fair point that
Posts by All
Moe Wagner may be the #2 center. [File photo: Marc-Gregor Campredon]
Moe Wagner scored 19 points on 8/9 shooting. The German freshman hit all manner of up-and-under layups, fought through contact for and-ones, and even knocked down his only three-point attempt. His only miss came on, of all things, a botched dunk.
Yes, Michigan had a good night.
Eleven Wolverines tallied points against a hapless Charlotte squad, with Caris Levert, Zak Irvin, and Aubrey Dawkins joining Wagner in double figures. A day after Michigan couldn't find their range against UConn, they sniped 12/23 three-pointers, taking full advantage when the 49ers played a soft 2-3 zone.
By the time Mark Donnal found his way off the bench to score seven points, including a triple to get M to the century mark, Seth Davis was scolding viewers for still watching.
We'll learn much more from Michigan's consolation contest against Texas tomorrow (7 pm, AXS TV) than anything we saw tonight. The hope is Wagner's breakout is for real, Irvin continues to settle in, DJ Wilson's threes keep falling, and the Wolverines can come close to replicating this defensive performance against a team with a pulse.
Michigan (2-2) vs
Paradise Island, Bahamas
|WHEN||9:30 pm ET, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan -14 (KenPom)|
PBP: Kenny Rice
Analyst: Seth Davis
Right: Was not aware ecstacy was so popular among gold prospectors.
HOW TO WATCH
The broadcasts of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament are split between ESPN and AXS TV, and while you're surely familar with the former you probably need some help finding the latter. For those in the area, here's a handy guide for A2/Detroit/GR provided by U-M Media Relations:
- AT&T U-verse Ch. 1106
- Charter Ch. 820 (also Ch. 770 in Detroit)
- Comcast Ch. 382
- DirecTV Ch. 340
- DISH Ch. 167
- Wyandotte Cable TV Ch. 179
For the rest of you, AXS TV has a channel finder on their site.
The winner of this game will take on the winner of Texas/Washington (7 pm, AXS) in the 5th/6th-place game on Friday at 7 pm on AXS TV. The loser faces off against the loser of UT/UW on Friday at 9:30 pm on AXS TV. You can see the full tournament bracket here.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||1||Braxton Ogbueze||R-Jr.||6'1, 181||78||19||No|
|Mostly Just A Shooter™ but can dish out the occasional assist.|
|G||3||Jon Davis||Fr.||6'2, 193||66||14||Kinda|
|Freshman got start against Cuse, posted 9-6-4. Still finding his shot.|
|G||2||Andrien White||Fr.||6'3, 184||73||22||No|
|High-volume shooter hitting 43% of twos and 41% of threes.|
|F||22||Bernard Sullivan||R-Sr.||6'8, 225||68||23||Very|
|Decent def. rebounder, blocks the occasional shot, sub-par scorer w/ limited range.|
|C||31||Benas Griciunas||R-So.||7'0. 233||25||28||Very|
|Auburn transfer starts but plays limited minutes. Stuggling except as offensive rebounder.|
|G||0||Ridell Camidge||So.||6'3, 188||49||17||Yes|
|Minutes have waned with each game because he can't find shot: 4/15 3P this year.|
|F||15||Anthony Vanhook||Jr.||6'4, 216||47||19||Yes|
|JuCo All-American is rebounding and passing very well so far this year.|
|C||50||Joseph Uchebo||Sr.||6'10, 261||46||22||Very|
|Pitt transfer. Good rebounder, shot-blocker, and finisher. Gets plurality of mins at C.|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Charlotte took a beating at the hands of #36 Syracuse in their B4A quarterfinal. The 49ers' only win came at home over #213 Furman. They lost by 14 at #207 East Carolina and fell at home by 11 against Elon, a team Michigan beat by 20 last week. If Michigan can't rebound against this squad, they've got significant issues.
Charlotte no longer has any of the players who made a contribution to their upset of Michigan two years ago; this year they've cobbled together a roster of freshmen and transfers.
They don't really have a true point guard, or at least one hasn't emerged so far this season. The only regular with an assist rate above 14.2% is backup forward Anthony Vanhook, who dished out eight of his 11 assists in the loss to Elon. Starting guards Andrien White and Braxton Ogbueze knock down threes at a ~40% clip but neither are particularly well-rounded; White takes a high volume of shots but isn't efficient inside the arc.
While freshman Jon Davis had a 9-6-4 line against Syracuse, he's really struggled with his shot; add in a higher-than-average turnover rate and he's barely cracking 90 in ORating. Ridell Camidge, the fourth guard, opened the season in the starting lineup but has seen his minutes dwindle because he can't hit a shot right now—he's 4/15 from three on the season.
Bernard Sullivan can play either the four or the five, giving Charlotte the flexibility to play four guards or go with a more traditional two-big lineup. Sullivan is a decent defensive rebounder who doesn't add much else; this season he's right in line with his career 44% two-point shooting and he's not a three-point threat or much of an offensive rebounder. Two big bodies, Joseph Uchebo and Benas Griciunas, split time at the five when Charlotte wants a true center.
Tiny sample size caveats apply.
Charlotte is good at generating turnovers; they're bad at pretty much everything else.
Don't turn it over. About the only way Charlotte should reasonably be able to hang with Michigan is if they get a lot of points off turnovers. Even while the offense is finding its footing, M has been good at taking care of the ball; this shouldn't be a huge issue.
Hit shots. Please and thank you.
Win The Game. The last thing anyone needs is a 9:30 pm game on AXS for the right to not go winless in a meaningless tournament on the night before The Game.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 14.
If we're going by the transitive opponent property, this line is quite low.
Happy Thanksgiving. Merry Thanksgiving? I'm trying not to accidentally have a war on Christmas here. Whichever Thanksgiving greeting you feel is appropriate appears in this space along with a reminder that Matt's good at making mortgages happen and a solid all-around dude, so if you're in the market you could do a lot worse.
FORMATION NOTES: Standard stuff from Michigan to the point where I forgot to take a screenshot. Here is a picture of Hackenberg getting swarmed instead.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Charlton moved to buck/WDE. With him there it's WDE. RJS backed him up an got a healthy number of snaps. Hurst, Henry, and Wormley got the vast bulk of the remaining DL snaps. Strobel got in for a few. Godin had a little bit more playing time than Strobel but maybe a dozen snaps total.
Gedeon rotated in for both Morgan and Bolden periodically. Bolden seemed to get more rest than Morgan. Gedeon might have been in there a quarter of the time. Ross played a reasonable amount as a SAM in 4-3 sets.
Secondary was as per usual now, with Hill the dime back behind Thomas. Stribling got scattered snaps. In the 4-3 Peppers and Lewis were the corners.
[After THE JUMP: diatribe! Three plays that went poorly! And then good stuff!]
