Upon Further Review: Defense vs Northwestern Comment Count

Brian November 21st, 2008 at 12:14 PM

Again, no video because Viddler has blocked my account. I'll work on a locally hosted solution for next year.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O19 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Penalty False Start -- -5
Hooray
O14 1 15 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Penalty Hitch Ezeh 5
Running back—wearing 80, more of a TE they've lined up in the backfield—runs a little hitch in front of the zone coverage; immediate tackle. No plus or minus.
O19 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read stretch Taylor 3
Johnson(+0.5) gets playside of the center trying to reach block him and Taylor(+0.5) evades a cut block; Simmons has to bounce it outside the tackle, where Ezeh(+0.5) runs him down.
O22 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Penalty Post Brown Int
Bacher drops back and has little time as a stunt has gotten Graham(+1, pressure +1) in up the middle; he threatens to sack. Bacher chucks it on a post that Brown(+3) has read, jumped, and intercepted. He returns it to the eight. (cover +2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun empty 2TE Nickel Run QB sweep Ezeh 3
Kafka in and they're running, attempting to go off tackle. I'm not sure if this a good play from Jamison or not. He shoots way, way upfield, forcing Kafka inside of him but also opening up a major hole. Johnson(+0.5) has absorbed a double team as the playside DT, though, so Ezeh(+0.5) can flow to the ball unimpeded. He does, forcing Kafka into Harrison's arms.
O23 2 7 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Cross Mouton Inc
NW's RB, lined up as a slot in a bunch formation, starts dragging on a crossing route, which Mouton(+1) reads and attacks, blowing up the receiver just as the ball arrives. (Cover +1)
O23 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Rollout – hitch -- Inc
Northwestern rolls out, with Graham(+0.5) fighting his way through two blockers to force Bacher up the field; unfortunately there's no one to follow up the pressure(-1). Bacher does find a receiver open for first down yardage, but ends up chucking it low; the receiver drops it.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 12 min 1st Q. Odoms muffs the punt and Northwestern gets it right back.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Counter Harrison 5
Northwestern's line starts blocking to the left; the RB takes the handoff and sprints right, trying to get outside the tackle. Harrison(-0.5) reads it a little late and gets himself in a bad position—he's given the slot receiver an angle to block him—but recovers decently from that mistake; Stewart(-0.5) overruns it a bit, allowing the RB to spin through his tackle and gain a few more yards.
M34 2 5 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Bubble screen Warren 6 + 15 pen
Sort of, anyway. NW will run this screen several times for good yardage. It relies on a play action fake to the RB holding the LB inside as the outside WR runs what looks like a five yard hitch before blocking the CB; on this play Mouton(-0.5) bites on the fake and Warren(-0.5) fails to get off his block, allowing first down yardage. (Cover -1). Bonus: a facemask penalty.
M13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read stretch Taylor 1
Taylor(+2) stands up his blocker, who slips to the turf, then disengages to engulf the RB.
M14 2 11 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Sack Jamison -9
Jamison(+2) beats the LT around the edge, immediately; Bacher tries to scramble out but is confronted by Graham(+1) coming around the other edge; he tries to reverse field and gets hit by a passing Jamison, falling. (Pressure +2)
M21 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Draw Ezeh 21
Michigan's not even blitzing on this! Johnson(-1) somewhat overaggressive and ends up blown down the line; Ezeh(-1) for some reason decides to slow up and fails to take on the blocker such that the RB has to bounce into Harrison, providing a crease; Brown(-2) whiffs on the tackle on the second level. This missed tackle is the difference in this game: NW had many opportunities to blow this same play and made every tackle.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 0-7, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O11 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read keeper Graham -2
I think this is supposed to go well outside with both slot receivers to the trips side blocking down on Graham and Harrison, but this just ends up with Graham(+1) unblocked and crushing Bacher. I don't think that's the way that is supposed to work.
O9 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Counter Graham 0
Same play they ran as the first play of the last drive. This time Graham(+1) is outside of the tackle and well upfield, which forces a cutback into various unblocked folks.
O9 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run Draw Ezeh 3
Ezeh(+1), blitzing, slams into a guard and drives him back, getting to the correct side of him and forcing the RB to bounce it out, where he is run out of bounds.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 5 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Bubble screen Brown 4
