Clark: "UM Defense had trouble lining up"

Submitted by kevin0353 on October 25th, 2009 at 10:03 AM

Daryll Clark told reporters after the game that Michigan had trouble lining up for plays at times and they didn't disguise the coverage any.…

Defense is 75% brains and effort and 25% talent. The kids out on the field for UM are clueless - they're getting turned around, giving up play after play to the TE in the middle, tackling poorly, all while playing way too far off receivers.

This is unacceptable and unfortunately doesn't look like it's going to change anytime soon.



October 25th, 2009 at 10:10 AM ^

I really think it's more of an issue of 3 coordinators in 3 years than overall talent. Sure, there are deficiencies across the board. But it isn't like the talent level at most schools is better than U of M.

We give a pass to the offense last year because they needed to "learn the system". The same is true on defense. Combine that with a lot of youth, and you're in for some ugly games.

Anyway, the problems yesterday certainly aren't fully on the defense. They gave up a few BIG plays which resulted in quite a few points, but they also held PSU in check forcing them to punt quite a few times. You'll almost never win games when you only put up 10 points.


October 25th, 2009 at 10:21 AM ^

Defense is 75% brains and effort and 25% talent.

I have a hard time buying this. ANY sport, played at a high level, is about talent. This "brains and effort" shit is what the media feeds you to convince mouth-breathing idiots that David Eckstein is actually a better player than Manny Ramirez or some shit. He's not. Sports, more often than not, are not about cute little human interest lessons like "moxie" or "intangibles" that the media feeds you, but about who is fucking better. Penn State was just better, period.

Further, it's offensive that you want to paint all of our kids with a brush that implies they're either stupid or lazy. That's not being a fan of the team, that's being a fan of wins. It's fine to say "_____ didn't play well," or "I think ______ has played poorly," but don't stoop to calling our own kids dumb and lazy - I'm sure they're neither.


October 25th, 2009 at 10:29 AM ^

I'm not excusing the OP, just trying to extract something useful here. Illinois has pretty good talent this year, but they are awful. Are they all stupid (brains)? Probably not. Are they all lazy? Probably not. Are they poorly coached (educated)? There we are. There are kids that don't learn well, probably on every team in the country, but there are also kids that haven't been consistently well-trained. We have had a different DC every season, so essentially the 'book' on defense has changed constantly. Our kids are taking GERG 101. Their PSU counterparts were the equivalent of upperclassmen of a 50-year old system. No wonder their D looked better than ours. And they got read by a senior QB, a guy that played in the Rose Bowl last year. Yep, we are going to look pretty uneducated there. Not stupid, not lazy, but novices.


October 25th, 2009 at 10:35 AM ^

(meant in reply to "Nothsa")

Actually, Illinois' defensive talent level, at least, is miserable. Nobody thought they'd have a decent defense.

I'm not even sure all of it was "our guys being 'uneducated'" - on the long TD to Quarless, Ezeh didn't blow coverage - he just got beat. It wasn't brains - he did the right thing. It wasn't effort - I'm sure he was running as fast as he could. He just couldn't cover him. Period.

The Nicker

October 25th, 2009 at 11:06 AM ^

The example you give would actually be a prime example of a problem a fan could have with a defensive coordinator. There is a talent issue with this match-up (or, more particularly, a speed issue), and everyone knows.

Brian pointed it out in the preview, and I'm sure that Robinson is aware that Quarless on our LBs is a mismatch. So why is the scheme calling for our safeties to play over the outside wideouts on that play?

That's bad scheme when you're not preparing to minimize your known mismatches. Basically, the talent gap and coaching mistakes generally contribute to big plays equally.


October 25th, 2009 at 11:13 AM ^

But this isn't Tecmo Bowl, where you call the opposing team's offensive play and you gang-tackle the QB with 11 guys - there's no perfect defense. Every single defensive call has a way to be exploited. Also, sometimes the offense just catches the defense in an unideal play-call. I'm sure Robinson doesn't want Ezeh covering Quarless man-on-man anymore than you or I do - he's not an idiot. Sometimes the offense finds the opening you leave them, and sometimes they just have the right call on your D. That's not a "scheme" problem as much as it's a dead certainty that it happen now and then.


October 25th, 2009 at 11:30 AM ^

1) were not calling for perfect defense 2) the fact that they were not disguising coverages at all makes it incredibly easy to catch the defense in an "unideal play call" 3) the defense has been exposed down the middle repeatedly.

