Neck Sharpies: Solving the Spread Punt

Neck Sharpies: Solving the Spread Punt Comment Count

Seth December 7th, 2016 at 4:00 PM


A few years ago it was de rigueur on this site to talk about how college rules allowed NCAA teams to use a different style of punting, and that this style (called spread or shield) of punting was demonstrably superior to NFL-style (tornado). Michigan has swung between them in recent years. Carr tested out something like shield punting in 2003 then scrapped it when it cost him a game against Iowa. Rodriguez took us to spread punting along with spread offense, and Hoke returned the program to pro-style as was his wont.

In 2015 Harbaugh brought in special teams guru John Baxter and the spread was once again installed, presumably for good. Then Baxter left, and this year Michigan used both. At first we wondered if this was, like under Hoke, some relic of a coaching staff that strove to be pro-like in everything. But as the punt blocks, and near punt blocks, and running-intos that by all rights should have been punt blocks piled up, a new thought emerged: maybe Michigan thinks they’ve solved the spread punt.

Shield punting refresher

For a full explanation of spread punting and a comparison to NFL-style see my 2014 article or watch the Joe Daniel Youtube. Here’s a graphic:


The splits are huge: two yards between the snapper and the guards, and two more yards until the next guy. You don’t care who comes up the A gaps—the only thing the guys on the line of scrimmage have to do is redirect the man lined up outside of them then get downfield (you don’t want your snapper involved in blocking).

The three guys standing about 7 yards back are the “shield”. You want big burly dudes for your shield, and you tell them the Grand Canyon is just behind their heels so they’d better not give an inch. By not giving an inch, they create an eye in the middle of the storm for the punter to safely get the punt off.

Everyone else just has to force the attackers to widen to the point where they can’t get back inside in time to affect the punt. That’s why the guards split so far apart: anyone going outside of them should presumably be too far outside to affect the punt. Anyone coming up the middle will get stuck behind an immovable wall of beef.

In the linked video, Daniel mentions the way to attack it is put four guys into those big “A” gaps, because that could overwhelm the shield. The way the shield would deal with this is block out man-to-man, and let the guys in the A gaps try to get around the shield. As long as your three-man shield can still stop four A-gap rushers, you’ve got a sound punt blocking strategy with two to four more guys releasing downfield than you would in an NFL-style punt.


[After the JUMP we get around the shield]


WTKA Roundtable 12/1/2016: In Defense of Tony Boles

WTKA Roundtable 12/1/2016: In Defense of Tony Boles

48 minutes


[Eric Upchurch]

Things discussed:

You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.

Segment two is here, Segment three is here.


  • Speight still hurt in this game
  • The officiating, with a lot of examples.
  • Harbaugh’s other reason for saying something.
  • “Why didn’t we have a 2-point play?” is a terrible take says not happy Brian.
  • The NFL will say what you need to know about M’s offensive line.
  • Speight’s improvisation was what this offense was living on.
  • Craig names the greatest running back of his 3,000 years on this earth
  • Leatherwood, Filiaga or Wilson: which does Sam think could start at LT next year?

Ohio State Postgame Presser: Players, Part 2

Ohio State Postgame Presser: Players, Part 2 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 29th, 2016 at 10:00 AM


[Eric Upchurch]

Mike McCray and Chris Wormley

Chris, what was your view of the spot?

“Looked like he was short, but I guess the refs saw something different. We have to play through those types of calls, that type of adversity.”

Through the first three quarters you guys kind of bottled them up. What did they do differently in the fourth quarter?

CW: “We were just playing lights-out the first three and a half quarters. They got some plays and they have good players. They go to Ohio State, they’ve got good players. If we made a few plays at the end the outcome probably would have been different, but I thought we played pretty well for most of the game.”

Chris, do you guys still believe that you’re a playoff team?

“I think so. They’re saying Wisconsin can do that if they win next week and we beat that team. So, there’s probably some things that have to go our way, some people that have to be on our side on the committee or however that works, but we’ve played good football all year. We’re keeping our fingers crossed and we’re excited for whatever happens.”

