Upon Further Review: Defense vs Michigan State Comment Count

Brian October 30th, 2008 at 3:38 PM

Before we start, I should point out an actual football coaches' actual opinion on these matters: GSimmons has done some breakdown at Three and Out. Here's the first quarter, the second quarter, and the third quarter.

I'll pull selected highlights on some big plays; I didn't look at these until I had done the UFR on my own to keep my opinions untrammeled.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 I-Form twins Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Thompson 1
FB motions in from the slot actually. Mouton(+0.5) is blitzing, meeting a pulling guard in the designated hole; Thompson(+1) reads the play and attacks said hole before an OL can get out on him; Ringer buried at the line.
O18 2 9 Ace 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Sack Graham -7
I have an SD version of the game this week and so don't have much vision downfield; Hoyer looks and pumps, but decides not to throw (cover +1); Graham(+1) zooms around the right tackle as this happens; Jamison(+0.5) and Mouton(+0.5) are also crashing into Hoyer; the trio sacks. (Pressure +2)
O11 3 16 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Post Ezeh 23

Another three man rush sees Taylor loop around on a ludicrous stunt; no one anywhere near Hoyer (pressure -2) and he can step into the pocket and fire comfortable. Mouton is sitting in a useless short zone and the other linebackers fail to get an adequate drop on third and sixteen, opening up a post. (Cover -2.) Eight men in coverage in third and sixteen and they don't get proper drops.

GSimmons: "corners great job squeezing the fades, lb's terrible job holding inside verticals... strong safety and and the lb to the top of the screen are not closing the window far enough between themselves.. lbs have to be closer to the back hip, and the safety (number 5) has to give a little less cushion, here we say protect the sticks, and we didnt do that."

O34 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Pitch sweep Warren 2
For whatever reason no one blocks Warren, who's in press coverage, and he closes on the ball, forces it back inside, and tackles. (Warren +1.)
O36 2 8 I-Form twins Base 4-3 Run Delay Mouton 3
Doubles on both DLs leave the linebackers largely unmolested; Taylor gets blown back by his but takes long enough that there's no downfield release. They're running the FB at Mouton(+1), who shoots up into the hole and stands the FB up. Ringer decides to cut more up the middle; Mouton tracks from behind and, with Thompson, tackles. Nice play from Mouton.
O39 3 5 Ace 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Slant Brown 61

Surely this calls for like a third corner or something, no? Mouton's(-1) lined up in man coverage over the slot receiver and does poorly with it (cover -1), opening up a slant for the first down; Brown(-3) whiffs an upper-body arm tackle, turning it into a touchdown. Varsity Blue went inside the play on this.

GSimmons: "this is 100% the fault of number 8 on the catch, 100% on brown for it turning into a td...."

Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 12 min 1st Q. Someone keeps emailing me with a theory: Brown is shaving points. I laughed at him the first time.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O28 1 10 I-Form twins Base 4-3 Pass PA FB Flat Thompson 3
Cissoko in for Trent on this drive; Brown replaced by Stewart. Thompson(+1) reads this well, getting out to tackle immediately on the catch (cover +1)
O31 2 7 Shotgun empty Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Thompson 13
Not sure what the presnap alignment is because we're looking at Mike Hart; in any case Thompson(-1) doesn't get outside fast enough on this and gets cut by the FB, who lined up in the slot, delaying his pursuit and allowing Ringer outside.
O44 1 10 Ace big Base 4-3 Run Dive Ezeh 8
Johnson(-0.5) slanting at the snap and punched out of the hole by a single blocker, opening up a hole on the inside, but it's Ezeh(-1) who's mostly at at fault, failing to take advantage of the downfield blocker picking out another linebacker and overrunning the play to the outside.
M48 2 2 I-Form Base 4-3 Run Dive Mouton 4
Excellently timed blitz from Mouton(+1) gets him in the gap where the guard is pulling from; the backside tackle ends up tackling him as he attempts to haul down Ringer; no call. Graham crashes inside in an attempt to jam the play up and force it to bounce outside but ends up shoved past the play, opening up a small hole Ringer can squeeze through.
M44 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Pass Fly Jamison Inc
Graham(+0.5) and Jamison(+0.5) are both coming around their tackles to pressure Hoyer as he throws deep; Jamison actually hits him, it appears. (Pressure +1) Hoyer's pass is thus totally inaccurate; good thing for State, as Cissoko(+1, cover +1) was running this guy's route for him.
M44 2 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Johnson 4
Johnson(+0.5) burrows down against a double team, managing to hold up a couple guys at the LOS and providing an angle for Ezeh to run-blitz into, forcing the play outside. Jamison(-1) has been blown way back off the LOS, opening up a significant amount of room; he and others converge after a few yards.
M40 3 6 Shotgun empty Base 4-3 Pass Throwaway Thompson Inc
Thompson(+1) jumps out on Ringer's little out route, making Hoyer hesitate(cover +1), by which time Graham's stunt around Johnson is beginning to get up the middle; Hoyer rolls out as Johnson chases him, eventually tossing it OOB.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O38 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Dive -- 4
These things are getting monotonous: double both DTs, knock them back a little bit, get no crease, big wad of players a yard or two downfield, somewhere between two and four yards. I have no kudos or blame to hand out on this one, just a bunch of dudes a few yards downfield and such.
O42 2 6 Ace Base 4-3 Pass Sack Graham -18
An attempted screen that Hoyer brings down—never a good idea—because Graham(+1) is in the throwing lane. (Cover +1) Unsurprisingly, players are now all over Hoyer, who's shoved to the ground by Brown. Hoyer holds the ball out like he's trying to break his fall with it and the ball pops out.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-7, 2 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form Base 4-3 Run Dive Taylor 0
Taylor(+1) takes on a single blocker, initially standing him up, then flowing a couple steps over to tackle at the LOS.
O25 2 10 I-Form Base 4-3 Run Iso Mouton 1
Mouton(+1) again stands up the fullback in the hole, preventing any possible lane to either side of him and delaying Ringer; Taylor(+0.5) again burrows through to take Ringer down after he delays. Second time they've run an iso right at Mouton and he's stoned the FB.
O26 3 9 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Dumpoff Ezeh 12
Another three man rush, this one more of a two-man rush as the DT isn't even moving upfield. The DEs do a good job of getting upfield, forcing Ringer to move up into the pocket, and if, you know, there was anyone else rushing the passer this is a likely sack. There is not. Okay, eight guys in a zone, right? Well, Hoyer dumps it off to Ringer after Mouton shoots up to tackle him; Ezeh(-1) overruns the tackle and opens up first down yardage. How many times have we seen Ezeh miss a tackle after a short reception this year? Don't answer that. (Cover –1.)
O38 1 10 -- -- Penalty Illegal sub -- 5
This is on Woolfolk, who came in on the last play for the first time in a long time.
O43 1 5 I-Form Base 4-3 Pass Throwaway Graham Inc
They go play action on first and five; they appear to be looking for a bomb. Graham(+1) reads it, though, and gets up on Hoyer, hitting him as he releases. Hoyer's just chucking it OOB anyway. (Pressure +1)
O43 2 5 I-Form Base 4-3 Run Dive Taylor 4
Okay, I'm going to start dinging Taylor(-0.5) on these, as he's getting pushed out of position by these doubles and allowing the creases in the line. The rest of it is the usual: guys pulling into a gap between a DE and a DT, linebackers meeting them, wads of players, somewhere between 2 and 4 yards.
O47 3 1 I-Form Big Base 4-3 Run Off tackle -- 2
The usual; a mass of bodies that it's near impossible to pick anything in particular out of. This time it's two yards.
O49 1 10 Shotgun empty Base 4-3 Penalty False start -- -5
O44 1 15 Shotgun empty Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Cissoko 13

State's got three receivers in a bunch formation here to one side with all of them running routes of moderate depth; Michigan rushes four on a five-step drop and does not get there (pressure -1). Hoyer hits his receiver a couple yards short of the sticks (cover -1).

GSimmons: "bobo doesn't trust the safety help, and worry about the flag route here instead of the smash, notice on the bottom of the screen how warren allows the vertical player to clear to the safety, and sits on the flat route, that's how it should have been played... "

M43 2 2 Ace Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Harrison 9
Believe this is supposed to go just outside of the tackle but behind a pulling guard; Michigan slants a DE into the intended gap, forcing a bounce out that Harrison(-1) overruns, whiffing a tackle and sending Ringer into the secondary. A diving Ezeh tackle prevents a longer gain.
M34 1 10 I-Form twins Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Cissoko 7
FB motions out to make this a three-wide set, actually, and he's open in front of Cissoko(-1)? Jeez, man, I think you can risk your recovery speed on this guy. (Cover -1)
M27 2 3 Ace Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Jamison 1
Jamison(+0.5) slants down the line, driving his guy back into the pulling guard and taking him out of the play; Stewart(+1) is left unblocked, then, and makes a good tackle on Anderson, the backup RB, stopping his momentum and driving him back after contact. Anderson pops free momentarily, only to cough the ball up. Ezeh(+1) knocks it loose, but I don't think he was trying to.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-7, 12 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 I-Form Base 4-3 Run End-around Brown 25 +15 (pen)

Actually a pretty good read by Van Bergen on this; he forces the WR significantly upfield. Trent, though, is in man, and is just gone, so the only secondary help to that side is Brown(-1), who gets caught too far inside, losing contain, and opens this up for a big gain. Van Bergen picks up a pretty weak personal foul after the play for falling on the downed runner.