I know they're young and they're going to make mistakes, but one would think that after months of practice and multiple games they would learn from them we wouldn't see this over and over. It's happening a lot more than "now and then".


October 25th, 2009 at 11:32 AM ^

I'm not sure how much people should listen to post-game insults thrown out by the opposition. If these guys were 100% credible, every single team that's lost in the history of football did so because the other team knew what they were going to do with 100% credibility.


October 25th, 2009 at 1:01 PM ^

I watched Clark and he's not really the insult type, actually I thought he was pretty classy. His responses were based on questions about our defense and how he took advantage of what we showed. Additionally, we know from our own players and coaches, who have stated basically the same thing As Clark did, that this was true in past games this season. Looked at in this way, Clark is merely confirming what our team has said about themselves. So the fact that this continues to be a problem should concern us, not that we as fans can do anything about it. Disguising coverage is important, unless you have lock down corners, and if the lining up problem is true still, that indicates a problem somewhere. Wwhether that's coaching or continued player mistakes is something that we can't know for sure.


October 25th, 2009 at 11:12 AM ^

As an example, Mike Williams has talent, he played in the Army All-American game and was a fine recruit. Mike Williams also has been coached, and I assume coached well. But when presented with situations that he has been coached on, he has been blowing it. That run by Royster was the definitive example of the tackling drill we've all seen where we practice the open field tackling with two guys in space. Yet Williams didn't even get a hand on him. Is that talent, coaching, a player not getting it, or something else? I would say it was just a simple mistake, if we hadn't seen that continually from him.

So I don't know, yesterday frankly has me at a loss. The comments from Clark about lining up difficulties and also our inability to disguise coverages concern me as well, as we've heard this before.


October 25th, 2009 at 1:55 PM ^

Mike Williams is also a sophomore who has already had to change positions a couple of times. Under ideal (read normal in a few years) circumstances where we have more than two seniors on the entire defensive roster, Williams would have been able to wait his turn and learn. Instead he is thrust into the lineup and the team has to live with the mistakes that we would all prefer be made while playing with the 2nd team in practice. That also goes for guys like Kovacs, Roh, Cissoko, and even Martin and Van Bergen.

In addition to only having those 2 seniors on D, the team as a whole has 10 unused scholarships thanks to departures/attrition (read zero depth). In a few years the team will have plenty of experience and depth when they are operating with a full deck personnel wise. Until then, I don't think it is fair to pile on guys for making mistakes that can only be expected from young players. Let's reserve judgment on Williams' ability until he's an upperclassman.

That being said, I still cussed out the TV when he overran the play just like everyone else.

The FannMan

October 25th, 2009 at 11:15 AM ^

Exactly. He was there, he just couldn't run with him. Clark did an good job of picking on Ezeh in coverage. PSU probably did things to get that match-up. I think the UFRs will tell that tale. In a year or two, different LB and/or a better pass rush (Martin as a senior with Roh and Campbell as Juniors) may fix the problem.

Talent level also explains some of the schemes. For example, a CB plays off a WR when the WR can run by the CB. We are weak at DB, and have to play off WRs a lot. (I am surprised that the coaches seemed not to trust Warren in press without safety help.) It isn't an effort problem. We have a talent issue that time and recruitment will have to fix.


October 25th, 2009 at 11:24 AM ^

Presumption from many on this blog is that Michigan spent both this week and last (Delaware State) preparing for this very game. I hope that wasn't the case. Talent gap or not, if you have 2 weeks to prep for a team, you should show better than we did yesterday.


October 25th, 2009 at 11:33 AM ^

A couple D-bags were throwing the unacceptable bomb around on the live chat yesterday. The thing is, what is "acceptable" to these folks? Perfect seasons every year? Shut outs every game? Every starter a senior 5 star and his back up a senior 4 star? Hall of fame coaches at every position?

We lost to a much better, much more experienced team yesterday. Just like when Michigan beat those PSU teams 20-0 and 33-11 in 2001 and 2000. There were probably tons of PSU idiots screaming that the play in those games were unacceptable too.


October 25th, 2009 at 12:20 PM ^

Hi all

Long time reader, first time poster. Yeah I know it's cliche, but anyway.

Regarding this whole issue of lack of talent on the Defensive side for Michigan, can you really say that Michigan has less talent than say Iowa, Michigan State, etc?

There's no way I can believe this. It can't be a talent issue.

The only other thing that makes sense is lack of experience for running a new defense.


