Upon Further Review: Defense Vs Miami (NTM)

Submitted by Brian on September 10th, 2008 at 6:13 PM

Sorry this is late. I'm just going to throw it up now and add the video in gradually. Thanks for understanding.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Iso Ezeh 5
Both defensive tackles are effectively single-blocked on this play that goes right up the gut. (-1 Johnson, -1 Taylor.) Ezeh(+1) stands up to the peeling center well but with no help has little choice but to fall backwards when the running back plows into the back of his blocker. RB falls forward, then, for a nice gain.
O30 2 5 Shotgun Trips 3-3-5 Nickel Run Zone read dive Thompson 4
Johnson (-1) is bashed to the ground by a double team as the NT here; the call put him in a bad position but he still failed to hold the POA. Thompson(+1) times a blitz well to the backside of the play, diving at the RB's feet. He can't make the tackle but does slow him up enough to turn this into a third down instead of a first.
O34 3 1 Ace Base 4-3 Run Iso Taylor 0
This is all Taylor(+2), who gets under the pads of the center and drives him straight back into the path of the running back. The RB bounces off the ass of the center and is lost amid a swarm of Michigan defenders; IMO this is a slightly poor tackling angle from Brown and it's only a timely bit of support from Harrison that prevents the RB from falling forward for the first. Johnson(+1) also held up to a double well.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Shotgun Trips Base 4-3 Pass Bubble Screen Thompson 10
Thompson(-2) bites on a playfake he has no hope of getting to and would be useless on anyway since a cutback would go into the maw of Graham; this gives the split TE a perfect angle to block him and opens up tons of space on the outside. Trent manhandled pretty good by his blocker, too. (Cover -1)
O36 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Yakety Sax -- 0
The center has a wrong snap count; he snaps; the QB fumbles; Michigan recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-0, 10 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O22 1 10 Shotgun Trips Base 4-3 Pass Rollout stop Trent 7
Both MLBs blitz up the middle as Miami rolls the pocket away from the pressure. The Miami QB throws a quick stop route on time; Trent tackles immediately.
O29 2 3 Shotgun Trips Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Johnson 2
Though Jamison basically makes this play I don't think I should credit him for it since he crashed down like a mofo on the handoff and the QB would have been wide open if he kept the ball. Johnson(+1) fought to the right side of the blocker and was an impediment from the front of the play, though. Linebackers nowhere to be found here.
O31 3 1 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Out Evans Inc
Miami's little slot guy is open for the first in front of Evans (cover -1) but flat drops it.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 7 min 1st Q. Telling they pass here, no?
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O24 1 10 ??? ??? Run ??? ??? 4
ESPN misses this play entirely.
O28 2 6 Shotgun Trips Base 4-3 Pass Bubble Screen Thompson 9
The other LBs blitz as Thompson slides to the middle of the field; for some reason the Miami guard releasing downfield decides to double back and block Ezeh, so he's got a free shot at the receiver. He whiffs(-1), turning one yard into nine.
O37 1 10 I-Form Base 4-3 Pass Fly Stewart(?) Inc
This can't be a coherent coverage, IMO. Both corners funnel their receivers to the middle of the field, clearly expecting safety help in a cover two, but only Brown actually drops into a deep zone. Stewart pulls up, covering a TE post, and Warren's two steps behind the receiver. (Cover -3.) I don't know who this is on, so no individual minuses, but this was big play waiting to happen. Also pressure -1 here.
O37 2 10 Shotgun Trips Okie Pass Rollout out Ezeh 9
Michigan caught in an unfavorable situation here as Miami rolls the pocket towards a couple blitzers and the two outside receivers to the trips side run off coverage. Ezeh is tasked with tracking down Miami's little slot guy from way across the field; he gets open and catches a little out, then makes the first upfield 360 turn of the day, beating Ezeh(-1) as he does it. (Cover -1)
O46 3 1 I-Form Twins Base 4-3 Run Dive Ezeh 2
Taylor(+1) again blows his guy into the backfield, tripping the running back as he passes. Ezeh(-1) got blocked out of the play and there was no linebacker to meet him in the hole.
O48 1 10 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Zone read stretch Graham -5
