landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
Joe Bolden and Taco Charlton
Opponents only scored six touchdowns in the red zone on sixteen chances this year. What do you guys attribute your success in the red zone to?
JB: “Yeah, I mean, obviously as you get backed up- you never want to allow a team in the red zone- but when you get backed up it finally hits you and you can’t break. Ultimately when they’re in the red zone you want to hold them to three points. I think our mindset, our defensive mindset, is we don’t want them to have even three points. So, you line up to kick a field goal, we want to block it. I would say just the mindset we have when the ball gets down to the red zone.”
TC: “Yeah, to contribute to Joe, just give us a place to stand. That’s all we need. We just need a place to stand and we’ll make that stop. We have the confidence in ourselves. We know we have the coach in coach Durkin and all the coaches on the staff. They gave us all the abilities and we know we can get a stop if we get down there.”
Joe, your coach just got done talking about you guys playing the top three rated quarterbacks in the league the next three weeks. I know you’re focused on this one, but how much of an extra challenge do you take it when you face a guy who’s very efficient behind center?
“Yeah, a guy who knows how to manage a game, knows how to win football games, and having his ability playing- I think other guys on offense, when you have a good quarterback you have other guys playing off your quarterback, and it’s almost like a driving force for your team. Having guys behind the center and taking snaps with that ability, with that efficiency, I believe boosts your whole team: special teams, defense, offense. But really, when you look at all three of them and you look at especially Sudfeld, they’re all great players. Like I said, they manage the game of football very well.”
Talk about how the Michigan State loss opens the door for your Big Ten title hopes, and will you be rooting for Ohio State to give Michigan State a second loss because you need that to control your own destiny?
JB: “Yeah, it obviously helps us out. At the same time, not too worried about that. We’re worried about Indiana. Rooting for Ohio State is a very bad- I would say not a very good phrase. Obviously we want to get in the Big Ten championship, and for them to win that game here in a couple weeks would be awesome, but at the same time I don’t really care what happens there. All we care about is Saturday. We can’t get there without continuously winning.”
TC: “Yeah, we can’t control what Ohio State does or Michigan State does. We just control what we do, so we make sure that we gotta win to make sure we control our own destiny. Everything else we hope will take care of itself. Rooting for Ohio State? I don’t know if we can go that far with it.”
/silence while the microphones are redistributed
JB: “Nobody’s very talkative today. Used all your questions with coach Harbaugh.”
[After THE JUMP: De’Veon Smith and Ben Braden]
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FORMATION NOTES: Michigan had a new thing for MSU's heavy sets. This lineup has Wormley, Godin, Glasgow, and Henry from top to bottom on the line with RJS lined up as a linebacker. Bolden is acting as the SAM with Gedeon the other ILB:
That is the first time this year we've seen four true DL on the field at the same time. Another example, this time with RJS rolled up to the line:
They also did this, which I called 7-2 bear:
This was the TD on which RJS got bear-hugged; it did not come out again.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Aside from the occasional 4-4 mentioned above it was the usual rotation on the defensive line with one exception: I don't think I saw Charlton out there at all save for one buck snap. RJS got every other snap on which there was a buck—M lifted the buck in their dime sets.
Morgan played every snap. Ben Gedeon got most of the game; in the first half he was the third linebacker when M was in base personnel. After Bolden was ejected he was the guy lining up next to Morgan even after Ross became available in the second half. In the brief period between Bolden's ejection and the end of the first half, Allen Gant got a few snaps. Gedeon looked good.
Secondary was close to the usual with the notable exception of Jourdan Lewis shadowing Burbridge around the field after the first series of the game. To be honest I don't know what the Clark/Stribling breakdown was because they were peripheral, but I'm pretty sure Stribling got the rest of the snaps after Clark blew his coverage on MSU's second TD. Dymonte Thomas was the dime back.
[After THE JUMP: run run throw at Lewis, punt or repeat]
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FORMATION NOTES: This is Joe Bolden as the deepest guy and dropping 15-20 yards back before the snap.
"5-0 nickel LB-S"
M ran this a half-dozen times, usually against empty formations. The presumed goal was to get a DB in man coverage instead of a LB. Northwestern could not depend on enough time in the pocket to test Joe Bolden or Ben Gedeon as centerfielders.
Early Michigan ran fronts that were essentially regular even nickel fronts that had the buck off the line in a two point stance:
"Nickel even off"
That adds more flexibility in coverage, I guess? M shelved it after the first couple drives.
And they often showed a front with five guys on the line:
Most of the time this featured the two guys on the end stunting inside the guys further inside.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Standard rotations at DL. I thought I saw a bit less Godin this week but they have six guys, all of whom play a lot. IIRC, Jenkins-Stone got every snap at buck until the last two drives when Michigan mixed in guys like Watson and Pallante. Lawrence Marshall got in then.
