Upon Further Review: Defense vs Western Michigan Comment Count

Brian September 9th, 2009 at 2:43 PM

What in the hell is this? It's "Upon Further Review," MGoBlog's comprehensive, numbers-heavy breakdown of Michigan's previous game. It takes until Wednesday/Thursday because it's a lot of work.

A note on video: changes to the torrent format killed the thing I'd been using to cut clips out, unfortunately, and I haven't found a solution yet. I'm really trying to get this squared away and will add them to the post as soon as possible. For now, no video.

UPDATE! Video good to go thanks to askarpo.

A note before we start: attempted to assimilate the offseason knowledge I picked up about over, under, and 30 fronts and actually pick out which shift Michigan was in before every play. This did not go well, so take the below with something of a grain of salt. I do think I got the "Base 4-3" right but I was marking 30 fronts—two gap fronts akin to an NFL 3-4—4-3 under fronts most of the game. And I'm still a little hazy. This, I believe, is the 4-3 under we've talked about all offseason:


Roh is a stand-up guy outside the weakside tackle. RVB is in a 3 technique over the weakside guard. Martin is the NT, shaded slightly to the strongside of the center (a 1-tech). And Graham is in a 7 outside the strongside tackle. The linebackers have shifted to the strongside.

This is basically the same thing with Roh's hand in the dirt against an I-form tight formation; Michigan brings Mike Williams up for an eight-man front on short yardage:


And this is the under again against a balanced formation; you can see that Graham has taken a considerably more outside stance and the guard is "bubbled" over Ezeh, which means he can just run out and block him:


As for platooning: there was none. Michigan spent the entire game in a 4-3 if you count Roh a DE and Brown a safety. If you want to call it a 3.5-3-4.5 I wouldn't look at you funny. At least, not too funny. They did rotate in backups on the defensive line after the first few drives.

