"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
9/26/2015 – Michigan 31, BYU 0 – 3-1
HALP [Eric Upchurch]
"We were dominated in every facet, their defense over our offense. Every guy, every play. That thing was a shellshock, from the first snap right though the last."
–BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae, 2015
"If you put a pit bull in a ring with a chihuahua, don't expect the chihuahua to win."
-former PSU WR Chafie Fields, 2006
The last time something like this happened, Alan Branch sent Anthony Morelli to the sidelines muttering about pudding. The year was 2006; Michigan's defense was a flamethrower of a thing. Dudes from it still litter NFL rosters: Branch, Lamarr Woodley, David Harris, Leon Hall, hell, Ryan Mundy. Each level of the defense had an NFL Pro Bowler on it. Lloyd Carr had finally, agonizingly made a switch from Jim Herrmann to Ron English, and things took off.
This was right after 2005, the 7-5 year one idiot Michigan fan dubbed "the year of infinite pain" because the worst thing that had ever happened to him as a sports fan was a light pillow buffeting followed by off-brand ice cream. That year Michigan had coughed up all manner of leads in all manner of ways, culminating in the infamous punt from the Ohio State 34 and the nigh-effortless OSU drive to win that followed. That was a jarring thing, the first gray hair emerging from the program's ear.
Adapting to the reality of the 2006 defense's otherworldliness was gradual, and then sudden. The Penn State game was the seventh that season, and only then was it crystal clear that what was going on was not the usual. It took just four games this season to start wondering about a repeat.
It's hard not to when BYU's coaches are wandering around wondering what blew their clothes off, when their quarterback comes to regard the pocket like it's the Mines of Moria. Here there be Balrogs. A full two-deep of them.
Here's the numbers stuff. Michigan's third in the country in yards per play allowed, behind
- a Boston College team that started the season off with Florida State… and Howard, Maine, and Northern Illinois
- a Kent State team that's only in the conversation because it held Delaware State (remember them?) to –33 yards.
Michigan hasn't given up more than 337 yards in a game; two teams barely crested 100 yards and a third used a fourth-quarter drive to get over 200. The one team that moved the ball a bit on them, Utah, just atomized Oregon. S&P has Michigan fourth. (FEI does not update until week seven.) Michigan's already acquired 32 TFLs, 8th nationally on a per-play basis. Again they are mostly behind teams who scheduled Random Assemblage Of Ants In Helmets State. By any measure Michigan has established itself one of the nation's top defenses a month into the season.
A month is not a year. A number is just a number. But these numbers reflect what we've seen when Michigan has rolled out onto the field. They go seven deep on the defensive line. They have an All-American corner and two more guys coming on, and oh also Jabrill Peppers.
Aside from some blips in coverage against Oregon State none of the results have felt at all fortunate. In fact big chunks of the yards acquired have been batted passes still caught or sacks miraculously spun out of, with a side of NFL throws made under extreme duress. This level of performance is not sustainable, but only because we are currently peeved when the opponent scrapes into triple digits.
Any reasonably sane projection we're in on. We will also consider slightly insane ones.
That 2006 defense sprung leaks. We got a taste of it a couple weeks before Football Armageddon when Michigan ran out to a big lead against Ball State and rested the starters. Johnny Sears fell over a lot, Ball State scored, and scored again, and soon the starters were in desperately trying to prevent a potential tying touchdown in the waning moments.
That was Akron before Akron, and if you want to point a finger to the exact moment when a paranoid observer would have started building a bomb shelter, that was it. The soon-to-be 2007 secondary faced a jankety MAC spread and collapsed.
A couple weeks alter Michigan would go the whole game against soon-to-be Heisman winner Troy Smith with a 4-3 on the field against a spread offense. Chris Graham tried to cover Tony Gonzalez, a future first round draft pick at wide receiver. It went poorly. Michigan gave up 42 points. A couple months later Michigan shut down USC for a half; in the locker room Pete Carroll told his offensive coordinator to stop running the damn ball. USC ripped off 29 second-half points.
2006's Achilles heel—they had one great cornerback, one okay one, and nothing else—was in retrospect obvious but it took a long time to find anyway.
