Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Indiana Comment Count

Brian November 21st, 2018 at 1:53 PM

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[1]SPONSOR NOTE: Matt is no longer hanging out at the Charity Tailgate because there are no more home games. But if you see a bus in Columbus you'll know you've found him. Which bus will be obvious. When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home.

FORMATION NOTES: Almost all 4-2-5, with occasional dips into a 3-3-5 after Winovich's injury. The double viper formation I'm charting as a 3-1-7(!) made a re-appearance as well, for some effective pass rushes. Michigan was much more heavily single-high in this game for whatever reason and dropped most of their zone looks out of the playbook.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Michigan reduced the rotation after some early issues; DT was mostly Mone and Kemp on standard downs. Marshall was a bit player; Dwumfour got all the passing down snaps and a scattering of standard downs. Solomon was barely more used than Marshall despite being pretty effective. Winovich was on the way to another iron man performance when he got hurt. Paye got most of those snaps, with a few going to Hutchinson; Furbush got most of the Rush package snaps in his stead. Gary got almost all the standard down snaps but was absent in the rush package, still.

At LB, Bush and Hudson omnipresent (or near enough) with another 50/50 split between Gil and Ross. Uche got his usual dozen rush D snaps; Furbush got about as many post-Winovich injury; Glasgow had a cameo or four.

DBs the usual. Ambry Thomas got some time late with guys dinged up.

[After THE JUMP: a slight amount of panic]


Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs MSU

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs MSU Comment Count

Brian October 31st, 2018 at 2:24 PM

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[1]SPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). It's right next to the train tracks on Hoover. The band goes right by it on their way to the stadium, which is cool. Say hi.

When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home.

FORMATION NOTES: Just one 3-3-5 snap, which didn't go so hot. Michigan is continuing with their rush package with Uche/Dwumfour/Paye/Winovich across the front, and semi-frequently went with a dime behind that. I have been filing Uche as a linebacker but I'm on the verge of calling him a DE.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Paye and Winovich nearly omnipresent with Hutchinson picking up a few late snaps. DT snaps got split about equally between all five contributors (Solomon, Marshall, Kemp, Mone, and Dwumfour).

Bush and Hudson omnipresent, as per usual. Ross and Gil split WLB snaps. Uche got about 20 snaps as a rush end; cameos from Furbush and Glasgow.

Secondary the usual. Long and Hill got more snaps than Watson but it was close to even. Thomas got in at the end.

[After THE JUMP: one broken QB, barely more yards]


Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Wisconsin

Upon Further Review 2018: Defense vs Wisconsin Comment Count

Brian October 17th, 2018 at 4:33 PM

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[1]SPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). It's right next to the train tracks on Hoover. The band goes right by it on their way to the stadium, which is cool. Say hi.

When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan was content to roll out the base defense against Wisconsin despite the radical change in approach the Badgers are from Michigan's previous spread-oriented opponents. Hudson was omnipresent. There was one tweak on passing downs, with Michigan replacing Gil/Ross with Josh Uche to present a five-man front:


Uche lurking to the bottom of the line; Bush kneeling near the umpire

Note also that Michigan has their three cornerbacks on the field and just one safety. This still comes out as 4-2-5 in my 'package' column but should be something else and will be if it continues.

Just one 3-3-5 snap on a run down in this game, a six yard run.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Winovich and Paye were almost omnipresent; Hutchinson did get a dozen snaps spotting them, mostly late. Kemp, Marshall, Mone, and Solomon got about equal time at the DT spots, with Dwumfour a bit further behind. Michigan tried to confine him to passing downs.

Bush and Hudson omnipresent; Gil and Ross split their snaps about down the middle. Uche played in the package above; Furbush and Glasgow made cameos.

Secondary is what you'd expect save for Kinnel missing some snaps with what looked like cramps. Hawkins got that time.

[After THE JUMP: a lot of running and almost no passing.]


Eleven On Eleven

Eleven On Eleven Comment Count

Brian October 15th, 2018 at 2:04 PM

10/13/2018 – Michigan 38, Wisconsin 13 – 6-1, 4-0 Big Ten

Like anyone still standing after a 2-15 run against Ohio State, I have withered into a cynical-ass bastard more tree than man. We are the Michigan ents. The Ments. But even though this heart was long ago replaced by lignin, by God I felt it beat when Roy Roundtree and Denard Robinson popped up on the video board before the game. They talked about night games at Michigan Stadium in general. They also talked about one very specific game. I had feelings.

