- The defense was outstanding on Saturday. For most of the game, the Wisconsin O-Line could not block any Michigan D-lineman one on one. Even when Mike Martin was in the game, he was getting by people.
- I think Mouton played his best game. He was the only linebacker that was consistently blowing up the lead blocker. He was giving up about 45 pounds to the guy, so he had trouble driving him back very far, but he was meeting him in the backfield and holding outside leverage. On the touchdown run, he crushed the fullback behind the line of scrimmage and Brown had a chance to make the play in the back field. Obviously, he failed to do this. Mouton is getting better quickly, and could be a star by the end of the year.
- Thompson and Ezeh looked ok. I thought Thompson made some improvement. He made one outstanding play in the third quarter where he took on a double team and held outside leverage allowing the other guys to get there and stop the play for a one yard gain. Ezeh still has some bad habits. He drops his head sometimes on tackles, stops moving his feet, and seems to wait for lineman or lead blockers to come to him. He is still playing ok, but these types of things cost you an extra yard or two per carry. That adds up after a while.
- Beckum and Graham not playing hurt Wisconsin. It took them out of their two tight end sets, and put the full back in the game a lot more. They ran a lot of the same running plays I described in the scouting report, but they were forced to throw more to their wide receivers. It turns out their receivers are not good at catching the ball.
- They had a lot of success with their bootlegs. Most of the time they pulled the eventual playside guard or tackle to really sell the run. We bit on this hard a couple times, and were bailed out by dropped balls. They did run that zone stretch play action as well, but they never handed that ball off.
- Despite a couple of those play actions, the coverage was pretty good. On Wisoncsin's final TD drive, Everidge had to make a perfect throw twice. Harrison shold have picked the one to Beckum. Have to give credit to Everidge on these plays though. He made some tough throws.
- We really were not that far away from moving the ball in the first half. We actually did ok against Chapman and Shaugnessy. We are still having some problems with backside cut blocks. I think a worse problem is on the left side of the line. We have problems when there is a DT line up in the A gap. One of three things seems to happen: the left guard releases to second level without chipping the guy and helping Molk get across his face, the left guard and Molk both get on him, but then they both release to the second level leaving the free to make a play, or the left guard does get enough of him to allow Molk to get a block and stay on. Obviously the last one is what needs to happen. From what Rich Rod has said in his press conferences, he is going to shuffle the line up until he finds people to figure this out. There were also a couple running plays that were blocked well. McGuffie didn't seem to be as patient as he did against ND. A couple times he cut up the field too soon or looked for the cut back lane immediately when running to the play side looked better. Maybe this was by design, but it didn't appear this way.
- I don't really like Threet's throwing mechanics. He kind of has a 3/4 delivery and sometimes looks like he his trying to pitch off a mound when he is throwing. Rodriguez mentioned something about getting his shoulder in the right spot in the second half. I think when you have this type of delivery, it is very easy to let your elbow drop a little bit. This puts the nose of the ball up upon release and causes the ball to sail. He also appeard to take a larger step towards the target in the first half which may have opened his body up too soon. This could also cause the ball to sail. I tried to compare the game Saturday to the spring game, but the youtube footage was fuzzy. If anybody was a qb or qb coach, feel free to correct me.
- I think Massey missed every block he tried to make. If its not going to be Butler, Koger has to be the guy here. I'm sure Massey is playing hard, but he just didn't get it done. Koger was not asked to block as much, but looks more athletic. These tight end blocks are crucial especially on those bubble screens. One missed block on those plays and it gets blown up.
- Some of the ABC replays showed a wide view of the field and you could see some of Michigan's routes. Most of their passing game is based on selling four vertical threats. They like to run a couple plays off of this. One is where Odoms runs down the seam. Griese mentioned this on the ABC broadcast but didn't really explain it. Odoms is reading the safety. If the safety bits on the play action, Odoms is going to run by him. If the safety is bailing he runs the dig route. Odoms was open on the dig three times and Threet missed him all three times. If we hit this play a couple times, all of a sudden we catch the safety sitting on the dig and run by him for a big play.
