Thoughts on new players on D or players who switched positions

Submitted by SanDiegoWolverine on October 31st, 2010 at 1:06 AM

I was in such shock during the game that I didn't get a chance to catch all the position switches or see who was playing poorly or decently.  With all the ranting going on tonight I haven't seen one serious discussion over how the new or moved guys looked on D.  I'm not even sure who all saw playing time.

I saw Vinopal start but, noticed Cam at Spur, and saw Carvin at different times as well.  Also Sagesse was at DT.  I think it's worth a serious discussion of how these players looked besides just saying that the D looked awful.  We have two very winnable games coming up so I'm looking for any optimism, any at all.



October 31st, 2010 at 1:10 AM ^

optimism to offer at all. Tackling was pathetic and I didn't see much of a change in performance at any postion regardless of who was playing. Too many holes right now.


October 31st, 2010 at 1:13 AM ^

since PSU never tested Vinopal really by simply refusing to throw down field.  It was good to see him in on some tackles, and since PSU didn't go downfield maybe the PSU coaches upstairs didn't see him getting out of position and decided they wouldn't risk it.

Carvin was invisible to me.


The two Gordan's seemed to do OK, I think that was a good move for Cam.


Dline was  a mess after the injury to Martin.    Q Washington was in a one play, and PSU ran right up the gut for a short yardage first down that I saw.


I did not see Marvin Robinson on defense.


I thought the worst player on the D was Mouton and he should be the next to get replaced.  I'm tired of watching him overun every play and having no clue what his assignment is in pass coverage.



October 31st, 2010 at 1:45 AM ^

Yes, that makes perfect sense.  Coaches say: "That guy for Michigan is too small.  Let's pull out our 'too small plays package.'"

Dude, what do you even mean?  Vinopal is bigger than some players who have excelled and he wasn't a problem in and of himself, so what's the point?


October 31st, 2010 at 8:40 AM ^

It's like throwing a small cornerback into a deep zone and telling him to consistently tackle their biggest offensive threats (I.E. tight ends, power running backs, big possession wide receivers). The FS position seems the least hopeful of all, at least the way I'm looking. We've got Gordon (above average in run game, at least he could improve there, and bad bad in coverage), Vinopal (bad bad bad in run game, not really tested in coverage), Carvin Johnson? (used to be a linebacker, I can't imagine it attests to his coverage abilities)... and after that what? Looking down the line, I think the only potential success can be from a freshman who isn't physically limited. And that sucks, I want less freshman on the field if at all possible. 


October 31st, 2010 at 1:23 AM ^

The one time I noticed Vinopal get burned was on the fade for touchdown.  His coverage was decent but I feel like ideally our FS should have enough height and ups to break that pass up.  It was third down, so that TD was extra frustrating.


October 31st, 2010 at 9:18 AM ^

It looked like he allowed a little bit too much separation on that play and was trying to play catch up and got burned. The ball was thrown in the right place though and I'm not sure if him being in position would have stopped the td.


It amazes me that this defense can make a walk on QB look like a Heisman trophy winner.


October 31st, 2010 at 2:07 AM ^

After seeing this team's struggles on offense against two above average Big Ten defenses (MSU and Iowa) and one below average Big Ten defense (PSU) do you really think Michigan can score TDs on 75% of their possessions?  That would correspond to 5.25 points per possession.  In the first half of PSU, Michigan's purportedly powerful offense scored 2 points per possession.  Against the tougher defenses of MSU and Iowa, Michigan scored 1.7 points per possession and 2.3 points per possession, respectively.

Powerful offenses score 3+ points per possession.  Michigan doesn't have one, at least not in Big Ten play.

Fuzzy Dunlop

October 31st, 2010 at 8:06 AM ^

At some point you have to stop relying on stats that were padded against Bowling Green and UMass and look at how our offense has performed against real (non-Indiana) Big 10 defenses.  It hasn't been good.

Fuzzy Dunlop

October 31st, 2010 at 8:44 AM ^

Yes, we were great in the first half putting up 10 points against a decimated Penn State defense.  And our runningbacks averaging under 3 yards a carry against that defense is not a source of concern at all.  Same issues against Iowa before Tate (whom they were not prepared for) came in, and 17 points total against Michigan State.  Everything is great, all is well.


October 31st, 2010 at 2:05 PM ^

I have a hard time faulting the offense when it never gets to start a drive in our opponent's territory.   Our D and special teams have utterly failed to give us good starting position all season.  Our consistently terrible starting position - coupled with our atrocious placekicking - is dragging our scoring down.  When you gain 40-50 yards on a possession, you should come away with at least 3 points, but a number of times this season we've come away empty handed because we started too deep in our own territory and/or missed a PK.


October 31st, 2010 at 1:29 AM ^

Although it's not as dramatic of a change, I liken the position switches to the sudden move to a 3-3-5 scheme before the winnable Purdue game last year.

