|WHAT||BYU at Michigan|
Ann Arbor, MI
September 26th, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan –6.5|
|WEATHER||partly cloudy, mid 70s
0% chance of rain
BYU is simultaneously this year's luckiest and most cursed team. They've won two games on Hail Marys (or close enough, anyway). They've lost their starting QB, NT, RB, and TE—and the former two are the best players on the team.
What's left over isn't nearly as intimidating as BYU looked in the middle of summer, but neither are the Cougars suddenly bad. Last week they baffled Josh Rosen into three picks and a horrible day as they nearly upset UCLA; to be in position to win against Nebraska and Boise State with Hail Marys you have to be rather close.
Run Offense vs BYU
Tuiloma's health is in doubt
Much depends on the health of monster BYU nose tackle Travis Tuiloma, who was knocked out of the Nebraska game with a knee injury and expected to miss 4-6 weeks. There have been rumblings about a return, and rumblings that such chatter was hopeful at best. The latest as of press time is "dunno." Most of the optimism seems to have come from Tuiloma himself on twitter. All else has been vague save for this potentially revealing slip-up from one of his DL teammates on Tuesday:
Peck talked as if nose tackle Travis Tuiloma (knee) won't play, and said the Cougars "will definitely miss Travis" in a game like this.
Tuiloma is a future pro and BYU has both coped and suffered without him. Nebraska's ground game went from nonexistent to extant once he left, and while the Cougars shut Boise State down they just got ripped for just under 300 yards at 7.8(!) yards a pop by UCLA.
Bronco Mendenhall was not pleased in the aftermath:
"Yeah, obviously everyone knows there has been a big issue with tackling. In coach Mendenhall's words, he calls this week a bloodbath. That is kind of what practice was," Peck said. "Wrapping up and bringing the scout team guys to the ground — not just wrapping up. And so there is an emphasis on tackling, and hopefully we will be able to get better at it this week."
BYU's 3-4 is one of those ever-morphing, slant-heavy, pretty-much-a-3-3-5 setups. They will seek to offset a size discrepancy by putting surprising guys in surprising gaps and hope to get to Michigan's tailbacks before they build up a head of steam. Tuiloma makes that job so much easier because he is virtually impossible to deal with one on one; without him they're much more susceptible to getting gashed when teams deal with their blitzes.
How BYU will react to Michigan's offense is a mystery. They've only faced spread teams to date, and they are decidedly small overall. Both starting OLBs are 230; they don't have an ILB who cracks 235; without Tuiloma they don't have a 300-pounder on the line. That's a bit of a problem when you are running a straight-up 3-4.
That sounds inviting for De'Veon Smith. If Smith can get past the first wave of defenders these are gentlemen who bounced off much smaller UCLA backs last week and project to do the same when Smith contacts them. Michigan has been repping and repping and repping against nine and even ten man fronts the last week, gradually showing more and more of the weird stuff Harbaugh mixes into bust big plays against stacked boxes. This will be a test, as BYU is well short of Utah in the front seven but well past Michigan's other two opponents.
KEY MATCHUP: Michigan Pullers and Tailbacks versus Wacky Slant Blitzes. Michigan's had opportunities to bust long plays against defenses that are sending guys all over; to date they have not quite gotten there. Either the tailback isn't seeing it or one block is getting messed up; if Michigan hits it right they should get motion on various guys on the front.
[Hit THE JUMP for THE GUN SHOW, OR GNU SHOW. WHATEVER.]
Hello Chaos, My Dear Friend
Even though September football is typically little more than an amuse bouche for most teams – save for the Gigantic Huge Critical Games between well-regarded opponents from different conferences – we were given a memorable night of football last Saturday, a stark departure from the mostly inconsequential games of the season’s first two weeks.
Week Three gave us a little clarity. The most important result was Ole Miss’s improbable road upset of mighty Alabama – after two weeks of feasting on cupcakes, the Rebels rode that sugar high to a big win, and threw Bama’s national title hopes into early peril. That the Tide somehow gave away five turnovers, conceded one of the most ludicrous touchdown passes you’ll ever see, and still had the ball with a chance to win probably speaks well to how good the Tide are – but they still lost and Ole Miss is now the presumed favorite in the SEC West.
Along with Alabama, who was projected by many to make the playoff, USC suffered a home loss early in conference play to disabuse the notion that everything is going fine under Steve Sarkisian. Stanford put up 41 points on the Trojans after looking completely inept on offense in Week One against Northwestern. Is USC just terrible? Did Stanford tell us that they’re secretly good? Is Northwestern a burgeoning powerhouse? We still don’t know much of anything other than that USC likely didn’t deserve their lofty preseason ranking and that Stanford could make the Pac-12 North very interesting.