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Shotgun Empty Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Graham 3
Wow. Mike Patrick in HD. Wow. Anyway: Graham starts off with a bang, blowing through the RT and hitting Hiller as he throws. (+1, pressure +1.) Ball is accurate but a short dumpoff that Ezeh and company snuff out after a short gain. (Cover +1, Ezeh +0.5)
O20 2 7 Ace Unbalanced 4-3 Under Run Dive Roh 3
Roh(+1), in a two-point stance as Michigan moves to an under look, attacks the RT. RT doesn't look like he's attempting to block Roh, as the play is supposed to go up the middle. This is a mistake: Roh gets underneath the guy and blasts him back into the ballcarrier as he passes. An unblocked Ezeh—no Broncos got off their doubles—cleans up. Michigan was in a pure eight-man front here, BTW, with a blitz off the edge from Williams absorbing a pulling TE. Would like Ezeh to be a little more proactive here and shut this down closer to the LOS.
O22 3 5 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Out Brown Inc
Quick out intended to exploit Brown in man coverage; Graham(+0.5) busts through the line a bit but it shouldn't be enough to throw off Hiller. Ball is wide of the receiver and dropped. Brown(+1, cover +1) was close enough so that a catch was unlikely to pick up the first down anyway.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 13 min 1st Q. The payoff of switching from Thompson to Brown at SLB is immediately apparent.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Cissoko 6
Quick hitch against Cissoko, who backed out before the snap and wasn't in position to defend this. Immediate tackle, FWIW, assisted by Mouton. No cover +/-.
O39 2 4 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Run Inside zone RVB 4
An attempt to plow up the middle sees RVB doubled and blown back a couple yards. Martin holds the POA pretty decently and Roh fights to hold the space down but RVB's loss of ground allows a guy to get to Ezeh's knees. RVB fights through the double to tackle two yards downfield; the RB falls forward for the first. I think maybe a -0.5 to RVB.
O43 1 10 Ace trips 4-3 Under Run Zone left Graham 2
Initially an I-form with a WR at FB; he motions out. Woo Debord-level deception. Graham(+1) blows the playside guard back, which forces a cutback into Mike Martin(+0.5), who avoided a cut and is the first of three or four tacklers.
O45 2 8 I-form 3-wide 4-3 Under Pass Throwaway Brown Inc
Western goes max pro as Michigan blitzes, which could be bad. But Cissoko(+1) is jamming his man all the way downfield, Brown(+1) has read this guy's crossing route and is running it for him, and Hiller has nowhere to go when the pressure, stymied initially(-1), gets through. He chucks it away. (Cover +2)
O45 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Fly Graham Inc
Graham(+2) zips right around the right tackle and deposits his face in Hiller's chest just as he releases a ball he shouldn't throw. The pass is a skyward duck that somehow manages to find turf. (Pressure +2) Also watch Roh(+1) set the left tackle up inside and then pwn him with a spin move to get free. If Graham wasn't eating the right tackle's baby this would be his pressure.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 8 min 1st Q. There are many good plays happening here. On next drive Herron in for Roh, Banks in for RVB.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 Under Pass Fly Warren Inc
Williams rolled up on the short side as Brown takes the slot. Hiller drops back and attempts to bomb it deep; Warren(+1, cover +1) has position and gets a bump before the ball is in the air, disrupting the pattern.
O40 2 10 Wildcat Base 4-3 Run Zone read fake counter Mouton? 6
Wildcat play with a tailback at QB; Michigan responds by pulling Williams to the LOS for another man in the box. This play sees two players pull to the opposite site of a zone read fake. The QB pulls the ball out of the RB's belly and runs a counter, using the RB as a lead blocker. I'm not exactly sure what the responsibilities are here but: 1) I think Herron correctly cuts off the guard and bounces the play outside of him. I think Williams does okay to get outside; I think Mouton's over aggressive, and I know Ezeh(-1) is hesitant and blocked out of the play. It's only a desperation tackle from Herron that keeps this down; Ezeh was done.
O46 3 4 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Pass Slant Warren Inc
Hiller rifles it high and too hot for Nunez. Warren was in good position to make a tackle and make this a tough catch no matter what, but this is probably a first down if thrown better. No cover +/-.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 5 min 1st Q. Warren in people's shirts and it will continue, to effects both good and bad.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O42 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Dumpoff -- 5
Four man rush gets nowhere against five blockers (pressure -2) and Hiller's given time to survey. With no one open (cover +1) he checks down.
O47 2 5 Ace Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Warren Inc
Simple five yard hitch open in front of sort of soft coverage from M; Warren comes up to belt just as the ball arrives, aided by the fact that Hiller's pass is a bit in front of the WR and leaves him out to dry. Warren(+1) has jarred the ball loose with his thumping hit.
