Defensive side of the ball MUST get better.

Submitted by CarlisleWolverine on September 12th, 2010 at 11:15 AM
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Michigan Wolverines

2-0, 0-0 Big Ten (5th)
Div. I Ranking Offense Defense
Rushing 287.5 (7th) 146.0 (65th)
Passing 215.0 (56th) 293.0 (94th)
Overall 13th 96th



September 12th, 2010 at 11:19 AM ^

Jesus, we know, the players know, the coahes know. The secondary is playing freshman all over the place. Enjoy the wins. Or just give is stats telling us the deficiencies, thats always helpful, thanks!


September 12th, 2010 at 3:00 PM ^

That's all well and good until somebody drops 40 on us.

If Crist had been available for the entire game, Notre Dame's rate of scoring would have given them 42 points.  When you put in a true freshman and a JUCO transfer who have never played before, your offense is bound to underperform (to the tune of 535 yards in yesterday's case).

Winning is the most important thing, but this is a concern.


September 12th, 2010 at 11:24 AM ^

better than a 95-yard TD.  They're young kids, they're going to get overwhelmed sometimes.  Tell them to just tackle the dude if he's going to burn you.  No shame in that.  We have way more 15-yard+ pass plays against us than we do interference calls.


September 12th, 2010 at 11:24 AM ^

After the next 3 weeks our defensive ranking should improve drastically.  By that time our freshman secondary (ugh) will have more experience and play better.

Be happy that we won our first two games.

That is all.

Hello Heisman

September 12th, 2010 at 11:24 AM ^

Yikes.  I was waiting to see the stats.  The 95 yard play didn't help any.  We are still 2 years away from having a defense that we can rely on I think.

But if we are trying to play bend but don't break it sort of is working so far.  Not sure if we are just lucky but I think we will give up tons of yards this year and the key will be can we turn enough long drives from opponents into field goals.

by the way - Gordon needs major ball in the air work.  He will learn.  Remember he doesn't see alot of the over the top passes in practice.  it must be hard to when you are a new starter and are seeing plays that you never practice against. 

another thought - our corners are ok enough I think.  Possibly good enough that next year we could move Troy W. back to safety.  Then magically our safety play improves big time.

Todd Plate's n…

September 12th, 2010 at 11:24 AM ^

It will.  patience is required.  The positives?


Roh and Martin seem to be playing as expected.  Mouton has made the leap.  From my untrained eye, it looks like James Rogers and JT Floyd are exceeding expectations.  

Improvement?  Cam, I believe, learned some good lessons yesterday, he is a RS Frosh and will only get better with reps.  We saw Cullen and Avery on the field at the end...when big ten play rolls around, they will still be freshman, but freshman with 4 games under their belt with some meaningful PT.  I'm interested to see how Ezeh grades out yesterday...he seemed solid against the run and was in the backfield a few times.  

We will not face another team with 2 all-american receivers, thus the 3 man rush should be used far less going forward.  

Tackling seems solid and even when a guy doesn't make the tackle, he battles and hangs on until his teammates come and clean-up.  


September 12th, 2010 at 11:27 AM ^

I don't understand how we can rush 3 guys most of the time and the TE is still wide open streaking down the middle of the field.  Why not just bring 4-6 guys and at least put some pressure on the QB, not giving him a ton of time to actually find the wide open TE?  The 95 yd TD pass really irked me when I saw we only rushed 3 guys and Crist had all day to find the TE wide open when 8 of our guys were apparently dropping back into coverage.  Still looks like the same issues at safety.


September 12th, 2010 at 11:38 AM ^

Agreed.  But I think most of us are feeling that there is hope with our secondary after the last two games.  For the most part they have accounted themselves well and I think they can get better as our inexperienced players gain game experience and learn from their mistakes. 

Floyd and Rodgers have played better than I expected and others like Gordon and Christian will either improve or be replaced.  Johnson also will return in a few weeks will help our substitutions.

Zone Left

September 12th, 2010 at 11:48 AM ^

Points allowed is good for 39th after playing two mid-tier BCS teams--which is a pretty good set of wins two games into the year.

I'm worried about the offense, 29 ppg is only good for 61st!  Denard should probably get benched for sucking.

Seriously though, they're just trying to keep everything in front of the secondary and force opponents to methodically move down the field.  There's probably only 3-4 teams on Michigan's schedule with the QB play necessary to do that, and they just beat one of them.  For those of you that want to go blitz happy, remember--that's what Michigan's been doing the last couple of seasons with much more experienced secondaries.  How'd that work out?  Think happy thoughts.


September 12th, 2010 at 11:52 AM ^

The defense needs to get better, but let's not forget that about 200 of those yards were on the Rudolph 95-yd TD and against the prevent defense Michigan was playing at the end of the first half and at the end of the game.

The only thing that matters to me right now is the win and the number of points opponents have put on the board.

MI Expat NY

September 12th, 2010 at 11:57 AM ^

C'mon... of course we have to get better, but if you look at the entire game with a critical eye, you'll see there's a lot to be hopeful about.  About 180 yards or so came on three secondary busts.  Those will happen with such an inexperienced secondary.  Another 40 yards came against prevent defense. 

The rest of the game there were exactly two sustained drives, both aided by either good field position or 15 yard late hit penalties.  Yes, it's easy to say that Crist not being in there changed things, but at the same time, Notre Dame is as talented in the skill positions as anyone we'll see, and even a backup should have been able to do more with that talent then they did. 

Assuming our secondary improves over the course of the season, everything points right now to a defense we can live with.


September 12th, 2010 at 12:08 PM ^

There are only a handful of teams that haven't played a single cupcake yet and Michigan is one of them.  Furthermore, the teams we did play are supposed to be known for having strong offenses.  We have no reason whatsoever to panic right now.