With the regular season ending, how do you guys view these last 12 games and the final result today?

CW: “I think you look back and we had a great run. This is the most fun I’ve ever had playing football, with Mike, the rest of the defense, the offense. I think you look back and you can see what you did poorly, did well, and build off of the things that you did well and take that into the bowl game and prepare for that as best you can.”

MM: “Like Chris said, had a great season throughout the regular season. Didn’t get the outcome that we wanted--to go to the Big Ten championship--but like he said before, you’ve got to get ready for the bowl game and see what we did right throughout the season, see what we did wrong, and improve on it.”

[Hit THE JUMP for more]


No Damn Reason At All

No Damn Reason At All Comment Count

Brian November 28th, 2016 at 1:06 PM

11/26/2016 – Michigan 27, Ohio State 30 (2OT) – 10-2, 7-2 Big Ten


[Eric Upchurch]

After all that, the thing that sticks with me is something much more prosaic than the various outrages everyone's going on about. It's third and four in the fourth quarter. Ohio State literally triple-covers Jake Butt; Wilton Speight finds Amara Darboh open on a quick slant. The ball is behind Darboh, tough but catchable. Darboh does not catch it. Michigan punts with five minutes and change left on the clock.

Why did that happen?

I don't know. Nobody does, but very few people tasked with writing about a thing will tell you that. Everyone else will reach for any explanation of remote plausibility, from an injured shoulder to CHOKING like a CLOWN FRAUD. Whatever, doesn't matter. Just as long as there's a reason a thing occurred, we can go on with our lives.

I think that happened for no damn reason at all. Yes, if you replaced Speight with Tom Brady that pass was more likely to be accurate. If you replaced him with Tyler O'Connor, less likely. It is still a simple five-yard throw that is amongst the easiest in the quarterback's repertoire. It is within the capabilities of the QB. Speight probably hits 90% of them, especially on a day where he is locked in. The most likely explanation for why he did not hit that one is none at all. The most likely reason Darboh did not catch a tough but catchable pass is none at all.

There are entire fields of study dedicated to the fallibility of the human brain, which refuses to operate cleanly. (I just put a D into the word "entire" as I was typing that sentence out.) These exist mostly because planes crash into each other and space shuttles explode and not because football happens sometimes, which just goes to show that people have strange priorities.


Speaking of the fallibility of the human brain:

It is hard to take that sort of thing. Michigan had just gotten a flag on a similar, but less severe, defensive holding incident on the prior Ohio State drive. That ended a Michigan drive that had reached midfield; if called correctly Michigan has first and ten at the Ohio State 40.

Later in the game the same pattern would repeat. Delano Hill was flagged for pass interference on third and 14 when he unnecessarily grabbed the waist of Curtis Samuel before the ball arrived; the exact same thing happened to Grant Perry on a third down conversion attempt and was ignored. Again, that sets Michigan up with a first down, this one on the ten in the second overtime. Again it was preceded by a call so similar against Michigan it beggars belief that a flag did not come out.

That's tough to get over. The spot was close enough and chaotic enough that it falls within the realm of the unknowable. An MGoUser who knows what parallax is and went over available evidence with a fine-toothed comb thinks Barrett made it by literally an inch or two. While I thought the spot was wrong I knew they would not overturn it, because they never overturn spots without some sort of egregious his-knee-was-down-ten-yards-ago kind of thing. In isolation that call is, in the cold light of day two days later, too close to have a definitive resolution. If it was wrong it very well could have been an honest mistake.

It is difficult to interpret either of the above incidents as honest, or a mistake. It's difficult to see a standard-issue Harbaugh blowup get flagged in the Game when we've seen the same thing tolerated all year. It's difficult to believe that Michigan's defensive line hasn't benefited from a holding call since the Illinois game.