Graham(+2) crushes his guy backwards, directly into the path of the runner as he attempts to take it outside. This forces a field reversal and Michigan's defense swarms it.
O43 2 15 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Penalty Delay -- -5
Oops.
O38 2 20 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Jailbreak screen Mouton 2
Mouton(+1) and Ezeh(+1) both read this too quickly for the offensive linemen to react and block them; Mouton gets there first and tackles. (Cover +1)
O40 3 18 Shtogun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Post Brown Inc
Michigan sends five and gets nowhere near the QB (pressure -2) and I don't usually give out minuses for guys not getting to the quarterback, but Thompson's(-1) blitz is sad, sad, sad. Meanwhile downfield, Miami gets a guy wide open on a post (cover -2). He drops it. This, I believe, is on a late-reacting Brown(-1). The Miami QB did do a good job of looking off Ezeh to open this up, though.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 14 min 2nd Q. Miami bails us out on a couple of coverage issues here, one a bust, one just poor play from the safety.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Sack Martin -9
Yeesh, this time Thompson's in man over the slot, who I think is a TE so it's not too bad. Two blitzers result in miscommunication on the Miami line as the LG gives Martin a bump, then bugs out to pick up Mouton with the expectation the center will pick Martin up. He's busy on the other side of the line; Martin(+1) shoots through and sacks. (Pressure +2)
O24 2 19 Shotgun Trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Jailbreak screen Brown Inc
Dropped by the receiver; Brown(+1) had read it and was probably going to tackle for loss even if caught. (Cover +1)
O24 3 19 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass ??? Ezeh Inc
Zone blitz sees a safety come as Banks drops off into coverage. It doesn't really get there but the QB is spooked enough to go for a dumpoff which Ezeh(+1) deflects. Brown should intercept; he drops it. Should I -1 this? It's a major missed opportunity.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-0, 11min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O19 1 10 Shotgun Trips Base 4-3 Pass Rollout out Mouton 10
Four-man rush; rolling pocket that makes three zone defenders pretty useless. The QB rolls out, finds a receiver in front of the coverage, and hits the guy for a first down. (Cover -1, pressure -1.) These rollouts are very frustrating.
O29 2 In Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Sagesse 5
Linebackers blitzing in the hope of making a TFL; they absorb blockers but aren't in the path of the play. Sagesse(-1) effectively single-blocked, opening up a lane for the first down an a chunk more.
O34 1 10 Ace 3-wide Nickel Run Zone right Van Bergen 0
Thompson(+1) blitzes at the snap and just happens to go into the right hole, occupying the guy who's supposed to move to the second level to make a block. This leaves Ezeh(+1) unoccupied; he and Van Bergen(+1) combine to first dissuade the RB from cutting up immediately, then tackle him when he tries to break outside.
O34 2 10 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Triple option shovel Ezeh 3
Hard to tell exactly what the idea is here; Banks is unblocked and comes up on the quarterback quickly, he shovels it inside to the little slot guy and Michigan linebackers converge immediately after tracking the play. Ezeh +1, I guess.
O37 3 7 Shotgun Trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Curl Brown 12
Little dreads guy's second curl + YAC turn; this time it's Brown(-1, cover -1) who's late arriving and whiffs on the tackle. If he just closes this guy out and tackles immediately they have to punt.
O49 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Pass Post Brown 42
I'm sorry, but I think this is Brown's fault, too. You don't just let someone to the inside here like Trent does unless you're expecting safety help, and I think Brown is supposed to be in a deep zone here but gets sucked up on the underneath routes. I'm not sure, though, so if someone has a different opinion upon viewing the video let me know. (Brown -2, cover -2) Meanwhile, the QB is about to get hammered if he doesn't have an open guy. Martin(+1) gets good pressure.
M9 1 G Ace Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Thompson 3
Very good by Thompson(+1) to read the pulling guard/TE and scrape to the hole; meanwhile, Ezeh(+1) beats a block and shows up there, too. The two linebackers converge; kind of wish they'd tackle more authoritatively.
M6 2 G Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Run ??? -- -3
Fumbled snap
