First Look: 2017 Defense

First Look: 2017 Defense Comment Count

Brian January 13th, 2017 at 12:37 PM

DEPARTURES IN ORDER OF SIGNIFICANCE.

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[Paul Sherman]

  1. CB Jourdan Lewis. Two-time All-American has case for second-best cover corner in school history. Various excellent stats, none better than this: over his last two years throwing it in the dirt and throwing at Jourdan Lewis were equally productive in terms of QB rating.
  2. DE Taco Charlton. Rampant in the second half of the season against both run and pass and destined for the first round of the draft. Charlton was the rare WDE to play at 280 pounds and gave Michigan's run defense oomph it will miss even if his replacement keeps up the pass rush productivity.
  3. SAM Jabrill Peppers. Massively overrated nonentity will be mysteriously drafted in first round this April and have decade-long NFL career. Absence in bowl game went completely unnoticed and did not pave the way for almost all of Dalvin Cook's yards.
  4. NT Ryan Glasgow. Robot Viking finally started getting appropriately rated as a senior, when he was again an excellent penetrator and disruptor of all things run and pass.
  5. SDE Chris Wormley. TE obliterator and utterly steady; maybe a hair less than explosive. Pass rush not a huge strength, but that went unnoticed since everyone else was picking QB out of their teeth. Elite run defender capable of playing inside or out.
  6. CB Channing Stribling. Outstanding year in coverage; if he was any easier to hit with a completion than Lewis it was a narrow thing indeed. Run support an Area For Improvement, as they say. Should still go early in the NFL draft, as he's a legit 6-foot.
  7. Safeties Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas. Close to interchangeable, so addressed together: capable of deep zones and slot coverage, these two kept Jabrill Peppers out of coverage almost all year. Tremendous luxury to be able to do that and flip 'em on motion. Thomas did bust a few times for big plays (most prominently against UCF and FSU), but as safety tandems go this might be tops in recent Michigan history.
  8. ILB Ben Gedeon. Sideline to sideline ILB who couldn't carry wheel routes downfield. Consistent tackler who showed up in the right spot almost every time; took on blocks with aplomb and shed them with authority. Lack of playing time early in career got more inexplicable every game.
  9. DT Matt Godin. Played well enough early in the season, when Hurst was laid up with a minor injury, to maintain that status for the duration. Was solid in his role; provided little pass rush but effective run defender. Least productive rotation DL by some distance but still meaningfully positive per PFF.

WHAT'S LEFT

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get in his belly [Fuller]

  1. DT Maurice Hurst. Technically not a starter but whatever man. Per PFF, the most productive interior pass rusher in the nation. Huge grades to both them and this sites UFR; with serious uptick in snaps should have breakout senior year and contend for AA status.
  2. ILB Mike McCray. Resurrected career after long-term injury threatened it and was about 80% revelation. Superior blitzer, tough customer on the inside. Struggled to contain edge runs for much of the year; late improvement in that department.
  3. CB Jeremy Clark. Injured in game four and Michigan will try to get a sixth year for him. If that comes through Clark is a bolt of experience in a secondary that will otherwise have almost none. Lost his starting job to Stribling but started anyway since Lewis was out for the first three games; has a year of solid starts under his belt and should be a draftable guy.
  4. DE Rashan Gary. Snaps limited by guys in front of him; impressive and productive when he did get on the field. Physical potential limitless, and should take The Leap as a sophomore.
  5. DE Chase Winovich. Crazy productive pass rusher who'd show up for a handful of snaps in big-time games and come away with a sack anyway. Per PFF had 27 pressure events in 277 snaps, which is almost precisely the same rate at which Charlton racked them up. Run D occasionally wobbly. Potential breakout player.
  6. DT Bryan Mone. Second straight injury-plagued year. As a result barely got over the 100-snap threshold that we're using to distinguish "new" from "what's left." Struggled when he did get snaps much of the year, hopefully because he was not 100%. Flashed ability against OSU.
  7. FS Tyree Kinnel. Promising safety candidate was dimeback for much of the year and did well in that role. Had a couple of Kovacsian TFLs where he'd fly up from outside the picture to kill a guy dead. Coverage, which was reputed to be a strength when he was a recruit, didn't get tested.
  8. CB Brandon Watson. Nickel corner was beat with some regularity when tested. Doesn't seem to have much upside.