GSimmons: "fs should be over this, but remember we were getting on him for not shoulder the outside gap on the power g bounce, so, this is a great play call off of the power g fake, corner has to stay with his man so as not to let up the reverse pass... if 53 is more comfortable, he blows it up after the hand off, once he hesitates, its a big play"

M39 1 10 I-Form Base 4-3 Run Iso Taylor 4
Taylor(-1) is singled this time and doesn't get any penetration; he actually ends up back a few yards, which makes Mouton's(+0.5) stand-up of the FB moot.
M35 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Out Warren 4
Michigan sending six guys, getting Mouton in unblocked, but Warren(-1) is bailing out and gets his feet tangled as he attempts to break on the ball; easy completion. (Pressure +1, cover -1)
M31 3 2 I-Form Big 5-3 Jumbo Run Dive Taylor -2
Taylor(+2) shoots past his blocker immediately, slanting into the backfield and blasting one of the pulling guards as he comes around. Jamison(+1) has dodged a block and grasps at Ringer's feet, slowing him considerably; he manages to pop outside to no avail; Michigan swarms.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(50), 7-7, 8 min 2nd Q. Michigan sends Warren back to return the kickoff, picking up a block in the back penalty and giving up 20 yards of field position.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O47 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Ezeh 0
Ezeh(+1) is sent on a blitz, slashing between a couple of OL and forcing a Ringer cutback two yards in the backfield. Michigan players there have angles to disengage and tackle.
O47 2 10 Ace Base 4-3 Pass PA Throwaway Jamison Inc
Jamison(+1) beats his blocker upfield as Hoyer, on a waggle bootleg, rolls into him. Hoyer's forced to change direction and he chucks the ball to a vaguely open TE who's not looking for the ball or running the route he needs to be to catch this pass. Throwaway, I guess. (Pressure +1)
O47 3 10 Shotgun 2-wide Base 4-3 Pass Post Cissoko Inc
One of the rare times we've seen a CB actually make a play this year, and it's the kid, who's behind the WR but close enough to rake the ball out as it arrives; Harrison(+1) delivers a thumping blow, too, to add to the general coverage-ness of the situation. (Cover +1, Cissoko +1.)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M41 1 10 Ace empty Base 4-3 Pass Transcontinental -- 24
It's tough to criticize Warren here since he's the only guy with even a prayer of stopping this before a long gainer, but... he does slice through two blockers, then whiff on the lumbering Hoyer. Still, he did slow the procession, which was more than anyone else can say, and no minuses.
M17 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Dive Ezeh 2
Another Wad O Bodies Play; credit on this one to Ezeh(+0.5) and Thompson(+0.5) for standing up b lockers in the hole, causing a mess and a minimal gain.
M15 2 8 I-Form Big Base 5-3 Pass PA FB Flat -- Inc
Hoyer wings it wide of the FB; looked like Ezeh had this under control.
M15 3 8 I-Form Base 4-3 Pass Fade Trent Inc
This one was going to be hard to catch in any case; Trent gets a bit of a push on the WR, which may have been interference-ish, but no call. Trent was looking for the ball, and they'll let a lot of stuff go when that's the case. Eh, on replay just good coverage. (Trent +1, cover +1)
Drive Notes: Blocked FG(32), 7-7, 3 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O36 1 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Run Dive Stewart 64

Oh, three-man line. How you must be destroyed. Actually, I don't mind it here with 1:14 on the clock and one TO for MSU. Running is kind of dumb. This is going to be a five or six yard gain, which is acceptable given the time and down and distance and all that, until Cissoko(-3) gets over-anxious and attempts to close down the hole between himself and Ringer; Ringer spins outside and is off to the races. This is losing leverage. (And a great play from Ringer.) Stewart gets a –1, too, I guess.

GSimmons: "power g ot bounces outside shouldn't have been a big play, but by bobo coming inside his block and trying to make the play, he cuts off the flowing safety, since he misses the tackle the play bounces and there is no one there."

Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-7, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O28 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Bubble screen Trent -3
Trent(+2) reads this all the way, tackling just as the ball arrives. (Cover +1)
O25 2 13 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Counter Warren 1
Taylor doubled, pushed back a bit; Mouton(+0.5) effectively handled by the pulling guard, but bounces off and does harass Ringer somewhat. Warren(+1) beats his guy to the outside and contains excellently.
O26 3 12 Shotgun empty Base 4-3 Pass Sack Graham -8
Okay: this is a two-man rush with both Johnson and Jamison dropping off into short zones (on third and twelve... why?); no matter, since Graham(+3) smokes the right tackle and sacks Hoyer. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-14, 12 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O39 1 10 I-Form Base 4-3 Run Dive Harrison 3
Taylor does just all right against a double, but still provides a crack for Ringer; Mouton gets the FB in the backfield and Harrison(+1) fills well, tackling near the LOS.
O42 2 7 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass Screen -- Inc
They catch Michigan blitzing a couple linebackers—bad—but Hoyer overthrows it. Also, Ezeh is getting held blatantly and if we can get one on a screen they should get one.
O42 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Fly Cissoko(?) 35
Four-man rush stoned (pressure -1), providing Hoyer plenty of time to survey and throw; despite the fact that he's staring White WR down, no one gets depth on his route and he just runs into a gap behind Cissoko(-2, cover -2). Then he runs some.
O7 1 G I-Form Big 5-3 Jumbo Run Off tackle Jamison 1
Jamison(+1) shoots inside, taking his man out of the play and cutting out one of the pulling guards, forcing Ringer to bounce it out. There he's cut down by a filling Brown.
O6 2 G I-Form Big 5-3 Jumbo Pass PA TE Flag Harrison Inc
Graham(+0.5) doesn't buy the fake and gets in on Hoyer sans blockers, forcing a throw; the TE is blanketed by Harrison(+1, cover +1), and he chucks it OOB. (Pressure +1)
O6 3 G Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Fade Warren Inc
A little handfighting and Warren(+0.5) slows up Dell; Hoyer throws it inaccurately.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(24), 21-14, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Pass PA Fly Trent Inc
Play action, Hoyer chucks it deep to a covered Dell; it comes up well short. Trent(+1, cover +1) in good position.
O37 2 10 Ace twins Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Harrison 4
Aggressive, very aggressive, here, with both safeties creeping up to the line and man press on the wideouts. Mouton(+0.5), blitzing, gets into the middle, forcing a cutback that Harrison is there to shut down; suboptimal tackling allows this to be a decent gain.
O41 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Cross Thompson 12
Zone blitz from Michigan and one that makes little sense as Jamison(-1) drops into a space that Thompson is attempting to cover. I think he got his drop wrong, opening up this little cross for a first down. (Cover -1) Brown(-0.5) overruns the tackle, ceding some bonus yards.
M47 1 10 I-Form twins Base 4-3 Pass Sack Jamison -6
Hoyer on a deep drop; before he can decide whether or not to fire Jamison(+1) is in on him, having beaten the LT to the inside. He can't make the tackle; Martin(+0.5) and Graham(+0.5) clean up. (Pressure +2)
O47 2 16 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Counter Johnson 4
Johnson(+1) momentarily doubled but stands up to it; when the second guy peels he's still in the hole and can grab at Ringer, providing time for Mouton and others to converge after a meh gain.
M49 3 12 Shotgun empty Base 4-3 Pass Improv Brown 44

