Upon Further Review: Defense vs Toledo Comment Count

Brian October 17th, 2008 at 11:42 AM
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O4 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Pass Waggle flat Harrison Inc
First of many, many rollouts on the day, with the TE on the backside getting an initial block on Jamison, then releasing. The QB overthrows it; if caught Harrison(+1) was likely to tackle for a minimal gain. (Cover +1.)
O4 2 10 Ace Base 4-3 Pass Slant Trent 11
Trent is bailing out at the snap and has no chance to defend this simple slant. Pretty weak sauce when we're talking about a Toledo WR on his own four. Shafer, what's up, man? (Cover -1)
O15 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass Bubble Screen Trent Inc
Overthrown and incomplete; hard to tell if this was going to be successful or not. Close either way.
O15 2 10 Ace empty Base 4-3 Run Jet sweep Ezeh 4
Never seen a team do this before, but Toledo will go to this formation throughout the game: an empty set with two tight ends and the QB under center. On this play they bring in the slot receiver and hand it off. No OL release downfield, but the TE gets out and clocks Mouton(-0.5); Ezeh(+1) gets out to meet the ballcarrier at the LOS but (-0.5) makes a pretty lame tackle, allowing the back to squirt for a few more.
O19 3 6 Shotgun 2TE 3-3-5 Nickel Run Zone read dive Van Bergen 8
Van Bergen ends up 8 yards downfield on this one but no minus because he gets triple teamed to start this, as Michigan has just three DL to the seven guys on Toledo's line. One of the three peels off to club Mouton(-0.5), who gets knocked back and allows the back outside of him; Van Bergen is still being doubled and driven back, the RB just follows that for the first. Actually, Van Bergen does get a -1. I lied.
O27 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-3 Pass Slant Trent Inc
Thrown well behind an open receiver. (Cover -1) Again they're so soft on the corners here.
O27 2 10 Ace 4-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Waggle circle Stewart 6
Van Bergen(-0.5) sucked upfield on the playfake, giving the QB some time; Stewart(-0.5) drawn out of position by the play action, opening this up. Ball is caught about two yards downfield and turned up for a few more.
O33 3 4 Shotgun empty Base 4-3 Pass Flat -- 7
Michigan in an obvious zone with Thompson lined up over a slot receiver; Toledo runs a route designed to make the outside guy attempt to cover two guys at the same time with the slot guy releasing into the flat as the outside guy runs a deeper slant. Trent picks the deeper guy; Toledo hits the short guy. (Cover -1). This can't be man given Thompson's actions.
O40 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Jailbreak screen Cissoko 2
Cissoko(+1) slashes up past blockers and slows the receiver long enough for a peeling Johnson(+0.5) to tackle from behind. (Cover +1)
O42 2 8 Ace trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Rollout – out Harrison 7
More rollout action; no one anywhere near the QB (pressure -1) and the zone combo route on the outside gets the receiver wide open as Trent is driven off deep and Harrison(-1) fails to read the QB's eyes (cover -1). Throw is poor, taking the WR off his feet and leading to a third and short.
O49 3 1 Ace Base 4-3 Pass PA Post Cissoko Inc
Going for it all on third and short and they get the reaction from the defense they want with Stewart(-1) getting sucked up and leaving a pressing Cissoko one-on-one with his much larger guy. Cissoko(+1) is in excellent position and nearly intercepts; a better thrown ball and he might have been in trouble.
O49 4 1 Punt Punt safe Run ??? --
Toledo, faking a punt, snaps it to the upback. The upback can't handle it; the ball bounces around and is eventually recovered by M.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 0-0, 9 min 1st Q. Is this a good drive for the D? IMO: no. They gave up 45 yards and only the excellent, Zoltan-provided starting field position saved them a field goal attempt; many of the negative plays on this drive were Toledo shooting themselves in the foot.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O13 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Out Ezeh 5
Pretty well covered by Ezeh(+0.5); immediate tackle made. All this stuff is three-step drops, BTW, no time for anyone to get to the QB.
O18 2 5 Ace stack 3-3-5 Nickel Run Dive Ezeh 2
Stack == 4 WR, two on each side lined up basically over each other. On this play they're running it up the gut; the center stumbles as he passes Martin off to a defender, allowing Ezeh(+0.5) into the hole without a blocker. On the cutback Van Bergen and Martin are there.
O20 3 3 Shotgun 2TE empty Base 4-3 Pass Comeback Trent Inc