This is the point at which newspapery types come in with the You Had Your Opportunities To Win The Game, an asinine criticism since that's literally true of both teams in every close game ever played. You can believe that Michigan had opportunities to win they did not take and simultaneously believe that the officiating gave you less than a 50/50 shot in a 50/50 game.

And then you're putting guys out on the field from the state of Ohio who were previously banned from working The Game because of how it might look? What the fuck are you even doing, Big Ten?


[Patrick Barron]

What's that? Counting your money? Right. Well done.


Michigan lost this game. They did so for many reasons.

Their mistakes were punished as ruthlessly as possible. A floating ball goes directly to a defender. A fumbled snap is recovered by the defense. Curtis Samuel escapes a huge loss three times and sets up the fourth down that falls within the margin of error.

They did not take advantage of plays that were there to be made. Speight threw behind Darboh twice; Darboh did not bail him out. Karan Higdon missed a cut on what would have been a huge gain. Smith did not run over a safety prior to the fumble.

They did not get a fair whistle. See above.

All that and it came down to a literal inch. A rivalry classic, and an invitation for a bunch of hooting jackals to hoot some more. As for us on the other side, nothing to do but soldier on in the gray light of morning.



there is another [Bryan Fuller]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]you're the man now, dog

#1 Taco Charlton was the most rampant of Michigan's very rampant defensive line, acquiring two and a half sacks and forcing Barrett to move around several other times.

#2 (tie) Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray shut off the Ohio State edge except on a couple plays where Michigan was successfully out-leveraged pre-snap. It was weird to see neutrals on twitter wondering why anyone would run east-west against The Michigan Defense, but they were, because it didn't work. They picked up 19 tackles between them, two sacks, another TFL, and McCray batted down two passes. McCray also forced a sack when he leapt in the passing lane of a third.

#3 Kenny Allen bombed all but one of his punts; he mastered the Ron Coluzzi hard right turn; he had just one touchback, that on a punt that still had a 40+ yard net; Curtis Samuel had just one quickly snuffed return opportunity; he hit a couple field goals; none of his kickoffs were returnable.

Honorable mention: Channing Stribling broke up the only deep shot on the day; OSU decided they were not going to bother with either him or Jourdan Lewis. The rest of the defensive line was terrific all day; the tackles were very good in pass protection against some tough customers. Peppers had a big KOR, an interception, and was also a major part of the edge being closed down.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland, #2 Iowa, #2 Indiana, #1 OSU).
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #1 Iowa).
4: Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland, #3 Indiana), Mike McCray(#1 Hawaii, T2 OSU), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers, T2 OSU).
3.5: De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU, #1 Indiana).
3: Amara Darboh(#1 MSU).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW)
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU),  Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois), Channing Stribling (#3 Iowa), Kenny Allen (#3 OSU).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

It's a goat in a duck costume!

Honorable mention: is that not sufficient


Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.
Iowa: The touchdown.
Indiana: Smith woodchips Michigan a lead.
OSU: Goat. Duck costume. Yeah.


This week's worst thing ever.

The Spot.

Honorable mention: The ensuing play. Speight fumbles the snap; Speight gets hit on the throw and offers up a pick six; Speight throws an INT that is on him; various refereeing malfeasances.


Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.
Iowa: Kalis hands Iowa a safety.
Indiana: A legitimate drive.
OSU: The Spot.

[After THE JUMP: ~3000 additional words, 43% of which are swears.]


Ohio State Postgame Presser: Players

Ohio State Postgame Presser: Players Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 28th, 2016 at 10:16 AM



Khalid Hill, Wilton Speight, Kenny Allen

Wilton, what was the preparation process like for you going into this game?

“Same amount of preparation as any game in terms of football. Just had more recovery stuff to get back for this game.”

At this point, you had them, seemed to be on the ropes, just a couple mistakes--

WS: “Yeah, that’s pretty disappointing. Game of this magnitude, the fight that we’ve put in as a team together since last January after the bowl game, it all came down to this game. The Game. The way it played out, incredible game, but came up short.”

