Upon Further Review: Defense vs State Comment Count

Brian November 7th, 2007 at 8:10 PM
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O26 1 10 Ace Twins Base 5-2 Run 2 Off tackle
Hey, wow, no nickel. I'll attempt to distinguish between a conventional 4-3 with actual linebackers and a 5-2 where two MLBs sit behind five guys on the LOS. On MSU's first play they motion the TE across the line, then bring him behind the guard as the play snaps; he acts as a lead blocker. BG(-1) is shoved downfield after a momentary double; Taylor(+1) refuses to get sealed and bashes into the pulling guard; no hole. Ezeh(+1) picks through the traffic and makes a tackle as Ringer tries to bounce it out.
O28 2 8 I-Form Base 5-2 Run 5 End-around
Handoff fake coupled with an end-around to Thomas in approximately the same area the play would go, except more outside. Jamison(-1) manages to shoot past the blocker intended for him but comes too far up inside on the initial handoff fake; Thomas runs around him. Englemon comes up to tackle after a decent gain.
O33 3 3 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 17 TE Out
Adams(+1, cover +1) is right there, swiping as the ball arrives. Unfortunately, it's high and outside; Davis reaches up but can only bat in the air. It comes right back down to him, and he rumbles for significant yardage. Bad luck and a great catch.
50 1 10 I-Form Big Base 4-4 Run 3 Iso
Caulcrick in the game. Not sure why he decides to cut away from the fullback – looked like a good gain was possible – but he does; the backside looks open but two guys are attempting to block Pollock and another two have engulfed a DT, allowing Graham to close unblocked.
M47 2 7 I-Form Twins Base 4-3 Pass 8 WR Screen
This WR screen is actually a RB screen as the "WR" in question is Ringer, who's motioned out of the backfield. This is not good: we're zone blitzing Crable and Ezeh, leaving Graham to chase Ringer down all the way from the backside. Adams does a good enough job of forcing the play back to him; Ringer slips between two tacklers, nearing a first down.
M39 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Pass 18 Out
Johnson(+1) dives into Hoyer's knees just as he throws; the resulting pass is has no velocity on it. But it is accurate, as there's a ton of room in front of Trent. (Cover -2, pressure +1) This was man, so -1 Trent, too.
M21 1 10 Ace Base 5-2 Run 2 Off tackle
Adams comes up and is clearly in man cover over a motioning tight end. This play is the same as the previous off tackle but run to the opposite side of the line. Johnson(+1) reads his man pulling and starts flowing down the line; CG(+1) shoots into a gap, forcing Caulcrick to bounce it out a bit; Johnson is there to tackle with help from Ezeh.
M19 2 8 I-Form Big Base 4-4 Pass Inc TE Corner
Davis wide open for a touchdown (cover -2, CG -1), but Hoyer throws off his back foot and sails it to Tacopants. Taylor(+1) was coming and may have helped save the TD, as another second or two and Hoyer might be more accurate. (Pressure +1)
M19 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Inc Cross
Wow. Michigan clears out the center of the zone; one LB chases a TE on a corner route as the other deploys a very, very delayed blitz that has no hope of getting home. (CG -1, pressure -1). A shallow cross to Thomas should be wide open except for Englemon(+2) reading this from the instant Thomas cuts his route inside and clubbing him just as the ball arrives. Outstanding. (Cover +1)
Drive Notes: FG(36), 0-3, 11 min 1st Q. In our 4-4 package Max Pollock comes in as a strongside linebacker over the TE. I can't remember another non-FB walkon who played actual downs on something other than special teams. Can anyone?
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O18 1 10 Ace Base 5-2 Run 0 Pitch sweep
Well, if you're not going to block the CB on this he's probably going to come up and do something about the run. Trent does this (he's in zone, allowing the quick reaction). Ringer cuts up into Jamison(+1) and Taylor for no gain.
O18 2 10 I-Form Twins Base 5-2 Run 5 Iso
Man, we shift the front again, leaving that 5-3-1-7 gap between Johnson and Jamison; they run right at it. CGraham shoots up, burying himself under the fullback as Johnson is doubled and a major hole opens up. A safety eventually fills. Hard for Michigan to stop this given the shift.
O23 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 3 Stop
