Upon Further Review: Defense vs Penn State

Submitted by Brian on October 28th, 2009 at 3:04 PM

Personnel notes: As noted Monday, Michigan had an actual substitution package: on passing downs Williams would be replaced by Cissoko. For obvious reasons, that's unlikely to continue down the road. The rest of it was as usual, with the line rotating regularly and no one else coming out ever. One exception: late in the game Obi Ezeh was yanked twice, first for a play and then for the rest of a drive, in favor of Fitzgerald. Each time he got to the sidelines an exasperated Jay Hopson tried to explain something to him.

Formation notes. My lingo is probably all screwed up now but Michigan did this a lot:

zone pre snap

I called this "4-4 under" but here I think this one is an over shift—the line is actually moved towards the TE side of the formation—and that Michigan was not playing this based on where Penn State was but where the ball was. Steve notes that Michigan shifted the line to "field"—the wide side—over 80% of the time in the first half. So under-over is not really the distinction. Michigan is lining up shifted to the wide side of the field with both the LBs and line, relying on the idea that Graham will obliterate Poti so badly that Penn State won't even try to run that direction. This was basically correct.

This eight-man front with Warren playing off allows Michigan to play man or zone with Warren part of your two-deep. This is an obvious response to Iowa's third and 24 conversion: freak out and try to get away with Warren as a part-time safety. This formation was the one in which all the ARGH long handoffs occurred. Burgeoning Wolverine Star picture-paged one of these happening and Steve noted it too: the responsibility on the long handoffs is Williams's, and he kept getting chewed out for the screwups here. On the play linked above Williams looks into the backfield instead of hauling ass for the receiver, but on later plays he just hauls ass and doesn't get there. Maybe this works if you're Taylor Mays, but Mike Williams was evidently incapable of pulling off this assignment. Steve blames Williams; as you'll see below I just think this is unworkable with the personnel Michigan has and go all RPS* –1 on Robinson.

Play ID note: a helpful high school coach illuminated the difference between the "Power O" and the "Down G"; on Power O a backside guard pulls around, usually into a hole between a kickout block from a tackle or TE and the interior down block. On Down G a playside guard pulls around and the play goes further outside, with the guy who's kicking out on a Power O down-blocking instead.

On with show.

*(Rock, Paper, Scissors.)