Khalid, describe what you were a part of here today. You had two touchdowns. Just describe what this game was like for you.

“I struggled. Got stopped on the goal line, then Coach called on me again to go do it again. Just shows the trust he has in his players. It’s not about my success, though. We wanted to get it done as a team and fell short. Got to keep our heads up and keep moving.”

A lot of self-inflicted wounds today. What do you guys take out of that and what do you make of it?

WS: “Yeah, I made a couple mistakes in the game. Unfortunate to get my hand hit when I was throwing out of the end zone, which resulted in a pick-six. Then trying to force another ball into too tight of a window. But yeah.”

[Hit THE JUMP for more]


MGoPodcast 8.13: Just Right There

MGoPodcast 8.13: Just Right There

51 minutes


[Bryan Fuller]

The reason we can put out so much audio content now is it’s paid for. The show is presented by UGP & Moe's and their latest venture, the Bo Store, and frankly would not be happening without them; Rishi and Ryan and their people have been huge MGoBlog supporters from the start.

Our other sponsors are also key in the expanding empire: thanks to Homesure Lending, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Deo Bookkeeping, Michigan Law Grad, Defensive Drivers Group, and Peak Wealth Management.


That, and Offense

starts at 0:57

All of that—professionalize it already. Missed opportunities on offense with a few dropped balls. Speight’s three turnovers were game-changers; fortunately Michigan forced a few on Ohio State. Some blown blitz pickups from 5th year seniors; story of this season is this offensive line wasn’t championship caliber. An ankle tackle away from a jet sweep TD. Peppers package runs out of steam.


starts at 23:52

Can’t ask more. Seen these Barrett games before, best game for the linebackers all year—edges shut down. Still getting to rotations slowly. Want them to get more aggressive in certain situations, more comfortable in Don Brown’s defense. If only they got Samuel down on that adventure. One award we are pretty sure Michigan will win this year.

Special Teams and Game Theory

starts at 36:57

Jourdan Lewis pitching to Peppers on the final kickoff woulda been the greatest play in history. Garrett Moores handled a laser snap perfectly. Jordan Glasgow is going to be a Glasgow, albeit a Kovacsian one. Running into the kicker should just not be a penalty. Cam Johnston is so weird. Urban was correct to go for it with such a great short yardage team, despite the result. Michigan should go to a fancy-dancy bowl game. Damn the bloody-minded nature of football.

Quick rundown of next year’s depth chart. Good season.


  • “Elephant”—Jason Isbell
  • “Panic”—The Smiths
  • “Across 110th Street”


Ohio State Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Ohio State Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 27th, 2016 at 11:02 AM

[Bryan Fuller]

What’s your view of the last spot there before the touchdown?

“That it wasn’t a first down by that much.” [holds hands apart about eight inches]

So you agreed with the call, then?

“That it was not a first down. The officiating, I’m bitterly disappointed with the officiating today. That spot—the graphic display is the interference penalties. The one not called on us when Grant Perry clearly was being hooked before the ball got there, and the previous penalty called on Delano Hill, the ball’s uncatchable and by the receiver. So yeah, I’m bitterly disappointed in the officiating. Can’t make that any more clear.”

[Ed. A- The second Harbaugh used “bitterly” I knew that I’d heard that word spoken with the exact same inflection before. I realized about the time we were leaving the stadium that Harbaugh said it the way Bo did in the archival footage used in Tiebreaker. Watch through 33:38 if you can stomach it.]

[After THE JUMP: the most bizarre explanation for a personal foul I have ever heard]


Ohio State 30, Michigan 27 (2 OT)

Ohio State 30, Michigan 27 (2 OT) Comment Count

Ace November 26th, 2016 at 4:34 PM

Short. [Patrick Barron/MGoBlog]

I'm staring at my laptop and the sea of exultant Ohio State fans on the field below dancing to "Sweet Caroline" and I feel sick.

Sick that Michigan threw away multiple chances to win this game in regulation. Sick that a dozen little plays one way or the other change the outcome. Sick at that spot. That fucking spot.

