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 I know rate hikes are like streetcars and seem hopelessly outdated, but it could be a thing.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]

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Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs MSU

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs MSU Comment Count

Brian November 3rd, 2016 at 3:42 PM

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SPONSOR NOTES: Man, that fourth quarter was irritating. Like wearing pants. Also, Dan Gilbert just gave MSU 15 million dollars so you clearly can't get a loan from him even before we consider his major role in the financial crisis. Instead of feeding him more money with which to write in comic sans, try a local guy.

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: Not much. This was "goal line H" for MSU and made several increasingly less effective appearances. Michigan had one wacky 3-man-line snap on the first drive and then threw that away permanently, so the rest of the game was more or less this:

goal line

Of note: against these big formations M swapped their corners and safeties to get a couple bigger guys on the line.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: 74 snaps for the defense, with the starting secondary and Gedeon getting all of them. McCray missed just two snaps; Peppers missed six with various minor issues. Furbush got those six.

DL rotation was severely reduced, with Charlton getting all but ten snaps—Winovich got 14, and I think all of those after the first drive were in pass rush packages. Wormley and Glasgow were close behind at 59 and 57; Godin and Hurst did split their snaps about down the middle. Gary got 21 snaps; Mone got 3 before limping off.

Metellus and Watson got various dime snaps.

[After THE JUMP: not great bookending pretty great.]

Comments

Neck Sharpies: Mr. Dantonio’s Opus

Neck Sharpies: Mr. Dantonio’s Opus Comment Count

Seth November 2nd, 2016 at 12:00 PM

My videos had trouble uploading. Here’s DGDestroy’s every snap for now.

Mark Dantonio came prepared for this game. He had thoroughly scouted this Michigan defense, learned how it adjusted to motions and angles, and put together a bewildering drive plan that kept everybody confused and got State the matchups they wanted. It must have taken hours of watching game film and practice to make it all work. He could have used it for the game-winning points against, oh, Northwestern, or Maryland, or Indiana.

But this is Mark Dantonio. This drive was always intended for Michigan. It used Michigan’s own ideas, exploited Michigan’s tendencies and personnel. It was a coaching masterpiece he made for us. Let’s appreciate it.

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

Play 1: Jet to Split Zone

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This play sets up the rest of the drive. Jet motion from RJ Shelton pulls the WLB, McCray, out of the box, effectively removing a linebacker from where they’re planning to run.

The split zone means the play’s backside DE is blocked by the fullback, freeing up the RT to block Godin. The plan at the playcall is to hold a linebacker outside with the jet motion and zone run into the remaining four-man (two DTs, a DE and the MLB) front with all five offensive linemen.

But Godin and Glasgow have a stunt on here. That could kill Michigan since Gedeon gets a releasing center on him and Glasgow is putting himself out of the backside B gap with the stunt. Godin made a great play to shoot underneath the right guard and push that guy down the line to squeeze the gap out of existence. Like a Roman at Cannae, the back is trapped behind his own men until the Carthaginians have hacked their way through.

image

Also note that the jet motion to the boundary side played with Michigan’s OLB designations. McCray ends up the guy covering a slot type in space while Peppers is lined up a foot away from a big tight end.

Anyway, great play Godin. Second and long.

[After the JUMP: a counter off a counter off a counter]

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Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Colorado

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Colorado Comment Count

Brian September 21st, 2016 at 4:06 PM

HomeSure-Lending_logo_tagSPONSOR NOTES: Got a couple of requests to re-record the podcast commercial featuring Matt and his kids because it sounds like Matt has dragooned his offspring into this. Well, yeah, that's what offspring are for. Matt is a man who will dragoon for you. That's not something everyone can say, because not everyone knows what that word means. Matt does!

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.

IDIOT DIRECTOR NOTES: This goober zoomed in so close to almost everything and provided zero high-angle replays, so I'm doing a lot more guessing about coverages than I usually do. As a result some plays of interest aren't clipped because the interesting bits I remember from the game aren't actually on the screen.

