fee fi foe film
Previously: Florida State Offense
As it turns out, not having a functional passing game against Florida State's defense is a serious issue. Florida, a subpar-at-best running team, managed a respectable 4.6 yards on 23 non-sack rushes against FSU. On their 41 dropbacks, however, they gained only 149 yards through the air and lost 46 on six sacks for a total average of 2.5 yards per pass play.
Michigan, with a month to prepare a superior offense, will fare better than Florida. They'll still deal with the same core issue: how do you slow down FSU's pass rush enough to consistently move the ball?
Personnel: Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
FSU is dealing with serious injury problems in their secondary. Star free safety Derwin James was lost early in the season; starting strong safety Nate Andrews tore his pectoral against Miami; replacement Ermon Lane, who made a midseason move from wide receiver, is out after suffering a foot injury in practice. What had been arguably FSU's strongest position group is now piecing a lineup together with scotch tape and chewing gum:
With Lane out FSU will likely move Trey Marshall back from the star position, and move true freshman Kyle Meyers into his spot. Meyers has played quite a bit this season with Marshall moving back and forth between the safety and star positions, as well as an injury that kept him out of the NC State game.
If FSU wants to keep the physical Marshall close to the line of scrimmage to help out against the Wolverines downhill rushing attack, then it will be sophomore defensive back Calvin Brewton that will play opposite of sophomore A.J. Westbrook. Brewton has played sparingly this season, but he has played more than true freshman Carlos Becker.
Florida wasn't able to test FSU's safeties at all in the passing game; that shouldn't be the case with Michigan.
Base Set? 4-3, often with a standup weakside DE; FSU uses the same "BUCK" term for that position that DJ Durkin used in his time at Michigan.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Much of the information in this post is provided by Pro Football Focus.
So, yeah, that guy might be a problem.
Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
While FSU's most serious injury issues are on defense, they're making some adjustments on offense, too. Senior left guard Kareem Are is expected back in the lineup after missing the last two games with a concussion. His replacement in those games, redshirt freshman Cole Minshew, is now locked in a battle at the other guard spot with redshirt junior Wilson Bell, who's also dealing with some legal issues. Minshew grades out as the best of the three, albeit in a much smaller sample size, so we have him projected to start over Bell.
The other injury situation to keep an eye on is at receiver. Funchess-like jumbo wideout Auden Tate was spotted in a non-contact jersey at Monday's practice. They're also likely to make a change at kicker. Logan Tyler, who's 1/2 on the year, is taking first-team reps over Ricky Aguayo (brother of Roberto), who's 17/24 but looked awful against Florida, missing well short on a 49-yarder and getting a low live-drive 44-yarder blocked.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Hybrid that leans pro-style. FSU spent a lot of snaps in the gun with three wideouts on the field, but they also go under center and play a fullback on about a quarter of their snaps.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? FSU has a pretty diverse running game. They like getting Dalvin Cook to the edge and they'll do it in a variety of ways: zone stretch, toss sweeps, and counters, along with a couple screens, got him into plenty of space against Florida.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Right in the middle; FSU is 55th in adjusted pace.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Previously: Ohio State Offense
When half of your defensive depth chart gets requisitioned by the NFL it’s usually a bad sign. Somehow, Ohio State is getting even more production out of the replacements. Without Joey Bosa or much in the way of blitzes, the Buckeyes are tops in the nation in power success rate and stuff rate, and 14th in Havoc.
Whereas the offense was relatively young with lots of stars covering up a few big holes, this defense is relatively young with lots of stars and a few guys I had to explain why they didn’t get stars.
My search for visual evidence was inhibited by the decision to shoot the whole Wisconsin game in that annoying sideline angle-vision:
…which I guess directors love because the formations are perfectly framed, and people trying to watch football hate because you can’t see anything once the ball is snapped. Getting a read on the secondary was especially tough, since you literally didn’t see them until the same second they’re making a play on the ball. The tradeoff for pore-o-vision was Wisconsin ran a ton of heavy sets, power, and jet sweeps. Michigan’s best hope to crack this nuts defense is with RPS, and the Badgers did just that.
Personnel: The diagram is nuts.
click for bigger, open in new window for bigger-bigger
The only guy who wasn’t at least close to a star is strong safety, Cass Tech alum Damon Webb, who came from cornerback to win an all-offseason position battle rife with negative heuristics. Webb is a –4.1 in pass coverage to PFF and about zero overall. Zero is hanging in there; he’s the weak spot only insomuch as McCray is Michigan’s, and like McCray, Webb’s weakness often takes the form of getting beat to the flats. Troy Fumagalli had 7 catches for 84 yards in this game.