Excellent coverage (+1) forces Hoyer to come down to Thomas; Harrison(+1) is right there and tackles immediately.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-3, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O20 1 10 Ace Twins Base 5-2 Pass 5 WR Screen
Don't know if this is poor timing or what, but it seems like this play has no hope of succeeding as Hoyer throws a pass a couple yards backwards to Thomas. Trent(-1) meets him at the LOS and should have him for no gain but gets bowled over for five yards.
O25 2 5 Shotgun 2-TE Base 5-2 Penalty -5 False start
O20 2 10 Ace Twins Base 5-2 Pass -7 Swing
The swing pass CGraham(+2) reads and destroys. (+1 cover)
O13 3 17 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Inc ?
Jamison(+1) bats it down. Usually this is a pressure +1, but Michigan blitzed and didn't get anywhere near Hoyer.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 2 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O41 1 10 I-Form Big Base 5-2 Pass Inc PA Fly
A miscommunication here as Trent(-2) obviously thinks he has deep safety help and lets Thomas go by him without even pretending to cover until it's too late. No pressure(-2); Hoyer loads up... and underthrows his guy badly. (Cover -2)
O41 2 10 I-Form Big Base 4-4 Run 1 Counter
MSU motions the TE away from the offset fullback, then runs to his side after a counter fake from the RB, pulling an offensive lineman around with him. CGraham(+1) picks his way up into the hole and makes initial contact; a mass of bodies ends up with Ringer on the ground.
O42 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Int Seam
Hoyer throws the seam without bothering to check if Jamar Adams might be in the middle of the field, which he is. He breaks and picks it off(+2). (Cover +1)
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-3, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O37 1 10 I-Form Twins Base 5-2 Run -2 FB Dive
Ringer motions out. They hand it to the FB, but Taylor(+1) shoves into the backfield right in his path and BGraham(+1) finishes the play.
O35 2 12 I-Form Base 5-2 Pass Inc PA TE Flag
A play action fake kills the pass rush, giving Hoyer lots of time (pressure -1); he throws to Davis, blanketed by Adams(+1, cover +1). Adams breaks the play up.
O35 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass -8 Sack
Wow... Michigan sends three delayed blitzers. Crazy. I don't necessarily mind one delayed blitzer, but Jamar Adams from eight yards off the LOS? None of them get anywhere near Hoyer, but that's okay because Taylor(+1) and BG(+1) both bust through from the DT spot after a moment or two. With the crappy blitz, good job by the secondary to cover(+1).
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 12 min 2nd Q. Mathews lets the punt go over his head; a disastrous shift in field position from a seventy-yard punt.
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
M44 1 10 I-Form Twins Base 5-2 Pass Inc PA Out
Thomas open (cover -1) as a State deep route pulled off the coverage and the linebackers bit; Jamison(+1) manages to get free of a pulled pass blocker and knock Hoyer as he throws, forcing the one-hopper. (Pressure +1)
M44 2 10 Shotgun 2-TE Base 5-2 Run 3 Counter
Thomas comes in motion as a potential end-around target. Taylor(+1) reads the counter action, fighting his way back inside; CGraham(+1) had also popped up in a hole. Ringer's fortunate to fall forward after finding himself surrouded by Wolverines.
M41 3 7 Shotgun 2-back Base 5-2 Pass -10 Holding
Good coverage(+1) but no pressure(-1) ends up with Hoyer rolling out of the pocket and finding his TE on an out for the first down. It comes back for holding, as Taylor was tackled trying to chase down the rolled out Hoyer.
O49 3 17 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass 5 Screen
Thompson(+1) does a good job of tracking back on this; Adams comes up and tackles.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
M49 1 10 I-Form Base 5-2 Run 9 Pitch sweep
Johnson(-1) late reacting and allows a TE to block him out of the play. Taylor does a good job of fighting down the line, but his dive at Ringer's feet fails to trip him up. CGraham eventually tracks him down after picking through a lot of traffic.
M39 1 10 I-Form Big Base 5-2 Run 1 Iso
This time it's MSU with the unbalanced line, as soon as Crable sees the shift he demands a safety come up and shifts the LBs to the overloaded side; MSU duly brings the other TE in motion to the unbalanced side of the line. CGraham(+1) knifes through the line and gets a hand on Ringer; Ezeh finishes. Taylor absorbed a double team; no second level blocks were offered by the MSU OL.
