The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
One of Michigan's best offensive performances last year. One of my favorite wins of the season.
I don't have anything to add to this one, and I don't want to bloviate for another 160-some words to make this pass the diary minimum, so here we are.
Updated to include both wheel route plays.
WHEEL OF DOOM #1 (1st play of 4th quarter):
Sharik has broken down the mistake on the first wheel route, but I thought that it might be worth picture paging. I used the video so generously provided by Boyz in da Pahokee. Here is what it looks like pre-snap; the Michigan defenders are settling in after some initial confusion about where they should be aligned:
You can see that Michigan is in a 3-deep look, with four players rushing the passer and four underneath zone defenders -- that is, a standard 3 deep zone. Brian in the UFR calls Michigan's formation 4-3 light. Illinois' formation is Shotgun 2-back twins.
Here we are, immediately post-snap. There is a run fake to the RB on the far side of the field, Troy Pollard (I think). The Illinois LG is pulling to the right to provide protection to Sheelhaase when he rolls to the right. Both receivers get a clean release and will run post routes, clearing out the near side of the field for the wheel route. LeShoure will run the wheel route, Pollard will go into the flat to keep the short defender honest.
We have to use ESPN's cameras, so it is hard to see what has happened, but the three deep has totally broken down. Rogers and Vinopal (the latter is barely visible at the top of the photo above), have both followed the slot receiver to the far side of the field, presumably because Sheelhaase has rolled to that side.
Avery, meanwhile, has taken the outside receiver into the center of the field. T. Gordon doesn't stay with LeShoure, presumably because he sees Pollard in the flat. The result is that LeShoure is wide open.
In the UFR, Brian writes:
Who's responsibility is this? I'm not sure anyone's except GERG. T. Gordon does not know to carry the running back vertical. If he does the other running back will be vastly open in the flat because Demens is bugging out for the deep middle. Avery's going with the post, as is Vinopal, and Rogers is covering no one on the far side of the field. So... who and what can Michigan do to make no obvious touchdowns on this play? Don't know. T. Gordon -2, Cover -3, RPS -3.
My football knowledge is minimal, but I think that Avery needs to stay in his deep third on the near side of the field, Vinopal needs to take the outside receiver into the center and Rogers the slot receiver to the far side of the field. Rogers plays this well, so I conclude that the fault lies with the true freshmen, Vinopal and Avery, for not maintaining their responsibilities.
Sharik concludes that this is on T. Gordon for not picking up LeShoure, but if he does this, then Pollard is wide open. If Avery maintains his position, however, every receiver will be covered.
WHEEL OF DOOM #2 (1st play of 2nd overtime):
Sharik says the following about this play:
On the 2nd one (in the 2nd OT), we were bringing 6 with 3-deep, 2-under behind it. When you bring 6 and play zone behind it, you can't zone the flat, let alone a wheel route. When you bring 6, whether it be man or zone behind it, the contain rusher must either hug up a releasing back or peel and cover him. Therefore, it was the blitzing safety's responsibility.
Here is the setup:
So, Illinois is in the same formation, two backs and two receivers on the same size of the field. Michigan is again in a 3-deep look, again with four down linemen.
Immediately after the snap. This play is very similar to Wheel of Doom #1. There is run action to Jason Ford (#21), who was lined up to Sheelhaase's right. The inside receiver is running a post, the outside receiver is running a 15-yard in. Leshoure is running a wheel route, and Ford is drifting into the flat. You can see the Michigan CBs and FS going into a 3-deep look. We are actually only bringing 5 (not 6): Kovacs is blitzing off the short side of the field.
Same mistake as Wheel of Doom #1: Avery (red arrow) is following the inside receiver who is running a post, leaving vast amounts of green behind him. Mouton is on the 13 yard line, stopping the in route of the outside receiver.
The result is a very grainy TD.
So Sharik may be right about the blitzing safety needing to pick up the RB, but it doesn't look like Kovacs is aware of this at all. Even if that is so, I don't think that Avery can follow the post route here, since that's Vinopal's responsibility. So the cause and the result of Wheel of doom #2 is substantially the same as #1.