moving the DT away from the play. The lineman mostly just walls off Leach. Give the man a -1 - beyond that it's more a -1 RPS than on Leach.

Mouton, meanwhile, is completely unblocked and can't decide whether to go inside after the RB or outside after Juice. He waffles and finally makes a move outside just as he realizes the RB has the ball. Too bad the RB is already moving past him at this point. Jeez. Minus a bunch. He has to know that Williams is outside him because of the bubble fake, doesn't he?

If you watch the video, Leach manages to disengage and start running down field before Mouton even figures out what's happening. It's just too late at this point and the safeties are no help.

I can't believe Williams doesn't get a minus on this because he's very very late recognizing the play. So late that he can't come over despite playing what, 15 yards off the ball? Give him a -2.


November 4th, 2009 at 3:48 PM ^

I agree with this analysis wholeheartedly. Good stuff S.G.

On the UFR Leach seems to take the brunt of the hit on what was an epic fail by at least 3 defenders. That play was just a firesale by the defense and it would probably be better rated as -1's or 2's for 3 or 4 different players.

Tha Stunna

November 4th, 2009 at 3:37 PM ^

How long has Floyd been a corner... just for this year or did he take reps at corner ever since he arrived? I do remember him originally being a safety recruit; if he could be non-incompetent at safety, we could have a non-terrible secondary with Warren/Woolfolk and Kovacs/Floyd. That's all dependent on Warren sticking around, or maybe Turner emerging next year though.


November 4th, 2009 at 3:55 PM ^

Floyd was an athlete as a recruit to my knowledge (Rivals), but I'm pretty sure he has practiced exclusively at CB since arriving on campus. He is only a (RS) Freshman though.

Best case scenario next year (IMO) would be . . .

CB 1: Warren
CB 2: Floyd/Turner
FS: Woolfolk
SS: Williams/Kovacs

1. Warren comes back

2. Floyd & Turner both have another year under their belt to develop. Cullen Christian pushes for playing time (fingers crossed).

3. Woolfolk moves back to FS or deep safety, which would be an infinite upgrade over Kovacs at deep safety.

4. Williams would stay in his current role as we seemingly have nobody else behind him unless we move Kovacs there.

5. If he doesn't move to SS then Kovacs gets moved to S/LB to compete for playing time since Brown graduates.


November 4th, 2009 at 3:48 PM ^

Did you know that Mike Trgovac resigned as the DC for the Carolina Panthers last January? Did RR even try to pursue him to replace Shafer? This guy is a Michigan grad and was one helluva DC for many years at Carolina. Was RR intimidated by Trgovac's Michigan ties?

Is there any effing set of criteria where Trgovac is NOT a superior candidate over Robinson? So now Trgovac is the DL coach for the Packers and we have someone who hasn't been an effective coach in over a decade. %$#@!