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O21||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||4||PA out||Wilson||9|
|Quick pass for five yards. Wilson(-0.5, tackling -1).misses a tackle and yields a few more YAC. Lewis(-0.5) is next up and gets run through to set up a second and short.|
|O30||2||1||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel even||Penalty||N/A||Offsides||Hurst||5|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Henry||56|
|Thomas rolls to the LOS, acting as a SAM. M sends him and slants to the play. Henry(-2) cut by a tackle lined up well behind him. Bolden(-3) has an initial instinct to go upfield of a block and ends up sealing himself out of the gap. He does not delay Barkley one iota. Morgan(-2) should be expecting cutback here w/ the slant and can't recover in time. He does at least get a lot closer to a play than Bolden. FWIW, Charlton(+1) killed the LT and had cut the frontside off entirely. Wilson(+1) has no chance to shut this down but does manage to track Barkley down before the endzone.|
|M9||1||G||Wildcat twins H||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Power O||Hurst||1|
|Hurst(+2) fires his guy in the backfield fast enough to knock a pulling G off his path and pick off the H-back. The pulling G then runs by Bolden. Bolden(-0.5, tackling -1) shoots the gap and misses the tackle. Barkley bounces out, where Thomas(+0.5) does a decent job to react and bring him to the ground. Bolden tackle difference between a TFL and a short gain.|
|M8||2||G||Ace 3TE tight bunch||4-4 even||Run||N/A||Power O||Wormley||-1|
|All four LBs in. This time Wormley(+2) blasts his guy back to pick off the pulling G, and that's about it for the play. Barkley has to pop around the OL. Morgan comes up and hits that guy with Gedeon(+0.5) hitting the gap. Bolden(+0.5) is the force guy and pops off it to tackle with Gedeon.|
|M9||3||G||Shotgun 3-wide||3-2-6 dime split||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Hill||3|
|M has LBs in the interior gaps and PSU is hoping that loops and stunts will open this up. Not so much. Ross(+0.5) and Morgan(+0.5) hold up; Henry(+1) fires his guy back, forcing Barkley to bounce. Hill(+0.5) does a nice job to read and fill, making a nice tackle(+1) in space. Wouldn't take much to prevent a TD here but he makes this no drama. RPS +1, feel alignment induced bad idea.|
|Drive Notes: FG(23), 0-3,11 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O13||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||4||Drag?||Hurst||Inc|
|Hurst(+1, pressure +2) rips through the G and is in on the QB very quickly. Wormley(+0.5) and Henry(+0.5) stunt with Wormley coming through. Hack might have a drag route for a few yards but he throws it in the middle of nowhere.|
|O13||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel over||Penalty||N/A||Offsides||Henry||5|
|To induce these offsides calls Hackenberg is making a sudden motion with his hands. I think that should be false start. It is not called. In any case, Henry(-1) jumps.|
|O18||2||5||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel over||Pass||4||Sack||Wormley||-3|
|Wormley(+2, pressure +2) wrecks the TE and sacks. Coverage(+1) good for a beat, which allows Wormley to get home. Henry and Hurst stayed in their lanes and prevented any escape. Ball don't lie.|
|O15||3||8||Shotgun trips TE||Okie one||Penalty||N/A||False start||N/A||-5|
|BALL DON'T LIE|
|O10||3||13||Shotgun trips||Okie one||Pass||4||TE seam||Thomas||Inc|
|Director decides to have a super close in shot on third and thirteen. Dude has a future as a Big Ten ref. This is really a 3.5 man rush that M is getting there on but doesn't actually get there. Pressure -1. Thomas(+1, cover +1) is in good position on the TE lined up just outside the T but provides a small window that Hackenberg nails. Thomas then rakes the ball out just after the fact. I am only giving 1 here since 50% of the time this is still a catch despite the rake. Still, not the worst.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 6 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M40||1||10||Wildcat twins H||4-3 over||Pass||N/A||Reverse pass||Wilson||Inc|
|Wilson(+1, pressure +1) gets in Hackenberg's face after he takes the pitch. This is enough to cause him to throw off his back foot and turf a wheel route that is otherwise open for a potential TD. Ross is nominally the guy responsible here but the alignent and motion here discombobulates immensely. Given the unblocked Wilson presssure this isn't a total win on RPS, but it ain't good. RPS -2.|
|M40||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-4 over||Pass||4||Out||Bolden||6|
|Pick play that doesn't quite come off as Lewis jams the pick and Bolden has a relatively easy route to the sideline. Ends up a standard pitch and catch for 5.|
|M34||3||4||I-Form Big twin TE||4-4 over||Run||N/A||Pin and pull||Ross||-4|
|Ross(+3) absolutely wrecks the FB trying to lead this play out. He fires that guy back. He comes back inside. Barkley is so shocked by this that as he tries to spin out he falls; Peppers had him dead to rights anyway. Henry(+2) drove his guy so far back that he closed any holes further inside Ross and helped force the TFL. Such a huge play since it forces a punt instead of an IU-like fourth down attempt.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 3 min 1st Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O35||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel over||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Strobel||15|
|Strobel(-2) in. He gets reached and PSU has a big gap. Tough for the LBs. Gedeon(+0.5) runs up and gets a pretty good hit on one OL but can't get a tackle in. He still forces it back in a situation where the back is in a ton of space. Bolden(-1) doesn't do as good of a job. He doesn't deliver a blow and has more time to get off his block; he doesn't. He gets held a bit(refs -1), which doesn't help, but Barkley is direct to a safety again without slowing. Hill(+1, tackling +1) has a solid fill and tackle on the slippery Barkley.|
|50||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||4-3 even||Pass||4||TE out||Peppers||6|
|Zone for M; Ross takes the flat and Peppers(+0.5) reacts quickly to tackle on the completion. Pressure(-1) not great; Godin and Strobel still in at DT.|
|M44||2||4||Offset I||4-3 over||Penalty||N/A||Offsides||Godin||5|
|M39||1||10||Offset I||4-3 under||Pass||5||Fly||Peppers||Inc|
|Solid pocket(pressure -1) but the ball is well overthrown. Peppers in the area but I'm not real comfortable with the way this coverage looks. Impossible to really judge with the throw, push.|
|M39||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Pin and pull||Wormley||3|
|Wormley(+1) caught a little off guard on the snap but he fires out and gets outside of the guy trying to block down on him. He surges down the line and initiates a tackle with Hurst(+0.5), who basically did not get blocked but still shows impressive range to run it down. Bolden(+1) is the playside LB. He runs up and thunks the lead puller to constrict space and allow the backside pursuit to get home.|
|M36||3||7||Shotgun 4-wide||Okie one||Pass||6||Sack||Ross||-10 (Pen +10)|
|Late shift and M sends the house, with Ross looping around up the gut to sack. That path was wide open as Henry(-2) holds the center, and this is pretty obvious. I wish Michigan could get holding calls on which opponents put their hands outside the shoulders but I can't criticize this call since Henry clearly prevents the C from attempting to get to Ross. Probably unnecessary since this guy sucks, too.|
|M26||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||5||Sack||Charlton||-11|
|Bolden slides down just outside of Charlton at the snap with Hill replacing. This time Henry just drives upfield and that's enough on the stunt as Charlton(+2, pressure +2) rips through a late-adjusting G to get a rush up the gut. Bolden(+1, pressure +1) shoves the RB back into Hackenberg on his blitz and gets a tackle attempt in, which isn't successful but gets Hackenberg moving. Charlton tracks him down and grabs his feet, allowing Henry to come in and finish it.|
|M37||2||21||Ace trips tight bunch||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Split zone||Henry||3|
|Henry(+2) blows the LG in the backfield and sets up shop. When Barkley passes he disconnects to tackle with help from Hurst(+1), who didn't get penetration but did fight through a momentary double and close down the space.|