Toledo motions a third wide receiver to the bottom of the screen; Cissoko comes over: man coverage. They roll the pocket to the receivers; Ezeh(+0.5) reads it, heads outside, and cuts off the run option, forcing a somewhat early throw. A WR has broken slightly open in front of Trent; the ball is low and away; he can't dig it out.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-7, 2 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Ace twins Base 4-3 Pass Waggle flat Harrison 1
Thompson(+0.5) is blitzing from the backside and takes his thrust right to the QB, forcing a quick dumpoff; Harrison(+0.5) comes up to make a tackle immediately (cover +1, pressure +1)
O33 2 9 Ace trips Base 4-3 Pass Rollout – hitch Trent 14 (Pen-15)
Another rollout; no pressure this time (pressure -1) and the QB finds a guy open 14 yards downfield (cover -1) in front of Trent. Toledo is called for an illegal chop block. I think this is on Mouton(-1) for not getting any depth on a zone drop.
O18 2 24 Shotgun 2TE empty 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Throwaway -- Inc
Three man rush against seven blockers, so everyone rushing is doubled and there's a guy left over. Unsurprisingly, no pressure, but no one's open downfield (cover +1) and the QB rolls out, throwing one in the turf.
O18 3 24 Ace trips 3-3-5 Nickel Run Draw -- 11
A give up and punt. I guess a couple guys get out of position but they're rushing the passer on third and forever, so that's what they should be doing. Harrison(-0.5) let the guy outside of him, tacking a few yards onto the punt.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-7, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O22 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone read dive Mouton -3
Mouton(+2) times a blitz beautifully, shoots into the backfield, and tackles for loss.
O19 2 13 Shotgun 2TE empty Base 4-3 Pass Out Trent 10
Again attacking the zone in the place they know Trent can't cover two guys, hitting the TE underneath as he tracks the deep man. Trent comes up to hit the guy after seven yards, misses the tackle(-0.5), and cedes four more. (Cover -1)
O29 3 3 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Rollout – hitch -- 12
No pressure(-1) on the rollout once again; the QB finds a guy who sat down in the zone past the sticks (cover -1).
O41 1 10 Shotgun empty Base 4-3 Pass Fly Cissoko Inc
Cissoko(+1) running this guy's route for him. He breaks the play up. (Cover +1) No pressure(-1) from a four-man rush.
O41 2 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass Bubble Screen Stewart 15
Mouton sent on a blitz, running himself out of the play; Stewart(-1) gets cut to the ground, opening up vast plains of space for Moore to lope into. Trent(-0.5) also cut heavily.
M44 1 10 Ace trips Base 4-3 Pass Rollout – hitch -- 15
Exact same play they just converted a third down on. Michigan has had no answer for this all year. (Cover -2)
M29 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Penalty False Start -- -5
M34 1 15 Shotgun empty Base 4-3 Pass Throwback screen Dutch 14 + 10 (pen)
Yikes: Doug Dutch in the game; he reads this excellently but whiffs the tackle(-1), opening up a ton of room after the catch. After the player gets banged OOB Michigan picks up a late hit from Brown... terrible call.
M10 1 G Ace Base 4-3 Pass Waggle flat Trent 3
Slightly different this time as they run the TE downfield and have Moore shoot across the formation and into the flat. Quick pressure(+1) from an unblocked Thompson forces the dumpoff; Trent has tracked Moore in man coverage and shoves him OOB after a small gain. (Cover +1)
M7 2 G Ace 3-3-5 Nickel Pass PA throwback screen Williams 4
Set up well and could be a touchdown; Williams(+0.5) slips past a blocker and hits the receiver; Stewart(+0.5) cleans up.
M3 3 G Shotgun empty 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Fade Trent Inc
This thing is winged well out of the endzone.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(20), 10-7, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Waggle circle Mouton 10
Mouton(-1) sucked up by the play action, opening the slot receiver up for an easy pitch and catch. (Cover –1)
50 1 10 Ace stack 3-3-5 Nickel Run Dive Ezeh 8
A cutback forced by Stevie Brown blitzing from the corner; Ezeh(-1) should meet this in the hole for no gain, as it's coming towards him and he is unblocked. He fails to read it fast enough and misses a diving tackle attempt.
M42 2 2 Ace 3-3-5 Nickel Run Counter Martin 0
Martin(+1) fights through a double team to harrass the ball carrier; Thompson(+1) beats the TE's block and thumps the RB backwards as he nears the LOS.
M42 3 2 Ace trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Flat -- Inc
Wide open for the first down (cover -1); the QB misses his receiver.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-7, 2 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Ace empty Base 4-3 Run Jet sweep Taylor -3
Taylor(+2) reads the motion and the jet sweep upcoming, slanting hard to the right. This supposed to be a scoop block where the RG helps seal him, but he's slanted hard enough that when the RG releases to block a linebacker the RB gets a faceful of Taylor.