WHAT'S NEW, OR CLOSE ENOUGH, ANYWAY

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dread level: rising [Patrick Barron]

Everything! Almost everything, anyway. The DL has some guys who have established a certain level of performance, to the point where only one of them is even sort of "new," that a redshirt junior who would be old except for terrible injury luck. 

Dudes flanking McCray. Devin Bush figures to draw into the starting lineup next to McCray since he was the clear #3 ILB last year. That should push the bulkier McCray to MLB and give Bush WLB. Hopefully that would allow McCray to focus more on getting vertical instead of lateral. Bush is very much a spread ILB.

Meanwhile at SAM/Viper(!!!), many different things could happen. Josh Metellus and Jordan Glasgow got Don Brown praise for their work at Viper(!!!) during bowl practices; Noah Furbush is a more traditional LB option at the spot; Khaleke Hudson still seems like a perfect fit as an emphatically box safety; if Michigan can get Willie Gay, recruiting types report that he is an instant impact player.

Either all of the secondary or all but one guy in the secondary. Michigan has a ton of cornerback talent pushing through at a spot where you can get by decently on athleticism. Safety has guys with scattered snaps a year ago and really needs a couple of players to come through.

WHAT'S ROD STEWART 1977

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omar comin' [Fuller]

Still the defensive line. Michigan graduates all four starters but this is very much a reload situation, not a rebuild. Michigan figures to start:

  • Maurice Hurst, who produced just as much as last year's top starters in 60-70% of their snaps. He is going to be elite.
  • Rashan Gary, who was +13 in about 300 snaps as a true freshman and is a holy lock to be real good as the #1 recruit in the country.
  • Chase Winovich, who would be coming off a double-digit sack season if he had as many snaps as Charlton, in his first year as a WDE.
  • Bryan Mone, who had a series of injury struggles the last two years but flashed his ability on a critical third and short stop against the Buckeyes.

Those guys are very much in contention for the best line in the conference.

Probably cornerback? If Michigan gets Clark back that's a veteran who will be of interest to the NFL as a Sherman-type jumbo CB; I thought he was a B+ guy in 2015 and should get better if allowed to return. Surely Michigan can find Lewis 2.0 from the pile of recruits in shiny wrapping paper they've accumulated.

Don Dang Brown. Brown lived up to the hype and then some. Michigan LBs totaled 43 TFLs as he solved problems with aggression; Michigan is at or near the top of any defensive metric you care to look at. While the copious talent had a lot to do with that, those guys were around last year and Brown still just about halved S&P+'s expected points allowed metric from 13.7 to 7.7.

While there's going to be some regression, Brown's defenses tend to take a year before kicking in to high gear. Increased familiarity with the system should help mitigate the personnel losses.

WHAT'S ROD STEWART 2017

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Is Kemp ready to play? Is anyone? [Fuller]

Defensive line depth. Seven different guys saw 250+ snaps last year, with Bryan Mone getting 117 of his own. Four of those guys are gone. There is a shortage of gentlemen ready to step in. This site constantly says that nose tackle is a spot with two starters. Starter #2 at NT is...?

DE is probably fine. Between Reuben Jones, Carlo Kemp, Lawrence Marshall, and Ron Johnson Michigan can find a couple guys to spell the starters. The only DT on the roster other than the projected starters is Mike Dwumfour, a middling three star coming off an injury redshirt. Michigan's bringing in a ton of DT types in this recruiting class but even if they get a top guy like Jay Tufele or Aubrey Solomon, relying on a true freshman in the two deep is alarming. Michigan might have no choice but to move Gary to DT.

