Upon Further Review: Defense vs. Minnesota Comment Count

Brian October 3rd, 2006 at 7:35 PM

New thingy: "pressure" charted much like "coverage" is. First attempt seems generous.

O23 1 10 Base 4-3 Pass 14 PA Deep comeback
Waggle on the first play; a nice call from the Minnesota OC. Wheelwright drives Hall off, then breaks back to find a perfectly placed ball. Excellent execution. (DO, coverage -1, pressure -1)
O37 1 10 Base 4-3 Run 1 Trap
Biggs is unblocked by the tackle on that side. Minnesota pulls a WR to block him, but his attempted chop is avoided, leaving Biggs(+1) free to dive at Pinnix and stop this for a minimal gain.
O38 2 9 Base 4-3 Pass 3 Dumpoff
Branch(+1) comes free a bit late, forcing a dumpoff to Pinnix. Harris(+1) comes up to prevent any YAC. Cupito had some time to find a receiver but not much. (coverage +1, pressure +1)
O41 3 6 Nickel Pass 1 Dumpoff
Essentially a replay. Some time for Cupito but not much. Biggs(+1) spins free, forcing a checkdown which is read and tackled by Harris(+1) (coverage +1, pressure +1, CA)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, ??? 1st Q. Michigan didn't get a sack or even a hit on this drive, but on second and third down they did get enough pressure to force a Cupito dumpoff and vanishingly few yards.
O21 1 10 Base 4-3 Run 20 Pitch sweep
Spaeth, lined up wide, comes in motion towards the line and crushes Jamison to the ground. I'm cereal: he's blown off his feet. The WR remaining to that side comes in and gets a block on Burgess as two OL pull around. One steamrolls Stewart, the other gets a block on Mundy downfield. End result: 20 yards, none of which I think we could have done a damn thing about. I think we were in trouble when we shifted our linebackers towards the wide side of the field, where Minn's second TE was lined up, and forgot about the omnipresent threat of Spaeth clocking someone. Stewart (-1) could have done better downfield.
O41 1 10 Base 4-3 Run -1 Trap
Branch(+1) penetrates into the backfield, getting a hit on Pinnix just as he reaches the LOS. Burgess(+1) cleans up.
O40 2 11 Base 4-3 Pass Inc PA Throwaway
Branch(+1) breaks through the line almost immediately, forcing a Cuptio scramble and errant throw. (IN, pressure +1)
O40 3 11 Nickel Pass Inc Short post
Good protection for Cupito, who fires behind Payne. Marginally catchable. Some discussion about Jamar Adams getting in Payne's way potentially being interference... and it probably is. Without it, Payne's way past the ball and it's probably a Hall interception, actually. (IN, pressure -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 2 min 1st Q.
O25 1 10 Base 4-3 Run 8 Slam
Goes right up the middle with Minnesota in a three-wide formation. A disappointing play. Branch is doubled and driven back; Taylor's penetrating move upfield is used against him. (-1 for Taylor.) Result: hole up the gut. Both Burgess and Harris have to take on blockers and can only make a downfield tackle as a result.
O33 2 2 Base 4-3 Run 5 Slam
Both DTs get caved in again (-1 Branch, Taylor). Adams in in the box; he makes a stop downfield.
O38 1 10 Base 4-3 Pass 4 Dumpoff
I think this is our first blitz of the game. Crable(+1) gets in on Cupito quickly, forcing a dumpoff to Spaeth. Adams(+1) closes quickly but is dragged a couple yards. (Pressure +1, CA)
O42 2 6 Base 4-3 Run -1 Pitch sweep
Good job by Crable(+1) to fight through a block and get to the outside of his man, forcing a Pinnix cutback. Woodley(+1) and Harris(+1) converge to make the tackle.
O41 3 7 Nickel Run 14 Off tackle