O47 3 5 Shotgun Empty 3-3-5-ish Penalty False Start -- Pen -5
FWIW: Roh's been pulled off the line on this play and deployed as a Crable-esque freelance wreaker of havoc. He drops off into a short zone on this play. Which doesn't count.
O42 3 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5-ish Pass Comeback Cissoko Int
Michigan does the same thing, providing an accursed three-man rush. It works, though, as Hiller is forced to check down (cover +1) to a guy running a comeback with no chance at the first down because Brown(+1) has gotten a great drop. Hiller's throw is off and the ball deflect to Cissoko(+1), who intercepts.
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-0, 4 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O27 1 10 I-Form Tight Base 4-3 Run Off tackle Ezeh 3
This is a little better from Ezeh(+1), as he dodges one blocker and then gets inside of another one, disengaging to tackle after a few yards. Roh(-1) had given up the edge, shooting inside for pressure that was irresponsible and yielding the gap that turned Ezeh's good play into damage mitigation.
O30 2 7 I-form 3-wide 4-3 Under Run Draw Roh -4
All right, so this time Roh does basically the exact same thing, only this time he's crushed the right tackle and single-handedly blown up a draw play. +2; results-based charting service. Note that Van Bergen(+1) had also beaten his guy and would have crushed this a little less forcefully if Roh hadn't done it first.
O26 3 11 Shotgun Empty 3-3-5-ish Pass Hitch Graham Inc
This is another three-man rush where Roh drops off into coverage; this time Graham(+2) again obliterates the RT and is in immediately, hitting Hiller as he throws and forcing a one-hopped throw to a guy who was going to get three yards anyway. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 2 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 I-Form Tight 4-3 Under Run Iso Ezeh 7 (Pen -5)
Not a good situation from M from the snap as the Broncos have overloaded the wide side with two TEs and a FB and just run right at Stevie Brown and... uh... walk-on Will Heininger. Heininger(-1) gets swallowed by a double; Ezeh(-1) “catches” a block in the words of Steve Sharik, and it's up to Woolfolk to come up and tackle after a seven-yard gain. Play comes back for illegal formation.
O24 1 15 Shotgun trips Base 4-3 Pass Yakety Sax -- -14
Supposed to be a screen but Hiller pulls a Threet with it, losing the ball backwards for no particular reason and suffering a huge loss.
O10 2 29 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Hitch Cissoko 6
Okay, yeah, whatever. No problem with soft coverage on second and twenty nine. Cissoko makes a solid tackle.
O16 3 23 Shotgun trips 3-3-5-ish Pass Jailbreak screen Ezeh -1
Ezeh(+2) recognizes quickly, slashes past his supposed blocker before he can get out, and tackles immediately. (Cpver +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-0, 10 min 2nd Q. This was just Western shooting itself in the foot.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 ??? ??? Pass Rollout out Cissoko Inc
We don't get the start of the play because of a sideline reporter. When we come back, Hiller is rolling out. He pumps, then throws to a WR running an out that Cissoko(+1) has undercut and breaks up (cover +1).
O26 2 10 Ace 4-3 Under Pass Hitch Warren 5
Another one of those dinko passes; Hiller leaves this one a little upfield which probably costs Western a yard or two. Warren comes up and makes a solid tackle. No coverage; +0.5 for the tackle.
O31 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5-ish Pass Deflection Ezeh Inc
Roh lined up as a quasi standup DT a la Crable. He and Banks drop off into zones as Brown and Ezeh blitz from the other side. This gets Ezeh(+1) in unblocked; he leaps to deflect Hiller's pass, and Woolfolk nearly picks it off. Excellent coverage on the receivers Hiller was checking (Woolfolk +1, cover +1). Steve Sharik analyzed this play in a diary.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-0, 6 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form Base 4-3 Pass Dumpoff Brown 2
Michigan doesn't get lined up quite in time before the snap but still defends this well. Initial hitch is pumped but decided against (Warren +1, cover +1) and then Hiller comes down to a checkdown that Brown(+1) tackles immediately on.
O22 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Tipped Hitch -- 6
Four man rush doesn't get much pressure(pressure -1) and Hiller can check down to the tailback. If he catches the ball he gains like two yards because JB Fitzgerald(+1) is going to crush him as the ball arrives. Instead he deflects the ball into the air, where another WMU receiver snags it for decent yardage. Unfortunate. (Cover +1)
O28 3 2 Ace 4-4 under Pass Hitch Warren 11
Okay, Michigan has done this a few times so I'm going to dub it something: 4-4 under. This is a balanced formation with Woolfolk a deep safety and Williams pulled up to the line as an extra OLB. Warren is in man against an outside receiver who runs a two-yard hitch which is too open; he compounds this by slipping a bit on his break and therefore not being there on the catch to tackle. He sets up outside and forces the receiver back into Brown. (-1 Warren, -1 cover.)
O39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 Under Pass Hitch -- Inc
