Upon Further Review: MSU Defense Comment Count

Brian October 7th, 2005 at 9:44 PM


1 10 O20 Pass 2 We drop eight and Stanton starts rolling all over the place before finding a last outlet one yard downfield. Harris comes up when Stanton starts rolling around. Coverage +1.
2 8 O22 Run 3 Stanton takes a rare snap from under center and they run up the gut. Harris(+1) sheds and tackles.
3 5 O25 Pass 18 Stanton rolls out and fires nicely along the sideline. Harris again has contain responsibility. Mason(-1) gets beaten easily.
1 10 O43 Pass Inc Another three man rush and Stanton misses his man coming across the zone. Trent(+1) had good coverage.
2 10 O43 Pass Sack, -13 Stanton attempts to roll left but Woodley(+3) just crushes his man into the backfield and forces him to scramble back to his right where Biggs(+1) and Massey(+1) clean up the mess. +5 for one play? 13 yard sack against a team that's never sacked, you're damn right.
3 23 O30 Pass 20 Three man rush again. Stanton has a ton of time but can't find a guy deep enough for the first.
Drive Notes: 0-0 13 min 1st Q. Good enough. Woodley huge, huge, huge play to stop the drive. Get used to the three man rush on third and long, except most of them won't go as well as this one.  
1 10 O20 Run 3 This is a win with six in the box. I believe it's Burgess(+1) who stands up to the lead block very well and forces Ringer back into the D.
2 7 O23 Pass Inc Stanton underthrows a ball badly and Mason(+1) almost picks it off. Danielson thinks it's a busted route... and then points out that Stanton ate Branch(+1). Thanks, Danielson!
3 7 O23 Pass Inc Stanton again can't find anyone due to the zone coverage (we're rushing four) and takes off on a magical mystery tour. Biggs gets flagrantly clipped right in front of the referee but there's no call, and then after Stanton finds an open receiver downfield who drops it they try to throw a flag for a late hit that gets picked up. Given what's going to happen later, the incomptence of this crew stands out.
Drive Notes: 7-0, 11 min 1st Q. Harris is definitely taksed with spying.  
1 10 O20 Pass 5 Screen to Ringer. Woodley(+1) comes back a makes a nice tackle from behind.
2 5 O25 Run 2 Harris(+1) again with the shed and stick. He is obviously our best linebacker.
3 3 O27 Pass 13 A play fake on third and three and Stanton just has decades to throw.
1 10 O40 Run -2 A sweep to the short side. Woodley(+1) gets out, forcing the RB to cut it back and Branch(+1) is there to crush smash destroy.
2 12 O38 Pass Inc Flanker screen is dropped. Would have worked, too.
3 12 O38 Pass 32 The pocket rolls a bit and again Stanton has forever to throw. It's worth noting that Branch is flagrantly held on this play. Christ, I'm getting angry just watching it. There's no excuse for not throwing that flag.
1 10 M30 Run 12 They run a pitch sweep the the short side and neither Hall nor Graham can get off their blocks. Fistfuls of jersey everywhere.
1 10 M18 Run 11 Direct snap to Jerramy Scott with Stanton lined up as a WR. It's Graham(-1) who shoots up into the wrong hole.
1 G M7 Run 3 Nice play by Branch to get Caulcrick at the line of scrimmage, though he falls forward because there's no LB to fill the hole.
2   M4 Run 4 Stanton touchdown.
Drive Notes: 14-7, 3 min 1st. Seriously, that hold on the 32 yard completion is comical. The pitch sweep is questionable. Bam bam bam down the field with the run game after the bogus conversion. What was the last play Graham made? He's been a disappointment so far.  
1 10 O35 Run 22 Massive hole courtesy of Massey(-3), though the play is well designed. Massey gets shoved out immediately and opens up a vast hole that neither linebacker can cover since they're eating blockers.
1 10 M43 Pass 16 They fake the damn counter draw, and there's a huge hole in the zone. Coverage -1.
1 10 M27 Pass Int The reviewed Barringer(+1) interception. Unbelievable that the guy in the box forced Lloyd to take a timeout to review this. Jim Augustine is NOT an outstanding replay official, Brent. Woodley(+1) forced Scott to bring the ball down instead of throwing it immediately.
Drive Notes: 14-7, End of First. It is a really good offense. One player on your defense blows the tiniest little thing and bam, it's 15-20 yards.  
1 10 O22 Run 13 Argh! Contain. Jamar Adams(-2) is the nickel back here and doesn't even bother Ringer.
1 10 O35 Run 2 Toss sweep. Harris(+1) gets out on it and keeps it contained. Branch is again there for the tackle.
2 8 O37 Run 12 Massey(-2) gets crushed again, leaving a gaping hole that allows Caulcrick to easily avoid the linebacker who's attempting to fill the hole with a blocker in his face.
1 10 O49 Run -2 Stanton pops the snap up into the air, busting the play.
2 12 O47 Pass 1 WR screen. Woods(+1) diagnoses the play well and the play develops slowly enough for him to get there.
3 11 O48 Pass 13 Zone blitz, we bring both corners and end up rushing 4. Barringer can't react quickly enough to prevent the completion.
1 10 M39 Pass Inc Play action rollout that Woods is about as on top of it as you can be. Jamar Adams(+1) knocks the ball loose from the receiver.
2 10 M39 Pass Inc A seam route over the middle that Barringer(+1) attacks and almost intercepts.
3 10 M39 Penalty -5 Illegal sub.
3 15 M44 Pass 32 Five wide, we rush three and Stanton finds an open Scott. Jesus, man, I know it's been working okay, but it's third and fifteen. This is a clear example of our fear of Stanton's legs overwhelming logical judgement.
1 10 M12 Run 6 Caulcrick is a load. Engelmon can't stop him before he plows for an extra 4 YAC.
2 4 M6 Run 3 Caulcrick again. Engelmon cuts him this time.
3 1 M3 Penalty 2 Defensive holding on Mason(-1).