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Ace 4-wide 4-3 over Pass PA deep hitch Warren 14
Michigan actually shifted to the strength of the formation here. [ed: as noted above, it will become clear why only later.] PSU goes play action, sucking two guys (Mouton and Williams) up into Quarless, but it doesn't really matter since they're going to this comeback route against Warren, which is open(cover -1); immediate tackle afterwards. TE was wide open, too, with Ezeh trailing ineffectually (cover –1).
M49 1 10 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under Run Inside zone Williams 41
Michigan shows a true two-deep, not the border-field alignment. Martin is doubled and shoved back on a play that's clearly designed to go inside, but he splits the double team(+1) after they push him back a couple yards, causing Royster to shift his tactics. Mouton(-1) has gotten way too far inside and given up a huge cutback lane that should never be there; Williams(-3) comes up way, way too far inside, losing “leverage” on the ball—i.e. letting the dude outside of him—and turning eight yards into 41. It is possible that Graham(-1) had the responsibility here on the outside and it wasn't Mouton's screwup on the first level.
M8 1 G I-Form 4-4 under Run Iso(?) Mouton -2
Apparently a straight ahead, man-blocked run designed to go right off tackle. Graham(+1) blows through his blocker, forcing Royster outside; Mouton(+1) has shot into the hole and takes on the fullback two yards in the backfield, tumbling over him and tackling inadvertently; Ezeh(+1) avoided an OL and zooms up to make sure there's no way Royster can keep going if he keeps his feet.
M10 2 G Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under split Pass Corner Brown 10
Michigan shows one deep safety and runs man coverage; this is the sort of thing that Clark was talking about when he said M didn't disguise coverages. No late shifts or anything, so this is really obvious that Brown is not going to be able to cover(-1) Zug on this, given his inside leverage on the guy. He's inside of the player, has no support, and is just going to lose this matchup no matter who he is. Very poor from Robinson(RPS -1).
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 9 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Pass PA Out Brown 17
Again going to the slot receiver, who is in man coverage against Kovacs(-2, cover -2). Kovacs just bails and bails and has no chance of coming up on this. Kovacs as a deep safety is just not going to work in this sort of coverage, but it's pick your poison. Ezeh(-0.5) could have helped but got sucked up by the play action. Martin(+1) had busted past his guy and clobbered Clark as he threw (pressure +1).
M48 1 10 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-3 under Run Inside zone Graham 5
Graham(+1) slants inside the TE, beating both blocks and forcing a cutback behind; Mouton's run himself out of the play but that's understandable; Williams(-1) fills late despite having no responsibilities deep because both TEs are clearly blocking Graham, turning this cutback from zero into four.
M43 2 5 I-Form 4-3 under Pass Scramble Ezeh 9
Zone blitz sees Roh drop off as Ezeh and Brown come and Graham/Martin stunt around. This is sufficiently confusing to the OL that both guys get through, basically, but Ezeh(-1) has failed to get to the correct side of his blocker and thus does not maintain his rush lane, opening up an avenue for Clark to escape what would otherwise be a sure sack. I mean, Ezeh is clearly setting up to go around the other way as Graham stunts free behind him and then he just loses his mind, attempting to go up the same hole Graham does. Fail. Just fail. I've got this set up for a Picture Pages tomorrow.
M34 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-4 under Run Power O Mouton 7
This is never going to be an I-form, with the two RBs lined up right next to each other. Michigan doesn't read it and when Royster motions out, Ezeh(?!?!) follows him instead of Brown, the obvious choice, after significant confusion. Van Bergen(-0.5) gets downblocked, opening up a hole. Brown is trying to take on a pulling guard and can't do much other than get blocked; Mouton(-0.5) failed to read the play until it was a bit too late and ends up making contact five yards downfield with a guy in his face; the pile falls the wrong way. Michigan got beat by the playcall here, fooled into sucking Ezeh out into space against Royster instead of sending Brown, the logical guy, out there. (RPS -1)
M27 2 3 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-3 under Run Down G Mouton 4
Downblock on Graham(-1) by a tight end ends up pancaking him; Mouton(-1) accepts a block from Quarless and can't do anything to prevent this play from hitting it up for the first down.
M23 1 10 Ace 4-3 under Run Inside zone Graham -2
Graham(+2) slants right by Quarless on the snap, exploding into the backfield and crushing Royster without assistance from anyone else. RVB(+1) also beat his guy and was there to vaguely assist on the tackle.
M25 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide 4-4 under Pass Jailbreak screen Warren 8
Royster motions out for an empty backfield. Well executed by Penn State, but Warren is playing ten yards off and wandering back at the snap, which means he meets Moye 6 yards downfield and gets bashed; the first instance of M just giving PSU yards at the snap. (Cover -1) Not sure if Warren or Williams deserves a ding here. –0.5 for both.
M17 3 4 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass Fade Warren Inc
Michigan sends both MLBs up the middle and don't get there; Michigan tips this, I think, with the position of the safeties, so Clark knows he has this over Warren, in press coverage. Moye has a step and the size to go over Warren if this is accurate, but Clark overthrows it. I won't cover -1 this, because it was okay. I thought about RPS -1 here, too.
Drive Notes: Field goal(34), 7-10, 3 min 1st Q. Penn State's kicker has an enormous head.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 I-Form 4-4 under Pass Long handoff Warren 8
I don't know if this is Warren's fault or not, which I'll explain later. [ed: or earlier, as the case may be.] In any case, Warren's playing forever off (cover -1) and has no chance of holding this down. RPS -1. This was the first of these.
O45 2 2 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 under Pass Bubble screen -- 8
Wide open from the start; don't know if Mouton has responsibility here or not but they've got bubbles on both sides and neither is really covered. (cover -1, RPS -1)
M47 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-4 under Pass PA Deep post Warren Inc
Play action zone read on which Clark keeps it, fakes the keeper, and then backs out to pass. Herron eventually looses himself after he realizes it's a pass and hits Clark as he throws; Clark had decent time. The eventual throw is into double coverage that Kovacs is in okay position on, but help from Warren(+1 cover +1) makes this covered; receiver falls of his own volition. Warren in a deep half here, you'll note, and in way better position to actually help on the play than Kovacs.
M47 2 10 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-3 under Pass Scramble -- 1
Clark looks for the bubble but the receiver is trying to block; busted play. Clark scrambles for a yard.
M46 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under split Pass Screen Van Bergen 1
Michigan shows and brings the DEATH BLITZ of seven guys, except RVB and Martin back out, with RVB(+2) making a fantastic play by reading the screen, darting past two blockers and seeing the third take a futile stab at blocking him, and tackling(+1) at the LOS. Warren was coming up and this would have remained short even without the tackle from RVB since he'd killed the blocking, but he didn't even chance it. (RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 I-Form 4-4 under Pass Long handoff -- 8
I don't understand this. Warren is ten yards off, basically another safety, and Michigan expects to defend this by shooting Williams into the flat, which might work if Williams immediately runs out there, but he doesn't. (RPS -1, cover -1) Free yards. BWS picture-paged this.
O35 2 2 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Pass Fade Kovacs Inc
Royster motions out; this time it's zone so Warren moves out. Woolfolk(-1) jumps up on the little out route, which opens up a deeper fade route run by Moye. It's open(cover -1), but Moye falls down and the ball ends up hitting him in the foot.