M38 2 9 I-Form Big Base 5-2 Pass Inc PA Out
Ton of time(pressure -1); Hoyer eventually throws it way high to a pretty well covered Thomas(+1 cover, Warren +1).
M38 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Inc Bomb
CGraham(+1) times a blitz well and is in too quickly for the RB to do anything but knock him off balance; Hoyer has to throw. Hoyer overthrows Thomas, who blatantly interferes with Warren and doesn't get called for it. (pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 4 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O28 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 5-2 Run -2 End-around
Thomas motions into the backfield as he's done before; this time he gets the handoff and Ringer acts as a lead blocker. Crable(+1) stands his guy up and drives him back, forcing Thomas wide. For some reason, two guys go to block Adams; Ezeh(+1) read and picked through the traffic, hammering Thomas in the backfield for a loss.
O26 2 12 Ace 3-wide Nickel Run -6 Screwup
5-3-1-7 shift to the strongside; we don't adjust as they motion the TE. Odd. They're trying to run a trap right at the gaping hole but the OL bumps Hoyer and he never makes the handoff. After scrambling out for a bit he falls over. Fortunate, as this looked bad if they didn't screw it up.
O20 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Inc TE Seam
No pressure(-1) whatsoever; CGraham(+1) in great coverage, tipping the ball and getting the PBU. (Coverage +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, 2 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O30 1 10 Shotgun Empty Nickel Pass 22 Flag
Michigan in a zone; Warren(-1) stops on a shorter route, allowing this flag to come open as CG can't possibly cover this guy any longer. (Cover -1, pressure -1)
M48 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel Pass Inc Out
Michigan sends six but does not get there; Hoyer does roll out. He eventually finds a guy open on the sidelines, but throws it wide. (Pressure -1)
M48 2 10 Shotgun Empty Nickel Pass Inc TE Cross
A huge bust in the middle of the zone has Davis open for a TE cross with a ton of room in front of him; he drops it. (Cover -2)
M48 3 10 Shotgun Empty 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Inc Stop
Jamison(+2) schools an OT, forcing a quick throw from Hoyer as he's hit. It's high. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-3, EOH. Lucked out a bit there. Where's Crable?
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O25 1 10 Ace Twins Base 5-2 Run 2 Inside zone
State OL s
till having major issues getting off their blocks and into the second level; this time Taylor(+1) fights off a double and tackles in the hole with help from an unblocked Ezeh.
O27 2 8 I-Form Base 5-2 Run 7 Iso
We shift to the 5-3-1-7 shaded front before the snap, they run right at the gap. Why are we doing this? Johnson(-1) doubled and gone, CGraham blocked out of the play by the FB. Ezeh(-1) meets Caulcrick three yards downfield and gets trucked.
O34 3 1 I-Form Big Base 5-2 Run 2 Iso
Taylor(+1) gets great penetration here, forcing Caulcrick to cut back; Ezeh(-1) and Graham(-1) are late, missing an opportunity to punch MSU off the field.
O36 1 10 Ace Base 5-2 Run 6 Off tackle
Taylor(-2) clubbed out of this play by the double., ending up four yards downfield and getting Ezeh caught up in the wash. Everyone else did fine, but when your NT gets blown four yards back and they're running right at him it's ugly.
O42 2 4 I-Form Big Base 5-2 Run 2 Iso
Johnson(+1), not even the playside DT, drives his guy into the hole behind the penetration of Taylor; Caulcrick is robbed of his momentum and gets surrounded by Michigan defenders.
O44 3 2 I-Form Big Base 5-2 Run 3 Iso
Taylor does an okay job on the POA; Crable comes from the backside to grasp; the linebackers flow up but Caulcrick squeezes through.
O47 1 10 Shotgun Big Base 5-2 Pass 21 PA TE Cross
They fake the end-around they've run to Thomas before; both LBs bite (Ezeh -1, Graham -1) and Davis is wide open. (Cover -2)
M32 1 10 Ace Base 5-2 Run 9 Pitch sweep
BGraham(-1) slants inside, giving up the outside immediately. Adams(-1) has filled, as Michigan is coming up hard against the run, for a minimal gain but Ringer spins past him and stumbles near first down yardage.