FORMATION NOTES: Okay, I separated front and cover look, and am still not satisfied with the results. "Press" was anything with hard corners on guys on the LOS:

press 

Off was off. This was two high, and also the post TD.

One high version of same:

2016 Michigan vs Colorado 1st Half.wmv_snapshot_00.13.34_[2016.09.21_15.55.43]

Still a work in progress.

Michigan and Colorado didn't do anything too weird except for some offset three man lines I'm just piling in as "exotic."

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Again a tight rotation, which makes yet more burned redshirts puzzling. Wormley and Glasgow led the way on the DL with 53 of 71 snaps; Godin, Winovich, and Garry all got around 40. Hurst got 27 and since he played well I'm guessing they're trying to keep his workload light as he continues to recover from whatever held him out of the opener.

Linebacker was as you'd expect, with Starters getting the whole game minus some personnel package items. Gedeon is the guy who stays in when Michigan has just one true LB on the field.

Secondary was also low rotation, with Thomas, Stribling, and Clark playing every snap. Hill got dinged up and missed 16; Kinnel saw 20 snaps, most meaningful; Watson had 18.

WTF burned redshirt of the week goes to Carlo Kemp and his four snaps.

[After THE JUMP: panic calibration.]

Comments

Preview 2016: Linebacker

Preview 2016: Linebacker Comment Count

Brian August 31st, 2016 at 4:25 PM

Previously: Podcast 8.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Line. Defensive End. Defensive Tackle.

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[Bryan Fuller]

Depth Chart
STRONGSIDE  LB Yr. MIDDLE LB Yr. WEAKSIDE LB Yr.
Jabrill Peppers So.* Ben Gedeon Sr. Mike McCray Jr.*
Noah Furbush So.* Mike Wroblewski Jr.* Devin Bush Fr.
Josh Uche Fr. Elysee Mbem-Bosse Fr. Jared Wangler So.*

The old guard had been around forever—Desmond Morgan started as a freshman and had an injury redshirt in there—and is now gone. In their stead there is… well, a guy. Michigan's linebacker recruiting in the Hoke era was a major failing, so after one guy they've mishandled and one guy who narrowly evaded a career-ending injury there's freshmen and the only non-Order-of-St.-Kovacs walk-on on the two deep.

Could get hairy if anyone can get to these guys on the ground or protect their quarterback long enough to get 'em in the air. So probably not that hairy. Still, along with the offensive line and quarterback, linebacker stands out as a position at which things could go pear-shaped.

On the other hand, Peppers. He's actually in this post!

STRONGSIDE LB: HYBRID SPACE ASSASSIN

Rating: 5.

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WOOOO! [Bryan Fuller]

Oh hey, it's JABRILL PEPPERS again. He's taken the baton from Jake Butt when it comes to posting shirtless jugs machine exploits:

And this year he hopes to refine his immense talent into a TFL and PBU machine.

One part of his game is already flawless and has been so from the drop. He was a bonafide hybrid space player from his first snaps against Utah. Any sort of swing, flare, or screen to the wide side of the field was going to die horribly. Peppers was truly, literally unblockable in space. He'd slow up, pick his moment, and just explode past the wide receiver who drew the short straw:

Three times in this game Peppers destroyed plays that attacked the wide open spaces he is set to patrol. If Michigan can rely on that, those passes across the middle that open up because of bubble fakes get removed along with the screens; it's kind of a big deal to be able to do that.

The utter consistency with which this happened became a defensive bellwether. I eagerly awaited the moment when the offensive coordinator got fed up with having zero access to a big chunk of his playbook and said "screw it." One snap later the OC was reminded why he wasn't doing this:

There was an internet item purporting to show that Peppers missed 20% of his tackle attempts; you can mostly ignore that. A Peppers missed tackle was often something a lesser player wouldn't even get an attempt in on.

