Upon Further Review: NIU Defense Comment Count

Brian September 7th, 2005 at 5:50 PM
Down Dist Line Type Yards Notes
1 10 O6 Rush -1 Woodley drives his man into the backfield, Graham bursts into his blocker, run is blown up and strung out.
2 11 O5 Rush 16 Draw, Van Alstyne loses outside contain, linebackers sucked in (McClintock most responsbile)
1 10 O23 Rush 7 Designed inside run, Wolfe bounces it outside when Woodley and Graham both get sucked inside. This is a running theme: two guys take one hole. (GROSS!!!) Also of note: Massey is getting crumpled
2 3 O30 Pass 8 Hole in zone, quick drop. No pass rush opp. Another theme: Michigan just lets NIU throw most of the day.
1 10 O38 Pass 7 zone dumpoff to Wolfe, 4 man rush. Massey doubled.
2 3 O45 Run 2 crack it right up the middle between the tackles. No push.
3 1 O47 Run 1 QB sneak
1 10 O48 Pass 6 Woodley pressure forces outlet, zone again
2 4 M46 Pass 10 too easy! No one even close to him with this stupid zone! Who is this jerry rice?
1 10 M36 Pass/Scramble 12 sigh.
1 10 M24 Run -2 Crable blitzes right into the run but completely overruns Wolfe and lets him escape, Graham shows good speed to close him down
2 12 M26 Pass 13 Slant into the soft spot of the same zone they've run every play this drive save for the last blitz, Mason very passive
1 10 M13 Run 1 Nice play by Van Alstyne, driving his man back a yard or two and coming off to make the tackle
2 9 M12 Pass 5 Another blitz of the LB covering the slot receiver. Horvath bails and throws the short route, Hall stumbles on his break or this would have been a two yard gain
3 4 M7 Pass Inc Horvath just misthrows a fade. Coverage looked pretty good.
Drive notes: bleah. I noticed that when Michigan didn't play the obvious soft zone they had better results. Also NIU spent a lot of time doubling Massey and letting Watson go single blocked.
1 10 O20 Run 4 NIU uses watson's momentum to take himself out of play.
2 6 O24 Run 76 YARDS AFTER MUNDY: 76.
Drive notes: Great. The big play is designed to get inside but that's pretty well jammed up. Grant Mason gets bitched by the NIU tight end on the short side of the field (great play design there, why don't you just put a huge blinking sign that says RUN HERE on the field?), and Mundy screams up from safety INSIDE of the contain-losing Mason. Wolfe bounces it out and Mundy gets a windsprint for his troubles.I can't track substitutions very well on network TV but being there in person I don't think Mundy saw any time after this performance. Brandon Harrison starts by midseason?
1 10 O20 Pass Inc This is the near-int for Burgess. Watson is the guy who hits Horvath's arm.
2 10 O20 Run 0 In a 2 WR set now, this one is also eaten by Watson. Single blocked, he holds.
3 10 O20 Pass Inc Horvath eats Massey. Would have taken a great throw to fit the ball in there.
Drive notes: OMG A PUNT. Three straight plays from the DTs.
1 10 O32 Run 8 Ugh. Massey and Woodley are waiting on either side of a tackle. AJ Harris jukes up into the hole, sucking Woodley inside, and then bounces it back out for a nice gain. This should have been 2nd and 10. Note: no back seven support.
2 2 O40 Pass 15 + 15 Late hit from Woodley, very tenuous call.
1 10 M30 Pass 13 Shovel pass to Wolfe. Engelmon forces a fumble. Just the perfect call on for the defense, which was blitzing. The screen goes to the exact spot the blitz vacates. Not actually angry about this one. Good play by Engelmon.
Drive notes: A lot of yards here but not that bad in retrospect. The screen was the perfect call for the defense and if Woodley trusts someone to be inside there the first play gets stuffed. Things like that are fixable. Hopefully.
1 10 O20 Run 8 Massey gets doubled by the RT and RG and completely crumples under the pressure. A single blocked Watson drives his man three yards backwards but Wolfe nimbly avoids him and scoots up into the gaping hole between the two DTs.
2 2 O28 Run 7 Barringer moves up into the box and loses outside contain on Wolfe.
1 10 O35 Pass 9 Half rollout to Woodley's side, who kills Horvath, but the zone is open again.
2 1 O44 Run 8 Watson gets moved out, Massey crumples, Graham gets buried.
1 10 M46 Run 8 Wolfe bounces a desinged interior run outsdie. Burgess loses contain. Engelmon loses contain. I cannot describe how disturbing it is to see single blocked Watson get his ass kicked on this play.
2 2 M38 Pass 20 Seam route to the TE. Always there if you play the exact same coverage like we do. Actually a really nice throw by Horvath. McClintock was in pretty decent position.
1 10 M18 Penalty Holding
1 20 M28 Pass 10 Rollout again. Quick pass to a really, really vacant part of the zone. There are never any defenders anywhere near NIU players on pass plays.
2 10 M18 Pass Inc Rollout to the other side, Horvath throws it away. Hall w/ the coverage.
3 10 M18 Pass Inc Plenty of time for Horvath, but there's no one open.
Drive notes: This thing is freaking scary. Our DL is largely responsible for a series of gashing NIU runs and the only thing that stops the drive is a holding penalty.  
1 10 O10 Run 19 Everyone gets blocked. McClintock gets wasted.
1 10 O29 Run 3 Massey is again crushed to the ground. Watson gets a push and forces Wolfe to bounce it outside where, miraculously, someone is waiting.
2 7 O32 Pass 4 Fumble recovered by Engelmon. Fortunate force as Burgess' helmet just happens to hit the right exact spot accidentally.
Drive notes: Only the one bad play, but man, there's no easy fix for that one.
1 10 O2 Run -1 Nice standup stuff-and-go-back tackle by Graham here. Also notable that Watson crushes his guy into the endzone.
2 11 O1 Pass 10 Again exploiting the same zone.
3 1 O11 Run 1  
1 10 O12 Run 2 Woodley holds the corner well enough on this sweep to force the runner back inside. McClintock makes the tackle.
2 8 O14 Pass Inc Loopy, weak throw from Horvath allows Hall to close and actually make a play on the ball. Only one all day.
3 8 O14 Pass Int Massey tips the ball, Hall picks it off.
Drive notes: this is actually not a crappy performance.
1 10 O25 Penalty Holding caused by Woodley owning the tackle.
1 20 O15 Pass Inc Same shovel pass that led to a fumble, but Horvath throws it too low. Looked better defended this time.
2 20 O15 Pass 27 Three man rush with a useless blitz from Burgess on the corner. Stupid zone.
1 10 O42 Pass -6 Woodley sack, strip, and recovery. XOXOXO Lamarr
Drive notes: Woodley has lost contain a few times but he's consistently making plays at this point, including this huge one. He gets a gold star.
1 10 O20 Run 0 Really, really nice play by Woodley, driving his man into one of the sweep blockers and fouling the whole thing up.
2 10 O20 Pass/Penalty   Interference on Mason, actual man coverage! Dunno about the call.
1 10 O26 Run 0 Nice play by Branch and Johnson.
2 10 O26 Pass 19 Linebackers get sucked in by play action and the TE is wiiide open.
1 10 O45 Run 3 Thompson slices into the backfield but gets blocked at the last second. Good instincts.
2 7 O48 Pass 12 Blitz sent and Horvath finds the uncovered back out of the backfield.
1 10 M40 Run 1 A good play by Watson. Thompson again finds himself in disruptive position and helps shut the play down.
2 9 M39 Pass 7 Play action does some more sucking. Thompson recovers decently.
3 2 M32 Run 12 Burgess loses contain in a giant, terrible way. McClintock is also seemingly responsible.
1 10 M16 Run 6 Branch just runs himself way, way out of the play, opening up a huge gap.
2 4 M10 Run 3 Again a contain issue, as the middle is pretty well jammed up.
3 1 M7 Run 3 Sneak. Taylor gets smacked backwards.
1 G M4 Run 4 Taylor holds his ground and should make the tackle at the line but gets bowled over and Harris scores.
Drive Notes: A garbage time drive but I charted it anyway just to see, since the starters played a portion of it. Thompson looked much better than McClintock in his brief time, though he was victimized by play action twice. Taylor got a rude introduction to college.