- They also like to run a curl route which I think has been open every time they have run it. The outside receiver comes inside and runs hard vertical to about 14 yards, stops and comes back to about 12. We hit Matthews on this a couple times in the second half. They also like to run a deep hitch route, and then run the hitch and go off of it. We had Matthews twice for big plays in the second half, and he dropped it both times. We also actually run the four vert, and we can do it with different personel. Koger's touchdown was the seam route on four vert, and it was beautiful execution on that play. Threet made a perfect throw with the safeties playing over top.
- There were two plays in the beginning at the beginning of the third quarter that didn't work for us, but provide some good coaching points for receivers. The first was the out to McGuffie that almost got picked. I think Wisconsin was in its soft 2 coverage here and Michigan runs a pretty common out/fade three step combo. On this play the outside receiver takes an inside release on the corner. This allows a cover two corner to see the out the whole way. Against a cover two corner, the outside reciever has got to figt to get outside on this play no matter what. This will cause the corner to turn his head, and he won't see the out develop. The other play was the slant to Matthews that almost got picked. On this play the corner is playing an inside shade, and I think he was in man coverage. On this play Matthews has to stem his route so that he is head up on the corner before he makes a cut. He tries to do this, but the corner is able to maintain his inside leverage and make a play on the ball. It was actually a good throw, but a better defensive play.
- Michigan ran a couple sprint out passes. This is supposed to be a quick throw to an out or short hitch route, but I think it backfired a little this game. This brought the linebackers in underneath zone coverage to the play side. A couple specific examples were Threet's rush that led to 4th and one and the two point conversion play. On Threet's scramble, they had a smash route called. In a cover two, this creates a two on one on the corner. The #2 receiver runs a corner route while the #1 runs a hitch. If the corner jumps the hitch, you throw the corner and vice versa. However, on the sprint out, the hook/curl linebacker gets out and underneath the hitch route. Threet makes the right decision here, tucks the ball and gets what he can get. The two point conversion was supposed to be a crossing route with Odoms and Koger. We ran a similar play when I was in college, and it worked almost every time. However, in this case, Odoms and Koger ran into each other and the linbacker was able to get out in front of the guy running to the flat. This is supposed to be a quick developing play, but the collision allows flowing linebackers to break it up.
- It also looked like we ran a couple routes similar to what Utah did to us where a receiver, either wide out or tight end, is simply going across the middle and sitting in a hole in the zone. Hitting these routes comes with experience. The key is both the qb and receiver knowing when the receiver is going to sit. Its got to be a quick release when the reciever sits in the zone. Threet still looks unsure on these plays, and holds the ball too long. As he holds the ball, the route gets covered. I think he had the curls open a few times and held the ball before trying to scramble. He has got to trust the route a little more, but that will come with mroe experience against good teams.
- In the second half, Michigan was able to get Casillas matched up one on one with Odoms in the slot. I think they did this by keeping Koger on the line, but running a trips set forcing the OLB out onto the slot. I'd have to watch the film again to make sure. Unfortunately, we didn't take advantage of this. One time he ran right by him on a wheel route and Threet threw the slant. The other time, was a sprint out and Threet didn't throw the out right away so Odoms turned up field. Odoms had Casillas beat, but Threet missed him.
- On Threet's long run, I don't think he could have held the ball at the mesh point any longer. It was near perfect execution.
Overall, This was a great effort to come back in the second half. It was the most exciting Michigan game I have ever attended, and hopefully the second half gives the offense some confidence. Threet was accurate and made better decisions in the second half, and if he can speed up his reads and pull the trigger a little quicker, this offense could become very good before the end of the year. The D was outstanding, and if they wouldn't have been put in so many bad situations with turnovers and poor special teams would have been dominant.
Bumped from the diaries for extreme usefulness. -ed
I've watched the first three quarters of the Wisco Fresno game, and the first half of the Marshall game. Here are my thoughts.Wisconsin's Defense:
- They base out of a 4-3. As long as a tight end is in the game, they will stay in this front. Against Fresno, they brought a safety down and played cover 1 behind it. I think they were in cover 1. Its hard to read coverages watching TV footage. They did not blitz fresno very often, only on 2nd and long or 3rd and long. They would usually put #2 over the tight end if the tight end was in the slot. Against Marshall, they kept both safeties back and played out of a 2 shell. They appeared to be running a soft two, where the corners get depth with the #1 receiver until their flat is threatened. I think they were also running this when Fresno would go 5 wide.