Blocking someone with his explosiveness on the edge is a futile task. This is a screen that he turns in barely outside the hash and still gets a tackle in on, because he can wait until the proper moment and just explode past the guy who drew the short straw:

Peppers gets places fast and brings a pop when he gets there. Sometimes he makes the play himself and sometimes he allows others to rally to make it, because he's constricting space that other guys cannot.

I say "mostly" because Peppers does need to refine a few things. He has a bit of Brandon Harrison disease wherein he gets going so dang fast that he overruns his target, and his tackling form could use some work. But even when he missed a tackle last year he funneled things back to his teammates.

As Peppers moves inside more often this ability will serve him well. There was a spate of tiny linebacker articles over this offseason, and this one from The Ringer highlights that Peppers evasion thing:

The key to smaller linebackers surviving in a land of 330-pound giants isn’t taking them on in single combat; it’s anticipating movements to avoid combat altogether.

“Those guys seem to make their living not by getting off blocks, but by never getting blocked,” Snead says. “They’ve got to read things quickly so they can use their deficiency to their advantage.”

There was the occasional indicator that Peppers would be able to continue his uncanny ability to blow past blockers even as space gets constricted. Here he reads the play and simply redirects past a fullback assigned to him:

His explosion is such that he can dart around blockers to the "wrong" side so fast that he makes it right. He makes all that Joe Bolden stuff work, and that'll be key when he is faced with much larger opposition.

We have some evidence what Peppers will look like as a linebacker. He was in the box on scattered snaps. He was kept clean, for the most part, and Peppers showed an ability to read and react. This isn't hard, but we don't have much else to go on:

Against UNLV he lined up as a Jake Ryan-style SAM on the line of scrimmage and did a good job to push the play back inside.

He was used as a blitzer very occasionally, and looked much like he did whilst erasing screen games nationwide. He's fast and brings a load and often comes in too hot to get a clean shot.

If he does get a free run at a blindside target an Oregon State receiver can tell you what the likely outcome is:

Peppers has the potential to force a ton of fumbles.

When Peppers is an actual SAM linebacker and not reprising his hybrid space player role, Plan A is keeping Peppers clean by demanding double teams for the SDE; Plan B is Peppers blowing the minds of linemen and blocky/catchy guys with his ability to do make something conventionally understood to be wrong work for him.

Peppers's coverage is still somewhat in question. He had issues early trying to defend horizontal double moves. That first impression lingered, and then the big bad thing against Penn State hammered it home for a lot of folks:

Peppers was rough early, no question. He was much better at playing press man as an outside corner, where he could set up to the inside and just run with his dude.

He developed over the course of the year. By midseason he was racking up some physical PBUs, usually when he was allowed to set up in press:

He was still a bit iffy in the slot but started making it difficult for guys to get in their routes, and he started making the occasional play in off man. The Penn State debacle is evidence enough that his coverage is still a work in progress, but in this case we really do mean "work in progress" instead of "permanent problem" as people so often do when they deploy that phrase. His improvement should be obvious. He won't be perfect but slot receivers aren't going to get the best of him for much longer.

Peppers also has upside as a safety. He's obviously kind of a big deal in run defense, and his speed allows him to get over the top of deep routes even when he lines up close to the line of scrimmage.

Peppers can and will do a half-dozen different things on D. You'll see him as a SAM, as a nickel, as a strong safety, as a boundary corner as Michigan tries to put out fires and exploit mismatches. Boston College SAM Matt Milano is a good baseline: 60 tackles, 17.5 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, and 3 PBUs a year ago. Peppers is around the same size and much more athletic. (I have no idea how athletic Matt Milano is and I'm sticking with that assertion.) I'd expect more pass defense stats and not so many TFLs since the DL will eat up their share, but as I said on the other side of the ball his omnipresence should lead to a bunch of stats both ways and a Heisman finalist slot.

[After the JUMP: Jabrill Peppers! Probably!]