Warren reads it and tries to jump on it but NW's receiver is there to clock him; Brown(+0.5) reads this quickly and helps close it down.
O24 2 6 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read keeper counter(?) Jamison 11
The counter they've been running with a twist: the QB makes a handoff fake, then keeps, then runs the same way the RB does, using him as a lead blocker. Jamison(-1) crashes down, giving up contain, and Harrison(-1) gets caught inside; there's a crease between outside receivers and it's a first down.
O35 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read stretch Taylor 2
Martin(+0.5) slants inside the guard and is pretty blatantly held; no call. Taylor(+1) fights down the line, closing off the hole, and tackles.
O37 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Counter draw Taylor 6
Michigan blitzing; the linebackers have run upfield so once NW is through the line they've got some room. Martin(-1) booted out of the intended hole and Taylor(-1) cut to the ground; crease right up the middle.
O43 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Inside zone Martin 0
Martin(+2) takes on a double, giving some ground at first before suddenly splitting it. He bursts into the backfield and tackles; Taylor(+1) held up to his man and there's no way the RB can fall forward.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 13 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Sack Johnson -6
Johnson(+3) blows back his guy, disengaging and sacking up the middle; good push from both DEs prevented Bacher from going anywhere (pressure +2).
O20 2 16 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Inside zone Taylor 1
Taylor and Johnson both stand up to their doubles; Mouton takes the opportunity provided by the late release of Taylor's second blocker and slashes into the hole; Graham sets up and disengages as the RB nears the line; nowhere to go. +0.5 for all.
O21 3 15 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Draw Taylor 0
Taylor(+1) again stands up a momentary double, then pushes his guy a couple yards into the backfield, directly into the RB's path. Mouton(+1) reads, reacts too fast for the OL to get out on him, and closes it down when Simmons tries to bounce.
Drive Notes: Blocked Punt(TD return), 14-7, 7 min 2nd Q. Michael Williams blocks the punt; Ricky Reyes scores el touchdown.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Circle Mouton 7
Play action stretch gets Mouton(-1) to step the wrong way and opens up this little circle route that the TE turns up for good yardage. (Cover -1)
O44 2 3 Shotgun empty 2TE Nickel Run Jet sweep Jamison 0
I guess. Weird that this goes to the short side of the field. Jamison(+1) blows his guy back off the ball, forcing the WR to cut inside of him, where Mouton(+1) has slashed past a downfield blocker and tackles authoritatively.
O44 3 3 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Hitch Warren 8
A bunch formation here but all the fancy stuff goes away and NW just runs a hitch in front of Warren(-1, cover -1) for the first down.
M48 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Post Brown Inc
Good pocket for Bacher as Johnson drops off into a short zone and there are only three rushers (pressure -1); he steps up and fires a post route that Brown(+2, cover +1) jumps and breaks up impressively.
M48 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Bubble screen Warren 8
Warren(-1) manages to get his guy upfield after an initial bail into cover three, but doesn't get to the sideline and allows the WR to slip by him, turning three yards into eight.
M40 3 2 Shotgun 2TE Nickel Run QB power Graham 5
This is basically Michigan State's running game with guards pulling around and whatnot; Graham(-1) fails to read the play, staying too far outside, and does not bounce the play; there's room for the first.
M35 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Fly Warren Inc
Jamison is basically tackled as he rounds the LT; no call. He does cause Bacher to flush up in the pocket a bit and throw it deep; Warren(+1, cover +1) is running step for step for the WR and it's wildly overthrown anyway.
M35 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie Run Zone read stretch Graham -4
I think they're baiting NW into a run here; they'll do this again. Okay, three man line which gets gashed all the time, right? So they put it in and wait for the playcall, then tighten the splits such that you're really looking at 3 DT look here with no one lined up wide except for linebacker/safety types. Snap is high and that delays things; Graham(+2) has used his advantageous position on the tackle to blow past him and into the backfield, where he makes a major TFL. Credit to Shafer on this one.
M39 3 14 Shotgun trips Okie Run Zone read dive Ezeh 0
Michigan sends two blitzers to the playside, one intent on the QB, the other selling out on the RB. It's handoff so it's Ezeh(+1) who gets to smash the RB at the LOS.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-7, 3 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read dive Mouton -1
Mouton(+2) evades the releasing center and shoots into the gap, tackling Simmons for loss. NW says halftime.
