Say What? Defensive Optimism

Submitted by Meeechigan Dan on October 5th, 2010 at 10:34 AM

Our defense...

Is hard to look at.

Our offense…

...however, happens to be so good-looking as to compensate for her ugly friend.

Now, this is not just a bad analogy or an excuse to look at a picture of Melissa Theuriau [Ed: Who needs an excuse?]; this is relevant to football.

In a previous post immediately post-UMass, I said:

3. It can't get any worse. Now, many of you may laugh at the implication that Wisconsin and OSU can't outperform UMass on Offense, but they pretty much can't. UMass dominated TOP - which will be the number one anti-Denard potion going forward...They employed the perfect beat-Michigan formula...

…and this came to pass on Saturday. Those who want to split hairs might argue that our defense against Indiana was worse than it was against UMass, and I am guessing some might argue the other way around. I would suggest we are debating insignificant differences in horribleness.

Where is the optimism in a defense that has twice in the last three weeks performed at or near its worst? They are called victories. Our offense has been sufficient to score more points than our defense at its worst has given up.

Why do I keep suggesting that this defense can’t get any worse? I, myself, was in a state of near gibbering panic at the thought of what Wisconsin and Michigan State might do against our defense. Then I laughed (I swear alcohol had nothing to do with it). This fear is grounded in the nightmarish unreality of a game without a clock.  As of last check, we still have one of these at every game:

Quite simply, UMass and Indiana have both plumbed the depths of the worst case scenario that Wisconsin and MSU can hardly outdo, but may duplicate. They pretty much squeezed in as much offense as the 120th ranked Bend-Don't-Break pass defense is going to allow in a sixty minute game.

Both UMass and Indiana:

  • Dominated TOP as a mechanism to keep Denard and the Michigan Offense off the field (edit: AND limit the number of possesions). This is relevant in that it accentuates the horrid stats that our defense puts up.

      Opponent TOP Michigan TOP
    UMass 36:67 22:22
    Indiana 41:47 18:13
  •  Specialized in long, clock-consuming, play-engorged series at the most damn inopportune time.

    UMass 11 plays 53 yards
      9 plays 67 yards
      9 plays 79 yards
      15 plays 70 yards
         
    Indiana 11 plays 77 yards
      13 plays 99 yards
      10 plays 72 yards
      12 plays 50 yards
      13 plays 80 yards

 

  • (I cannot recall as many long drives as Indiana had in all my years of watching college football. They relentlessly attacked the fundamental weakness of the Bend-Don’t-Break philosophy: take what is given. These opponents, as gracious guests, ate from the buffet set out by our caterer, GERG Special Events.)
  • Had superb success in drive scoring percentage. I don’t know what the national average is here, but I am willing to bet that those batting averages are all-star worthy. A little help from the Mathlete here would be nice.

      Score/Poss Scoring %
    UMass 6/11 55%
    Indiana 5/12 42%

So, in order for better teams to do more damage to Michigan than UMass and Indiana, one of the following things must happen:

  • Better drive scoring percentage.
  • Better defense against our offense.
  • Intangible success (turnovers, special teams, injuries, etc.)

…all the while Michigan does not have an appreciable improvement in defensive performance or tactics.

Now, it is possible that a couple teams will score more frequently than did the two teams above, and it is probable that Denard and company will be defended better. And we know that the intangibles, our enemy in past years, will bite us sometime soon. But the prospects are not as grim as you might believe for a couple reasons:

  1. Chappell’s passes were surgical. I was astounded at his gutsy and precise activity over the middle. I would suggest, based upon propensity for interceptions, that NONE of the remaining QBs possess that level of precision. In other words, our zone passing defense that invites 65 attempts will likely extract more errors out of Cousins, Stanzi, Bolden, Tolzien and Pryor.
  2. Last year demonstrated that RR’s offense could be defended effectively without the “Pat White” prototype QB that stresses defenses. I have finally seen, like a child slowly realizing the truth about Santa, the RR offensive philosophy embodied in that magical, wide-open slant after Denard fakes a QB iso. Does any defense so ridiculously abandon their zone responsibilities to cope with Sheridan, Threet or even Tate? Of course not. I don’t think any defense that we will face will more calmly react to Denard than the first five have. Oh, most will do better, but marginally so. That includes Norm Parker and Iowa (I predict we shred them).