Worley is fine, not spectacular. Baker is discussed below. Also discussed below: three starry “backup” linemen who rotate as heavily as Michigan’s DL. The backup CB, Denzel Ward, is a speed demon who was neck and neck with Lattimore through fall camp; OSU fans think he’s a future Jourdan Lewis. Dime corner Damon Arnette made an appearance and was promptly beat on a fade on 3rd and 9.
Base Set? They’re a nickel over (think Michigan State) team with a hybrid space player to the weak side and the DL aligned to formation, with the SDE over or outside the tight end. Wisconsin brought out a lot of heavy sets so Ohio State responded by walking down the overhang DB as a 4th linebacker.
The LB about to blitz there is the HSP, Baker, in an attempt to use aggression to solve the fact that he’s safety sized. We’ll see this play again in the overview section.
On passing downs they remove the DTs and put their four best pass rushers (Bosa, Hubbard, Holmes and Lewis) out there with wide splits. Ramzy said they call it the “Rushmen” package, which is far too lame for something so terrifying. The “Four Next-Bosas” is more apropos:
Or maybe “The Dogs of Ramsey Bolton”:
Wisconsin never found a way to deal with this other than take a 10-step drop and hope to survive the tsunami. And try like hell to stay out of passing downs.
[You are welcome to hit THE JUMP if your doctor says it’s alright. Tell her you’re taking a lot of Harbaugh.]
[Happy Thanksgiving! We’re on holiday. Hope this is enough to chew on]:
I’m guessing you don’t need to be told what we’re up against. The spread offense liberated running games from under center, and with it came all the fun stuff like little athletes juking people in space, big ones running deep downfield in man coverage, and all sorts of defenders standing around wishing someone—anyone—would at least try to block him. Each early adopter added a wrinkle: tempo, bubble screens, wide splits, quick folds, receiver route trees, lazy verts, and run-pass-options. Urban Meyer’s innovation was to assimilate all of it into the Earl Bruce power offenses he grew up in.
At Ohio State Meyer found he could tap Big Ten resources and fall back on SEC attitudes to convince athletes from all over America to bring their biological distinctiveness to its least charming truck stop. There they are assigned mundane designations like “Corey Brown” or “James Clark” and adapted to serve wherever it’s most efficient—usually as a diversion from running up the gut.
They are the Borg; resistance is futile, unless it rains.
Personnel: A star-studded diagram:
click to lightbox it bigger, open in new window for even greater largosity
Everybody was a top 250 recruit except the kicker, a backup tight end, and the best interior lineman in the conference. They have a Heisman candidate, and it’s not the starting quarterback who was a Heisman candidate at the beginning of the year. We’ll talk about the backfield in dangermen and the OL in the overview.
If you’re new to Meyer offenses, one slot WR position is just called the “H” now that “Percy Harvin’s position” is a dated reference. It’s a running back/slot receiver hybrid that does whatever the latest guy is good at. Curtis Samuel is the current guy. Last year he stole half of Braxton Miller’s playing time. He’s kind of a big deal.
They have a stable of 4- and 5-star receivers who are worth discussing here. Noah Brown is the Darboh but they have to create Chesson in the aggregate. Parris Campbell is the nearest approximation and though he doesn’t “start” he’s getting the starter snaps since Secret Weapon™ Corey Smith has had his hand in a cast all year. Smith’s role and nominal starts go to Terry McLaurin, who’s a throwback to the Odoms/Gallon Rodriguez-era mountain goats, right down to a listed height of two inches greater than plausibility. Backup H Dontre Wilson is a Norfleet. Those five guys will be in for two-thirds of the snaps; the remainder is split evenly between the next four: slot receiver KJ Hill is a good route runner. James Clark is an athletic deep threat who wasn’t connecting. Other extant cardio-pulmonary systems who’d have 1500 yards in the MAC are Johnnie Dixon and Austin Mack. OSU will rotate them heavily and send them sprinting downfield until your cornerbacks’ lungs burst from their chests—actual throws come less than once per drive.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid: Spread, which for lack of blocking TEs and superb blocker Ezekiel Elliott is back to being an actual spread:
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? A 60-40 mix in favor of manball. They use a lot of zone on their QB and zone read runs, but Inverted Veer/Power Read is still their base play.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Hurry up and wait. On third downs they usually will take their time getting set up and snap it with three to six seconds left. Otherwise the snap came with the clock between 16 and 25.
