|How are the initial returns on the GERG Linebacker Magic theory?|
Good, but not great. It's not much of a surprise when you juuuust barely beat out a walk-on for your job but Obi Ezeh's progress has been incremental at best. He did make a nice play on the last defensive play charted up there but there was an awful lot of Ezeh getting shoved around like a rag doll and even one instance of those horrible times last year when he'd go into a pass drop on a run play. I mean:
In this play, UConn is running power, off tackle (running between your right tackle and right guard, with your left guard pulling across the line and acting as a lead blocker). But despite Ezeh not actually making the tackle, I don't see any way that the responsibility on this play doesn't fall squarely on the shoulders of Jordan Kovacs.
Regular readers of this blog will note that I don't like Kovacs on the field. (Jordan Kovacs is to me, what Obi Ezeh is to Brian Cook at MGoBlog.) In the above play, Kovacs takes a 6-yard drop into pass coverage as the ball is snapped and doesn't even recognize the play as a run until UConn running back Jordan Todman is past the line of scrimmage. In fact, he's so far out of position that the weakside safety Cam Gordon has to come across the field to make the play. Let's break it down:
I'm usually with Brian that Ezeh makes the wrong read and generally finds himself on the wrong side of should be no-yardage plays, but this one falls squarely on this blog's goat. If Kovacs diagnoses this play quicker or doesn't drop 5 yards into coverage to compensate for his lack of elite-level speed, this is probably a two-yard gain. Instead, Todman is given an 8-yard cushion to play around with and rumbles his way for as many yards.
Brian's argument against Ezeh here is that he needs to funnel Todman to the outside, which I think is patently wrong. If Ezeh pushes Todman outside by taking a different angle on the block, UConn has two blockers against two Michigan defenders. The numbers are squarely in favor of UConn here, and the play eventually becomes a foot race between Kovacs (coming from the middle of the field) and Todman. All of Ezeh's help in this play (his weak-side blitzers, linebackers, and other safeties) are to the middle of the field. Simply because Mouton was able to get off of his block quickly in this instance does not mean that's where Ezeh was supposed to force the play.