Outnumbered to the wide side of the field, as our linebackers are shifted to the weak side. Pinnix takes the handoff and doesn't meet a Michigan player until he's past the first down marker. Stewart, lined up in press, doesn't recognize the play at all – but when you're in press coverage on third and seven that's not a shock. I don't like Harris'(-1) tentative play here. He pauses in the middle of the field for a moment despite two Minnesota OL pulling to the outside, which gives Pinnix the corner and the first down.
M45 1 10 Base 4-3 Run 7 End-around
Jamison(-1) bites hard to the inside, opening up the short side. When Jamison figures out that Pinnix doesn't have it he takes a couple steps towards Cupito, not Payne. Burgess also gets trapped inside.
M38 2 3 Base 4-3 Run 1 Pitch sweep
Alex Daniels in. He fumbles the pitch momentarily. Burgess(+1) cuts up between two OL to make a play near the line of scrimmage.
M37 3 2 Base 4-3 Run 0 Pitch sweep
Pinnix decides to cut this up, right into the waiting arms of Branch(+1). He probably ends up with about as many yards if he moved to the outside, as Crable(+1) was coming up hard.
M37 4 2 Base 4-3 Run 10 Zone Right
Again we seem misaligned. They're in a straight I with a tight end on each side of the line. We have Crable lined up just wide of the TE to the short side, a cornerback lined up a yard and a half behind him, and two linebackers in the middle of the field. They run away from Crable's side to the vacated area of the field, and despite Terrance Taylor(+1) driving his guy way into the backfield, neither linebacker can get to Pinnix, partially because the Minnesota fullback levels Burgess.
M27 1 10 Base 4-3 Run 0 Slam
Daniels runs right into the waiting arms of Taylor(+1), who spun off a block and closed the hole at the LOS.
M27 2 10 Nickel Pass 6 PA Wheel
Token fake to Pinnix. Woodley(+1) discards a blocker and pressures Cupito, who hits Pinnix against the motion of the play. Hall(+1) comes up to make an immediate tackle. (Pressure +1, CA)
M21 3 4 Nickel Pass 21 Fade
Payne just outruns Stewart(-2). I know Payne's good and all but I can't imagine this happening to Trent. (DO, coverage -1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-7, 8 min 2nd Q. Already we've lined up in an odd formation that gives Minnesota an advantage should they run to one side or the other three times. Each time, Minnesota has taken advantage of that opportunity and gashed us. Shades of the disastrous Russell run that cost us last year's game.
O31 1 10 Base 4-3 Pass 14 PA Comeback
Hall(-1) is there at the catch but misses a tackle, yielding 6 extra yards he didn't have to. Michigan was coming if this route wasn't open. (Coverage -1, CA)
O45 1 10 Base 4-3 Pass Inc PA Fly
Cupito is way long... Hall in good coverage but not great coverage. (IN)
O45 2 10 3-3-5 Stack Run 14 Delay
We blitz past Pinnix, opening up a bunch of space for him. Harris and Burgess (-1 each) get obliterated by blockers.
M41 1 10 Base 4-3 Run -4 Zone Right (2)
Woodley(+3) twists around the tackle, getting penetration into the backfield and stoning the play.
M45 2 14 3-3-5 Stack Pass 10 Stop
We send five; no pressure. Stewart(-1) is way off Payne, open for a good gain. (CA, coverage -1, pressure -1)
M35 3 4 Base 4-3 Run 0 Pitch sweep
Brandon Harrison blitzes into the sweep. He's eventually crushed backwards, but his momentum manages to convince Pinnix to cut inside. On the inside, Biggs(+2) has done an excellent job to spin off his blocker and meet Pinnix at the LOS.
M35 4 4 Base 4-3 Penalty -5 False Start
Convinces them to punt.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, EOH.
O35 1 10 Base 4-3 Pass 6 Stop
Hall closes on Wheelwright immediately for a minimal gain after the catch. (CA)
O41 2 4 Base 4-3 Run 8 Trap
