"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Previously: Northwestern Offense
Matthew Harris forms half of arguably the best corner duo in the B1G. [Fuller]
Let's get this out of the way: Minnesota's offense is bad, they should feel bad, and trying to scout an opposing defense based on their performance against the Gophers is difficult because of that. I stopped charting when Minnesota benched Mitch Leidner for a true freshman. I hope you understand.
Personnel: Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
This is a defense with standouts on every level; it was tempting to give both of their safeties stars as well, but I didn't see enough of them in coverage, and that wasn't their fault.
Base Set? 4-3 under, though Northwestern will shift to an over depending on the offense's alignment. When Minnesota went three-wide (which was rare), nickel Keith Watkins replaced SAM Drew Smith. Former four-star recruit Ifeadi Odenigbo comes in as a pass-rush specialist for the most part.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Upon Further Review still has a sponsor.
Do not worry. The pants thing is still valid. Someone tweeted me worried that he would have to be formally attired after I failed to mention it last time. This is not the case. I was just stretching my creative muscles. Last time that happens EVER, thanks twitter guy.
FORMATION NOTES: Harbaugh unearthed a chestnut from the first half of the 20th century when he debuted a T formation:
After some Wikipedia reading I decided that Pro T == 1 WR, Wide T == 2 WR, and Power T == 0 WR. "Wide T" is not to be confused with "Split T," which means the OL take up crazy wide splits.
There wasn't anything too weird other than that unless you count a three wide shotgun formation as weird. Michigan spread the field much more than they did against BYU. They were still heavy; WRs got more snaps. Sometimes there were even two of them on the field at the same time.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Not much of note. Kerridge and Smith did not play. Isaac, Green, and Johnson seemed to split the RB opportunities down the middle for much of the game, with Isaac exiting permanently after his second fumble. Johnson got more playing time as the game went along.
OL was the usual, FB the usual minus Kerridge. WR was a bit more diverse than the last couple games, with Freddy Canteen and Grant Perry getting a dozen or so snaps each. Michigan spent more of this game in three-wide.
[After THE JUMP: scratching out… actually a lot more than they needed.]
David Underwood was the heir apparent to Chris Perry and this was fine. He was a highly rated recruit out of Texas, and in 2004 it was his turn. Jerome Jackson was his backup, and this was fine; he was the bonus piece from LaMarr Woodley's recruitment and was apparently good at getting the edge. Behind them was Pierre Rembert and this was fine; Pierre had gotten a few snaps as a true freshman in '03 and looked pretty good. And if we needed to dip deeper there was a highly touted true freshman, Max Martin, who maybe ran a bit too upright but was also getting fall chatter about displacing folks.
Then there was the 2-star from somewhere in that wasteland Canadians talk about when they cross at Niagara, who became a 3-star because Michigan offered. Little guy, ran up a bazillion yards against the part of New York that's really the Midwest. You know the rest.
Either this or Worst State Ever was the very first MGoShirt. It comes from a time before a time when we realized we can't make such things without the guy's permission. It also comes from a time after a long time of chasing said guy around and trying to get him to be down with it. As various Big Ten detritus can attest this is not easy with said guy. He doesn't really stop, nor does he go down. If you pick him up and put him on his head the legs will just keep spinning until you put him back down, whereupon he will continue running. This happened to future NFL linebackers; now imagine you're a furry fat guy yelling "please Mister; this blog was started because of YOU!"
Well it turns out he does stop for something, and that's to replant hope in the wasteland he turned over back when we thought Underwood/ Jackson/ Rembert/ Martin would take most of the 2004-'07 carries.
Thus returns the original MGoShirt, except with the guy's actual name on it. Proceeds from it will go to the Mike Hart Family Foundation, and the Central New York Football Academy. And the first person who correctly guesses this week's Michigan score will get a free one. You can probably already guess Northwestern's number.