Going from Peppers to Not Peppers. The silver lining of his absence almost certainly costing Michigan the Orange Bowl is that I don't have to spend much time explaining why Peppers's departure will be costly. Yes, he tended to go on a ride when he got blocked. Michigan was delighted to take that tradeoff if it meant that you could not outrun Michigan's front seven with Usain Bolt.

WHAT'S HEISENBERG ROD STEWART UNCERTAINTY

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[Eric Upchurch]

Safety. You know, I'm almost sanguine about safety these days. After a solid decade of safeties topping out at "eh, he hasn't set his head on fire" and frequently dipping into "welp, he set his head on fire again," Michigan's on a run of guys who are actual positives. It is at this moment that we must have maximum vigilance, for this is when Angry Michigan Safety Hating God loves to strike. 

Michigan clearly likes Kinnel. Unfortunately they have few alternatives; it looks like both Hudson and Metellus are tracking towards hits, but are both of those guys box safeties who you don't want to see in deep coverage? I dunno. Mental issues for a couple of true sophomores could pop up as well.

Outside linebackering. Bush will probably be at least all right and could verge on good by the end of the season.  SAM/Viper(!!!) could see just about any level of performance and it wouldn't be much of a surprise.

MANDATORY WILD ASS GUESS

What looks like another excellent starting DL and cornerbacks that should pick up the departed's mantle without too much trouble is a good baseline to work from. And while the unit is going to be young—just three seniors are currently projected in the starting lineup—it isn't going to be troublingly so. The only spots at which freshmen are likely to contend are backup DT and maybe somewhere in the secondary.

So while they aren't going to be this year's outfit, which was neck and neck with Alabama for the nation's best, neither are they going to drop off to average. Unfortunately, this is not a fully Harbaugh-ized program so there are some sore spots at which one injury could radically reshape the outlook—someone please wrap the DL starters in cotton until fall—so I reserve the right to repeal the prediction if the wrong guy goes down, but this should be a top 15 S&P+ defense and top 20-ish in YPP and the like.

Comments

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Indiana Comment Count

Brian November 23rd, 2016 at 1:01 PM

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SPONSOR NOTES: Yeah man, rate hike. Rate hikes are bad for you unless you get in before them, which you should. I know rate hikes are like streetcars and seem hopelessly outdated, but it could be a thing.

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: By far Michigan's most common approach:

image

4-3 even with Peppers as a SAM; press coverage with one high safety. Very, very Durkin. Remains to be seen if they maintain this with a running QB threat. Survey says "no": against most spread teams they've been two high, with one of those guys inserting in the box unpredictably.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: More rotation this week after things got very constricted against Iowa. Charlton led all DL with 58 of 67 snaps. Wormley and Glasgow got 47 and 45; Hurst and Godin got slightly over 30 each; Gary and Mone got around 20; Winovich got 10.

Gedeon, McCray, Peppers, and Stribling did not leave the field. PFF has Jourdan Lewis out for two snaps, but I don't remember what those snaps were; Hill and Thomas both lost a couple snaps to Kinnel, who got 7. There were rumors we'd see more of a few different players; he was the only one to even get on the field.

Brandon Watson was the only other player to appear; he got three snaps.

[After THE JUMP: the usual, and then snow]

Comments

Monday Presser 11-21-16: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 11-21-16: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 21st, 2016 at 3:19 PM

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[Bryan Fuller]

Dymonte Thomas the last couple games has made some big plays for you. Talk about what he’s given you on the field?

“He’s always given solid play, and lately big hits, momentum-changing plays. He’s a very good player. Always has been consistently good.”

You’re going to a place where they really don’t know what to make of you down there. Some people say you’re crazy like a fox, some people say you’re just crazy, but they all say you’re progressive. Could you describe who you are to Ohioans?

“Not crazy. Wouldn’t describe myself as that.”
Anything beyond that?

“No. I mean, I don’t know that my personality really, how relevant that will be to the ballgame this week. Probably irrelevant.”

Is there anything unique about competing against Urban Meyer, whether it’s on the field or recruiting or anywhere else you come up against each other?

“Unique in that it’s at the highest level.”

How so?