M9 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass ??? Graham Inc
Graham(+1) runs over the left tackle and meets Jamison(+1) at the quarterback; the QB is hit as he throws and flings one into the turf. Three man rush, too. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: FG(26), 10-3, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run Zone read dive Mouton 2
Mouton(+1) gets a big favor from Miami here as the OL releasing chooses to ignore him, but he does attack and tackle well; help came from a backside blitz.
O28 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Jailbreak screen Thompson 14
Thompson's got an angle here but he takes it too far upfield(-1), whiffing on the tackle and turning this into a first down. Brown misses a tackle, too, adding four on. (Cover -1)
O42 1 10 ??? ??? Pass Rollout out ??? 9
We're looking at some pink-shirted studio bobblehead with a tiny window that actually shows the play. This is another frustrating rollout completion in front of zone coverage. Grrr. Arrgh. (Cover -1)
M49 2 1 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Curl Trent 3
Wow, Trent is playing way off this. (Cover -1.) Guess it makes sense given the situation.
O46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Out Mouton Inc
Three man rush gets nowhere near the QB(pressure -1); there's no one open, though. (cover +1)
O46 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Run QB Draw Johnson 0
Johnson(+2) discards his blocker and makes a diving tackle on the QB.
O46 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Dig Harrison Inc
Harrison(+2) blankets the receiver, knocking down the pass as it gets there. (Cover +1).
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 I-Form Base 4-3 Run Iso Thompson 1
Well-timed blitz from Mouton(+1) takes out the fullback; Thompson(+1) again reads the direction of the play and scrapes to the hole in time to meet the ballcarrier head-on.
O35 2 9 Shotgun Trips Nickel Run Zone read stretch Johnson 4
Defensive line is crushing this: Taylor(+1), Johnson(+1), Jamison(+1) all close down whatever running lane there's supposed to be and meet the ballcarrier a yard in the backfield. With blockers draped all over them no one can get a really clean shot and bring him down without him falling forward; good job by the running back to turn nothing into a few yards.
O39 3 5 Shotgun Trips Nickel Pass Out Brown 25
Brown in man coverage on the little dreads guy; he runs a simple out, catches it for a first down, and heads off downfield. The reason he can do this: Brown dove at the ball in an attempt to break the pass up. Good that he was there, but there's a reason defensive backs are coached to always have an arm around the guy if they're going to try a move like this. (Brown -1, Cover -1)
M36 1 10 Ace Twins Base 4-3 Pass Waggle Harrison 3
Harrison's sitting in a short zone to the receiver-free side of the field and reads the tight end releasing into the flat. He comes up hard, making a good tackle just as the catch is made(+1, cover +1)
M33 2 7 Shotgun Trips 3-3-5 Nickel Run Zone read stretch Mouton 5
I just don't like the 3-3-5 in a reasonable down and distance to run. Here Johnson is doubled at the same time a guard gets a free release into Mouton, so there's a big damn hole and it takes a great play from someone to prevent a decent gain. No one makes said great play.
M28 3 2 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass Out Stewart 3
Jebus, Michigan sends seven, leaving everyone manned up. Miami again goes to the dreads guy on an out; this time Stewart(+1) makes an immediate tackle. (Pressure -1, cover +1)
M25 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Mouton 3
I have no idea how Meriwether doesn't get hammered for a loss here, because Mouton(+1) times his blitz perfectly, shooting into the intended hole off tackle and occupying two or three blockers. There's a huge mess a couple yards behind the LOS; Meriwether is forced to cut outside into an unblocked Ezeh(-1), who misses a tackle, turning a three yard loss into a three yard gain.
M22 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Flare Thompson 6
Graham(+1) runs over the QB just as he releases this little flare route; Thompson(-1) looks out of position in what appears to be man coverage since he's helping out on this slant, so it's open. Thompson does make a nice tackle to reduce his folly. (Cover -1, pressure +1)
M16 3 1 Shotgun 2-back Base 4-3 Run Triple option pitch Thompson Inc?
Wrongly ruled a forward pass, so Miami gets a do-over.
M16 3 1 Ace Twins Base 4-3 Run Dive Taylor 3