O17 2 13 Ace twins Base 4-3 Pass Slant Cissoko Inc
Cissoko(+0.5) in pretty good coverage and might have a play on the ball if this wasn't well behind the receiver. (Cover +1)
O17 3 13 Shotgun 2TE empty 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Post Mouton 23
Three man rush against seven blockers again but despite having eight zone defenders there's no one in a robber sitting at the sticks. WTF. (Cover -2) Looks like Mouton(-2) got a horrible drop.
O40 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Dive Ezeh 4
A small crease between the doubled DTs; Ezeh does an okay job fighting off a block and tackling in the small space provided. Pretty much eh all around.
O44 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Hitch Ezeh 12
No pressure(-1) from a three-man rush, and the QB comes down to a second read for a short gain... except Ezeh(-1) and Mouton(-1) both overrun the route and he's off into the safeties. (Cover -1)
M44 1 10 Shotgun 2TE empty Base 4-3 Pass Sack Thompson 0
A four man rush this time against seven blockers. Coverage(+1) is good and second effort from the DL forces a rollout from the QB; Thompson(+0.5) comes up to contain and eventually sack for a slight loss.
M44 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Middle screen Mouton 5
Middle screen catches Michigan in an outside blitz; both Mouton and Ezeh dropped, though, and Mouton(+1) shot up, got clipped, and in the process tripped up the receiver a little bit; Ezeh(+0.5) hits him soon after and the cavalry arrives forthwith.
M39 3 5 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Hitch Ezeh 9
On Ezeh, I guess. We're still in this damn zone and not covering Moore in it. Whee. (Cover -1)
M30 1 10 Ace trips Base 4-3 Pass Throwback screen Lynch Inc
Thompson has been lifted for walk-on Kevin Lynch. Injury? Displeasure? Who knows. On this play Lynch(+0.5) blitzes upfield quickly on this rollout that morphs into a throwback screen, forcing a throw off the QB's back foot and an incompletion. (Pressure +1)
M30 2 10 Ace Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Cissoko 6
Cissoko(-0.5) late on this one, tackling as the ball arrives. Soft, soft, soft coverage. Soft. The coverage is soft. (Cover -1)
M24 3 4 Ace empty Base 4-3 Pass Rollout – hitch Trent 8
Hey, guess what? We still can't cover this play they've run a half-dozen times. (Cover -1)
M16 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass Fly Trent Inc
A bubble screen fake is supposed to draw Trent(+1) up but does not. The QB decides to chuck it anyway; Trent breaks it up (cover +1)
M16 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Flare Harrison 4
That zone beater route they've thrown a few times before. This one is little late or outside or both, so the receiver has no opportunity to take it upfield and just runs OOB. (Cover -1)
M12 3 6 Ace trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Rollout – throwaway -- Inc
Finally, finally, they cover this play. (Cover +1.) The QB tosses it away as he reaches the sidelines.
Drive Notes: FG(29), 10-10, 9 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O4 1 10 Ace Base 4-3 Run Dive Taylor 1
Taylor(+1) bashes his man backwards, causing the running back to trip over him and fall to the ground as he nears the LOS.
O5 2 9 Ace stack 3-3-5 Nickel Run Inside zone Ezeh 11
Williams is blitzing to the backside of the play, leaving only five guys to attempt to defend this play. Ezeh(-1) overruns it, giving an OL an angle to block him and there's no one left until the secondary.
O16 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass WR screen Stewart 5
Not a bubble as the receiver takes a jab step and then comes back upfield, but pretty close. Harrison(+1) shoots upfield when he sees his man back out, leaving Stewart(-1) unblocked with an opportunity to tackle for loss; he misses the tackle, turning a negative into five yards.
O21 2 5 Ace Base 4-3 Pass Waggle flat Harrison 0
Mouton(+0.5) containing well, forcing the throw; Harrison(+1) right there on the catch to tackle. (Cover +1)
O21 3 5 Shotgun 2TE empty Base 4-3 Pass Slant Ezeh 31
Wheeeee zone coverage wheeeee. Ezeh(-1) and Thompson(-1) split and there's no one within a yard of Moore as he catches this slant. I know he's only got like sixty catches at this point. Anyway: tons of YAC. (Cover -2)
M48 1 10 Ace stack 3-3-5 Nickel Run Dive Martin 4
Martin(-1) blown back by a double team; the center is late peeling and Ezeh(+0.5) manages to fight to the hole and force the RB back into Martin, where tackling happens in a mess of bodies.
M44 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Hitch(?) -- Inc
This is an ugly throw that could be a hitch or a fly; neither is accurate.
M44 3 6 Ace 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Hitch Cissoko Inc
