There’s 70% off select items here at the Bo Store on 333 S. Main, and 30% off everything at UGP next door so if you’re leaving work or whatever come down and get yourself some gear. You’re no good to anybody at home right now anyway. Let’s all dry heave together!
Come down, bring beer if you like, and pull up chair. Put reader questions in the comments and we’ll try to get to them.
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GIF Is Unrelated But Necessary
While all thoughts at this point are on tomorrow's capital-G Game, there are some recruiting developments to cover from last weekend's slate of official visits.
Top-100 NY OT Isaiah Wilson isn't saying much about his leaderboard, but the returns were positive from last weekend's official visit, per Sam Webb:
Another factor helping strengthen Wilson’s positive view of Michigan is the opportunity for early playing time. The four-star lineman isn’t bashful about expressing how significant that consideration will be in his final decision. That’s why offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Tim Drevno and Jim Harbaugh made it a point to mention it.
“The vibe is good,” said Wilson. “We are very comfortable with each other. We went over film and talked logistics about if I was to attend.”
Wilson has upcoming official visits to Alabama, Georgia, and LSU; his recruitment is expected to come down to Michigan and Bama.
Despite all the things implied by taking an official visit to an out-of-region program faring much better than the one to which a recruit is committed, the high school coach of three-star CA CB Elijah Hicks made it a point to say Hicks was "100 percent" committed to Notre Dame heading into last weekend's trip to Ann Arbor. That is not the post-visit vibe according to multiple reporters, including 247's Steve Wiltfong:
247Sports is told Hicks left impressed.
If Hicks didn't have any intentions of rethinking his decision to Notre Dame before the visit, a well-placed source on the Michigan side told 247Sports he certainly is now.
I'm not predicting a flip, but nothing would surprise me.
Scout's Greg Biggins talked to a few sources close to Hicks who feel there's "a very strong chance" he flips to Michigan. The push for Hicks makes sense in conjunction with the feeling that Darnay Holmes is likely to stay in California, probably at UCLA; Holmes has been non-commital about his official visit to Michigan lately. We just put in a Crystal Ball pick for Hicks to flip.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
November 26th, 2016
|THE LINE||OSU –6.5|
|WEATHER||mostly cloudy, around 40, dry|
Ohio State, a small liberal arts school in rural Indiana, is mostly notable for the Midwest's largest Native American pottery museum. Jack Rogers, its most famous alum, wrote about half of the second season of "Three's Company." It has no football history of note.
Run Offense vs OSU
I'd have a good Raekwon McMillian joke if I knew anything about Wu Tang
Ohio State has a good, but not great run defense. It is not great mostly because they've had a tendency to get gashed—they're 94th in S&P+'s explosiveness metric. They have been excellent in all other facets, with every single player in their front seven with a meaningful number of snaps grading out well into the green on PFF.
OSU has been a bit wobbly against pro-style offenses. Wisconsin rushed for 6.3 yards a carry, aided by a monster Corey Clement run and some jet sweep issues. OSU made a change to shut down UW jets in the second half, but that comes with some matchup costs; Michigan might be able to get Chesson or Darboh on a nickel or safety if they judiciously deploy these motions.
Michigan State had even more success last week, averaging 6.7 yards a carry. Again, LJ Scott burnished those numbers with one huge run on which he weaved through some narrow gaps before bursting into the open field. Michigan's effectiveness here is going to be dependent on getting some big gains.
With an iffy offensive line and a few explosive runners, much of this will come down to Harbaugh doing Harbaugh things. Ross Fulton's analysis of last week's MSU game focused on OSU struggles to match up with various tweaks MSU presented:
Baker frequently got caught inside and lost leverage, allowing Scott to get the edge. For instance, below the defensive line slanted to the field. Baker has to loop around to maintain lane integrity. Instead, he gets washed inside.
Credit to Michigan State for the play design. The Spartan staff knew that Ohio State has limited the jet sweep in cover 1 by sky rotating their coverage. But the Buckeye secondary got fooled by the unbalanced formation and over rotated. By further rotating in response to the jet sweep action, Ohio State was without force support.
OSU fixed this, like they fixed the jet sweeps before them. They are still inexperienced at facing pro-style outfits and you know Harbaugh and his staff has spent copious amounts of time trying to devise ways to attack whatever holes they see. That's where Michigan will have to make its hay, because the offensive line has topped out at serviceable.
