Return to High-Risk-High-Reward Defense?

Submitted by BlueTimesTwo on November 1st, 2010 at 2:25 AM

Early on this season we celebrated the fact that our defense was no longer giving up multiple 70-yard TDs each game, because this was seen as progress for our young defense, and because those long TDs last year had put pressure on an offense that was not quite ready for prime time.  However, since our offense is much stronger and since we now seem to be playing a bend-and-then-break style of defense, would we be better off getting hyper-aggressive on defense and hoping to offset the big plays with a few turnovers?  Defensively the results would probably not be dramatically different, but it could help our offense in a couple of related ways:

1)  Our offense clearly operates best when playing in rhythm.  You can see when we get in a zone and get defenses back on their heels.  Sitting for 5-10 minutes while our opponents grind out a 14 play TD drive kills all of our offensive momentum and rhythm.

2)  This would put opposing defenses out there for bigger chunks of the game, and our defense out there for smaller chunks of game.  It is not really about time of possession, per se, as much as it is about getting out their and running at such a pace as to have their defense gassed for the entire second half, while giving our depleted defense a chance to stay fresh.  Once our offense started clicking against both MSU and Iowa, their top players like Jones and Clayborn had to go out for extended breathers because they couldn't keep up.  I want to see that every week.

Any thoughts?



November 1st, 2010 at 3:04 AM ^

(1) We can't tackle in space.

(2) We can't cover anyone.

(3) We get no pressure on the QB with 3 or 4.

(4) We haven't forced a TO in like 35436635 games

(5) Our scheme generally is so basic and ineffective....

yeah, why not? Send 8 every play!  Extends the game for our offense and presumably at some point we could force a bad pass or a fumble. The Bend and eventually break cover-8 isn't so hot at the moment. If scheelhaase is going to beat us next week, make him throw the ball 35+ times to do so. sell out to their run game.


November 1st, 2010 at 4:22 AM ^

I can see 2 ways of looking at this.  1st way:

While not great, our defense has been respecable at times on first and 2nd downs this year.  We just haven't been able to get off the field on 3rd down.  Given this optomistic assumption (that our D is good enough to keep us in games with their level of play on 1st and 2nd), then we just need to execute better on third down.

2nd way:

Beacause we've not shown the ability to get stops on 3rd and short-medium, we need to put more pressure on teams on the 1st 2 down to try and get a turnover (not likely since we have no playmakers in the back 7), a sack (more plausible if Martin is healthy), or force an incompletion (depends on the qb) and hopefully put them in 3rd and long (which we still give up conversions on a lot).

I think being hyper-aggresive on early downs in the front seven is unwise as it could jeopardize our rush lines and leave us susceptible to play action. I would however like to see more straight tight man coverage by the corners with 2 deep safety help (as opposed to Cullen Christian 1v1 with a senior wr and no saftey help).  We suck at covering the flats on 3rd down, so I think this would be better than our guys effing up their zones all the time.


November 1st, 2010 at 4:27 AM ^

But further, I think most of the frustration with our defensive staff has to come from their lack of development with regards to fundamentals (both mental and physical), and NOT their scheme choices

With our amount of weaknesses, our staff just has to pick their poison in which part of the D to leave vulnerable.

And I think Coach Rod has stressed this fact in his press conferences.  Even with the physical limitations of this D, improvements in angles, tackling and reaction time would go a long way to shoring it up.


November 1st, 2010 at 1:46 PM ^

I think the reason we are not seeing that development in fundamentals is because of the lack of depth. Coaches are unwilling to put their players through live practices when they know one injury (see Martin, Mike and Woolfolk, Troy) can doom a team. When it looked like JT Floyd might have been injured during the PSU game I just about shat myself.

Now, this does not excuse the mental mistakes that continue to occur. If the team is not practicing tackling, then they had better be learning the schemes and assignments inside and out.


November 1st, 2010 at 12:55 PM ^

quite honestly, I'm done with numbers and percentages and theories about when our D might be competent. They flat out suck. Nothing is working. They literally might as well line up in a punt block formation and see what happens. I'm sorry. That's how bleak things are.

I'm pretty sure that even if we dropped 10 into coverage, we would still give up 30 points a game.

all that coach speak about being unable to send pressure because of the youth in the secondary is totally pointless now. our only chance on D is to have a Thomas Gordon-Matt McGloin incident happen more often in a game. If we give up a huge play TD, whatever, let our offense  match it and move on. No, this is not a sustainable idea, but it's about all we've got and it's better than letting our opponent bleed 5-10 minutes off the clock and score anyway.


November 1st, 2010 at 4:22 AM ^

I've been screaming this point since the 3rd qtr of the game at PSU.  I said it in the liveblog.  I've said it in three different threads now too.  If we're gonna get beat on D.  I'd rather it be from aggression than complacency and bewilderment.  The D looks lost and afraid to make a play.  Turn 'em loose and see what happens.  It's not like it can get worse.


November 1st, 2010 at 11:59 AM ^

I agree with you 100%.  I've been screaming this at all of my family members and close friends.  We need to fucking blitz.  That's all there is too it.  If you give ANY quarterback 5 seconds to survey the field, he is going to find someone open against our secondary.  So WTF let's freaking blitz and give ouselves a chance to force an interception or an incompletion, or get a sack or a fumble ANYTHING!  So what if we give up a long touchdown, at least we get it overwith, as opposed to watching soul-crushing 80 yard drives that end the same way.