Elsewhere: Iowa hit a 57-yard field goal to beat Pitt, Texas missed a PAT that would have capped a 21-point fourth quarter comeback (and lost to Cal by one), Texas Tech took the fight to Arkansas and talked some shit afterwards, Toledo beat another Power Five team (Iowa State), Colorado beat Colorado State in overtime because of a blocked field goal attempt, and BYU’s magic ran out as they lost to UCLA by one point. All of those games happened in one TV window. College football is ridiculous.
[After the jump, more on the CFB world]
On this week's show:
- We are at a car dealership
- I am not given a car : (
- UNLV is recapped: reasons for optimism and concern.
- BYU previewed: quality team existing at both extremes of the luck spectrum
- Ed's voice is taunted
THE USUAL LINKS
Previously: BYU Offense
You don't want to see Bronson Kaufusi in your rear-view mirror.
While BYU's defense has been mediocre by most measures thus far in 2015, their ability to create havoc has helped them get enough turnover luck to make up for many of their shortcomings. Their best outing of the season came against Boise State; BYU held the Broncos to 5.2 yards per play, shut down their running game, and picked off three passes to do their part in the comeback victory.
Personnel: BYU is a pure 3-4 team. Seth denotes them as an 8-3 because this is the defense du jour for stopping spread teams—it's just a 3-4 but the eight guys standing up will move all over the place [click to embiggen]:
BYU tends to stick to their base personnel on standard downs but they have a couple special looks with different personnel—Takitaki is a nickel linebacker—for obvious passing situations.
Base Set? 3-4. As for those different nickel looks, BYU will go to a nebulous front with as few as one actual defensive lineman. On this play, DE Bronson Kaufusi is the only DL on the field; the three others near the line of scrimmage are all linebackers:
BYU shows this type of look quite a bit, at least against three- and four-wide. They can run a huge variety of blitz packages out of it and were successful generating regular pressure against Boise.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Gary To Take Official This Weekend
Five-star NJ DT Rashan Gary's recruitment has trended towards the SEC lately but that doesn't mean Michigan is out of the picture by any stretch. The Wolverines will get their best chance to vault back to the forefront this weekend when Gary, accompanied by his mother, will take his first official visit for the BYU game, per Sam Webb:
The Wolverines appeared to have helped their cause significantly during Gary’s two prior unofficial visits, especially when it came to connecting with his mother. That is a crucial element in his recruitment considering what the talented youngster has cited as the significant factor in his decision-making process.
“Make sure my mom is comfortable with the decision and my family coming to see me play games,” Gary said. “If that’s alright I’m good.”
Gary's reaction to the visit should be telling. If it's similar to his first two visits to campus, M should be in decent position, though they'll have to sweat out four more officials. If he's not singing M's praises next week we can probably move on from being emotionally invested in this.
Also taking an official this weekend is four-star CO OLB/DE Carlo Kemp, who could be the guy to fill that open spot at BUCK. Three-star 2017 GA RB Kurt Taylor should also make it in after flight delays forced him to reschedule a planned unofficial for the Oregon State game. Brian would kill me dead if I didn't mention one more unofficial visitor, per TMI's Brice Marich ($):
Fort Wayne (Ind.) Snider 2017 wide receiver Mac Hippenhammer will be visiting Michigan this weekend. He said that he is excited for the trip this weekend and feels it going to be a good game with a great atmosphere.
MAC HIPPENHAMMER. Clearly a must-get.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Upon Further Review has not yet lost its sponsor.
Look you probably know about the rates and the pants and the whatnot. Homesure Lending is also a good option because on otherwise boring phone calls you can talk about how awesome Ryan Glasgow is.
FORMATION NOTES: By this point the defense is pretty well established. We got a few glimpses at what Michigan intends to do against pro-style formations; this is a 4-4 with the line shifted over (to the strength of the formation), Ross at SAM, and Hill threatening off the weakside:
Wilson, the free safety, is about 20 yards downfield.
I'm calling the thing where they drop the buck off the line like so…
…"30 nickel buck" to distinguish it from an actual 3-3-5.
This is what I mean by "triple stack" on UNLV's part; Michigan is in their standard nickel even:
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Line was close to the first two games with Henry/Glasgow/Wormley backed by Charlton/Hurst/Godin except that you could replace Henry in the starting lineup with Godin based on snaps played. Henry got cut a bunch on the backside of zones and didn't see much time in the middle of the game.
WDE/buck was the usual 70/30 split between Ojemudia and RJS.
Lawrence Marshall got in on the last drive, as did Brady Pallante.
Linebacker was the same; a little more James Ross at SAM in this game; Gedeon and Ross also got a couple drives as ILBs in the nickel.
Secondary saw the same rotation as per usual (Lewis/Peppers/Wilson/Hill with Stribling or Clark in the nickel) except that Wayne Lyons was the dime back. Brandon Watson got in on the last drive as well.
[After THE JUMP: defense crush]