I think we regressed, an partly becuase of trying to fix an unfixable problem.  The ony fix is to recruit more talent and see what happens with more depth.  It is tough to tell if its all on the midseason changes, becuase Martin out also had a big impact with such a thin depth chart.

But with a D this weak, why not have an onside kick after the gift 15 yard facemask on the long TD run?  Kicking out of the endzone sure didn't help the D prevent the 80 yard TD drive anyway, and you have a chance to help the D with 1 fewer stop needed if it works, and if it doesn't the shorter field means no chance for a 70 yard TD play.


October 31st, 2010 at 2:12 AM ^

If you guys go back and watch.. I want you to notice something that happens often.

I would like to see us play them farther out into the slot in our base alignment.... from where they line up in the box, often times, they have to turn their back and sprint to their zone and usually we have trouble getting out to the flats (which is the weakness of cover 3)

But anways I'd rather have guys start wider and crash hard on run plays than make zone coverage any harder than it needs to be.


October 31st, 2010 at 9:51 AM ^

I've been saying this since 2006 Ohio State game.  If you go back and watch tape of that game, you can predict which OSU receiver is going to be getting the ball on about 3/4 of their passing plays - the slot receiver who isn't covered up by a defender.  

With this defense, sadly it is much harder to predict which receiver is going to get the ball because just about everything's open.  


October 31st, 2010 at 2:21 AM ^

Sagesse seemed to make a couple decent plays from the NT position, I seem to remember at least twice where he blasted through his blocker. It forced a cutback for a couple yards each time, I think.

Vinopal seemed untested in coverage and a bad tackler. I can't be too angry on the passing TD against him until I see the whole play with him in it. The ball was placed in a near perfect spot on the throw.

Marvin Robinson seemed to be the nickel LB a few times. Blitzed once and almost got there for a sack, IIRC. That's a step up for us, outside of Thomas Gordon no one else can ever even get free on a blitz it seems. Outside of that I don't think he was ever tested.

Cam made one nice wrap-up tackle at Spur. He's still too slow for coverage. He's Kovacs without the ability to tackle consistently. Thomas Gordon should be at Spur rest of the year and only replaced in blowouts.

Carvin got a couple plays at FS I believe... I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more of that. Mainly cause I think he's the fastest of the safeties and if we just have someone with some makeup speed maybe we can push the corners closer to the WRs.


October 31st, 2010 at 6:59 AM ^

Don't you think we should be pushing our corner's up anyway.  Right now, our D line is not getting any pressure.  Rather than a 10-15 yd cushion, shouldn't the CB's get up and jam the WR's to slow their routes down and give the line time to get in on the QB?  We got burned in the flats all night.  If the corner's are up tighter, they don't have that success.  I just don't see how bump and run isn't a good idea right now.  Our D line needs some more time.  Teams just throw flats, hitches, and drags on us to get rid of the ball underneath our coverage in space and gain consistent yards.  It's not giving the line time to pressure.  Opposing QB's are not worried about being pressured by us.  We've got to change that and fast.


October 31st, 2010 at 10:22 AM ^

I think this is the one game where, with a frosh QB that was 7 for 27 previously, this is the one game where we should have played tighter and dared them to beat us deep.  I'm not sure they would have even tried much.  Sadly they did get long passes to complete too, so really it just gets more and more confusiong.  Players and coaches on D were both bad.


October 31st, 2010 at 12:32 PM ^

Pressing might be an issue with no help over the top. It appears most of the time they play a Cover 2 and sometimes a Cover 3.

In Cover 2 you can press than push to the safety. That corner is responsbile for flats when they're threatened. A great picture of incompetence was on PSU's second to last drive (when Blue was down 7 and needed a stop on 3rd and 7). Gordon, who did not have the flats, rushed over to cover the stop route. The corner on that side had that stop covered. There was nothing over the top. The inside receiver just sat where Gordon was supposed to be and voila, completion.

Now, if that position Gordon was playing is responsible for the flats, than the OLB missed his coverage zone completely.

Corners can get beat deep b/c they are supposed to have help over the top (in Cov 2). In Cover 3, they cannot get beat deep.


October 31st, 2010 at 12:02 PM ^

I tend to agree we should push them up closer, but I can definitely understand the coaches not doing that. We forced a # of 3rd downs, most of them not the 1-2 yard variety. I'm sure the thought was more "If we can force a lot of 3rd and medium/longs, we'll get a few stops and that will be enough. Their QB went nuts on 3rd down and that strategy didn't exactly work.

If we are going to take that strategy(and I think it makes sense against Illinois, Purdue, and Ohio State; All 3 of those have erratic innaccurate QBs) I'd like to see a lot more varied zone coverages, and some more where we kind of overload the underneath and do force them to go over the top to convert. If we can change that up enough, I think it may confuse QBs enough to force a few stops. They're going to read zone and look for those hitches/flats/drags as you mentioned, but if we can stack our guys in those spots it should disrupt enough plays to force some punts.