Also overthrown to the point the WR can't make the catch. Cissoko would have had a tough time doing anything about it if it was accurate; his man is like a half-foot taller than him.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-10, 1 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Shotgun 2TE empty Base 4-3 Pass Jailbreak screen Trent 1
Trent(+1) gets a good jump on this, arriving as the ball does. He can't tackle; he does slow Moore long enough for Ezeh to clean up. (Cover +1)
M39 2 9 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Hitch Harrison 9
Actually appears to be man on this play; Harrison(-1) is playing way off his man, allows the completion, and tackles by the shoes. (Cover -1)
M30 1 10 Ace stack 3-3-5 Nickel Run Dive Van Bergen 3
Van Bergen(+0.5) gets some good push, making the crease here small – Michigan's been operating with smaller splits in the 3-3-5 on this drive; Ezeh(+0.5) fills the hole and creates a wad of players.
M27 2 7 Ace trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Rollout – hitch Brown 4
Harrison blitzing from the corner this time, getting up on the QB and forcing an early throw (pressure +1). Said throw is a little high and towards the sideline, but Moore is open again and makes the catch for a small gain.
M23 3 3 Shotgun 2TE empty 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Sack Williams -8
Williams(+1) gets a free run from the blindside and sacks. (Pressure +2.)
Drive Notes: FG(48), 10-13, 11 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O8 1 10 Ace empty Base 4-3 Pass Waggle flat Trent 4
Again a guy in the QBs face, forcing the quick throw; no one close enough to do anything about it. Trent does tackle. (Pressure +1)
O12 2 6 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Bubble Screen Brown 5
Decently well defended by Brown, as he avoids a blocker and tackles once he regains his balance.
O17 3 1 Shotgun 2TE 3-3-5 Nickel Run Zone read dive -- 8
At this point I actually scream about the three-man line on third and one. Completely baffling. Your DTs are your two best players, so you take them out on third and one in favor of a three-man line we've seen get shredded time and again on the ground? Unbelievable. The frontside is pretty well jammed up but since there's only one defensive tackle there's plenty of room once the RB cuts behind the center. This is on Shafer.
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Ezeh 5
Three man rush, plenty of time (presure -1), and a checkdown to an open receiver.
O30 2 5 Shotgun 2TE empty Base 4-3 Pass Flare Brown Inc
Just chucked over the receiver's head. Brown(+0.5) looked like he was going to snuff this out for like two yards anyway. (Cover +1)
O30 3 5 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel Penalty False Start -- -5
O25 3 10 Ace 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Jailbreak screen -- Inc
Very, very fortunate that this is chucked knee-high and thus dropped because they had caught Michigan in a blitz and unless Cissoko made a miraculous shoestring tackle this guy had the first down easy. (Cover -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-13, 7 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 Ace stack Base 4-3 Run Dive Taylor 8
Taylor(-1) and Johnson(-1) creased in the center by single blocks; Ezeh(-1) blown up by the center.
O35 2 2 Ace stack Base 4-3 Run Dive Mouton 25
Where the hell are the safeties on this? Seriously. It's second and one with three minutes left, you need the safeties in something other than a two-deep shell. Anyway, the DTs close off the hole up the middle on this one (+0.5 each); forcing the RB to pause in the backfield; Mouton(-2) attacks inside, opening up a bounce-out for a ton of yards.
M40 1 10 Ace stack Base 4-3 Run Dive Taylor 4
Taylor(-1) takes steps outside, sealing himself, basically, and the interior line is free to get out and club the linebackers.
M36 2 6 Ace stack Base 4-3 Run Dive Taylor 0
This time Taylor(+1) slants into the hole taking two defenders with him and forcing a cutback into the unblocked Van Bergen.
M36 3 6 Ace 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Waggle circle Trent 4
Again a guy in his face immediately forcing the dumpoff; this time Trent(-0.5) is there immediately; he misses a tackle, as does Thompson(-1). (Thompson's is more egregious because Trent had already slowed the guy up. Ezeh cleans up after three yards. The announcers actually think punting from the 33 is a better idea than going for it on fourth and three to end the game. Lulz.
M32 4 2 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel Pass Rollout – out Mouton -1
Oh, my god. These announcers are retarded. The color guy does not get it. Mouton(+1) blows through a tight end on a blitz designed to contain this rollout, then bangs into the RB, forcing the QB to throw. He chucks one that the receiver digs out for a gain of... -1. (Pressure +1)
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 10-13, 1 min 4th Q. EOG.