Drive Notes: Half, 14-7, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass Improv -- 20
Johnson(+1) beats the center on a small slant and gets pressure up the middle, forcing Bacher to flush. (Pressure +1). He gets outside Graham and just as he's approaching the sideline finds a receiver who's broken open five yards past Trent(-1, cover -1) at the sideline. Great throw and catch follow.
M20 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Hitch -- 10
Triple bunch to the bottom of the screen; excellent timing between the receivers and Bacher finds Lane open(cover -1) between Harrison and Ezeh. This is excellent timing against a zone and it's hard to fault either player.
M10 1 G Shotgun empty Okie Pass Sack Harrison -7
NW attempts to snap it fast as Michigan is changing personnel late and they hope to get a flag or a misalignment or something; this backfires as Harrison(+2) moves up to the line right before the snap to blitz and NW busts the pickup, allowing him a free backside run at Bacher a sack results. (Pressure +2)
M17 2 G Shotgun 3-wide Okie Pass Flag Stewart Inc
This is wide open as Stewart(-1) is toasted in man coverage(-1), but Bacher overthrows it.
M17 3 G Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Post -- 17
Okay. I again have to bitch about this coverage. It's third and goal from the 17, and Michigan drops a DL into a short zone instead of having him rush the QB. Furthermore, there are three or four defenders well short of the endzone when this is thrown. I don't get it. This is a post; Warren(-1) beaten, as well as the safety and the linebacker (cover -2), touchdown.
Drive Notes: Touchdown,14-14, 11 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? 5
Copy of tape doesn't have this play.
O39 2 5 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read stretch Taylor 2
Taylor(+1) completely defeats the attempt to reach block him and sits in the hole ready to crush the RB as he reaches the LOS; he does so. Help from Graham(+0.5), too; Taylor suplexes the RB to end the play. Oh snap.
O41 3 3 Shotgun empty Okie Pass Out Harrison 5
Again they shift into tight splits before the snap and blitz, getting Graham in unblocked; Harrison(-1) is beaten on an out route and NW converts. (Cover -1)
O46 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass Post ??? 54
I don't think this is the fault of either safety, as NW is running four verticals and both Brown and Stewart are trying to cover other otherwise wide open receivers. Either on Harrison or Trent; Harrison was the guy who let Peterman run right by him and Trent was the guy who let the outside receiver go, forcing Stewart to head over there maybe. Actually, maybe this is on Stewart because usually you want to make the QB go outside, right, instead of giving him a super-easy throw over the middle? I don't know. I do know this: (cover -4). Watch the replay: the LT gets his arm all the way around Jamison's shoulder and clotheslines him, basically.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-21, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Shotgun empty 2TE Nickel Pass Hitch Trent 8
Michigan in man coverage; Trent(-1) beaten for an easy completion. (Cover -1)
O31 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Slant Mouton Inc
Blitz gets Mouton(+1) in unblocked and forces Bacher to throw off his back foot; the pass is short and bounces in front of the receiver. (Pressure +1)
O31 3 2 Shotgun 2TE Nickel Run QB draw Taylor 0
Taylor(+1) stands his guy up, driving him back; Ezeh(+0.5) shoots into a couple blockers near the LOS, creating a wad of bodies, and Van Bergen(+0.5) maintains good position; Bacher tries to cut outside everyone and gets nothing.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-21, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Hitch -- Inc
Bacher finds a receiver open underneath Michigan's zone on a quick hitch; said receiver drops the ball, nearly batting it to Trent. (Cover -1)
O35 2 10 Shotgun trips Okie Run Zone read dive Van Bergen 1
Major gap between one DE and the DT; NW attempts to run at it. The gap appears way open, but for some reason the RB cut back into Van Bergen(+1), who slanted into the backfield, and a blitzing Mouton.
O35 3 9 Shotgun trips Okie Pass Fly Warren 19
Michigan sending six but doesn't really have to as Taylor(+1) smokes the center and gets in on Bacher immediately; he has to chuck. The ball is well short, one of those back-shoulder throws, and the receiver adjusts while Warren(-1) does not. (Cover -1, pressure +1.) Maybe that minus is a little harsh; this is a tough throw to deal with as a DB.
M46 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass Hitch Trent 5
Trent a bit better on this quick hitch, tackling immediately and preventing any YAC.
M41 2 5 Shotgun empty Okie Pass Bubble screen -- Inc
Dropped by NW; Van Bergen gets a penalty for not getting off the field in time.
M36 2 In Shotgun trips Okie Run Zone read dive Mouton 1
Replay of the other dive on this drive with Michigan seemingly inviting this play; Mouton(+0.5) reacts quickly, standing up the OL and cutting off any hole, and Martin(+1) beats his guy down the line to tackle. Still a first down because they had like six inches to go.
M35 1 10 Shotgun empty Nickel Pass Improv -- 4
