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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.
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.
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.]
SPONSOR 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.
obvious thing preceded and followed by eons of nothing [Eric Upchurch]
9/15/2018 – Michigan 45, SMU 20 – 2-1
The sequence that really, truly broke me was in the middle of the second quarter. For some reason, Sonny Dykes thought that if his team was prepared it could stop a Michigan fullback dive. So he called timeout. Then he saw Michigan had cannily lined up in the exact same way they had before the timeout. Sensing a trap, he called timeout again. This became the dreaded Full Media Timeout.
In the stands, I baked. Because Michigan has made no attempt to improve connectivity in the stadium I held up my phone as it told me it could not retrieve tweets. The clock ticked down.
Michigan took the field again and lined up in the exact same way, but Dykes could not respond—he'd used all his timeouts. Ben Mason scored from the one-inch line, extra point... Full Media Timeout.
I baked further. It sucked. It was hot and boring and also hot and also boring.
Because I was so bored I started counting commercial breaks, finally giving up when the number hit a staggering eight in the first 22 minutes of game clock. There are eight commercial breaks in the entirety of a 40-minute basketball game, plus some timeout-induced ones. And that frequently feels excessive; a couple of years ago the problem seemed so severe the NCAA even stripped coaches of one of their precious timeouts. Football is now throwing up timeouts at almost twice the rate of basketball, a sport where the clock only runs if something is actually happening.
This is close to intolerable when it's nice outside. When it is not, and when there is a steady stream of baffling penalties from the part-time refs from a podunk league, and replays to fix some of the baffling issues the part-time refs are creating, and many more stoppages for injuries—one of which takes a long time and then gets a Full Media Timeout appended to the end of it—you wonder why you're doing this instead of sitting at home with air conditioning and connectivity. Several years ago I probably would have yammered about the students leaving early. Now I just envy anyone with the common sense to bail when they are so clearly being told to bail.
Falling attendance is a nationwide problem often blamed on The Youngs for being addicted to their phones, but the folks behind us show up maybe twice a year and sell their other tickets for whatever they can get. There's a noticeable variance in section density between the many garbage games (hi, division-mates Rutgers and Maryland) on the schedule and the actually worthwhile ones, and there are no students where I'm at. When the Wall Street Journal FOIAed actual ticket scans they found that 21%(!) of Michigan's announced attendance was fictional, tickets that sold but did not scan. This is actually pretty good in the wider context of college football, which says somethin' about somethin'.
It says that college football used to be a great bargain. Tickets were relatively inexpensive, games were fun and not largely spent watching people have conferences. Great fanbases sprung up around the teams starting in the 1960s, when Don Canham was packing bands into the stadium so it would be sort of full, and lasted more or less through 2000 without being seriously impinged upon. Ticket prices were absurdly stable. Television was more of a boon than a hindrance because its proliferation allowed you to watch more road games; breaks were relatively rare and tolerable.
Then things got monetized. Ticket prices approximately tripled in 13 years and have kept going up since. The commercial breaks have proliferated madly. Unsatisfied with their massive uplift in revenue, the athletic department has continued to nickel and dime the fanbase even after the departure of Dave Brandon. And for what? For who? For the benefit of ever more absurdly over-compensated coaches, staffers, and especially executives. Every commercial break is Jim Delany—the man who ruined the conference—giving me the middle finger while he dumps another gold brick on the Big Ten's grave.
Delany and his fellow parasites have latched onto the great oilbeds men like Canham laid down and are sucking them dry without regard to what happens after they're done. They don't care. They'll be dead. Michigan will still be playing Rutgers.
I dunno man. This would certainly be more tolerable if Michigan had won some more games over the past ten years. But probably not that much more. There's nothing I can do, really, but I'll tell you one thing: I'm never buying any fucking Rotel again. Until there's a cap on the number of ad breaks, every single college football TV advertiser can die in a fire for all I care. I've had it.
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1(t) Donovan Peoples-Jones and Zach Gentry. Gentry had a drop but also rescued a ball that would have been an IN if thrown at anyone else. Four catches for 95 yards from a nominal tight end is a thing and if anything Patterson didn't take full advantage of his height to make his other catches indefensible. DPJ scored three touchdowns, completely imploding that stat. Two were relatively simple, sure. The fade was not. DPJ and Gentry get two points each because they're made up and don't matter.
#2 Josh Metellus. INT and weaving TD return were the difference between a relatively comfortable second half and a full on terror-dome. PI on him was iffy; he had another PBU and seven tackles; did get hit a bit on those slants but Kinnel was SMU's preferred target.
#3 Chase Winovich. Ten tackles, three for loss. Had a really impressive track-back on a third and long screen that looked set up for the first down. Also knocked down another screen on third down earlier in the game. Now the subject of a hilarious meme.
Honorable mention: Will Hart added two more 50-yard punts to his collection. Bryan Mone and Carlo Kemp made SMU runs up the middle, which were oddly frequent, entirely futile. Devin Bush exists and is still Devin Bush. Tru Wilson had some more lethal blitz pickups.