1 G M1 Run 1 Touchdown.
Drive Notes: 21-14, 6 min 2nd Another killer third and long conversion for MSU ends up in a touchdown. Infuriating to watch a three man rush on third and fifteen.  
1 10 O33 Run 6 Woods(+1) spins off his blocker and forces the play back inside. MSU is fortunate that Harris beat his man as well because the missed block turns into a perfect one with the cutback and Ringer schoots up into hole.
2 4 O39 Pass 61 Reed's screen touchdown. Another example of the slightest screwup equalling big yards and, in this case, six. The blitz and the fake roll to the other side of the field sucks away everyone except the two guys on the recievers. Harrison(-3) makes a huge mistake. He gets blocked by Trannon, but when he releases to block the other guy, he follows him(!), instead of switching off on to Reed and keeping that to no gain.
Drive Notes: Freshman mistake == touchdown. 21-21 3 min 2nd Q.  
1 10 M17 Run 4 C
2 6 M13 Penalty -10 Holding drawn by Woodley(+1)
2 16 M23 Pass Scramble, 6 Stanton takes off and the coverage converges all right. Graham makes the tackle.
3 10 M17 Pass 8 Jailbreak screen that seems like it might get the first down but Barringer(+1) comes up to make the stop.
Drive Notes: FG. 24-24, 11 min 3rd Q. Can we get Lamarr Woodley a syndicated show that comes on right after Xena called DriveKiller?  
1 10 O32 Pass 14 Rolling pocket and a wide open reciever in front of Hall.
1 10 O46 Run 4  
2 6 50 Pass Sack, -4 Fumble! Another sprintout, this one into a blitz from Burgess(+1), who forces him back inside, where Woods(+2) makes the sack and strip which Harris(+1) recovers. Hands down the play of the game.
Drive Notes: 24-24, 8 min 3 Q. We do nothing on offense here but given the yards the MSU offense has been snapping off in chunks, this play is absolutely huge.  
1 10 O4 Run 1 Line holds up well, and Harris(+1) picks off the blocker, allowing Engelmon(+1) to come up and fill the hole at the LOS. Burgess(+1) correctly stays outside and wraps around the outside of the DE to assist on the tackle after Ringer commits to the inside hole. Contain. Yip.
2 9 O5 Run 4 Sweep that Burgess just barely cuts the corner off on, but Ringer manages to squeeze past him and get upfield a little bit.
3 5 O9 Pass 19 Absolutely no pass rush and Stanton has all day to find a receiver.
1 10 O28 Run 8 Accursed counter draw. Burgess(+1) fills the intended hole unblocked so Teague has to cut it upfield, which he can because Massey's(-1) getting throttled again.
2 2 O36 Pass 12 Flanker screen to Trannon. That's just hard to stop.
1 10 O48 Run -4 Tim Jamison(+2) blows by the tackle and crushes Ringer with authorita.
2 14 O44 Pass 8 Another screen. There's no one close to him until Barringer comes up and makes a solid tackle.
3 6 M48 Pass Scramble, 6 Sigh.
1 10 M42 Run 1 Fortunate tackle by Harris, because the outside linebackers blitz and if he gets past Harris Ringer is going to gain 10 or so.
2 9 M41 Pass 8 Dropped eight again and Stanton finds his man.
3 1 M32 Run 5 Option. Michigan has no one to take the pitchman.
1 10 M27 Run 5 Harrison fails to wrap up after about 3 yards. Good job by Will Johnson(+1) on the line and how can David Harris be facing the exact opposite way he wants to be without it being holding? This I ask.
2 5 M22 Pass 10 Triple stack screen which is not well executed but still goes for a ton of yards. This drive is teeth grinding.
1 10 M12 Run 3 Graham fills nicely and Woodley comes off his block to tackle.
2 7 M9 Run 3 Stanton keeper. Woodley with yet another tackle despite the play going up the gut.
3 4 M6 Run 0 The much-discussed run on third and four. MSU is just outnumbered.
Drive Notes: Missed FG, 24-24, 13 min 4th Q. This drive shows all the scary death magic inherent in the MSU offense. There's more three man rush that Stanton's figured out and another play where Massey failing to hold opens up a huge hole against the spread.  
1 10 O20 Pass -2 Another rolling pocket, but there's no one open (Danielson credits Hall(+1) for the coverage), and Pierre Woods is there to force him out.
2 12 O18 Pass -6 The Ringer screen that Gabe Watson finished with authorita. Credit to Harris(+2) and Massey(+1) for identifiying the screen immediately and showing up right when the ball gets there.
3 18 O12 Pass Inc Unbelievable, another freaking third and forever and we rush three again. Mason(-1) is in good coverage but does not really prevent the catch, which is fortunately dropped after a pushoff.
Drive Notes: 31-24, 9 min 4th Q.  
1 10 O20 Run 20 Three man line with Woods as one of the DEs; he gets double teamed and crushed.
1 10 O40 Penalty   Illegal substituation on Massey(-1)
1 5 O45 Pass -5 Wacky hook and ladder screen. Nice job by Mason(+1) to not overpursue here and make the big time TFL.
2 10 O40 Penalty -5 Illegal formation calls back a 20 yard pass reception which upon review is even dumber to cite as a reason this game was lost by the Spartans: they had 7 seconds left on the clock. There is exactly zero chance they run a FG team out after another play so their options are 57 yard FG try (fat chance) or a rushed Hail Mary. This is No Big Deal.
2 15 O35 Pass whatever Meaningless dumpoff to Teague.
Drive Notes: 31-31, EORegulation.
1 10 M25 Run 4 The line holds up pretty well but there's no penetration. Harris takes on the blocker and Burgess makes the tackle.
2 6 M21 Pass Inc Superb coverage by Hall(+2) and a near interception that he can't quite come up with.
3 6 M21 Pass Inc Stanton has forever to throw but can't find anyone open and hurls it directly into the hands of Morgan Trent, who drops it.
Drive Notes: Missed FG. 31-31, 1/2 OT. Uh, yeah... you suck.