One may be on the way here, but it's hard to figure out what it might be. The spread ineptness that haunted Michigan's manball administrations for a decade and a half is emphatically out the door. If the thing you're exploiting against this secondary is the third and fourth corners on fly routes down the sideline, good luck. If there's an ACHILLES OUT OF NOWHERE here it's probably the sudden degradation of the defensive line if and when they face elite opposition. Even the occasionally iffy linebacker play will probably be fine against the kind of team that seeks to test Michigan there.
And I can't see that happening. We head back to precedents in an attempt to communicate how something feels. It is possible we're not going quite far enough back for this one.
And from the BYU perspective:
Come back here young man who is older than me [Upchurch]
Yet To Be Named Harbaugh-Themed Guys Who Did Good Award.
you're the man now, dog
#1 Ryan Glasgow has somehow not featured on these lists yet. It says all you need to know about Michigan's faith in him that they decided to spend most of the day in dime with 5 or 6 guys in the box. Glasgow collected his usual TFL or two and was the linchpin of a 2.0 YPC performance in the most attractive circumstances possible for a rushing offense.
#2 Jabrill Peppers had his usual TFL, threw a BYU receiver to the ground with authority at the end of the first half, was not beaten in coverage, played (sort of) tiny WLB much of the day, spooked Tanner Mangum into a fumble on one particular blitz, and had two near-electric punt returns. Also, fair catches.
#3 De'Veon Smith ripped off this week's Who's Got It Better Than Us and thundered over 100 yards in the first half. It feels sort of wrong to put any offensive player on this list after that D performance, but I mean… yeah.
Honorable mention: All defensive persons. Darboh.
5: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State)
3: Jake Butt (#1 Utah), Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV), De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State, #3 BYU), Ryan Glasgow (#1 BYU).
2: Ty Isaac(#2 UNLV), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU).
1: Willie Henry (#3 Utah), AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV)
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
Absolutely brutal decision this week but have to go with De'Veon Smith teleporting through a pile of players and then posterizing the same defensive back twice.
Honorable mention: Amara Darboh's OBJ impression. Every defensive snap save approximately three of them.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
BYU scrapes over 100 total yards on their last drive.
Honorable mention: Rudock doesn't see the fact that Jehu Chesson's guy has fallen down on the first snap. Michigan gets stuffed on a fourth down in the second half. Blake O'Neill goes rogue on a 4th and 16 punt fake.
Utah: circle route pick six.
Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust.
UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3.
BYU: BYU manages to get to triple digit yards in the last minutes of the game.
[After the JUMP: I AM FEELING QUITE POSITIVE THIS WEEK YES SIR]
De’Veon, first tell us, how are you feeling?
“I’m feeling good. You know, I’ve got a boot on right now for precautionary reasons. You know…got a little banged up, but it’s not a big deal. Just trying to get healthier for next week.”
De’Veon, tell me what was going through your mind when you had that 60-yard run for a touchdown and were just going through everybody.
“To be honest, I thought I was down for a second but- then I put my hand down in the ground- but once I got to the second level I knew for a fact I was not letting #15 tackle me, so that kind of made me want to score even more.”
Jake, seemed like the most comfortable you’ve been in the passing game. How much of that is opening up the playbook a little bit and just finally getting comfortable?
“I think it all comes down to really just being comfortable with the calls that Coach has coming in, and having good communication with him, and saying, ‘No, I’d rather go with a different play.’ Just feeling more comfortable with that, and then I think it also goes to the offensive line. They allow you to be comfortable back there and that’s always- it’s really impressive.”
Jake, can you talk about the one-handed grab Amara made and how that came about, and also what it did in terms of energizing the team?
“Yeah, that was a great play by him. He had man coverage; I figured I’d give him a shot and the ball got a little more outside than I wanted it to but he made a great play, and like you said, I think that jumpstarted guys. It was a third-down conversion, I believe, and whenever you can convert third downs it’s always good for the offense.”
[More after THE JUMP]
[Ed-S: Bumped from the diaries. He writes these every week after the games so if you like it look out for it.]
Why do we keep these?
In my last ItBS diary, I alluded to the fact that I would be traveling to Michigan during the week for a family wedding. Unfortunately, my travel plans had me flying from Detroit to Dallas during the Michigan-BYU game. But never fear, I taped the game, avoided social media all day long and watched the game last night. What a game it was; I'm definitely glad I made the effort to avoid any spoilers.