November 1st, 2010 at 4:29 AM ^

Our poor young secondary can not have a QB sit in the pocket with all day to throw the ball on them. I agree we need some agressive pass rushing.  I'd rather have it be over fast than to see the opposing team bleed us to death marching up and down the field using valuable clock time.


November 1st, 2010 at 5:39 AM ^

..."bend but don't break." It really sucks. Aggressive defenses keep the opposition guessing and more tentative. 

We're giving up points anyway. The problem now is the long drives cause our depleted defense to fatigue and become injury-prone. May as well be aggressive as hell and take more chances. Get the defense off the field faster and get our offense back out there. 

We'd see more 52-48 kind of games, but that may be what it takes to give us the best chance of winning one or two more.

If we leave things unchanged, we won't be bowl eligible this year again. Illinois and Purdue won't be cakewalks, and we can forget about Wisconsin and OSU. That means RR is history, too, in all likelihood. 

Time to pull out all the stops. Shelve "bend but don't break" before it breaks our butts.


November 1st, 2010 at 7:42 AM ^

Need to try something different.  There are no players on the bench that are going to come in and make a difference.  What we got is what we got as far as talent goes.  Instead of having 6 or 7 back in coverage and bleeding slow deaths every drive, be more aggressive and try something different with the talent we have.  McSheridan had all day to pick apart the D, and and one point they showed a graphic and PSU was 8-11 on 3rd down conversions.   TomVH pretty much summed it up with a tweet....

...I think Greg Robinson has a learning disability


November 2nd, 2010 at 4:27 PM ^

Even if he doesnt' have a learning disability, the more pertinent point here is that he has a teaching disability.  You could hand him our opponents playbook and signals and he still wouldn't be able to teach the kids what to do.  I feel bad for the kids.  They can play as hard as they want.  It won't matter.  The coach is unable to tell them where to be and how to play.


November 1st, 2010 at 8:12 AM ^

Agree that it is maddening to watch them grind it down the field in 10-15 play drives.  My take on this - if we are ahead I don't mind it as much - when we are trailing I would prefer to take more defensive risks and try to get the offense back on the field ASAP>



November 1st, 2010 at 8:25 AM ^

I think the biggest limiting factor is Mike Martin's injury.  He had the bye to heal up and still had it flare up.  So I'm worried it will linger through the season.  No Martin really reduces pass rush abilities.  

Personally I've wished we went with four down more.  Something to take the double team off Martin or open up other guys.  If you have a line of RVB, Banks, Martin and Roh and Martin takes a double team, Banks takes a guy then you have an easier path to the QB for RVB and Roh.  Or the other team keeps a RB or TE in as an extra blocker which means one less person for the secondary to cover.  I'd feel like we might get more utility out of having Banks in full time to tie up a lineman than having Ezeh flailing around and getting blown up by lineman on run plays.  


November 1st, 2010 at 1:01 PM ^

I hate to break it to you, but Mike Martin's non-appearance maybe accounts for one PSU TD. it doesn't win us  the game. We saw it with Brandon Graham. he could have the best game in the world and it would not mean a damn thing considering the void around him. Maybe Royster gets 120 instead of 150. Who knows, but I'm not chalking up the loss to Mike Martin not being there. He's a beast, but a nose tackle's presence doesn't override awful tackling and non-coverage.


November 1st, 2010 at 9:27 AM ^

is the lack of good plays.  I know freshmen are going to make mistakes, but they should also be making some unexpectedly very good plays.  I can't even remember one (aside from Kovacs stealing the ball against UMass).   After 9 nine weeks of the season, let's also remember that the freshman now have had nearly a season of experience -- back when Bo started at Michigan, the season was only 10 games long!    Where's the improvement.  I don't know if aggressiveness is the answer, but it's certainly worth trying something different.

Young Pretty a…

November 1st, 2010 at 9:32 AM ^

You would think versus a walk on QB, they would would have been more aggressive ( Man coverage and multiple blitz packages).  But sending 3-4 and giving up the flats seemed like the game plan.  If a walk on qb picks our secondary apart with man coverage and a blitz in his face, I guess I can live with that

Greg McMurtry

November 1st, 2010 at 9:58 AM ^

With the general consensus. Seems like the young CBs are used to playing man coverage or cover 3. They're getting burned on zone because theyre not disciplined enough yet. Might as well send more pressure and at least force a quick throw than give a QB 8 seconds to throw the ball.


November 1st, 2010 at 12:17 PM ^

I'm pretty sure everyone on defense is even more frustrated than fans are.  So a "get out there and hit somebody" style may work a lot better right now.  I do agree with those who would rather see the defense give up some big plays but compensate with the occasional turnover than watch them suffer death by paper cuts. 

This would give opposing defenses a lot less time to rest, too. 


November 1st, 2010 at 3:03 PM ^

Yes and no.  Like I said, pressure would lead to some stops - hopefully at least enough to offset the big plays.  My point was to look at what sitting on the sidelines for long stretches does to our offense.  It lets their defense rest, and throws off our rhythm and momentum.  If our offense was running no-huddle for a large percentage of the game, no defense, not even OSU, would have anything left for the 4th quarter when it really matters.


November 2nd, 2010 at 4:54 PM ^

First, let DR rehab and get completely healthy. No need to throw him to the dogs against lesser foes (i.e. anybody other than UW and tOSU).

Take the high-risk, high-reward defensive approach outlined previously.

This will yield a victory against tOSU (more likely than UW) because Pryor isn't a good passer AND UM's defense all said and done is fast -- combined with the high risk high reward approach can realistically force tosu to win via the air (which cannot happen). UM's offense is quite capable of putting 30+ on the bucks.