I don't really think going man to man and blitzing like crazy is the answer as a lot of people do. Our guys are pretty bad at blitzing outside of T Gordon. Either that or we just have -awful- blitz calls. Seems like the only time a blitz actually gets a man free is when they run a screen. And our guys aren't experienced enough to read the screen and fall back to make the tackle.

NOLA Wolverine

October 31st, 2010 at 4:11 AM ^

Vinopal didn't stick a soul last year, so his performance wasn't unexpected. We've got nothing to throw out there, its been the case, and will continue to be. For those jumping off the bandwagon, thats just dumb, its the same story as a day ago.


October 31st, 2010 at 4:45 AM ^

Thank you, OP, for starting this thread.  It's discussion like this why I come to MGoBlog....i.e. intelligent analysis that helps me understand the game better.

I feel like I still suck at analyzing D during games, even after reading this blog for awhile.  My tendency - as most people - is to watch the ball during live games.  

My thoughts:

- Not having Martin obviously made us very vulnerable.  Royster exploited.

- They RPS'ed us to death.  They had a game plan that didn't ask too much of McGloin - i.e. Royster plus screens.  They executed well, we didn't execute or adjust schematically.  And honestly, credit to McGloin.  He made the plays he needed to, and that touchdown pass at end of the first half was a hell of a throw.

Re. our D. more specifically:

- Too many freshman, lack of experience.  This cannot be helped.

- I really think we got outschemed and didn't adjust adequately.  This is on the coaches.  While I'm not calling for RR's head, this is not good.  I'm beginning to question GERG.  Then again he also doesn't have much to work with so who effin knows.  I'm inclined to give the benefit of the doubt.  No seniors on D other than Mouton, Rogers, and Banks = bad.


October 31st, 2010 at 8:30 AM ^

If by "winnable" you mean we have a chance to win, sure. Like any game, there's a chance we can win.

If by "winnable" you mean that we're so much more talented/better coached than our opponents that we should win those games, I don't know what in the hell you've been watching this season, or the last two seasons before this one, for that matter. There isn't a single conference game where we should be considered the favorite from here on out.

There was a huge amount of denial around these parts after the UMass game about our defense. We gave up 439 yards and 37 points to a 5-3 FCS school that has not scored that many points in ANY of its games against its fellow FCS opponents. And that was with a healthy Mike Martin. I figured then that the chances of us going 5-7 were far greater than going 8-4, and nothing that has happened since indicates that assessment was off-base.

Don't be surprised if Illinois hangs 50 on us. We really are that bad.


October 31st, 2010 at 11:19 AM ^

Illinois is a good team who will destroy us. Purdue will also probably put up 50 points on us.
I will go on record now as saying we win no more games. This will be because EVERY DRIVE the O will have to go 80+ yards and they are not going to do that with a first year starter with questionable touch on the deep ball.
And the truth is also that against a decent D, we have no rb that can carry the load who is not named denard.


October 31st, 2010 at 1:58 PM ^

I watched a good portion of the Illinois game yesterday and their offense just didn't look that good.  Purdue just was so awful on offense and special teams that they constantly gave Illinois the ball back in good position.  Purdue also looked terrible on defense.

Point is, we're definitely better than Purdue and I think we're close to even money to beat Illinois at home.  People may disagree after the shit show on defense yesterday I still remain cautiously optimistic for the next two games at least.


October 31st, 2010 at 12:32 PM ^

Vinopal is a fan favorite and should be.    The kid is blue collar and is fighting against the odds.   America always loves an underdog.     

That said, he looked in above his head last night.    Missed tackles and blown off the ball by blockers.    He can potentially be a good one but right now he should probably be taking a red-shirt.   It is a shame that we have to rush him into action because we have virtually zero options at that position. 

Carvin did not show much as well last night.   Probably another guy who should be taking a red-shirt.

Why MRob not seeing the field remains a mystery which points more and more to the fact that he must be viewed as a liability in pass coverage.    LB here he comes.     

On a positive note, I have been quite impressed with Courtney Avery.   In limited action, he has been able to stay with his man and use his hips very well.    Terry Talbot made a bad play last night but has shown some ability to cover as well.    Those 2 corners may end up being pretty good for us.          


October 31st, 2010 at 11:54 AM ^

One good thing is that the people who are always pining for bench guys (like Vinopal) to play (the grass is always greener people) will be a little more realistic about magic bullets.

The other good thing is the same as its been all year: these are extremely young players and they'll learn from this.  We'll be better in 2011.

As for negatives, there are many.  But I was most disappointed in Cam.  I thought he'd be a better fit closer to the line but at least on a few plays he was slow to react to the run game...and then he was still getting burned in coverage.