2nd Half Defensive Play Calling Question

Submitted by mGrowOld on November 20th, 2010 at 10:20 PM

Coming into this game almost  every single analysis nationally and on the board suggested it would be critical for us to slow down Wisconsin's potent running attack to have a chance to win.  Wisconsin has been a heavy package running team for as long as I can remember and this year is no different so this was no surprise.

Wisconsin then proceeded to run the ball 32 out of 33 times in the second half of today's game.  As I sat in the stadium it occurred to me that if a running play was "heads" and a passing play was "tails" then the Badger's play calling went something like this: heads, heads, tails, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads, heads and then heads.

And yet it seemed to me (and admittedly I haven't watched the game on DVR yet) that our D wasn't selling out to stop the run.  How is this humanly possible given that  every man, woman and child watching the game could see the pattern developing and know what was coming next?  

Can somebody help me here?  Were we in fact surprised by the repeated "heads" call by Wisconsin or were we just powerless to stop them?



November 20th, 2010 at 10:23 PM ^

If we had overplayed our cards, just once, towards the running game, we probably would have gotten toasted with a PA. Thus is the way of having a sucky defensive backfield


November 20th, 2010 at 11:36 PM ^

This might be the best offensive line in the friggin country.. dont discount the fact that Wisconsins TE is a probable all big ten guy, at like 250.. and it doesnt seem out of the realm of possiblitiy that, given the 8 man fronts, with a FB, they had 7 hats for 8 guys. 

So, assuming our one guy free hit the RB, he HAD to make the tackle. No help. 


November 20th, 2010 at 10:28 PM ^

Powerless by scheme and personnel.  Maybe they were surprised the running on third and long, I dunno.  But mostly that powerless thing.  I am going with powerless.  Again, not just the players, but the coaching.  Powerless.






I want to cry.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:34 PM ^

Sometimes you have to just take some chances and sell the farm - thus the two onside kick attempts.  Considering we were dying a slow death anyway, I don't have a problem with bringing some extra pressure defensively.  Don't make it predictable mind you.  

Probably wouldn't have resulted in a win considering we lost by twenty, but I'm willing to roll the dice since this defense can't get appreciably worse.


November 21st, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

I was at the game until early in the fourth quarter, and on the vast majority of plays I can remember, we were running three DLs. Putting 8 guys in the box is not much of an advantage if only three of them are DLs and you're facing 5 OL plus a bigass TE.

I expected us to lose, and my prediction was 44-29. Regardless, I was curious to see how we were going to attack the Wisky running game—would RR & Co do something, anything, to try to get Wisconsin out of their comfort zone. I don't know how in hell they could have concluded that running 3 DLs was going to be remotely successful over the course of the game, especially since there's virtually no use of stunts/twists/slants/ angles by the DLs to begin with

FWIW, this was the opinion expressed by former UM QB Michael Taylor on the local Sunday radio post-mortem this morning. He acknowledged that running a 4 DL package wouldn't have guaranteed victory by itself, but he also repeatedly said that using only 3 DL guaranteed that we would have no chance to slow Wisconsin down. Basically his point was that it's the responsibility of the coaches to put our players in the best possible position to be successful, and yesterday they largely failed to do that on defense by refusing to run a 4 DL front with any frequency, and by not employing the aforementioned slant/angle/twist tactics to boot with the three DLs they did run. Taylor has been a consistent supporter of the coaching staff and has never bashed RR on the radio. He's as true-Blue a Michigan fan as you could want, and has absolutely no patience whatsoever with people who boo the players or spend a lot of time calling for the coaches to be fired. However, as an alumni player, you can tell he's very, very frustrated with a lot of the coaching decisions.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:37 PM ^


Martin and Roh were both out most/all of the 2nd half, as far as I could tell. Mouton had a pretty poor game, so that basically left us with Demens vs Wisconsin in the running game. What happened wasn't very surprising. I wasn't a huge fan of Vinopal blitzing/playing in the box so much in the game, though. If that's our gameplan we should have Carvin or Cam back there. But that's a rather minor quibble, I think.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:38 PM ^

....one of the better conventional rushing attacks in the nation. They line up big and run big. With a team like this, and with a veteran QB with a couple good targets, a defense would need to line up big in the box and go man to man in the secondary. We don't have the players to successfully  do that consistently. Our first series on D was good, and there was another in the first half where we held them to a field goal that outside of a long pass play, was decent.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:39 PM ^

offensive lineman that are huge, eat steel for lunch, and power sled automobiles  - our defensive line was overmatched. That is all.

myantoniobass …

November 20th, 2010 at 10:52 PM ^

What exactly did we change on D in the 2nd half?  From your eyes, was it just youth missing tackles?  It's such chicken and egg question-but are we recruiting/positioning lighter, faster guys or are we wanting these young light players to be fast and able to stop 300lb lineman and 230+ RBs. It just seemed from my eyes there were no adjustments in players on the field to stop the run.


