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Friday, September 14, 2007

The Maginot Line in action!

M45110Shotgun TripsNickelPass17PA Stop
Zone read fake, Dixon forms up and delivers a strike to a wide open reciever (cover -2). Basically the entire defense bites on this fake, most relevantly Jamar Adams(-1) and Brandon Harrison(-1), who flies up at a guy running a little flat/screen route. This is the kind of thing we should be running from time to time to exploit excessively aggressive corners.
M28110Shotgun 4-wideNickelRun8Triple option
Zone read fake again into a speed option as the slot guy, who is Oregon's second tailback, motions into the backfield. Jamison(-2), unblocked, crashes down on Stewart, going up the middle, and gives up contain.
M2022Shotgun TripsNickelPass10Slant
This is truly outstanding: Johnny Thompson(-1) bites on nothing at all... there's not even any playfake, opening up a spot for an easy slant completion. Michigan blitzed here and didn't get there. (pressure -1, cover -1)
M10110Shotgun 3-WideNickelRun10Zone read handoff
They're in this no-huddle thing where they line up, fake a snap with Dixon doing the leg lift, and then check for a new call based on the defensive alignment. (I hate this thing, by the way, and wish I could think of some way to outlaw it. Quarterbacks no longer have to check themselves, they just let the coach make all the calls.) Anyway: this time they actually go with the zone read handoff here; Taylor(+1) times the snap and gets a good push into the backfield. Thompson(-1) sort of runs forward, arms extended like he's blind, and getes chopped to the ground uselessly. Then Stewart just makes an awesome play, leaping through a thicket of arms and helmets, landing on his feet, and grinding towards the endzone. Our defense this day was atrocious, but part of that was because Jonathan Stewart is an outstanding player.
M1 1GAce 3-WideGoal lineRun0QB sneak
Slipped as he got the snap.
M1 2GShotgun 3-WideGoal linePenalty-5False start
Note: this is a the “1” but is really the one-inch line, thus the M5 on the next play.
M52GShotgun TightNickelPassIncPA Rollout
Zone read fake; Dixon keeps and has one guy on a wheel plus the other outside receiver crossing at the back of the endzone. He throws; Donovan Warren is close enough to break it up. (+1, cover +1)
M53GShotgun 5-wideNickelPass-1WR screen
Brandon Harrison(+2) reads this and attacks before he can get blocked, disrupting the play. This is never a good call inside the five, IMO... too many bodies in enclosed space.
Drive Notes: FG(23), 0-3, 9 min 1st Q. Is this our best defensive stand of the day? Maybe.
O11110Shotgun TripsNickelPass4Stop
Zone read fake. Dixon sets and throws behind his guy, preventing any YAC. Same play as the slant on the previous drive; bad throw and timing turned that into a stop.
O1526Shotgun 4-wiide NickelPass75Bomb
Dixon has all day to throw (pressure -3). Brandon Harrison(-3) is burnt all crispy by Paysinger. Harrison just gets run right by. WTF? (Cover -2.)
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2 pts), 7-11, 4 min 1st Q. We're out of position on the swinging gate and give up a two-pointer. Yay yay yay.
O23110Shotgun 4-wideNickelRun7Zone read handoff
I'm not sure how Michigan can defend this better. Jamison has to stay outside to prevent Dixon from pulling the ball out and running. He collapses down and tackles Stewart, but Stewart is like 240 pounds of rapidly moving anger and he falls forward for a lot. I guess Chris Graham could have been more aggressive, but an aggressive Chris Graham is a Chris Graham who's running himself way out of position.
No formation here because of TV. As we come back to the play Dixon is firing a twelve-yard stop route. (Pressure -1, cover -1).
O42110Shotgun TripsNickelPenalty-5False start
O37115Shotgun 4-wideNickelPass13Scramble
Graham comes through unblocked on a blitz, Dixon just runs the hell away from him. I don't even think Jamison is blamable here, as he was set up pretty far outside. Once he gets around him, there's acres of space. This is something you just have to live with sometimes when you're playing a quarterback as fast as Dixon.
5022Shotgun TripsNickelRun6Zone read handoff
Stewart breaks Chris Graham's tackle(-1) that would have stiffed this for no gain, then grinds forward for a first and more.
M44110Shotgun BigNickelRun2Offtackle
Crable crashes in recklessly as he was not in position when the ball was snapped – most of the defense wasn't actually – and gets hurdled. Michigan is fortunate that this didn't go for a big gain.
M4228Shotgun TripsNickelRun8Triple option