“In terms of competition on the field or recruiting, everything’s at the highest level. Competition’s at the highest level.”

Can you update us on Wilton Speight’s condition, and do you expect him to play?

“No, I do not have an update today. Hasn’t been evaluated today.”

[After THE JUMP: Harbaugh waxes poetic about Peppers, lists all the cities he lived in as a kid, and explains why love for his children and football can’t be accurately expressed with a pie chart]

Comments

Everywhere And Nowhere At All

Everywhere And Nowhere At All Comment Count

Brian November 21st, 2016 at 1:05 PM

11/19/2016 – Michigan 20, Indiana 10 – 10-1, 7-1 Big Ten

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[Bryan Fuller]

When Midwestern Football Weather looms, there is only one priority for the experienced fan: please, not sleet. The heavens can aim at my head with golf-ball-sized hail as long as the precipitation is of the form that can be dodged or shaken off. The icy needle stuff that penetrates anything short of a spaceship hull is decidedly not preferred.

That's what we got in 2008, figuratively and literally. The infamous Fandom Endurance III game against Northwestern that sent Michigan to 3-7, guaranteeing no bowl bid for the first time in 40-some years, was played in a driving sleet that is bar-none the worst weather I've ever experienced at a game. I imagine the only competition available is that Purdue game from the 90s that ended 5-0; I was not present.

At halftime of 2008 Northwestern the sleet sent me to the concourse in the hope the pretzel machines could restore some feeling to my hands. They could not. And yet:

This is how weird it's been of late: as I huddled near a pretzel contraption at halftime of a game between 3-7 Michigan and Northwestern, soaked, frozen, pondering the grim futility of all things, I discovered that I was sort of enjoying this. Yeah, sure, you had to peel back layer upon layer of misery to get to the morbidly sunny core. But it was there.

That column is staggeringly old now, especially for Michigan fans who aged in dog years during the RichRod era and in you-chose-the-wrong-grail years during the Hoke/Brandon double-barrel fiasco. By the stuttering end of Hoke's tenure I was referencing that column only to repudiate it, my goodwill stripped to the bone and pecked at by Brandon in case there was any seat-cushion related morsel he could take from me and give to himself.

--------------------------

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[Eric Upchurch]

I don't know what's going to happen Saturday. John O'Korn didn't look like a quarterback who could win against OHIO STATE, but Ohio State didn't look like the all-caps version of themselves in a one-point win over Michigan State, or a four-point win over Northwestern, or a loss to Penn State. I don't know if John O'Korn is even going to play.

Having an Ohio State game hanging by a thread because of a quarterback problem is frustratingly familiar turf. Denard Robinson and Chad Henne literally could not throw their senior years; Devin Gardner played most of an OSU game on a broken foot; Drew Henson didn't even bother to play his senior season. It is brutal to have this defense and not know if they're going to have a chance because of yet another backup quarterback throwing a spanner in well-laid plans.

I spent large portions of that game playing Ohio State in my head. I've been doing this since the end of the Wisconsin game, to be honest. I didn't like the results much, but I suppose neither did the sliver of the OSU fanbase capable of complex thought after the Buckeyes got outgained by 3-8 MSU.

I think about ten years ago, and how seismic that felt. It felt like the world would rise or fall based on the result of one goddamn game, and how that was right. And Saturday, and ugh, and can we get this over with.

Then the heavens opened up.

-----------------------------

What people with no experience of winter fail to understand is its capacity for sheer beauty. Saturday's transient blizzard turned a football game into a kaleidoscope of lacy geometries. The individual flakes traced whorls across the sky, each brilliantly lit. As they began to stick the stadium brightened, and brightened, until it was glowing. Light bounced from white to white until it seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once.

I forgot about Speight's shoulder, and the looming nausea machine this weekend, and Twitter, and even the fucking red hat TV timeout guy. What looked dim from the outside was brilliant as mid-day on the interior. It is something I will not forget.