Taylor(-1) and Graham(-1) blown backwards so Mouton(+1) and his disrupting blitz that gets past the OL doesn't result in a stop, as the RB has a cutback lane. This running back, BTW, is a little reminiscent of Hart.
M13 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Mouton 1
Taylor and Graham(+1) get push on the frontside, making the whole go “bip” and disappear. Mouton(+1) is intially crashing inside, then reads the cutback lane, gets back outside, and makes a weak-ish but good enough ankle tackle.
M12 2 9 Shotgun Trips Okie Pass Out Graham 6
Graham(+1) again beats the tackle and crushes the QB as he throws; unfortunately this combo route is open as Warren's dealing with a guy heading to the back of the endzone. (Cover -1, pressure +1)
M6 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Fade Harrison Inc
Harrison's beaten on the fade but is smart about it, waiting for the receiver to catch the ball and raking it free. (+1, Cover +1)
Drive Notes: FG(23), 10-6, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Throwaway Trent Inc
The standard rollout-short-out they've been throwing all game, but this time Michigan has Trent in a short zone to that side and someone on the deeper receiver; Miami is forced to throw it away (Cover +1)
O20 2 10 Shotgun Trips 3-3-5 Nickel Run QB Draw Ezeh 5
This should actually be a big gasher because not only do we have a three man line but we're stunting Taylor all the way around Jamison, basically leaving all three interior OL free to wander downfield picking off Michigan linebackers. Ezeh(+1) shoots past one blocker, who peels back and allows Mouton(+1) to close and tackle.
O25 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Out Warren Inc
Michigan rushes three and drops corners into short outside zones; Miami does the same little dreads guy out only this time Warren(+1) is there; he drops(-1) an easy interception. (Cover +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-6, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O7 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Ezeh 5
This is a tough situation for Michigan as a Mouton blitz takes him out of the play and there's two guys pulling around to deal with Banks and Ezeh. Still, the blitz makes the only reasonable place to go outside; Ezeh(-1) does not read this and gives him the corner. Warren fills ably, holding the gain down.
O12 2 5 Ace Base 4-3 Run Dive Thompson 12
There's a TE lined up off the line here who comes inside to act as a lead blocker; this pulls Thompson(-1) out of position and there ends up being a huge hole on the left side of the line. Jamison(-1) got too far upfield, IMO. He peels back and dives at the feet of the RB, but he's gone; Ezeh(-1) is also caught in the downfield wash, leaving Brown the only thing between the RB and a long gainer. Brown almost misses the tackle by overrunnning it... but not quite.
O24 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Pass Improv Ezeh 5
Miami's QB can't find an underneath receiver because of a good zone drop from Ezeh(+1, cover +1); Martin(+1, pressure +1) has by this point driven into the backfield to flush the quarterback out; he rolls out and manages to find a receiver on a comeback for a few yards.
O29 2 5 Ace Base 4-3 Run Dive -- 4
This play is just a wad of players. Decent push from Miami but not great, no real crease, no real disengagement from the LBs, just this Hart-like RB basically crawling for four yards.
O33 3 1 Ace Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Banks 4
Banks(-1) gets crushed back in single blocking, providing an attractive cutback lane on an otherwise dodgy play.
O37 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Post Stewart Inc
Awful play from Stewart(-2) to way overrun this route when there are two players to the other side of the receiver. QB throws it high or this is six. (Cover -2)
O37 2 10 Shotgun Trips 3-3-5 Nickel Run Zone read stretch Taylor -1
This time Michigan sends five guys and has a late-moving safety essentially function as a middle linebacker; IMO this time we're baiting them into a run. Even so, the play here is mostly Taylor(+2) pushing a double team back a yard and into the path of the runner; Thompson blitzed right into the path of the RB but whiffed the tackle; Graham helps out on pursuit, tackling as Taylor's mess slows the TB.
O36 3 11 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Sack Graham -1
Graham(+2) comes around the corner immediately on a three-man rush, grabbing the QB's arm, forcing him to scramble, and finishing the job a few moments later. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-6 11 min 4th Q. Sure, announcer-tard, Michigan has made zero mistakes in this game.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Out Warren Inc