Big hole up the middle because Taylor's almost tackled by the guard, otherewise he picks up a TFL. Downfield, Burgess is getting doubled and Harris is blitzing away from the play. Should have been a holding call.
O49 1 10 Nickel Run -1 Delay
Backup center in. Taylor(+1) gets quick penetration, delaying a blocker destined for Burgess. Unblocked, he quickly fills the hole and tackles.
O48 2 11 Base 4-3 Pass Inc PA Deep out
Not great pressure but Branch does drive his man back and discard him, forcing Cupito to throw. The throw is a very tough one, as Decker is bracketed by Hall and Mundy in the zone. (IN, Coverage +1)
O48 3 11 Base 4-3 Pass 13 Cross
Terrible play by Harrison(-1). Run off by a deeper route, he reacts to the cross to Payne by coming up hard instead of trying to get wide and funnel Payne back to the help coming to the inside. If he takes a shallower angle it's highly likely this is stopped short of the first down. (Coverage -1)
M39 1 10 Base 4-3 Pass -10 Misdirection bomb
Mundy(-1) toasted on this play. Holding called on a Minnesota guard trying to block Terrance Taylor(+1). I've seen worse go uncalled and it was not relevant to the play, but Taylor had gotten free except for the Minnesota player's arm clearly grabbing him outside of his shoulder pads.
M49 1 20 Base 4-3 Run -1 Off tackle
Slow developing because we blitz. Englemon takes on the fullback, blocking off the outside. Crable's(+1) blocked by a DL but sheds him and attacks the LOS. Englemon finshes the tackle.
50 2 21 3-3-5 Stack Run 2 Zone Left
Biggs(+1) holds up outside, forcing Pinnix back into the defense. Will Johnson flows down the line and closes down the cutback.
M48 3 19 3-3-5 Stack Pass Inc Deep Cross
Crable(+1) and Woodley(+1) force Cupito out of the pocket. He lofts a hopeful ball to Wheelwright, batted down by Hall(+1). Barringer also around. (Uh... CA, coverage +1, pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 11 min 3rd Q.
O20 1 10 Base 4-3 Run 0 Off tackle
Woodley(+1) penetrates into the backfield before being spun out of the play. Pinnix tries to come up inside, but that's filled by Burgess(+1), leaving him to try the outside again... Woodley there to make the stop. The entire backside was full of un-cut Michigan defenders, as well.
O20 2 10 Nickel Pass Inc Out and up
Cupito lays it inbetween a beaten Stewart(-1) and a quickly closing Barringer. Should have been a completion for a first down but Wheelwright can't handle the somewhat difficult throw. (CA, coverage -1)
O20 3 10 Nickel Pass Inc Comeback
Burgess's blitz stunt is unblocked and results in a QB hurry for Michigan. Cupito throws a comeback that's unlikely to result in a first down even if Crable(+1) doesn't deflect it at the line. (BA, pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 4 min 3rd Q.
O20 1 10 Nickel Run 0 Off tackle
Jamison(+1) gets some penetration, cutting off the outside. Pinnix cuts behind the man blocking Jamison, but Harris(+1) fills the gap, avoiding the cut block of the late-arriving pulling guard.
O20 2 10 Nickel Pass Inc / -10 Deep Out
Cupito needs a second or two more for this route to finish, but Harrison(+1) avoids a block on his blitz and Branch(+1) spins off a tackle. Cupito has to throw it early and Decker isn't ready for the pass. (IN, pressure +1) Holding penalty backs Minnesota up to the 10 but no replay is provided. I don't see it from the original angle. Weak call.
O10 2 20 Nickel Run 6 Draw
The kind of play you cede in this situation to get a third and long. Five Michigan players converge on Pinnix downfield. Hall(+1) came up to cut off the outside, removing any potential for major yar dage.
O16 3 14 Nickel Pass 10 Slip Screen