O35 3 2 Ace 4-4 under Run End-around Mouton 11
TE pulls across the formation to act as a lead blocker; Williams is out there providing some contain but can do little but force the play inside. He does, where no one picks him up because Mouton(-2) sucked inside. It's bad when your linebackers' suckiness is part of the gameplan.
O46 1 10 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under Run Inside zone -- 4
Martin(-1) gets blown back by a double, allowing Royster to hit it up behind him; Ezeh(+0.5) reads the play and comes under the blocker attempting to get out on him, tackling with help from Mouton(+0.5) and making this an eh gain.
50 2 6 Ace 4-4 under Run Inside zone Graham -5
Michigan must have called the right thing to murder this play because Graham(+2, RPS +1) shoots into the backfield right by a PSU OL and Martin isn't far behind. Graham meets Royster four yards in the backfield; he escapes but Roh and Martin clean up.
O45 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Sack Roh -3
Roh(+2) is excellent on the stunt here, selling the outside move and then shooting inside with spectacular speed to dart through the gap Van Bergen(+1) makes. Roh is in on Clark and sacks him, albeit tenuously. If Clark escaped he was dead meat anyway with Martin closing in and linebackers close enough to prevent a long run. (Pressure +2.)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-10, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Ace Twins 4-3 under Pass Waggle comeback Kovacs Inc
Again working on Kovacs(-1), who gives the receiver a ton of time and space (cover -1) as Clark gets the edge without anyone in the vicinity (pressure -1). Clark leaves the throw short and the receiver can't dig out a semi-tough catch (a 2, if you're wondering).
M40 2 10 I-Form 4-4 under Pass Long handoff -- 7
Here Williams takes off to the short side of the field immediately and still doesn't close it down; I don't know WTF this scheme is supposed to be but it just doesn't work. (Cover -1, RPS -1). This was also picture-paged by BWS.
M33 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass Circle -- Inc
Michigan rushes... two. This works, I guess, as the DTs drop off into the hitches(cover +1) and cause Clark to delay. The DEs are closing in, though Clark can just slip up in the pocket to buy more time and doesn't, causing a throw. It's a bit low and dropped as one of the hitches turns his route into a circle. Warren was drawing up to hit the receiver... maybe not a first down if completed. But maybe yes a first down. The third and final picture-paged play from BWS. (RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Punt(!!!), 7-10, 5 min 2nd Q. I know it worked. That does not make it right. Penn State sucked out.
O40 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Pass TE Seam -- 60
This is just a straight release downfield with Ezeh in man against a guy he can't cover. There is no safety help, because Michigan is in this weird split package they'd run all game that gets people open short for long handoffs and open deep for easy touchdowns. Things and people to blame: Herron –2 for not getting a chuck on the TE. This is something Michigan's done all year and this is just a bust. Ezeh –1 for getting smoked on the coverage. And Kovacs –2 for not getting into his deep half despite not having another deep threat anywhere. (Cover -3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-19, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Penalty False start -- -5
Royster motions out; Warren out there on him. Not that it matters.
M13 1 15 I-Form 4-4 under Run Down G Roh 1
Roh(+1) reads the pull and doesn't let the TE seal him, which forces the play outside; Ezeh(+1) blasts into the lead blockers, also forcing the play back inside; Royster's already tripping over Roh when Graham's pursuit engulfs him.
M14 2 14 I-Form 4-4 under Penalty False start -- -5
Oops.
M9 2 19 I-Form 4-4 under Run Delay Graham 2
Fake the long handoff then give it inside to Beachum; Graham(+1) has penetrated, shoving the OL back three yards and forcing Beachum to cut behind him, where a bunch of Michigan players, some drawn by the PA fake, converge.
M11 3 17 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Run Delay -- 4
Give up and punt.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-19, 2 min 2nd Q. End of half, big kickoff return afterwards.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Pass Corner Williams 31
I don't understand this coverage that gets Warren sucked up, covering no one in what appears to be man zero coverage. Quarless beats it easily to the outside, Clark finds him, and it's a big gain. (Cover -2, RPS -1).
M12 1 10 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-4 under Run Inside zone Williams 0
Williams sent on a blitz that gets him through totally unblocked as Quarless, who motioned to one side, comes back to block the other. Royster runs right into him and this could be a four-yard loss, but Williams can't wrap up and Royster bounces to the original LOS. (RPS +1)
M12 2 10 Shotgun empty 4-3 under split Run QB draw Graham 2
Mouton blitzing from the outside so Graham(+1) has a rush lane more inside of that; he reads the draw, beats the tackle to the inside, and tackles just as Clark reaches the line.
M10 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass Corner -- 10
Michigan brings the safeties up to the line, showing a blitz well before the snap; Clark checks and Michigan does not check in response. Zug just runs a rounded out in the endzone that Clark knows will be there. Brown, lined up inside, can't get there, and Clark hits him as Michigan blitzes seven (cover -2, RPS -2). Same play as the earlier TD.
M3 2pt G Shotgun empty Nickel even Pass Slant Banks Inc
A zone blitz from Michigan sees both DTs drop into coverage again, which cuts off Clark's first read on the slant (cover +1). Blitz is about to get home so Clark chucks it anyway to a covered(+1) Moye; Woolfolk(+1) there.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2pt failed) 7-25, 12 min 3rd Q. Clark was right about the coverages. It's clear he knows exactly what Michigan is going to run before the snap and Michigan's personnel can't make up for it. All Zug has to do is run a really easy route against a guy lined up inside of him and woop touchdown.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Run Inside zone Graham 13
Starts off in Penn State's fake I-form with Royster motioning out, Ezeh goes with him. Failure (RPS -1). Graham(-2) runs himself upfield and out of the play when Williams is blitzing, which means two guys are just running past the backside and there's a huge cutback lane.
O38 1 10 I-Form 4-3 over Pass Dumpoff -- Inc
Clark has some time but not a ton before Graham and Martin get past blockers and start converging; with options downfield covered(+1) he comes to a checkdown; ball is dropped by the FB.
O38 2 10 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Pass Slant Ezeh 23
Fake I-form, again Ezeh(RPS -1) attempts to go out and cover. His coverage is terrible(-2), as you might expect, as he gives Royster so much room he's not there to tackle on the catch, and then he misses a tackle(-1, Ezeh -1); Kovacs(-1, tackle -1) then misses another one.
M39 1 10 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-3 over Pass Bubble screen Woolfolk Inc
Pass ends up dropped but Woolfolk(+1) had beaten his blocker cleanly and was probably going to tackle this for a minimal gain(cover +1).
M39 2 10 Ace 4-3 under Run Inside zone Ezeh 2
Ezeh(+1) shoots into the backfield—blitzing—and gets in on Beachum; he misses the tackle(-1), turning a loss into a decent gain.
M39 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 under Pass Sack Graham -8
Graham is lined up way, way outside of even the TE. TE releases, Graham(+3) bursts past the tackle's feeble attempt to block him, and sacks Clark with some help from Van Bergen. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-25, 9 min 3rd Q.This is the dangerous play that should not happen.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Ace Twins 4-4 under Run Down G Brown 5
Center and playside guard pull around as PSU downblocks RVB and creases the line. Mouton(+1) does a good job of getting to one of the lead blockers and closing down the space but Brown(-1) is hesitant, perhaps expecting the TE to release—although he waits way too long after it's clear he won't—and provides a crease outside of Mouton, away from the pursuing Ezeh. Ezeh does continue to flow down the line and tackles(+1) well.