How this works again:
- Readers predict the final score of a designated game by placing a guess in the comments, preferably in the format of [M score][hyphen][Opp score], for example "41-0" or "35-0 Michigan", or "28-0 Go Blue", or "42-0 Harbaugh!" etc.
- The three guys who read this part holler at people who post in a different format
- First person (by timestamp) to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, I contact you for an address by your MGoBlog account email, and you give me some time to get that to you.
- If nobody got it right or I don't hear from the winner(s) we push it to next week or let it go.
About Last Time:
28-0 and thanks again to MGoNukeE for picking out the winner, who was slacker, who beat BlueReign to the score by one minute! Since there was no winner the previous week, I feel entitled to have two this time.
This Week's Game:
Homecoming versus the Wildcats. At 3:30 they gon' die.
And on the Line:
One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and moderators exempt from winning. The algorithm finds the winners as it chooses. The algorithm is self-correcting. The algorithm consistently runs power. The algorithm is banned in Jersey. The algorithm is better than you are ready to admit. They gon' die.
What goes into deciding whether to go punt block or punt return when you’ve got such an explosive return man in Jabrill?
“Uh…same thing that goes into when you throw a fastball or the curve. You know, you’ve got to pressure- the ability to pressure a punter keeps people in protection, sets up the ability to return. The ability to return a punt sets up the ability to pressure, and it’s really not unlike making calls of any kind in the game of football. You do all your work and you crunch all your numbers but you coach the game by feel, and it pretty much is that.”
How pleased are you with that unit? Does that unit still have more to give?
“The punt return unit?”
And punt block.
“I’ll tell ya, I’m really pleased, actually, with the punt return. The amazing thing is we’ve had 51 reps of it in five games now. Somebody needs to go back far and see how many times there’s 51 reps in five games. Obviously it’s because we’re playing amazing defense and what have you, but if you really look at what the unit has done, there’ve been three returnable balls kicked to us out of 51, okay? Obviously we had a round robin with all the Australian rugby punters against each other in the first four games, and everybody found out it’s really hard to return one of those. Three returnable balls, and we’ve- you know, the baseball analogy is we’ve hit the ball hard but unfortunately we’ve knocked it off the wall for doubles and triples. We haven’t had a home run yet.
“I think the thing that goes unsaid is Jabrill’s amazing decision-making back there [and] unselfishness to not risk balls that shouldn’t be touched or should be on the ground, protecting his teammates, those kinds of things. Besides being explosive the punt returner needs to be a great decision-maker and really needs to handle the ball well because one of the things we always say is if you have the ball you have the team, and you need to take care of the team. It’s been effective. I wish we could get more returnable balls, but I’m not in control of that.”
[After THE JUMP: Baxter is the Yogi Berra of this coaching staff]
Hey, I’m back. Sorry I missed last week. I tried to call, but it kept going straight to voicemail, and I didn’t want to leave a message because I figured I’d just see you Tuesday at the thing.
About Last Week:
The Road Ahead:
#13 Northwestern (5-0, 1-0 B1G)
Last week: Beat Ball State 24-19, Beat Minnesota 27-0
Recap: Northwestern is a thing. Probably.
They’re 5-0, they’re ranked in the top 15 for the first time 2001. They’ve given up the fewest points per game in the country (unless you’re just talking about points surrendered by the defense, in which case Michigan has the best scoring defense). They’re only giving up 4.0 yards per pass attempt, and have yet to surrender a 200 yard passing day to anyone.
But at the same time, the algorithms don’t like them very much (they’re #29 in the S&P+) and Vegas doesn’t trust them (they opened +12 against Michigan, which has since moved to about +8). And the reason is pretty obvious. They haven’t scored more than 24 points against any FBS opponents, and they’re #116 in the country in yards per play and #119 in passing yards per game.
Still, Northwestern remains a team about which we don’t know a lot, other than “defense good, offense bad.” Case in point: Northwestern bludgeoned Minnesota 27-0, which looks like a score indicative of an all-three-phases performance. But 14 of those points came on a fumble return for a touchdown and a punt return to the 5 yard line. Northwestern held Minnesota under 200 yards, but barely cracked 300 yards themselves.