As this was my first trip back home since my dad passed away over two years ago, I expected this trip would not be a normal one. There were plenty of private moments, but as my dad was a big Michigan fan, there were some things that happened that might be of interest to this blog's readers. If you just want to read the normal post-game boxscore analysis, skip ahead to the link. If you want to read about why football matters, or at least, why it matters to me, read on. The next few paragraphs speak to why, as Jim Harbaugh says, football matters. It's the bigger story, if you will.
My dad was a collector. He collected Michigan football programs and ticket stubs. The first thing we would do when we got to the stadium was find the program vendors. Dad would buy two programs and carefully wrap them in black plastic garbage bags to protect them from the elements. He would tuck those into his Michigan bag that kept his binoculars (and unlike many Michigan fans, he actually put binoculars in his binocular case) and his radio and earphones. He would get two programs every game because at the end of the season, he would give one complete set of that season's programs to, I believe, the UofM alumni association of Lansing to raffle off for their scholarship fund. The other set of programs he kept. He made it to most of the away games. On the rare occassions where he couldn't go, he'd ask a friend to get him a couple programs. On Friday, my brother and I decided to keep those programs, at least for the time being.
My dad had a dream of one day displaying all of the ticket stubs on a wall in a Michigan room in the house. He never got around to doing that, but we still have all those ticket stubs. Nothing would get my dad more upset than when a ticket-taker would rip the ticket in half, instead of tearing it off neatly at the perforation. Dad would even separate 3/4 of the stub from the ticket to make it easier for the ticket-taker. Phil Hartman played a character on Saturday Night Live called, "The Anal Retentive Chef." That was my dad.
[After the jump: Be careful, his bow tie is really a camera]
The secondary and the front seven really seemed to work in concert defending the pass. Can you just talk about the job they both did?
“Yeah, heck of a job. Great to be a part of a shutout. Defensive staff, DJ Durkin and the guys did a great job; players, everybody. When you only give up 105 yards, that’s…I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of one of those. That’s outstanding in so many areas.
“Picked up two third-down conversions early in the game and the rest of the game it was like 2-of-12, maybe. Thought we did an excellent job on third down. In all aspects, a great defensive ballgame.”
Could you talk about Jake’s [Rudock] day, and particularly his choice to throw the ball away or run if he didn’t see what he liked?
“Yeah. Hey, Mark! Yeah, good to see you.”
[Ed. (Adam): Mark didn’t ask the question. I’ve never seen Mark before.]
“Yeah, really good. I just glanced at the sheet after the game and he was 14- or 15-of-25, something in that area, and there must have been four or five throwaways. I thought he was having fun. I thought he was, you know, playing the game, letting it rip, and got two big scores scrambling, running the football. Great block by Jehu Chesson on the second touchdown. I can’t wait to watch that one on tape. Lead some good, consistent drives even in the second half. Thought the offense did a heck of a job controlling possession of the football; had an 11-play drive and a 12-play drive and scored on the first five possessions. Came out strong.
“Saw some really creative plays. Tim Drevno and Jedd Fisch, you know, really diagrammed some good plays this week and the fellas did a nice job executing them, so a lot of good things. Good team victory.”
Going back to the defense, obviously your guys were consistent from start to finish. What about the 11 punts you had on 12 possessions and seven three-and-outs?
“Yeah, the three and outs, I’m glad you brought that up. We scored the first five times we had the ball offensively, and four of those- four times the defense had three-and-out possessions and then to start the second half it was one right after the other, three and outs. It was very good. Good football team both sides of the ball, so it was good. And we go back to work now. Start conference play this week and we’ll attack it the same way. Big game this week.”
I know you don’t like to talk about yourself much but I’m interested, is the feeling of winning- today would be a day I’d guess that captures why you wanted to come back and coach this team. Is the feeling of winning in an atmosphere like this right now and what you’re going through different than the NFL, and do you watch NFL games anymore? Do you miss anything about it?
“Lot of questions there.”
[After THE JUMP: We had hamburgers it was crazy]
Over the last eight years, Michigan fans have been trained to expect the worst.
Let it be noted that at 2:04 this afternoon, with a half of football left to play, Brian told me to post muppets when the game ended.