M23 2 1 I-Form Big Base 5-2 Run 6 Counter
BG(-1) blown down the line, opening up a considerable hole as Crable gets cut. Ezeh gets thumped by a blocker, reaching out to slow Caulcrick as he passes, but that's a tough job.
M17 1 10 I-Form Twins Base 4-3 Run 8 ???
We get to this play late; CGraham(-1) has overpursued and left a huge cutback lane, which Caulcrick uses. Should probably be another minus in here but I can't tell with the late showing of the play. And if this isn't a fumble – which it isn't – has the tool who called the exact same play a fumble when it happened to Antonio Bass been tarred and feathered?
M9 2 2 I-Form Big Base 4-4 Run 1 Iso
No creases and a good fill by CGraham(+1) causes a cutback for minimal yardage.
M8 3 1 I-Form Big Base 4-4 Run 2 Iso
F***, CGraham, you bolt into the backfield all awesome like and should have this dead to rights, then miss a tackle. Come on. No plus/minus, as CG did slow him up at least.
M6 1 G Maryland I Goal-line Run 5 Iso
Yeah, we have ten guys on the field after a bunch of switching. Awesome. Anton Campbell(-1) in the game; he should have Caulcrick for a one-yard gain but gets trucked. Why is Anton Campbell in the game? Englemon got knocked out a few plays earlier.
M1 2 G Maryland I Goal-line Run 1 Iso
Plowed in from six inches.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 6 min 3rd Q. Well, that was repulsive.
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O28 1 10 Ace Base 5-2 Run 9 Pitch sweep
Fairly simple explanation as to why this works: Crable is held blatantly without a call. Ringer pops outside, as Crable's understandably lost contain.
O37 2 1 Ace Base 5-2 Pass 15 (pen) Fade
Warren(+1, cover +1) blankets Dell, but gets the world's weakest PI call, which happens to be like ten seconds late. Awful.
M48 1 10 Ace Base 5-2 Run 4 Off tackle
Ringer shoots through a hole that appears to not exist, as Ezeh came up and took out the lead-blocking pulling guard and did well; Taylor stood up to a double team okay. Somehow he leaks through between the two and darts for decent yardage.
M44 2 6 I-Form Base 5-2 Run -2 Pitch sweep
Crable(+2) blows the trapping guard into the backfield, discarding him and closing Caulcrick down for a loss.
M46 3 8 Shotgun Empty 3-3-5 Nickel Pass 6 Out
Michigan sends six, but the blitz is ill-timed and doesn't really get there fast. Johnson(+1) eventually hits Hoyer; he still gets a pass off, which is complete but close enough to the sidelines that the WR can't turn it up.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-10, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O17 1 10 I-Form Twins Base 5-2 Pass 6 WR Screen
Stevie Brown(-1) in, coming up and moving in on Caulcrick, ignoring the WR screen. Trent has to fight off a cut and get up to tackle with no help; he does so.
O23 2 4 I-Form Twins Base 5-2 Run 71 Pitch sweep
Well, hell, Crable(+1) busts into the backfield and slings Ringer around. 99% of the time this is a TFL by him or someone else; he didn't tackle him but he also set MSU up for a big loss. Jamison(-1) relaxes, thinking the play's over, and Ringer shoots out to the other side. Brown(-1) has also vacated the backside. Ringer takes off, you know the rest. I don't know who to blame.
M6 1 G ??? ??? Pass 6 PA TE Seam
My copy of the game doesn't actually have this play. As I recall, MSU ran play action and had a guy wide, wide open. (Cover -2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-17, 15 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O48 1 10 I-Form Big Base 5-2 Run 7 Off tackle
BG(-1) blown off the ball by a double; a pulling guard comes through and blocks one LB as the guy on the double peels off.
M45 2 3 Ace Twins Base 5-2 Run 4 Inside zone
5-3-1-7 shift and they run at the overloaded side... maybe. This might be an intended counter, as
the predictably large gap opens up on the backside and they've motioned Davis right over that spot. For some reason Davis and the OT double Jamison, though, leaving CGraham unblocked in the cutback hole; he tackles but only after Ringer picks up the first down.
M41 1 10 Ace Twins? Base 5-2 Run -5 (pen) Inside zone
Hard to tell what happens here – poor production – but Taylor(-1) and BG(-1) are blown off the ball... possibly another shifted front since there's a big hole and it looks like Johnson is offset. Caulcrick just pounds ahead. Illegal formation brings it back.
M46 1 15 I-Form Twins Base 5-2 Pass 9 Bubble screen