So that was frustrating.

Yes. Check those drive starts: 4, 4, 8, 13, 20, 22. Michigan had Toledo backed into a corner time and again and let them out every time. They only gave up six points, sure, but Zoltan had a lot to do with it and Toledo being bad had a lot to do with it. This Opelt kid had a lot of inaccurate balls.

Meanwhile, they picked up around 330 yards, which is their average for the year. That would be okay, I guess, if their schedule didn't read Arizona, EMU, FIU, Fresno State, and Ball State. Do you want Michigan's defense to be on par with the hypothetical average of those teams?




Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Jamison - - 0 Wow. I don't think a DL has ever played the whole game and come up with nothing positive or negative.
Johnson 1 1 0 Equally non-factory.
Taylor 4.5 2 2.5 He and Johnson lifted lots for Martin and his three man line.
Graham - - - DNP
Patterson - - -  
Banks - - -  
Van Bergen 0.5 1.5 -1  
Martin 1 1 0  
TOTAL 7 5.5 1.5 Probably and all-time low for the unit, as Toledo took them out of their game entirely.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 4.5 5 -0.5 Eh.
Thompson 2 2 0 Eh. Didn't see that much time as Michigan was in a nickel much of the day.
Panter - - -  
Evans - - -  
Mouton 4.5 8 -3.5 Got some big minuses for holes in the zone he did not drop into properly.
TOTAL 11 15 -4  
Player + - T Notes
Trent 2 1.5 0.5  
Harrison 3.5 1.5 2 Eh.
Warren - - - DNP
Cissoko 3.5 0.5 3 A pretty good debut.
Dutch - 1 -1  
Stewart 0.5 3.5 -3
Brown 0.5 - 0.5 Quiet.
Williams 1.5 - 1.5  
TOTAL 11.5 8 3.5 Hold on just a second, though.
"Pressure" 8 6 2 A lot of the "pressure" was on boots and rollouts and stuff and didn't result in big crushing sacks or anything.
"Coverage" 13 22 -9 Aaaand that was what everyone was annoyed about.

You can see Toledo's game plan in the numbers: completely eliminate the defensive line by throwing a vast array of little dinky crap and mixing in the occasional deeper throw with at least seven blockers in the backfield, two of which are TEs. DEs got doubled on every passing play that was longer than a three-step drop.

This should have been a tremendous advantage for the defense, but Michigan couldn't cover the million short routes Toledo threw. I don't think this is particularly surprising, since most of the time there were two cornerbacks in the game and Michigan was committed to zone coverage by personnel and alignment. The reads for Opelt were super easy.

And what about that three-man line?

We saw it last year, when Northwestern's slow-ass backup tailback gashed us time and again in that formation and we're seeing in this year: when Michigan brings in a three man line it's extraordinarily vulnerable to the run.

Let's leave aside an 11-yard draw on third and 24 (against the 3-3-5) and the one sack Michigan picked up for eight yards. Your rushing breakdown for the day:

  • VS 3-3-5: 8 rushes for 44 yards, 5.5 YPC.
  • VS Standard Front: 12 rushes for 23 yards, 1.9 YPC.

Michigan can't hold up against the run against a poor MAC team in this alignment, and it's pretty obvious why: you're lifting Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson, seniors and the best position group on your offense, for a safety and a freshman who, while promising, remains a freshman. You are then backing him up with Michigan's pretty crappy linebacking corps.

So I would like to know this: WTF is Michigan doing with a three man line on the field on a critical third and one late? And why are they using it at all on things that aren't obvious passing downs?

You seem cranky.

I am cranky. Many of the things that happened in this game were disheartening not only for the rest of the season but for the future. See: three man line, inability to contain that stupid rollout teams have been throwing against us all year. I am in no way ready to render a verdict on Scott Shafer or even give him the internet equivalent of the evil eye, but I have to admit my opinion of the hire is slipping.

Now, it could be that he's been saddled with a defense that sucks butt outside of the defensive line, and once teams scheme to take away that defensive line there's not much he can do other than swear profusely. And, right: six points. But the only time the defense has seemed as dominant as we had vaguely hoped for was when Bret Bielema was busy throwing the Wisconsin game with his caveman ways. Against offenses birthed after the Paleolithic, it's been rough.


Uh… it was really hard to find 1) notable events and 2) things that qualify as highlights, so it's pretty fuzzy. Cissoko maybe?


Similarly, it's hard to pick out anyone who performed particularly poorly. Drip, drip, drip.

What does it mean for Penn State?

I don't think we're going to get a stirring performance out of these guys.



October 17th, 2008 at 12:21 PM ^

....this is one of the worst defensive performances I ever seen from a squad that allowed 0 offensive TDs in the game. Mind boggling given the field position, but Toledo moved at will.

Agreed about Schaffer. This hire is slipping in my mind as well. I know there are flaws on D, but there is more than enough talent on hand to scheme a way to mask that. I know I will take a lot of heat for this comment, but the D scheme vs Toledo looked more geared to getting reps in as opposed to, you know, going out there with your best foot forward to win the game. Practice, baby, practice.

Hopefully, he has a stanford vs usc game plan in his back pocket tomorrow.


STW P. Brabbs

October 17th, 2008 at 12:28 PM ^

I'd like to point out that Michigan almost lost the game to Wisconsin with the same 3-man line bullshit.  On Wisconsin's last drive, Shafer completely tucked the defense's metaphorical dick between its figurative legs after that one successful screen pass.  The result was a frighteningly steady march down the field and into the end zone. 

 This gets my bile up more than anything else this year, and is reminiscent of the very worst of Lloyd's career (note: I think Lloyd was an incontestably awesome coach overall).  Lloyd became so terrified of the Big Bad Big Play that he played this bullshit zone all the fricking time the last few years, seemingly unaware that a) consistent 8-12 yard completions are also bad for a defense and b) big plays were by no means eradicated.  This got to the point where I started to swear that I would not watch a game where Lloyd emphasized not giving up the big play in pregame interviews (I lied, obvs.)