M17 2 5 I-Form 4-4 under Pass Post Warren 17
Warren(-1) in man coverage against Moye. He turns his hips upfield in anticipation of a fade, does it way too early, and leaves this wide open(-2) for a touchdown.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 10-32, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 I-Form 4-3 under Run Zone stretch Ezeh 6
Banks(-1) gets sealed on this play but the LBs are both flowing down hill very quickly, which means Mouton(+1) doesn't get blocked by the first OL and absorbs the G releasing into the second level. He does a pretty decent job of avoiding the block and being a pest. Ezeh(-1), totally unblocked, sets up outside and lets Royster crease the two LBs. (Tackling -1)
O31 2 4 Ace 3-wide 4-3 under Run Power O Heininger 1
Heininger(+2)(!) is slanting on this play and gets right past the backside tackle into the gap that the pulling guard has vacated. He slants right into Royster and tackles(+1) despite having an OT on his back. Another outside blitz from Williams plus a DE, this time Roh, getting too far upfield, would have given Royster plenty of room had Heininger not made this play.
O32 3 3 Ace 3-wide Nickel under Pass Fade Warren Inc
Warren(+1) in excellent coverage(+1) so Penn State tries to throw it to the back shoulder of the WR, which is tough, especially when Moye's kind of clunky. Pass is well short and inside and incomplete. Six rushers on this play forced an early throw; Michigan fortunate PSU wasn't looking at a freakin' wide open Quarless on a little hitch.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-32, 5 min 3rd Q. Graham(+3) blocks a punt.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace Twin TE 4-4 under Run Inside zone Sagesse 7
Coupled with an end-around fake; DL does a decent job but Sagesse(-0.5) spins only half way, allowing Royster to hit it up in a small crease; Ezeh(-0.5) and Mouton(-0.5) passively accept blocks and aren't much help except as traffic cones.
O27 2 3 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Run Power O Graham -2
Fake I-form; this time Mouton goes out on Royster. Finally. Ezeh has been yanked for Fitzgerald. Graham(+2) blasts into the backfield like a shot, dominating Poti and actually getting into a guard pulling away from him; he then attempts to tackle Royster with two guys draped on him. Can't quite do it but Brown is unblocked in the hole and happy to clean up.
O25 3 5 I-Form 4-3 under Pass Screen Mouton 2
Jebus, Graham(+1) is actually a guy they're trying to block and he still almost kills Clark on a screen. Michigan has made the DTs passive, so they're in position to absorb blockers; Mouton(+1), in a short zone, reads the play and forces it back into Martin. (RPS +1, cover +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-32, 2 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-4 under Pass Waggle deep post Kovacs Inc
Play action rollout on which Roh(+1, pressure +1) gets to the outside on, forcing Clark to pull up and threatening to sack. Clark decides to bomb it deep into double coverage(+1), with Kovacs(+1) in better position to bring this in than the receiver.
O20 2 10 I-Form Twins 4-4 under Run Zone stretch(?) Van Bergen 8
I don't recognize this blocking scheme. It appears the playside OT and C get to block players lined up away from them, which is like the opposite of a reach block, and get their guys. Graham avoids a cut on the backside and should kill any cutback but for Van Bergen(-1) getting seriously owned by the LG. Brown(-1) accepts a block, delaying everyone, and Mouton(-1) overruns the play, opening up a cutback lane for Royster. Graham(+0.5) does recover to tackle from behind.
O28 3 2 Ace Twin TE 4-4 under Run Inside zone Graham 2
Graham(+1) again beats his blocker well to the inside and would crush this play if he wasn't tackled by the LT. Very frustrating. As it is, there's a couple guys on the ground where doom would have been otherwise and Royster manages to burrow through it and a couple other guys for a first down.
O30 1 10 I-Form Twins 4-3 under Run Down G Williams 5
Graham(+1) beats a blocker and is into the backfield, forcing Beachum to delay as he passes. Mouton(-0.5) ends up cut by the fullback and passed by; Williams(-1) whiffs a tackle(-1) and turns two into five.
O35 2 5 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-4 under Run Inside zone Van Bergen 11
Michigan really selling out on the front side of the play; Van Bergen(-1) is chopped to the ground and opens up a cutback lane. Ezeh(-1) has run himself out of the play after Brown went to cover the TE in motion, and is so out of position he can't even tackle after a gain. Beachum falls before Kovacs can attempt a tackle.
O46 1 10 I-Form 4-4 under Pass Long handoff Warren 3
Warren(+1, tackling +1).
O49 2 7 Ace 4-wide 4-3 under split Run Delay Roh 6
Not exactly sure who or what to blame here. Martin takes a scoop from the C and the backside G so I think this is supposed to go in a gap between Martin and Graham; Martin and Fitzgerald do a good job of closing that hole off, so it's Roh(-1) who fails to close down the backside gap, and Martin(-0.5) who gives a little too much ground, allowing Beachum to plow forward for near first-down yardage.
M45 3 1 I-Form 4-4 under Run Naked boot -- 12
Williams(-2) loses contain like whoah and there's no one else on third and short.. (RPS -1)
M33 1 10 Ace 4-4 under Run Delay Sagesse 15 (Pen -10)
Sagesse(-1) runs upfield and ends up getting pancaked by a momentary double as the C hurls him to the ground. This draws a shaky holding call from the umpire that erases a big gain. Mouton was in the area but Ezeh(-1) ran himself out of position again, and gets yanked, again.
M43 1 20 Ace 3-wide 4-4 under Pass TE drag Williams Inc
Underneath receivers run the “mesh” play that TT likes so much and Michigan has had big problems with so far this year; here Williams(+1) stays home on the one crossing route and is in position to break up and sort of kind of nearly intercept (cover +1)
M43 2 20 Ace 4-4 under Run Delay Heininger 4
Looks like there's a crease of sorts but Royster delays, hitting it, possibly because Heininger(+1) has shoved the RT back and then come inside, getting he hell held out of him but at least making the hole look closed off. When Mouton hops outside (OMG contain!), Royster darts back in and because of the hold can pick for a few yards.
M39 3 16 Ace 3-wide Nickel even Pass Throwaway -- Inc
Clark has plenty of time (pressure -1) but first and second options are open (cover +2) and a brief scramble results in Clark just chucking the ball OOB to avoid a sack.
Drive Notes: Punt, but a roughing call, 10-32, 9 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M29 1 10 I-Form 4-4 under Run Zone stretch Martin 4
Good job by all three playside DL, as Graham(+0.5) does pretty well against a double, Martin(+0.5) gets playside of his guy and beats him, and RVB avoids a cut and flows down the line. Williams blitzed, taking out the FB. He fights inside and gets a hit on Royster that should stop him and does; RVB(-0.5) then overruns it and allows Royster to spin behind—great play by him—and turn nothing into something.
M25 2 6 Ace Twins Twin TE 4-4 under Run Delay Martin 5
Mouton does an excellent job to read the play, shoot past the guys doubling Martin(-1), who gets blown too far off the ball, and shoot past the pulling TE into the backfield, but he then overruns the play. So no plus as Royster's not that delayed. Williams(-0.5) stumbles coming to the line, preventing him from hitting Royster with force, and Martin can't stand up to him, allowing Royster to fall forward.
M20 3 1 I-Form Big 4-4 under Run QB sneak -- 1
They get it.
M19 1 10 Ace Twin TE 4-4 under Run Delay Warren 3
TE motion ends up with Michigan over-shifted to the strong side of the formation. Herron(-1) runs upfield against what's likely to be a run play, opening up a cutback lane when Ezeh(+0.5) fills a small gap between RVB and Martin smartly. Warren(+1, tackling +1) comes up very well to tackle after a minimal gain, partially because Beachum makes a rookie mistake and tries to cut it outside instead of just slamming into a CB trying to tackle him.
M16 2 7 I-Form 4-4 even Run Delay Graham -1
Ezeh blitzes, absorbing the center and getting playside of him, forcing a cutback. Graham(+1) stunts directly into that, tackling for a minimal gain(+1, RPS +1).
M17 3 8 Ace Twin TE 4-4 under split Run Zone stretch -- 6
PSU clearly doesn't care, and okay whatever now it's FG time.
Drive Notes: Field goal(28), 10-35, 5 min 4th Q. End of charting.