In the end, I am not predicting that we will finish 12-0 or even 11-1. What I am suggesting is that there is a point where defensive ineffectiveness reaches a saturation point in a Bend-Don’t Break strategy that debunks a dark fear in all our hearts that teams will score more and more and more. Teams will score, but the scoring will look pretty much like what UMass and Indiana scoring looked like. As long as Denard stays healthy, we will be in every game.

The proof will be coming shortly - I will return to mgoboard to take my beating these next seven weeks if this prediction doesn't come true: no Big Ten offense will score more than 40 points on Michigan (OK, maybe one in a perfect storm game).

And the final consolation I take is in the offensive line. Last year, our OLine was horrifying. This year it is a source of strength. Assuming (a big assumption) that RR knows both sides of the football, I see a parallel in our secondary that should possess real depth next year and show similar improvement.

Comments

Braylon 5 Hour…

October 5th, 2010 at 12:20 PM ^

Yeah, we could use Sparty being Sparty. Cousins threw 2 picks against Wisconsin last week, and despite the big game he had against us last year, their offense slowed down considerably as the game went on.  All we really need with our current offense is for the other team's offense to go through a lull and shoot themselves in the foot a little bit, we don't need much of an opening. 

Token_sparty

October 5th, 2010 at 1:02 PM ^

The first pick Cousins threw was all on him- I don't think he saw the underneath coverage.  The second pick was tipped at the line and a linebacker made an excellent play to grab that biscuit right before it hit the ground.  MSU's offense slowed down in the second half last year, 'tis true.  But UM's defense was weak even then, before Graham and Warren left and Michigan-Secondary-Hating-God showed up to wreak havoc.  I'm trying to say that UM can't stop anyone on defense and has to rely on an implosion from the other team to get stops consistently.

Against Wisconsin, the Spartans turned the ball over three times in fairly rapid succession, Wisconsin turned those gimmes into 10 points, and I thought "Oh boy, here we go again."  Instead of caving, MSU went right back to dominating the game.  Towards the end, when they went on the game-deciding, 8-minute, suck-the-soul-out-of-Wiscy TD drive, everyone in the stadium knew MSU would run the ball- and Wiscy still couldn't stop it.  I do believe this Spartans team is all growed up- they might make a mistake here and there, but they won't quit.  And they can score whichever way they want- through the ground or air.  I trust MSU's defense to get some stops more than I trust Michigan's.  I guess we'll probably have to agree to disagree on that one.

Meeechigan Dan

October 5th, 2010 at 1:10 PM ^

No negs. But football is hardly an exact science.

  • You are on the road for the first time.
  • You've just had two huge games with your biggest next.
  • You almost lost last year at home to a bad D and a marginal O with a weak OLine and an relatively immobile QB.
  • RR, in my mind, is circling this game as the most important game of the year far beyond OSU and will explore the depth of the playbook.
  • Everyone who thinks Denard is controllable only thinks so on paper. We heard about Teo and UConn's all Big East LB and that was pretty meaningless. Jones is nice, but Jones is not enough. Your defense will give up tons of points.
  • And your inferiority complex makes you prone to bonehead plays.

IPKarma

October 5th, 2010 at 11:42 AM ^

From 2008 bleacher:

Out of that, I calculated the percentage of drives a team scored on using offensive touchdowns and field goals made. The top ten are as follows:

1. Florida - 57.43%
2. Navy - 56.94%
3. Kansas - 52.63
4. Texas Tech - 52.20%
5. Missouri - 52.00%
6. Boise State - 51.76%
7. Oklahoma - 51.67%
8. LSU - 51.40%
9. Hawaii - 50.57%
10. West Virginia - 48.80%
 
The bottom ten are as follows:
 
119. FIU - 17.54%
118. Army - 20.37%
117. Notre Dame - 20.65%
116. Duke - 20.78%
115. Baylor - 20.96%
114. Syracuse - 22.82%
113. Temple - 23.53%
112. Iowa - 23.97%
111. Iowa State - 24.83%
110. Louisiana Tech - 25.44%

Steve in PA

October 5th, 2010 at 12:48 PM ^

We're 3 Hagerup punts from being 2-3 instead of 5-0 by your logic.  One less possession against ND, UMass, and Indiana would have been losses.  At some point the D will need to be responsible for not losing a game instead of dilithium powered offense.