October 25th, 2009 at 12:57 PM ^

Actually, I think that's very much up for debate. Brandon Graham may be more talented than anyone on Iowa's or MSU's defense, to be sure. But look at the overall unit. Do those teams have a freshman walk-on starting at strong safety? Do they have an undersized true freshman starting at outside linebacker? Do they have several more walk-ons in the two-deep at LB and DL? If I could swap our defensive two-deep for Iowa's or MSU's I'd do it.


October 25th, 2009 at 7:34 PM ^

This talent issue is a precarious slope to rest an argument on. Look at the rest of the unit besides Kovacs. Since recruiting stars do matter:

D-Line: Two four stars, one five star
LB: Three four stars, one three star
CB: One four star, one five star
S: One walk-on, one four star

Now, that's a pretty damn talented unit as per Rivals. Then you have to take into account coaching, position changes, and the three different D-Coordinators. That potentially can make a huge impact, but saying we don't have a talented defense is misleading. Whether or not that talent was previously misused and is currently being coached to their full potential is the question.

And if it isn't that, then we've really hit the perfect storm of overrated defensive players.


October 25th, 2009 at 7:46 PM ^

I think "talent" is such a broad idea that it's hard to know what people mean when they talk about it.

For example, Mike Williams has physical talent. He's pretty fast, he can hit, he displayed good ball skills in high school, he's strong, etc. What he's failed to do is a) take good angles and b) prevent receivers from getting over top of him. So is that a lack of "talent" or is that inexperience?

I don't really look at any of these guys and think they're deficient on talent. We have speed. We have hitting. We have strength. We lack some size on the defensive line, but that's our best unit, so whatever. Not many receivers can run by Woolfolk or Warren. Not many teams can outmuscle Martin and Graham. Etc.

It's a matter of depth and football intelligence, and the lack of football intelligence won't go away until we have some consistency on the defensive coaching staff.


October 25th, 2009 at 12:47 PM ^

If someone asked Mr. Robinson his vision of a "perfect" defense and then asked him to answer what, if any, portion of his hoped for pieces/parts to that perfect d UM has, that he would be hard pressed (if answering honestly) to identify many/any.

Save of course for BG..


October 25th, 2009 at 1:57 PM ^

mostly Fr and So's on the Dline, 3 linebackers who were all recruited for different positions and 4 DB's of which only 1 had any significant game experience........has trouble lineing up. Most of them on their 3rd defensive coordinator in 3 years.

Yeah shocking.


October 25th, 2009 at 3:10 PM ^

but this:

"Defense is 75% brains and effort and 25% talent."

That's just stupid. Really really stupid. Which is funny, because you're still disqualified from being good at football by your own definition. You demonstrated neither brains nor effort. Anyway, you obviously don't read this blog so you should probably not be using the boards to show off your tiny tiny brain.


October 25th, 2009 at 4:53 PM ^

I realize you have to be smart and work hard to get a Ph.D., but outside of your field it's just not that impressive or useful. I've known way too many to be impressed, and I suspect many other people on this board feel the same way.


October 25th, 2009 at 5:32 PM ^

Not in football, but the social sciences which includes human behavior and motivation, and it also includes lots of statistics - each of these are very relevant. The purpose of the OP was to convey the point that the talent is there and that the application of fundamental defensive principles is not. Different defensive coordinator or not, learning should be taking place by now.

I could easily roll up a bunch of statistics that would be way over your head and much more detailed than the amateur statistics on this board, but I'd rather spend my time doing other things.


October 25th, 2009 at 10:40 PM ^

I wouldn't presume that the people on this board would be entirely clueless on your advanced statistics. Insulting everybody really gets you nowhere at all. Also, your time can't possibly be that important, otherwise you wouldn't use it defending yourself on this board.

So go ahead, do it. Show off your ePHD. I'm sure we'd all gain great knowledge from your studies in human behavior and motivation and professional stats knowledge.


October 25th, 2009 at 10:49 PM ^

"I could easily roll up a bunch of statistics that would be way over your head and much more detailed than the amateur statistics on this board, but I'd rather spend my time doing other things."

Well, please choose one or the other. I'd be totally fine with you taking your phd and doing those other things you enjoy (I wonder why you posted in the first place, though). In the alternative, I'd love to be dazzled by your amazing stats. Of the internets I've read, the folks here actually read, understand and seem to like useful stats, so bring 'em on.


October 25th, 2009 at 6:02 PM ^

Nobody gives a fuck if you have a Ph.D.

It obviously didn't prevent you from saying "it's more than you can EVERY dream of having," so I'm not sure it helps you in analyzing football, either.