Especially in college, where personnel are more likely to make mistakes, aggressive pressure seems to be a good mindset.  I'm not the most knowledgeable football guy around, but it seems that the most dominant CFB defenses tend to play a lot of man to man coverages and blitz freequently.  Whether this overall trend exists  or not, our safeties and linebackers are emphasized in zone coverage, as is their inherent suckitude.  


I'm just rambling now ... this is what the insistence on zone and three man fronts does to me.  Really pisses my shit.


October 17th, 2008 at 12:45 PM ^

Brian totally missed in UFR the announcer saying "One titty, two kitty" on the following play:

Three man rush against seven blockers again but despite having eight
zone defenders there's no one in a robber sitting at the sticks. WTF.
(Cover -2) Looks like Mouton(-2)  got a horrible drop.


I think that gets at least  (+1) and brings us closer to even.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 17th, 2008 at 12:49 PM ^

I know the defense could have been much better but...

The offense gave up 7 pt on an INT, and then another INT led to a FG by Toledo without have to go but 9 yds. 

 I agree that the defense could be better...but how can you not place this loss on the offense?


October 17th, 2008 at 12:59 PM ^

Another question that will surely produce disparagement...

Why can Brian question Shafer's poor coaching and hiring and not get chastised, but if anybody questions RichRod's offensive performance its OMGURRETARDED.

They both have their share of talent (D-LINE and CB,  WR and RB).  They both have underperformed.


October 17th, 2008 at 1:14 PM ^

Umm I don't think its true that they both have their share of talent.  On defense you have B. Graham, the entire D line, Warren, Trent - and at least some people who have played in games before.  Theres what, one person on offense who has seen significant game time before this year?  I think its a different situation. Shafer needs to at least put players in spots where they can be successful. You can stop the little underneath routes in a zone while blitzing.


October 17th, 2008 at 1:15 PM ^

Anyone is allowed to question Rodriguez's coaching.  However, making a post that simply says "You'd think there would be some gameplan that could lift us to victory over Toledo." is not very constructive.  You should expect people to question your post.

When Enjoy Life made a post showing that the times our offense is clicking we have a higher percentage of passing plays on first down, you expected a lot of "harassment." But it never came because that post had a specific complaint with evidence and a specific suggestion of what to do instead.

I think everyone would love it if you posted complaints of Rodriguez that had evidence and actual football suggestions.


October 17th, 2008 at 1:21 PM ^

I'm not going to make football suggestions because I did not play football past middle school and am not in coaching.  But posters on this board are acting like RRod is immune to all criticism in year 1.  If a person can write "Shafer has this D playing soft," then one should also be able to write "RRod has this O playing incompetently."

Also, I've never seen you post here before and it's creepy that you are post-stalking.


October 17th, 2008 at 1:34 PM ^

I'm not sure anyone is suggesting that RR is immune from criticism.  It's just that said criticism has been tantamount to OMG RR THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE WE SHOULD BEAT A MAC SCHOOL RAAAAAGE.  When said criticism is leveled with thoughtful analysis (like Brian's criticisms of Schafer), this blog accepts it quite well.


Simply put, we collectively have a higher bar that few internet posters (or MSM reporters) can rise to.  We don't accept plain venting lightly.  And God bless America that there's an intelligent alternative like this in a sea of ignorance and immaturity.


October 17th, 2008 at 2:14 PM ^

I would say something about being "soft", but it's a completely personal observation either way that can't ever be resolved in the first place, and, you know, Rich Rodriguez himself spent a good 5 minutes calling the team out for playing soft last week in his press conference so I didn't feel like kicking a dead horse in the balls.

ATX Wolverine

October 17th, 2008 at 1:16 PM ^

Well, first of all you can't compare the talent returning on Offense vs. Defense.  You can't say the Offense has its "share of talent" when only 3 players (Mathews, Schilling, Minor) had significant PT last year and this year.  Anyone objectively looking at the number of returning players on defense would have said that is going to be the dominant unit.

Secondly, Shafer's scheme is not a drastic overhaul of what English was running last year.  Sure, some of it is different, but it does not require a completely different type of football player in order to succeed.  Therefore, given the caliber of the returning talent and the assumption that the scheme would be more similar to what the players were already used to, expectations were higher on Shafer.

Finally, I don't think Brian is saying fire Shafer...simply raising some questions about his playcalling thus far.  While it's still early in his tenure, one can say that the way Shafer runs the defense now is closer to what he will do in 2-3 years than comparing what RichRod is doing now vs. what he would do in 2-3 years (once he has experienced players in his system).

In other words: you're wrong.