Comments

Unverified Voracity Offers A Thumbs Up

Unverified Voracity Offers A Thumbs Up Comment Count

Brian August 26th, 2016 at 4:25 PM

REMINDER A THING IS HAPPENING. I totally biffed this the first time by linking to last year's event. There is a Football Eve from Homesure this year:

Football-Eve-Banner-160-x-600-1[1]

First beer is on Matt, there will be a Q&A and… trivia? I think? We're asking people to RSVP because space is limited. Hit the link to do so.

WTKA friend with product on offer. If you're a fantasy guy or, uh, wagererer, Ed's got data for you. So much data. Binders full of data. You can parlay that data into non-data. Yeah.

Oh yes, this is going to get a lot of use. Via EDSBS:

The gif you now need in your life:

For life. Harbaugh on his future plans:

Speaking in a taped interview with SiriusXM Radio on Wednesday, Harbaugh was asked by a host if he can "legitimately" see himself coaching at Michigan "forever" -- meaning does he think he'll be at Michigan 20-25 years down the road.

Harbaugh's answer came quickly.

"Yeah I think that way," Harbaugh said. "I think, God willing and the creek don't rise, that'll happen. I love coaching, I love football and I love the University of Michigan."

Never say never and all that.

Yes, lots and lots of talent. CBS's Dane Brugler provides an extensive breakdown of Michigan's NFL draft prospects, of which there are many. Unlike ESPN he picks up on Ryan Glasgow as a thing:

Glasgow bursts off the snap and finishes each rep with the same fire. He has the grip strength to stack and dispose of single blockers, using push-pull technique to regain his momentum and penetrate the pocket. Glasgow lowers his head and attacks like a battering ram, but often loses sight of the ball and takes himself out of plays. Although his motor is always running, he is more of a one-speed athlete and lacks the closing burst to finish some plays in the backfield. Glasgow would benefit from improved discipline, but his hustle, mentality and strength are why he is a valuable member of Michigan's defensive line rotation. And also why several scouts grade him as a top-10 senior at his position.

The tenth DT in the 2016 draft was off the board at the beginning of the third round, albeit with a bunch of juniors in those spots. That feels about right. Mike Martin was a third round pick as well.

The rest of that article is a preview of what I'm going to say about a bunch of Michigan players in the season preview, down to a Manningham-Chesson comparison and questions about De'Veon Smith's ability to see things:

Smith makes it a chore on defenders to finish him off as linebackers have to him cleanly and finish or he refuses to go down. His vision and run instincts tend to run hot/cold, leading to questionable decisions, and with his lack of explosive traits, Smith needs to be more decisive and trust what he sees. He tends to leave you wanting more due to his marginal burst and instincts, but there is a place at the next level for Smith due to his power, ball skills and upside as a blocker.

Brugler's higher on Erik Magnuson than I am and doesn't mention Darboh or anyone in the secondary other than Lewis—though the latter might be because there were so many people to get to ahead of those gents—in a report that is otherwise extensive and right on point with both strengths and weaknesses. Read the whole thing.

This Peppers thing isn't even slightly weird. Peppers as SAM is part of a trend that is sweeping football at all levels, including the NFL. The Ringer has a piece on the continued evolution of NFL linebackers into 220 pound safety types:

NFL coaches say the change in thinking about linebackers started five or six years ago. Spread offenses were dominating college football, and the task for defensive coaches at that level was to find linebackers who could cover and tackle in the space created by this new, wide-open approach. “We started looking for guys who played skill positions or safety, and those were guys we actually looked to see if we could turn into linebackers,” says Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher, who served as a graduate assistant at North Carolina from 2007 to 2009.

Michigan was not doing this; they were running Jake Ryan out as a SAM. They continued to suffer against spread teams; Don Brown is really the first guy in the history of Michigan football with any positive track record against spread rushing offenses.

