Hawkeyes Gamefilm: Defense vs Michigan
This week there really isn’t much point doing position by position break downs. The Iowa defense was simply was awful in this game. There really is no other way to say it when you give up touchdowns on the first six drives of the day. No doubting that Michigan earned a couple of those scores with well designed, and well executed schemes. However, far too many big plays were allowed by blown assignments, sloppy tackling, and poor technique in space. We’ll look at good and bad for the defense from this game. Spoiler: The good is very short.
Iowa finally got it’s first stop of the day in the fourth quarter when QB Devin Gardner got greedy and threw an INT trying to exploit Iowa with a flat-7 route combo for the fourth time of the day. Hyde had bit up on the flat route but appeared to be baiting the throw as he hustled back and snatched the ball in front of the WR. It was a well executed play by Hyde on a day when most of the day the entire secondary looked lost.
Lost in the storm of the blow out was the fact that Darian Cooper played his best game of the season. Cooper has worked in a rotation all year long and has really started to figure things out. It’s not just what Cooper is doing, it’s how he’s doing it. Cooper is a bit undersized at this point at 6’2 280 pounds but shows excellent explosiveness and athleticism. Twice in this game he just blew over the Michigan C and came free to pressure the QB. He also had a couple of nice sheds in the run game to stop plays for short gains.
For the majority of the years under Iowa’s current scheme they’ve preached a simple rule: Keep everything in front of you, no big plays. This has resulted in Iowa playing more off coverage and a lot of two deep safety looks. To their credit, Iowa has played a little more aggressive scheme this year with more man schemes and a few more creative blitz packages. This week saw two huge breakdowns in coverage that allowed easy scores. Both times it looked pretty clear that there were communication issues. We’ll take a look at diagrams of each blown coverage.
The first appeared to either a coverage mix-up by Nico Law or rather large mistake in technique. Law had two verticals on his half of the field in. Law appeared to be playing Cover 4 on the play as he ran with the number two receiver when he went vertical, which would fit with Cover 4. However, I’m of the mind Law was supposed to be in Cover 2 technique, with the other half of the field in Cover 4, making the play a Cover 6 defense. Hyde had released number one after funneling him inside, which is textbook Cover 2 technique. Hyde also bit up on the rollout action leaving the outside receiver completely unguarded.
When you have a mix-up and everyone is playing Cover 2 except the field side safety, you have a recipe for disaster. That was the case on Iowa’s second blown coverage. Tanner rolled to the weakside late on the play and vacated the deep half zone that he should have been playing. James Morris released the TE vertically as you would expect him to and there was just no one back there to pick him up.
No pass rush
No one set the edge all day
Angles in pursuit