KEY MATCHUP: JIM HARBAUGH and FRIENDS versus OHIO STATE'S ABILITY TO GET THEIR RUN FITS. This is not a matchup Michigan wins by out-talenting the opposition. Outsmarting is a possibility if the previous two manball games are any indication. Harbaugh will throw the kitchen sink at this defense.
[Hit THE JUMP for ]
[Ed-Seth: If you’re from Michigan you’re probably still calling brown ketchup “barbecue sauce” out of loyalty or something. In Harbaugh’s America you don’t have to settle for in-state just because it’s in-state, especially when there are Michigan folk all over the country producing 5-stars. You take the best that Michigan has to offer and mix with the best of the rest.
We have the great pleasure of employing the services and serving utensils of Dallas-based Joe Pichey of GoBlueBBQ to write recipes for our most delicious sponsor, Stubb's BBQ sauce. Before you lock your refrigerator into 4 years of a plastic bottle on the door, I highly recommend scouting the talent at our Austin camp.]
Biggest game of the year! I can’t remember being this jacked up for a game in years. If you’re like me, you tend to eat when stressed or pumped up. Shocker, my "go to" relaxing move is to fire up the grill and cook something. I also wanted to wrap some protein in a lot of bacon. Hence, the bacon wrapped meatloaf. This one is fun, easy and extremely flavorful.
- Stubbs Sweet Heat Sauce
- 1.5 LBS ground beef
- Small Onion - Chopped)
- Green Bell Pepper (Chopped)
- Red Bell Pepper (Chopped)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup Bread Crumbs
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 cup milk
- Stubbs BBQ Rub
- Chayder Grilling Planks - MICHIGAN PRODUCT!!!!!
[Hit THE JUMP for a local product that will jump off your tastebuds]
The title of the post still says “Post-Indiana,” but I seriously considered bucking convention and naming it “Pre-Ohio State.” With the stakes of The Game as high as they’ve been in a decade, it only felt right to look at where the two teams’ advanced stats are similar and where they’re different.
Still, it’s worth discussing what happened against Indiana. The offense took a fairly large hit in overall efficiency, falling from 23rd to 41st in success rate. The rushing offense’s success rate saw a nearly identical drop in the national rankings, falling from 21st to 42nd. The passing offense did even worse, with the success rate falling from 45.3% to 42.5% and from 26th to 50th. On standard downs, Michigan’s offensive success rate only dropped from 51.5% to 49.5%, but their ranking tumbled from 22nd to 43rd. The offense fared worse on passing downs, with their success rate dropping from 34.4% (39th overall) to 31.5% (62nd overall). The offense had a difficult time keeping on track, and their inability to pick up the necessary yardage to stay in manageable down-and-distance situations led to the drops in success rate. Of note is that the offense struggled in that department across the board (passing, rushing, standard vs. passing down, etc.) but with little impact on their other numbers, which stayed fairly stable. A few long runs helped keep the offense’s explosive play-realted numbers afloat.
The defense, already at or near the top of most categories, saw little movement. One of the bigger changes was in the defense’s IsoPPP, the number Bill Connelly uses to track explosiveness; Michigan moved up from ninth to fourth. That’s pretty much it. The defense is good. The stats are good. They both remained so against Indiana.
[After THE JUMP: how Michigan stacks up against Ohio State according to S&P+ and FEI]
Previously: Ohio State Offense
When half of your defensive depth chart gets requisitioned by the NFL it’s usually a bad sign. Somehow, Ohio State is getting even more production out of the replacements. Without Joey Bosa or much in the way of blitzes, the Buckeyes are tops in the nation in power success rate and stuff rate, and 14th in Havoc.
Whereas the offense was relatively young with lots of stars covering up a few big holes, this defense is relatively young with lots of stars and a few guys I had to explain why they didn’t get stars.
My search for visual evidence was inhibited by the decision to shoot the whole Wisconsin game in that annoying sideline angle-vision:
…which I guess directors love because the formations are perfectly framed, and people trying to watch football hate because you can’t see anything once the ball is snapped. Getting a read on the secondary was especially tough, since you literally didn’t see them until the same second they’re making a play on the ball. The tradeoff for pore-o-vision was Wisconsin ran a ton of heavy sets, power, and jet sweeps. Michigan’s best hope to crack this nuts defense is with RPS, and the Badgers did just that.
