Upon Further Review 2016: Offense vs Florida

Upon Further Review 2016: Offense vs Florida

Submitted by Brian on July 27th, 2016 at 3:19 PM

HomeSure Logo NMLS-1It lives! When Homesure Lending sponsored these posts, Matt admonished me that his sponsorship was contingent on me actually doing all of them. So, yeah, next time you see him buy him a beer and get a mortgage. Matt just pinged me in case a refi made sense, demonstrating that 1) he's always on the lookout if he can save you money and 2) rates must be even more absurdly low than they were a couple years ago.

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call. (No pants required.)


Formation notes: I'm not sure if we've seen this before at M:

ace trip TE

There are three tight ends to the right side of the formation. "Ace trip TE."

This mess was "tight FB big" and went about how you'd expect:

tight fb big

And this is an example of how Florida spent a big chunk of the first half. Check out the defensive line. That is a huge split between the nose tackle and the defensive end to the bottom of your screen. Michigan had a hard time dealing with it for a couple snaps and then blasted it until UF abandoned it.

under gap

Substitution notes: As expected. Rudock, the starting OL, and the FB/RB corps all went the distance. Smith, Houma, and Johnson were your only RBs—no Higdon, no Isaac. I don't think Newsome got any 6th OL time. WR/TE was all Darboh/Chesson/Perry/Butt/Williams until the game was salted away. Michigan put in Ways and Harris in place of the outside WRs, continued playing Perry, and gave Ian Bunting some run.

[After The JUMP: rather big JUMPS forward for a half-dozen guys.]

Spring Stuff, 2016: Feelingsball and Offense

Spring Stuff, 2016: Feelingsball and Offense

Submitted by Brian on April 4th, 2016 at 1:22 PM

First, a little feelingsball


[Eric Upchurch]

Spring games are notorious for being a little data amidst an ocean of noise, so as always take everything here with a grain of salt. And this section isn't even a concrete observation about a player, so doubly so here. But… my favorite thing that happened on Friday wasn't a play.

It was the aftermath of the two-point conversion, when the white team poured onto the field like they'd just won the Super Bowl and blue team coach Chris Partridge roared off the sideline to have a Harbaugh-level conniption fit at the ref.

A couple other coaches reacted similarly, if not as dramatically, as Partridge; the white team organized at midfield for a photo. Wyatt Shallman headbanged like there was no tomorrow. Drake Johnson collapsed in a heap.

I tweeted to Ace that he should title the recap "Controversial finish mars Spring Game ending,"* because that was funny. It's only funny because it's kind of true.

This is a different thing now. Last year's team was good but it was still caught between being a program that apologizes for a tent stake and a program whose DGAF levels are off the charts. Judging from the reactions of everyone involved on both sides, the all-competition-all-the-time ethos has sunk in. That more than anything else makes me anticipate the upcoming season.

This concludes your feelingsball portion of the program.

*[He did not, and I was all like ಠ_ಠ.]


[After THE JUMP: position by position breakdowns of what we learned on offense]

Spring Game Standouts: QBs, Isaac, Kinnel, Shallman's Hair

Spring Game Standouts: QBs, Isaac, Kinnel, Shallman's Hair

Submitted by Ace on April 1st, 2016 at 9:07 PM

I guess I need to include a SPOILER ALERT for those who weren't able to watch the live stream. If for some reason you want the ending of the Spring Game to be a mystery, and yet you still are on this blog, stop reading now. The full game re-airs at 9:30 on BTN.

Ty Isaac had the best night among the RBs. [Eric Upchurch]

The Maize team prevailed, 14-13, after a stunningly exciting finish for a Spring Game. After John O'Korn juked Mike McCray to cap off an impressive last-gasp drive for the Blue team, but the Maize defense stuffed a fullback dive by Henry Poggi on the ensuing two-point attempt to preserve victory. Your player of the game is Wyatt Shallman. I require no further justification than this:

I won't bother with a full recap, because SPRING GAME, but here are a few players on each side of the ball that stood out to me on first viewing—it was tough to follow line play from the box, so this is mostly going to focus on the skill positions and the back seven.

John O'Korn was at his best when on the move. [Upchurch]


Ty Isaac tallied 78 yards on ten carries, breaking off a few big runs on a night when none of the other tailbacks found much room to operate behind split-squad offensive lines. He ran patiently and chose the right moments to bounce runs outside. He's a major big-play threat with his speed/size combo.

The quarterbacks were steady, which is about all you can ask in a Spring Game, especially since the O-lines—which split starters between the two squads—were inconsistent in protection. Wilton Speight hit 5/6 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown; he added a six-yard rushing touchdown on a waggle and gained a first down with a 13-yard scramble.