It must suck to have a Ph.D and realize that it doesn't even translate into internet cred.


October 25th, 2009 at 6:36 PM ^

can i see your resumé and social security number while you're at it? also, i'm going to need your home address to mail this huge ass trophy in honor of your exploits. it's definitely not a hooker with scabies. don't worry.

physics guy

October 25th, 2009 at 7:03 PM ^

Someone please call Coach Rodriguez. He needs to get our PhD on his calendar so that he can give a motivational speech to the team and analyze their behavior under the duress of a game situation. Perhaps a second session with the coaches would also be in order so that he can roll out his professional statistics for them.


October 25th, 2009 at 4:08 PM ^

So I wanted to objectively compare the idea that other teams have more talent or are more experienced on Defense than we are and that is one of the main reasons our defense seems to be lacking. I wanted to also compare ourselves to arguably one of the best defenses in our conference or at least to a team with a very good defense having a great year.

(year, experience, rivals rating) *Team is clear advantage

SS - *Iowa (So, 1V, ***) Michigan (Fr, 0V, NR)
FS - Iowa (Jr, 2V, NR) *Michigan (Jr, 1V, ****)
RC - Iowa (Jr, 1V, **) *Michigan (Jr, 2V, ***)
LC - Iowa (So, 1V, ***) *Michigan (Jr, 2V, *****)
MLB - Iowa (Sr, 2V, ***) Michigan (Sr, 2V, ***)
WLB - Iowa (Jr, 2V, ****) Michigan (Sr, 2V, ****)
OLB - Iowa (Sr, 3V, ***) Michigan (Sr, 3V, ****)
DT - Iowa (Jr, 1V, **) *Michigan (So, 1V, ****)
DT - *Iowa (Jr, 2V, ****) Michigan (Jr, 1V, ****)
DE - Iowa (Jr, 2V, ****) *Michigan (Sr, 3V, *****)
DE - *Iowa (So, 1V, ***) Michigan (Fr, 0V, ****)

Avg - Iowa (Jr, 1.6V, 2.8*) Michigan(Jr, 1.5V, 3.6*)

So to me it, it looks like we have way more talent, the same year underclassmen, but slightly less varsity experience.

Now if you take into account this is the third system these players have been in I guess the difference really is experience.

The "cupboard" is not bare in terms of talent at all however and I don't think that's a plausible argument.


October 25th, 2009 at 5:25 PM ^

I don't know where you got this info, but based on eligibility both Ezeh and Mouton are juniors, not seniors. Van Bergen is a RS sophomore. These mistake skews UM's experience level up in your analysis. Iowa has three sophomore starters and I would guess some if not all of those guys are really third year players in the program (I don't know enough about their program to be sure though and I am not going to bother looking it up). Everyone else is an upperclassman. On the flip side, UM has a true freshman at DE/OLB, a RS freshman at SS (also a walk-on), and a true sophomore starting at DT (not to mention Boubacar, a true sophomore, started a number of games to start the season). Add this to RS sophomores like Williams and Van Bergen and you have a ridiculously young defense that is half-stocked with underclassmen. Look at the two deep and Michigan is even younger and more inexperienced. Tack on the fact that a large number of these guys are changing positions and you have the results we've seen (talented enough to make some big plays but young and inexperienced enough to get burned when there are split-second mental lapses).

College players take time to develop. Guys who are forced to play early (before they are upperclassmen) are going to struggle unless they are off the charts in terms of talent and high school preparation. When we are using all of our scholarships and the players RichRod has brought in have time to develop, this will no longer be a problem.

EDIT: I looked up Iowa's info. They have one sophomore starter and three sophomore backups on the DL. All are third year players. They have one sophomore on the two deep at LB and he is a third year player. The only youth at all is in the secondary where they have a true sophomore starting at one corner spot and three second year players in backup roles. They have an abundance of experience and depth when compared to UM.

The Claw

October 25th, 2009 at 11:33 PM ^

As a long time Denver Broncos fan, I know all about Robinson. He played this same defense with them for years and it drove me crazy. 10 yards off the ball on the WRs, so easy to play pitch and catch. Beware, if he's here next season, you'll see more of the same. He's been running it for 20 years. He's not going to change unless RR makes him.


October 26th, 2009 at 7:32 AM ^

Clark is a 5th year senior in an Offense that has been basically the same since JoePa took over many, many moons ago.

He was playing a D that has it's 3rd DC in 3 years, has a couple of walk-ons in the 2 deep, and has tons of underclassmen on D.

Really, what do you expect of him?