image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumbSPONSOR NOTE: If you need a tailgate location and a mortgage at the same time there's only one place to go: the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). Food trucks! Beer! A home lending expert! TV! Watched Nebraska lose to Troy there last week, which was certainly a thing of relevance this week.

FORMATION NOTES: Just 15 3-3-5 snaps versus 51 with four DL, and almost all of those 3-3-5 instances were passing down exotics. All but two, in fact. And they got gashed on one. Thus explaining the lack of that.

I should probably stop noting "press" since every single Michigan snap is press coverage, but the split between one (slash zero) and two high is a good proxy for zone snaps versus man snaps. Michigan was in a two-high look for about a third of its snaps.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Less rotation on the DL, which was in its new normal setup of Gary/Mone/Kemp/Winovich backed up by Paye, Hutchinson, and Dwumfour. Dwumfour's snaps in this game were almost exclusively pass rush DT in the 3-3-5. Without Solomon there was no real backup NT; Donovan Jeter only got in on the last drive. Marshall dressed IIRC but did not play.

The usual at LB with Bush omnipresent save injury and Gil and Ross splitting snaps approximately down the middle; Jordan Glasgow came in for Hudson after the targeting call. Furbush was the extra guy when Michigan added a pass rush LB. Uche did not play.

Usual CB rotation with Long ahead of the game in snaps slightly; Ambry Thomas got maybe a dozen snaps late. Brad Hawkins rotated in behind Metellus and Kinnel, with reduced playing time after the big bust. Jaylen Kelly-Powell, who's been quietly hurt, got snaps on the last drive.

[After THE JUMP: slant slant slant slant]

Previously: Offense (image via Huskers.com)

The film: Last year Nebraska's defense was kind of a mess. S&P+ had them ranked 110th (out of 130 teams), 116th in rushing, 102nd in passing. Some of that was a rejection of Bob Diaco's switch to a 3-4. Most of it was a rejection of Diaco himself.

A thing about college football however is it's not that hard, with an injection of competence, to get a group of 4- and 3-stars from the 100s to the 50s. You all remember Hoke and Mattison doing that with Michigan's defense in 2011. You see what skills you have on hand, choose a system you know how to teach that uses those skills, and make this an identity. Voila: something approximating competence.

Through two games it appears Frost's fellow UCF import Erik Chinander has built just this sort of jalopy. They're not a GREAT defense, but they might be good? Two games against questionable competition (Colorado might be bad, Troy is a good Sun Belt team) and high-tempo throw off the counting stats but they're giving up 4.2 YPC rushing, and 4.9 YPA passing (counting sacks with the latter).

Their strength is at safety, where some experienced starters returned from injury and are joined by a former UCF star, and a seven-man deep defensive line. Whether both units are a B+ or A+ is hard to tell—they do have three guys starting over the one bona fide GOOD player they had last year, and given his job was taken by last year's late breakout player that might not even be a Godin/Give-the-2nd-Unit-a-Hurst kind of way. Colorado made this doubly difficult on me by not blocking the guys I was trying to assess:

You may note all of those links show the same two offensive players. One of those guys is a grayshirt redshirt freshman, but the other is a third-year starter and former freshman All-American. Are Colorado's center and left guard two of the worst collegiate players I've ever watched on film, or was Nebraska's line so dominant they just made it look that way?

Personnel: Official depth chart. My diagram (PDF, click image for larger):

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Nebraska's defense so we are using black shirts instead of stars. Like Michigan's opponent last week Nebraska's defense was still in find-out-who-can-play mode and was thus rotating a lot of players, especially up front. Also note the "Key Player" from my HTTV preview is now on the bench. My entire section on the front seven needs to be rewritten.

Base Set: 3-4, and considering they mostly kept the same personnel on the field against a modern spread offense all day that's unlikely to change now.

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[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown]

About Last Week

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We went like this, he went like that. I said to Hollywood, "Where'd he go?" Hollywood says, "Where'd who go?” (Barron)

The Road Ahead

Nebraska (0-2, 0-0 B1G)

Last week: Lost to Troy, 24-19

Recap: At the risk of breaking character, this one isn’t quite as bad as it looks, for two reasons. First, while it is tempting to say, “lol, TROY,” the Troy Trojans of Troy (We’re From Troy!) were 11-2 last season with a win over LSU. In 2016 they were 10-3 and played Clemson to the wire. They're not a powerhouse, but they are real team. The second reason is that Adrian Martinez was out, and Nebraska had to turn to walk-on Andrew Bunch. Bunch is nowhere near the runner Martinez is; he rushed 7 times for 28 yards (sacks removed), and his running limitations meant that Troy could play the pass more honestly.

This one also could have gotten ugly, and didn’t. Troy was up 17-0, and Nebraska managed to fight back to 17-13. They also responded to what looked to be the knockout blow (a Troy touchdown drive with under 7 minutes left to give the Trojans an 11-point lead) with a 75-yard touchdown drive of their own.

That all said, Nebraska is 0-2, and were apparently only saved from being 0-3 by a freak lightning storm that averted the wrath of Akron. And with a brutal remaining schedule (they have road games against Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Iowa, and their other crossover game is against Michigan State), S&P+ predicts them to end up with about 3.7 wins this season.

This team is as frightening as: The Star Wars Trilogy. Decent, but overrated because of their name. Recent reboots have been widely panned. Their fans think that it is the greatest thing ever, but simultaneously that everything about it is being handled improperly at all times.  Fear Level = 6

Michigan should worry about: Michigan has pass protection issues, and Nebraska registered 7 sacks against Troy, bringing their total to 10 sacks through 2 games.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: lol, TROY.

When they play Michigan: If Martinez plays at (or near) 100%, this will be interesting. If not, this will be much more comfortable. For us. Not for Andrew Bunch. It will be decidedly uncomfortable for Andrew Bunch.

Next week: @ Michigan, noon, FS1 (Nebraska +18)

[AFTER THE JUMP: #CannonInTheD is dead. We discuss in a measured and reasonable tone.]

frosty

Things gettin' mighty Frosty

Chris Partridge talks to the media.

Running backs coach Jay Harbaugh talks to the media.

ups and downs but many touchdowns so okay?

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