Aren't you Mr. Cranky Pants?

Well, maybe I am. Maybe I'm not. To determine that I think we need a—

Chart?

Chart.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Graham 21 4 17 At some point in the second half I emailed Dr. Saturday that Brandon Graham was an All-American and the rest of the defense hated me.
Heininger 3 - 3 …though this suggests that Penn State's RT spot is something of an issue.
Patterson - - - DNP.
Roh 4 1 3 Got a sack against the real side of the PSU D.
Herron - 3 -3 One of three culprits on the 60-yard TD.
Martin 2.5 2.5 0 Off day.
Van Bergen 4 3 1 Also not a great day.
Banks - - - Played less.
Sagesse - 1.5 -1.5 Meh.
Campbell - - - DNP.
TOTAL 34.5 14 20.5 Pretty mediocre day outside of Graham.
Linebacker
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 4 7 -3 Iowa progress gives way to the disappointing usual.
Mouton 4.5 8.5 -4 Ugh.
Brown - 2 -2 Zug TDs not really his fault.
Fitzgerald - - - Didn't do much.
Leach - - - DNP.
TOTAL 8.5 17.5 -9 Run filling = very good. Pass defense = very bad.
Secondary
Player + - T Notes
Warren 4 2.5 1.5 Got burned on one TD.
Cissoko - - - Happy trails.
Floyd - - - DNP.
Turner - - - DNP.
Woolfolk 2 1 1 Eh.
Williams 1 5 -4 Plus more bad news if you think the long handoffs are on him.
Emilien - - - DNP
Kovacs 1 6 -5 Just can't play a deep half.
TOTAL 7 14.5 -6.5 It gets worse.
Metrics
Pressure 6 2 4 Even when PSU went deep Clark was about to get hammered when he threw most of those.
Coverage 13 23 -8 PSU exploited the safeties and the linebackers all day.
Tackling 5 5 0 First even tackling day; think that's bad.
RPS 6 13 -7 Robinson got pwned.