Decent, not great pressure; think this is a throwaway because Warren(+1) is blanketing the receiver (cover +1)
O30 2 10 Shotgun Trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Out Thompson 7
Attn announcers: going 6/15 on third down is not a “miscue.” Okay, this is tough on Thompson as he's got to tackle the dreads guy, but this his third upfield turn of the day on this little out route and I'm cranky about it now. -1. (Cover -1)
O37 3 3 Shotgun Trips Okie Pass Curl -- 8
I'm not too irritated since you're up two scores with 7 minutes left and you don't want to get insanely aggressive or anything here, but this guy is the only one the QB throws to and it's third down, man. Can we get tighter on him? (Cover -1)
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Rollout out Trent Inc (+5 pen)
Michigan now prepared for this play with a guy in a short zone here, but Trent(-1) mistimes his move and draws a flag for bumping the receiver before the ball gets there.
50 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Wheel Warren Inc (-5 pen)
Jamison's charging in, forcing a decision from the QB; he picks the wheel route and fortunately for him badly overthrows it. This is the only thing standing between Warren and an interception; as it is he almost makes a spectacular Woodson-esque grab. (+1, cover +1) Guy was covered up on the LOS so there's a five yard penalty.
O45 1 15 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Scramble Mouton 5
Miami QB is spooked by Mouton's blitz and IMO decides to bail out a little early; he manages to get past the chopped Mouton and gets a few yards downfield, whereupon he is hammered by three guys and definitely gets a concussion. The backup enters. (Pressure +1)
50 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read stretch Ezeh 4
I don't care if you just put in your backup QB, you don't run the ball down two scores with six minutes left. Ezeh(+1) is unblocked here but does a good job of staying under control ,reading the play, and showing up in the right spot. Four yards here is a fine result with everyone teeing off on the pass.
M46 3 6 ??? Nickel Penalty False Start -- -5
Oops.
M41 3 11 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Curl Graham 2
Graham(+1) hits the QB as he throws; no more time so he has to dump it off, where Warren(+1) immediately tackles little dreads guy. (Pressure +1, cover +1)
M43 4 9 Shotgun Trips Okie Pass Curl Stewart Inc
Jamison gets a free run at the QB (pressure +1), but the curl at the sticks is open-ish and accurate; Stewart(+1, cover +1) rakes it free.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 16-6, 4 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O19 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass Batted Jamison Inc
Graham(+1) comes around the tackle, forcing the QB to step up; Jamison(+1) has spun off a blocker and hits the QB's arm as he throws. (Pressure +1)
O19 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass Curl -- 6
Good pocket (pressure -1) and the QB comes down to the dreads guy; poor throw takes him off his feet or this is a first down easily. No coverage penalty since it makes sense to give this up at this stage of the game.
O25 3 4 Shotgun Trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Curl Thompson 5
Dreads guy again; immediate tackle this time. Again, make sense in this situation.
O30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Sack Taylor -10
Taylor(+1) gets a free run at the quarterback due to a protection screwup—an insane one, there's no possible blitz that makes Taylor not the center's guy—and makes the most of it. (Pressure +1)
O20 2 20 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass Post -- Inc
Another opportunity for a receiver running open in a zone; this time it's tough to tell who's responsibility it is since they appear to be in cover three. Might just be an open spot against this D. Throw is a bit low and behind the receiver; dropped. (Cover -1)
O20 3 20 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass Batted Thompson Inc
Thompson(+1) fakes a zone drop then comes on a slightly delayed blitz; this coupled with a corner blitz in the right spot gets him in unblocked. He takes a good path to the QB, striking him as he throws; the resulting pass is a floating duck that hits the ground harmlessly. (Pressure +1)
O20 4 20 Shotgun 4-wide Okie Pass Sack Graham -8
A fitting ending to this left tackle's day as he gets shoved into the backfield by Graham(+1), then picked off by his own running back as he attempts to get to inside blitzers; Graham sacks authoritatively. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 16-6, EOG.