A base set on third and twelve? And okay, this really bothers me. We rush three guys from our four man line, dropping Johnson off into a short zone... on third and twelve. This is relevant because Graham(+0.5) made Hoyer flush up into the pocket, but he had all day to roll around and throw because Johnson was sitting five yards downfield. I just don't understand. Hoyer motions a guy deep and chucks it; Brown is in position... and fails to get his head around, falling as the ball arrives and allowing a ridiculous third and long conversion. (Brown -2, cover -1, pressure -1)

GSimmons: "great idea of dropping one late into the underneath middle, the problem is he should have been spying the qb the dt that is, and not dropped so far, then he could have attacked him when he had to jump up the middle out of the rush.. great rush by the outside forces him into the middle. everyone is in position here. but brown is turned around by the throw, and gets tangled up in his own feet, he should have easily had the pick, if the ball wasn't under thrown badly, he would have... bad luck here... but have to locate the ball..."

M5 1 G I-Form Big 5-3 Jumbo Run Pitch sweep Jamison 1
Jamison(+1) gets a good push on the TE, forcing a pulling OL to try to shoot inside of him and leaving just one guy to block Brown and Thompson. Thompson forces it outside, where Brown tackles.
M4 2 G Power I 5-3 Jumbo Pass TE Cross Brown 4
Brown(-1) sucked way too far up by the play action fake, opening up the TE behind him. (Cover -1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-21, 2 min 3rd Q. I don't want to be too harsh on a player, but it's really hard not to be when he's basically handed the opponent two touchdowns.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 I-Form twins Base 4-3 Run Inside zone Ezeh 1
Two guys block Jamison and two take Taylor, but no one bothers to block Ezeh(+1), who recognizes the play and attacks the LOS, tackling near it. Taylor(+0.5) also helped out.
O49 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Throwaway Graham Inc (Pen -10)
Graham(+1) beats the LT, forcing a rollout from Hoyer and an eventual throwaway; the reason he didn't get sacked is Graham was tackled, drawing a flag. (Pressure +1)
O39 2 19 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Screen Van Bergen Inc
Van Bergen(+1) reads this excellently and Hoyer throws it right at him; he can't bring it in for a killer interception. Arrrrrgh. (Cover +1)
O39 3 19 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Sack Graham -8
Graham(+3) spins free of his man in a second, getting inside position and sacking before Hoyer has any chance. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-21, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 I-Form twins Base 4-3 Run Pitch sweep Thompson 12
This is paired with a bubble screen fake. Michigan is blitzing away from the play with two guys and dropping a DL into a zone on the other side of the field, so there's a big potential for this play from the snap. Ezeh has to fly out on the bubble fake and does; there are blockers for every guy on the playside. However, this should be held down as Warren(+0.5) makes the fullback whiff on him, allowing him to come up to cut off the outside; Thompson(-1) overruns it, gets blocked, and because of Michigan's playcall there's no one behind him when Ringer cuts back.
O30 1 10 I-Form Base 4-3 Pass Waggle TE out Harrison -1
Harrison(+1) is all over this, tackling low after a yard gain; he punches the ball out with his helmet. The fumble goes OOB. (Cover +1)
O29 2 11 I-Form twins Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Graham 6
Graham(-1) needs to shoot inside on this to take out the pulling guard and the fullback, which would delay Ringer and force him to bounce it into unblocked players; instead he stays outside and the resulting carry goes for six yards.
O34 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Slant Stewart 18
Major blitz leaves the secondary in man coverage; Stewart(-1) in man coverage and gets torched; he does manage to tackle, unlike the other guy at safety. Who's not in, FWIW. (Cover -1)
M48 1 10 I-Form Big Base 4-3 Pass Fly Harrison Inc (Joke +15)
Jamison(+0.5) gets in on Hoyer, avoiding some crappy blocking by State, and Hoyer has to chuck it deep to a covered player. Harrison(+1, cover +1) is in great coverage here, running with White, and gets an inexplicable flag. I mean, you find a flag in this.
M33 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Thompson 14
Thompson(-1) fails to read where this is going and gets blocked sitting perfectly still; this allows Ringer outside, where Warren(-0.5) attempts to contain but cannot.
M19 1 10 I-Form twins Base 4-3 Run Dive Taylor 1
Taylor(+0.5) gets doubled but manages to fall into the intended hole, forcing a cutback that Ezeh(+0.5) cleans up well.