No pressure(-1) from a four man rush; Hiller finds a guy on a littler hitch for what would be four or five but turfs it.
O39 2 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Slant Cissoko 6
A two or three yard delayed slant; Cissoko's in man but doesn't break well, allowing the receiver to pick up a few yards after the catch. (Cover -1, Cissoko -0.5)
O45 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 Under Pass Out Cissoko 9
Hiller throws an out on-time and accurate in from of Cissoko (cover -1).
M46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone left Mouton 7
RVB(+1) blows the RG back, cutting off the frontside and forcing the RB to almost stop; that should be the end of the play, but either Martin or Mouton has taken a poor angle and given up an unnecessary cutback lane. I think I blame Mouton(-1), but this could easily be on Martin. Help from the coaching gallery? Also check out Woolfolk's track and tackle.
M39 2 3 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Out Floyd 9
Super easy as Floyd(-1) is playing soft and is nowhere near this WR's route when the ball arrives. Three yards of YAC. (Cover -1)
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5-ish Pass Hitch Warren 13
Warren bailing out into a three-deep zone that leaves a simple hitch wide open for a first down. Lot of irritating soft coverage on this drive. (Cover -1)
M17 1 10 Ace 3-wide Base 4-3 Run Zone left Graham -2
Graham(+1) blasts the LT back, causing a cutback, where Sagesse(+1) has burst through the line and tackle with an assist from Herron.
M19 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Scramble Graham 2
Hiller drops back and is looking for the endzone; first read covered(+1). Graham(+0.5) fights through a blocker eventually to flush Hiller, and on the rollout no one is open (cover +1); Mouton forces him out after a couple yards.
M17 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 4-3 Pass Sack RVB -9
RVB(+2) gets a great move on the G and shoots up into the pocket, which means that Roh(+1), who 's plowed the LT back, can't be avoided; as Hiller attempts to scramble out Roh grabs him and sacks. (Pressure +2)
Drive Notes: Missed FG(44), 31-0, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O3 1 10 I-Form Tight Base 3-4 Run Iso Graham 2
They shoot it up the middle and everyone holds their ground pretty well. Graham(+1) bursts inside and comes from outside to tackle at the LOS; a whole bunch of bodies fall forward.
O5 2 8 I-Form Tight Base 3-4 Run Iso Herron 4
This is actually a nine-man front, but Michigan is a bit confused about who should go where. On the snap Herron(-1) is confused and slants inside, so there's no one to take out the pulling guard and bounce the play. He recovers to tackle with Mouton but the pile lurches forward thanks to the guard's momentum.
O9 3 4 Ace 4-wide 4-3 Under Pass Slant Cissoko 13
Cissoko(-1) burned on the quick slant (cover -1) and isn't even in position to tackle immediately; when he does close the receiver runs through the attempt. Woolfolk cleans up.
O22 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Pass Hitch Warren 5
Again with the short dinky stuff; this one features an immediate tackle from Warren.
O27 2 5 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Drag -- 7
Four man rush doesn't get pressure(-1), leaving Hiller to check out his options. Finding no one open (cover +1) he comes to a checkdown on the crossing route that picks up a first. Decent enough reaction from the secondary. Very few missed tackles today.
O34 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Pass Flanker screen Brown 7
Brown, lined up in a blitz position, takes two beats before dropping off into a zone. This is called by Robinson no minus, but the delay allows the flanker screen to develop; Brown does track down to tackle eventually.
O43 2 3 Ace 3-wide 4-3 Under Pass Sack Martin -3
Martin(+3) blows right through the center and, when Hiller hesitates on his three step drop, sacks authoritatively. GET IN THE CAR. (Pressure +2) Replay.
O46 3 6 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Pass Fly Warren 23
Michigan sends a bunch and they're about to get to Hiller, Brown first, when he lofts one up to a guy that Warren has blanketed. As he turns upfield to find the ball and possibly intercept—he's got two steps on the receiver—the WR's feet get in his and he falls to the ground. I'm not going to minus this because it's pure bad luck on an otherwise great play. (Pressure +1)
M39 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Run Inside zone Ezeh 3
So, yeah, this is something Steve Sharik was talking about in his diary: the frontside of this play is completely jammed; the RB has nowhere to go, and Ezeh's watching the guy come right at him. He can attack this play for no gain or a loss. Instead, he's hesitant and allows the guy to get into the hole, then slip by him for four yards that should never have happened. (-1 Ezeh) Good play by Sagesse(+1) to close down that frontside.
M36 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Pass Slant Graham Inc
Graham(+1) avoids a cut, notices he's in the throwing lane, and bats the ball down. (Pressure +1)
M36 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Pass Drag Mouton 10