- On third and long they will run a 3 man front and blitz. Only once during the 5 quarters I watched did they not blitz out of this front. They like to bring #11 on the outside. If they other linebackers blitz out of this front, they generally go through B gap. They blitzed Marshall more than Fresno. Marshall was more of a passing offense so this makes sense.
- #91 and #92 are their best players on defense. They are extremely quick off the ball and were very good at disrupting Fresno's zone running play. 91 is DT and just blew by people several times. He was also offsides two or three times, so I think we will get some easy 5 yard gains here and there. But Molk has got to be quick end get off the ball with power this week. This guy cannot spend the afternoon in Michigan's backfield or we will not be able to run the ball. #92 is the same way. They get up field in a hurry, and one way to negate this are screen passes. Both Marshall and Fresno got a couple big gains on well executed screens. I don’t know if Michigan has run it very much this year, but running the inside trap should put #91 on his back and hopefully result in some good runs.
- I think they will play us more like they played Fresno, so Carson Butler on #2 should be a huge mismatch. He is not that good in man to man coverage. Fresno’s tight end is not the athlete Carson Butler is, but consistently got open against that guy. If Butler is going to break out in a game this year, it has got to be against #2 in man to man coverage.
- Their corners seem to be ok in man coverage, but not great. Again, its hard to tell on TV film. I think we will see a lot of man coverage, because we have not consistently beat man coverage. If we see this, we need to make them pay for it. We have to throw the fade accurately and run better routes. They are physical corners, and Michigan’s receivers must be physical as well. I don’t think our receivers have been good enough in this area. They have been redirected on some of their vertical routes, and they have to be better. If we start hitting on the fades and comebacks, our other routes will open. The safeties are also ok players. #12 gets to the ball quickly. When they bring a safety down, I think it was #21 who they brought most of the time. They also like to blitz him in their three man front when he is playing man over #2.
- Bubble screens could be difficult to run this week. They mostly play with a man over every receiver, so by alignment we will be at a disadvantage for this play. However, if we are successful running the zone/counter/trap, they may have to bring the man over #2 or #3 to the inside, opening up the bubble screens. The three step passing game should be there this week too, especially if they are in man. The three step slant is one of the hardest throws to defend man to man, especially if the corners think the #1 receiver is a vertical threat.
- The linebackers are good players. They are not incredibly athletic, but they play disciplined and are good tacklers. However, if Michigan can take care of #91 and #92 and get to the second level, we can run on these guys. They are susceptible to misdirection. They bit on a reverse in the Fresno game, and usually bit pretty hard on the bootlegs.
- There isn’t as much to say here. This is an I-formation offense that is looking to drive you off the ball. They like to keep two tight ends in the game most of the time. With the athletic tight ends they have, they can run or throw out of these formations. Beckum especially is a threat lining up in the slot or outside. They are also decent blockers, but we have to get by these guys when they are blocking on run plays.
- Their favorite formation is a tight end other either side with twins to the wide side of the field. They can run the belly to either side or throw out of this formation. They also like to put both tight ends on the same side with a fullback in the backfield. They will pull the center and play side tackle out between the tight ends and run the fullback through the hole as a lead blocker. They run this a lot and have success with it. They also motion the wing tight end to the other side. They run to the motion and run the counter away from it. Sometimes, they pull the motioned tight end back to the play side and run a trap. Any pulling lineman will take you to the play side. When lineman work off double teams and get to the second level, they go after the outside linebackers, and leave the Mike for the lead blocking full back. When they pull, it looks like they are looking for the first man to show.