M18 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Out Stewart 15
Michigan in man coverage; Stewart(-1) beaten on a simple out, easy pitch and catch. (Cover -1)
M3 1 G Power I Goal line Run Off tackle Harrison 3
I don't know WTF Harrison(-1) is doing but he runs way upfield and out of the play, opening up the corner for Ringer.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-21, 7 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Ace big Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Ezeh 10
MSU has been running this all day and Ezeh(-1) still isn't scraping to the right hole; the safeties are late filling despite playing a team with a touchdown lead with 6 minutes left.
M30 1 10 I-Form Big Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Jamison 1
Jamison(+1) shoots inside, taking out a pulling guard and forcing Ringer to hop over him; Thompson and others finish the play.
M29 2 9 Ace big 5-3 Jumbo Run Off tackle Mouton 8
They cut Taylor and double Johnson; Thompson(+0.5) does a good job of standing up two blockers in the hole, forcing a cutback but Mouton(-1) has taken an angle too far upfield and allows Ringer past him on the cutback; Ezeh(-0.5) overcommits to the hole Thompson is currently sealing, allowing the lane behind the Johnson double.
M21 3 1 Ace big 5-3 Jumbo Run Off tackle Thompson 0
Excellent blitz from Thompson(+1) gets him into the backfield in a snap, forcing both the h-back and the pulling guard to block him and causing a Ringer cutback for no yards.
M21 4 1 Ace big 5-3 Jumbo Run Off tackle Ezeh 1
FWIW, this is a crazy decision when you've got an excellent kicker and a 38-yard attempt to basically put the game away. MSU's been running the same play this entire drive; this time they flip the side of the line they go after; Michigan jumps it and Ezeh(+1) is there to make a tackle right at the line, but the pulling guard just gets to him and gives him a shove, which allows Ringer to fall forward and pick up the first.
M20 1 10 I-Form Base 4-3 Run Pitch sweep Ezeh 11
The same play that went for 12 earlier; on this one Johnson(-1) gets sealed away from the play an Ezeh(-1) bites hard on the playfake, opening things up.
M9 1 G Ace big 5-3 Jumbo Run Off tackle Thompson 2
Thompson(+1) running downhill into these plays now, meeting fullbacks right at the LOS and creating a mess. Slowed by that, Ringer is swarmed.
M7 2 G Ace big 5-3 Jumbo Run Off tackle Jamison 0
Jamison(+1) shoots down the line and with Martin(+1), who avoided a cut meets Ringer at the LOS.
M7 3 G Power I 5-3 Jumbo Pass PA FB Flat ??? 7
I don't even know who the hell is supposed to be covering this guy, as Mouton(-1) and Ezeh(-1) both get sucked up to the LOS ridiculously. I mean, it's third and seven. Not that it matters a ton but jeez. (Cover -1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-35, 3 min 4th Q

Argh, again. What happened?

Well, first I have to take some complaints issued Monday back. Michigan did spend most of this game in tight man-to-man coverage and occasionally used a third cornerback. Also, inserting Boubacar Cissoko is a risky move at this point in his career. While the kid shows plenty of promise, he was largely responsible for two of Michigan States's four big plays (You Know Who was the culprit on the other two).

Actually, when I reviewed the tape I thought most of the defense played pretty well with the glaring exception of the safeties and the not glaring but still disappointing Obi Ezeh.

But we should probably go to the…



Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Jamison 9 2 7 Welcome back to the living, Mr. Jamison.
Johnson 2.5 0.5 2
Taylor 4.5 1.5 3 Both DTs were doubled all day, which made it hard for them to rack up big numbers..
Graham 12 1 11 He backed up his prediction as much as he could.
Patterson - - -  
Banks - - -  
Van Bergen 1 - 1  
Martin 1.5 - 1.5
TOTAL 30.5 5 26.5 ?!?!?!?!?!
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 5 5.5 -0.5 Eh… okay.
Thompson 6 3 3 Good day from him.
Panter - - -  
Evans - - -  
Mouton 5.5 3 2.5 Stood up MSU's fullback time and again, clearly surprising MSU.
TOTAL 16.5 11.5 5 Not great or anything, but I was pleasantly surprised by both OLBs in this game.
Player + - T Notes
Trent 4 - 4 See "coverage".
Harrison 5 2 3 One of the primary culprits on the long touchdown.
Warren 3 1.5 1.5 More later.
Cissoko 2 6 -4 Directly responsible for 100 yards of State offense, sad to say.
Dutch - - -  
Stewart 1 3 -2 Can't cover White receiver named White (we're from White!) man to man.
Brown - 7.5 -7.5 I'm going as him for Halloween because he's the scariest thing I can think of.
Williams - - -  
TOTAL 15 20 -5 More later.
"Pressure" 14 5 9 A pretty ass-kicking day, actually.
"Coverage" 13 14 -1 …except when it wasn't.