Graham's third near-sack of the day; he comes tearing around the corner(+2, pressure +2) instantly and has Hiller in his grasp about to sack when he dumps it off to a guy on a drag route in front of Mouton(-1) in man. Tough cover for a LB in man on a drag but results-based charting in most cases (cover -1).
M26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Base 3-4 Run Zone read dive Ezeh 9
I can't tell if this is on Patterson or Ezeh. It's a zone read dive on which Patterson is unblocked but takes an angle that makes him unable to track down the RB. It's a pretty quick-hitting play and he might have contain on the QB, though Hiller's not exactly Denard. Ezeh, meanwhile, gets free of the LT with a sweet spin move... that sees him completely out of position. Without knowing who's responsible for what I can't really render judgement. -1 for both, I guess.
M17 2 1 I-Form Tight ??? Pass Long handoff -- Inc
Don't know what this defense is supposed to be because it appears Herron doesn't either. He's still trying to find out where he goes when they snap the ball. Hiller just airmails a long handoff, though.
M17 3 1 Shotgun Tight Base 3-4 Run QB draw Mouton 0
WMU screws something up because Mouton just isn't blocked and the pulling guard has no chance to get to him by the time Hiller arrives. He submarines and tackles(+0.5). Actually, this is the backup QB.
M17 4 1 Ace 3-wide 4-3 Under Pass Rollout out Brown Inc
This is open in front of Brown in man; he didn't look totally prepared for the snap. Hiller again does Michigan a favor and wings it wide.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 31-0, 1 min 3rd Q. After a very solid first half there's some confusion on a number of plays here.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 Under Run Zone read keeper Mouton 11
Mouton(-2) crashes hard and this is no scrape, so Hiller just pulls it out and has tons of room.
O48 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-4 base Pass Fly Warren Inc (Pen +15)
Martin(+2) again blows through the center; the center sort of grabs at him, which slows him down and draws a flag. Hiller has just enough time to get a pass away. Again it's to a receiver that Warren has blanketed, but Warren doesn't get his head around for the ball and the WR tries to run through him and he gets called. I hate flags like this. Bad call. Penalties offset (pressure +2, cover +1)
O48 1 10 I-form 3-wide Base 4-3 Run FB Dive Roh 4 + 15 Pen
WMU runs the FB-dive outside-pitch combo, giving it off on the dive. They catch Michigan in a stunt so there's no resistance until Roh(+0.5) comes around to tackle. Their rock, our scissors... a little. Not like this was a big gain. Warren(-2) picks up a personal foul afterwards.
M33 1 10 Ace 3-wide 4-3 Under Pass Yakety Sax Mouton Int
Corner/LB/S blitz from whatever the heck Williams is gets him in unblocked (+1, cover +1) after he slips by the RB coming out of the backfield. Hiller loads up to throw deep—FWIW this would have been a shot at Floyd and from what I can tell his coverage is pretty good as they run off the screen—but Threets it, fluttering a ball skyward that Mouton(+1) dives to grab.
Drive Notes: Interception, 31-0, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O15 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 4-3 Under Run Zone read keeper Mouton 3
Backup QB in. This has an option to pitch that the QB doesn't take. Good job by Mouton(+1) to wade through some trash, read the play, and tackle.
O18 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Pass Bubble screen -- Inc
Hiller back in and just overthrows this. He has not been good.
O18 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Pass Slant Warren Inc (Pen + 6)
Warren(-1, cover -1) is all over the receiver and gets a deserved flag.
O24 1 10 I-Form Tight Base 3-4 Run Iso Graham 3
Graham ends up fighting through a double but can't make a diving tackle attempt; his vacating the area leaves a bunch of linebacker sorts attempting to hold back a wave of OLs. The pile lurches forward for a bit and West can dive for a few. Em… nothing?
O27 2 7 I-Form Tight 4-3 Under Pass Post Floyd 73
The big touchdown. Floyd(-3) gets burned badly and Woolfolk(-3) is sucked up despite having the deep center of the field. Note that Graham was about to tear into Hiller, too. (Cover –3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 31-7, 12 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 I-Form 4-3 Under Pass Corner Floyd 29
Graham, Roh, Martin out FWIW, so it's getting pretty scrubby out there. I'm going to stop tracking pressure and cover at this point. Floyd(-1) gets burned on a corner route that Hiller hits.
O49 1 10 I-Form 4-3 Under Run FB Dive Sagesse 1
No push whatsoever from the line and no creases as Sagesse(+1) and RVB(+1) hold up against doubles. FB dive goes nowhere.
50 2 9 Shotgun 4-wide Base 4-3 Pass Out Brown 11
Ezeh comes on a blitz and spectacularly hurdles the RB who attempts to block him, but Hiller's got the ball away. Good timing, good accurate route against Brown(a harsh -0.5).
M39 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Base 3-4 Run Dive Martin 4
Martin(-1) has come back in and is clearly trying to do one of his crazy ninja pass rush moves because he hops outside a guard just in time for WMU to run a dive where he would have been normally. Linebackers converge with Ezeh(+1) raking the ball free. Michigan recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 31-7, 7 min 4th Q.