I did not know I had just been handed the most critical bit of the gameplan. Wisconsin did not, either. Wisconsin apparently did not know quarterbacks were, like, allowed to keep the ball. I feel like they should have known this. Even if they were completely unaware of the last 20 years of college football, surely their review of Michigan's game tape would tip them of that yes, occasionally the quarterback guy runs with the ball, and faster than you'd think.


Patterson pulled twice more, once for a redzone touchdown and once for another chunk run. The last saw Wisconsin actually respect the idea of a pull, somewhat, but Patterson was able to outpace a wrong-footed Badger defensive end anyway.

Then the backups came in and things went from intriguing to bizarre and hilarious. Dylan McCaffrey is slashing inside a block and outrunning an All-American linebacker to the endzone! Okay!


TJ Edwards is sad in the background [Eric Upchurch]

Joe Milton, who had approximately zero rushing yards in high school, is switching fields and outrunning the whole Badger defense to the other sideline! I thought this was Diet Coke, not Meth Coke! Who put meth in my Coke? Did you also give some to Paul Chryst? Ah that's fine then, good move.


Michigan's season-long con took in both the Badgers and your author; now revealed, it resets season expectations. Harbaugh noted the impact it had on Wisconsin's run defense when they suddenly had to play 11 v 11:

Coach, you had two quarterbacks that were a big part of things as far as running the ball. Was that element added to this game?

“Yeah, it was big. Shea (Patterson) really got things going in the first quarter with the long run. And the touchdown run he had, he was — allowed us to stretch their defense, get all their gaps, make them cover — make them account for as many gaps as we could. So that was a gameplan well-executed.”

Michigan spent most of their short yardage snaps in this game in a two-tight-end shotgun look that had everyone in Michigan Stadium agonizing about the absence of Ben Mason, but aside from one bad decision from Higdon to press outside Michigan converted every time. Frequently this was accomplished by a running back cutting back behind Juwann Bushell-Beatty, who was paving his man, as a Wisconsin defender gave Patterson his newfound due.

Maybe I'd been primed by the pregame video, but I thought about Michigan's approach in Denard's other Notre Dame masterpiece, the one on the road: after a slant to Roundtree set Michigan up at the two on Michigan's winning drive, shotgun, QB zone stretch, easy cutback, TD.

Patterson's not Denard Robinson but he's certainly fast enough to demand someone account for him. When that gets combined with a mauling right side of the line and a rapidly developing whole, you get something. You get 320 rushing yards. You get nearly 240 of those in the second half. You get fourth quarter drives on which Wisconsin knows you're going to kill the clock and can't stop you on six straight runs; the clock only stops getting stabbed to death 40 seconds at a time because you accidentally score a touchdown.

With the mesh point suddenly a real thing, possibilities open up. Ends can't charge willy-nilly at the quarterback. You can make those token play actions into defense-crippling ones with the extra time that buys you—something that Ohio State just struggled to defend this weekend. The corner that Michigan could turn to become a juggernaut offense is there, shockingly in sight.



Known Friends and Trusted Agents Of The Week


JBB is almost out of this shot, which is good [Fuller]

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

#1(t) Juwann Bushell-Beatty and Jon Runyan Jr. Seriously. Not ironically. Not even in a throw-these-guys-a-bone sense. Patterson was iffy, Higdon fumbled, the defense didn't have a guy contributing except in scattered bursts: JBB and Runyan were the Michigan players most consistently helping Michigan down-to-down.

I don't think either gave up a pressure. JBB paved guys on a series of plays that cut to his side of the line; he was also the source of some of those zone stretch cutback runs. Meanwhile Michigan was usually running to Runyan's side of the line.

DOD was low with Wisconsin in desperation mode at DE, but I be like dang all the same. Both guys get three points because they're made up and don't matter and also this portion of the writeup is indeed me throwing them a bone.

#2 David Long. Both Long and Hill were avoided all night until the late Wisconsin TD drive when Hornibrook went after Hill's excellent coverage. Long didn't suffer those Mr. Tight Windows slings and arrows and was able to sell him twice on man coverage that turned out to be a trap—more below—that turned into a PBU and an interception.

#3 Karan Higdon. Did fumble. Did miss a hole or two. Also went over 100 yards and made some nice zone cuts; his ability was a major reason Michigan won a game in which they had four second half passing yards.

Honorable mention: The Spirit of Denard. Paul Chryst.

KFaTAotW Standings.