I know I managed to come up with a +26.5 for a defensive line that gave up 194 yards to Javon Ringer, but:

  • About 60 of those came after Cissoko gave up leverage on the ball.
  • It took him 37 carries to get there.

If you hack out the yards ceded to Ringer on that play—which had nothing to do with the line—he averaged 3.5 YPC. That's pretty much a push and would be worth +5 or +8 or something by itself.

Then add in five sacks, most of which were impressive instances where Graham smoked a guy and sacked Hoyer immediately—no coverage sacks, these—and you can see where the big number comes from. Hoyer rarely had time to throw, and when he did Michigan was often rushing three or even two.

It's not just that, you only gave a –5 to the secondary.

Yeah, I'm always torn between handing out something like a –8 on that slant and something less. –8 accurately represents the negative impact of the play but seems unfairly high for a single missed tackle, so I usually go with smaller numbers.

This is kind of dancing around the point: five plays by Brown and Cissoko killed the Michigan defense. The offenders:

  • Simple slant pass Mouton screws up on, ceding a first down, and then Brown turns into a 64-yard touchdown.
  • End-around Brown loses contain on goes for 25 plus a personal foul on RVB.
  • Cissoko loses leverage on the Ringer touchdown, again turning six yards into 60.
  • Cissoko loses White Receiver deep, allowing a 35-yard completion
  • Brown gets lost on a rollout and flails as MSU completes a deep bomb.

Collectively, those plays added up to around –15 or something… and represent half of MSU's yards. Outside of those extremely localizable issues, Michigan's defense played somewhere between pretty well and really well.

Here's GSimmons' pithy summation of events:

we played man, we blitzed, we stunted, we played odd and even front, and we played our zone coverage, at the end of the day, we got beat by one bad play by one player... thats what happens..


Stone the witches!

Well, Cissoko is a true freshman and they make mistakes like that from time to time; I've been encouraged by his play so far and think he'll be pretty good starting next year.

Brown, on the other hand, seems hopeless. He was quiet for a few games, then returned with a vengeance in this one. Some guys just can't figure out how to play, and at this point it would be shocking if the light ever went on.

The only thing is: Michigan has no one to replace him, really, except yet more freshmen or Charles Stewart, who hasn't been much better. We're stuck with him.

Do you still have Scott Shafer bitches?

Yeah, man, although, as mentioned, the ones leveled earlier were wrong. New bitch: I really, really don't get his tendency to drop defensive tackles into short zones on third and long. Two major MSU plays came because Michigan rushed two(!!!) and gave Hoyer plenty of space and time. I mean, what is the point of having Will Johnson five yards from the LOS on third and twelve? The only thing I can think of is screens, but you're still dropping seven or eight guys into coverage; this is not a DT dropping off as part of a zone blitz.

Here's GSimmons on the Ezeh overrun against one of those two-man rushes:

okie 2 man rush, ng peels off looking for screens draws, and qb flow.. coverage players are not showing blitz, obviously we feel we can force the throw with are front, and we do, freak play, busted play, ilb looks lost trying to recover they get a first down... a millisecond away from getting a big sack, and getting off the field, great call , unexpected, just didnt work this time

I'll give him that one: the playcall forced a dumpoff against eight guys in a zone and should have been an easy stop, but I guess I'd rather not risk our linebackers—crappy in space all year—in long-term zone drops.


Brandon Graham was a beastmonster all day; I thought Mouton and Thompson both turned in the best games they've played to date.


See "stone the witches" above.

What does it mean for etc etc… 2009!

First and foremost, pray like the dickens Brandon Graham is around next year. He's the best player on the team now, and will be the best player next year.

I'm encouraged by Mouton's play. He still sucks in coverage—see that slant he was helpless on—but his blitzing continues to get better and he defied Michigan State's repeated attempts to blow him up with iso plays. I think he's working towards being a solid guy for the next couple years.

Ezeh… well, middle linebacker is hard, maybe? He's got work to do.

As far as the secondary: I see very little hope at safety for next year. Stewart and Harrison are gone; Brown returns, and the only safety who's rotated in at all this year is Michael Williams. Maybe he'll be okay; maybe Brandon Smith or JT Floyd will emerge… I'm skeptical.


Glen Masons Hot Wife

October 30th, 2008 at 4:26 PM ^

So... I really hope we get this Vlad Emilien guy. Maybe start looking at some JUCO kids at Safety as insurance?  Any suggestions?  Sounds like we're in deep, deep trouble with no solution in the foreseeable future.