October 17th, 2008 at 1:26 PM ^

"I have to admit my opinion of the hire is slipping."

6 games into season 1 of new regime and its OK to question the D guy, but not the O guy (and actually as head coach he sould be overseeing both).  I understand the circumstances are a little different, but admit there is a double standard?


October 17th, 2008 at 1:17 PM ^

Well, D-Line and CB have designated jobs and can all tackle the ball carrier.  The WRs need a QB to through them the ball (near them) and the RB needs someone to hand him the ball, then Block for them (TE included) and the QBs need an offensive line to have the running game be a threat.

 Some things are underperformance due to coaching in certain areas, others would be difficult regardless of the coaching or scheme.

chitownblue (not verified)

October 17th, 2008 at 2:33 PM ^

To say for the 150th time:

Brian questioned the gameplan and gave, literally, a play-by-play breakdown of the entire game - thus presenting evidence and information to his argument. I may not agree with his argument, but I can't belittle it, because it is an argument based on evidence and specifically cited facts.

The post that has you upset was your post that basically said "I think the gameplan sucked," with no specific reasons or examples why you thought it sucked. People tried to engage you in conversation, and your rebuttals were, essentially "No. The gameplan sucked." Do you see the difference?


October 17th, 2008 at 1:36 PM ^

He is among the most respected young DC's in the land.   If you have lb's that cant cover, you cant play man outside... if you have lb's that cant hold verticals, you cant play hard on the undernieth stuff.  If you lb's that cant tackle in space, you have to committ safeties to helping the run... if you can tackle in space, one on one, then you have to keep things i front of you, and play soft get more helmets to the football.  THE ONLY THING THAT HAS CHANGED FOR ME is that i underestimated how badly coached the defense was before.  It is going to take a while before these kids who were allowed to play with no fundamentals before, will learn to play and trust fundamentals that are being talked now.  I know shafer teaches the fundamentals, becasue a lot of the fundamentals i have learned, and drills for reping them, i got from shafer.  Maybe it wont be untill he has HIS kids there that we will start to see michigan be able to tackle in space again.  Our techniques and players are whats hurting us, not the formations.  Blaming the odd stack, and being "less excited about the hiring"  is missing the boat about what really had been wrong at michigan for awhile in regards to the lax in fundamental repition and coaching.

It took me three years before i could play press coverage here, and truth be told my best corners were probably the first group, but they had not been coached.  The kids i have now, have been coached up for three years, and do not make fundamental mistakes...  This is a process,  just like it takes time to implement an offensive scheme, it takes time to implement fundamentals that take over a person when they arent thinking about it.   I f we make our tackles in space, which fundamentally is the problem,  then the defense dominates toledo


Blue Durham

October 18th, 2008 at 11:22 AM ^

Under Bo, the team mights not have been flashy, but dammit, they were rock-solid fundementally.  Under Mo, he introduced some new stuff, but the team was still fundementally strong, a carry-over from the Bo days. I have been particularly surprised at how bad of a tackling team this has been for years.

The decline didn't happen overnight, and it wont be fixed in 1 season either.  But I do have confidence when this class of freshmen become seniors, this team will be damn good. 


October 17th, 2008 at 1:55 PM ^

Starting field position cannot be ignored when evaluating what defensive scheme Shafer decided to use: He had a lot of field to work with.  His team got LIT UP repeatedly just 7 days earlier. So play conservative until they prove you wrong by, you know, actually SCORING on you. 

Toledo scored 6 points and had the ball for 33 minutes.  WHEN IS THE LAST TIME WE LOST WITH THOSE 2 STATISTICS!?!?

Bend-but-don't-break defense is, by it's very nature, VERY frustrating to watch. It does NOT mean it wasn't a correct and effective scheme to use given the circumstances.

Our best DL was out. Our best CB was out.  So yeah, Shafer decided to play more conservatively. Um, so why is that surprising?  And again: 6 points and 33 minutres, people.

Having said all that:  I do question all the heavy platooning out of Will Johnson and Terrance Taylor. Those two are great players and should've played more snaps, regardless of the D formation. I also question our inability to STOP that fucking QB roll-out. STOP IT! Do something to STOP that fucking QB from rolling out AGAIN and AGAIN. And AGAIN.


Blue Durham

October 18th, 2008 at 11:26 AM ^

the defense NOT GIVE UP POINTS.  That is what they did.  Realize that last year, this defense was the achilles heal of the team.  Not much has changed; the LBs and DBs are still mediocre at best.  These are the units that are responsible in preventing big plays.  That they did.  This defense can be decent, but unfortunately not dominant, and that is what you are asking.


October 17th, 2008 at 2:08 PM ^

gsimmons' point that basic TACKLING by the LBs and DBs was a major problem against Toldeo (and thoughout the 1st 6 games, really).  The LBs and DBs can't fucking tackle.  Talk about frustrating.