- Their passing game is based around their tight ends. They will run them on deep outs, down the seam, and down the sideline. They also like to run crossing routes with these guys. They look for these guys first. Their wideouts do not seem like much of a threat. #7 is a big tall guy but can get pushed around. #3 and #85 are smaller quicker guys, but did not get much separation against Fresno db’s. They will run some bubble screens out of twins and trips if the defense is way off the line of scrimmage. Everidge is a typical Wisconsin qb. His arm strength and accuracy or just ok, and he can make a few plays with his legs. We need to hit him early and often. I think this is possible. Marshall got some pressure on him early, and Fresno was able to get some as well. We need a big day from Jamison and Graham on passing downs, and I think we will blitz a lot on these downs as well.
- As a defense, we have to stop the run game. This is not going to be easy to do all day. However, I think we can do it. Our DT, have to stand up the double teams, and not allow the Oline to release to the lb’s. When our lb’s take on a lineman or a lead blocker, they cannot let them get into their bodies. They either have to take them head on, extend their arms, and shed the block, or take them on with their correct shoulder and make the play with their free shoulder. Even if this is just forcing the play back to the middle, it has to be done. Our lb’s have got to deliver hits this week. Putting their heads down and lunging will result in big gains for P.J. Hill. He will run through arm tackles, and if we try to hit him high, he will get 5 yards after contact. He is a big guy, but he runs pretty upright. We have to hit him low, wrap up, and drive him back. I think we have the athletes at lb to make these plays, but until now they have been lunging. Hopefully, they have been working on this for two weeks and execute better on Saturday.
- We have to hit the tight ends as they come off the line of scrimmage. We do not have a linebacker that matches up well with Beckum. Maybe Mouton can stay with him, but if he catches a ball, does Mouton bring him down immediately? The other TE, Graham, is not as physical as Beckum. We can knock this guy down right off the line of scrimmage and take him out of the game completely. We need to hit Beckum too on every single play. When these tight ends try to release off the line, we need to put them on their backs. You can hit a guy in college until the ball is in the air, and we have to beat these guys up. Warren and Trent should have no problem locking up their wideouts.
- I expect to see Michigan run some cover 4 in this game where the safeties are buzzing their feet at the snap and reading the play. The corners are man outside, and if the safeties read run they come up in run support. If they read pass, they have deep half. From what gsimmons has posted about the defense, this coverage is now in Michigan’s arsenal. Whatever coverages they run, I expect to see safeties coming down in run support.
- One last thing, they run a play action where they fake a zone stretch play and bootleg, dragging the tight end from the original play side. They hit it for big chunks of yards against Fresno. However, they ran the play action 3 or 4 times in the games I watched, but only handed off once. If you see the zone stretch, it is most likely a play action. Again, we have to hit both tight ends on this play and cannot let them release cleanly.
Well that’s what I have for this week. I definitely think we can move the ball against their D, but we have to execute the fade route better. We also have to be able to run the bread n’ butter zone read play with 3 or 4 wide receiver sets. Defensively, our lb’s have to improve significantly at taking on lead blocks and delivering a hit on tackles. We need to hit Everidge early and often, and we have to keep the TE’s from getting a clean release off the LOS. I really believe this is a winnable game. We definitely have the weapons on offense to hurt them in secondary. Our Oline needs to execute, and we absolutely cannot turn the ball over.
Just to give you some background, I played football through college. It was div 3, but we had a lot of success, and I learned a lot about the game. I played wide receiver so I mostly know technique and route combinations. I don't know as much as a full time coach, but I'll give some of my insights after watching the game again. Maybe somebody will find it interesting.
- I think the illegal chop block was a bad call on our first drive. Coach Rod said this in his presser, and he was right. Right after the snap, Molk went for the cut. Mooseman did not engage the DT, the DT just put one hand on Mooseman's shoulder. It really should not have been called.
- I watched Matthew's TD catch about 30 times on my DVR and was lucky enough to pause it right before he hit the ground. His hand was under the ball, and it was a catch. It was hard to see on the replay though. I'm still not surprised the call wasn't reversed.
- On ND's long TD, Graham may have sacked Clausen if he wasn't getting bear hugged by the TE. It was pretty obvious holding. I'm not sure how anybody misses a call like that.
- On ND's other long pass play, Warren got smoked at the line. Tate didn't even give him much of a move, but it put Warren on his heels and allowed him to go open on the slant. He still caught up to him and slowed him down. Brown should have made an easy tackle.