Personnel: The diagram is nuts.
click for bigger, open in new window for bigger-bigger
The only guy who wasn’t at least close to a star is strong safety, Cass Tech alum Damon Webb, who came from cornerback to win an all-offseason position battle rife with negative heuristics. Webb is a –4.1 in pass coverage to PFF and about zero overall. Zero is hanging in there; he’s the weak spot only insomuch as McCray is Michigan’s, and like McCray, Webb’s weakness often takes the form of getting beat to the flats. Troy Fumagalli had 7 catches for 84 yards in this game.
Worley is fine, not spectacular. Baker is discussed below. Also discussed below: three starry “backup” linemen who rotate as heavily as Michigan’s DL. The backup CB, Denzel Ward, is a speed demon who was neck and neck with Lattimore through fall camp; OSU fans think he’s a future Jourdan Lewis. Dime corner Damon Arnette made an appearance and was promptly beat on a fade on 3rd and 9.
Base Set? They’re a nickel over (think Michigan State) team with a hybrid space player to the weak side and the DL aligned to formation, with the SDE over or outside the tight end. Wisconsin brought out a lot of heavy sets so Ohio State responded by walking down the overhang DB as a 4th linebacker.
The LB about to blitz there is the HSP, Baker, in an attempt to use aggression to solve the fact that he’s safety sized. We’ll see this play again in the overview section.
On passing downs they remove the DTs and put their four best pass rushers (Bosa, Hubbard, Holmes and Lewis) out there with wide splits. Ramzy said they call it the “Rushmen” package, which is far too lame for something so terrifying. The “Four Next-Bosas” is more apropos:
Or maybe “The Dogs of Ramsey Bolton”:
Wisconsin never found a way to deal with this other than take a 10-step drop and hope to survive the tsunami. And try like hell to stay out of passing downs.
[You are welcome to hit THE JUMP if your doctor says it’s alright. Tell her you’re taking a lot of Harbaugh.]
SPONSOR NOTES: oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god
In addition to being a gentleman replete with Michigan tickets, Matt is also a good man to know if you need a mortgage. It's striking that we actually get non-astroturfed comments about positive experiences with Matt not infrequently.
If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.
FORMATION NOTES: Ace trips tight bunch was the most relevant formation of the day.
Michigan invariably used two tight ends in the bunch.
Indiana's response to this was to have only six guys in the box with and OLB flared way out to the field. This is one of Michigan's favorite crack sweep formations; Michigan ran one crack sweep that got buried for a loss of five yards and repeatedly gashed IU up the middle.
Michigan also went with a lot of big formations; Indiana usually lined up with an even front, a SAM linebacker, and increasingly aggressive safeties. By the third quarter it was MSU out there:
This run performance was against a statistically good outfit in difficult conditions.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: OL per usual. O'Korn the QB save one Pepcat snap; Peppers got two other plays on offense. Butt (57 snaps) and Darboh(54) got the most run amongst the skill position players, with Chesson (43) running third.
RB snaps were about half Smith, with Evans in second place; Higdon and Isaac got slightly less than ten each. Wheatley(30 snaps) was suddenly preferred over Asiasi(8) as the second TE. Bunting(11) actually came in third. Poggi got 28 FB snaps to Hill's 18; Hill did have another very bad pass pickup that might explain that.
Crawford, Perry, McDoom, Bushell-Beatty, and Harris all got a few snaps.
[After THE JUMP: De'Veon Smith and a buncha nothin'.]
[Happy Thanksgiving! We know that three hours ago we said we hoped one article was enough to chew on, but what fits the spirit of the day more than a second serving? Here’s one more to tide you over until tomorrow.]
Thoughts on this defensive football team you’re about to play?
“Very good defensive football team. Up front, very talented, use their hands very well, great initial quickness. Linebackers can run sideline to sideline. Very gifted at the corner spot. Think they play very good man coverage. The safeties—Mr. Hooker is a very good football player. Very, very talented football team. Very talented defense.”
Seemed like Indiana was having some success getting a little bit of pressure on John [O’Korn] in the last game. What was the factor that was causing that?
“Indiana does a nice job. Indiana going into that game was a big-time pressure team. They had a lot of different looks of what they did. Fundamentally, some of it was in terms of just us moving our feet, keeping our head out of there, covering guys up, IDing things. We’ve got to do a better job with that, and I’ve got to do a better job coaching it.”
How did John progress, in your mind, from the start of that game to the end?