|M34||3||18||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie one||Pass||4||Fly||Hill||Inc|
|PSU is pulling a guard to the backside to try to pick up Charlton. He gets held up a bit as Henry tries to surge into the backfield. Hackenberg steps up past Charlton, who can only get a hand in. Henry(-1, pressure -1) and the G have a competition to see who can hold the other guy more forcefully. Hackenberg has the option to scramble, as Huard will spend the next sixteen hours hammering, but decides to cut it loose deep, nearly completing a bomb on which Lewis(-2) falls down; Hill(+2, cover +1) gets over to hit the WR OOB even if he catches it, which he does not. Not a terrific play here.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 10 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M19||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Peppers||0|
|Similar to the way IU started OT last week with a stretch to the field, where they have trips. Last week M had no support to the field since they were in man. This time zone with Peppers short and that only goes one way. RJS(+1) does a nice job to hold the edge and gets held(refs -1) for his troubles, another one of those hands outside the shoulder jobs that Henry just got called for. That threatens to give PSU the corner before Peppers(+1, tackling +1) gets off a block and chops Barkley down. Hurst(+1) also got down the line and prevented an attack within the tackles. Morgan(+1) blew through a block from the RG. RPS +1.|
|M19||2||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel over||Pass||4||TE out||Bolden||5|
|Henry(+0.5, pressure +1) drives his dude back into Hackenberg, forcing a quick throw. Bolden(+1, cover +1) is in terrific position on this and almost intercepts on a mutual catch; tie goes to the offense.|
|M24||3||5||Shotgun 4-wide||3-2-6 dime||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Charlton||-2|
|RPSed as Thomas(+0.5) holds his water and doesn't tip blitz until he moves down just before the playclock expires. M is slanting to this play with Charlton(+1) screaming down at the back from the drop; Thomas takes QB contain. RPS +2.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 5 min 2nd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M43||1||10||Ace twins twin TE||4-3 even||Pass||4||PA post||Peppers||Inc|
|Absolutely all day(pressure -3) as PSU leaves in 7 and nobody can get anywhere near Hackenberg. He dials up a bad-idea deep ball with two WRs in the same area, both well covered, and Peppers over the top. Fortunate to miss badly since Peppers(+1, cover +2) has an excellent shot at a pick if ball is on point.|
|M43||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||4-3 even||Pass||5||Screen||Ross||5|
|OL falls getting out but not sure how much this matters since Ross(+1) gets on his horse and obliterates this dude. That forces the ball back after an awkward cut from Barkley and gives the rest of the D time to rally. Hurst(+0.5) is the guy who rallies.|
|M38||3||5||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie one||Pass||6||In||Hill||9|
|Hill(-0.5) beat but only by a half step or so. Hack puts it out in front of his very large and lanky TE, who brings it in.|
|M29||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel over||Pass||4||Slant||Lewis||4|
|Lewis(+1, cover +1) there to hit on the catch and make this difficult; PSU makes the difficult play. Lewis does a nice job to tackle a yard short of the usual length.|
|M25||2||6||Shotgun trips||Nickel over||Pass||4||Hitch||Stribling||Inc|
|RJS(+0.5, pressure +1) comes around the edge and forces a throw after one read's worth of time. He gets held(refs -1). Bah. Stribling(+1, cover +1) in the back pocket of the WR and there to make a play, but none necessary since the ball whistles OOB.|
|M25||3||6||Shotgun trips TE||Okie two||Pass||4||Fly||Peppers||25|
|Late shift with Hill coming down into an intermediate zone after showing a deep half to the field. PSU tests Peppers(-3, cover -3) in man press on the flanker and Peppers doesn't do so hot with it, overrunning a ball he certainly has a play on. Pressure(-2) not forthcoming.|
|Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-10, 2 min 2nd Q. PSU forgoes a one minute drill; the one run there is not charted.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O7||1||10||Shotgun twins twin TE||4-4 over||Pass||4||TE out||Peppers||5|
|Quick underneath pass against a zone that pops open for a second; Peppers(+0.5, tackling +1) drives on it and makes a nice tackle.|
|O12||2||5||Offset I twins||4-3 under||Pass||4||Wheel||Wilson||Inc|
|Fake screen that tries to hit M over the top. Wilson(+1, cover +1) does not bite and Hackenberg just punts it OOB.|
|O12||3||5||Shotgun trips TE||Okie two||Pass||In||Lewis||Inc|
|Two interior receivers on the trips try to run a pick route. One WR is just blocking, no flag. Doesn't matter since Peppers(+1) and Lewis(+1, cover +2) both read what's going on, with Lewis coming around the outside and Peppers getting off the block. Incomplete but dead in the water either way.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 14-10, 10 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O20||1||10||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel even||Run||N/A||Pin and pull||Wormley||-1 (Pen +15)|
|Wormley(+1) blasts the TE in the backfield. Henry(+1) rips to the outside when he sees the pull and basically stunts behind Wormley to the outside. Gedeon(+1) runs up and blasts a puller. RB has nowhere to go except into Henry. Wormley gets a ridiculous call against him for illegal hands to the face when he is clearly grasping the jersey of the tight end and kicking his ass so badly that it kind of looks like he's grabbing the facemask. Refs -3.|
|O35||1||10||Offset I||4-4 under||Pass||4||Fly||Peppers||Inc (Pen +15)|
|Ridiculous pass interference call on Peppers. Pressure(-1) not getting through, though this gets out pretty quick. Peppers is shoved in the facemask. WR gets separation. Peppers barely impacts a WR just as the ball arrives, flag. Refs -3.|
|O50||1||10||Offset I||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Split zone||Wormley||-3|
|Ross moves down to the back of the line, blitz plus slant. Wormley(+2) under a block and into the backfield. He can't tackle but he forces Barkley behind after slowing him. Ross(+1) takes the H-back's block, pops off, and shoots upfield to TFL.Gedeon(+0.5) read the cutback and was there, if unnecessary. RPS +1.|
|O47||2||13||Shotgun trips||Nickel over||Pass||Sack||Charlton||-6|
|First read covered as Wilson(+1, cover +1) jumps an out, and the second never happens as Charlton(+3, pressure +3) whips the LT to sack. Hackenberg leaves for a play.|
|O41||3||19||Shotgun trips||Dime over||Pass||4||Comeback||Lewis||Inc|
|Lewis(+1, cover +1) dominates an attempted fade route; WR breaks back under because he's beat and the backup QB does see it, but he's way off. Lewis in the hip pocket anyway. Pressure(-1) vaguely approaching as the pocket compresses but not great.|
|Drive Notes: Punt, 21-10, 4 min 3rd Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|M42||1||10||Shotgun twin TE||4-3 over||Run||N/A||Inside zone||Hurst||0|
|Jet sweep fake and then straight IZ. Henry(+1) and Hurst(+1) both stand up their guys and can two gap them easily. Wormley(+0.5) is on one side of a guy but hasn't gone anywhere either. Back runs into doom.|
|M42||2||10||Shotgun trips||4-3 under||Pass||5||Fly||Thomas||Inc|
|RJS(+1) and Ross(+1) get around the tackles to meet at the QB(pressure +2); Hackenberg just chucks it. Lewis in decent position but some separation; Thomas(+2, cover +2) comes over the top and nearly intercepts an overthrown ball.|
|M42||3||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Okie two||Pass||4||Y Cross||Hill||Inc|
|Decent time here. Hackenberg gets nailed by Ross the second after he throws but long enough this is a push. Henry(+0.5) paved the way for a delayed blitz. Hackenberg's throw is perfect, just past the outstretched hand of Peppers(+1) in terrific position. Fingertip catch is made until Hill(+1, cover +1) comes over and bashes the WR, who drops the ball as a result. +1 instead of +2 since the hit helps but the WR has to drop it, it is not a proactive PBU.|
|M42||4||10||Shotgun 4-wide||3-2-6 dime split||Pass||3||Skinny post||Lewis||39|