Whatever happened to Artis Chambers? Maybe Jeremy Finch can change his mind again? 


October 30th, 2008 at 4:38 PM ^

What no one seems to be mentioning is the massive block in the back to the only person who would've caught White on that 61 yard TD. Trent gets obliterated from behind at about the 30 yard line. It is barely on screen, but should've been caught as it was a hefty hit. This could've brought it down to a field goal, and a butterfly flaps its wings, M wins 40-21, probably not, but worth mentioning.


October 30th, 2008 at 4:50 PM ^

I saw that too when the play was going, even shrieked "Hey!" at the bar but on the replay you can see the WR get at least parallel (maybe a tad in front) of trent.  No way that gets called normally


October 30th, 2008 at 4:46 PM ^

Minnesota completely rebuilt and turned around its secondary and entire back 7 really by dipping into the JUCO ranks.

They have 3 JUCOs starting back there this year, and none of them were among the top big time JUCO recruits accoding to the recruiting rankings....but they're all having a huge impact on the Big 10 this year.

Not sure if UM should go this rout, but there's one example in our conference where its really helped turn a team around.


October 30th, 2008 at 4:41 PM ^

I thought some of the mistakes he made--especially the two glaring ones you pointed out--were the result of his inexperience.

 On that third down pass play in the 3rd Q, for example, he was peaking in the backfield and let his guy get a little behind him. He probably got away with that time and time again in high school. Same thing with crashing down vs Ringer on that run. Noobody at the level he's used to playing at would turn that into a TD.

So, I think those are correctable just by being out on the field more often. Its too bad the coaches did not play him from the get go, because I thought those were mistakes of inexperience more than anything else.

Pay attention to him in November. He'll develop into a star.....and maybe shut down Hartline or somebody else important before the season is done.


October 30th, 2008 at 4:46 PM ^

We outplayed them all game, except for a few plays.

Seriously... the refs really screwed us out of this one. Missed offsides, bullsh*t PI, blocks in the back, and holds - can't we ever get a break?


October 30th, 2008 at 4:51 PM ^

On Shafer -

 Only thing that really bothers me is he may have a little Herrmann in him, that he gameplans for what his players should do in all situations, not what they actually will do.

 Important distinction, and leads to setting your guys up to fail.

But he should be back next year. 

Other Chris

October 30th, 2008 at 9:20 PM ^

Leave early, head to a bar, drink heavily.

I worked on a show like that once.  The director and I really would leave rehearsals and slam back a drink at the bar around the corner from the theater and then return.  There was no hope for improvement in that dog, so all we could do was get through it anyway we could. 

My son often says, "They are college students.  They are just learning how to play football." It doesn't seem to me that the defense is being asked to perform anything too remarkable.  I don't see any of the schemes, offense or defense, setting the players up to fail.  This UFR shows that just a couple of instances of better execution by one or two guys -- really not much at all -- could have meant a major difference in outcome. 


October 30th, 2008 at 5:53 PM ^

What you just said was the most incoherent, nonsensical jumble of words ever published.

Scheme for what they WILL do?  Who the fuck can do that?  God.  That's who.  And he's busy and shit like that.  Are you suggesting that Schaefer is supposed to account for Steve Brown missing a tackle on a slant twice a game, or telepathically know that BooBoo is going to cheat up on a simple run with a minute to go in the first half, enabling a 60 yd TD scamper?  WTF?

Heaven forbid a defensive coordinator does his job and...fucking...draws up....things..that the players...SHOULD...execute?


October 30th, 2008 at 7:01 PM ^

This is the first replay of it I've seen. Looked like a better call from the stands than it does on replay. The only thing I can think of is that the ref thought Harrison was blocking White off from the ball when he stumbled - the flag comes in pretty early, so that's probably it. Certainly that's what I thought at the time; on replay it's fairly clear that the stumble happens first. Harrison's definitely cutting him off rather than making a play on the ball, but aside from that one shove early as he's recovering from the stumble most of the contact comes from White.

I've definitely seen worse calls (the '05 game, there were a lot of bizarre PI calls both ways - including the one on Michigan that set up the :00 FG try that would have won it in regulation for us), but that one's not as obvious a flag as I originally thought.


October 30th, 2008 at 9:41 PM ^

White stumbles into Harrison, which of course isnt PI. On the rest of the route it is crucial that Harrison has his head turned back towards the QB, and solely because of this fact the DB is as entitled to run down the field in the same area the WR wants to be. 



October 30th, 2008 at 10:54 PM ^

I just read Hueser's article about this year's horrible defense.  I'll admit, I didn't realize the historic level of their suckitude.

Last year's unit was 23rd in the nation in Scoring Defense and 24th in Total Defense.  They returned EIGHT regular starters from that unit. So, yeah, that's where the optimism stemmed from for this year. Add in the expectation that the new coaches, especially Shafer, would be an upgrade, plus EEEEEEE! BARWIS, and many were expecting to see a fast, agressive bunch of dudes knocking people the fuck out, right?  Hello?