Michigan in obvious zone; Brown lined up significantly inside of Thomas and can't get an angle; Trent playing back. (Cover -1)
M37 2 6 I-Form Twins Base 5-2 Run 16 Iso
Massive cutback hole as Johnson again tries to flow down the line of scrimmage, but it's CGraham(-2) who abandons the backside here instead of meeting Caulcrick in the developing hole.
M21 1 10 I-Form Big Base 5-2 Run 5 Iso
Johnson(-1) blown back by the double, allowing an MSU OL to peel off and hit a LB.
M16 2 5 I-Form Base 5-2 Run 1 Iso
Slocum(+1) is in at NT; he's double but holds up, causing Caulcrick to slow as he reaches the hole; Crable comes around and grabs him, but Caulcrick falls forward.
M15 3 4 I-Form Big Base 4-4 Pass 9 Broken play
MSU runs the fumblerooski throw that worked for a touchdown versus Notre Dame; Michigan is not fooled. (Cover +1). Trent, initially up on Thomas, gets too close and lets him run past him to the sideline; Hoyer makes his best throw of the day and completes it for a first down.
M6 1 G I-Form Big Base 4-4 Run 2 Iso
Johnson(+1) holds up on the frontside; Caulcrick cuts back into an unblocked Adams and falls forward for two.
M4 2 G Maryland I Goal-line Run 3 Iso
Michigan has this stopped, or should, but Thompson(-1) falls down as he attempt to tackle, allowing Caulcrick to grind forward. A big play that turns this from third and goal and the three to third and goal at the one.
M1 3 G ??? ??? Run 1 ???
Tape does not have this play.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-24, 7 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O25 1 10 I-Form Big Base 4-4 Run 1 Off tackle
Jamison(+1) makes this play. driving Davis back and into the center of the line, taking out a pulling guard and allowing CGraham to close and tackle unblocked.
O26 2 9 Ace Base 4-3 Run 7 Off tackle
Well, this isn't exactly great by the DL but it's not horrible either. Jamison(-1) is effectively controlled and pushed back, though. Ezeh(-1) is hesitant, allowing a man to peel off onto him and CGraham(-1) does not close the hole.
O33 3 2 I-Form Big Base 4-4 Run 0 Pitch sweep
Crable(+1) gets enough push on the pulling guard to convince Caulcrick to cut it up, where a host of Michigan defenders meet him. Taylor(+1) did a good job flowing down the line and creating the pile.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-24, 5 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds Form Def Type Yards Brief
O31 1 10 Shotgun Empty 3-3-5 Nickel Pass 7 Stop
A little stop in front of soft coverage. (Cover -1)
O38 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass 4 Circle
Curry beats Harrison; a blitz was sent but did not get there. Harrison does make an immediate tackle. ( Pressure -1)
O42 1 10 Shotgun Empty Nickel Pass 3 Stop
Jamison in unblocked due to a blitz (Pressure +1); Hoyer finds a quick stop route that Warren escorts out of bounds for a minimal gain. (Cover +1)
O45 2 7 Shotgun Empty Nickel Pass 5 Stop
Again blitzing more guys than they can block; Hoyer finds Davis for a short gain. (Pressure +1).
50 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass 17 Cross
I think this is a combo coverage with zone on the left side and man on the right; Warren breaks out to a deep zone and the safety takes the short flat. This would make this bust CGraham's, as he got way too far inside on the TE and allowed Thomas to cross into the middle of the field with no one within 10 yards of him. (Cover -2) On replay.. i dunno. This could be Ezeh, as the swing was covered by Englemon and he was flying up towards it. I think it's Ezeh(-2).
M34 1 10 Shotgun Empty Nickel Pass -8 Sack
Six men cross the line, one of them is an unblocked Crable(+1); Hoyer hesitates on his stop route – Crable just too fast – and is lost. (Pressure +2, cover +1)
M42 2 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Inc Drag
Max pro for MSU; Michigan rushes only four and still gets pressure from BG(+1), forcing the drag dumpoff. It's dropped; Brown(+1) comes up to tackle anyway; two yards even if caught. (Cover +1, pressure +1)
M42 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Inc Out
Morgan Trent(+1) jumps this out, which is late, and breaks it up. (Cover +1)
M42 4 18 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel Pass Inc TE Seam
Harrison in good coverage(+1); ball is overthrown anyway; Hoyer had to rush it because of a blitz and Jamison(+1) coming free of a blocker.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 28-24, EOG.