Zone read fake inside to Stewart is coupled with an option play using one of the wide receivers as a potential pitchman. Since Thompson(-1) and Harrison(-1) react to this slowly, there's no need for a pitch.
M343InAce BigNickelRun1QB sneak
For the first.
M33110Shotgun TripsNickelRun-7Fumbled snap
Yay yay yay.
M40217Ace 4-WideNickelPassIncStop
Simple stop route ten yards downfield is wide open (cover -1); it's a little behind the receiver but catchable. Dropped anyway.
M40317Ace 5-WideNickelPass8Scramble
Dunno WTF the Oregon tackle is thinking, but he just decides to not block Jamison. Jamison(-1) overruns the QB ridiculously, letting Dixon outside to scramble for about half the yardage.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(49), 7-11, EO 1st Q. Note that this “stop” has nothing to do with the Michigan defense: a fumbled snap, a dropped pass, and a blown blocking assignment. This is what we're banking on versus Notre Dame.
O25110Shotgun 3-WideNickelRun18Zone read handoff
This is Johnson, not Stewart. And this is too easy. Crable(-1) streaks upfield, opening a big lane. Terrance Taylor(-1) gives up that gap at the snap, getting sealed on a textbook easy zone block that allows the guard to come out and pound Chris Graham. The defensive line gave the linebackers no chance.
O43110Shotgun 3-WideNickelPassIncStop
Zone read fake. Trent(+1) breaks on this ball and breaks up the pass(!!!). A nice play. (Cover +1)
O43210Shotgun 3-WideNickelRun7Zone read handoff
Same motion into the backfield that created the first triple option of the day; this time they go with the handoff. Taylor(-1) slants inside, giving up the same gap he did earlier in the drive. Graham(-1) is blocked to the ground, and there's a major gap.
5033Shotgun 3-WideNickelRun5Zone read handoff
Same play. Crable(-1) keeps contain but when he dives down to take the tailback he misses the tackle.
M45110???NickelPass7Short out
They hurry to the line and snap it this time, catching Michigan (and the ABC producer) off guard. A short pass is open (cover -1) at the sideline. Michigan misses an opportunity to keep this to a small gain as Donovan Warren(-1) misses a tackle.
M3823Shotgun 3-WideNickelRun13TGDCD!
Jumpin' Jehosephat. This is That God Damned Counter Draw. You know, the one Michigan was burned on time and again during the Year of Infinite Pain. But this time there's no running back. Dixon rolls to the right for a bit, then the two OL on the left side of the line get down and chop their guys as Dixon takes off to the wide open backside. This is a called run. And it works brilliantly. Chris Graham(-2) is supposed to be on the weakside here; when Michigan has corralled this it's because the WLB stayed home.
M25110Shotgun 3-WideNickelRun14Statue of Liberty
This actually shouldn't work. Adam Patterson has shot past an attempted block by Jeremiah Johnson(+1) and has Stewart dead to rights, but just runs past him. (-2). Graham also takes a terrible angle (-1) and then Stewart just does his thing.
M11110Shotgun 3-WideNickelRun2Zone read handoff
John Thompson, unblocked, attacks the hole and tackles. Why is he unblocked? I dunno. Brandon Logan also helpful. Probably good play by the DTs this time.
M928Shotgun 3-WideNickelPass0Scramble
Flushed out of the pocket by Brandon Graham(+1, pressure +1) and an unidentifiable linebacker. Good coverage (+1) on the roll and Adams keeping him in front of him keeps this from any yardage.
M938Shotgun 3-WideNickelPass6Scramble
Dixon can't find anyone (cover +1), and is flushed by Brandon Graham(+1, +1 pressure).
M3 42Shotgun 4-wideNickelRun3Zone read handoff
Stewart right up the middle. Johnson(-1), Taylor(-1); these guys have both been massive disappointments.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-18, 10 min 2nd Q.
O20110Shotgun 4-wideNickelRun8Zone read handoff
Massive hole inside as Oregon takes advantage of a large split between Crable and Taylor. Thompson(-1) waves aimlessly at the passing Stewart.
O2822Shotgun 3-WideNickelRun23Zone read handoff
Complicated dance here; they pull a guard around to block Crable after the zone fake that holds him outside; this works. Then they pull the tight end around this guard to come up and block Thompson. This works. Stewart flies up to the outside, evading the late tackle attempt of Jamar Adams(-1) and Brandon Harrison(-2) being reckless on the outside.
M49110Shotgun 3-WideNickelPass4PA short out
Zone read fake to a pass play; Dixon throws high to a relatively covered reciever. Harrison makes an immediate tackle. (Cover +1)
M4526Shotgun 3-WideNickelPass7Short out
Quick snap – we aren't set – and a rollout to the short side to set up an out at the sticks. Dixon is off, forcing the reciever to retreat; we cannot tackle him anyway and he gets the first. (cover -1)