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

I guess I am pretty cranky.

Why are you such a grump? Iowa put up 30 points and 367 yards of offense to Penn State's 35 and 396 , and Michigan managed to escape that game with way better numbers.

I think it was that all the stuff Penn State was doing came so easy. The Zug touchdowns, the Quarless touchdown, all the long handoffs: all of those plays required nothing more than Penn State not screwing up with wide open receivers. To Clark's credit, he hit all those guys. He then laughed about the primitive defense that Michigan was running, and on review I totally agree: Michigan telegraphed their now-predictable third and long redzone blitzes and got killed. They showed the long handoff was there and got killed. They put Obi Ezeh in man coverage on the edge against Evan Royster and got killed.

That's what the big minus in RPS is there for: I think Robinson got owned by Penn State's offensive brain trust (which is Galen Hall, not Jaypa). This game was slightly reminiscent of the Purdue game a year ago where Michigan switched to a new system and got their brains beaten in by it.

Also, Penn State spent ten minutes of the fourth quarter trying to kill the clock and went on a death march of a drive. It got helped out by a bad penalty on the punter, Penn State successfully strangled the clock. The PSU numbers are basically three quarters of action.

Well, what do you suggest we do?

I don't know. I am sort of mad at Robinson for making it easy by not breaking tendencies with two weeks to prepare. But when you've got Kovacs as  your deep safety, what can you do? Kid's smart and can be an effective player in the box but obviously lacks the athleticism to be a deep safety in the Big Ten. This is not a surprise, he is a freshman walk-on. Michigan's not even rolling out third-option fifth-year senior walk-ons like Josh Hull and his Hullstache…

josh-hullstache-2

…we're rolling out first-option (IE: no one is injured) freshman walk-ons who are technically redshirt freshmen but didn't even get to be on the team last year because they had a knee injury and so are really just off-the-street hi-who-are-you-get-in-there-Cavanaugh-oops guys. Which makes for cute stories but not good defenses.

And he's obviously better than the other safety! Arrrrgh. I think I need to do me one of those "this is why we suck" lists that shows safety recruiting over the last five years.

Meanwhile, the linebackers remain a disaster and I still think it might be Hopson's fault. Those four spots on the defense are just killing Michigan. They can't cover TEs. They can't have sensible two-deep coverage. They regularly overrun plays on the ground that the DL has destroyed. Williams whiffs tackles and both safeties are totally unsuited for deep coverage to the point where Michigan is trying to use Warren as some sort of hybrid CB/S just so they can run two-deep without a guaranteed touchdown, just a high chance of touchdown.

I guess I suggest we wait and hope things are better next year because eight guys returning should make up for the loss of Graham.

Heroes?

Brandon Graham.

Goats?

The slightly poorer set of folks not named Graham: Greg Robinson, Mike Williams, Jordan Kovacs, and pick a linebacker.

What does it mean for Illinois and the rest of the season?

Well, Brandon Graham is going to do an awful lot to stop opposition offenses and he needs some help. Kovacs as a deep safety (oddly, in Michigan's system this is the "strong" safety) doesn't work, Williams as a deep safety doesn't work, Floyd as a cornerback doesn't work, Michigan has two Big Ten level secondary members and guys who might not start for a good MAC team elsewhere. There is no hope for that the rest of the season.

I've given up on the linebackers, and it sounds like the coaches are getting there, too. The line is actually pretty good, non-Graham off day against Penn State nonwithstanding.

Comments

Run Up The Score

October 28th, 2009 at 3:23 PM ^

He was just great all day, albeit against our third team RT (but I've seen enough of those other two RT's -- they're all kind of bad in their own cute Clark-killing ways).

The good news is that I think you're going to beat Ohio State.

matty blue

October 28th, 2009 at 3:31 PM ^

that's the first time i've seen the push in the back on the punt since saturday, and i'm convinced - if it's not technically illegal, it is certainly 100% pure columbian chickenshit. what a cheap shot.

The FannMan

October 28th, 2009 at 4:04 PM ^

I had only seen it live and from an angle. Now, after looking at it on video, it is worse than I thought. The PSU player, extends his arms into the back of a player and shoves him into Hemmingway. This was not an accident or a bump caused by a player slowing down in front of him. It was, as you say, a chickenshit cheap shot. I hope Penn State takes some form of action here, or at least tells the kid not to do that. Hemmingway is lucky he was not seriously injured. It should have been flagged.