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FORMATION NOTES: Increased emphasis on four-man fronts, with about 2/3rds of all snaps featuring four DL. That's up from about 50/50 in the opener, and with almost half of Michigan's 3-3-5 snaps on passing downs standard downs were heavily 4-2-5. WMU spent almost the whole day in a three-wide shotgun featuring The Biggest Boy at H-back. He featured on this play that I still find hilarious almost a week later:
Odell Miller is listed at 270 on the roster and that is a lie, a lie, a lie. Harbaugh had to admire WMU running out a nose tackle as an offensive skill position player.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: With Marshall out, Carlo Kemp got the start and did well. Rest of the DL rotation was similar to the first game, with Bryan Mone getting even more snaps because of the Solomon injury and the reduction in 3-3-5 snaps. Paye and Hutchinson semi-frequently spotted Gary and Winovich, with Rueben Jones getting a little time late. Donovan Jeter got some late snaps as well. Dwumfour rotated in semi-frequently but was a clear backup to Kemp and not in a platoon.
LB level was Hudson and Bush for every snap and a rotation of Gil and Ross at WLB, with a slight Ross bias. Jordan Glasgow and Jordan Anthony were the late replacements for Hudson and Bush. The usual CB rotation between the three guys, with Watson being more prominent than the other two—a change. Kinnel omnipresent; Metellus got pulled for Hawkins after his personal foul and somewhat frequently after that.
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FORMATION NOTES: Notre Dame was 90% shotgun/pistol with a tight end, with occasional forays under center to do something throwback-related. Michigan was split almost evenly between their 4-2-5 and a 3-3-5. FWIW, unless Michigan lined up without a true zero tech nose in the 3-3-5 I called it a stack even if the LBs were running around doing things. Depending on how dogmatic you want to be this is incorrect nomenclature. Example:
So that doesn't feel like a 3-4 since the DEs are real edge DEs spread out over the edge but the LBs are not, you know, stacked. This was distinguished from "nickel split," which was a pass rush defense where Bush would nominally fill at DT spot.
There were three snaps on which Michigan had two ILBs out there with Furbush.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: A lot of rotation. Winovich and Gary got most of the snaps at DE but both Kwity Paye and Aidan Hutchinson got a drive or two worth. It was about the same ratio at DT with Marshall and Mone as starters and Dwumfour and Solomon backing up. Dwumfour got more run that Solomon; Kemp got a few snaps.
At LB Hudson and Bush were nearly omnipresent. Hudson was lifted for a few snaps where Michigan had three actual LBs on the field but was otherwise a constant presence. Bush had some cramps that knocked him out for a while. During those periods both Josh Ross and Devin Gil were on the field; they otherwise split snaps at WLB, with Ross seeming to have a slight edge. Josh Uche and Noah Furbush got scattered snaps.
In the secondary, Kinnel omnipresent. Metellus went out early with the targeting call. Hawkins got most of that work with J'Marick Woods getting a drive or two worth of snaps. Hill, Long, and Watson absorbed almost all the CB snaps. Thomas got in for a few. Maybe one?
Ah so it's this bit again. The bit where some people pick up on a factoid and yell about it a lot and other people yell at them about it. The bit where everyone's mad and trying to take it out on someone.
I mean, I get it. Any properly scientific assessment of which football program it is the least fun to be a fan of will find a way to exclude Kansas for not actually being a football program and stick Michigan at the top. Nobody got into this to fight about the level of doomed we are every 3-4 years, never beat anyone of consequence, etc.
But I don't want to do it again. I've done this three times before, once per coaching era this blog has seen the end of, and I've done all the stuff already: preaching patience, gallows humor, being legitimately angry, calling for various heads, writing about mattresses. I don't really feel like doing it all over again. I don't care to evaluate the precise moment at which a person should be fired, or to point out that people are being ridiculous for wanting a person to be fired, or to create big lists of the next person to get fired. Neither do I want to sagely counsel the fanbase from the Tower Of Reasonability. This is not content it feels worthwhile to produce.
If you're mad, fine. If you're mad at the people who are mad, fine. I'm not going to argue with you.
Let's talk about the
BLACK PIT of NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS
The BPONE is a state of mind in which no part of a football game is enjoyable because it is merely a prelude to some pratfall made more embarrassing and or painful by whatever minimal, temporary successes are experienced prior to the pratfall. Thus a kick return touchdown—that rarest butterfly, one the game is steadily trying to erase—during which your author's only reaction was internal and, I quote, "whoop-de-damn-do."
Going down 14-0 more or less immediately by blowing coverages on third down, getting beat over the top by battleship WRs, and having a shoulda-been interception ripped away by a 5'10" guy immediately puts you in the pit. The general shape of the offense provides a steady stream of pit reinforcement, to the point where my Twitter timeline's reaction to Michigan providing a vague sense of hope at the end of the game was "I hate myself for having this hope." This feeling of cynical dread was vindicated by the sack/strip that had to have been coming and did indeed come.