Michigan should be playing for the Big Ten championship and a spot in the playoff next weekend. Instead, they will sit at home as either Ohio State or Penn State represents the East. That spot, that fucking spot, will stick in the collective Wolverine memory for much, much longer.

The Wolverines controlled most of this game. Wilton Speight battled back from his still-undisclosed injury to throw for 219 yards and two scores, an effort that would take its place in the pantheon of heroic rivalry performances had the outcome gone the other way. Speight's two interceptions, however, were turned into two Ohio State touchdowns, and that allowed the Buckeyes to keep it close enough to force overtime on a 23-yard Tyler Durbin field goal with one second left in regulation.

The defense, which had played a spectacular game, looked worn out in the first overtime period, ceding a JT Barrett touchdown run on the second play. Speight responded with a fourth-down touchdown to Amara Darboh. Michigan's ensuing possession ended with a field goal after a questionable non-call on a third-down pass to Perry, leaving the door open for Ohio State to win it.

Seemingly given new life, the defense forced an all-or-nothing fourth-and-one. Barrett kept it. The officials gave him a generous spot, and even though it appeared on replay that Barrett's right arm—the one holding the football—never reached the line to gain, that spot, that fucking spot, stood upon review.

In a not-so-alternate universe in which the men in charge of the game are competent, there are Muppets and joy and appreciation of one of the most dramatic football games in recent memory or perhaps ever and scrambling to finalize plans for next weekend. Alas, that fucking spot. Alas.


Punt/Counterpunt: Ohio State 2016

Punt/Counterpunt: Ohio State 2016 Comment Count

Ace November 26th, 2016 at 10:25 AM


By Bryan MacKenzie

I have nothing of value to add.
Seriously. I've already shared my thoughts on this game, but I don't have much in the way of substantive analysis. As I sit here trying to break down matchups and evaluating where either team has a definitive edge, I find myself sounding like Vizzini, the Sicilian kidnapper in The Princess Bride. Michigan has the best defensive line in the country, so I clearly cannot take Ohio State. But Ohio State has better linebackers, so I clearly cannot take Michigan. But Michigan has Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peppers, so I clearly cannot take Ohio State. But Wilton Speight is not 100%, so I clearly cannot take Michigan.

Me, thinking I know things

As I mutter these things incoherently, I can almost feel Cary Elwes smirking knowingly at me from across the table. It isn't that any particular piece of analysis is wrong. It's that it doesn't matter. This game is the culmination of two empires marching toward each other for weeks, and two mad geniuses planning, scheming, and preparing for this day for nine months. There's a good chance Jim Harbaugh ran at least one play against Hawaii solely in anticipation of the Ohio State game. I'd bet good money Urban Meyer installed a package in fall camp that he hasn't touched yet. Both coaches spent at least one sleepless summer night mentally scripting the first series.  Don Brown... oh, god, the blitzes that Don Brown has been putting together for this game. There's one where Channing Stribling plays defensive end, Ryan Glasgow drops to play a deep third, and Mike McCray just runs screaming in circles. It is unstoppable. 
We normal humans are unable to comprehend the levels involved here. Maybe 5% of the people reading this as good at anything as these guys are at coaching football. A select few can even understand what these titans of football industry are doing after they do it. Predicting such things ahead of time, especially under these circumstances is an exercise in futile hubris.
So instead, I sit here with whiskey in hand on Friday night pondering what these crazy bastards are going to do. It is anticipation whiskey. Saturday will bring anxiety whiskey, followed by either sorrow whiskey or exaltation whiskey.  Fortunately, these various types of whiskey are contained in the same bottle. It is a versatile product. Sometimes I feel like I can deploy whiskey nearly as effectively as Jim Harbaugh can deploy a fullback. But I digress.
This game will be decided by forces us mere mortals can't grasp. This is the payoff of too many long games, plans, schemes, artifices, and misdirections to comprehend. So, in the absence of any substantive knowledge, I am forced to look to recent history, and – spoiler alert – it is not good. Michigan has lost 13 of 15. So until Michigan reverses that trend, I'm unfortunately going to have to go with the Buckeyes. Fortunately, in this instance, I know nothing. Ohio State 24, Michigan 21.