This team is as frightening as: The upper end of the thing MInnesota was supposed to be. Fear Level = 7
Michigan should worry about: Northwestern is second in the conference in pretty much every major defensive category.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: They are second to Michigan in pretty much every major defensive category
When they play Michigan: Northwestern is what is known as a “fleet in being.” The problem isn’t that Northwestern is necessarily a good team. It that they are potentially a good team. Michigan plays Northwestern immediately before Michigan State, and I’m sure Harbaugh would prefer to treat this game much like they did UNLV; throw rock the whole time, not show anything interesting, and maybe set up the next opponent for a couple of counterpunches. But Northwestern looks real enough to have to take as a potentially serious game, thus losing the opportunity to play for the next move.
This week: @ #18 Michigan, 3:30, BTN
[AFTER THE JUMP: Monty Python, Kevin Bacon, and a rock]
We’ve heard a lot of guys say you tell them to stamp their personality on the defense. When did you start using that?
“I don’t know for sure when. Some time ago. I think it’s just a way for me to describe to those guys that-I mean, I think it’s important to play with a personality. You were recruited here for reasons that are good. Don’t change that. We don’t want robots. Keep playing the way you play, obviously within the scheme and what we do, but play the way you play the game. I think that’s important.”
They also say they believe in what they’re being given now, and that gives them more confidence. Can you talk about, as a coach, watching that process take place?
“Yeah. I just- I’m really proud of our guys of how hard they’ve been playing. That’s the biggest thing to me is playing with effort and playing with the technique we’re talking about, and so any time you get a group of guys that are believing in one another and playing for one another then I think you have a chance to have something special, and I think they’re starting to understand what that means.”
Any similarities between Oregon State’s offense and Northwestern’s
“Yeah, I think too often spread teams are all clumped together like, ‘Oh, they’re a spread team or a one-back team.’ I think there’s always a lot more differences that apply within those offenses than what some might say. Northwestern’s definitely unique in what they do and they’re really good at what they do. I mean, they’ve had that system there for a while and they do a great job. You can tell their players know what’s going on and know where they want to go.”
What are some of those unique things?
“Just…they’re committed to the run game. They’re a physical group. They’re committed to the run game, and they do a great job of changing up formations and personnel and all that but at the end of the day they want to run that ball, and they do a great job of it.”
You do some hands-on teaching. They said you get in the drills sometimes and show them stuff. Is that something that you’ve always kind of felt people learn better that way or it keeps you engaged or why do you do that?
“I don’t know. I’ve probably never but that much thought into it other than I think just what we said about stamp your personality as a player. I think you do the same thing as a coach, you know, and that’s…I don’t know. That’s just me. I like being hands-on and being involved in it. I like being high energy. Whatever your personality is, if you’re true to it I think that usually gets a response.”
[After THE JUMP: Nothing else about robots. Cyborgs maybe, but not robots. Fine, no cyborgs either. But defense, yes. Definitely some talk about the defense.]
[ED (Seth): By now you guys know Joe Pichey. You know about his recipes, and his blog, and why Stubb's sponsors them here, and why your doctor wants all this to stop. But I'm here to remind you anyway. Joe's blog is MMMGoBlueBBQ. Stubbs gives us some money to put his recipes here too because their CEO is a reader, and a nice guy, and he wants you to give his sauces a try next time you're in the supermarket. Your doctor: he wants you to cut out the saturated fats. Also maybe don't stand in the path of Michigan's defensive line. Actually if you're caught between a choice between having Italian sausage or Ryan Glasgow buried in your ribs, 9 of 10 doctors recommend the sausage. The 10th doctor is Doctor Durkin. He is a mean guy.]