Bacher drops back and finds no one open (cover +1) despite having good time (pressure -1); when pressure does come he rolls out and looks for all the world like he's chuck the ball away but actually finds a receiver for a few yards. WTF, yo.
M31 2 6 ??? Nickel Pass Rollout – out -- Inc
Well overthrown, apparently because of good pressure(+1); can't make much out because they come back to this play late.
M31 3 6 Shotgun trips Okie Pass     Inc
This is another one of those maddening two man rushes with a D dropping into a short spy zone that I dislike. Bacher hesitates because it looks like the first read is covered(+1), at which point Jamison(+0.5) fights his way to Bacher. Bacher happens to be throwing the ball when this happens and the resulting ball is into the sidelines.
Drive Notes: Punt(!!!), 14-21, 2 min 3rd Q. !!!
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel Run Zone read dive Johnson 1
Johnson(+1) takes on a blocker and beats him to the inside, forcing the RB to attempt to take it between Taylor and Graham, where there is not much of a hole. Mouton is about to thump the RB when Johnson tackles from behind. +0.5 to Taylor and Jamo and another +0.5 to Johnson.
O34 2 9 Shotgun trips Nickel Pass Rollout – hitch -- 11
Geez, Graham(+1) blows past a tackle and obliterates the RB, forcing Bacher to pull up and attempt a jump pass instead of complete his rollout. This jump pass is accurate! And open! And a first down. Argh! (Pressure +1, cover -1.) Bacher has made some excellent plays in this game; the gap in ability between the respective QBs is vast.
O46 1 10 Shotgun trips Okie Pass Fly Mouton Inc
Mouton(+1) sent on a blitz and jukes the RB, getting in unblocked. Bacher attempts the fly route but is getting hit as he throws; OOB. (Pressure +1) Good coverage from Warren(+1, cover +1)
O46 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Johnson 7
Johnson(-1) slashes between a couple defenders and gets in unblocked; he's unable to pull up fast enough, though, and the RB gets around him. When you have an unblocked DT who does not make a tackle there's usually a lot of room behind him, and that's the case here.
M48 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass TE out Warren Int
TE out marginally open in front of Mouton—hard to defend this in man—and Bacher hits him about two yards downfield; the ball ricochets to Warren(+1), who intercepts it and runs for a touchdown except a referee blows it dead because he hates me.
Drive Notes: Interception, 14-21, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run QB sweep Harrison 0
Not even a ball fake here, just the RB heading to the side he would if he was getting a stretch handoff and Harrison biting on it. I think the NW TE screws up, though, hesitating, and this allows Harrison to get the edge on him, causing Bacher to cut it back into a chasing Johnson(+0.5). I guess +0.5 to Harrison, too.
O20 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Fly Warren Inc (Pen+15)
Both linebackers come; a singled Taylor(+1) powers past the center and threatens to sack, causing Bacher to chuck it. Warren is in good coverage; Ward catches it OOB. (Cover +1, pressure +1) Oh, wait, Taylor(-2, erase the +1) got a roughing the passer call.
O35 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Mouton 4
Not much fault in the defense here, IMO. Mouton(+0.5) again hops past the guy intending to block him and gets into the hole to meet Simmons, doing so after about a yard, but Taylor and the OL are falling into them now and the whole pile lurches forward; Simmons finds his feet and manages to squirt for a couple.
O39 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Mouton 0
Mouton(+1) again flies by the OL attempting to block him and right into the intended hole; Simmons cuts back, meeting Ezeh(+1) and the pair tackle.
O39 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run QB draw Martin 4
NW blocking down on Martin and pulling a guard into a big gap occupied only by Mouton; Mouton attacks, getting outside of the pulling guard and forcing him back upfield; no chance of actually shutting down the hole. Martin(+0.5) has spun free of the down block but can't close it down; he does force it into Johnson, who tackles short of the sticks.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-21, 7 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Taylor 7
Q: why on God's green earth does Michigan not have a safety in the box? Eh. Anyway, Taylor(-1) fights inside of his blocker when it looks like Simmons will try to shoot it up there but in doing so provides a cutback lane that Mouton can't hope to fill because his gap was the one Taylor is moving into; no safety help and Simmons gets a good gain.
O41 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Run Zone read dive Graham 0
Graham(+2) blows back the tackle, shoots inside of him, and tackles from behind as Johnson(+1) had shoved his man back and forced Simmons to take a looping path around him.
O41 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Rollout – scramble Ezeh 0
Intended to be a throw but Ezeh(+1) blitzes, beating the guard and forcing Bacher upfield, he decides to take off, where Jamison and others close him down. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-21, 2 min 4th Q.