I'm still enjoying the ride 100% better than the last two seasons.  Go Blue!

PurpleStuff

October 5th, 2010 at 12:55 PM ^

Twice the offense has struggled in the second half of games (ND and Indiana).  Both times the defense rose to the occasion (four stops in a row against ND to preserve a 4-point lead and four stops against Indiana compared with only two touchdown drives).

The defense hasn't been great, but they've been more than adequate when they've really had to be.

steelymax

October 5th, 2010 at 12:52 PM ^

Great post.

I was thinking MSU's strategy this week will be to dominate TOP to keep the ball away from Michigan's offense... but as you point out, that scenario has already happened and Michigan still won.

If the defense can force just one (1) turnover, Michigan will win.

The Mathlete

October 5th, 2010 at 1:14 PM ^

The touchdown percentage obviously varies based on starting field position. Drives starting the 30 yard line score 1.9 points per drive. If all of those points are on touchdowns, that equals a 27% chance of TD from a drive starting at the 30. Each yard on the offense's side of the field is worth about 0.5%. 

Indiana Blue

October 5th, 2010 at 1:20 PM ^

I know I'm old (50+ years of U of M football  -  how many watched that 1965 Rose Bowl ?) but I have been reading alot of posts referencing "bend don't break" defensive philosophy.

Not sure where this phrase began  -  but I am sure that it originally meant that the defense would not give up big plays (only 3 breakdowns so far this year) AND that the D would allow teams to drive between the 20's but no further ... that is the "don't break" part.   Back in the day - holding a team to the 20 meant a 37yard FG (which ws 50/50 back then).  

Unfortunately the 2010 version some are quoting is actually a "bend then break" which is totally different and gves all of us "chest pain" at various intensities.  Our D just isn't getting off the field ... and this was also the problem in 2009.  Yes we would be better if Warren didn't leave and injuries didn't happen -  but we still have good (maybe not great) athletes on the D. 

So what is the answer  -  that is not our job  -  its Gerg's.  C'mon dude - wake up  !  you had 10 years in the NFL as DC ....   make a statement !  we are fucking last in the country in pass defense  -  LAST !!   I can even accept a horrible pass defense if we were great at stopping the run ... but that's not true either.  You don't have to have "studs"  -  everyone has heard of "no-name" defenses that play as a team.

But come Saturday - we better stop the run  -  b/c Cousins can' beat us with his arm and State will try to run it all day ... but those scrambles last year hurt us big time.  Damn ... more chest pain ....  think I'll make Melissa Theuriau, my desktop background !!!

Go Blue !

Meeechigan Dan

October 5th, 2010 at 1:36 PM ^

Indiana, I hear you. It should be named the Bend-Slowly-Break defense. And I am not an advocate of it. I have threads where I advocated insane blitzing to either die quickly and get Denard back on the field or blow up their offense - the rationale: why let them keep our offense off the field?

And I also agree that if we were to lay side-by-side our talent with the thirty pass defenses above us in the rankings, we'd find walk-ons and no-stars and scrubs performing at a higher level because of better tactics from the coaching staff.

I am not endorsing GERG or his strategy...but I am stuck with it. And every time I question GERG, the "what are we going to do, change DC yet again!?!" crowd negs me into oblivion. So, I decided to put a happy face on it this morning. GIVEN GERG as our DC, I still see us getting to 9-3.

PurpleStuff

October 5th, 2010 at 2:02 PM ^

USC is 116th in pass defense.  They have a ton more blue-chip talent on that side of the ball, but they have no upperclassmen starting in the secondary and no seniors on the d-line.  People also seem to think Monte Kiffin knows how to coach defense, but they suck because they are young and inexperienced.  We are young, inexperienced, and not nearly as talented. 

GERG is a quality coordinator with a long track record of success.  Our roster on defense is not very good yet (it will be much better when the tons of freshmen getting PT get older).  The reason people who criticize the DC get negged is because it is dumb to expect any coach to get significantly better results than what we are seeing from this unit.  The facts across the country bear this out.

Meeechigan Dan

October 5th, 2010 at 2:18 PM ^

Perhaps. I don't know enough about scheme to judge whether 120th ranked pass defense is the best that can be had from our Defense. I suspect there are tactical fixes that could improve this defense as GERG is certainly not infallible. One, for example, would be to play tight man-to-man coverage from time to time. What's the downside? A quick touchdown? A fast death vs. a slow one, perhaps offset by an occasional pick or three and out?