The more time one spends in the BPONE, the more permeable its membrane. Last year large swathes of the Michigan fanbase descended into it after Michigan had an extra point blocked. At the time Michigan led 20-14. Scoring the rest of the way was 17-0 Ohio State. When entering the BPONE is clearly a good choice, future opportunities to mitigate emotional harm by being miserable in the present are more likely to be taken.
The flaw in BPONE operations is of course the impossibility of mining any enjoyment out of your experience. BPONE sufferers assume a football game is a negative emotional event and spread those negative emotions out more broadly. Only if the team should actually come back and win will any regret be felt, and pffffffffft. I'm in the pit, baby! I know for a stone cold fact that a punt snap will somehow lodge itself in the facemask of the punter. I feel it in my bones that the one time we jump a route in this game the ensuing interception will bang off the defensive back's hands and lodge itself in the facemask of the opposition 50 yards downfield.
Tweeting from the BPONE is inadvisable and very, very difficult to avoid.
Sickens me that you went to u of m and you got the nerve to throw a tweet up like this. When they turn it around which they will. Don’t be the one trying to say you knew they would from the jump. IDGAF what you did a Michigan, these guys don’t deserve that neither does the team! pic.twitter.com/UNgWwHiLRf
Checking your mentions will significantly deepen the pit and is likely to lead to BPONE-influenced tweeting, which is inadvisable. In fact, communicating in any form from the BPONE is inadvisable.
Alcohol will not improve anything but will be consumed in quantity anyway.
At some point repeated defeats will create an OMINPRESENT BLACK PIT of NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS. OBPONE is a severe condition with consequences such as writer's block, writer's block, and writer's block. The only cure for OBPONE is a new season, but yo-yo-ing in and out of OBPONE makes individual occurrences of BPONE more severe.
Escaping this cycle of cynicism and recrimination requires John Beilein, who is not available for football purposes.
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?
THREE-TECH: TOOT-TOOT HERE COMES THE NO PRESSURE EXPRESS
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.”
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:
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]
[Ed. A—Pick your poison if you’re wondering why there aren’t any MGoQuestions: is it the GI bug that has kept me up and…uh, occupied since 4 AM, or is it that my wife could go into labor at any time? I’ll be back at Schembechler Hall as soon as I can. Thanks to MGoFriend Isaiah Hole for the video.]
Do you have the deepest position?
“Well, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know, we haven’t looked at it. I think the linebackers got some good depth, some good talent. I think there’s some good young kids all over that defense that are working to make the depth that we need.
“But up front, you know we want to always have enough depth to be able to rotate, and really, that’s what the spring is for us. We want our first group to get better and come out every practice to get better, and guys behind them gotta earn the right so that you say, ‘Okay, when we get in games, this guy can go in right now. I think you’re getting that. I think you’re seeing that.”
Who’s starting to earn that right?
“Well, Kwity Paye is having a really, really good spring. Michael Dwumfour, I think, is having one of the best springs that I can remember. I mean, he’s really playing hard, and Aubrey’s [Solomon] playing hard, and Carlo, Carlo Kemp every day comes out an gets a little better, and he’s playing a couple positions. I think we’ve got a number of kids that are doing good to try and get that first group [to] feel like they’re there.”
What distinguishes Dwumfour?
“Dwumfour, it’s been he’s so quick off the football. He has a lot of Mo Hurst in him. There’s times when you see him come off the ball and you just go, ‘Whoa, that’s really good,’ and he’s a little bit thicker and a little bit bigger.
“The other thing, it’s probably Rashan [Gary] and Chase [Winovich] and Bryan Mone’s leadership that have really gotten him to step up. He’s always shown flashes, but now all of a sudden he’s getting more mature. Times when he’d play really good, really good, really good, and then all of a sudden try to take a play off or he wasn’t ready to take that next play. He’s not doing that now. He’s pushing himself way past where he usually would, and that’s a real good sign for us.”
[After THE JUMP, a 275-pound man is referred to as “little Phillip.” Football!]
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Of this I assure you.
FORMATION NOTES. Nothing that unusual from Michigan, which alternated between one and two high, with a focus on one-high, and played most of the game in their 3-3-5. Penn State was a 3-wide shotgun literally the whole game, with occasional forays into empty or four-wide with the same personnel.
And then of course what I called the Sa-Gun, because I am a clever boy.
This was a gimmick that didn't really work but sort of did?
SUBSTITUTION NOTES. A lot more rotation on the DL in this game as Michigan either got tired or looked for answers. Kwity Paye got a significant amount of time; Winovich got pulled after a late hit for a bit and then he got some second-half run. Mone had some early struggles and Dwumfour was tried out; that didn't work much better. Solomon got some scattered snaps; Kemp saw a number in Gary's place.
The CB rotation was the same; I don't think Thomas got in on D. Glasgow got at least one snap for reasons unknown; otherwise it was the starting safeties the whole way. Bush, Furbush, and McCray got all available LB snaps. Hudson was the only viper.
[After THE JUMP: a slightly different outcome than we are used to.]