Uh... okay. Nice job by Englemon(+1) to get off the block and tackle.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, 12 min 4th Q. They give up after the holding penalty. Glen Mason coaches to win!
O8 1 10 Nickel Pass Inc PA Wheel
Stewart versus Wheelwright this time. Stewart(+1) gets a bump right before Cuptio throws, disrupting the timing of the route. Probably irrelevant since the throw was not going to be catchable anyway. (IN)
O8 2 10 Nickel Pass 12 Short seam
We zone blitz; Minnesota is prepared for it. Biggs fakes a rush then drops back awkwardly, not in time to get between Spaeth and Cupito. Hall probably tipped this pre-snap when he threatened a blitz from the corner, as we've run a lot of zone blitzes this year where the DE opposite a corner blitz drops into coverage. (CA, coverage -1)
O20 1 10 Nickel Pass Inc Out? Slant?
Either miscommunication or a really poor ball. Decker is missed by yards. (IN)
O20 2 10 Nickel Pass Inc Throwaway
Cupito has time. Good coverage(+2) for a while, then Cupito flushes himself out of the pocket and gets rid of it. (TA, pressure -1)
O20 3 10 3-3-5 Stack Pass Inc Deep Cross
Decker wide open (coverage -1) about 20 yards downfield. Cupito throws way behind Decker. (IN) Reason it was so open: Barringer bangs into Hall.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-7, ??? 4th Q. Clock malfunction again.
O16 1 10 3-3-5 Stack Pass Inc Out
Good coverage from Burgess(+1, coverage +1). Spaeth wings it wide anyway. (IN)
O16 2 10 3-3-5 Stack Pass 23 Deep Out
Some guy named Chambers gets a step on Mundy(-1). Cupito puts it on the money – tough throw, especially as he's about to get hit. (DO, pressure +1)
O39 1 10 3-3-5 Stack Pass Inc Out
Burgess comes free on a delayed blitz, forcing a throw from Cupito. It's accurate but Hall(+1) gets a deflection, I think. (CA, pressure +1, coverage +1)
O39 2 10 3-3-5 Stack Pass 25 Post
Good protection. Crable is about two inches away from hitting Cupitos arm but can't quite get there. Payne gets open underneath the safeties and Brandon Harrison (coverage -2, pressure -1)
M36 1 10 3-3-5 Stack Pass 15 Fly
Stewart(-1) hit with pass interference, as he impedes the receiver's progress with the ball in the air with his body. Sort of like the Trent call in the ND game except without the obvious offensive PI afterwards. Probably unnecessary. (coverage -1)
M21 1 10 3-3-5 Stack Pass 21 Stop
A simple six-yard stop. Stewart(-1) manages to whiff on the tackle and let him outside, equalling touchdown. That's not a good play. (CA, coverage -1)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-14, 4 min 4th Q.
O46 1 10 3-3-5 Stack Pass 24 Post
We blitz but don't get there. Mundy(-1) is man-on-man with Spaeth and is beaten badly on the post; Cupito lays it out there for him (DO, pressure -2, coverage -1)
M30 1 10 Nickel Run 7 Draw
Crable(-1) and Burgess(-1) both miss tackles that would make this a minimal gain.
M23 2 3 Nickel Pass 4 Stop
Spaeth sits down in front of the zone. (CA)
M19 1 10 Nickel Pass 11 Stop
Hall has a big cushion on Wheelwright and backpedals on the snap. Wheelwright stops ten yards downfield and Hall is way off him, moving backwards. Makes no sense on the 19 yard line. (Hall -1, coverage -1).
M8 1 G Nickel Pass Inc Out
Receiver never breaks on the route. Not charted.
M8 2 G Nickel Pass Inc Fade
Caught but out of bounds. Johnny Sears now in. (Coverage -1, CA)
M8 3 G Nickel Pass Inc Slant
Harris(+1) right with Spaeth, making the high and hard throw almost impossible to catch. (CA, coverage +1)
M8 4 G Nickel Pass Inc Out
They roll the pocket. Michigan's all over the side of the field where the pocket rolls to and gets fairly quick pressure. (Coverage +1, pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 28-14, 3 min 4th Q.