|M threatens both LBs and then drops them out, which is sufficiently confusing for the OL to let two guys through. Charlton(+2) has a slick spin move past the other LT. Wormley(+1, pressure +3) drives through a stunt that sees the G pick him up late because he's worried about Morgan. Hackenberg gets lit up by both guys. Just before he uncorks a bullet that is in the exact six inches of space beyond Lewis(+1, cover +1) and within range of his WR. Hill(-1, tackling -1) gets run over on the tackle and falls off, which adds another ten or so yards.|
|M3||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||6-2 bear zero||Pass||4||Fade||Clark||Inc|
|Clark(+1, cover +1) in great position and will almost certainly defend an accurate ball. Hackenberg throws it OOB.|
|M3||2||G||Goal line twin TE||Goal line||Run||N/A||Double lead zone||Hurst||-3|
|Hurst(+2) puts the C three yards in the backfield while getting held (refs -1). Barkley has to cut back, away from the play design. Probably fine even if Hurst doesn't do this since Bolden(+1) does a nice job to scrape around a bunch of traffic after Godin takes a hit from a FB while already engaged and buckles, understandably. On the backside where the play is, Gedeon(+1, tackling +1) is the backside contain guy and does a nice job to leap upfield and tackle when Barkley tries to bounce, which turns this into a sizeable TFL.|
|M6||3||G||Shotgun 3-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||Post?||Hurst||Inc|
|Hurst(+1, pressure +1) again just drives his guy back the whole play. Hackenberg throws. Miscommunication with the WR, no one home.|
|Drive Notes: FG(23), 21-13, 14 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O37||1||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Nickel even||Pass||4||In||Lewis||4|
|Lewis(+0.5, cover +1) drives on a quick route to tackle on the catch.|
|O41||2||6||Shotgun trips||Nickel over||Pass||4||Screen||Henry||-6 (Pen +5)|
|Henry(-1) jumps offside. He also stunts to the outside directly into the screen and nails it well in the backfield (RPS +2).|
|O46||2||1||Shotgun 3-wide H||Nickel even||Pass||4||Scramble||N/A||6|
|Pocket excellent(pressure -3) and guys eventually get well upfield without actually threatening, so it's Hurst in acres of space. Hackenberg can find anyone(cover +2) and then just takes off for a first down and more.|
|M48||1||10||Shotgun twin TE||4-3 over||Pass||4||Post||Lewis||Inc (Pen +15)|
|Jet action. M reacts by activating Wilson to move down and shooting the backside CB, Peppers, to FS. Peppers(+1, cover +1) gets over the top of a post route despite starting about seven yards downfield. Pocket holds for a moment until Hurst(+1, pressure +1) gets through and forces a throw. Hackenberg chucks it unwisely. Lewis(-1, cover -1) gets called for an arm tug that's a super tenuous PI flag and then the ball lands ten yards away. PI anyway, because they're trying to kill Harbs. Lewis shouldn't have put himself in this situation but he probably didn't have faith that Peppers was going to dominate this over the top like he did.|
|M33||1||10||Shotgun trips||Nickel even||Pass||5||Wheel||Bolden||Inc|
|Late shift and Bolden(+1, pressure +3) gets a free run, forcing Hackenberg to chuck it. It's nominally at the RB but really OOB. Hill(+0.5, cover +1) in good position. RPS +1.|
|M33||2||10||Shotgun trips TE||Nickel over||Run||N/A||Zone stretch||Hurst||-4|
|Hurst(+3) blasts the C so far back that Barkley stops and cuts back behind him five yards in the backfield after thinking bout trying to get to the sideline. Henry(+1) did much better at sticking to the hip of the guy trying to release and not getting cut. He's there on the cutback, as is unblocked Wormley on the backside.|
|M37||3||14||Shotgun 4-wide||5-0 dime||Pass||5||Scramble||Charlton||17|
|Charlton(-3) is looping outside with Ross and does not drive upfield to contain. When Wormley(+1) drives outside and Morgan(+0.5) loops unfettered up the gut Hackenberg rolls out and finds acres of space since M in in man free all the way. Charlton and Ross(-1) are clearly jogging in pursuit and cannot cut off the corner in time; Hackenberg gets the first down.|
|M20||1||10||Shotgun 2TE H||4-3 over||Pass||5||Wheel||Peppers?||14|
|I don't know exactly what goes wrong here but it feels more like an RPS play or Peppers screwing up than the fault of the LBs, who are always going to be hard pressed to cover any of this. Bolden starts lined up on the hash; Barkley has a two yard advantage and then the TE route is a legal pick he is clearly trying get over the top of and cannot. (Cover -2, Pressure -1, RPS -2).|
|M6||1||G||Shotgun 3-wide||4-3 over||Pass||4||Slant||Peppers||Inc|
|Peppers(+2, cover +2) dominates the route and comes over the back for a PBU.|
|M6||2||G||Wildcat twins H||4-3 even||Run||N/A||Jet sweep||Wilson||4|
|This gets two thirds of the way but it is still Wilson(+1, tackling +1) one on one in all the space in the world against a quick slot type. Wilson doesn't bite on an upfield fake and manages to run the guy down after getting on his horse. Similar to the Barkley play when he was the only guy between PSU and a TD and he made the play.|
|M2||3||G||Shotgun 3-wide||Goal line||Pass||7||Slant||Charlton||Inc|
|M lines up Charlton as an MLB and runs him directly up the gut. He meets zero resistance. Not great, Frank. Hackenberg steps right and chucks one off his back foot way high. (Charlton +1, Hurst +1 for drawing the C the whole play and also beating him anyway, pressure +1). Peppers(+1, cover +1) is making a play on the WR to rip the ball out even though it's way high.|
|Drive Notes: FG(19), 21-16, 8 min 4th Q.|
|Ln||Dn||Ds||O Form||D Form||Type||Rush||Play||Player||Yards|
|O25||1||10||Shotgun 3-wide||Dime buck||Pass||4||Drag||Henry||Inc|
|Stunt gets Henry(+1) through as RJS(+1) presses the LG in. Pressure +2; Hack dumps the ball off short and wide of his target, which is open(cover -1) thanks to a pick play that may be not so legal. Peppers got caught up, but that would be more RPS.|
|O25||2||10||Shotgun 4-wide||Dime buck||Pass||4||Hitch||Stribling||8|
|Wormley(+0.5) presses the pocket some. Normally I might ding a DB for giving up an eight yard pass but in this situation Stribling is playing it right.|
|O33||3||2||Shotgun 4-wide||3-2-6 dime||Pass||3||Sack||Henry||-8|
|Henry(+3, pressure +3) drives the C back and then rips him down to the ground to get a rush up the gut. Wormley(+2) beat the RT around the corner; he is still getting pushed and might get run around if not for Henry. Since Henry's there nothing for Hackenberg to do but die.|
|O25||4||10||Shotgun trips||3-2-6 dime||Pass||3||Throwaway||RJS||Inc|
|Kind of a three and a half man rush with RJS hanging out looking to clean up any scraps that show up. Some do. This isn't really any one person but Charlton(+0.5) and Wormley(+0.5) push the pocket closed. When Hackenberg starts moving RJS(+1, pressure +1) runs up to prevent and escape, hitting on a throw that was never anywhere near his WR. Nobody was open anyway (cover +3). EOG.|
|Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 28-16, 4 min 4th Q.|
I was promised a 6,000 word diatribe on the refereeing debacles.
Okay. So, yeah, it was brutal. Early, Hackenberg was drawing Michigan offsides by simulating the snap:
What's legal and what's not in these departments is a gray area, but PSU cut it out after a couple of jumps. I can only assume that's because the refs told them they would flag it.
I do think they should modify the induced-false-start-is-offsides rule. Offensive linemen are catching on now and drawing flags like the above. (It's not just Penn State—Kalis drew an offsides earlier this year by jumping on purpose.) They should make sure to emphasize that the false start has to be a natural reaction to the defense's movement to get the call instead of clear gamesmanship. Nobody watches football to see a bunch of procedure penalties.
Anyway. That's a nit.
Mount Harbaugh blew in this game not only because the refs threw a flag on Peppers for no discernible reason after the wide receiver had pushed off his face mask, but because on the snap just before Chris Wormley had drawn an illegal hands to the face call on a play where he never even grazed a facemask:
It does look like hands to the face for a second there, and then as the play goes on it's clear that Wormley is grabbing the OL's jersey and has done so for the duration. That phantom call is the primer, and the next is the match:
Later when arm-fighting got Jourdan Lewis called for pass interference on a ball that was ten yards overthrown Harbaugh was too broken to complain.