It is safe to say that Chappell knew the cushion would always be there. Do you think we should make our opposing QB at least have to wonder about coverage? Even if he burned us, I'd rather he have to take an extra half-second to determine if it was tight press coverage or a soft zone.

PurpleStuff

October 5th, 2010 at 2:41 PM ^

This is why you are not the defensive coordinator.  The guy actually doin that job is trying to make it harder for the other team to score, not easier.  Is your actual recommendation that we put Floyd, Rogers, Kovacs, etc. in more one-on-one matchups with opposing receivers?  Virtually every time we blitzed last season, we gave up a touchdown.  We blitzed plenty on Saturday early on as well.  Every time we did it, Chapell turned away from the side the blitz came from and threw the ball to the guy going up against Talbott or some other freshman corner in "tight man-to-man coverage."  Each time it resulted in a TD or an easy first down. 

The strategy we used almost exclusively in the second half (rush three and drop eight) resulted in four stops and two TD drives (not exactly the defensive abortion it is being made out to be).  A defensive coordinator getting those results out of a secondary that consists of sophomore, choice of two freshmen, freshman position switch, sophomore student-body walk-on, and senior who has switched positions a billion times and never been remotely close to seeing the field (all backed up by true freshmen) while going up against a quality senior QB means that the defensive coordinator did a damn good job.

Meeechigan Dan

October 5th, 2010 at 4:44 PM ^

For what it's worth, this is a quote from Ron Simpkins after the game (via Rivals):

I think the thing that bothered me the most is the lack of adjustments. If you want to run the three-down-lineman look and drop eight, that's fine, but when they've thrown for 250 yards at the half it's pretty clear you need to try something different. Now, the three-man front was actually somewhat effective, but there's another reason to rush four and that's to give Indiana a different look. We gave Indiana the same look all game and we just sort of hoped their quarterback would make a mistake. How many mistakes did he make? Not many and yet we didn't change it up at all and make him adjust what he was doing.

What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That's what it was like watching our defense last weekend. They presented Indiana the same look, three up, eight back, the occasional blitz, but they should have gone into the half and come out with a four-man look if for no other reason than their quarterback might have dropped back to pass and thought, 'Hmm, something's different.'

It seems to support my notion that we did little to mix it up and force Chappel to worry about a different look.
 

PurpleStuff

October 5th, 2010 at 6:13 PM ^

We mixed it up much more in the first half and got worse results than we did in the second half when we did basically the same thing on every play.  You and Ron Simpkins might not like the looks of it, but the "doing the same thing over and over again" strategy worked better than the let's mix it up plan.  The only reason we are talking about this as anything other than a positive halftime adjustment is because the offense repeatedly failed to put IU away (unlike say Stanford against ND who got praised for playing a "confusing" three-man-rush look that they basically copied from us and that totally shut down ND's attack) and because the overall numbers look bad (which is going to happen every week because the defense just isn't very good).

wolfman81

October 5th, 2010 at 5:02 PM ^

You make a good point here:

The strategy we used almost exclusively in the second half (rush three and drop eight) resulted in four stops and two TD drives (not exactly the defensive abortion it is being made out to be). 

I'd also like to point out that there were multiple opportunities for Michigan to take a 2-score lead in the second half because of defensive stops.  The closest Michigan came to a 2-score lead was in the 1st half when they fumbled the snap on the 1 yard line.  The offense just wasn't as efficient in the second half.  (Michigan punted 5 times total, and 4 times in the 2nd half.)

BlueTimesTwo

October 6th, 2010 at 12:52 AM ^

I also wonder how much the lack of Shaw and Toussaint affected our D.  We punted on a couple of 4th-and-1 situations, where our more explosive backs might have gotten the extra yard and kept the drives alive, giving us a chance to get up by 2 or 3 scores.  Hopefully they are 100% for MSU and can give our running game a little extra punch.

Indiana Blue

October 5th, 2010 at 2:39 PM ^

That's all I said.  I think Gerg can do it  -  like I said 10 years NFL experience looks extremely good on his resume (throw out the Syracuse years).  I agree negs abound when you question Gerg at all  -  but have you seen the negs RR gives Gerg during the games (stares) ???  Now those are real negs !!!