John O'Korn didn't put up as pretty of a passing line, completing 6/14 passes for 93 yards, but he rushed for 28 yards and the late touchdown on seven carries. O'Korn did a nice job of buying time by breaking the pocket and picking his spots to scramble downfield. He also avoided any major mistakes. Shane Morris had an up-and-down showing at quarterback, hitting some nice throws but also hucking a pick to Dymonte Thomas in the end zone (more on that later) when he had a receiver open underneath for a first down. Morris moonlighted at receiver and picked up a 25-yard gain on the final drive when he got wide open on a mesh concept.

With Jehu Chesson out and Amara Darboh taking it easy, Grant Perry played the role of #1 receiver for the Maize squad and aquitted himself well. He beat a defender with a nice deep route that left Speight plenty of room on the sideline, then made an impressive catch—unfortunately, Speight's throw took him out of bounds. He had three actual catches for 30 yards; the reserve corners had a tough time sticking with him on intermediate routes.

TJ Wheatley had a drop over the middle, but he later hauled in a nine-yard catch and had impressive blocks against both Mike McCray and Jabrill Peppers(!) to spring Isaac for big gains. The hype train continues unabated. Ian Bunting looked pretty athletic on a 49-yard jaunt down the sideline after his defender got picked on another mesh route. Zach Gentry had a late 19-yard catch, though he's still far from ready to see the field.

Tyree Kinnel played well against both the run and the pass. [Upchurch]


Matt Godin stood out among the defensive linemen who played most of the game, taking advantage of getting lined up across from Juwann Bushell-Beatty—who had a rough go at left guard—to work his way into the backfield consistently. Taco Charlton also deserves a mention for blowing Grant Newsome back a few yards to stuff Isaac's first run; Charlton and Wormley both looked good before exiting early along with several other established starters, including Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis.

I liked what I saw from Mike McCray, who teamed up with Tyree Kinnel for a TFL that forced a Maize punt on a third-and-short run to the outside. Kinnel, meanwhile, looked great; he stuck with his mark in coverage and made a couple stops coming downhill against the run. If Michigan needs to put him out there at safety, he looks ready.

Speaking of safeties, Dymonte Thomas was not boring in the best of ways. On the interception against Morris, he covered a ton of ground to get to a throw intended for Jack Wanger at the back pylon—a perfect throw if Thomas weren't there—then held on after leaping for the pick. I didn't notice any coverage busts from him.

Jeremy Clark doesn't look ready to cede a starting spot to Channing Stribling. He broke up a couple passes, including one after blanketing Wangler on a streak route and forcing him into the sideline; Wangler was so well-covered that he couldn't gain separation even with an obvious push-off.

That's the best I could muster from first viewing in the press box. We'll have a lot more coverage in the week to come.

Open Practice Impressions

Open Practice Impressions

Submitted by Brian on March 28th, 2016 at 12:21 PM

Before we start, folks who aren't going to be mentioned because they were on the sideline: Jehu Chesson, David Dawson, Ryan Glasgow, Mo Ways, Kingston Davis, Karan Higdon, Shelton Johnson.

Established guys we didn't see much of

I've seen a number of open practices by now and there's always a subclass of guys who aren't hurt but don't play much. Those guys are gentlemen who have established who they are and are too important to the team to expose them to extensive contact. They've made it, more or less. (These are never OL or DL.)

Most of the gentlemen who fell into this category are obvious: Jake Butt, Jabrill Peppers, Amara Darboh, Jourdan Lewis. There was one that indicates a supposedly contested position battle that might not be all that contested: De'Veon Smith saw very few live contact carries.

Tyrone Wheatley Jr Is A Tight End, And A Mutant


[Bryan Fuller]

Some guys leap off the field the first time you see them in action, because… whoah. Devin Funchess did so at the first open practice these eyes ever laid eyes on, and that proved itself more or less correct over the course of his career. It was immediately apparent that Funchess was a rare combination of size and mobility.

Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is that plus 70 pounds. He's not Funchess. He's in fact the opposite of Funchess as far as blocky/catchy types go. But he has that same combination of size and mobility that makes you go "whoah" the first time you see him in action. I was typing out tweets about how his ability to relocate himself at his size was uncanny even before he did this:

That's not a great angle; I had one. Devin Bush Jr had outstanding coverage underneath Wheatley, grabbing an arm and forcing the one-handed stab. Which Wheatley made, escaped/stiffarmed an understandably stumbling Bush, and then outran a bunch of LBs and safeties to the endzone. Even though large chunks of the crowd had left by that point it drew the largest cheer of the day, and deservedly.