Wait just a second, there's another caller on the line.

What do you make of the performance of the Michigan defense against Hiller and WMU?  My initial observation was that they just shut down a future NFL quarterback and that's a great sign for the rest of the year.  Upon further contemplation I got to wondering how much of a factor Hiller's health was.  He had off season knee surgery and when other players have ligament operations we tend to hear it takes them a full year to be completely confident in it again.  Is this the same for quarterbacks and if so, was this a contributing factor in Hiller's poor performance? 

Andy Heck

Hiller was not as advertised. He yakety-saxed a couple balls, airmailed a few others, and was considerably less accurate than Forcier. But the Michigan defense had something to do with that. They got a considerable amount of pressure for such a dink-and-dunk offense and usually covered Hiller's first read unless they were intentionally playing soft. And they tackled much better. It's a lot easier to see this in a—



Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Graham 12 - 12 Ended two drives  and should have caused two INTs with dominating pass rush; lack of a sack nearly inexplicable.
Heininger - 1 -1 Got one drive, maybe two IIRC.
Patterson - 1 -1 Came on after Heininger.
Roh 5.5 1 4.5 Pretty good debut; showed a variety of pass-rush moves including a sick spin.
Herron 0.5 1 -0.5 Did make one good tackle from behind to prevent a long gainer.
Martin 5.5 1 4.5 Two great pass rush moves on the interior are most of those points.
Van Bergen 5 0.5 4.5 More effective on review; did not give ground, albeit against a MAC team.
Sagesse 3 - 3 Functional. We haz depth?
TOTAL 31.5 5.5 26 Crushing; not surprising when Michigan picked up three sacks and should have had three more.
Player + - T Notes
Ezeh 5.5 4 1.5 Instincts did not seem vastly improved but wasn't exploited in coverage once, which is a major step forward.
Mouton 2.5 4 -1.5 Seemed irresponsible.
Brown 4 0.5 3.5 Way better than Thompson against the spread.
Fitzgerald 1 - 1
Demens - - - Don''t think he played.
TOTAL 13 8.5 4.5 Not a huge number but more on their coverage later.
Player + - T Notes
Warren 3.5 4 -0.5 Special breakout on Warren later.
Cissoko 3 2.5 0.5 Solid, not spectacular.
Floyd - 5 -5 Yikes.
Turner - - - DNP
Woolfolk 1 3 -2 Harsh; breakout section
Williams 1 - 1 I love 1-0-1 days from safeties.
Emilien - - - DNP
Jones - - - DNP
TOTAL 8.5 14.5 -6 "Coverage" to mitigate.
Pressure 16 6 10 A couple of instances where four man-rushes got slowed but a lot of pressure from little blitzing.
Coverage 16 10 6 A lot of the minuses came after the shouting was over.

So there you go: big plus days in both the metrics, and if I'd remembered I wanted to add "tackling" this year I can tell you that tackling would have been hugely positive as well. When you're looking at the numbers, keep in mind that a large section of the minuses are directly attributable to JT Floyd, which says a lot about Michigan's corner depth but not much about the starting eleven, and that Michigan got pretty soft late.

What about Brown at his new position?