FWIW, The hold on Henry was a legit call. Yes, holding on DL is a real thing. Remember when Will Campbell responded to double teams by tackling the guy trying to release? It's a thing. Henry probably could have gotten away with it if he had kept his hands on the inside, but he grabbed the outside of the shoulder pad, and that's a big no-no.
Hypothetically, anyway. After Henry got nailed it was frustrating to see two or three instances of blatant my-hands-are-outside-your-shoulders holds go uncalled. One on RJS was particularly galling since he ended the play with his pads flopping in the wind.
Add in the illegal block penalty and targeting overturn and this was worse than the MSU game. That takes some doing.
All right then. I DID NOT LIKE THOSE THREE OR FOUR PLAYS.
EVERYTHING ELSE WAS GREAT THOUGH.
Yes, pretty much. Penn State barely scraped over 200 yards of offense. More than half of those yards came on three plays: the zone stretch that went 56 yards, the Peppers-ceded TD, and the fourth-and-ten conversion on which Hackenberg momentarily looked like the Highly Touted NFL Prospect he entered the year as.
So what happened on those plays?
Can we not just focus on the positive for once?
Is this a Michigan blog or what?
Fine, yes, okay, fine. First, chart.
Slow like a Brady Hoke team, I guess.
|Henry||12.5||7||5.5||Took the cut, jumped a couple times.|
|Wormley||14||14||Two sacks and never effectively blocked.|
|RJS||4.5||4.5||Backup in this game, back to pre-Ojemudia injury minutes.|
|Charlton||10.5||3||7.5||Promising debut as starter.|
|Hurst||11||1||10||Fixed the stretch stuff, and got the usual amount of penetration.|
|Strobel||2||-2||Reached on 15-yard Barkley stretch on one of few snaps.|
|TOTAL||42.5||14||28.5||Welcome back, ball of death Kotter.|
|Morgan||2||2||0||Always good when your MLB is more or less optional.|
|Bolden||5.5||4.5||1||Rough start but settled down to have a decent day.|
|Gedeon||3.5||3.5||Hit some people.|
|Ross||6.5||1||5.5||Pretty good as a SAM.|
|TOTAL||17.5||7.5||10||Much better week from this unit, probably because of DL dominance.|
|Lewis||4.5||3.5||1||Fell over on a deep route and that could have been bad if not for Hill; otherwise was Lewis.|
|Peppers||9||3||6||Big bad thing was only bad thing; otherwise excellent.|
|Wilson||5||0.5||4.5||Saved two TDs with tackles in space.|
|Hill||5||1.5||3.5||Two PBUs acquired by hitting WRs hard.|
|Clark||1||1||Nice job on a fade.|
|Thomas||4||4||Please be real, please be real, etc.|
|TOTAL||29.5||8.5||21||Really nice game from the safeties.|
|Pressure||26||15||+9||Some what disappointed, which is probably crazy.|
|Coverage||33||7||+26||Barely any options.|
|Tackling||6||4||2||Nice to get a positive number against the slippery Barkley.|
|RPS||8||3||5||Hard to get clever with no OL.|
I don't hand out minuses quite commensurate with the yardage gained on big plays. If I were to do that I'd have to give up some stunningly large numbers on a 56-yard run relative to a 15 yard run. So this kind of game where the opponent hits a few big things and then curls up and dies comes out well in UFR. I think that's correct, obviously, but YMMV.
Anyway, this was another one of those games were Morgan barely factors because of the defensive line, but Gedeon and Ross had nice games and the safeties were collectively terrific. Combine that with the expected dominance of the DL against PSU's OL and you have a solid three-level win.
But we are Michigan fans.
So, the bad things?
Peppers turned his head and then got completely lost. Instead of locating the ball and slowing down to try to make a play on it he turns back upfield and tries to find the WR again. That's frustrating. If Peppers slows up and leaps for the ball and it goes over his hand, I can live with that. Instead the WR is uncontested.
I'm sure you're going to ask me about Peppers moving to offense because he's bad at coverage in a bit.
The fourth and ten conversion was just one of those things. Hackenberg gets lit up a split second after he throws a laser that goes a couple inches past Lewis's outstretched hand. One moderately tough catch later and a missed tackle from Hill and PSU is at the three:
That's one of those plays where I shrug and issue a +1 to the defensive back. The only thing Michigan did wrong on this play is not tackle the guy at about the 15. When the offense executes perfectly you get beat. The replay of this play and the third down that preceded it makes it clear that Hackenberg was hitting paper-thin windows. The end.
And the stretch?
After reviewing it, it's on Henry and both linebackers, with Morgan maybe a bit less of a problem and Bolden a bit more of one.
Michigan moves Dymonte Thomas down into a SAM position on the end of the LOS.
When teams do that, especially with a safety, about 99% of the time they intend to slant the line away from the SAM and blitz that guy to clean up on the backside. This is what Michigan does, and it's usually a good way to defeat a stretch. DL moving to the play on the snap rarely get reached.
Hurst doesn't get reached, but it's a near thing. He presses the hole closed. This invites a cutback, and maybe you could get on Hurst for making this crease bigger than it needs to be; I think that's harsh. Henry then gets slashed to the ground:
This is the seed for a successful play of any variety. This is bad. Getting cut by a guy behind you on the backside creates this crease, and with Thomas on the backside and a slant on the linebacker level is not dense with bodies.
The slant means that linebackers should be alert for cutbacks. The play is unlikely to bounce outside. Morgan does not do this. He's probably overreacting to last week; he goes and buries himself in the G releasing after chipping Hurst. I get why he does this—last week Hurst got reached several times and Morgan had to go try to rescue things a lot. But with the slant on this isn't his job. Or, at least, his job should be to watch for a cutback first and then try to mitigate the damage if Hurst doesn't do his. Maybe he doesn't have to make a tackle, but get an arm on a guy, slow him down, make him cut.
And then, Bolden. Morgan just about gets back to this play. Bolden never approaches it, and that's because he falls into a terrible habit he's had for four years. He tries to avoid contact and go upfield of a block. Here he's got choices:
[Bolden is the leftmost player]
- He can hit the guy and try to make a play by two-gapping the DL.
- He can go into panic mode and cede ground to get over the top to make sure he's in the gap.
- Or he can run upfield of the block at first, change his mind, hit the offensive lineman weakly, and come nowhere close to impacting the play.
You can make a case for door 1 or 2. Personally I prefer a full on panic approach since this is a bad scene when the RB gets to cut straight up the gut so quickly, but #1 can succeed and will have less overall damage if it does. Bolden, of course, picks door #3. I'm not surprised since Bolden does this a lot. It is what it is.
The good news is that literally the only other successful run of the day for Penn State has a pretty simple explanation: Tom Strobel got reached on a stretch and Bolden either got held or didn't get off a block, depending on your POV. Also, Bolden recovered from that to have a solid day otherwise.
What about the safeties?
Jarrod Wilson in all that space is not going to shut down a guy like Barkley; frankly I think it's a terrific play just to track him down at the ten. Delano Hill got pulled after a couple plays where he turned big plays into touchdowns by not making the tackle Wilson does on this play.
Wilson made a similar play later when he got tasked with defending a jet sweep from one hashmark all the way to the opposite sideline, by himself. He gave up four yards, but even so this is a great play:
I thought that was a touchdown for about 3/4ths of that play. Wilson's going to leave Michigan one of the more underrated players of the past decade because he does nothing but put out fires and prevent anyone from testing the middle of the field. He was the guy who read the trick play and pressured Hackenberg to force an incompletion. I want to emphasize that when I call him "boring" that is the nicest thing I can say about a free safety.
Meanwhile, Thomas obviously has no chance to do anything on the 56-yarder but that burst he has when he transitions from pursuit down the line to desperation mode is pretty impressive. Later he got over the top of one of the fade routes for a near interception.