7: Chase Winovich (#1 ND, #3 SMU, #1 NW)
5: Karan Higdon (#1 WMU, #3 Nebraska, #3 Wisconsin).
4: Devin Bush(#3 ND, #1 Nebraska), Rashan Gary(#2 WMU, #2 Nebraska), Shea Patterson (#3 WMU, #1 Maryland).
3: Zach Gentry(T1 SMU, #2 Maryland), Juwann Bushell-Beatty(T1 Wisconsin), Jon Runyan Jr(T1 Wisconsin).
2: Ambry Thomas (#2 ND), Donovan Peoples-Jones(T1 SMU), Josh Metellus(#2 SMU), David Long(#2 Wisconsin).
1: Will Hart (#3 NW), Mike Dwumfour (T2 NW), Kwity Paye (T2 NW), Josh Uche (T2 NW), Khaleke Hudson(#3 Maryland).

Who's Got It Better Than Us(?) Of The Week

That would be a game-sealing pick six. Alex Hornibrook has to be sick of watching Michigan defenders spear his passes with one hand.

Honorable mention: 81 yard Patterson run; McCaffrey touchdown; Interception #1; DPJ almost breaks another punt; Wisconsin roughs the snapper; various Paul Chryst punt decisions.


Wisconsin busts a jet sweep to tie the game and momentarily give people the willies about whether Michigan can stop this run game at all.

Honorable mention: The two stunning Winovich holding calls that didn't get made; Michigan's inability to capitalize on the first INT; ESPN having the Chainsmokers on to pick games instead of Denard.

[After THE JUMP: What are you doing, Turtle?!]


The Story of Aubrey's F Bomb, by Tom VH

The Story of Aubrey's F Bomb, by Tom VH Comment Count

Seth September 4th, 2018 at 12:32 PM

An Excerpt from The Road to Ann Arbor, by Tom VanHaaren

Many years ago, when MGoBlog was just starting to be more than a small community of nerdy Michigan fans , this guy Tom from the message board was so friendly that the recruits and coaches and family just gave him honest answers to earnest questions.

When I came on in 2009 as a part-time copyeditor, Tom was already officially on staff. When a five-star defensive tackle began to waver in his commitment, readers would put up TomVH bat signals, and ask Tom to hold them. Soon, ESPN came calling, and Tom left for the big time.

But you can always come home, and today for the first time since pre-Ace, I'm proud to have the opportunity to print a TomVH article on this site, because he's written a book. Specifically THIS book:9781629375922

It's about—what else—great Michigan recruiting stories over the years. It covers the crazy recruitments of Michigan greats like Reggie McKenzie, Jim Harbaugh, Jamie Morris, Mark Messner, Tripp Welborne, Desmond Howard (and his tagalong Elvis Grbac), Jarrett Irons, Brian Griese, Tshimanga Biakabutuka, Tom Brady, Braylon Edwards, Chad Henne, Rashan Gary, and Aubrey Solomon. And that has led Tom back to where it started. He can't hold you anymore, but you can buy this book, and feel held once more.

In fact, having read half of it I highly recommend that you do. No, not later. Do it now. Did you buy it?

Okay, well, since it's yours now, here's an excerpt from The Road to Ann Arbor: Incredible Twists and Improbable Turns Along the Michigan Recruiting Trail, by Tom VanHaaren, presented with permission from Triumph Books. It covers the split between five-star Georgia prospect Aubrey Solomon and Michigan after his commitment, and their subsequent reconciliation over a moral lesson that frankly we could use some more of in this conference these days.

For more information and to order a copy visit www.triumphbooks.com/roadtoannarbor, but of course you've done that already.


Preview 2018: Defensive Tackle

Preview 2018: Defensive Tackle Comment Count

Brian August 29th, 2018 at 5:47 PM

Previously: Podcast 10.0A. Podcast 10.0B. Podcast 10.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Tackle. Interior Offensive Line.

  Depth Chart
Rashan Gary Jr. Aubrey Solomon So. Mike Dwumfour So.* Chase Winovich Sr.*
Kwity Paye So Bryan Mone Sr.* Lawrence Marshall Sr.* Aidan Hutchinson Fr.
Ron Johnson So.* Donovan Jeter Fr.* Carlo Kemp So.* Luiji Vilain Fr.*

It's a simple job. You just get out there and replace Mo Hurst, the most disruptive defensive tackle in recent program history. That thing where he drills your face into the chest of the center and comes out through the ear of the right guard: do that. The part where he teleports past a double team: do that. The bit when he rubs his belly after a good play: do that.


