Failure of the pass defense

Submitted by Erik_in_Dayton on November 16th, 2009 at 10:55 AM

It seemed like Michigan was running a lot of zone defense against the pass on Saturday (the touchdown Warren gave up on the fade being one exception). We all saw the results. I'm interested to hear from the more football-knowledgeable posters why Tolzein (sp?) ended up looking like Dan Marino. Were the players out of position? Were they slow to react to the ball? Are they just not good? Am I mistaken and was U of M in man most of the game? Is Wisconsin's pass offense less rudimentary than it looks to my not-really-educated eye?

I don't ask this in a bash-the-coaches way. I'm just trying to understand.


The Original Seth

November 16th, 2009 at 11:05 AM ^

Match-ups: it is extremely difficult for our defense to cover tight ends, as our defensive backs are smaller guys and many of them are either playing out of position or are young and inexperienced. Wisconsin has multiple tight ends who will certainly be drafted, and Toon is a receiver who will likely also go on the first day. That's not to say they're uncoverable, it's just to say that our secondary is not where it needs to be -- especially in terms of experience -- if it wants to cover them.

Scheme: Wisconsin has one of the best five running backs in college football, an NFL-ready horse. We stacked the box against him on many obvious running downs, and they took what we gave them (the pass) by surrendering what we took (the run). Our needing to deal with their running game meant that we were operating with, at best, a one-man advantage downfield. We got decent pressure with our four-man rush, but it frequently wasn't enough.

West Texas Blue

November 16th, 2009 at 11:06 AM ^

Based on my limited football knowledge, it looked like we were playing a 4-4 defense, which is designed to stop the run. But the defense can be exposed by big plays and gaps in the zone defense. With 3 guys in the backfield (cover 3?) and all the linebackers playing close to the line to stop the run game, those gaps between the LBs and DBs can be exploited, in which Tolzien fed off the whole game. I suppose CBs would have to play man to man and would have little room for error (JT Floyd looked bad), and LBs would have to move rapidly in space to cover slot receivers and TEs if it was a pass play (which our LBs in space = fail, sans Stevie Brown)


November 16th, 2009 at 11:10 AM ^

We're rather ineffective in man coverage, so we play zones. They run a lot of routes that exploit this (see the 2139847932874 tight end plays across the middle). We adjust, and then they beat us deep.

This is all further compounded by the fact that we're not really good in zone coverage. There was a touchdown near the beginning of the game where Brown let his player go and Woolfolk should have picked him up on the outside deep. Unfortunately, Woolfolk crashed the center along with the other safety (Kovacs maybe?) leaving the Wisconsin player wide open. Pitch and catch really.

Maize and Blue…

November 16th, 2009 at 11:12 AM ^

DBs just aren't that good in coverage and LBs not helping. Ideally on all those passes over the middle you would have the MLB dropping and the safety close enough to make it a difficult throw. We didn't have anyone within 5+ yards on either side making for easy throws to wide open pass catchers.
Since we can't cover man to man the zone should create some windows, but with a defender ready to light up the WR/TE when he catches the ball. How often do you see a Michigan defender ever in position to lower the BOOM on someone catching a pass?


November 16th, 2009 at 11:43 AM ^

Amen I say to you. Just ONCE I'd like to see one of our ILBs step in front of a crossing TE to knock him off his route. OR, after reading "2 to 1" and not seeing the TE release, get DEEPER on their drops to help take away the intermediate route.

I'm sorry, but IMO, if we're still screwing up Cover 2 and 3 coverages, we aren't spending enough time with it in practice. REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION.


November 16th, 2009 at 11:23 AM ^

to avoid the big play. We consistently gave up the 20 yd pass instead which is why we saw Kovacs making a ton of tackles after the catch. Our LBs could not reasonably drop any deeper which left the gap in the zone. My guess is that we would have been able to better contain with better safeties. We know TEs exist (to contradict a rival fan who texted me that question on Saturday), we simply cannot stop it.

Greg McMurtry

November 16th, 2009 at 11:31 AM ^

there were quite a few plays were several players were all bunched together in the middle of the field while WRs and TEs were running free. Obviously, someone or more than one person does not understand the zone scheme UM is running. It's very concerning that this continues to happen especially so deep in the season.

Section 37

November 16th, 2009 at 12:01 PM ^

I liked most of the blitz packages the D ran on Saturday and I would like to see more of them to help out the decimated secondary. I would also like to see someone in the secondary actually break up a pass instead of making the tackle after the reception all of the time. With the exception of the front 4 everyone else seems to react rather than attack. Our secondary has a bad habit of making mundane QB's look like Heisman hopefuls. Go back to the gameplan they ran again Tebow in the Capital One bowl and blitz, blitz, blitz.

Plus I cringe at the thought of Pryor this weeking taking the snap out of the shotgun and taking 2 steps forward then stopping and lobbing passes all day over the CB and S. They definitely need to stay home and keep their eyes on the receiver and out of the backfield.