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[Fuller]

110,000 people felt that same lift. Maybe they weren't thinking quite as far back in the sleety past as I was, but they knew the difference between then, and now. Someone started chanting "BEAT OHIO," and thousands more took it up, as Michigan marched out a victory lit by a sun of a their own devising.

One game to change it all. Saturday.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Full suite from MGoVideo.

AWARDS

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[Upchurch]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

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

#1 De'Veon Smith had more than half of Michigan's yards and more or less produced all their points. On one particular short yardage run he ran directly over safety Tony Fields, causing him to eject an object that was either his mouthpiece, tooth, or soul. Fields kept coming, and Smith kept turning him into mulch.

#2 Taco Charlton collected 2.5 TFLs and created several more by driving his man deep into the backfield. He has been virtually unstoppable as a pass rusher; this was his best outing against the run. And now his ankle's 100%. Look out, world.

#3 Jourdan Lewis had three pass breakups and only gave up one of the two completions he ceded because it was in a blizzard and he was giving up ten yards on purpose. He had a couple of important PBUs on third down slants that booted Indiana off the field.

Honorable mention: Channing Stribling gave up one completion for 20 yards or so but had his share of PBUs and solid coverage; Ryan Glasgow was an interior terror; the offensive line in general blew up what had been a very good rush defense. Dymonte Thomas had an impressive thunk to prevent a drag route from converting a third down and had one of those PBUs where I have to check to make sure that he's not Lewis.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland)
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
7: Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland, #2 Iowa, #2 Indiana).
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).
3.5: De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU, #1 Indiana).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers), 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).
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.

De'Veon Smith stakes Michigan to a lead that felt much larger than three points.

Also, shirtless men.

Honorable mention: O'Korn scrambles for 30 yards; Smith extends the lead to 10.

WGIBTUs Past.

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.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Indiana goes on a Legitimate Drive in the middle of the second quarter and takes the lead at a point where you're wondering if Michigan can actually score a touchdown of their own.

Honorable mention: Various O'Korn things; the back-to-back-to-back ludicrous catches to set up an Indiana FG.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

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.

[After THE JUMP: Quarterback fussin'.]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Maryland

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Maryland Comment Count

Brian November 11th, 2016 at 1:04 PM

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SPONSOR NOTES: A gentleman named Matt passes this along:

Just picked up the UFR and saw your note about non-astroturfed comments. 

I'd like to add another - I just  bought a house using Homesure as our lender (because of a bad experience with our previous lender and the adds on the blog, of course).   Matt and his crew (Amy and Gina) were supremely professional, knowledgeable and effective.  

Without exaggeration: every other real-estate professional related to the sale of our old house and the purchase of our new house dropped the ball somewhere (losing documents, failing to transcribe information, etc...) - and Matt & Co. were there to bail them out at each turn.  This iteration of house buying was shockingly easy, and it was due in great part to Matt's expertise, acumen, and responsiveness.

'Thank you' to you and your fellow bloggists for turning my wife and I on to his company.

This guy said bloggists so you know he's a real person.

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: Maryland was mostly a rote spread team; they did spend a big chunk of the day in this Rich-Rod-esque super wide formation. There are two WRs barely on-screen to the bottom, and you can see the two guys lined up outside the numbers.

double stacks wide

This was an effort to clear the box and limit the things Michigan could do; it was reasonably successful.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: 60 snaps before Maryland's final uncharted drive, and as per usual the starting secondary—including Peppers—got all 60. Gedeon missed one snap.

After that there was a lot of rotation. Mike McCray only got 36 snaps due to a minor injury and some iffy play; Devin Bush got 28 in his stead. Michigan eased off first team DL snaps: Charlton, Glasgow, Wormley, Hurst, Mone, and Godin all got between a third and a half of available snaps; Winovich was your DL leader with 40 and Rashan Gary was close behind with 36.

One item of note in the secondary: Lavert Hill got 17 snaps, more than Watson(14) and that competition appears to be on. Kinnel, Metellus, and Hudson all got around ten snaps, with Kinnel the guy getting PT during non-garbage time, insofar as that existed in this game.