“I think he did an outstanding job. Made a play when there was a play to be made. He managed the game very well. He took the timeouts when he needed to. He established that drive with 9:42 left in the fourth quarter. We took it down, made them use their last time out, gave the ball back with I believe :50 on the clock. John did an outstanding job.”
[Hit THE JUMP for the inevitable Speight questions]
[Happy Thanksgiving! We’re on holiday. Hope this is enough to chew on]:
I’m guessing you don’t need to be told what we’re up against. The spread offense liberated running games from under center, and with it came all the fun stuff like little athletes juking people in space, big ones running deep downfield in man coverage, and all sorts of defenders standing around wishing someone—anyone—would at least try to block him. Each early adopter added a wrinkle: tempo, bubble screens, wide splits, quick folds, receiver route trees, lazy verts, and run-pass-options. Urban Meyer’s innovation was to assimilate all of it into the Earl Bruce power offenses he grew up in.
At Ohio State Meyer found he could tap Big Ten resources and fall back on SEC attitudes to convince athletes from all over America to bring their biological distinctiveness to its least charming truck stop. There they are assigned mundane designations like “Corey Brown” or “James Clark” and adapted to serve wherever it’s most efficient—usually as a diversion from running up the gut.
They are the Borg; resistance is futile, unless it rains.
Personnel: A star-studded diagram:
click to lightbox it bigger, open in new window for even greater largosity
Everybody was a top 250 recruit except the kicker, a backup tight end, and the best interior lineman in the conference. They have a Heisman candidate, and it’s not the starting quarterback who was a Heisman candidate at the beginning of the year. We’ll talk about the backfield in dangermen and the OL in the overview.
If you’re new to Meyer offenses, one slot WR position is just called the “H” now that “Percy Harvin’s position” is a dated reference. It’s a running back/slot receiver hybrid that does whatever the latest guy is good at. Curtis Samuel is the current guy. Last year he stole half of Braxton Miller’s playing time. He’s kind of a big deal.
They have a stable of 4- and 5-star receivers who are worth discussing here. Noah Brown is the Darboh but they have to create Chesson in the aggregate. Parris Campbell is the nearest approximation and though he doesn’t “start” he’s getting the starter snaps since Secret Weapon™ Corey Smith has had his hand in a cast all year. Smith’s role and nominal starts go to Terry McLaurin, who’s a throwback to the Odoms/Gallon Rodriguez-era mountain goats, right down to a listed height of two inches greater than plausibility. Backup H Dontre Wilson is a Norfleet. Those five guys will be in for two-thirds of the snaps; the remainder is split evenly between the next four: slot receiver KJ Hill is a good route runner. James Clark is an athletic deep threat who wasn’t connecting. Other extant cardio-pulmonary systems who’d have 1500 yards in the MAC are Johnnie Dixon and Austin Mack. OSU will rotate them heavily and send them sprinting downfield until your cornerbacks’ lungs burst from their chests—actual throws come less than once per drive.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid: Spread, which for lack of blocking TEs and superb blocker Ezekiel Elliott is back to being an actual spread:
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? A 60-40 mix in favor of manball. They use a lot of zone on their QB and zone read runs, but Inverted Veer/Power Read is still their base play.
Hurry it up or grind it out? Hurry up and wait. On third downs they usually will take their time getting set up and snap it with three to six seconds left. Otherwise the snap came with the clock between 16 and 25.
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): 8, effectively 9. We’ve always struggled to nail Barrett to a number on this scale because he’s a good runner but not Gardner-level. What he lacks for in whoop he makes up with vision, patience, and leaving all of his bad decisions for off the field. Against Michigan State I charted JT a perfect 19/19 on zone reads. That didn’t include the RPOs, which he also, on review, chose correctly every time. There’s a serious there, there, which is a big deal for an offense that has to stay ahead of the sticks.
[After the JUMP: inside the mind of the Collective]
just 20 minutes
- Lloyd Carr’s life advice for Sam and Craig
- Hi Craig since you’re the only one who reads these bullets you and I should talk about City of Thieves sometime.
- Receivers creating huge holes. Bredeson had a decent game.
- Poor #19.
- Ohio State gave up big yards to pro-style offenses—a look inside those numbers.
- Durkin vs Brown in the great test.
- McCray and Peppers deployment.
- Containing Barrett, who turns 3 yard losses into gains.
- Which Stooge is Ed?
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.