As Greg—


As GERG said, possibly apocryphally, he's "a hell of a lot better player there." Stripped of the requirement to find cosines and the like, Brown was free to be a super-athletic linebacker who's good in man and good at short zone drops without being a touchdown magnet. He's a modern OLB. We've yet to see if he can hold up against big pounders but with Notre Dame missing its starting fullback and starting a wisp of a pass-receiving TE, that potential weakness won't get tested just yet.

Speaking of, initial GERG review?

His defense makes a lot more sense than Shafer's even if it's almost the same formation. Michigan never got away from its base set but that's a lot less infuriating when the guy you're running out on third and long is Brown, not Johnny Thompson, and you've got the flexibility provided by a deathbacker. Michigan never, ever went to a three-man line except on obvious passing downs, never found themselves on the wrong end of a hugely speculative playcall, and rarely found themselves uncertain of what to do before the snap. GERG simplified the defense, made it flexible enough to function against spread teams without getting out of base, and put his players in positions to do what they do well.

Thumbs up after game one; game two will be a much stiffer test.

So Warren's day was… interesting. Argh Michael Floyd?

Short of being totally awesome in all ways I thought Warren's day was as encouraging as it could be given the three penalties and a couple plays that came at his expense. His game looked like that montage in a superhero movie where the hero performs a slapstick routine of smashing cars, punching through walls, and burning innocent pedestrians to death before he gets a handle on his newfound powers. Warren was hyper-aggressive in his first game free from bone chip soup in his ankle; the results were mixed-to-encouraging.

Plays marked "Warren" above:

  • Busts up long route with bump; has better position than the receiver.
  • Good position on a third and four slant that was fired too high and hard.
  • Thumps ball loose on a hitch. (Or, at least, helps a receiver who was already dropping the ball finish dropping the ball.)
  • Leaves two hitches open on Michigan's soft pre-half drive.
  • Immediate tackle on hitch.
  • Running a guy's route for him and going to be in position to intercept when receiver trips him (not in a penalty sort of way).
  • Running almost inside a guy's jersey and gets called for interference, which I think is a crappy call.
  • Gets deserved PI on a slant he was too aggressive on.

So… yeah, Warren had a couple incidents where Michigan gave up yards but the bulk of his day was running Juan Nunez's routes for him. Sometimes this got flagged and once he got tripped. But I'll take that sort of aggressive clamp-down coverage any day when the opponent is Michael Floyd. If Warren ends up a yard in front of Floyd the three to thirty times Notre Dame attempts to hit him deep, Michigan's going to be in good shape.

What happens when Notre Dame goes to three-wide?

Nothing. Michigan spent the entire day its base set and has no corner depth. They do have guys on the edge who can cover Robby "That's Racist" Parris or whoever; it's not like Notre Dame's backup WRs are speed demons.


Graham is the most obvious answer, and everyone shared in an all-around excellent performance before the D got backup- and vanilla-happy late.


JT Floyd looked overmatched by a MAC team, which bodes very unwell for Michigan's corner depth. Jonas Mouton didn't have a strong game, though as mentioned it's tough to tell how good his zone drops were and the way the game went suggests they went pretty well.

What does it mean for Notre Dame?

I've sort of gone from thinking this is a bad matchup for Michigan to thinking it's an okay one or even good. Stick Warren on Floyd and Cissoko on Tate, give them deep halves help, spare the blitzing and let Michigan's diverse and sundry rushers attack the Notre Dame defensive line… I can see this working out. The prospect of a max-protect bomb still worries given what happened against Western, but if Warren's as ready to live up to the five-star hype—and he looked far more likely to in the Western game than any other to date—and Michigan can get away with shifting the coverage over to Tate and pulling up a safety into a robber zone to bracket Rudolph, I like Michigan's chances to hold Notre Dame into that 20-24 point range where victory seems a strong possibility. Notre Dame's run game has always been a finesse sort of thing heavy on screens and draws, which plays into the hypothetical strengths of Michigan's slimfast defense

I watched the Nevada game and a lot of ND's first half production was based on exploiting Nevada's "explosive pass rushers" at defensive end, which rushers also happened to be completely irresponsible. Graham isn't likely to be as exploitable, but Roh or Herron might be. I'd line up Graham on the strongside, which might induce ND to have Rudolph stay in to block, as they're going to double him lots anyway.