[After THE JUMP: edge edge edge edge edge edge.]

Comments

Wednesday Presser 10-26-16: Don Brown

Wednesday Presser 10-26-16: Don Brown Comment Count

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

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[Fuller/MGoBlog]

“How’s it goin’? Lousy out there, eh? It’s that fall football weather. I love it.”

You’ve got to be pretty pleased with where things are right now with this defense.

“You know, it’s been a good seven weeks. Going through some learning curves and not everything’s perfect. You kind of ride the wave. You know, we had three bad plays last week. [mimics shooting self in neck] Bmmf. Not a good thing. You don’t want to give up any.

“We didn’t do a good job fitting up one of the runs on the long zone, and we let #5 out. Obviously two pass plays. They got Ben Gedeon matched up with #11, who’s a very good player. So whoever arranged that matchup for us is an idiot. It happens to be me. We’re hoping—it’s one of those scenarios where you’re in one of your zone blitzes and you’re anticipating getting there; through protection they did a good job getting it picked up a little bit. And then obviously I’d have liked to see us play that ball a little better in the endzone, but it is what it is and we move on.

“Again, nobody’s perfect. We’ve got some work to do. Helpful we brought a bunch of guys. But at the same time, I thought they did a good job of saying on third down, let’s get into vacant and get the ball out. But at the end of the day, they threw the ball 15 times, we had one sack and seven quarterback knockdowns, and six of ‘em weren’t very friendly so it takes its toll and it impacts the completion percentage for sure. Once again, we got off the field on third down about as well as you can.”

You mentioned letting #5 out. You had a #5 that chased him down. Can you talk about the effort on that kind of play?

“Yeah, you know, and it’s funny. It’s a great pickup by you. We talked about it yesterday in our defensive meeting. Sometimes those kinds of things happen, and when they do, you’ve got to go run ‘em down and start all over again, and we were able to get that done and then get off the field with no points. So, huge play by our #5. And again, he’s coming from the backside, so that’s all effort and energy right there to get there, but it’s a great point.

“We were in a five-man pressure, and like I tell them, if we give up something in a five-man pressure, guess what? The next play I guarantee you will be a five-man pressure, so you might as well just get used to that because we’re not going to back off. We’re not going to go, ‘Oh, that didn’t work!’ We’re just not going to do that.

“Great job on his part. I thought he played really well during the course of the game. We bounced him around pretty good positionally and he just continues to—it’s like I said the last time, we ask him to do a lot. Just proud of the way he’s been able to handle concepts. Obviously he’s doing a lot of jobs on a lot of sides of the ball, so it’s pretty interesting.”

[After THE JUMP: …about 20 years ago I used to say, ‘Will you just be a guy!’ As times have gotten modern…]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Illinois

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Illinois Comment Count

Brian October 26th, 2016 at 3:15 PM

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SPONSOR NOTES: I was struck when we were hanging out at the Bo Store that it was very cool that some of our main sponsors were very much like us: small businesses in the Michigan community run by guys who are just dudes, you know? I like to think that UGP and Homesure are the MGoBlogs of their respective fields: small, detailed, involved, pantsless.

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: Michigan ran a ton of their dime package, almost half their snaps. Included were a bunch of exotics, like this thing where the line slides way one direction and McCray ends up a standup end:

3-3 line slide

3-3 line slide, I said, because I guess?

Meanwhile this was 3-3 standup DT:

split line standup DT

Illinois ran at McCray and picked up 17 yards.

Meanwhile I titled this "ugh what is this" and don't remember if I called it anything in particular. Brown's defense quickly outstrips the reader's tolerance for formation detail.

ugh what is this

Bleah! I mean, hooray! But also bleah.

SUBTITUTION NOTES: The frequency of three-man lines and general dearth of snaps (just 42 on defense)  led to some absurdly low snap totals for the DL. Charlton led the way with 30; Glasgow, Wormley, Hurst, and Gary were around 20; Godin, Winovich, and Mone were around 13.