So how did we do?

Um... okay I guess. Here's the chart...


Player + - T Notes
Woodley 7 - 7 Consistently fierce. Penetrates, reacts, pursues, and tackles.
4 - 4 Forced the Stanton fumble and saw extensive time with Biggs out. Playing well.
Biggs 1 - -  
Massey 2 7 -5 More below.
Watson - - - Not the offense he's suited to defending. MSU avoided him when they ran at all costs, though.
Crable - - - Played sparingly.
Jamison 2 - - One impressive TFL in limited time.
Branch 2 - 2 Came down from his stratospheric UW performance but was still pretty good. Probably had a much tougher time against the Spartan line.
Burgess 4 - - Pretty good day; would like to see him shed more blocks. Often goes down without enough of a fight.
Thompson - - -  
Harris 6 - - Playing very, very well. Entrusted with spying Stanton all day; shows the faith they have in him.
Graham - 1 -1 Didn't play a ton.
Mason 2 3 -1  
Hall 3 1 2  
Engelmon 1 - -  
Trent 1 - -  
Adams 1 2 -1  
Barringer 3 - 3 Made his presence felt for the first time. Hold onto those ints.
Harrison - 3 3 One huge mistake on the screen touchdown. Hopefully he learns from it.

I thought you said to lay off Massey.

Uh, yeah, I did, but there's no denying that when MSU had success up the middle it was because Massey was getting hurled to the side like Jennifer Aniston when Angelina came calling (OH SNAP!!!). He he had a couple nice plays in pursuit but the word "liability" is getting close to legitimate when it is applied to Massey re: run defense. He's too tall to hold at the point of attack consistently. When someone gets underneath his pads, he's done. When was the last time he penetrated into the backfield? I can't remember an instance this year.

I think he'll do all right against Minnesota because their line relies much less on the brute force Massey is ill-equipped to deal with, but big, tough interior linemen will continue to crumple him the rest of the year.

Aren't you concerned about 455 yards?

Yes, but I think if a few obvious penalties are called we greatly reduce that number. I swear that on the long third down conversion I kvetched about above that Branch was in a figure-four. I also believe that MSU has the best offense we'll see all year by a long shot. They have a very good offensive line, a trio of running backs who are all pretty decent, and Stanton, who is fantastic. Their wide receivers are distictly mediocre, but they're incredibly hard to stop with the rolling pockets and the run game from nowhere and the vast diversity of the screens, draws, counters, and option plays they run. We shan't see their ability to run and pass again.

So next year...

Hope their defense remains as bad. Senior Stanton winless against Michigan is going to be pissed off.

This game tells us what about Minnesota?

Nothing. You couldn't have two philosophies more diametrically opposed.

Well then.

Well then indeed.

You're skimping on the analysis here.

It's Friday at 5:45. I've got a hockey game to go to. Screw you.

That's not very professional.