The article above focuses on  Deone Bucannon of the Cardinals, who's actually a more extreme manifestation of the tiny linebacker trend than Peppers since he plays on a team with Tyrann Mathieu—he's not a "star" or walkout linebacker or nickelback, Bucannon is actually a 210 pound inside linebacker. This is actually a situation where the NFL is more spread than college. Michigan is unlikely to follow suit with safety-sized ILBs because of the nature of their opposition. The NFL is a passing league; Ohio State is a running team.

PFF ABT. Pro Football Focus's All Big Ten team has a number of Michigan guys on it, as you might imagine:

  • First team: Jehu Chesson, Maurice Hurst, Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis
  • Second team: Jake Butt, Mason Cole, Erik Magnuson, Taco Charlton, Chris Wormley, Delano Hill

That's a lot of guys. PFF projects almost half of Michigan's starters as ABT players. We already knew that Hurst was a fave-rave of PFFs and that they like George Kittle of Iowa better than Butt because of his blocking ability. The most interesting item there is the inclusion of Delano Hill as a second team safety. That would be very nice if it came to pass.

PFF on JT Barrett. Barrett is the single-most important opposition player on Michigan's schedule, the last tentpole from the last couple years of Ohio State teams. He had a weird 2015, seeing his passing production dip radically. Which guy is it? PFF:

Intermediate and deep accuracy have been consistent issues for Barrett both seasons. On throws longer than 10 yards in the air in 2014, Barrett completed just 44 of 111 attempts, and in 2015, he was 20 of 45.

Barrett’s passes traveling 10+ yards in the air during 2014 season

Barrett 2014 passes over 10 yards thru air

Barrett’s passes traveling 10+ yards in the air during 2015 season

Barrett 2015 passes over 10 yards thru air

Keeping in mind the fact that he was throwing to the likes of Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Devin Smith, Braxton Miller, Jeff Heuerman, and Nick Vannett, all of them currently playing in the NFL, it’s difficult to expect his consistency to improve on deeper passes with newer, less experienced receivers and tight ends.

Barrett's not great against pressure, either, but OSU's system sometimes makes that hard to apply. He's an outstanding runner and there's always the chance of a leap forward, but he's a guy who has some limitations that Don Brown might be able to exploit.

Good luck with that. Per Pat Forde, the NCAA is expanding its Ole Miss probe:

NCAA Enforcement representatives have visited Auburn and Mississippi State, and perhaps at least one more SEC Western Division school, this summer to speak with players who were recruited by Ole Miss. The players were granted immunity from potential NCAA sanctions in exchange for truthful accounts of their recruitment, sources said.

If these guys are all telling the same story about 500 dollar handshakes on visits that could get really ugly for Ole Miss. They're already facing down a suite of Level 1 violations. I'm beginning to believe this could be an actual hammering, the first since USC that didn't involve… you know what at Penn State.

Hinton rates everything. Matt Hinton has done his usual preseason data-jam, evaluating every D-I school on their recent performance, crootin, experience, and projected competency. 17 categories go in the blender, and this is what comes out for the top 40:

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Nebraska is relatively high; MSU relatively low. PSU, Iowa, and Wisconsin are all in the 8-4, 7-5 range. This will no doubt enrage highly enrageable Iowa fans.

Etc.: NLRB reverses an earlier decision that was relevant to the Northwestern unionization push. A reason to hate every Big Ten school. Just because someone else is getting paid to abuse our national namespace doesn't mean you have to participate. Herky The Hawkeye is too angry for one Iowa professor. Hank Aaron will honorarily captainize a game this fall.

Comments

Media Day Interviews: Don Brown

Media Day Interviews: Don Brown Comment Count

Adam Schnepp August 12th, 2016 at 12:01 PM

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[Barron/MGoBlog]

If you listened to The Michigan Insider Tuesday morning you heard them run interviews with some of Michigan’s assistant coaches, including Don Brown. We thought you, our beloved readers, might like reading a transcript of what coach Brown had to say. When you finish reading you should head to The Michigan Insider’s channel on Audioboom and listen to the rest of what Sam and Ira discussed. After all, the cool people like it.