- I didn't think the LB's were very good. I'm not sure what they were reading, but they bit on several ND counter plays. They also allowed the lead blocker to get into their body and push them back. They need to work on keeping the correct shoulder free and shedding those blocks. Ezeh also has a bad habit of dropping his head and lunging at tackles. The could be bad news against a back like PJ Hill.
- I thought the DL actually played pretty well. They got a pretty consistent push. When Johnson or Taylor got doubled, they held their ground and freed up the linebackers. Jamison threw their tackles around like a rag doll. Van Bergen and Mike Martin are going to be outstanding players for the next couple years.
- The passing game seems to consist of fader routes, bubble screens, slant bubble combos, and routes to sell four vertical. On the 4th and 6 after the fake punt, Stonum ran a route where he sold the vertical seem and stopped. It was like comeback, but to the inside. I think Matthews was on the other side and ran the same route. Butler ran a TE delay sit route. All three of these guys were open, but Threet threw the fade to Odoms. He thrwos it to anybody else, and its a first down.
- On Threet's fumble, Stonum put a nice move on the press corner and was running downfield wide open. The safety was rolling to the middle of the field to take the place of the safety rolling down. This was the touchdown Rod was talking about at the presser. It looked like Threet was rotating the ball to find the laces and just dropped it. This could have been a huge play.
- Our receivers do not do a very good job of staying vertical on fade routes. If you stay vertical, the qb puts the ball over your outside shoulder. It is very hard to defend this way. Our receivers seem to fade to the sideline during the route leaving almost no room for a pass. Maybe they are coaching it differently than what I know, but it looks much harder to complete.
- On Sheridan's first interception, he probably sould have thrown the slant to Matthews. He was open, and I would think the slant would be his first read. Butler also should have got his head around and caught the ball.
- On Sheridan's second interception, Babb did not run his seam pattern enough to the inside. If he takes his pattern closer to the hash or inside the hash, the corner cannot come over and make that interception. It was also a bad pass, but I don't think the route was run correctly.
- On our zone running plays, the O-line does a pretty terrible jobs on their cut blocks. Severa times, it was back side DT's running down the play from behind and making a tackle. They are lunging on the these blocks instead of getting their head across and driving their shoulder pads through the defender's legs.
Overall, I think we look pretty good going forward. The O-Line play was much better, but still needs to improve for Big Ten play. The LB's also need to improve. Of course thats just my opinion, I could be wrong.
It seems that some people on these boards are losing it. Although I had to open my bottle of Knob Creek after the second fumbled kickoff return in the first quarter, I will give some positives I saw from the game:
- We moved the ball on the ground consistently. Unfortunately, turnovers (two in the red zone) kept us from scoring points, but I thought the O-Line looked better than last week. I consider week to week improvement from this group a plust, win or lose.
- The Notre Dame offense consisted of two big plays. Granted nobody wants to give up big plays, but they did not consistently move the ball against our D even if Morgan Trent didn't have his best game. However, we did seem to miss some tackles. Maybe this was due to poor footing in the rain? I'd have to watch the game again.
- Threet looked much improved from last week, putting balls in catachable places for receivers. This is what was missing from the Miami game. I thought he made some big steps today which bodes well for the rest of the season.
- Clausen's line for the game 10-21, 147, 2td, 2 ints. If anybody tells me thats Clausen's line before the game, i predict a win.
- I don't think we're hitting the fade routes the way the coaching staff wantt to. Our receivers don't seem to hold their vertical route very well and the qb's aren't leading them to their outside shoulder. This is usually a timing issue that should be correcting with more practice. We did however hit a couple comebacks and throw the ball well otherwise.
- Carson Butler in the red zone has got to sit and get his head around faster on that pick in the red zone. That was a catchable ball delivered on time and should have been caught.
- Obviously turnovers cost us today. Wet conditions with freshman on the field is a recipe for fumbles. This comes with experience, and is correctable.
Overall, I think people have to be encouraged going into the big ten schedule. I think we can still win seven games and get to a bowl game. I expected the worst today, and I saw improvement despite turnovers. That may be me being a homer, but I am optimistic about the rest of our schedule.