Gedeon and Peppers played every snap; McCray missed a few with an injury and was replaced by Devin Bush. Stribling, Peppers, Hill, and Thomas did not come off the field; Lewis was lifted at the very end. Extra DB snaps were scattered between Lavert Hill, Kinnel, Metellus, and Watson. Kinnel probably would have gotten 20 snaps if he didn't go out injured just before the half.

[After THE JUMP: if this is short it's not my fault.]

Comments

Illinois Postgame Presser: Players

Illinois Postgame Presser: Players Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 24th, 2016 at 11:04 AM

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[Fuller/MGoBlog]

Dymonte Thomas, De’Veon Smith, Wilton Speight

Wilton, a little bit sloppy there in the second half, would you say, and were you a little bit disappointed with that? Not you, but the team.

“Yeah, it starts with me, but yeah, it’s obviously something we need to look at on film and figure out how to not come out with a three-and-out or a turnover here and there and not give the opponent any sense of life. We’ll learn from that and build on that.”

Dymonte, what was going through your mind as you had that interception at the end of the first half?

“First thing that went through my mind is it’s about time. I knew that my teammates—every day they make fun of me: ‘Dymonte, you can’t catch. You don’t have no hands.’ So, after I caught that interception they all said, ‘You know what? I’m gonna let you breathe. I’m gonna let you go. About time you caught it.’ It’s an exciting feeling. I was pretty happy, pretty pumped.”

Dymonte, your team held Illinois without a passing yard in the first half. What was key in doing that, especially against an inexperienced quarterback.

“We just knew we had to bring pressure. He was getting the ball out pretty quick, pretty fast, and we knew that. We just had to tighten up on our coverage and we knew some of the things, their tendencies, on third down they were going to do, short-yardage game. We just made sure that we kept that in perspective and played tight defense and allowed our defensive linemen and linebackers to blitz and create opportunities for us.”

Wilton, I know some of you guys had time off last week, but for you specifically, was there one thing you tried to work on last week or that you wanted to get better at going into the second half here?

“Yeah. So, I watched all of the six games, every snap, and just took a lot of notes on what glaringly needed to be better and also little things. So being able to throw with guys like Grant [Perry], Jehu [Chesson], in our time off—you know, we didn’t have the couple hour practice with pads on and everything but we were still able to go out there like we did this summer and throw certain routes. I just wanted to focus on—I can make every throw, in my opinion, but sometimes I was short on passes or when a guy was open I’d miss him. That’s what I wanted to focus on the second half of the season was eliminating that.”

[More after THE JUMP]

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Michigan 41, Illinois 8

Michigan 41, Illinois 8 Comment Count

Ace October 22nd, 2016 at 7:45 PM


Karan Higdon rushed for 106 yards on eight carries. [Bryan Fuller]

We're running out of nitpicks.

Michigan dominated another overmatched foe, outgaining Illinois 561-172, and in the aftermath there was very little to complain about.

Even the Rutgers game featured a slow start from the offense. That did not happen today, as Jim Harbaugh utilized a dizzying array of formations, personnel, and misdirection to conduct a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Jake Butt finished it off with a screamingly open three-yard touchdown out of the now-legendary "Train" pre-snap look.

Wilton Speight had been a culprit in those previous slow starts, and generally shaky over the last few weeks. Today, he was as sharp as he's been all year, connecting on 16-of-23 passes for 253 yards. He was responsible for the first two touchdowns, the short toss to Butt and a play-action strike to Tyrone Wheatley Jr. from 21 yards out. Neither was his best throw of the day; that would be a 30-yard post route to Amara Darboh he fit between multiple defenders. His numbers could've been even better if a couple close-call deep balls had been hauled in.

"I think Wilton Speight may have had one of his best games of the year," said Jim Harbaugh. "Whether we were going into the wind, with the wind. He was throwing that intermediate, deep stuff—those 30-, 40-yard throws—just on the money."

Speight mentioned that he'd spent the bye week poring over film from the first six games in order to correct mistakes. The hard work showed in his play.