OH MY GOD MIAMI MISSED SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES KWAME KILPATRICK AUTO PLANTS CLOSING

Bespectacled announcer guy was way, way over the top with that “OMG Miami should win stuff” but there were several dodgy moments during which Michigan let guys run open deep and was not punished for it. This will significantly affect the numbers on the chart, because those things get big negatives without showing up in the box score.

That said: Michigan dropped two easy interceptions, bucko, and made a whole heap of mistakes itself. Physically, Michigan dominated the game. At least there’s that.

Chart?

Chart.

Player + - T Notes
Jamison 2 1 1 Quite a comedown from the Utah game. Maybe he didn’t have much opportunity with all the rollouts and such.
Johnson 5 2 3  
Taylor 7 2 5 Forced a couple third down stops by shoving his guy into the backfield.
Graham 12 1 11 Completely dominated Miami’s left tackle.
Patterson - - -  
Banks - 1 -1  
VanBergen 1 - 1  
Martin 3 - 3 Good day rushing the passer.
Ezeh 9 5 4 Much better(?) day, with most of the damage in the passing game coming at others’ expense.
Thompson 5 8 -3 An uneven performance with some struggles in pass coverage but seemed more active than Panter.
Panter - - -  
Evans - - -  
Mouton 7 - 7 He was good, but I was too generous here. More later.
Trent - 1 -1 Was mostly avoided
Harrison 4 - 4 Two very, very important plays.
Warren 4 1 3  
Stewart 1 3 -2 IMO responsible for the two big, scary busts that Miami couldn’t capitalize on.
Brown 1 5 -4 We have a separate Stevie discussion section.
Chambers - - -  
"Pressure" 16 7 9 All the rollouts and such were there for a reason; even when Miami got passes off they were usually getting the QB plowed as he threw.
"Coverage" 14 23 -9 Bailed out repeatedly deep and struggled tackling underneath.

Mouton was overrated by the numbers, IMO. I gave him credit for blitzing up into the heart of Miami plays over and over again; that credit should probably fall to Shafer and not Mouton. Overall, though, I did think he played well and was a major upgrade over Evans.

Ezeh played better but was still erratic.

Most of the negatives on “coverage” came from two things: long passes that saw safety screwups and underneath routes to the little dreads guy that were either infuriatingly open on rollouts or little curls that Michigan could not make a tackle on. I don’t mind those curl things as long as Michigan tackles immediately—you don’t have 80 yard touchdown drives off that—but Michigan again struggled with underneath coverage.

The defensive line seemed less active.

Live I certainly thought so and was worried that Tim Jamison didn’t follow up his monster game against Utah with another one, but when I went back over the tape I saw a different story. One: Graham was monstrous. He murdered the Miami left tackle on just about every play.

Two: despite some assertions out in the inter-ether that Taylor isn’t performing at the level he should, he’s been very good. I think that 3-3-5 can work as a run defense as long as Taylor is the nose, since he’s been taking double teams and pushing them backwards in the first two games.

He made a number of major plays just by shoving offensive linemen into the hole; these things don’t show up on a stat sheet but the kind of gaping holes that Michigan linebackers had to deal with last year just aren’t there anymore.