What are your impressions of Jabrill Peppers, and talk about the various ways you can line him up and use him as a linebacker/defensive back.

“Great job, that’s what we’re going to do. Talented guy, very fast. He can get from point A to point B very efficiently. Extremely intelligent football player. Has a knack for handling concepts, so, you know, I said it in the spring and I’ll just continue to say it: we’re going to give this guy a lot to do. He’s going to have different jobs based on the package. And calling him a linebacker’s probably not fair. Calling him a hybrid’s probably not fair, because we’ll ask him to do a lot of stuff. That’s the beauty of guys like him, you know. You have to set them and they give you a unique ability to cover from the linebacker position and you don’t have to substitute.”

Coming in new to this defense, how big of an advantage is it to have a defensive line with some experience and depth because I imagine it all starts there?

“Always does. You know, first off, really excited to work with coach Mattison. He does such a great job with the guys. Great football coach. But we feel like we’re going to be, with Glasgow getting back in the mix and maybe some of the guys that we brought in, we’re going to let it play out but we should be eight to nine guys deep, which certainly allows rotation. It allows guys to play fast, be fresh, and take advantage of every repetition. If they’re knocking those guys back, that’s a good thing. It certainly will help with breaking in virtually a brand new linebacker corps right across the board. So that helps. It really does.”

Do you have concerns with that? That seems to be the question with everyone as far as the linebackers--

“No, not really.”

You like the guys you have?

“I like the guys I have. Obviously we’ve talked about Jabrill. Noah Furbush is working at the Sam position as well and, you know, he’s 238 pounds running a 4.5, too. That’s a pretty good thing. He’s just not—he’s not a household name, but, you know, I feel good about him. Ben Gedeon has played some. You know, his role has definitely changed because now he’s the guy. It’s his show. He’s got to run it. We’re excited about him. Mike McCray, again…I’ll knock on my head, I guess, for wood. Let’s keep him healthy. I think he’s a very, very good football player. And I can comment on Devin Bush because he was with me in the spring. Feel like I’ve got a pair and a spare, and hopefully that just grows with the development of the guys that we have here.

“I like Wroblewski. We moved him to Mike backer about practice six, and that ‘s a hard deal. You get about nine or 10 workouts of playing Mike backer, but I see him significantly growing throughout camp and hopefully Elysee Mbem-Bosse and Josh Uche and Devin Gil and those guys will just…they’ll have great modeling because the guys in front of them know what they’re doing, so that’s a beautiful thing. And we’ll see if we can get a couple of those guys in the mix and get them going at least in some of our packages.”

You talked about the linebacker corps. How important is it for them to have the secondary that you guys have?

“Unbelievable. You know, the first thing that we talk about on the back end [is] you better get your hands dirty in the run game now. It’s not those guys up front have the run and us guys back here have the pass. It’s an 11-man deal, and they have gaps to fit, run places to fit, and I see a willing group, so that’s important. But again, when you can lean on a veteran secondary that can play coverage one-on-one, defend ‘em one on one it allows you to be extremely multiple with what you’re going to do to kind of occupy the quarterback’s attention.”

[After THE JUMP: “If I tell ya, I have to take ya out.”]

Comments

Anonymous Quotes from Big Ten Players

Anonymous Quotes from Big Ten Players Comment Count

Michael Spath July 29th, 2016 at 4:07 PM

image

[Patrick Barron]

[Ed—Seth: Every year, by tradition, Mike Spath (@MichaelSpath198), one of the best journalists on the Michigan beat and bar none the best source of Michigan hockey info, also generates the only content I ever care about from Big Ten Media Days, offering anonymity to opposing players in return for their unvarnished opinions on Michigan players.

Spath has departed The Wolverine, but he still went to Media Days and got those golden quotes. He was at WTKA this morning and shared some of them with Sam Webb. You can listen to the entire segment on WTKA's website here. With their permission, Adam and I transcribed the parts that were paraphrased from those players.