Ben Gedeon got a meaningful drive in the first half. Not sure if that's just trying to work him in or actual Bolden displeasure. Morgan did not come off the field. Ross got maybe a dozen snaps before his ejection; Allen Gant replaced him for a snap or two after.
Secondary lacked Stribling and was the usual Clark/Peppers/Lewis/Hill/Wilson combo, adding Thomas in dime packages.
[After THE JUMP: Durkin donut #3]
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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]
News bullets and other items:
- Shane Morris is the backup quarterback. Speight took the one end-of-game snap because Harbaugh didn’t want to put Morris, a junior who’s played his first two years, in for that.
- Harbaugh wants further explanation on the roughing the kicker call. He thought the punter had established himself as a runner.
- Harbaugh called the snap over the OSU’s punter’s head a play that goes your team’s way once in a half a century.
- Rudock drew praise for his coolness under pressure, but Harbaugh didn’t like the fumble or interception, particularly because he felt Rudock locked on his receiver on the pick.
- The same play was intercepted in practice, so Harbaugh took the blame and said he’s kicking himself for calling it in the game.
- Wormley, Charlton, Smith, Bunting, and the secondary were singled out for their strong play.
- Hackett gave Harbaugh the maize watch he’s been wearing since Harbagh’s introductory presser.
Is there a game ball that went out to DeVeon or the defense? They both played well. Can you comment on that?
"Yeah, I sure can. We haven't given out any game balls yet. We'll do that Monday, but the defense – I'd say DJ Durkin and his staff did a tremendous job preparing the players. Went 3 1/2 quarters without points and tremendous on sudden change, we turned the ball over on our end of the field and coming away with getting a turnover, Joe Bolden plucks one out of the air. I thought that was a huge play in the game.
“There was- one other one was Jake Butt plucking a ball out of the air at the 10 yard line to open up the second half when we fumbled down there deep in our own end zone – end.
“So, great team win. Very pleased. I thought this was won with the week of practice. We had a tremendous practice on Monday, especially Wednesday, and especially Thursday. Everybody contributed. The look team, the scout team, was- had its best week. Guys really challenging made those practices extremely good. But yeah, there was a lot of credit to give out to a lot of people because there was a great team win, but we're going to move on from this one with humble hearts because there's a lot of work to do."
Obviously a turning point in the game – it was still close at 10 to 7 – but the punt that was blocked…or is supposed to be blocked where there was the disputed call, how huge was that given that you disputed the call on the roughing?
"Oh, the roughing? I need an explanation on that one. Their punter caught it behind the guard, bobbled it, looks to me like he took right-left-right-left and punted it. The way I understand the rule is that if he establishes himself as a runner he's afforded the same protection a quarterback is when he is running outside of the pocket, which is if a guy takes two steps, the quarterback, [and] launches into him after he throws the ball then that would be a penalty, but that was a punt-hit. I just need a better explanation as to why that was a penalty, But maybe I stand to be corrected.
“But yeah, the game was tight. It was still in doubt and then we got the very fortuitous play for us, which was them snapping the ball over the punter’s head. I mean, that happens once in a half a century for your team. So that was a heckuva good break for us, but we'll take it. But I thought it was a good, competitive game. I thought our guys got the running game established. We tackled well. Got some pressure on the quarterback; thought that was the difference between the first quarter and a long drive they made and some other drives that they had. Wormley got a big sack that backed them up to the 2 yard line and then we got good field position. Jabrilll did another fine job fielding punts and making cool-handed decisions and we were able to turn that drive into a score and put points on the board. So,…good. Just think we've got a – it's only the second game. It's a long season and we all have a lot of work to do, so that's what we're focused on."
[The rest after THE JUMP]
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FORMATION NOTES: Michigan spent the entire game in nickel save for scattered snaps in a dime package with three safeties (Hill, Thomas, Wilson) on it. Their first drive they came out in an odd front featuring the buck as a standup end:
Either they weren't happy with the play there or it was just a stunt, because after the first drive Michigan spent most of the rest of the day with an even four-man front:
On occasion they'd do this or something similar with a standup end; this pinched formation saw a hard line slant that got Wormley through for one of his impressive penetration plays:
And that was about it. Michigan spent the entire game with one very deep safety—generally 15 or more yards off the LOS; sometimes they'd offer a two high look but they always came down with one or the other presnap.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Line was mostly Henry/Glasgow/Wormley/Ojemudia. Matt Godin got the most time of any backup, spotting both Wormley and Henry frequently and pretty effectively. Charlton played a reasonable number of snaps behind Henry as well. Maurice Hurst was mostly a passing down sub for Glasgow; he did get a few standard down snaps. RJS saw a little bit of time.
At linebacker it was mostly Morgan and Bolden. Gedeon got a drive; Ross got a couple. Secondary was Lewis/Peppers/Wilson/Hill 100% of the time and a mix of Stribling and Clark at the last spot. Thomas got some snaps in the dime package.
[After THE JUMP: battling a very spread out spread]