IMO -  RR has already earned his contract extension.  We have the most electrifying ofense in college football and no words can describe Denard.  Michigan is talked about on sports talk radio and TV every single day ... and this is going to help recruiting BIG TIME.

However - they also talk about our D and they are not using RR's name, they use Gerg's.  The pressure is on him (whether we get negged or not)  -  if we had a top 50 defense right now ... there is no telling where the hype would stop.   

Maybe the '10 ND game made our D more conservative because the big plays killed us in '09.  A conservative defense give us a soft zone, fewer TFL and less 3 & outs.  I do think Gerg's got the knowledge .. but this D needs him to step up ... for it won't be RR taking the fall if the D fails in 2010.

Go Blue !

ForestCityBlue

October 6th, 2010 at 9:18 AM ^

All this talk of how we don’t blitz enough is driving me nuts.  We would all love to see a lock down defence where they blitz like mad and get tonnes of pressure on the QB, a la the Rex and Jets.  But those are personnel driven defences.  Those mad multiple blitz schemes require that you play a lot of man coverage in the secondary.  For that you need competent DBs like Revis.  We are in a state of perpetual zone prevent to cover up for a gaping lack of players and experience.  Our defence is only a small step above a very good high school defence.  Until we get the players, this is our life.  Score on every drive and hold the ball last.  If we can manage one stop a game, we have even odds on winning against pretty much anyone.  This is our season.  And likely next year's too.

Meeechigan Dan

October 6th, 2010 at 9:38 AM ^

No one advocating blitzing with press man coverage is under the illusion that we would be good at it. We are advocating it for three reasons:

  1. Give the offense a different look; force the QB to think about variations in coverage.
  2. See how our slowly maturing young seconday performs when occassionally called upon to provide tight coverage. They are cornerbacks. I assume they will, on occassion, be able to provide tight coverage with a cover 1 over top to bail out at least one side of the field if they get burned. Let's see what happens.
  3. The downside of potentially getting burned - seven points and our potent offense with the ball in what probably amounts to an extra possession - is more than offset by the upside of perhaps blowing up a possession and forcing the QB to slow down and read variable defenses, resulting in other errors as the game progresses.

This is not the fantasy of a coach potato football fan. Ron Simpkins said as much yesterday in an interview:

What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. That's what it was like watching our defense last weekend. They presented Indiana the same look, three up, eight back, the occasional blitz, but they should have gone into the half and come out with a four-man look if for no other reason than their quarterback might have dropped back to pass and thought, 'Hmm, something's different.

And he also observed, as did the rest of the world, that when we blitzed, we offered soft coverage. Again, no one believes Woodson is running around in our secondary, but many believe that allowing 45 completions and 41 minutes of clock control is evidence that the Indiana OC was in an unacceptable comfort zone.

meechwolv

October 5th, 2010 at 3:07 PM ^

Not a big fan of the constant turnover of the Defensive Coordinators......or the defenese backs for that matter.....But I'm not sold that Greg R. is the answer.......Even in his super bowl days with the broncos his pass defense was 28 of  30 teams..........Sorry boys the future isnt bright for the defensive secondary.......That being said RR had the number seven D in the nation when he left WV in 2007.......SO maybe the 3-3-5 can work.....But the biggest concern is Greg R. the answer???... look at his history against the pass....I predict RR keeps his job...but again we see a new DC.......To much invested and its a ton easier to rebuild a defense to average that over haul an offense.....and with an average defense with this offense a national championship is not out of the question.....GO BLUE

azblue55

October 5th, 2010 at 1:40 PM ^

It makes no sense to me how we are using Craig Roh in the last 3 games. He has great games in our first two games mostly playing on the d-line. Was leading our team in TFL's and scored +11 on UFR at Notre Dame. Then we decide to put him in retreat, mostly in pass coverage. The kid is a born DE, not a LB. Look at all the NFL draft sites and he is pegged as a 2nd or 3rd rounder but he is being severly misused. It is hurting our team and hurting his future. We are not using one of our best assets!

Meeechigan Dan

October 5th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

Another quote from Ron Simpkins:

When the year began, they were really excited about this kid and the fact they could use him a variety of ways, but I think what we've seen five weeks into the season is that he's most comfortable with his hand on the ground as a pass rusher, and I think you have to let him do what he does well, because if you're asking him to drop into coverage, he doesn't look confident out there.
 