The key will be the safeties. Woolfolk is going to have to think deep first and not get caught flat-footed like he did on the Western touchdown; if Michigan loses to Notre Dame because of ND's ground game, well… that will be a surprise.



September 9th, 2009 at 5:08 PM ^

"As for platooning: there was none. Michigan spent the entire game in a 4-3 if you count Roh a DE and Brown a safety."

Shouldn't this read "Brown a [linebacker]"?


Not only a great UFR, but what a great day for the defense. I agree that Hiller having a bad day throwing the ball helped, but JCGITCIMM and BG coming after me would make me turtle up like a school girl at the running of the bulls.


September 9th, 2009 at 6:35 PM ^

I feel like Warren deserves a -1 or -2 for that touchdown. He very obviously told Floyd to go and cover the guy instead of himself, and lined up on the other side just so that he wouldn't have to deal with that receiver anymore. It was probably good experience for Floyd, but if Warren had stuck on that side he likely wouldn't have had issue.

Michigan Arrogance

September 9th, 2009 at 9:48 PM ^

i thought cissoko had an outstanding game. i think he matched warren in production (for a CB? IDK what to call it) until he got banged up just before half and gave lots of cushin from that point on.

i wonder why Turner DNP...


September 10th, 2009 at 7:55 AM ^

This is my first of these UFRs. I had been perplexed in my noggin about some of the critical comments made on the blog about guys like Ezeh, given that he seems like he makes a lot of plays, tackles, etc during the game.

But having the analysis and then being able to watch the play focusing on the player (rather than the ball as I tend to do while watching the game live) makes it easy to see what folks are bitching about sometimes. Yeah, he might make the tackle, but from this it's clear that sometimes a two or three yard gain might have had the chance to be a no gain or loss play.

My football brain is growing.


September 10th, 2009 at 2:57 AM ^

I will dispute the analysis on this play only slightly because Herron caught my attention watching it live and again on the replay.

You had 'Mouton?' as the focal defensive player who may have goofed on this 6 yard gain for WMU, and indeed Mouton should have made the tackle IF the defense had played it soundly, but I don't think he made a mistake.

The error was either due to Herron or scheme. Herron in fact, did make the tackle and a very impressive one - as you indicated in Herron's summary he "Did make one good tackle from behind to prevent a long gainer." - that tackle was on this play and he only had a chance of making it because he bit on the hand-off fake to the RB right away - even before the fake happened which is the only reason I think 'scheme' is a candidate for fault.

Herron made a beeline for the backfield from the weakside and got bounced by the pulling left guard. Herron crashing in toward the QB so quickly left a big hole in the D-line and gave time for the TE - also pulling from the left side - to block Mouton who was then only able to get an arm on the RB who subsequently ran down the lane that Herron vacated.

Herron had a great recovery and a beautiful tackle, but I don't see that Mouton did anything wrong. It's either scheme or Herron at fault here for the 6 yards. If Herron maintains his gap, he's in the backfield taking on the guard in good position and the RB gets forced outside to an unblocked Mouton, or back inside to the line and his now in the way TE.

Anyway, the UFR is awesome! Well done as always. That's just how I saw that particular play.

I'd give Herron a -1 for biting on the fake and a +1 for a great recovery. If anything other than 0, maybe Mouton should get a +.5 for possibly slowing the RB down enough with an arm so that Herron could make good on his (or GERG's) mistake.


September 10th, 2009 at 10:36 AM ^

Brian - total noob here and I just read a UFR for the first time. That is an impressive piece of work. Seems like you should be on staff for UM Football breaking down film for the team.

Overall I was VERY impressed with UM this past Saturday. After the display we all saw last season, I'll admit, I was nervous. D looks much better, especially in the tackling arena. My concern is that they are SO aggressive they will be fooled by play action fakes/misdirection from ND. I expect a couple or three big plays from ND this Saturday for TD's. Hopefully, the UM QB Triad can put some points on the board to compete.

Thanks for all your hard work. Go Blue!