That was not a one-off play. Wheatley had four or five other catches where he looked both unexpectedly mobile and a natural receiver. He also had an outstanding block in space against Chase Winovich that allowed John O'Korn to uncork a long post throw to Grant Perry for a touchdown.

There have been persistent rumors that Wheatley was destined for OL because of his size and some assertions to that effect in Rivals's Inside The Fort posts. This practice will definitively dispel those rumors. Wheatley isn't just a tight end, he is a potential gamebreaker. At 280.

[After THE JUMP: future mutants, QB battle, an extant run game, and some dude from Malaysia.]

Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State Defense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State Defense

Submitted by Seth on November 26th, 2015 at 11:08 AM

Happy Thanksgiving! It's Ohio State week so we're still putting out the content.

Previously: Offense.


They're 8th to S&P+, 30th against the rush and 3rd against passing. It's a lot like Penn State's defense, if Penn State hadn't been missing Nassib, and everyone on that defense was one star more talented, and they played the system that Michigan State used to create the No Fly Zone, and instead of not-Nassib they had J.J. Watt starting at a rush end position. No not college J.J. Watt, I mean the same guy nobody in the NFL can block.

Joey Bosa is the best college player I have watched since Charles Woodson. And like Woodson, the things he does makes his unit greater than the sum of its…

Personnel. Just look at my diagram:


click makes big.

You see everybody in proximity to Bosa has a star. Eli Apple plays half his downs on the other side (he's the field corner) and I was close to giving him a star too. Tyvis Powell and Josh Perry have put up stats (in Perry's case backed up by PFF) to warrant one as well. Joey Bosa's backup even has a star.


That's STAR, Monarch.

Are they really that good? See the stats, and more importantly, see…


Picture Pages: Circle Routes

Picture Pages: Circle Routes

Submitted by Brian on September 8th, 2015 at 12:17 PM

Despite some post-burial kicking at the ceiling, Jake Rudock's pick six was the final nail in Michigan's coffin against Utah. It came on a route that I've called a "circle" for a bit now. The idea is that you run a slant, then abort that halfway through into an out route. Corner jumps the slant, you get some nice separation and hooray beer. Or you run an out, corner jumps the out, etc.

The general idea is that it is a horizontal double move. I've called it "circle" probably because NCAA football did back in the day; you can see that on a successful one the WR does tend to run in a little circle after his first break:

Both Utah and Michigan tried to run these routes on Thursday, with different results. Here are those plays… AT THE SAME TIME.

On the left will be a Utah throw on their first touchdown drive. It's second and six; Michigan is in the nickel they ran the whole day, showing press coverage on the outside.

On the right, Michigan attempts to convert a third and three halfway through the fourth quarter while down a touchdown.


As far as we're concerned these plays are completely identical to start: we are looking at the slot receiver to the bottom of the screen with a corner who is locked up in man coverage three yards off the line of scrimmage.


A couple moments after the snap both WRs have crossed the LOS; the only difference in the corners is that the Utah guy has taken a step forward, perhaps anticipating this route.

[After the JUMP: everything goes fine because HARBAUGH? Probably!]

Monday Presser 9-7-15: Jim Harbaugh

Monday Presser 9-7-15: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 7th, 2015 at 5:33 PM



What did Grant Perry do in preseason practice to earn the opportunity he did and how do you evaluate his performance on Thursday?

“What Grant did was he consistently came in and practiced every day at a high level, especially for a true freshman who’s also picking up the offense. He was out there every single day getting better and better.

“His performance in the game was in some ways out standing and some not precise route running, so it was…I wouldn’t call it as consistent as we would like but I think he’ll improve from it. I think he showed signs of some really outstanding play in terms of catching the ball, route running, and blocking. He had some blocks that were things of beauty. So, it was a good first start. But a couple costly mistakes.”

Was that interception on him?

“You never say it’s totally on one player, but he did not run the correct route. It was not close to being precise. It was something he just made up. But, again, when it comes to playing the quarterback position you don’t have to throw the ball if someone doesn’t run the right route. So, there’s fingerprints on that first interception for Grant and Jake [Rudock].”

Drake Johnson was with the team, traveled, dressed, everything. You have any better feel on him this week?

“Yeah, we’re going to evaluate that as the week goes on. Drake’s in really good communication with the doctors [and] the doctors are in really good communication with him. Cautionsly feeling pretty good where we’re at right now and we’ll see what happens during the week.”