Now that Thomas generally knows where to go he's demonstrating that speed that made him such a highly touted recruit. His underneath coverage is not quite as good as Lewis's, but he's a solid option against a tight end or #3 or #4 WR.
That's a small window and a play on the ball, albeit a slightly late one. I will take it.
Hill wasn't as prominent but did have a couple of plays on which he helped bracket a guy. He forced a WR out of bounds on an early Hackenberg punt 'n' pray, and later he would get a thwack on a wide receiver to break up a third and ten conversion:
Every week I get a little less nervous about safety next year. /knocks on all available wood
How does Charlton starting at WDE make you feel?
Pretty good. That spot looked like a hole for next year; now it projects to have a good (or better) senior starter.
Charlton was excellent in this game, displaying a combination of power and pass rush that is really appealing for next year—and next week. On the play after the Henry hold PSU tried to pick him up on a stunt, to which he said "no thank you":
Getting around that traffic and getting to Hackenberg's feet for the sack is impressive. Later he'd get another with a straight-up pass rush move:
Not a whole lot of those have been effective this year. The caveat, of course, is that Penn State is horrendous at pass protection.
There was one big mistake in this game. Charlton did not drive upfield on the Hackenberg scramble and lost contain. Also, I it just me or does it seem like both Ross and Charlton are jogging to the sideline instead of sprinting?
I feel like that's me being crazy but it also feels like either of those guys could have prevented a first down by going at full speed.
In any case, we have a track record that's getting reasonably long with Charlton and he's done well with the playing time he's gotten. He's suddenly got 5.5 sacks on the year despite playing maybe a third of Michigan's snaps. Extrapolating out senior production from increased playing time and increased proficiency is quite fun. You should try it.
The line got better didn't it? Against stretches, yes? We're not gonna die, no?
It didn't take a wizard to predict that Michigan's defense would reassert itself against Penn State. The defensive line was dominant enough to get off the field quickly most of the day, and Penn State runs a slow offense.
This limited Strobel snaps to handful immediately proximate to the 15-yard run and allowed Michigan to roll with Henry/Hurst/Wormley/Charlton much of the day. Godin's role was almost as small as Strobel's; the only DL backup to get much run was Royce Jenkins-Stone. It sucks that Michigan is now down to one or two viable backups, but at least the starters are fierce.
Hurst in particular rebounded from a rollercoaster of a day against the Hoosiers. Immediately after the 56-yarder he flung his dude in the backfield to pick off one and a half pullers, which left Barkley easy pickings for the linebackers and secondary:
When linebackers blast into the backfield like that it's usually an interior lineman who's erased a puller facilitating things.
When not getting cut on that one play, Henry was similarly dominant, depositing guys trying to block him yards in the backfield and closing gaps himself. In the third quarter Henry and Hurst would both display their improved proficiency at defending outside zone. Hurst does the spectacular bit by dumping his dude in Barkley's lap, but also check out Henry sticking as close to the hip of the OL in front of him as possible, giving ground to avoid the cut:
I think Henry might even use that OL for balance. So that's progress in a much needed department. It's not like these guys can't do it. They have the ability. They just need to plug that leak in their game.
Finally, expecting to block Chris Wormley with a tight end remains an exercise in futility.
Indiana managed it once, I think. Every other attempt to do this has been a disaster. That's a major upside of a 300-pound SDE. Another is that sometimes you get to see 600 pounds of meat slam into a QB.
Ow. If Michigan gets Gary, Wormley's heir apparent is Wormley with the "explosive edge rusher" add-on pack. /tents fingers.
/three hundred pound man flies by ass-first screaming HELP I CAN'T SLOW DOWN
Uh… so that happened. I feel such a thing should be explained.
I'm really going to miss James Ross versus Penn State offensive linemen. Last year he sent a guy 100 pounds heavier into the first row, and in this game he had a reprise. One slightly aided by a fall, but cumong man:
Ross also blew up a more size-appropriate foe on a TFL:
He finally got to play a big chunk of minutes as a SAM, and he looked terrific. It is his misfortune that the position he was born to play fell out of the defense just as he was locked and loaded to play it. Here's to a big game against Ohio State as a rousing sendoff.
So Michigan did not die on stretch plays because of the line? Or was there something else?
Michigan did make tactical adjustments after the Indiana game. Penn State tried all the things that worked against Michigan a week ago, and aside from a couple runs found them closed off again. Indiana opened both overtimes with a zone stretch to trips. Those plays broke big when the playside end got edged and there was nobody left since M was in man coverage.
Penn State tried it; M switched to zone and guess who showed up.
That's the difference between Kevin Wilson and James Franklin. Wilson finds things that will work; Franklin tries things that have worked.
Also in this department: Penn State dialed up a goal line fade against a 6'4" corner.
Great job by Clark, BTW. That might be deliberately thrown away because there's nowhere to go.
Peppers did bad at coverage and now he should play running back.
I mean, you're not entirely wrong. Peppers should get like 10 carries a game. But you're wrong. In all instances except the obvious bad thing Peppers was very much on point. This attempt at a pick play was holistically doomed but Peppers did his part by fending off a blocker and nearly intercepting:
(Yes, that's OPI.) The Hill PBU mentioned above featured Peppers foreshadowing fourth down by having superior coverage only for Hackenberg to beat it; Hackenberg was not so lucky on a key goal-to-go play later:
His coverage has improved immensely from the beginning of the year and he removes entire swathes of opponent playbooks. The number of WR screens the screen-mad Nittany Lions ran was zero.
Peppers is too important to the defense to make a primarily offensive player. I'm listening if you're talking about stealing snaps here and there. Anything more and not so much.
The starting defensive line except maybe minus Henry if we are being super harsh, Ross, all three safeties, Peppers.
Maybe not so heroic?
If we are being super harsh, Henry played well overall but was a major culprit on the long run and took two frustrating offsides penalties.
What does it mean for Ohio State and beyond?
Jourdan Lewis can keep returning kickoffs. Let's jam this in here:
Lewis has been little if any dropoff from Peppers and if that means Peppers gets five more snaps on offense, thumbs up.
Michigan is still weak against the stretch but getting better. M bottled it up after the first two but Henry getting cut is a thing that happens not infrequently; I am still a bit worried that a much better OSU line that runs the stretch as part of their base offense (unlike Penn State) will be able to find cracks. Reach blocks were much fewer in this game, at least.
Charlton is a viable WDE starter. This isn't a huge surprise since he'd been getting a reasonable amount of playing time and consistent turning in +3, +4 type UFR games. Deployed as a starter he maintained that level over more snaps. I think he'll have to spot Wormley a bit against OSU since they'll have more tempo and more plays, but long-term he's the guy.
Michigan's safeties are rounding into form. This game was a rare one in which Wilson's abilities were prominent. He's the same guy he's been. Hill and Thomas, on the other hand, are visibly improving week to week.
Ross was born 20 years too late. He's a terrific SAM in a Jabrill Peppers world.
They can do this. I think.
Happy Thanksgiving! It's Ohio State week so we're still putting out the content.
They're 8th to S&P+, 30th against the rush and 3rd against passing. It's a lot like Penn State's defense, if Penn State hadn't been missing Nassib, and everyone on that defense was one star more talented, and they played the system that Michigan State used to create the No Fly Zone, and instead of not-Nassib they had J.J. Watt starting at a rush end position. No not college J.J. Watt, I mean the same guy nobody in the NFL can block.
Joey Bosa is the best college player I have watched since Charles Woodson. And like Woodson, the things he does makes his unit greater than the sum of its…
Personnel. Just look at my diagram:
click makes big.
You see everybody in proximity to Bosa has a star. Eli Apple plays half his downs on the other side (he's the field corner) and I was close to giving him a star too. Tyvis Powell and Josh Perry have put up stats (in Perry's case backed up by PFF) to warrant one as well. Joey Bosa's backup even has a star.