Well... I don't think the performance was as total a disaster as I did before I saw the tape. Still bad, certainly. An asteroid impact moment, no.

Individuals: The clear A1 defensive star of the game was Woodley, who only had one big play that showed up on the stat sheet--the sack/strip/recovery--but caused a holding call, hurried Horvath regularly (when he held the ball long enough to be hurried), and was decent against the run. He had some contain issues, just like everyone else, but overall he was a net positive. Chris Graham also did well. Engelmon seemed capable.

Despite Carr's outrage at Watson, I thought he did all right. A lot of NIU's yards came from bouncing outside on stuff runs up the middle and most of the yards on the interior came when Watson was crushing his man upfield save for a smattering of "I'm fat and tired" examples.

Goat of the game is either Massey or McClintock, unless you really want to hammer Mundy for his usual giant play ceded. Massey kept getting doubled and crushed. McClintock did almost nothing good all day. John Thompson had more positive impact in one garbage time drive than McClintock did all day. Burgess wasn't particularly good, either, losing contain regularly.

Vs NIU Passing: Hardly even tried to defend it until NIU made it to the red zone, at which point things tightened up and Horvath couldn't find any receivers. I wouldn't put any stock into this performance--Michigan tipped its coverage before every play and only blitzed occasionally from fairly obvious places. Quinn will not get the same kid gloves.

Vs NIU Running: Vastly concerning. I have a crazy theory: NIU decided they were going to single block Watson a lot and double Massey. Massey simply can't handle double teams and crumples to the ground. Meanwhile, the guy blocking Watson just sort of has to pilot him a little bit away from the play and viola, there's a big hole for Wolfe. Can others repeat this tactic? If they have a nimble back with excellent vision, probably, though I doubt there are many backs as nimble as Wolfe around. What I saw of Darius Walker, though, indicates that he's got the requisite ability to exploit our problems with containment and gap integrity. Unless we get this fixed we have issues, especially if McClintock doesn't perform any better.

The good news is that NIU is not a CMU-like pushover opponent: they've consistently proven a tough nut for BCS teams to crack and they run like that against everyone. There's NFL talent on the line for the Huskies. I think that the run defense is going to be significantly better than it was--when you return the linchpin of your fierce conventional run D from a year ago it's unlikely to get a huge dropoff--but clearly there are major issues with the linebackers.

Grade: D+, with a special note to the parents that says "Timmah has potential if he just tries harder."