[After THE JUMP: “And he’s a football player. There’s a compliment that…you can’t give a better one.”]

One Frame At A Time: Utah

One Frame At A Time: Utah

Submitted by Ace on September 7th, 2015 at 9:51 AM

There's so much going on here.

  1. Harbaugh discarding all his playsheets except the green one in a way that would seem exasperated except he looks completely calm the entire time.
  2. Harbaugh has a guy for this, and that guy is ready.
  3. The coaches behind Harbaugh are unfazed by all of this.
  4. Except, that is, for the guy holding the giant Tennessee Titans helmet placard, who's ready to spring into action and grab that wayward playsheet until Mr. B snags it. Strong situational awareness there.
  5. Oh, right, and then Harbaugh licks his fingers and smacks his own ass.

For the record, Green Ass Smack was a pass that very well might have worked except Michigan blew the protection.

[Hit THE JUMP for more Harbaugh, Peppers, and the best BUTTDOWN yet.]

You Have Read This Column Before

You Have Read This Column Before

Submitted by Brian on September 4th, 2015 at 1:45 PM

9/3/2015 – Michigan 17, Utah 24 – 0-1


[Bryan Fuller]

I feel like I wrote this column already. In 2008, Michigan played a Utah team people expected would be pretty good. (They ended up very good, going undefeated, beating 'Bama in a bowl game, and finishing #2.) Michigan lost a somewhat close game. After, I used the then-skeletal luxury boxes as a metaphor for the team: under construction.

Michigan is still under construction. It has been under construction for going on eight years now. We brought in one company that insisted on turning half the building into pudding storage, and then it was a snake museum, and then a sand silo. Eventually the thing looked like the world's most totally rad Porsche hooked up to a pile of pudding, snakes, and quicksand. The next company fixed that at the same time they turned the rad Porsche into a Yugo full of clowns and if NEITHER OF THESE THINGS SOUNDS AT ALL LIKE A BUILDING YOU MAY BE ON TO SOMETHING THERE.

I also feel like I wrote this column already. Last year Michigan played Utah relatively even down to down, in fact outgaining the Utes, and lost because they were minus three in turnovers. This year they played Utah relatively even, outgained the Utes, and lost because they were (functionally) minus three in turnovers. Oh look, it's the game we play against Utah.

That there is a game we play against Utah that is a loss in which Michigan's offense spends much of its time armpit farting says a lot about the state of the program now, but you can go two paragraphs up if you'd like to relive that some more. You might. You're a Michigan fan. By now you must be into some pretty weird stuff.

The game wasn't quite the same as those other two. This one was less depressing. The first featured a walk-on at quarterback; afterwards it was clear that Michigan was going to struggle to maintain their bowl streak.

Last year was this game:

You know, the one with the downpour that everyone left during that was the end of Brady Hoke before THE END OF BRADY HOKE against Minnesota. The one with the ten-man punt return. The one with the column titled "By This Grainy Screenshot We Will Curse Thy Name."

So it wasn't that. Neither was it the grand debut of a Stanfordized Michigan. Despite the occasional media doofus retcon about Michigan fans being brought back to reality, nobody actually expected that in year one, and especially not game one.

I will admit was hoping they'd have a run longer than seven yards.

Not so much. Utah's burly front straight up whipped the Michigan offensive line. One replay of a failed third-and-short sneak featured Ben Braden getting moonwalked back into the quarterback. Mason Cole specialized in second-level whiffs. Kyle Kalis got dumped on his ass in the first half. Large creases were virtually nonexistent. Other than De'Veon Smith missing a cutback lane on second and three in the second half, lanes eschewed weren't obvious enough to induce groans.

They just could not cope with the defensive line, and that sounds like the most familiar thing of all. So we reset expectations again. Once more they have an offensive line working towards competency in a new system, and this will hold them back until such time as it doesn't anymore.

I wish I knew when that was going to be. It should be coming, as it always seems to for Harbaugh. It's hard not to be impatient when you've seen this all before. I have, and it's fine, I guess. I have faith that Jim Harbaugh is going to get there and everything will be wonderful and full of sprinkles topped with sprinkles. Yes, the struggle to the top is critical to the reward at the end. I would still like to fast forward to that bit.


Yet To Be Named Harbaugh-Themed Guys Who Did Good Award. #1 Jake Butt quickly established himself one of those WR/TEs that is basically Ertz/Fleener Voltron.

#2 Chris Wormley tore through the Utah line like it was made of tissue paper several times in the first half; by the second Utah had just about given up on trying to run Booker inside.