There's much more behind a paywall, so I'd better stop quoting, but he echoes your sentiments.

jlbockUM

October 5th, 2010 at 5:43 PM ^

I have to agree that GERG can do more with the dynamic Craig Roh.  Roh playing in space is not as instinctive when playing near at the line.  Roh and Black should both be rushing the QB on most passing downs (hand on the ground or not).  You’re taking your best pass rusher away from rushing the passer.

Another curious use of personnel was the blitzing of JT Floyd, meaning you ask a freshman DB to cover.  You’re taking your best DB out of coverage.  The Indiana TD at the end of the first half was the result of a misplayed zone by Talbott.  Does JT Floyd play that correctly?  Maybe. Hopefully yes.

With only so many capable defenders, you have to maximize their abilities.  Roh consistently in zone coverage and Floyd in a blitz does not utilize your defensive playmakers.  Showing different looks is important, but so is putting your players in the best position to succeed.

Lastly, when we bring delayed blitzes it would be good to see our DBs press up on the WRs a bit.  Chappell threw into the blitz, as a good QB will do, and the WRs were open on short routes.  When we dial-up a blitz the coverage has to be tighter, knowing the WRs will shorten routes.  JT Floyd, at least, has the ability to re-direct the WR off the line and still get into his zone drop.

GERG is working with an inherently flawed unit, but it would be good to see Roh and Floyd schemed to their strengths, like he has been able to do with Martin and Mouton.

jmblue

October 5th, 2010 at 9:28 PM ^

Most defensive ends weigh in the 270-280 range.  Roh is listed at 251.  He's too light to not be a liability against the run.  If we had better defensive depth, he'd have redshirted last year and then seen spot duty as a situational pass rusher now.  Instead, he's a two-year starter. 

jblaze

October 5th, 2010 at 1:48 PM ^

  • Better drive scoring percentage.
  • Better defense against our offense.
  • Intangible success (turnovers, special teams, injuries, etc.)

1) More balanced Os/ Os with better players should be able to improve on the drive scoring percentage of UMass/ Indiana. Even if not, #2 & #3 are not on Michigan's side.

2) Indiana's D is flat out terrible, and UMass is and FCS school. Additionally, teams now have more film on Denard and Michigan's O to scheme against. I don't think people will stop Michigan at all, but our drive scoring percentage may decline, even slightly as time goes on.

3) We can't catch the Damn Ball on punts, and Stonum hasn't been great on KOs. Additionally, we can't kick a FG, but out punting is decent. Special teams have the ability to change games in a hurry (MSU had a punt return TD that changed the Wisky game).

msoccer10

October 5th, 2010 at 1:53 PM ^

No matter how bad the defense is, we can win still win every game. I don't think we will because eventually we will commit a few turnovers on offense or special teams and give the other team more possesions. But the basic idea is that when an opposing team scores, they have to give us the ball back. They can't keep Denard off the field if they score. I wouldn't be shocked to see a couple teams try to suprise onside kick us this year to avoid giving us the ball back. And we have already seen teams have more willingness to go for it on fourth down because of our offensive prowess.

Since the other team has to give us the ball back if they score, and if the don't score who gives a shit how much time they take off the clock, we have a chance in any game. If we score touchdowns on 60% of our possesions, we will win a lot of games, and I don't see why that is impossible.

Basically, I don't think even with our bad defense that another team is definetely going to score more touchdowns per possesion than we do because our offense is so good and will get better as the year and Denard get better.

FrankMurphy

October 5th, 2010 at 2:26 PM ^

Last year, our OLine was horrifying. 

That had more to do with Molk's injury than anything else. The center is always the most important position on the O-line.

ShruteBeetFarms

October 5th, 2010 at 2:33 PM ^

I think if we can win or break even in the turnover battle we have a good shot at winning most games. Last season, we shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers. So far this year, we broke even in a few games and still came away with the win.

jmblue

October 5th, 2010 at 3:09 PM ^

One thing I was thinking about: for all the million yards we gave up, the fact is, with two minutes to go in the game, IU had 28 points.  Giving up 28 points in 58 minutes is not that bad, especially given our offense this year.  If we had stopped them on one of those last two 4th downs, we might even be hailing this game as a classic example of bend-but-don't-break. 

zerocool

October 5th, 2010 at 3:27 PM ^

If we had not fumbled on the goal line we would have had a two touchdown adbantage and the defense did it's job by getting one or two stops during the game....just proving RR's quote over and over...."we are not good enough to play poorly and win".  We are getting closer though! 