As I reviewed the game my opinion the DL kept improving… I think it’s legit.

Is Stevie Brown the reincarnation of Ryan Mundy?

It’s a bit early to make that judgement but the early returns are distressing. Good things:

  • He read a screen well and had it lined up for a loss, but it was dropped.

Neutral things that might not have seemed like it at the time:

  • On Miami’s first deep pass, where Warren’s guy was running open past him, Brown was pulled up into a robber zone and didn’t have deep responsibility. This, IMO, was Stewart’s screwup.
  • On the little third down out that turned into a 25-yard catch and run he had broken on the route and had a hand out to deflect the ball away. I think he actually got a piece of it, too. This is taking a risk, a good risk, to end a drive.

Distressing things:

  • Wide open post is dropped; he was late, IMO.
  • Whiffs on dreads guy curl, turning a punt into a first down.
  • Gets sucked up on the very next play, opening up the bomb that leads to Miami’s first field goal.
  • Missed tackle.
  • Almost missed tackle.
  • Almost missed tackle.
  • Easy interception dropped.

I don’t want to be unduly harsh on the guy, but if I had to pick a weak spot on the defense it would wear #3 and wake up most nights screaming about Armanti Edwards. No, not Kevin Grady.

Of course, the two most frightening moments of the game came courtesy Charles Stewart, not Brown: the aforementioned wide open bomb and then the post route early in the fourth that could have put Miami ahead. That one was egregious on his part.

So… yeah. About that. At this point I’m hoping that either Woolfolk or Cissoko will prove themselves capable of handing nickel duties and Harrison can spend his time at safety exclusively.

Heroes?

Graham, mostly. Warren was very good, as was Taylor. Ezeh improved greatly, and Harrison turned in two monster plays.

Goats, such as they are when you give up six points?

Brown, Stewart, a little bit of Shafer for being slow to react on those annoying little short routes to the dreads guy.

What’s with the insistence on the 4-3 against the spread?

I don’t like it, but I guess it’s working okay. I’ve noticed both of Michigan’s opponents thus far mostly sticking with the 4-3 but given the M passing game that seems way more like common sense. For Michigan, well… I’d rather have a third corner on the field than a third, dodgy linebacker, and suspect that Michigan’s issues with these underneath passes would be a little less severe with a nickelback on the field.

What does it mean for Notre Dame and beyond?

Thompson was much better against the run than Panter and Mouton was deployed to good effect as a blitzer; we didn’t see much other than Larry Foote On Uppers from him but that worked out okay. I assume these are your starting linebackers for the near future.

Meanwhile, the defensive line didn’t put up the silly numbers they did against Utah but as a unit they were nearly as dominant. Graham put on a show, Taylor was immobile against double teams, it was a good time for all. The defense was basically subject to one actual drive, one bomb on a safety screwup, and a few other incidents that were scary… it’s just hard to sustain drives against these guys.

Given Notre Dame’s struggles against San Diego State’s battered, terrible to start with defensive line, I think this portends a domination similar to that we saw last year. The only problem is that with the linebackers as tetchy as they are and with Clausen significantly improved there is the possibility of a dink-and-dunk fest that removes the DL from the game and is extremely frustrating. One good thing: ND doesn’t have a tiny guy with dreads to break tackles; maybe Grimes or whatever but if ND is staking its offense on David Grimes I’m going to watch the game in a little party hat.

One thing to watch: with ND deploying a pro-style offense we might see more man coverage, since Michigan will fear quarterbacks escaping containment far less. I know these guys can keep up; I just want the burden of deep coverage to fall on the corners and not the sometimes… uh… interesting safeties.

The general upshot, though, is positive. We’ve seen a lot of excellent things from the Barwisized defensive line and that points straight at the heart of an offense that traditionally can do little other than throw the occasional screen to mitigate what looks like a major advantage for Michigan.

Comments