I'm so confused.

I am also so confused.

Chart?

Chart.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Jamison 4 0.5 3.5 Good
Johnson 9.5 - 9.5 Excellent
Taylor 9.5 2 7.5 Excellent
Graham 10.5 - 10.5 Excellent
Patterson - - -  
Butler - - -  
Van Bergen 1.5 - 1.5  
Martin 4 1 3  
TOTAL 29 3.5 26.5 Dude.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 6.5 - 6.5 Hey, wow.
Thompson - - - DNP
Panter - - -  
Evans - - -  
Mouton 9.5 1.5 8 Monster day, best of his career. Really got freed up to attack and constantly shot past guys trying to block him.
TOTAL 16 1.5 14.5 Encouraging.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Trent - 2 -2  
Harrison 3 2 1  
Warren 3 4.5 -1.5 Eh.
Cissoko - - - DNP.
Dutch - - -  
Stewart 0.5 1 -0.5  
Brown 5.5 2 3.5 Two pass breakups, one of them an INT, and one huge missed tackle.
Williams -   -  
TOTAL 12 11.5 0.5 Caveat approaching.
Metrics
"Pressure" 14 3 11 Virtually unblockable.
"Coverage" 8 17 -9 Back to it again.

A schizophrenic day from the defense. You can see the huge numbers put up by the front six, and they're deserved. Northwestern ran for 2.4 YPC excluding sacks and Michigan got to Bacher three times. Michigan picked off Bacher twice. When Bacher passed and was not sacked he was usually making a throw in the face of heavy pressure; on several occasions he made plays where you throw your hands up and say "if he's going to do that, more power to him." Outside of those plays and the three enormous disasters, Michigan's D obliterated Northwestern.

Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Well, yeah.

So what happened on the three disaster plays?

Disaster one was the third and eighteen draw from the twenty-one that went for a touchdown. There were a couple of errors that allowed the RB through the line, but that's to be expected on third and forever. Then Brown comes up way too fast, overruns the play, and sends the RB into the endzone. Brown ended up with a net positive because he made two other big plays, one INT and a pass breakup, but that's quintessential Brown: poor angles and poor awareness of the situation on the field.

Disaster two was third and goal from the seventeen. Michigan ends up rushing three with Will Johnson dropping into a short zone, and playing zone behind it. Remarkably, on third and seventeen Michigan does not get sufficient zone drops from Harrison and Ezeh and the post opens up. This, too, has been a bugaboo all year.

Disaster three was the long touchdown that is definitely someone's fault, but whose? Varsity Blue went inside the play and tentatively settled on Stewart. GSimmons had a take I agree with:

Stewart might have over played the fade...impossible to tell if Trent has lost on the fade or not, i would bet he did, since he sometimes has a tendency to over play the shallow in cover two, so he can get those big hits he lies to do underneath.. you can see warren at the top of the screen doing a good job of carrying the fade, even if Trent is within arms length Stewart shouldn't be over playing number 1 that hard, especially with three vertical threats to your side.

but i put a lot of blame on Harrison for not holding the vertical of number 2.... if the guy will do anything to at least get in between the receiver and the passer, he could at least discourage a throw, forced a bad throw, or at least forced a higher throw which probably wouldn't have helped since Stewart was so far away. a common theme all year of holding inside verticals... first OLB's now nickel backers.... of course the easy thing to do is to blame the free safeties and corners, but often times are coverage problems have been due to lb's.. or perceived lb weaknesses being in the back of the mind of safeties and corners...