To call this a dominant outing undersells Michigan's performance. The Wolverines outgained BYU 448-105. The Cougars eked past the century mark only on their last drive of the game; that represented their only drive that didn't end in a punt.
While the defense shut down BYU, the offense found their footing, scoring all 31 points in the first half on five consecutive drives. Amara Darboh did a spectacular Odell Beckham Jr. impression, then Jim Harbaugh dialed up a double fake screen to free up Khalid Hill up the seam to set up a three-yard touchdown scramble by Jake Rudock. Michigan went up 14-0 on a methodical 10-play, 90-yard drive capped by a short touchdown pass to Darboh.
The next scoring drive went a little quicker thanks to De'Veon Smith, who burrowed into a pile, popped out the other side, then threw a BYU defensive back to the ground in the open field for a 60-yard touchdown.
"I don't know what he did," said Rudock of Smith's run. "But whatever he did, I was hype and happy for him."
Smith finished with 125 yards on 16 carries before exiting early with an ankle injury. He said after the game he expects to play next week. Rudock had his best game as a Wolverine, going 14-for-25 for 194 yards and a touchdown with no turnovers.
Another Rudock touchdown scramble, this one from 17 yards out, and a 40-yard Kenny Allen field goal capped off the scoring.
Meanwhile, the defense made BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum's life miserable. Mangum threw for only 55 yards on 28 attempts; his longest completion came on BYU's first drive when a should-be pick took a fortuitous bounce off Channing Stribling's hands. The cornerbacks played lockdown coverage when Mangum had time to throw, which was rare—Michigan recorded three sacks and had Mangum on the run all day. By the end of the game, he was bailing out of perfectly clean pockets.
BYU's top running back, Adam Hine, broke one carry outside for 29 yards and managed only four on his seven other carries. The Cougars finished with 2.1 yards per play. This may stand as Michigan's most impressive defensive performance since the vaunted 2006 unit, even when accounting for the freshman at quarterback.
It's okay to be encouraged. While BYU had more than their fair share of luck through three games, nobody—not even ninth-ranked UCLA—made them look remotely this inept. The same team that put up 405 yards on the Bruins last week only managed a hundred today because Michigan's backups couldn't run out the clock.
"I had a couple occasions to look up and go 'this is good,'" said Harbaugh.
He was far from alone in that regard.
Michigan total yards: 448
BYU total yards: 105
Yes, this calls for muppets.
And you can't have one without the other...
Game recap will be up as soon as I comprehend what I just saw.
By Heiko Yang
Interesting matchup today.
Michigan’s head coach coached in a Super Bowl; BYU’s head coach sounds like he was named at a Super Bowl. Michigan’s quarterback can’t throw farther than 10 yards downfield; BYU’s quarterback throws Hail Marys like he’s excited about the Pope visiting. BYU likes to hit people in the balls; Michigan … Michigan understands that ball security is important.
Balls aside, the Wolverines really need to win, especially from a philosophical standpoint. The trajectory of each team over the last few games makes for a very Aesopian scenario: one team that’s been diligently chipping away at a giant rock is pitted against a team that’s just flinging dynamite in every direction. (Just to clarify, the rock in this case represents winning, not Penn State. (More specifically, turning the rock into something impressive like the Statue of David represents winning, because why would you want to chip away at winning? (You want to chip away the obstacles to winning, so maybe the rock itself in its raw form represents a conglomeration of obstacles (maybe the rock is Penn State after all.))))
The moral of the story should be something along the lines of “slow, steady, and safe wins the race and is also better than sorry.”
Except I’m kind of worried by this whole dynamite analogy now. It only works in Michigan’s favor if we’re talking about the long term. If the goal here is to turn Penn State into the Statue of David (just go with it), it really is much safer to use a chisel since David has some delicate features (balls) that could get destroyed by dynamite. Plus you might injure yourself and whoever else happens to be in the vicinity. In BYU’s case that already happened to Nebraska and Boise – UCLA almost fell victim – and now Michigan is the next victim at risk, even though this entire time it has been busy chiseling and minding its own business and protecting its balls.
Michigan will hopefully end the season with a winning record more closely resembling David than the pile of rubble and limbs BYU will end up with, but that doesn’t mean that it’ll survive its encounter with BYU without harm.
Anyway, the moral of the story here is “don’t play with explosives.” Also don’t get carried away with analogies.
