Thursday, December 8, 2011

Michigan vs. Ohio State Grades: Defense

Desmond Morgan struggled with Braxton Miller's speed but otherwise looks like a solid player for the Wolverines

I once again worked out some grades for Michigan's defense against OSU (see also: Nebraska).  Grades for each play ranged from +3 to -3 for good/bad reads, filling/missing assignments, and physical superiority/inferiority.

+10 . . . Not as dominant as in previous games, but doesn't get beaten - ever
RVanBergen: +8 . . . More big plays than Martin, but got out of rush lane a couple times
WHeininger: +6 . . . Physically overmatched, but slanting helped him be effective
KDemens: +5 . . . Solid tackler who doesn't give ground
JKovacs: +5 . . . Decent day but took a late hit penalty
CAvery: +3 . . . Consistently solid and then made a huge pick to seal the game
JBlack: +2 . . . Nice play near goal line to keep his feet and chase down Braxton Miller
TGordon: +2 . . . Beaten in pass coverage but made some nice tackles in open field
DMorgan: +2 . . . Usually in position but not fast enough to keep up with Miller.  Future MIKE?
WCampbell: +1 . . . Didn't play much but held his ground when he did
CRoh: +1 . . . Had some nice pass rushes but big mistake on Miller's TD run
JRyan: +1 . . . OSU ran away from him most of the game
BCountess: 0 . . . Got lucky on an overthrow, but mostly tight coverage
NBrink: -1 . . . Unfair to be matched up against Mike Adams but got blown off the ball
MJones: -1 . . . Just isn't very fast or aggressive
TWoolfolk: -5 . . . Seemed to make some bad reads
JFloyd: -10 . . . Beaten deep a couple times, missed tackle on Dan Herron's TD run

It sure seemed like defensive coordinator Greg Mattison was willing to take a lot of risks in this game, in hopes that Braxton Miller would make some freshman mistakes.  He did, but not a lot.  It looked like Mattison realized that his defensive line had been playing extremely well for the last several weeks and his game plan revolved around them dominating the game.  The starters combined for a +25 grade with Craig Roh being the weak link.

DeVier Posey is a great deal better than J.T. Floyd and Blake Countess.  There's no way around it.  Michigan doesn't have anyone who can handle him on the regular, so it might have been a good idea to try to force Miller to scramble and look to check down.  Miller probably played his best game of the season when it comes to throwing the ball, because they put almost the entire game on his shoulders.

OSU tried to take advantage of freshman weakside linebacker Desmond Morgan, but he held up pretty well.  Morgan was too slow in the open field to catch Miller a couple times, but it's no surprise that an inside linebacker is going to be at a disadvantage against a guy like him.  Otherwise, Morgan made some excellent plays inside and blew up fullback Zach Boren a couple times.  He might lack the athleticism to stay at WILL for his entire career at Michigan, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him slide over and replace Demens in 2013.


  1. Just out of curiosity, how long does it take you to grade 12 minutes of action?

  2. @ Roanman 7:25 a.m.

    I'm not sure how long it took me to do the grading, but the grading plus the post took about 1.5 hours altogether. Pass plays are difficult to grade because you have to figure out coverages and sometimes try to determine what's going on off screen.

  3. I've tried it but tend to get sidetracked watching Ryan and Kovacs.

    I'm giving bonus points to Floyd for hustling back and making the tackle on Miller and saving a touchdown late in the third. You can argue that that tackle was a game saver as we only gave up 3 having held from first and goal at the 5.

    Just give us that place to stand baby!