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): 8, effectively 9. We’ve always struggled to nail Barrett to a number on this scale because he’s a good runner but not Gardner-level. What he lacks for in whoop he makes up with vision, patience, and leaving all of his bad decisions for off the field. Against Michigan State I charted JT a perfect 19/19 on zone reads. That didn’t include the RPOs, which he also, on review, chose correctly every time. There’s a serious there, there, which is a big deal for an offense that has to stay ahead of the sticks.
[After the JUMP: inside the mind of the Collective]
Previously: Ace did the offense.
pretty good, still indiana
Last year’s heavy-offense, no-defense #CHAOSTEAM was hella fun for everybody not responsible for Indiana’s defense. New defensive coordinator Tom Allen is a Hugh Freeze assistant who was about to get the Auburn DC job if Muschamp turned it down. It seemed like a good hire. It’s been more like a Don Brown good hire.
Indiana pork famers aren’t investing in nets just yet. Since poking into the Top 25 after Ohio State, three rough outings against the far east of the Big Ten East dropped Indiana’s defensive S&P to a just 46th. That’s still ahead of the offense, which goes against everything you ever thought you knew about Indiana. This I had to see.
I started out with last week’s PSU game then switched to Michigan State (from way back on October 1st) because Indiana’s been playing all spreads since. If you squint you can pass off the rampantly holding State OL (it was even more ridiculous than against Michigan) as Michigan’s comparative OL competency, and Price as a poor man’s Butt, and wobbly Tyler O’Connor as John O’Korn in his first game, and early October rain for November rain.
What I saw is what you might expect from Don Brown if you gave him four sticks of bubble gum, various old truck tires, and an unused set of wedding knives. Allen’s 4-2-5 defense is a jalopy that’s marvelous because it knows what it is. They keep their linebackers clean and aggressive, don’t ask their DBs to cover very long, and solve any and all problems with aggression. Until that doesn’t work, whence Indiana.
Personnel: My diagram:
The DL has a lot of rotation: seven defensive lineman have over 200 snaps this year (an 11th is at 94) according to PFF’s tracking, and the last guy on that list leads the team in QB hurries. Robinson and Hoff are space-eaters, Green is the beast; he will often slide down to NT. Off the bench, Dougherty and McCray can line up inside or out; the former is a run-stuffing specialist and the latter is an excellent stunt pass rusher. Pass rush from the WDE position has been an issue: Gooch is just a guy, and Sykes is a big downgrade when Gooch comes out—nearly all of Indiana’s pass rush comes from blitzing linebackers and stunts.
The back seven mostly stay on the field. Former starter Chase Dutra got pushed out by SS Tony Fields, who still has some issues but isn’t a gaping hole in deep coverage; Dutra still rotates in plenty as a run-stopping/red zone option. Fant and Riggins will play nearly every down. The linebacker hanging off the edge is their version of a hybrid space player, true freshman Marcelino Ball, whom I’ll discuss further down.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown]
just the usual 270-pound freshman RB taking a direct snap and running a read-option with the backup QB wait what
Today's film post is brought to you by Theraflu. In related news, tomorrow's will be brought to you by Seth. (Thank you, Seth.)
I ended up watching last week's Indiana/PSU game for this post, which was a hell of a game to pick while taking heavy-duty cold medication. The Hoosiers had 454 yards on 5.5 YPP against a good PSU defense; they also fumbled five times—four on offense, one on a punt that hit a blocker—and lost all five. They broke out their Wildcat package with Tyler Natee and Zander Diamont but didn't deploy it in a way that made any damn sense. Richard Lagow didn't throw any picks but still alternated brilliant throws with wildly inaccurate ones.
And to think, for a moment there we thought we'd lost CHAOSTEAM.
Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
That's a lot of sore spots, especially for an offense that isn't outright bad. QB Richard Lagow is marked as such because he's either great or terrible, which is not ideal at that position. Cronk, Rogers, and Friend all grade out as bad run blockers to PFF, and Cronk adds terrible pass protection as well; this checked out on film.
The personnel wrinkle to watch is the one highlighted at the top of the page. Indiana will break out a Wildcat of sorts with 270-pound freshman RB Tyler Natee and mobile backup QB Zander Diamont in the backfield; in a twist, Natee, who played QB in high school, takes the direct snap more often than Diamont.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? This is a Kevin Wilson production, so I probably don't have to tell you it's a spread.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Lots of outside zone, with some inside zone and pin-and-pulls as changeups; I recount one power that didn't go anywhere.
Hurry it up or grind it out? IU's no-huddle isn't quite at ludicrous speed this year. They're still quite fast and capable of tempoing a defense into mistakes. They rank 23rd in adjusted pace.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]