Every once and awhile, you gotta fire up the grill and have a little fun. I love recipes that are a little sweet, a little spicy and a little charred on the edges. We all love that crispy edge, right? This is more of a technique than a recipe, but it's still tasty and really fun to make. I've used it on bratwurst, italian sausages and hot dogs so far, and all have turned out great. What's the benefit of this you ask? It adds some surface area that wlll char up nicely and it will also help hold some of the tasty condiments. Those ridges are fun!!! Just do it.
- Hot Italian sausages
- Hot dog buns
- Hatch Green Chili Anytime Sauce
- Sticky Sweet Sauce
- 12 oz beer
[Don't drink the beer; you need the beer. I said don't drink th—
Okay, go get another beer, and hit the jump]
"Superback" Dan Vitale is an excellent receiver/blocker. [Fuller]
Northwestern dismantled Minnesota, 27-0, last weekend. While the Wildcats defense proved dominant, the offense did not; Northwestern benefited from a defensive touchdown and a five-yard touchdown drive set up by a long punt return. That said, Clayton Thorson showed some improvement from his non-conference performances and the Wildcats eventually wore down the Gophers on the ground.
Can they replicate that against Michigan? Let's take a closer look.
Personnel. Seth's diagram [click to embiggen]:
Now with D-line rotation.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Spread. Northwestern was in the gun for literally every non-goal line snap until garbage time, and they don't huddle, either.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? A ton of inside zone with the occasional changeup.
Hurry it up or grind it out? This is a no-huddle offense that isn't quite at ludicrous speed but can push the tempo if need be.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
As Harbaugh noted in his introductory press conference, Moe Sports Shop has been around a long time. A hundred years in fact.
That is an epic video for a rather unpretentious little nook on North U. Well, current owner Underground Printing is making the 100th anniversary pretty epic. In fact he's throwing a party there to celebrate next Monday, 5-7 p.m. He's even got Busch's bringing food and drinks. Good drinks.
I know what you're thinking: "That's time when I have always since four weeks ago spent listening to MGoRadio!" Well, yeah. But we're not missing the 100th anniversary of Moe's for that. We're just bringing the show there. You should come too!
MGoRadio at Moe Sport Shop - Monday, October 12th - 5 to 7 pm
- Address: 711 N. University on Campus.
- Make sure to RSVP here ASAP as we will need to limit to the first 50 people to sign up.
- Thanks to Busch's for the Food!
- Prizes/giveaways, like not sure how yet but probably if you have a Gimmicky Top Five thing that's better than what we came up with you get a t-shirt, that sort of thing.
- We're limited to 50 people so use this signup sheet if you'd like to come.
You know, Matt was just like "if I sponsor this you have to do them all for the whole season" and I was like "okay but you know that was going to be likely since now I am not going to be overwhelmed with sadness two-thirds through" and then he made some sort of intimidating hand gesture. But his heart is in the right place?
FORMATION NOTES: At this point Michigan has few formation surprises. They're usually in a nickel. They alternate between three or four fronts. One is a three man line with the buck in a two point stance as a 3-4 OLB:
30 nickel slide
One splits the DEs a bit further and tucks the buck in behind the NT:
And then they run a lot of standard four man fronts.
Some of the four man lines will have the buck in a two point stance; I still denote those as four man lines based on the alignments of the DL.
Michigan swaps mostly between man under with one or two deep safeties and a cover three with a few different variants.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Standard rotation up front with Henry/Glasgow/Wormley in front of Charlton/Hurst/Godin. Henry got a lot of playing time after a couple weeks in which Godin was more prominent; Hurst probably played the best of anyone. Ojemudia got almost all the buck snaps until he was hurt, and from that point it was RJS.
LB was Morgan and Bolden with a scattering of 4-3 snaps that featured Ross. The secondary did not have Stribling so it was Clark/Peppers/Lewis/Wilson/Hill for the vast majority of the game. When in a 4-3, Clark left. When in a dime, Dymonte Thomas entered.
Michigan continued flipping Peppers and Lewis between outside corner and slot like they did last week.
[After THE JUMP: a defenestration]