M38110Shotgun 3-WideNickelRun-2Zone read handoff
John Ferrara (+2) defeats a block on the inside, closing the hole and making a TFL. I remember when this happened with regularity. Jamar Adams, drawn up, prevents him from hopping outside.
M40212Shotgun 3-WideNickelRun1Zone read handoff
Is this Ferrara's doing again? He gets shoved back a bit but is enough of a bother such that both men blocking him keep blocking him, allowing Graham and Ezeh to congregate unharried. We'll give him a +1.
M39311Shotgun 3-WideNickelPass14Scramble
Before the play, Griese is confused by Michigan not covering the slot guy, thus tipping their obvious zone coverage. He thinks this is dumb. Thank you, Griese. Finally someone points this out on the teevee after years and years of it. Anyway: Michigan's zone covers this just fine(+1). But Chris Graham(-3) runs his ass off attempting to cover someone on a nothing crossing route, opening up vast areas of field for Dixon to run up into. Worst linebacker ever.
M25110Shotgun 5-wideNickelPass11Deep stop
Oregon's stacked Stewart and Johnson, their two RBs, at the bottom of the formation. Obviously this has some interesting stuff associated with it. This is just a simple stop route that Dixon throws high but well enough in front of Donovan Warren. (Cover -1.)
M14110Shotgun two-backNickelPenalty5Offsides
M915Shotgun two-backNickelRun9Statue of Liberty Fake
This is pretty fricking cool, the way they set this up earlier. Jamar Adams(-1) buys this hook, line and sinker, as does Thompson(-1). Hell, every-damn-body bought this, including Ferrara(-1). Easy.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-25, 4 min 2nd Q. This drive is the difference between Mike Debord and Chip Kelly, and the decision to hire a guy who's proven he can light up opposing defenses at UNH (UNH!) instead of your buddy is the difference between Carr and Bellotti or Miles.
O39110Shotgun 4-wideNickelPass61Post
This into a three-deep zone. Disgusting. Jamar Adams(-4) decides not to cover the guy. (pressure -2, cover -4)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-32, 3 min 2nd Q.
O20110Shotgun 4-wideNickelRun14Zone read handoff
Right up the middle. Taylor(-1) and Johnson(-1) are single blocked and creased, Graham(-1) meekly accepts a block.
O34110Shotgun 4-wideNickelPass8Stop
Zone read fake; easy open gainer. (Cover -2)
O4222Shotgun 3-WideNickelPassIncOut
Dixon zings this over a guy open for the first down. (Cover -1)
O4232Shotgun 4-wideNickelRun-2Zone read handoff
We... stop... them? Crable(+1) and Thompson(+1) slice into the backfield for the stop.
Drive Notes: Pu... Punt?, 7-32, 13 min 3rd Q.
O32110Shotgun 3-WideNickelPass-12Sack
Dixon has time but can't find anyone (cover +2). Harrison (+1) flushes Dixon and Taylor(+1) surprisingly tracks him down.
O20222Shotgun 3-WideNickelRun4Zone read handoff
Jamar Adams(+1) comes up to fill this near the LOS. Just fine given the down and distance.
O24318Shotgun 4-wideNickelPassIncDig
Incomplete and dropped; not going for the first anyway. Cover +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-32, 10 min 3rd Q.
M37110Shotgun 3-WideNickelPassIncDeep cross
Faked end around gets a wide reciever wide open (cover -2). Ball is a little behind and dropped.
M37210Shotgun two-backNickelRun7Zone read handoff
Ferrara(-1) blown off the ball, opening up a hole behind him.
M3033Shotgun 3-WideNickelPass8TE out
Thompson(-1) gets shoved by the TE as he runs his out and coverts the first down. (Cover -1)
M22110Shotgun 5-wideNickelPass2Jailbreak screen
Dixon overthrows this badly. Brandent Englemon(+1) reads it and comes up to snuff it out.
M2028Shotgun TightNickelRun9Power iso
A tackle and TE pull around to obliterate linebackers; Ferrara(-1) blown off the ball along with Gallimore(-1) (BRETT GALLIMORE!)
M11110Shotgun two-backNickelRun1Triple option
Dixon keeps this. Thompson(+1) does well to beat a block and eliminate a pitchman. Crable(+1) stays responsible and corrals Dixon.
M1029Shotgun 3-WideNickelRun8Triple option
Gut handoff to Johnson this time. This is embarassing. Crable(-1) misses a tackle, as do Englemon and Trent. Trent's fortunate to force a fumble and fall on it.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 7-32, 6 min 3rd Q. Yay?
O49110Shotgun 4-wideNickelRun5Zone read handoff
M4625Shotgun 4-wideNickelPass46Bomb
Johnny Sears(-3). Awful coverage. He's in a deep zone and decides to ignore the guy he's lined up over. Aaaaand defensive charting stops here. (Cover -4)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-39, 2 min 3rd Q.