Okay, good to hear that we've got the third one down. Now, about the rest?




[Patrick Barron]

MIKE DWUMFOUR [recruiting profile] has one of the most believable offseason hype trains in recent memory. This is in part because it started last year, when nobody on earth would have batted an eyelash at vacuum-of-space level silence regarding a three-star redshirt freshman, who many assumed was just a Rashan Gary sweetener, playing behind Mo Freakin' Hurst. And yet:

A few months back when we talked with someone close to the team about up and coming youngsters, Dwumfour was brought up first and foremost. That talk has been reinforced since. Sam Webb relays that Dwumfour is the talk of the defensive line's next generation, Non-Gary division. Because you may remember him from such players as:

The same explosive get-off [as Hurst], but with a bigger frame. His teammates love his athleticism and think he has definite future pro potential.

Dwumfour's recruiting profile does use Hurst as the You May Remember Me From Such Players As because the recruiting industry described Dwumfour as a great first step in search of a backfield to be all up in; because Dwumfour's somewhat modest 6'2" 280-pound frame was reminiscent of Hurst; and because Hurst came to Michigan a badly underhyped recruit relative to the finished product. A Penn State commitment was the main argument for the latter then. Even now that's still a good sign.

Meanwhile last year's hype has been double down upon. Dwumfour was the heir apparent at three tech the moment Hurst played his final game and nothing since has caused even a slight waver in those assessments. Both Mattison and Brown have talked him up without reservation. Mattison wasn't just satisfied with comparing him to Hurst, but had to go one step farther:

"The strength staff has been another HUGE factor for him. He has now lost some of that excess weight that he didn’t need and added muscle. And his quickness has been much, much better. ... both [Hurst and Dwumfour] are very quick twitch. Both are very, very quick off the football. Both are same height-wise (and) both have the same leverage. I think there are a lot of comparison between the two, Michael might even be a little broader (and) a little thicker. And at this age he might be a little ahead of where Mo was.”



“We’ve got this guy, Jersey kid, Michael Dwumfour. Fast off the ball with a get-off just like Mo. It’s ridiculous. But you’re going to see it when time comes.

Chase Winovich picked him as the breakout player on D; "several sources" hyped him up to Wolverines Wire;

And the capper is something I've brought up a few times this offseason. I was talking with Ira Weintraub at WTKA; Ira helps out with the Harbaugh podcast. On one episode Harbaugh had finished his bit and left the room. He came back, sat down, and told Ira to ask him about breakout players specifically so he could talk up Mike Dwumfour. All right. Sold.

That said, Dwumfour did get some snaps behind Hurst last year and has yet to set the world on fire. After Penn State I mentioned him briefly:

Dwumfour was ineffective. He got stood up at the line on a couple plays when a bit of penetration from him was likely to be a TFL because of Hurst getting in the backfield.

I keep an eye out for new-contributor clips specifically because they're useful in these posts but don't have anything for him except this against Purdue:

DT #50

Which is indeed vaguely Hurst-ish; not many nose tackles have that range. Other than that, nope. That's a handful of snaps as Hurst barely came off the field last year and not enough to slow down the HYPE TRAAAAAIN... much.

For the record, I find the hype train mostly convincing but not entirely so. You don't just get Mo Hursts rolling off the assembly line. It is worth noting that the 2015 version of this post—the same point in Hurst's career as Dwumfour is now—listed Hurst as Ryan Glasgow's backup and noted his explosive spring game and the chatter surrounding it. It then tried to slow things down a bit:

Hurst was also the breakout star of last year's open scrimmage, where he destroyed the second-team OL. Then he disappeared, registering three tackles as a freshman. Clearly the step up in competition represented by bigger, better OL was a problem for him. At least this year he made a number of plays against Braden and Glasgow.

The not-so-hot year two is not a disqualifying factor for a Hurst-alike. Hurst had the luxury of being an explosive backup, though, and had a year of relative shelter before becoming the all-encompassing Man. Dwumfour will get put in stickier situations and have some problems holding up, like Hurst occasionally did early in his career. Michigan's hope is that he translates all the talk to a bunch of backfield excursions. That's more likely than not. Choo-choo.