Note: "paraphrased." Note again: I SAID PARAPHRASED. On a lot of these Spath is combining several players' thoughts, and he was talking on the radio. Please don't construe that into misquotations that result in me being chased by a tall blond man who in turn is being chased by a Big Ten athlete.

If you want more Spath, he'll be contributing some at Badgerblitz.com, and is expected to become a regular contributor on WTKA.]

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

HOW THIS WORKS: So I’ve gotten some harsh feedback on Twitter saying “you know, if I was going to say something critical I’d put my name to it,” but that’s not the way that it goes. I don’t go up to them and say “Sam, I’m going to ask you a question and I want you to put your name on it.” I’ll say “Sam, I want to ask you some really honest feedback about Michigan football,” and the only way you’re going to give it to me is if I don’t quote you—if I don’t use your name.”

And so that’s how I do it and I would say this: if you’re a pretty smart person you can probably figure out that I went up to Indiana players, I went to Minnesota players, Rutgers players, Illinois players … and Northwestern.

So those are the five teams I was able to approach. It was a little more difficult this year—Sam you were there, and they didn’t go into roundtables where you have a lot more one-on-one times. So you really had to wait these guys out, and I waited until the last five minutes when they were completely empty, or I wasn’t afraid to—when a guy was getting up and leaving the podium when he’s done with his hour, or walking down the hallway with him. Because that’s when you’re gonna get the good stuff: when there’s nobody else around, and you have to really assure him: “I’m NOT gonna use your name.” You can see the light bulb going on in their head for that first second like: “I don’t know about this...do I really wanna do this?”

But eventually, and here’s the thing too, is that when you ask these questions—and I’ve seen other people try to do it—I think if you ask generic questions you get generic answers. If you ask specific questions, you get specific answers. And so a lot of the time what I’ve focused on is specific players.

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

JEHU CHESSON:

“The player that they played against in November: we had six games of film on him from earlier in the season, and who was that player? This was a guy that caught everything, was a big play waiting to happen. There’s a play where he caught the ball in the middle of the field against us, and we had two guys right there, and we thought we had the angle on him, and he pulled away!”

“There’s track speed and there’s football speed, and this guy’s got football speed. I couldn’t believe how unbelievably fast this guy was, and how much of a difference he made over the course of the second half of the season.”

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

JOURDAN LEWIS

I posted some of these things to Twitter and there’s already this Jourdan Lewis thing that blew up big time:

One guy said that the reason they throw at Jourdan Lewis is there’s not a fear factor. And I immediately got jumped on and ripped on. I think when you read the whole quote it’s a little more understanding.

The guy was talking about how they didn’t complete much last year—they only completed 36% of their passes that they threw at him. But they did throw at him, because he had 90 targets according to Pro Football Focus, and that’s the tenth most at any specific defensive back in the country. So I mean you’re talking about 127 teams, talking about four defensive backs for the most part on every team, so you’re looking at 400 players and he’s the tenth-most thrown-at? That’s pretty crazy for a guy who’s only giving up a 36% completion. And the guy said to me:

“You know we didn’t complete much, but he didn’t get many interceptions.” So I asked him a little bit more—why did you keep throwing at him, and he said “What did he have interceptions-wise compared to Desmond King? Two or three?” (The answer’s two). “You weren’t going to complete many passes if you threw his way, but he wasn’t going to pick you off either. You didn’t have to fear the turnover if you threw it.”

And I said “So you didn’t fear him?”

And he’s like “We didn’t fear him: no.”

So when I’m trying to present this as “there wasn’t a fear factor” that’s not really how the quote comes off. [Sam and Spath talked a bit about man-to-man versus cover 2. Upshot: the difference with Desmond King is cover 2 cornerbacks are facing the ball the whole play.]