Yinka Double Dare

October 28th, 2009 at 3:31 PM ^

Seriously, can we just put Kovacs back where he's at least a solid player? By switching him and Williams we have two positions that suck at safety instead of one horrible and one somewhat competent. Kovacs was good in run support and was a relatively sure tackler, especially compared to Williams.

And as I noted Monday -- there is no way Vlad Emelien could be any worse than the other guys we've tried at deep safety because that level of suck might not exist. It's time to give him a try, as he's already played almost every game on special teams so there's no redshirt to burn on him - the cost to the program is zero. Give the PT to a guy who will be here another three years and could have a chance to become good. Williams just doesn't seem to get it at either position and I'm not sure he ever will.

Yinka Double Dare

October 28th, 2009 at 4:21 PM ^

I'm honestly not sure how you can be much worse than what our deep safeties have been so far. And if he's every bit as bad or ever so slightly worse, he's at least going to be around a lot longer than Williams will be and thus might use the experience to develop into a good player while he's still at Michigan.

I'm not saying he'd be good (or yeah, he'd have been on the field already), but I'm saying that it's looking like Williams is a waste of the playing time when we're looking at it from the standpoint of the future. Maybe he'll turn it around, but it's the same damn things every week with him and he doesn't seem to be learning a damn thing from the mistakes.

Tha Stunna

October 28th, 2009 at 4:24 PM ^

Agreed. Every time people say things can't get worse... they do.

There's some slim possibility that Vlad is still learning and just isn't prepared yet, but has a decent chance to be non-bad next year. But, the cloud has no silver lining for the rest of this year.

Incidentally, we really need to get rid of Hopson. His recruiting efforts have failed miserably and the linebackers he's coached have pretty much also failed miserably. There is no upside to keeping him around that I can see.

daveheal

October 28th, 2009 at 6:29 PM ^

We're talking about true freshman safety here and you think there's only a slim possibility that he's still learning and isn't prepared to play because of that? You're so certain that we know nearly everything there is to know about what kind of player he's going to be because he's not on the field as a freshman? We know very little about Vlad Emilien's chance to be good, bad or "non-bad" next year or any year after that.

SeattleChris

October 28th, 2009 at 10:39 PM ^

And the weird thing is I believe I remember Southern Miss having some good-ish defenses or maybe I've just watched too much Thursday night football over the years. It's bizarre to me to think that he sucks so bad as a position coach. What happened to the guy that came from BC and the Pros and coached up Burgess and Harris? If he's not available we could always bring back Jimmy H.

jamiemac

October 28th, 2009 at 3:32 PM ^

Well, I assume it is. I'll read it fully once I get out of the office for the day.

But, in reading the first couple drives, I want to re-highlight that 3rd down screen play that RVB blows up.

Man, was that a great play. That was downright David Harris-like not just sniffing the screen out, but getting there before the blockers and taking it down.

He did that better than Obi would have.

So, can RVB play LB? Of course, I'm kidding. Or not. Really I dont know. We're all searching for personnel answers these days, that its leading me to insane ideas.

Still, RVB was great on that play. I look forward to his uppercalassmen years at UM

M1EK

October 28th, 2009 at 4:58 PM ^

The problem with your theory is it sorta ends up with you on the same level as the PSU homers, which is really going to wreak havoc with your superiority complexes.

Hint: What I posted here the last couple of days is precisely what I would expect a thinking Michigan fan to do at, say, BSD if the 34-8 style blowouts, had garnered write-ups which didn't even mention the asskicking and had instead made it sound like PSU had just handed the ball over repeatedly to an inferior and undeserving team out of the goodness of our hearts or because we were just having an awful day.

InterM

October 28th, 2009 at 5:01 PM ^

if you're setting an example for a "thinking Michigan fan," I don't want to be one. Seriously, this has been explained to you a dozen times by now, and you've worn out your welcome.

El Jeffe

October 28th, 2009 at 5:02 PM ^

I totally understand your frustration; I just question your choice of forum for airing that frustration.

If a UM fan, thinking or not, went on BSD after a drubbing of PSU to complain about why the posters weren't talking more about how great UM is, I would question his sanity as well, and wouldn't begrudge the BSD posters' telling him to please fuck off.

If that makes me "on the same level as the PSU homers," then maybe you're the odd man out and the rest of the world just behaves differently from how you'd like it to behave.

M1EK

October 28th, 2009 at 5:26 PM ^

Framed as you put it, of course, you would question that person's sanity. Of course, that's not remotely what I said, and you know it.

Framed as I put it, you'd be disappointed to see the author of a blog you normally respect(*) have so little respect for themselves and their team that the only thing they could do after getting whipped was to talk about how they gave the game away. Not to even bring up ONCE, not even ONE TIME, that "gosh, maybe PSU was better than we thought they were". Then, of course, you'd be even more disappointed as the commenters piled on instead of admitting the behavior (although one or two guys in the other thread did, finally, do so).

Again, you can go to BSD and see what those guys have been saying about Iowa if you insist on disbelief here. Go ahead; I'll wait.

(* - and a blog disproportionately respected by the entire college football ecosystem, of course; a hell of a lot of non-Michigan-fans read this site).

El Jeffe

October 29th, 2009 at 11:40 AM ^

Believe me, I understand the point you think you are making. I am trying to explain to you why it is not being taken the way you are intending.