I'm so confused. Was that a good performance or not?

I tentatively suggest it was. Obviously, the first half was great: 85 yards and three points despite facing a ton of possessions, many of which started near midfield. After halftime things got dicey, but the end results were still 352 yards -- about 75 under MSU's season average -- and 24 points on 15 MSU possessions. That's around 24 yards per drive.

Also, how much do you want to blame the D for Ringer's reverse-field 70 yar
der? I tend to look at those things as fluke occurrences and not reflective of defensive quality; that was fully 20% of their yards. (This is the second straight year Shawn Crable has missed a potential TFL and an opponent has turned it into a long run by using the impetus provided; last year it was Beanie Wells. Crable, wrap up plz.)

But what happened in the second half?

Well, let's look at the char--



Player + - T Notes
Jamison 7 3 4 Quiet statistically but batted a pass and caused a few others to be inaccurate with his pressure.
Johnson 5 3 2
Taylor 8 3 5 A couple diving tackles that really helped out the befuddled linebackers.
B. Graham 3 5 -2
Crable 6 - 6 A couple plays on those pitch sweeps; no real pass-rush presence until the end.
Slocum 1 - 1
Ferrara - - -
Patterson - - -
Banks - - -
Thompson 1 1 0
Ezeh 2 6 -4 More on this later.
C. Graham 9 7 2 Eventful!
Logan - - -
Trent 1 4 -3 Was fortunate not to give up two big plays.
Harrison 2 - 2 Mostly watched.
Warren 2 1 1 Still can't believe that PI call.
Adams 4 1 3 I will miss these safeties...
Englemon 2 - 2 ...such a weird thing to think.
Brown 1 2 -1
"Pressure" 10 10 0 In reality worse than this, as many of the +1s came on MSU's final drive when State went empty and M sent six.
"Coverage" 17 18 -1 Decent day, though the D was fortunate not to

Right, on Ezeh: Carr provided effusive praise for him in the postgame and I'm not so in love with my numbers to totally dispute him... but I didn't think he did much, and I assigned a couple pieces of blame to him that I may or may not be right about. Thirteen tackles is a lot, but on most of those he was cleanup or getting the benefit of the doubt in a pile or getting run over by Caulcrick.