November 20th, 2010 at 10:59 PM ^

i do not like the 3-3-5 at all...when you have ur safties coming up to make tackles 5 yards down the field...that means the LBs are not doing there jobs and the line is not getting penetration.  Now you cant blame that on youth. We have expeirence in the front and at LBs.  So what does that say?

A) our Lbs are not plugging holes, over pursuing, not getting outside contain, taking bad pursuit angles

B) our line is getting man handled

C) Play calling/scheme

D) all of the above


Im gonna go with D

Abe Froman

November 21st, 2010 at 1:42 AM ^

i do not like the 3-3-5.

not in the flat

against nittany cats.

not when run by blue,

and especially not in the shoe.

not in the house,

cuz seems only to get trounced.

this 3-3-5

has long since died,

and now the people scream

for a new scheme.

no sir i do not like this 3-3-5,

when will the new DC arrive?


November 20th, 2010 at 11:09 PM ^

I agree.


I am not sure it is so much the 3-3-5 as much as it is the dline and linebackers not executing.  The dline does not change the line of scrimmage in a positive way.  While the linebackers fill their gaps part of the time they do not scrape off of blocks to make tackles.


Also if you watch the passing game the actually secondary did not get burned a ton.  Most of the passes looked like missed LB coverages.  It is frustrating to watch some of the older LBs make the same mistakes over and over.


November 20th, 2010 at 11:25 PM ^

Wisconsin only passed once in the 2nd half and that didn't go well for them. I think (haven't seen the replay) there may have been one or two plays where the Wisc. QB Tolzien rolled out with a run/pass option but tucked it and ran. (could be wrong)

The causes of the failure to stop the run have all been listed: personnel, scheme, training, adjustments during the game. Agree with swdude that "all of the above" probably fits. Were it just one factor, we'd be in more games defensively. The defense has consistently given up 400+ yards per game and better than 150 yards rushing per game (pre-Wisconsin).

Unlike some of the other opponents (Illinois this year, Notre Dame last year) Wisconsin didn't try to be cute - they were well ahead, could run the ball and so just did that.

It has been an interesting year and I'm happy to see the emergence of Denard Robinson and that Tate Forcier played well at times during the year and didn't bolt (he saved the Illinois game). A lot of the team has played with heart and are a credit to the program and its legacy. But this game should be a bracing bucket of cold water to every fan and supporter  - pro or con about the coaching staff - there is a lot of work to be done.


November 20th, 2010 at 11:45 PM ^

that we have to change our scheme so that we can stop the run against these guys. Duh. It is the Big 10. If you can't stop the the run you can't win the conference. Let's stop talking about the O and put the same level of scrutiny on the D. I know it is old school but this year proves that a good D wins championships.

His Dudeness

November 20th, 2010 at 11:47 PM ^

Hilarious. I was sitting with my buddy in the stands and at halftime I told him: "I bet they don't throw another pass for the rest of the game." I was wrong, but not by much.

Before every play I kept saying: "I bet they run."

It was frustrating to watch the defense scheme as if they didn't know what everybody who has watched Wisconsin knows. All they do is run.


November 21st, 2010 at 6:40 AM ^

Exactly my point. Why on earth didn't we run at least one or two 8 man blitz's at them on the rare third downs they saw? Put 3 guys in man coverage...chuck the TE at the line...and hope like hell you get to them (remember the end of the Illinois game) when you do.

Death by a thousand cuts is still death.


November 21st, 2010 at 12:42 AM ^

The players had chances to make tackles, but they didn't.  We can't really bench someone for poor tackling due to lack of depth and we can't practice tackling through the week due to injury.


November 21st, 2010 at 6:25 AM ^

...was enjoying rubbing our noses in it. You could just see it on his face.

Henceforth, and as far as I'm concerned, his name shall be spelled "Bile-lema" with bile being defined as a bitter-tasting, dark green to yellowish brown bodily fluid.


November 21st, 2010 at 9:48 AM ^

I did not see the game but am curious as to exactly why we were unable to accomplish anything offensively in the first half.  The one thing that did seem to be somewhat consistent with prior games against good opponents was that while we were still in the game, Denard was not able to get the job done.  At halftime, he was 4 of 10 for 22 yards in passing (the only stat that flashed up on the TV screen when I was in the clubhouse at the turn), and, for all intents and purposes, the game was over.  Since I did not see the game and comments suggest there were some drops, I don't know how much of that was Denard's fault.  But, against decent Big Ten teams, he has only seemed to do well when the other team already had the game in hand, if at all.  To me, the question remains whether in Big Ten games against good competition we will do better with a running quarterback who can pass or a passing quarterback who can run.  I would like to see Tate start against tOSU to test that out, because if we fall behind against them, we will be done.


November 21st, 2010 at 11:41 AM ^

was bad in 1H.  an early overthrow of open seam route for probable TD (punt).

later had an overthrow of open smith at the 5 yd line (missed FG).

then the receivers started dropping some balls.  roundtree's was frustrating because he was making a spin move which could have resulted in a TD (next play - INT).

it's one thing to get beat, but we lose these games by shooting our own damn selves in the foot; especially in the early going of games.