Was that a letdown?

Well... yeah, a bit. You can point to the total yardage allowed when Minnesota got the ball back down 28-7 (it was essentially 400 yards to 200 yards), but in terms of possessions this was a remarkably short game. By that point in the game Michigan had only faced eight Gopher drives. Only one of those had ended in a score, but Michigan narrowly escaped letting in a second touchdown when the referee threw a tenuous flag for holding and only one of the Gopher drives went three-and-out.

It's hard to get really righteously angry when your opponent has seven points when the game is over (and with five minutes left in the game down 21 it was over, despite the wackiness at the end), but Minnesota was more successful than any opponent to date against our defense.



Player + - T Notes
Woodley 7   7 Same as last week. All plays came against the run, though.
Biggs 5   5 Reliable.
Taylor 3 3 0 Uneven but all right.
Branch 5 1 4 Quieter day than normal.
Johnson 0 0 0  
Germany - - -  
Jamison 1 1 0 Not the sort of opponent he excels versus.
B. Graham - - -  
Crable 6 1 5 Solid day from all the linebackers.
Harris 5 2 3  
C. Graham -   - DNP.
Burgess 4 2 2  
Hall 4 2 2  
Stewart 1 7 -6 Yeesh.
Adams 1   1  
Englemon 1   1  
Mundy   3 -3 Didn't really cover anyone.
Trent - -   DNP due to broken hand suffered against Wisconsin. Expected to play versus MSU.
"Pressure" 11 7 4 A little generous, perhaps, but Cupito was forced to throw when he did a lot of the day. Any hesitation from him would have resulted in a few sacks.
"Coverage" 10 15 -5 Was approximately even until desperation drives from Minnesota.

Pressure is a work in progress. In general: three step drops are not charted. Longer drops get plusses if the QB has no opportunity to find a player downfield because of incoming players. Sacks generally get bonuses. Minuses appear when a QB has a ton of time. The scale shifts towards the negative when a blitz comes, as it should be easier to get to the QB then.

With that in mind...


The front seven did a good job holding the Minnesota rushing game in check. About half of Minnesota's yards on the ground came on three plays where we were misaligned before the snap and unable to compensate afterwards, including the sweet 20-yarder where Spaeth knocked Jamison into next week. There was but one minus on that play, handed out to Stewart, because we were essentially dead on the snap. That's on the coaches, not the players.

When the players were in a position to halt the Minnesota ground game they did so, getting contributions from everyone. Woodley would make a play, then Branch, then Biggs, then Taylor or Harris.


It doesn't take obsessive tape review to see that Charles Stewart wasn't particularly good. He was beaten for both Minnesota touchdowns, had an unnecessary pass interference call, and didn't exactly display the fierce run support that was rumored to be his calling card. His momentary presence as a starter in name only now looks like a motivational ploy aimed at Morgan Trent more than a reflection of reality. It could just be one rough game, but I was skeptical about his contribution in the offseason and am more skeptical now.

Also: Brandon Harrison's tendency to take bad angles on guys running short crossing routes was cute when it was the only thing wrong with the defense against ND. It's less cute now.

The safeties were less than stellar on Minnesota's deep passing, getting reprieve by flag once, then watching as Minnesota took huge chunks of field late in the game.

So, Morgan Trent was injured, huh?

Yup. Respect my authorita!

He should be back next week. No word yet on Jamar Adams, who missed the second half with an undisclosed injury.

What does it mean for Michigan State?

Depends on whether the Spartans have packed it in for the year. Without Ringer they're down to two big, pounding tailbacks who don't seem like huge counter draw threats, and they're still shuffling their offensive line around. Illinois had five(!) sacks against them. All signs point to the defensive line wreaking havoc. Expect a lot of the 3-3-5 Michigan's deployed this year with Crable featuring as a roving blitzer.

Michigan State will move the ball, IMO. They'll come out fired up and play competently because they're Michigan State and that's just what they do to spite Michigan. Stanton's struggles over the past two games are aberrations in a fine career. And the Spartans put up 37 on ND, anyway. They have talent.

That said, things are lining up nicely for Michigan: Stanton's ribs are bruised, Ringer's out, and the interior of their line is having issues. Their running game is severely hampered. If they get in a lot of third and longs as a result the returns from Illinois indicate that Stanton is going to be buried under Branch, Woodley, et al, until his ribs go splat.