Defense -- progress, in drive stats

Submitted by Nonnair on November 13th, 2010 at 8:35 PM

Since halftime of the Illinois game, it sure feels that the Michigan defense is playing better.

Drive stats bear that out. Impressively, too. (Impressive? Our defense? Who knew.)

Excluding the overtimes vs Illinois and Purdue's last-minute garbage-time drive, the M defense has faced 22 drives that mattered in regulation in the past three halves of football.

Number of drives allowed of 30+ yards: Only THREE. (by far the biggest about-face stat of them all)

Number of touchdowns allowed: Only TWO (both by Illinois, and one on a 28-yard drive after Tate's inexplicable first-play fumble).

Number of FG attempts allowed: Only FOUR, but three were after deep-in-M-territory turnovers by our O, after which our defense held all three times on drives of 9, 16 and 2 yards.

Number of forced punts: ELEVEN

Number of three-and-outs: EIGHT

Number of interceptions: TWO

Number of recovered fumbles: THREE


Ummmm, isn't that what real defenses are supposed to do?

 Yeah, I get it. Neither Illinois nor Purdue is good. But last year, and earlier this year, our defense was bad against bad teams, even bad this September against a I-AA team.

 This is very good against one bad team and one mediocre team.

This is progress, boys.

 What's more, by my count only three starters on D today were in those roles in September: CB James Rogers, DE Ryan Van Bergen and S Jordan Kovacs. Otherwise, backups were in today, or permanent replacement starters (who are playing better than their predecessors, eg Vinopal and Demens) or relocated starters (Cam Gordon, Craig Roh) whose strengths are propelled and weaknesses diminished in these new roles.

Perhaps best of all, these (um) not-exactly-fab five true-frosh DBs (Carvin, Avery, Vinopal, TTalbott and Christian) are starting to make plays, and that's because they're NEAR the ball when it reaches a WR. They're growing up. And getting comfortable. And thus making occasional plays.

Wisconsin and Ohio State both have offenses that are light-years better than Purdue's, and far better than Illinois', but hey. As Bo said, you're either getting better or you're getting worse. And we're getting better on D.



November 13th, 2010 at 8:43 PM ^

That almost makes a case for GERG. Don't neg me, I said almost. Now if that type of trend continue for the next three games I will have to think about it a little. With all of the problems as well as the two offenses coming up, if were able to hold them in that 20-30 range, I wouldn't be so fast to throw out GERG. I thought that every time Purdue made a play it was due to execution. Illinois was somewhat the same. At the same time, I am not going to be shortsighted enough to say he has redeemed himself because of two decent performances against one medicocre and one bad offense.


November 13th, 2010 at 8:57 PM ^

Honestly I have to chalk this more up to the players than the scheme.  I think GERG has shown too much absolute idiocy so far in his tenure to redeem himself, even if the defense performs decently over the last couple  weeks.  One can't ignore the year's worth of confusion and lack of progress (and keeping Craig Roh as a LB until he had to tell them to move him) based on a few games of good play.

Let's also remember that Purdue didn't try to go deep more than once, and didn't do anything all that fancy.  I understand your sentiment, but I think it's too late for GERG.


November 13th, 2010 at 9:10 PM ^

I guess right now I agree. Watching Demens play, I often find myself asking, "Why in the fuck was he not the starter until the middle of the season?" Same thing with Roh. Those things are stupid. I guess my point was what if the defense plays well against the WIsconsin and OSU?

Also, your first point confuses me. If there has been imrovement in the executuion by the players, with most being very young, shouldn't we give GERG a little bit of slack? I don't know, but it seems reasonable to me that if you are going to put the improvement on the players, you also have to put some of the failures on them as well.


***I am still in the ne DC camp. Basically playing devils advocate here.


November 13th, 2010 at 9:20 PM ^

What I meant by that first point is more that the defense is having more success because of playing time for young guys, etc. not because GERG is a better DC.  Look, I'm not a coach, and I rely on the UFR for most of my evaluations just like the rest of us.  My point is more that we can't forgive two years of epic fail for 6 quarters of decent football against bad offenses.  I mean, Purdue was 2008 Michigan bad.

If the D shuts down Wisconsin and Ohio State completely, then I might find myself a tad conflicted, but one point will always stand.  Rich Rod wants/needs a 3-3-5 DC, and Robinson is not that, and seems to have flailed around for much of this season trying to figure out what kind of scheme he was running.  We shouldn't be in November before we decide what D we are going to run.