You are coming off in one of two ways:

1. The way I represented above: as a whiner; or, more charitably,

2. Someone expressing "disappointment" that MGoBlog isn't the paragon of blog virtue you thought it was.

Which, like, recalibrate your expectations, man. It's a sports blog. A brilliant one, but, unsurprisingly, not immune to the problems that plague all college sports blogs. Assuming kvetching about your team's failings rather than lauding the other team's superiority on your team's blog is a problem, that is.

Tha Stunna

October 28th, 2009 at 4:27 PM ^

The move to linebacker is net beneficial for our entire defense, so it's nothing I'd worry about. Similarly, Woolfolk was a non-liability as a safety, but we're better off overall with him at corner.

And no, I don't want to actually address your comment.

hypomodern

October 28th, 2009 at 4:07 PM ^

...given all the hand-wringing about the usual awful ILB and S play. I mean, you summarized the schematic changes yourself as being "so they can run two-deep without a guaranteed touchdown, just a high chance of touchdown."

Penn State did an excellent job of exploiting the new version of our obvious weakness; I'm guessing they would have done an even better job of exploiting our old obvious weaknesses. I mean, freaking Iowa put up 30 points on this defense. 30!

I think they're trying to see if they can get better by playing a relatively minor variation of the base GERG is teaching, unlike the Purdue game last year where they decided to burn everything and start again. I like what they're trying to do; they're just not particularly good at some key, key positions.

Kevin Holtsberry

October 28th, 2009 at 4:10 PM ^

Wait, what's the bright side again?

What kind of time frame is reasonable at the college level to turn around this lack of talent/depth? Is the expectation for next year to suck but not quite as bad and then the year after have a chance at a functioning secondary?

I don't follow recruiting closely do don't have a strong sense, particularly on the D side, how quickly recruits can turn things around.

cfaller96

October 28th, 2009 at 4:38 PM ^

I'm not sure what the point of handing out tons of -1s to Gerg is when you yourself concede the personnel is not good, not deep, not likely to improve any time soon, and to top it off you don't know what the playcall was to begin with.

Gerg is severely constrained by things not under his control. You yourself don't know what can be done here, so I fail to see how this bad situation is something for which he is to blame. Please junk the RPS metric. It's unfair, it's overly critical, and worst of all it's not informative.

bronxblue

October 28th, 2009 at 4:42 PM ^

I pretty much agree with that sentiment. Any time a bad play happens, it always "seems" like GERG made a bad call. But he knows what he has on defense, and sometimes that means going with the defense that will only get burned 70% of the time versus trying something new that might be burned 90% of the time. GERG has shown an ability to produce solid defenses with competent personnel; at this point, RPS should be scored incomplete and maybe revisited in a year or two once he's had some more time and recruits.

J. Lichty

October 28th, 2009 at 6:15 PM ^

why after the williams covers the flat with warren 10 yards off the line was torched again and again, was an adjustment not made?

I'm not saying that there may not be a good reason, but I can't, from what I have read, see one.

There are certain things that can appear questionable.

Just as we recognized that Iowa and EMU playing their safties back against our offense was not a good recipe, so to can certain things be observed regarding a scheme.

As for hindsight - that is needed from the coaches to make improvements and UFR by defnition is hindsight for the purposes of judging the performance and making conclusions of what it means for the following week.

What fun is it to read through the UFR if you are not permitted to make conclusions about the play including the call - good or bad?

Jivas

October 28th, 2009 at 6:59 PM ^

I'd do it.

RPS is too difficult given the talent on defense right now. To extend the analogy, it's as if GERG is being told to play rocks, paper, scissors - except on each play one of the options is withheld from him, of which his opponent is aware - and then criticizing him for losing a disproportionate amount of the time.

WolverBean

October 28th, 2009 at 9:10 PM ^

I may be the only one, but I actually like the RPS metric. It's obviously a fallible metric, and is hard to evaluate on defense since you don't always know what everyone's responsibility is. But I don't think Brian is presuming to know more than the coaches in assigning RPS values. Nor do I necessarily think that low RPS numbers are indicative of poor coaching. In fact, I think it's rather revealing to assume good coaching, see a low RPS value, and use that as a way of quantifying how many times a game our personnel weaknesses dictate us using sub-optimal schemes.

At the very least, can we keep RPS for offense, where assignments are more clear? The RPS idea was, after all, first applied on this blog in the context of evaluating offenses. And I think that's a place where it can still be a useful measure.

chitownblue2

October 28th, 2009 at 9:42 PM ^

Nor do I necessarily think that low RPS numbers are indicative of poor coaching.

When the RPS number is given as negative-whatever, and Brian writes next to it "Robinson got pwned", that's precisely what the intent is, I think.

I guess my question is what sort of play warrants a positive RPS? I've seen it used on one sort of play - a called blitz that reaches the QB. Is there any other play-call in which the coach can possibly positively impact his RPS score? We see a legion of plays that end with successful results, but don't warrant a positive score? Why? Because of a spectacular individual effort? Then why do we negative-bang Robinson for Williams failing to cover the short zone? That seems like a breakdown in individual effort, the same way that Graham tearing through the line is a positive individual effort.

I guess what I'm saying is this: if you don't know the play-call, it's probably really hard to distinguish between a breakdown in scheme and a breakdown in execution. Did player X not run to spot Y because he fucked up, or because he wasn't supposed to? How do we know?