BYU 19, Michigan 17.
by Nick RoUMel
My dad always referred to the BYU football team as the “clean livers.” The school has been long famous for their LDS (Mormon) church-centered honor code that requires “chaste and virtuous life,” clean language, and abstention from all manner of substances includes drugs, alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee. Coca-Cola is supposedly permitted, but not sold on campus. Easy to see why they are the #1 “stone cold sober” campus 14 years running by the Princeton Review.
Perhaps the ban on premarital sex has led to a marriage rate five times the national average (more than half of students are married by graduation). Or maybe that has something to do with promotion of a family culture, as well as the greater maturity of students. Nearly all male undergraduates undertake a two-year mission trip before graduation. Then they marry somebody like Marie Osmond.
When you Google “Marie Osmond cheesecake images”…
You actually get images of her cheesecake recipe. Now that’s wholesome.
One of these man-child undergraduates is BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum, a 22 year “freshman” who is fresh off a missionary trip to Chile. He graduated from high school in Idaho in 2012, and was ranked the third best pro-style quarterback in the nation by Rivals. I suspect he tossed a few footballs around with the natives during his mission, because he’s flung the rock pretty well in wins against Nebraska and Boise State, and during the narrow loss at UCLA. This is a school that’s produced quarterbacks like Steve Young, Ty Detmer and Jim McMahon, and Mangum is in the same mold - an excellent passer who’s also dangerously mobile – who can do it all without caffeine.
It surprises me that Michigan is favored. Mangum will be the best quarterback they’ve faced all year, and can only be contained, not stopped. It will be no surprise that Coach Harbaugh will try to keep the ball out of his hands with a conservative, run-oriented offense, and hope that Mr. Rudock and company reduce turnovers.
Fans may remember 1984, when BYU finished the regular season as the only undefeated D-1 team, but as a WAC team back then, were contractually obligated to play in the Holiday Bowl. While teams detracted their soft schedule and right to the title, nobody wanted to play them except for a mediocre 6-5 Michigan team. The Wolverines led in the fourth quarter but the Cougars’ defense stiffened, allowing injured QB Robbie Bosco to lead the offense to two scores for a 24-17 victory.
Pollsters reluctantly voted BYU #1 in the nation, but critics still denounced them. The next year they beat Boston College (#4 in 1984) and trounced a Washington team that many thought should have been atop the polls the previous year instead of BYU, by a score of 31-3.
The Cougars have maintained their excellence. They have more victories in the last 40 years than Michigan. The first four games of their schedule this year are as challenging as anyone’s. The oddsmakers’ logic to favor Michigan is puzzling, and must give great weight to the home field advantage.
Heiko has picked a narrow BYU victory. I cannot bring myself to disagree. My hope for Michigan this year under our new coach was that we would be competitive in every game, improve over the season, and position ourselves to return to the top level of college football within a few years. I don’t think we are quite there yet.
The “clean livers” prevail, but you won’t see images like this back in Provo:
Sorry, but when you Google “Mormon couch burning images,” you actually get this.
BYU 28, MICHIGAN 21
Listen, you loblollies. That song is called "Temptation." It is the "one" of "you can't have one without the other". When Michigan's defense forces a fourth down, the Michigan Marching Band will play this song, because our fancy endzone is just there on the other side of our defense, and they will not get the ball there. Temptation.
When they play this you may sway your arms to motion the ball going to the other side. You may make a Wolverine Claw. You may sing the lyrics if you know them. If you don't know them you may make up lyrics:
You drove, to your 39.
Your blocking was fine
your passes not really.
You now, should punt away.
Ignore what they say
4th and 1 is "punt" clearly.
You may not call it the "You Suck cheer!" Just stop saying "You Suck" at the end of it. MMB's tradition is clever. If you don't get the joke just pretend like you do. There are rules. Speaking of rules:
I love Four Plays. I've told you how much I love Four Plays. I love Four Plays.
Contemporary offenses have added one final modern wrinkle to counter the slow-developing nature of these toss sweeps: the crack block. By aligning two blockers to the outside and having them crack-back to seal the playside linebacker and defensive end, the sweep hits much more quickly and gives the pulling linemen favorable blocking matchups—usually against defensive backs. And while the outside blockers—usually tight ends and wide receivers—are usually much smaller than the opponents they are tasked with blocking, this size disadvantage is compensated for by “leverage”—that is, favorable angles for the offensive players to make those blocks.