This goes back to the safeties (Stewart way out wide) and dodgy play from the corners. Also a problem all year.

West Virginia fans were none too enamored with Tony Gibson as a DBs coach; is he a problem?

The correct answer, as per usual, is "I don't know," but I also don't think so. Michigan had one all conference safety since 1999: Ernest Shazor, and that was based more on one spectacular, Dorien Bryant decapitation than his actual play on the field, which you will no doubt remember was responsible for such things as "Deandra Cobb 80 Yard Touchdown 1" and "Deandra Cobb 80 Yard Touchdown 2." Shazor entered the draft early and was completely passed over. Until Jamar Adams managed to stick on the Seahawks' practice squad, the only Michigan safeties who made it to even the periphery of the NFL (Hendricks and Cato June) got moved to linebacker.

This is the long way of saying that Michigan has a rich history of horrific safety play and that there must have been something wrong in the recruiting and development of them during the Carr era.

Meanwhile, Ryan "Yards After" Mundy transfers to West Virginia and suddenly becomes a competent starter on a good defense. Then he gets drafted by the NFL. One player who was a safety at Michigan was drafted to play safety in the NFL in the entire Carr era: Charles Drake, the #240 pick in the 2003 draft.

Yeah. We got problems. I think the overall trend at safety will be upward.

Heroes?

The entire defensive line was excellent save Jamison, who was just okay; Mouton had the best day of his career and Ezeh did decently, too.

Goats?

Probably Stewart, maybe Harrison and Trent.

What does it mean for 2009?

Well, the bad news: as we approach the end of 2008 I think we can say that the defensive line actually lived up to the hype. These guys are really good, and at least three of them will be gone. Mike Martin looks like a great prospect, but I think he'll prove mediocre at best as a sophomore starter. When you can surround a sophomore DT with two guys who require massive attention you can get away with it (see: Terrance Taylor, 2006), but unless Graham comes back Martin will be the #1 priority of opposing defenses and it's the rare sophomore indeed that can deal with that kind of pressure.

On that topic: please, Brandon, come back.

The good news: man, was Jonas Mouton good in this game. He consistently shot past blockers and into the backfield, reminding this observer of Larry Foote and Ian Gold. He's got the recruiting accolades and consistently improved over the course of the year. He still needs work in coverage; other than that I don't think you could have painted a rosier picture at WLB as the year comes to an end.

Also, Stevie Brown remains Stevie Brown, ready to implode at any given moment, but at least in this game he made a couple of good plays to offset the one he gave up. Maybe you can see the tiniest bits of progress in his season to date? Maybe we can foresee a guy who gets to be Ryan Mundy next year?

Best not to get your hopes up about that.

Comments

msoccer10

November 21st, 2008 at 1:31 PM ^

I rewound and rewatched that play a couple times on my DVR. He comes up really hard and leaves his feet, gets both hands on the guy and bounces off. After that the guy just strolls into the end zone. Sad thing is the guy was still 10 yards from a first down when Brown hit him.

WolverBean

November 21st, 2008 at 2:42 PM ^

Think Northwestern wins this game without a multiple-year starter senior at quarterback? Kudos to Bacher; he was under pressure all day and still managed to make some nice plays. Further proof of this year's overarching theme: experience makes a big difference.

ccarr92

November 21st, 2008 at 2:55 PM ^

Bruce Tall coached the spur and bandit safeties at West Virginia. He had two all-conference performers. He's done a good job with the defensive line this season. With all the problems recently with safety play, he should help improve the position.

jvocke

November 21st, 2008 at 5:38 PM ^

Let's not forget the one thing that I always remember Ernest Shazor for...

"Attention everyone - meet Anthony Gonzalez"

I still have OSU alums/fans who tell me that even THEY didn't know who Gonzalez was until Shazor let him get behind him on that pass play.

Ugh.