[After THE JUMP: a palpable three deep at both spots]


Unverified Voracity Enters A World Of Pain

Unverified Voracity Enters A World Of Pain Comment Count

Brian December 28th, 2017 at 12:16 PM

mark it zero 2

this is a completely normal bowling event

I honestly don't know how anyone goes bowling and doesn't get in a massive brawl. You've just spent several hours of your time flinging a ball at various inanimate objects and the objects generally win. You are losing to some smug-ass ovoid shapes. In such circumstances, it is only natural to become so irrationally angry that you start a yell-fight over the circumstances you find yourself in.

And lo, it has happened to football teams.

This makes total sense. I do enjoy how bored the cops look. Because this happens every time they're in a bowling alley.

These are unrelated, but I wish they weren't. Mo Hurst will play in the bowl game. Probably less than he has in most games, for a ton of reasons. Here's hoping he gets through it okay.

God bless Mike Leach. And God bless the reporter who absolutely nailed the zoom-out reveal midway through:

This is art on par with the raptor gif. And they said bowl season didn't mean anything.

You cannot understand the Brohm of it all. Purdue beat Arizona in an extremely entertaining game that featured one of those college-only back-to-back-to-back touchdowns in the last few minutes to swing the game to and fro. In the end Purdue's margin depended heavily on this play at the end of the first half:

That is a perfectly legal play that I've seen Auburn and Arkansas execute over the past few years. People are describing it as a "fake kneel," though, and they do have a point: Purdue had a guy lined up as the traditional we're-gonna-kneel "safety" on the play. Shame on Arizona for biting on that after Purdue got the ball back with almost a minute left...


[/mentions fill up with "intent to deceive" outrage]

Well... you're not wrong. If a team is going to line up in a formation that causes the refs to demand the opposition stop playing they should stop playing too. One dollar says that there's a new rule covering running actual plays from a kneel-down formation next year. Which is a shame:

Most importantly, when Gus Malzahn runs this play, the call on the field is “THERE’S A SNAKE IN MY BOOT!” because the name of the fake kneel is “Woody,” it almost always involves the smallest running back on the team getting the ball, and because anytime one can take an excuse to yell “THERE’S A SNAKE IN MY BOOT!” on a football field, one should.


Interesting Michigan-related item:

M apparently had this scouted.

Random bits from Zach Shaw. Shaw has been poking around the 24/7 database for article on various Michigan units, and has come across a number of things that look promising for next year's defense:

  • On the DL, Aubrey Solomon had a "stop rate"—tackles at or near the LOS—of just over 10%, which was on par with Hurst and Winovich. Nearly identical to both, in fact. Those guys were 10th and 11th nationally in that stat. If Solomon maintains that productivity he should be at least good and, with some extra pass rush, potentially great next year.
  • At linebacker, Khaleke Hudson and Devin Bush Jr. missed just three tackles each all year. Both guys had a ton of QB pressures but not many stops—probably because the DL was crushing so many plays before they could even get to the LBs.
  • The cornerbacks did this: "Michigan’s three cornerbacks — all first-year starters — allowed 32 of 81 passes for 478 yards, 0 touchdowns, 4 interceptions and 16 pass breakups." That is, of course, bonkers. Like having Jourdan Lewis clones coming out of your ears.
  • The safeties were good-ish. In the aftermath of a tough game for Metellus against Ohio State there have been a lot of criticisms of the safeties, and by implication departed safeties coach Brian Smith. But collectively there were middle of the pack when targeted and had an acceptable missed tackle rate—Metellus's was more acceptable than Kinnel's. The individual stats don't take into account the general lack of huge plays against M. Michigan gave up quite a few 20+ yard plays (59th) but relatively few 30+ (22nd); a lot of those longer plays were the inevitable result of Michigan's very aggressive defense cracking. The safeties mostly held down those opportunities.

If Solomon improves as much as most rising sophomores he could be only a reasonable step back from Mo Hurst, and then Michigan just has to find a linebacker from 5-6 options and a develop some DL depth to have the kind of defense that could be #1 nationally. Again.

One downer: per Football Outsiders Michigan's punting efficiency was 121st nationally, and the early shanks from Will hart didn't have much of an impact. Brad Robbins's net yardage was 121st. Shoulda got an Aussie.

Etc.: Graham Couch is at it again! If you've seen various Lars Von Trier movies the reference to him in this article will go 1% of the way towards restoring your lost time and/or sanity. Marcus Ray departs WTKA. The Blind Pig will carry on. Patterson officially in; the other two guys are officially not. Ted Janes of the Daily talks to John O'Korn. Jourdan Lewis: still good.