That's STAR, Monarch.
Are they really that good? See the stats, and more importantly, see…
Base Set? They're a 4-3 over/even team much like Michigan State of a few years ago, where the middle linebackers squeeze in and the DL spread out to an even (guards are covered, center isn't) front rather often. The strongside linebacker, Darron Lee, is a hybrid spacebacker—they've gone away from the term "Star" but it's still a two-parts LB hybrid who doesn't get lifted when offenses go nickel. On pure passing downs they put Bosa on the weakside and bring in RS freshman Sam Hubbard, the next big thing.
Man or zone coverage? It's Quarters, mostly. That's the thing where the safety and cornerback read the inside receiver and play Cover 4 (if he goes vertical) or Cover 2 if he goes to the flat. It winds up looking like a lot more man. Against Illinois they started doing more man-free because the TE was staying in most plays to help his RT deal with Bosa.
Here they do get verts and you can see the reaction:
Don't just watch Eli Apple, who covered that as well as you could ask, but the safety Tyvis Powell took a side step to get on top of the releasing TE. The linebacker, Lee, is in a zone that accounts for the quick seam so he picks up that TE first while Powell brackets on top. Since that guy went vertical, Apple has no help inside and plays inside leverage all the way down the sideline.
Quarters cornerbacks playing press technique like that have to act like they're in man coverage all day. They can get away with that because their safeties communicate and they have a good feel for tendencies and what's going on around them. At the end of the play you can see the other side wound up with the same coverage, and likewise they had the inside receiver bracketed and a man covering the outside guy.
They do tend to give up things in the flats. The diagram above is the same play but this time imagine the slot receiver goes into the flat on the left side. By Quarters rules Bell (11) would be getting on top of the X receiver, but Conley (8) is likely to still be with that guy and going full out to keep up with him. At the point of handoff, Conley could already be pretty far upfield. It's up to the LB then to try to get over on the slot receiver. Illinois got a lot of its yards this way, usually on Perry, even though by the 2nd half Perry was making it difficult.
There was another such play where Darron Lee seemed to be lazily trotting over to stop the slot when that receiver suddenly turned on the jets and tiptoed up the sideline for a big gain. Mailing it in a bit up three scores on Illinois is understandable; I doubt we'll see that for this game.
Pressure: GERG or Greg? They didn't need to but Ohio State brought a diet of zone and A-gap blitzes (again, it's like they stole this defense right out of Narduzzi's playbook), plus a ton of stunts on the DL. The Illinois offensive line was confounded by everything. In fact it was really hard to grade the front seven because offensive linemen were blocking nobody. Watch this guy:
I kept the few seconds before the snap so you could see how telegraphed that blitz was. Bosa dropped into a middle zone, everyone else had man, and that right guard watches Washington then Perry run right by him. Josh Ferguson versus a 5-star linebacker with momentum isn't going to work out even if the other rushers are picked up and Lunt runs backwards and throws it away.
The Illinois coaches did come up with a nifty response to those:
Play-action screens to Ferguson are the best Ferguson. Here they caught OSU in another Double-A gap blitz, and both LBs are totally bit even though Perry was twisting and saw two interior lineman casually throw McMillan down and walk by. I saw a few things from him in the first half that made me start to rethink how much I should be criticizing Bolden. #LinebackingIsHard
The other favorite blitz was to send a linebacker up the A gap, drop the SDE into coverage, and twist the line to get back to an even front. After the first quarter the Buckeyes canned the blitzing, considering there was no stopping the pass rush no matter how many blockers they used. There was a good reason for that.
Dangerman: Let me preface this by saying I think the right side of Illinois's line has two of the worst offensive linemen to play in the Big Ten in the last 20 years, and I'm including in that various inanimate objects deployed at times by the recycling bin who played at Michigan from 2012-'13 before transferring to Penn State. Joey Bosa still made fools of them.
I feel like I have to keep showing you videos because there are no words to adequately describe how much Joey Bosa dominated this game. You can take one drive of his film, put it to your favorite Ann Arbor ska band's soundtrack, and it will look like a high school highlight reel.
Music: "So You're a Senior, So What" by After School Special
I think it's safe to say this is the best player Michigan is going to face all year.
The stars hardly end there. Adolphus Washington is a highly effective DT, and very difficult to block for most offensive linemen. He plays very low with excellent extension, and has a rush end's speed, so those times when he stunts around generate a lot of pressure.
The other DL aren't that scary. Schutt got replaced so often with Hill that I wouldn't be surprised if that becomes permanent. Schutt's a space-eater while Hill's got more upfield burst, but neither are a Glasgow or even a Hurst. Lewis was your standard responsible weakside end.
However the next wave is already on the bench and when it gets on the field it can be terrifying. Sam Hubbard is already up to 6'5/265 after arriving as a safety and playing LB last year. This season he's got an interception, seven TFL, 5.5 sacks, three more QB hurries, and a forced fumble, all in very limited snaps. Jalyn Holmes is a skinnier guy but very fast.
Of the linebackers, Raekwon McMillan stuck out to me above the OLBs, even though the running commentary seems to favor the two guys who wracked up big tackle numbers last year. McMillan has tremendous closing speed and recognizes plays well. He doesn't whack a linebacker like Morgan would, but he doesn't stay blocked at all. I left Darron Lee's star because I don't want the argument and I've seen him play well enough in the past, but I could be convinced to drop it from this game's performance. Grant Perry…even Spielman says he's great so I'm on thin ice with this argument, but I don't see it. Here's Illinois trotting out Power's cousin, the buck sweep:
Lee set the edge like he's supposed to, but he's a spacebacker, remember, not a Victor Hobson/Jake Ryan/James Ross throwback SAM, so the FB's block can push Lee out to the hash, creating that all-important spacing for the eventual running play. McMillan had the TE releasing down on him and played that block well, getting extension and driving his blocker back into the lane. Perry has to watch a cut inside but he's kind of holding back to accept the pulling guard's block. He takes the contact gingerly and keeps flowing down; Bell comes up to tackle.
Vonn Bell is a guy I'm really hoping will be on that same train to the NFL as the rest of the guys because he's a difference maker. Illinois was using bubble screens to Powell's side of the field to mess with the Quarters, since those flats are often the responsibility of the linebackers until such time as the CB can come off his receiver. It was a consistent yards gainer until they tried Bell's side.
He is an excellent, excellent quarters safety, responsible and athletic over the top, and when he decides to play against the run he's there faster than Wes Lunt can throw it.
Powell is just a guy. He's not good enough to be Wilson-boring; Illinois has a couple of good receivers and didn't mind throwing it at them behind the LBs when it was Powell over the top. The nature of the defense gets him in position for interceptions; he dropped two gimmes in this one. He's got good speed that's nerfed somewhat by reaction time. In this defense he's fine as the deep man for the same reason Michigan could stick Brandent Englemon back there in 2006.
Neither cornerback was as advertised. Well, check that, Eli Apple's coverage was perfect when they tried him (see video above in the coverage section). With his size and ability, he's easily going to the NFL as a cover corner. There someone will probably teach him to not be a disaster in run defense.
That's a running back who barely dives at Apple's feet, and he's dead. Powell compounds things by missing the tackle (that's not a huge neg considering it's Ferguson in space). On the screen that went a long way you can see Apple come up to set the outside even though the outside is pretty set. He did make a tackle to end another screen, but that was on a desperation dive at the ballcarrier's legs—the kind that 30% ends in a tackle, often just slows him down, and occasionally results in a highlight hurdle. Michigan State also gameplanned to get Apple's edge. Since I'm predicting he'll draw Chesson, this could be the best spot to attack this defense. Him and Perry, if I had to guess, are why the run defense is just outside the Top 25 while the pass defense is elite, because both of them (maybe add Lee to that) are on the field for their pass defense far more than their rush instincts.