[Hit THE JUMP for Victims of Glasgow and Wormley Anonymous, Glasgows, Guards, and Peppers]

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This Week's Obsession: Eyes on Spring

This Week's Obsession: Eyes on Spring Comment Count

Seth March 31st, 2016 at 12:59 PM

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[photo: Bryan Fuller.]

The Question:

What are you watching for in the Spring Game? What is there to learn?

The Responses:

David: Brian and Ace did a good job during the Podcast of pointing out some of the main things to watch for on Friday night. Here are some additional battles/guys that will grab my eyes:

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No no the one on the right. [Fuller]

Not De'Veon Smith running backs. At this point, we know who Smith is and what he can do. After him, there is quite a race happening. Isaac has been hyped a little, but he was last year, as well. Kareem Walker is a big recruit, but as of a couple weeks ago, he was still with the Maize group. Also, I guess Joe Hewlett has gotten some nice run.
Bobby Henderson at fullback. He's the only returning true fullback. They've moved a couple other guys (Hill and Poggi) back there, but I'm curious to see if Henderson will fend them off and be able to earn PT just because he will be more familiar with the position.

Dymonte Thomas and Tyree Kinnel at safety. Thomas blew up towards the end of 2015 and earned his spot on the field. He's a crazy athlete and a little more practice time could turn him into a dynamic deep safety. Tyree Kinnel is a guy I still wish they would have red-shirted, but he is also a guy to keep an eye on for not only next season but for the future. There's not a whole lot behind these guys. *We've seen Delano Hill before and mostly know what we'll get from him.

The rest of the tight ends. Jake Butt is YAY! There are also some interesting guys after him. Bunting, Wheatley, Jocz, and Gentry are all different kinds of players and each can create his own matchup problem. Seeing Wheatley slip out, Jocz block (ha), and Bunting/Gentry use their size against smaller DBs will be some things to keep an eye on that could get them on the field in the Fall...and very much diversify Michigan's tight end arsenal.

[Hit THE JUMP to find out who the coaches' thought their #3 overall player was at this time last year. Hint: he didn't play.]

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Neck Sharpies: The Don Brown Defensive Glossary: 4-3 Edition

Neck Sharpies: The Don Brown Defensive Glossary: 4-3 Edition Comment Count

Seth March 23rd, 2016 at 11:00 AM

[Huge thanks to Steve Sharik for getting a lot of this for me]

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He's got nickel down. Also Sam, Rover, Money, Jaguar, Tractor, Dog, Pup, Cat, Bandit, Greyhound, and Aardvark. Read on to find out which two of those are not actually Don Brown positions that Peppers will play. [Bryan Fuller]

We had some bona fide MGoDudes attend the coaching clinic and the open practice in Florida, and they've reported back with a wealth of information about the new Michigan defense.

Coach Steve Sharik is writing up a full feature on it for HTTV, and in the course of editing that we went through all of the standard (and some of the non-standard) positions and terminology. I thought that would be extremely valuable to those of us trying to parse the coachspeak all spring, and figure out exactly what position various Guys and Dudes and whatnot are playing.

This week I thought I'd tackle the 4-man fronts that Michigan will run as their base defense. Brown also has myriad 3-man fronts (whence Winovich) that I'll get into next week.

Here are the two basic 4-man, or as Brown calls 'em, "70" fronts: 71 and 72.

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These two alignments we'll see most of the time on standard downs, with personnel changing based on what the offense has in there. If you didn't spot the difference between 71 and 72, it's how the nose and end are aligned. In the first the nose is over the center (a 1-technique) and the end is in a 5-technique off the weakside OT. In 72 those guys have shifted over some, putting the nose over the guard (2-technique) so the end can split out wider. The first is stronger against inside runs, the second gives the end an easier path to pass rush or play a zone read.

And here are the base positions:

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Let's meet them.

[After the jump: What's an "A", what's the difference between a Sam, a Jaguar, and a Money, and what the hell is Peppers?]

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