I know everyone calls it something different...from "Deathbacker" to "Spinner"..but I like Schembackler. Just gives the position some real definition.
Forgive me if this has been beaten to death, but I'm really, surprised that Graham doesn't appear to be the leading candidate for this spot. His H.S experience as a LB means he at least has a clue on how to drop into coverage, he's an edge rusher extraordinaire and can stand in there with TEs. He could be moved around in an attempt to keep offenses guessing, and to keep him out of double teams. I guarantee he's as fast as any LB on the team, with the possible exception of Mouton. In short, he's a beast, which is the whole point of the Schembackler spot.
The other three choices here are Herron, Evans and Watson. None of these guys has played much, so I'd think that Patterson and Banks would have a wealth of experience by comparison.
Seems to me, you let Banks, Patterson and LaLota play the RDE position and use the best playmaker you have on defense at the spot designed to create the most havoc. But that's just me.
Will come as no surprise to anyone that M really struggled upfront against Wisconsin on Saturday. I expected we'd see some mistakes from Ferrara in his first game at LG, but I was surprised at how many mistakes the "veterans" made and how seldom the OLine managed to cut off backside in this game. Both Wisconsin DTs were able to beat our OTs on several occassions and cut off the zone read. The Wisky defense really seemed to be keying in on these plays in particular and did an excellent job against them.
RR and staff made some excellent adjustments at the half IMHO. First, they reinserted McAvoy at LG. McAvoy isn't a dominate blocker, but is a guy who understands his assignments and is capable of getting the job done. He had trouble handling the Wisky DT in one-on-one blocks, but did get better and better as the game wore on. He did an excellent job on two blocks near the goal line on M's final score.
The staff was spot on in coming out in the second half throwing the football..but a more subtle adjustment was made in the run game. Rather than rely on the zone read as the base running play, the staff decided to run directly AT the Wisconsin D. With Wisky's tackles biting hard on the lateral movement of the OL the belly play became effective and was instrumental in opening up the zone read that Threet busted loose on. The use of the Belly kept Wisky's tackles and LBs honest and didn't allow them to bite hard on the OLs first movement.
Some talk this week about RR moving Ortmann to LG and Dorrestein to LT. We'll see. From what I've see of Dorrestein, he's a powerful run blocker who might be more suited to the inside....and its always possible these are nothing more than motivational ploys to get that something extra from McAvoy.
Looking forward to next week...Go Blue!
Likely the absolute key to this game, will be our defensive performance on Saturday. I think many have noticed that our defensive performances against power run squads has diminished over the last several years. While I'm not advocating a return of Jim Herrmann as our DC, we must all agree, that against these kinds of teams, Herrmann was very good.
Wisconsin happens to be one of the better power run offenses in the nation these days. Huge OLs, tiny Oline splits and 220-250 backs. They will line up and attempt to smash us in the face on Saturday...no mystery here. As GSimmons and others have documented, Michigan's performance in the ND game against similar schemes left alot to be desired. LBs were slow to fill, or adequately take on lead blocks..often giving up the wrong gap and failing to funnell ball carriers into help. Fundamental stuff against ISO and the power run game. In addition, our DLine doesn't always hold up well against the doulbe teams that often occur with these schemes, allowing OLs to push the LOS and effectively "seal off" LBs from flowing to the ball.
It's essential that WHOMEVER plays at LB this week get the fundamental stuff right. Personally, I'm hoping the staff starts the three best LBs against the run this week, and think it's possible we see Panter more and Mouton less. Mouton will be effective in passing downs against Beckum, but he's not the run supporter that Panter is IMHO. I noticed Johnny Thompson tends to "run around" the ISO lead block in lieu of taking it on and stuffing the lead blocker. All well and good if you can make the play, but Thompson gave up several runs against the Domers this way. Against an offense like this, your LBs have to play unselfishly(unless they are able to take on the block AND make the tackle) and funnell the ball carrier into help.
The make up of the defensive line will be just as interesting. I expect to see more Renaldo Sagesse and less of Will Johnson. Sagesse has the size to hold up to double teams and not be moved off the LOS. Johnson, while very strong, is a good bit lighter and has trouble here, especially when he's tired. Will there be a Jason Kates sighting this week? If we don't see him now, we're likely to never see him. He has the perfect build to hold up inside....6'3" and 320 pounds. He'll be needed, but will he play.
All things considered, it's the front seven that will decide this game. If they can stop the running attack and allow the safeties to play a more passive role, we'll likely keep Wisconsin bottled up fairly well. If the safeties have to get involved, then Beckum becomes more and more dangerous and big plays more likely. Wisconsin's passing game looks average to slightly below average. Evridge isn't particularly accurate. The wideouts look meh to me.
My prediction...we don't get it altogether against Wisky and they have some fun. Hill runs for 95 and the Badgers score around 21 points.