So perhaps like we had to do with RR after the PSU game, we should reserve judgment for a couple weeks, but I think it still looks pretty bad for GERG.  Also, I am a huge RR fan, even if this post doesn't sound like it. 


November 13th, 2010 at 9:52 PM ^

So then we are on the same page except I just don't think you can put all of the failure on one party and the improvement all on another party. I think it has to be a combination of both or all one or the other. I am also not saying the defensehas greatly imroved based on the past two games. I will judge that by the next two.


November 13th, 2010 at 10:40 PM ^

Give GERG credit for coming in with a definite game plan to pinch the short routes. This forced an inaccurate quarterback with a weak arm to have to beat us over the top. Which he couldn't do. 

The other area that I thought looked good (pre UFR) was we seemed to have a good foundation of what Purdue was doing with that running game. We still got beat at the edge too much, but I never felt like the run defense was poorly prepared at all today.  

It makes me wonder why we didn't pinch more against teams who wanted to wrack up easy yards in the flat. Maybe just development of our players?


November 13th, 2010 at 8:49 PM ^

see any way that DB would allow to keep Gerg and Co? I certainly hope he makes RR clean house on D and hire a up and coming D coord and allow him to hire his own assistants!



November 13th, 2010 at 8:54 PM ^

I am extremely happy with how the defense has been playing recently, but I want to see them have a performance at least half as good as this against Wisconsin next week. Hopefully they play at this level consistently through the bowl game, and then take their momentum and upcoming Barwisation into spring ball.


November 13th, 2010 at 9:12 PM ^

The defense will play the next two games thinking they are getting better and did what they should have done since Illinois halftime. That is better than them playing the same two teams thinking that wheels fell off the bus. Hopefully that mental nugget will transpire something on the field over the next two weeks.



November 13th, 2010 at 9:51 PM ^

I'm not reading into the stats too much just yet - not against Purdue anyway.  

Yes, the stats were pretty good against Purdue.  However, this was also against a team that was 104th in total offense coming into the game, was missing just about every offensive player of consequence due to injury, and was limited due to inclement weather.  Still, it was an encouraging performance by the defense, and that without Mike Martin and Jonas Mouton.

Let's see how we do next week before we get too overly exuberant.


November 13th, 2010 at 9:56 PM ^

I think I will reserve judgment until after we play Wisconsin.  Their O should be a pretty good yardstick to measure whether the D is getting better or if the level of competition the last few weeks was of a different level.


November 13th, 2010 at 11:44 PM ^

I think it's a good sign because it builds confidence.  Those guys won't go out next week and say ok, i can't play as well because this is Wisconsin, they will say, hey, i've done it before, i can do it again.  I texted a couple defensive players after the game and they are excited to go up against Wiscy and OSU.

Courtney Avery is looking like our best corner also fellas...i have a new word for Wolverine fans for next years db's...depth.  I don't have a definition yet but rumor has it that it's great!


November 13th, 2010 at 11:45 PM ^

I am pleased with the apparent improvement in defensive play, but I reserve judgement on whether or not we are improving until after next weekend.  Wisconsin put up 83 on an Indiana team that shredded our defense.  We hold the Badgers in relative check and I'll become a believer.


November 14th, 2010 at 4:50 PM ^

The fact that Wisconsin scored 83 on the indiana DEFENSE has no relevance to the fact that the Indiana OFFENSE "shredded" our defense.  The fact that the Badgers mauled the IU defense and that the excellent Michigan offense mauled it as well does prove that UW will be a test of whether our recent defensive improvement is real or a mirage.  Perhaps that is the comparison that you are looking for.  

Despite the 83 points I do not see Wisconsin as an offensive juggernaut.  Same old Badgers with a strong run game, good play action and tough tight ends.  Very beatable if we play well and our offense holds onto the ball.


November 14th, 2010 at 8:34 AM ^

I see your point, but most OT possessions consist of TDs or FG attempts.

As I said in the intro, this was to see what the UM defense was doing on all drives during the regular course of play.

You are right in that the defense by OT was spent, and allowed three ridiculously easy TDs, really. But Illinois' defense was more spent, and our TDs were even (um) ridiculouslier easy.

Hope that makes sense.


November 14th, 2010 at 4:08 AM ^

This is great and everything, but at the end of it all, our defense hasn't played anyone remarkable enough to brag about. If we can hold Wisky below 60 points, then let's talk about defensive improvement...