The LBs and DBs do 2 things repeatedly:

1. They get there late.

2. When they finally show up, they can't tackle.


October 17th, 2008 at 2:59 PM ^

M40 1 10 Shotgun 2TE empty Base 4-3 Pass Jailbreak screen Trent 1

Trent(+1) gets a good jump on this, arriving as the ball does. He can't tackle; he does slow Moore long enough for Ezeh to clean up. (Cover +1)

gpsimms not to…

October 17th, 2008 at 3:41 PM ^

A few days ago a poster mentioned that while there is definitely no reason to consider firing RR or any of his staff, a loss to Toledo does force one to call in to question some of the coaching decisions.  One suggestion was, 'why play less than 4 DLs when it is your strongest unit?'  This question was neither under-researched nor uninformed*, but was nevertheless received with !OMG UNBELIEVER/BAD FAN/QUE IDIOTA!  Now Brian asks the same question.  Just thought I'd point that out.   Needless to say, the WLA received the opinion with their usual dignity and class.

 Just think it'd be helpful to realize that while rational argument requires your assertions to be backed by evidence, most evidence goes through subjective review at one point or another.  And all possible solutions to problems revealed by the evidence are, since undiscovered at this point, by definition opinions.  Regardless of evidence, opinions are, after all, opinions.

 *-Not saying I agreed with the rest of the post, particularly the part about admitting it would be a down year, which I would never advocate.


October 17th, 2008 at 4:03 PM ^

I only caught the botched fake punt once, but I seem to remember thinking that when it was recovered by Michigan (was it Trent?) that he could have run it in for a score, but fell on it instead.  Now I know it's usually a good move to just fall on the ball, but on 4th down I was really hoping for a scoop and score. 

 In hindsight, this would have eliminated the INT score and the embarassing loss.  Anyone else see the play that way?  I haven't seen anyone mention it this week.

The Squid

October 17th, 2008 at 4:53 PM ^

I mentioned this in another thread earlier in the week, but I think that it bears repeating. There was a redshirt freshman walk-on playing LB at one point in this game. A freshman walk-on playing LB in a game when Michigan was not up 1 x 10^23 to 0. Kevin Leach 6'1" 202 (Brian has him as "Kevin Lynch" in the UFR). Now, maybe this kid is actually OK, and he did in fact make one decent play, but still - YOW!


October 18th, 2008 at 12:14 AM ^

I would be careful making fun of the PSU schedule of Temple and Syracuse. RR played both teams four years in a row at WVU in padding that record that got him his current job. What would yo think of PSU won a conference consisting of Cincy, Louisville, Uconn. Rutgers, Syracuse, USF and Pitt?   Not much, huh?  I sure wouldn't.

chitownblue (not verified)

October 18th, 2008 at 9:25 AM ^

For most of the past few years, Louisville has been a good team. Cincinatti was a good team last year. USH was (and is) a good team. Rutgers and Pitt have both been solid. So...what's the point? That the Big 10 has been super-awesome the past 5 years?


October 18th, 2008 at 10:43 AM ^

What I am saying is that if PSU went undefeated against that bunch and Alabama was undefeated along with  a one loss USC team , PSU might not go to the BCS NC game. The announcers would all say they did not play anyone.  Sorry, but to me beating OSU, Wisconsin, Illinois, and MSU would count for a lot more than beating Louisville, Pitt, and Rutgers. 

Add Michigan in the normal years, and yes, the Big Ten is significantly better. I think the current coaching staff is finding that out as we speak.   PSU used to play WVU and Pitt almost every year. They owned them.  In additon, Wisconsin was 2-0 against WVU while RR was there.



chitownblue (not verified)

October 18th, 2008 at 11:09 AM ^

Well yes, when you cherry-pick the top teams of the Big 10 and the current bottom-dwellers of the Big East, I agree with you (for instance, the top Big East teams now are Pitt, Cincy, and USF). FURTHER, when you omit that RR, for most of his time there, played VaTech, Miami, and BC, your game of smoke and mirrors becomes more evident.

Then, you top it off with a meaningless stat (Wisconsin beat WVU twice, ignoring that those happened 7 years ago) - I mean, did you know that Saban is winless against University of Louisiana Lafayette? Bama should can him!

Teh fact is, he split with VaTech (a perennial top 25 team), had a winning record versus BC, beat top 25 Louisville twice, and won a BCS game. Trying to spin is WVU record as a charade just doesn't work.


October 18th, 2008 at 12:37 PM ^

In hindsight, this would have eliminated the INT score and the embarassing loss.  Anyone else see the play that way?  I haven't seen anyone mention it this week. 

You can't look at the game that way.  You can't just subtract the seven points Toledo scored on a first-down play and conclude that we would have won.  If they hadn't scored that TD, the rest of the game would have played out differently.  For one thing, Toledo obviously would have made some different playcalls in the second half without that TD in the bag.