This year's defense is allowing roughly 5 MORE points per game than the next worst defense in the 129 HISTORY of the program?!?!  FUCK. ME. (28.8 PPG this year vs. 23.8 PPG in 1962)  That's ridiculous.

There is NO FUCKING EXCUSE for these same guys performing this poorly. Everyone needs to accept some responsibility for this ALL-TIME abomination of a defense, even the coaches.  I'm not calling for anyone's head. I'm just disgusted and venting after reading that article.

Okay, better now.


October 30th, 2008 at 11:40 PM ^

While this years defense hasn't performed up to the preseason expectations, I think there's a number of factors that go into it.

 First, Brian did a great rundown of the LB situation at UM a few weeks ago.  Pretty eye opening to say the least. 

Second, poor safety play has been a staple of the UM defense for a number of years.  I was hoping to see some improvement in this area in 2008 but that hasn't happened.  It makes me think it'll take a couple of years to get it turned around - they essentially need new players.

Third - I think the offensive problems have magnified the defensive short comings.  If the offense was scoring around what a typical UM offense has over the past decade or so, high 20's to low 30 pts/game, the team record definitely wouldn't be 2-6.  Instead the offense is averaging less then 19 pts/game.  How far back do you have to go to find a UM offense so inept with regard to pts/game?  Look at some of the games where the offense killed the defense.  The UM defense only gave up 6 pts to Toledo.  Toledo's TD was an int return for 6 pts.  Against ND, the Minor fumble and the kickoff fumble gave ND amazing field position.  Then Threet fumbles and ND returns it for a TD. 

 I'm also guessing the amount of 3 and outs by this offense is probably on pace to set a single season record.  Last years offense was at least able to hold onto the ball some. 

 Lastly, everyone talks about the stats for the 2007 defense, but was it really that great?  Appy St scored 34 on them.  Oregon scored 39 and could have had a lot more if they hadn't taken the foot off the gas the entire second half.  Wisky scored 37 pts on them, and Florida scored 35 pts on them.  ND was awful last year.  They're better this year but as mentioned above, the UM offense and special teams gift wrapped 21 of ND's 38 pts.  PSU's offense is light years better this year than last year.  Once OSU got up 14-3 and Tressell saw that Henne had no chance of completing a pass, he went ultra conservative and just gave the ball to Wells.

 Believe me, I'm just as disappointed in the defense as most people and not saying there shouldn't be criticism, but really when you look at the safety play, the LB situation and overall inept offense, the defense is playing against a stacked deck.  I was definitely hoping that some of the fundamental problems that the UM defense has shown over the last few years (poor safety and LB play, poor tackling) would improve.  Hopefully, we'll start seeing some improvement in these areas in the coming years.


October 31st, 2008 at 11:05 AM ^

defense=disappointing. However, I was with everyone else after the MSU game blaming our D for this loss. But after Brian's breakdown and reading some other stuff, I realized how tough our d had it. Our first "touchdown" came from a short field given to our offense by the D. Look at our field position. Look at how many three and outs our offense had. Big plays and giving up third and long repeatedly aren't a way to win a lot of games, but I think overall, our D played better and our offense worse, than the score would suggest.

chitownblue (not verified)

October 31st, 2008 at 11:25 AM ^

All this is true. We let up 30+ points to ND on less than 200 yards of offense. The fact that our offense goes 3 and out routinely, our kickoff returns routinely give us poor field position, and our offense give the other team the ball inside our 40 regularly does not help the defense, at all.

Further, we downgraded at an already shaky position (linebacker). Ezeh is still bad. Thompson is still bad. Mouton is ok, but he's not Shawn Crable.

I think Harrison has largely been fine, but he's not as good as either Adams or Englemon were, and Brown, is clearly, a downgrade as well. Warren has been injured all year.

Chunks the Hobo

October 31st, 2008 at 12:03 AM ^

Did anyone else watch Inside Michigan Football?  The way both Brandon Graham and RichRod were talking, it seemed to imply quite heavily Graham would be back next year. I really hope so, almost as much as I hope someone will buy me another bottle of MD 20/20.


October 31st, 2008 at 11:09 AM ^

for another UFR well done. I disagree about the 4th and one play though. The kicker had missed three field goals already. And our D had spent a lot of time on the field and he thought he could ice the game, and he was right.


October 31st, 2008 at 11:24 AM ^

here is the ultimate delemia that Shafer is having to deal with.   Do you rush 4 or 5, in a 3rd and long situation where they will have numbers on the edge, and try to matchup  1 on 1, which we got burned on.  or do you rush combo's  2 3 4 or 5, and play zone coverage behind it?  which we got burned on... either way, its not like rushing 9 guarentees a sack, or droping 8 guarentees an incompletion, in both instances the players have to make a play...


October 31st, 2008 at 2:56 PM ^

I hate rushing 2 and dropping linemen into the short zone.  Last year, the lions would do that with Shaun Rogers in the red zone.  That resulted in a touchdown 90% of the time.  Now, that may have more to do with Rogers being a fat, lazy, waste of space than being an indictment of a defensice scheme, but...