Michigan had a surprise reshuffling of the offensive line, replacing Juwann Bushell-Beatty at left tackle with Ben Braden and moving Ben Bredeson into the lineup at left guard. While Braden got beat for a sack—on a play in which Speight was partially culpable for holding onto the ball too long—the pass protection was generally good, and the run game flourished.

Even with ample garbage-time totes by walk-ons, Michigan averaged five yards per non-sack carry. Karan Higdon led the way with 106 yards on only eight carries, including a weaving 45-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to cap the day's scoring.

"His acceleration, his vision, everything is improving," Harbaugh said. "When he gets to the second level he's got a really good gear to him."


Michigan only had one sack but Jeff George Jr. was under siege. [Eric Upchurch]

Facing third-string walk-on Jeff George Jr., the defense was nearly as dominant as they were against Rutgers. George went 0-for-7 in the first half with an interception when Dymonte Thomas jumped a screen pass one play after Michigan's first failed offensive drive.

"It's about time," Thomas said. This was his first career interception, and apparently the rest of the defense had been rather critical of his hands.

Malik Turner accounted for 86 yards and a touchdown on two catches, both after the game was well in hand. Those two plays accounted for precisely half of the Illini yardage. Turner capitalized on a mismatch with Ben Gedeon on the first. On the touchdown, Delano Hill misplayed a hopeful heave by George to allow Turner to come down with it.

Even the game's most disappointing drives had positive outcomes. Illinois's first big play, a 45-yard run by Ke'Shawn Vaughn out of the wildcat, ended when Jabrill Peppers sprinted him down from the opposite side of the field. The drive ended with a punt four plays later. On the other side, Michigan had two drives stall in Illinois territory in the third quarter; Kenny Allen salvaged both with 23- and 27-yard field goals, a welcome sight given his recent struggles.

The most significant concerns were injury-related. Chris Evans took a nasty helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked him unconscious on his only carry. Harbaugh said after the game that Evans had recovered relatively well by the time he saw him at halftime, but that's obviously something to monitor heading into next week. Khalid Hill went to the locker room after the third quarter and did not return; there wasn't an update on him after the game. Grant Perry sat out the game with what Harbaugh admitted, after some prying, was a disciplinary issue.

Well, there was one other concern. At the end of his presser, Harbaugh asked whether anyone had seen a replay of the late review—on which Harbaugh challenged the spot on a third-down catch with two minutes left, up 41-8. He was outwardly perplexed as to how the officials could get that call wrong. Michigan, of course, managed to overcome this tragic miscarriage of justice by converting the fourth down on a Bobby Henderson dive, then kneeling out the clock.

Now they're on to Michigan State. It's time to right some more wrongs.

"No question about it," Harbaugh said, responding to a question about whether they'd move on quickly to the MSU game. "Big game. Championship game for our team.  We celebrate all wins, but we'll get on pretty quickly to our next opponent."

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Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Wisconsin

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Wisconsin Comment Count

Brian October 6th, 2016 at 3:31 PM

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SPONSOR NOTES: Also at the Marlin tailgate I met a guy who had refinanced with Matt and was now hanging out with him pregame, because they're buds. I didn't judge. Maybe I judged a little.

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: Michigan spent a lot of time in this formation:

4-3 over press two high

Line is shifted to the TE so that's an over set. Peppers is overhanging the TE. Two deep safeties, press coverage.

They'd also put Peppers inside the end. I called that "4-3 bear".

PERSONNEL NOTES: Wisconsin's manball and constant three and outs caused some shifts in the DL snap distribution. Charlton played every snap—although there were just 53. Wormley and Glasgow were close behind with around 40; Godin and Hurst just about split the other DT spot. Gary (13 snaps), Mone (7), and Winovich(2) rounded out the rotation. Mone's just getting back, obviously; the other two are either freshmen getting their first taste of manball in a game situation or much lighter than alternatives.

The back seven starters never came off the field except for a few dime packages without McCray. Watson(7 snaps) and Kinnel(3) got a little bit of PT on passing downs as extra DBs.

[After THE JUMP: this QB got shook]

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