You got me. The most damning thing to me: two of Oregon's long touchdowns were thrown into wussy three-deep coverage designed to prevent any long completions. On both, one of the guys in the three deep just decided not to cover a guy running a fly route right in their zone. Result: doom. By now we kind of expect that from Johnny "-3" Sears, but the other culprit was three-year starter and senior Jamar Adams.

Oh, but there's plenty of damning to go around. Chris Graham remains an easy starter on the Todd Howard All Stars*, always running hither and thither without any care as to where he should actually go. He doesn't defeat blocks or read plays or do basically anything well. Jonas Mouton's been held out the first couple weeks with an ankle injury; hopefully he will replace Graham as soon as he's healthy. Both interior defensive linemen have been disappointments. Neither has provided anything in the way of game-altering plays or even running lanes clogged. John Ferrara had the most positive impact of any DT, and no offense to him but that bodes unwell.

*(A team of the worst players in the Carr era who started regularly. Coming soon.)


I guess. You aren't going to like it.

Hopefully will be more of a menace against non-spread runners.
Did little; not the worst offender, but last year we were getting production from this spot.
Looks much worse as the main guy.

Actually made a few plays; may be promising.
Not a defensive end.
B. Graham
Has played little in the first two weeks; if healed looks like he will be a help.

Hardly played.
C. Graham
Our best defensive player? That would say it all.
One! One long touchdown... ah ah ah
Two! Two long touchdowns... ah ah ah
Three! Three long touchdowns... ah ah ah
Oh, Brandent. Always with the 1-0-1 line. How blameless you are.
It's a three deep zone! You can't give up long touchdowns in a three deep zone! What's the point of anything? Why don't I just die?

Uh... pay no attention to the text next to "coverage." So... violence has been done unto everyone via numbers, and that was only about 2/3rds of that abortion.

Is there any hope at all?

Maybe if Jonas Mouton and Brandon Graham come back from injury and are effective players we will get a boost; also it'll be quite a bit easier going up against Jimmah and Notre Dame's offensive line, which appears to suck at a level even beyond that of Michigan's defense. But, long term: no. The linebacker play is atrocious and will remain so. At this point you may as well throw in Ezeh and Mouton in the hopes that they can learn. The secondary is atrocious and will remain so. Any time we want to go to a nickel we have to put two of the following players on the field:
  • a true freshman
  • a midget who can't even run fast
  • Johnny Sears.
A hypothetical dime package would see all three on the field. Plus, our safeties are Michigan safeties. Finally, the DL has been a huge disappointment. Crable is a useless defensive end; Jamison has had no impact; the DTs have been pushed around time and again.

Things will get better, but bad is as good as it gets this year.

Come on, there must be some bright spots here or there.

Maybe Morgan Trent is a lot better? And John Ferrara made a couple plays as a redshirt freshman, so that's good. But that's it.

What does it mean for Notre Dame?

This is it for the defense. Notre Dame's offense has three points in two games -- the ten they put up against PSU were off an interception return and a punt return that led to a field goal. If they are to be anything other than Indiana in winged helmets, they have to do the proverbial "step up" and club Jimmah and company to the ground.

Can they do this? Uh... well. I expect things will be a lot better against that OL and a true freshman quarterback who's not that much of a run threat. But I also expect busted coverages, sporadic runs, and one or two hair-pulling moments.

Oh, who am I kidding? Four to six.