  4. Your thoughts on the defensive line for next year? I am reading a lot of columns on how the defense will drastically decline, in light of RVB and Martin leaving. While I think they were good players, I think the players in-waiting are solid replacements. There is plenty of talent in the waiting. Big Will, Quinton Washington, Ash, Jibreel, Death Roh, Clark, Brink, etc. and you have guys like Pipikins, Strobel, and Wormley coming in. All of these guys are talented athletes and massive bodies. Ash, Washington, Campbell, Roh were all 4-star on Rivals. It is not as if we have chopped liver on the team. Granted, under the previous regime, not all have lived up to their billing, but with just one year under the current coaching staff, the players have made great strides. With another off-season under the current coaching staff, I am willing to put my $ down that these guys will make even greater strides and will be playing very solid defense next season. The line will be massive, especially on the inside with Campbell (6'5" 322) and Washington (6'4" 302). If they can get their mean streak going, offensive lines will have their hands full.

  5. Morgan seems to be developing into a pretty solid player. I'm still amazed that he can look competent while being so inexperienced. I agree that a quicker, "playmaker" may step up at WLB next year. There will be plenty of young options - Poole plus the four freshmen. If Morgan gets moved over to MLB, do you see him beating out Demens? My guess would be no but he would of course see a lot of time in the rotation. Morgan and Demens are not burners, but both have surprised me with their decent coverage skills this year. Morgan in particular seems to have a good feel for dropping back.

  6. @ Painter Smurf 2:12 p.m.

    Ross and Ringer are the only two freshman linebackers headed to play WILL, but I think Ross is the main one to look out for as far as competition to start goes. Morgan has him beat in the size/weight/strength department, but Ross is the better athlete and might be quicker at diagnosing plays.

    I don't think there's any chance that Morgan will beat out Demens for playing time, but he could sub in at MIKE and get Mike Jones out of the rotation. I imagine the linebackers will stay right where they are this year, though - Morgan at WILL (either starting or backing up Ross), Demens at MIKE, and Ryan at SAM.

  7. @Thunder Where are you placing Bolden and Jenkins-Stone?

  8. @ Anonymous 5:57 p.m.

    Bolden is a MIKE. Jenkins-Stone is a MIKE or perhaps a SAM.

  9. Why do you hate JT Floyd so much? He screwed up a couple times (got saved on a triple-move corner because Miller overthrew Posey), but not to the same degree that Countess screwed up (54 yard wtf touchdown and some easy posts) I thought he held up pretty well against superior competition, especially without safety help for the majority of the game. I thought Woolfolk and T. Gordon were equally goats in this game, personally.

  10. @ Anonymous 6:36 p.m.

    Floyd didn't have a good game. Neither did Woolfolk. The difference was that Woolfolk got pulled halfway through the game. A -5 extrapolated over an entire game is a -10. So they were somewhat equally bad.

  11. It'd be interesting for me to read your thinking on the four linebacker recruits and Ojemudia with regards to why you position them wherer, physical characteristics, game ... whathaveyou.

  12. @ Anonymous 12:35 p.m.

    I think the defensive line will take a step back next year, but the linebackers and secondary will all return (except Woolfolk), so we essentially have 7 starters returning - plus Avery, Hawthorne, and Cam Gordon. So that's 10 guys with significant starting experience.

    Campbell is going to take one of the two defensive tackle positions, whether it's NT or 3-tech. I think he's better suited for 3-tech, but he's been fine at NT, too.

    An early guess at a lineup:

    SDE: Black/Brink
    NT: Campbell/Pipkins
    DT: Washington/Ash
    WDE: Roh/Clark

  13. @ Roanman 6:56 a.m.

    I think this is going to be an excellent linebacker class. I'm not a huge fan of Ringer, but Bolden and Ross are going to be good players. I'm on the fence about Jenkins-Stone.

    Ross and Ringer are WILLs.
    Bolden is a MIKE.
    Jenkins-Stone is being recruited as a MIKE but I could see him playing SAM, too.

    Based on where the coaches put certain players this past season, I'm guessing Ojemudia is going to be a weakside end. He and Clark are similar in a lot of ways, so I think they'll play the same position.

  14. @ Anonymous 6:36 p.m.

    By the way, J.T. Floyd got a -5.5 from Brian at MGoBlog. So I'm not the only one who thinks Floyd had a bad game.