Edit:  Also, considering that we played a running team (UConn) and a team that looked like one (ND) those rushing stats are kind of encouraging compared to last year's asstastic performance.


September 12th, 2010 at 12:01 PM ^

About defense, and WE ALL KNEW coming into this season that the defense is gum, duct tape, and prayers--but the OFFENSE was shut out for the entire second half until the last drive.

I know, the refs were out to get us by calling four penatlies in the second half--but still--and YES, I'm wondering why in Year Three Rodriguez doesn't have a kicker who can be reliable--the fact that the offense was largely inneffective for most of the second half is something to consider when Michigan plays better teams, and gets to the Big Ten schedule.

Notre Dame=NOT a very good team. expecially with Crist out.


September 12th, 2010 at 12:37 PM ^

You know what will make those numbers look better?  The next three weeks: Umass, Bowling Green, Indiana. Most teams have played at least two cupcakes so far - we have not.  We will move up.


September 12th, 2010 at 12:39 PM ^

The defense also had 11 stops yesterday so at least we didn't give up a lot of long drives.  If Cam Gordon and the rest of our safeties continue to improve, this defense could be ok by the middle of the conference schedule.

grand river fi…

September 12th, 2010 at 1:53 PM ^

I was thinking the same thing, after their field goal the defense did a decent job getting stops against Crist.  I think our defensive difficencies would have been disguised better if our offense hadn't made so many drive killing penalties.

One thing I noticed with our bend but don't break defense is that is continually had us in bad field position throughout the first half.   Our weak punting had something to do with that, but ND would almost always get a first down or a semi long play before we'd get a stop erasing the position our offense gained on the previous drive.  


September 12th, 2010 at 1:12 PM ^

Remember that the defense played half the game against fake QBs.  They looked really good against them, but really didn't do a good job of stopping Crist all day. 

I liked a lot of the physicality but really, they didn't wrap up too well on a lot of plays. 

Furthermore, we did pretty damn well up the middle, but we did really terrible off-tackle and towards the outside against the run. 

We had a lot of good mixed short-range coverage as well, while having trouble keeping plays in front of us in the deeper secondary.  

Honestly, a lot of this is predictable - the box safeties need to play well in this defense to beat the outside run - Ezeh isn't good enough honestly to bust out towards the sidelines and make plays from the MLB spot and frankly that shouldn't be his job.  Better play from them is what would clean up the outside run troubles. If the box safeties did nothing but wrap up and not miss tackles, this defense would be way better.   

Basically, the Defense could be said to be playing to expectations - Line plays pretty well, OLBs great, Ezeh passable, and secondary mostly a liability compared to where you like them.  We expected the deep safety trouble in the beginning of the season and it's going to be something we have to fight through all season. 

Really though, if we simply do nothing but do a better job of making tackles and sticking to fundementals, we will end up seeing far more from our defense.  Our D guys should have practiced enough against denard to know how to make those open-field tackles, and should stick to the fundementals and get the job done. 


We absolutely are going to play bend-but-don't-break all season, so to do that, you have to make those close-range tackles and get your defense consistently in the position to make those big plays or let their offense make mistakes.  If every drive goes for 10+ plays because you don't give up many big ones, you give yourself chances to force errors the way we did on some plays vs. ND yesterday. 

When we don't tackle and give up long TDs, our D never gets that chance.


September 12th, 2010 at 2:25 PM ^

Something to note: Notre Dame had seventeen offensive possessions.  This game was the polar opposite of the UConn game.  On those 17 possessions, they punted eight times, turned it over three times and ran out of time twice without scoring.  They had four scoring drives. 

Allowing the other team to score on one-fourth of its possessions is not that bad.  That generally means giving up 20-25 points, which is precisely what we did.  I feel pretty good about our chances of winning if we hold the opponent to that. 


September 12th, 2010 at 3:27 PM ^

So?  10 of the other 11 offensive starters were still around.  They still had Allen, Floyd, Rudolf et al.  And the whole "he'd never played before" excuse doesn't hold that much water in the second game of the season.  A lot of our defensive starters had never played much as recently as eight days ago. 

Against UConn, we also held them to scores on only one-fourth of their possessions, and they had no QB injury excuses. 


September 12th, 2010 at 3:50 PM ^

Because losing your starting QB is the same as losing a WR, RB, TE, OL, etc., right?  Oh, wait. 

My point is clear: Notre Dame was much better with Crist in the game.  They scored on 44% of their drives with Crist in the game, and 0% of their drives with the backups.  He missed nearly half the game.  If that's not significant to you, then I don't know what to tell you.

You're right that UConn had no injury issues with their quarterback.  It's just that their starting quarterback sucks, and their receivers couldn't catch the ball.  I'm not sure how the UConn game is relevant to Crist's health status, but whatever.


September 12th, 2010 at 4:17 PM ^

ND at full Crist-strength.  They actually bailed out our O who could not sustain drives in the 4th quarter.

I was nervous as hell when ND kept getting the ball back over and over in the 4th quarter.  But our D stepped up each time, except for the one Cam freshman mistake, and most of those were 3 and outs.

They did exactly what we need them to do for most of this year . . . keep the game close enough so that our O is in a position to win it.


September 12th, 2010 at 5:27 PM ^

This defense is extremely young yet talented and very opportunistic.  Through film study, practice, and more game experience they're only going to get better and better.  Let's not forget that the first two teams we have played are very solid offensive teams.  Take some time to enjoy the victory before you critisize the defense.  HAIL


September 13th, 2010 at 12:05 AM ^

We do play bend-but-don't break - we are doing pretty well in terms of Scoring defense in the national ranking and ultimately that's the most important stat if you don't expect to shut people down.