NCWolverine

October 5th, 2010 at 4:12 PM ^

Denard and Company are going to have a huge impact on the opposition's offensive game plan, and/or in-game adjustments.  It will be interesting to see how the Big 10 teams adjust to getting behind 14-7 or 21-7 by the end of the 1Q (with little to no sign of slowing down UM's Off).  So far Indiana and Notre Dame have been able to "keep up" with our scoring due to their ability to pass the ball.  The question that I am most interested in seeing answered over the next two games is what do the "old school" thinking HC do when Denard and Company shred the Def gameplans and the offenses HAVE to keep up.  Being able to pass the ball as a compliment to a good running game is much different than having the pressure of needing to pass and score to stay in the game.  That decision will be made by the opposing coaching staffs and executed by QBs not necessarily suited for it...think Iowa's Offense against AZ.  The next two games, win or lose, will tell us a lot about what to expect for the rest of the season.  Because of Denard and the offensive scheme, I am less worried about Wisconsin and MSU running games.  UI was perfectly suited to take advantage of this situation, but no one else in the Big 10 seems to be.

wolfman81

October 5th, 2010 at 4:13 PM ^

Usually the task is simple...stop them.

Are you saying that it has become, "Stop them one more time then they stop us."?

Does this also assume that the offense can't turn it over (or have the turnover margin be 0 or better)?  (And just to prove that I can speak in paragraphs longer than one sentence...)  Isn't this a replica of the "outscore them" idea that we have heard before.  I guess football, like life is all relative.

Magnum P.I.

October 5th, 2010 at 5:24 PM ^

Our opponents seem to be starting every drive at their 35-yard line or better  I know starting field position isn't the sole explanation for our poor scoring defense (as evidenced by Indiana's relatively effortless 99-yard drive), but we'd probably make it a lot easier on the defense if we were kicking the ball into the end zone on kickoffs. Sooner or later, it's going to come back to bite us.

(Side rant on kickoffs: Are you telling me that there is not a single 18-22 year-old in the country with the academic credentials to get into U-M who can kick a football 70 yards in the air off of a tee? Do we need to host an American Idol-like reality show? Prize is a four-year scholarship to U-M.)

Meeechigan Dan

October 5th, 2010 at 5:34 PM ^

So right! Here, Gibbons came in as a highly rated recruit (at K) with this description (from mgoblog summary):

Gibbons's got a bigger leg than Michigan kickers of the recent past, having hit a 52-yarder in high school. Rivals says he possesses the third-strongest leg in the class. And though kicking guru Chris Sailer has a vested interest in pumping up one of his proteges, he echoes the big leg stuff:

He has a huge leg and gets the ball up well.  Kicks off the ground for FG's and off the 1" for kickoffs.  One of the strongest legs in the nation.

ESPN says… well… you see… he's a kicker:

He gets into his field goals quickly and has smooth tempo. Powerful leg and has kicked several field goals over 40 yards including a 52 yarder. Kickoffs average about 5 yards deep with good hang of about 4.0 seconds.

Does this shit just go away? Once you have the ability to boom monster kick-offs, does this somehow evaporate like my ability to hit a straight drive?

patrickdolan

October 5th, 2010 at 6:32 PM ^

Why do people seem to think that the only people watching film are the other teams' coordinators? If MSU can watch film on the UM offense, can't UM's offensive staff watch film on MSU? Which group do you think will do better with that, not even counting possible speed/talent advantages at several positions?

Meanwhile, in college football, waiting for the other team to screw up can yeild a lot of victories. (See, Volunteers, Tennesee.) The genius of the spread and shred is that if you execute on offense, and speed the game up, you put pressure on the other guys to execute. If they don't execute as well, they have more opportunities to fail, and they will. You may give up lots of points, but the idea is to score more.

This year the strategy is compensating for an inferior defense. If Michigan recruits and develops players as it should, in the future the defense will be more formidable, but I don't see this staff ever trying to pair a Rodriguez offense with a Saban defense. (But, holy Moloch, wouldn't that be fun?)

The point is simple: as bad as this defense has been, taken as a whole, Michigan has won games. There's every reason to suppose that won't continue indefinitely, but there's little reason to suppose that the disaster that was last year will reoccur.