The question after last week regarding Michigan's offense was what is Michigan going to do when the opponent is stacking the middle and we're NOT content to run into that anyway because UNLV is bad at football. This is exactly the sort of thing I would guess is coming. And we've seen some motions to set this up already, although with Chesson the crack-man, not Darboh.
Will it work? I'm not counting on it unless the defense is heavily cheating inside. Michigan's receivers have missed blocks, Mason Cole is not good in open space yet, and Sione Houma is not the blocker Kerridge is. Any one of those blocks going badly will end this play in the backfield.
That's my only disagreement. I love Four Plays.
[After the jump, punts flyin, Rutgers cryin', Mud Bowl dyin', bloggers fryin', ]
|WHAT||BYU at Michigan|
Ann Arbor, MI
September 26th, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan –6.5|
|WEATHER||partly cloudy, mid 70s
0% chance of rain
BYU is simultaneously this year's luckiest and most cursed team. They've won two games on Hail Marys (or close enough, anyway). They've lost their starting QB, NT, RB, and TE—and the former two are the best players on the team.
What's left over isn't nearly as intimidating as BYU looked in the middle of summer, but neither are the Cougars suddenly bad. Last week they baffled Josh Rosen into three picks and a horrible day as they nearly upset UCLA; to be in position to win against Nebraska and Boise State with Hail Marys you have to be rather close.
Run Offense vs BYU
Tuiloma's health is in doubt
Much depends on the health of monster BYU nose tackle Travis Tuiloma, who was knocked out of the Nebraska game with a knee injury and expected to miss 4-6 weeks. There have been rumblings about a return, and rumblings that such chatter was hopeful at best. The latest as of press time is "dunno." Most of the optimism seems to have come from Tuiloma himself on twitter. All else has been vague save for this potentially revealing slip-up from one of his DL teammates on Tuesday:
Peck talked as if nose tackle Travis Tuiloma (knee) won't play, and said the Cougars "will definitely miss Travis" in a game like this.
Tuiloma is a future pro and BYU has both coped and suffered without him. Nebraska's ground game went from nonexistent to extant once he left, and while the Cougars shut Boise State down they just got ripped for just under 300 yards at 7.8(!) yards a pop by UCLA.
Bronco Mendenhall was not pleased in the aftermath:
"Yeah, obviously everyone knows there has been a big issue with tackling. In coach Mendenhall's words, he calls this week a bloodbath. That is kind of what practice was," Peck said. "Wrapping up and bringing the scout team guys to the ground — not just wrapping up. And so there is an emphasis on tackling, and hopefully we will be able to get better at it this week."
BYU's 3-4 is one of those ever-morphing, slant-heavy, pretty-much-a-3-3-5 setups. They will seek to offset a size discrepancy by putting surprising guys in surprising gaps and hope to get to Michigan's tailbacks before they build up a head of steam. Tuiloma makes that job so much easier because he is virtually impossible to deal with one on one; without him they're much more susceptible to getting gashed when teams deal with their blitzes.
How BYU will react to Michigan's offense is a mystery. They've only faced spread teams to date, and they are decidedly small overall. Both starting OLBs are 230; they don't have an ILB who cracks 235; without Tuiloma they don't have a 300-pounder on the line. That's a bit of a problem when you are running a straight-up 3-4.
That sounds inviting for De'Veon Smith. If Smith can get past the first wave of defenders these are gentlemen who bounced off much smaller UCLA backs last week and project to do the same when Smith contacts them. Michigan has been repping and repping and repping against nine and even ten man fronts the last week, gradually showing more and more of the weird stuff Harbaugh mixes into bust big plays against stacked boxes. This will be a test, as BYU is well short of Utah in the front seven but well past Michigan's other two opponents.
KEY MATCHUP: Michigan Pullers and Tailbacks versus Wacky Slant Blitzes. Michigan's had opportunities to bust long plays against defenses that are sending guys all over; to date they have not quite gotten there. Either the tailback isn't seeing it or one block is getting messed up; if Michigan hits it right they should get motion on various guys on the front.
[Hit THE JUMP for THE GUN SHOW, OR GNU SHOW. WHATEVER.]