Gareon Conley looked pretty good in this one; if you think back on when Michigan grabbed Stribling because we lost Conley, you can kinda see that, though the spread between them is miniscule. That is and isn't good news for Darboh, who gets to face a guy a lot like that in practice, but doesn't really have the agility to win that matchup handily. Conley's the right kind of guy you'd want for Darboh.
In the offensive preview I said Michigan's defense looks good enough to keep OSU's athletes in check. This matchup strongly favors Ohio State. Butt finally meets a SS who can keep up with him, likewise Chesson and a corners. The better games of Perry and Lee can even corral Peppers without getting out of their base defense. A few well-timed screens can move the ball some, especially if they catch OSU in a double-A gap blitz. Michigan State was able to shove the DTs off the ball but that was the work of Jack Allen, who when healthy is the best center in the conference if not FBS. I'd like to see Michigan probe that weak side and of course empty out the bag of tricks. Down to down it's gonna be tough sledding.
In a game that’s had a couple big-time special teams plays, how important is John [Baxter] in a game like this? What has he done for the program special teams-wise?
“Yeah, I think obviously every game special teams is a huge part of it. Not just the big momentum plays that anyone can see, but there are a lot of hidden plays in a game that change field position and those sorts of things that are always big.”
Talk about their offense and the challenges it presents.
“They’ve got great athletes at all positions. They’re a cohesive unit. The same starters have really been playing all year long; they’ve been able to stay healthy. There are dangerous guys with the ball in their hand and they do a great job as coaches of getting those guys the ball in their hands and trying to get it to them in space, so it’s a really tough team to prepare for.”
Are you able to use the film against Michigan State or was the weather such a changing factor that you throw that tape out?
“Yeah I mean, we evaluate all the games. Try and get a handle on what they did throughout the season including the Michigan State game, understanding that weather obviously probably affected or played a part in that somehow. It’s just- as most teams do, you sit there and you evaluate the whole season and look at things situationally and what they’re trying to do.”
There were some reports this morning that you interviewed for the Maryland job. Is that a job you’re interested in?
“It’s- this week is so important to our guys. My 100% focus is on this game and our players. That’s what this profession is all about. You’ve got to make sure that you’re taking care of your job and the job you have week in and week out because it’s a tough task, especially with this team this week.”
[After THE JUMP: Urban planning]
But it’s a natural progression- you’re a defensive coordinator, next step would be a head coach. Is that something you’d like to do before you’re 40? Do you have a goal set?
“No. My goal is to get the best gameplan possible together for Ohio State and have our guys go play well.”
So did you go interview for the job?
“Again, to answer rumors and speculation right now and put something to it…my total focus 100% is on Ohio State and nothing else this week.”
Tackling’s always important, but talk about when it comes to Zeke Elliott and making sure you get him down and not let them give up the big play in the run game.
“Zeke obviously is a great player and he’s got a lot of big runs throughout his career. You’ve got to get 11 guys around the ball and rally because he can certainly make a guy miss, and the key to that is on defense if you’ve got a bunch of guys around the ball some of these missed tackles don’t show up.”
Going back to John [Baxter], I’m thinking of the Northwestern game when you returned the opening kickoff. How big is that for a defense when you feel like, ‘Okay, not we’ve got a little bit of padding going on here’ or how do you do that?
“I don’t think it changes our approach at all on defense or what you’re trying to do but obviously it’s a huge momentum thing for the entire team. Those are- special teams, that’s where a lot of big momentum plays occur, and throughout the course of the game there’s momentum swings back and forth and certainly you want more of those in your favor than the other way and you can get a lot of them in the kicking game.”
Not to compare him head-to-head with other special teams coordinators that you’ve worked with, but what has it been like working with him attitude-wise and day to day?
“Yeah, he’s great. He’s one of the best out there. He’s been doing it for a long time. He’s got a great way of teaching the players. He’s a unique teacher. I think that’s one of the best things he does. He really has a great understanding of the game. He’s seen a lot. When you’ve done it for that long you’ve been through a lot, you’ve seen a lot, and he’s got really great answers for things.”
When you’re evaluating their whole season in terms of film, is it more difficult knowing that they didn’t have their starting quarterback in there for a lot of those games?
“Um…yeah, I mean, I think offensively they do what they do. There’s obviously some differences based on the two quarterbacks, but they do what they do. We’ve got to be ready for both of them, too. Both of those guys have appeared in most games. They’re both great players and they present different problems to a defense, and so we have to ready for both.”
You grew up in Youngstown. You grew up watching the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, I would imagine. You would have been old enough to watch Jim’s ‘86 guarantee game, right? Do you remember that?
“Yeah, absolutely. I do. Just growing up in this part of the country, obviously I think this is a rivalry that carries over throughout the entire country but especially in the Midwest and growing up in this part of the country, this is the game everyone, no matter what you’re doing, everyone’s watching the game on Saturday.”
So you grew up an Ohio State fan?
“I was not. I was not an Ohio State fan growing up.”
You’ve been involved in a lot of different rivalry games and whatnot. What does it mean to be a part of that week preparing for it?
“Yeah, I think there’s just a different feel to it. The feel- obviously the players understand and the fans and the people around the program, it’s different for them. The key to me is your preparation stays the same. You’ve got to do what we do on a Wednesday, on a Tuesday, and keep that the same and just be locked in that way and let anything else distract you from it.”
What about the seniors as well? They’re going through their final week leading up to a big rivalry game. How do you see them maybe elevate themselves a little or get a little emotional?
“Yeah, seniors are always going to have a little more urgency about them because they see the light at the end of the tunnel. The whole challenge for seniors is pass that feeling on to the other class and be great leaders, [to] prepare and play with that same type of urgency that you as a senior have.”
How has Urban Meyer impacted your coaching career at the stops you’ve had with him?
“Yeah, I mean, he’s a great, great, great guy to learn from, work with. Obviously his success speaks for itself, and yeah. He does a great job. I learned a lot from him.”
Is there something you learned from Urban during your time with him that you still use today?
“As a coach you kind of take bits and pieces from everyone you work for or work with. That’s how we all learn from each other, and then you kind of stamp your own personality on it. So absolutely, there’s things. I’ve been very fortunate in my career to work for a lot of great head coaches and number one, coach Harbaugh; there’s things I learn from him every single day. That’s part of coaching, the evolution of a coach as you grow.”
Being a Youngstown guy, when you worked with Jim previously, with Urban previously, did you talk about this game at all, maybe what it meant to you?
“No conversation I can directly remember about being in a specific game. Again, everyone understand the magnitude of it, the importance of it, and I’m sure both teams and coaches will be ready to go.”
— Ben Fidelman (@bfidelman) November 26, 2015
Derrick Walton knocked down a three-pointer to cut the UConn lead to 14. For a moment, it looked like Michigan could perhaps claw their way back into a game in which they'd been dominated throughout.
But Caris LeVert's left shoe ripped open like a Ziploc, and his mark, Sam Cassell Jr., left him to contemplate the fickle nature of breathable fabrics while Cassell made an uncontested layup seven seconds later. It was that kind of night.
Michigan's zone defense briefly kept them close early while both teams tried to get their bearings. The Huskies settled in. The Wolverines never did. Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton combined to shoot 5/7 from beyond the arc; the rest of the team went 3/22.
The loss sends Michigan to the loser's side of the Battle 4 Atlantis bracket; they'll play Charlotte, defeated today by Syracuse, tomorrow night at 9:30 on AXS TV.
It's late Thanksgiving Eve during the week of The Game. I can't end a post on that note.
Much better. Happy Thanksgiving. There will be more, if probably brief, coverage of the Charlotte game tomorrow.