I tentatively suggest this was confidence building and pride in his work ethic more than praise for his play. It is nice that we have a mediocre starting MLB who's a freshman; he should have an excellent career by the time things are said and one.

So, anyway, what happened in the second half?

A couple things: sometimes we shifted into that shaded 5-3-1-7 front with the big NT-DE gap and State usually ran right at it, picking up good yardage. Also, they attacked Brandon Graham successfully. He's got a -2 up there, by far his worst total of his career, and it was largely because he got booted out of the line by double teams frequently.

About that shaded front: I don't get it against this offense. I understand its purpose against the zone read, but when MSU is lining up under center and can hypothetically attack any portion of the line without a shift it seems... odd.

A contribution from Greg Simmons, who you may know if you've been reading the comments. He's a defensive coordinator at a NC high school. He thinks the problems in the second half were not schematic but rather on a player level. These are paraphrased:

  • DTs getting blown off the ball or collapsing, leaving a hole no non-All-American LB could fill. These were three or four different people. (I thought Taylor was pretty good, though he did get blown out once. Johnson was similar, and Graham a frequent culprit.)
  • Missed tackles; LBs and safeties putting their heads down and diving for feet, instead of wrapping up and driving. [This was definitely an issue on a particular second and goal that should have been one yards and was instead three.]
  • LBs and safeties not correctly scraping to open gaps on the power off tackle, either out of stack [labeled Maryland I above] or out of I with a pulling tackle or guard. They suck up on the iso, and fail to scrape when the linemen squeeze the down blocks in front of them.

Too many people on Michigan's defense are trying to make all the plays themselves. Why is Taylor trying to spin his way into the backfield when he is getting a double team from a nose and a guard? Because someone is teaching or allowing him to try to make every big play, instead of making a pile and allowing unblocked LBs to make the play.

But what if you think your LBs are terrible, and the strength is the DTs and ends? Then don't play gap responsibility, which means dropping the 4-4 scheme or the 3-4 50 scheme that Michigan has employed since I was born.I do think the scraping issue is something that is a real problem but it's a subtle one I don't quite understand as a layman. When and how a linebacker should move remains one of the truly arcane aspects of football to the interested observer.

What does seem clear is that whereas last year our linebackers were always thumping people at or near the LOS and gaps were hard to come by, this year guys are squeezing through small gaps and blowing through large ones; some of that is on the linebackers and their scraping.

I also have some disagreements, most prominently on Taylor and with the schematic issues, as the shaded front seem an invitation to run right at the gap... but it's food for thought, anyway. Anyone with technical thoughts is invited to comment.

(A clarification for those who fear my latent grumpiness: it's not like they're terrible. Remove the Ringer thing and MSU backs averaged just under 4 YPC. They are what they are, average. )


Terrance Taylor was Michigan's best player on the day, often in the backfield and always occupying two guys.


Trent gets to be a quasi-goat as he was beaten deep twice but Hoyer bailed him out. Other than that, Brandon Graham could not hold up as an every-down SDE against a pounding attack -- he's not Woodley yet -- and the linebackers were erratic.

What does it mean for Wisconsin?

Michigan has to be concerned that the Badgers can find something in the second half to exploit, although to this amateur's eyes it didn't seem to be a schematic change. BGraham's inability to stand up in the run game could prove problematic the final two weeks of the season (or it could be a fluke or something correctable).

At this point we know what to expect from the secondary: solid, but not great coverage and (knock on wood) reliable safety play. The linebackers are good for a bust or two a game.

Wisconsin's almost identical to MSU on offense, though their #1 receiver may be less of a threat and PJ Hill is banged up, and Wisconsin should move the ball sporadically with an eye on making it to the mid-twenties.