#3 Willie Henry also thundered his way through the line with frequency, pressuring Wilson and dissuading

Honorable mention: Amara Darboh had a bunch of catches and one unfortunately critical drop; De'Veon Smith looked like a guy who will be a nightmare if he gets gaps consistently; Jourdan Lewis shut his guy off; Jabrill Peppers erased screens.


3: Jake Butt (#1, Utah)
2: Chris Wormley (#2, Utah)
1: Willie Henry (#3, Utah)

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

For the single individual best moment.

Jake Butt skies over two defensive backs to bring in a spectacular #buttdown.

Honorable mention: Blake O'Neill drops a delayed punt at the two yard line. Wormley storms through the center of the line for a TFL.


Utah: Crazy #buttdown.


This week's worst thing ever.

Rudock throws a pick six in the general direction of Grant Perry, who was in the general direction of Rudock's two other picks.

Honorable mention: The two other picks. That 74 yard Utah punt. That Utah fumble that bounced directly to the only other Ute in a six-block radius.


Utah: circle route pick six.

[After THE JUMP: a much shorter bullets section than normal because usually I have an extra day to pull this all together, Thursday games are stupid]

Your First Harbaugh Depth Chart

Your First Harbaugh Depth Chart

Submitted by Brian on August 31st, 2015 at 5:41 PM

Via a Utah beat writer. I put it in a table. Returning starters are bolded.


Position First Second Third
QB Jake Rudock OR
Shane Morris
Alex Malzone OR
Wilton Speight
RB De'Veon Smith Derrick Green OR
Ty Isaac
Karan Higdon OR
Ross Taylor-Douglas
FB Joe Kerridge Sione Houma OR
Henry Poggi
TE Jake Butt Khalid Hill OR
AJ Williams
Ian Bunting
WR Amara Darboh OR
Drake Harris
Mo Ways  
WR Jehu Chesson OR
Grant Perry
Brian Cole  
LT Mason Cole Logan Tuley-Tillman  
LG Ben Braden David Dawson  
C Graham Glasgow Patrick Kugler Ben Pliska
RG Kyle Kalis Juwan Bushell-Beatty  
RT Eric Magnuson Blake Bars  


Position First Second Third
DE Willie Henry Taco Charlton  
NT Ryan Glasgow Maurice Hurst  
DT Chris Wormley OR
Matt Godin
BUCK Mario Ojemudia Royce Jenkins-Stone Lawrence Marshall
ILB Desmond Morgan Ben Gedeon Mike McCray
ILB Joe Bolden James Ross  
OLB James Ross Allen Gant  
CB Jourdan Lewis Jeremy Clark  
CB Channing Stribling Brandon Watson  
FS Jarrod Wilson Delano Hill  
SS Jabrill Peppers Dymonte Thomas OR
Wayne Lyons

Special Teams

Position First Second Third
K Kenny Allen OR
Kyle Seychel
P Kenny Allen OR
Blake O'Neill
LS Scott Sypniewski Andrew Robinson  
H Blake O'Neill OR
Jake Rudock
KO Kenny Allen OR
Kyle Seychel
KR Jehu Chesson OR
Jabrill Peppers
Grant Perry  
PR Jehu Chesson OR
Jabrill Peppers
Grant Perry  

Quick react

Uh, what? Part one. Willie Henry, strongside end, with Wormley back at DT. On the one hand, Henry has a lot of grrr arrgh pass rush upside. On the other, I thought he was better suited on the interior than Wormley for the reasons I posted today.

Uh, what? Part two. Channing Stribling is listed as the starter opposite Jourdan Lewis. This is odd for a number of reasons. One: Stribling didn't get a call last year even when Gary Nova was going off on Blake Countess. Two: we have heard nothing about him in about a year. Three: they moved Jeremy Clark to corner, and the assumption was that maybe that was not so much a good sign for Stribling.

If this is real, and all depth charts have to be looked at somewhat skeptically, I'm actually rather happy. Stribling looked about as good as Lewis as a freshman before evaporating.

Okay dot gif. The OR at QB. On the other hand, Smith had enough of the starting RB job that they didn't give him one at one of the most OR-tastic spots on the roster.

Poggi at FB. Weird. 266, reputed to be an inline blocking TE. Expected Hill and Poggi to be flipped. Good that Hill's done enough this fall to catch Harbaugh's eye.

No Drake Johnson. Still recovering from injury.

Grant Perry realness check. Good sign for his jitter and reliability that he's an option on returns.

The sweetest or. OR Drake Harris. I want to believe.

Ross an ILB backup and OLB starter. An indication that he will get snaps in the nickel.