By Nick RoUMel

Today’s column is written by our guests from www.twosixtynine.com1. Their motto: “Half right, half the time!” Please welcome Nate Bronze and his shadowy counterpart, “Serrano.” In the meantime, Counterpunt is off looking for his lucky shirt.

BRONZE: We at “269” have barely digested our Thanksgiving feast of roasted crow, and are now back at work crunching numbers, analyzing metrics, and making bold predictions.

SERRANO: Nate, what do the data tell us?

BRONZE: Ohio State – Michigan is a big game. It has an ELO2 rating of nearly 1600. Whoever wins has an 80% chance of making the CFP.3

SERRANO: How do you know it’s not a 90% chance?

BRONZE: Because it’s a MUS4, calculated from CAM.5

SERRANO: What does Michigan need to do to win?

BRONZE: Pray for rain. There’s not much else they can do to slow down Barrett, Samuel, Weber and company. Michigan is also in trouble offensively if O’Korn plays QB.

SERRANO: Not necessarily. Expect Jabrill Peppers to get more snaps behind center, not just in the Wildcat. I believe Coach Harbaugh has been saving a lot of different looks up his sleeve for this contest.

BRONZE: They would have a much better chance if Mike Trout could play quarterback. Gosh, if he had played college football, he would have been the G.O.A.T., president of the student body, and cured cancer in his spare time.

SERRANO: Uh, right. Make the call, Nate. What’s it going to be today?

BRONZE: I have analyzed every game in each player’s college career, adjusting for factors such as strength of schedule; different coaches, teammates, and formations; injuries and even weather. This commonly known SYTYSKBATETLU6 measure tells us that Ohio State has precisely a 50% chance to win.

SERRANO: I see it differently. Using a formula that is MSIN 7 , I put Michigan’s odds for victory at 50%.

COUNTERPUNT: Enough! Don’t one of you have the balls to call this one?

BRONZE: Actually I have 50% testicular capacity...

SERRANO: ... as do I.

COUNTERPUNT: Let me have my column back, please.

BRONZE: That’s fine; I have to go clean my Mike Trout shrine anyway.

COUNTERPUNT: Here’s the call, sports fans. J-Pep takes a punt return to the house to seal the win, and strikes the pose.

DESMOND “MR. HEISMAN” HOWARD: You know Charles Woodson was also planning to strike the pose in 1997, but I paid a few players to mob him before he could do so.

CHARLES “MR. HEISMAN” WOODSON: My punt return against the Buckeyes was still better, Desmond. Plus we won the national championship.

DESMOND: Harrumph. Let our readers decide:

JABRILL PEPPERS: Ha. Wait until you see mine!
1 Actual website registered by Counterpunt, as yet undeveloped.
2 ELO Rating - The extent to which the game is more compelling than an Electric Light Orchestra concert.
3 CFP = College Football Playoff rankings, essentially a glorified poll that chooses three teams to compete with Alabama for the national title.
4 MUS = Made Up Statistic
5 CAM = Completely Arbitrary Measures
6 SYTYSKBATETLU = Statistic You Think You Should Know But Are Too Embarrassed To Look Up. When reading an article containing such an acronym, you skip over it and hope it isn’t mentioned again.
7 MSIN = Mostly Subjective In Nature


Preview: Ohio State 2016

Preview: Ohio State 2016 Comment Count

Brian November 25th, 2016 at 12:41 PM


WHAT Michigan at
Ohio State
WHERE Ohio Stadium,
Columbus, OH
WHEN Noon Eastern
November 26th, 2016
TICKETS From $256
WEATHER mostly cloudy, around 40, dry
Many numbers herein courtesy Pro Football Focus.


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

Raekwon McMillan

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 ]