Neck Sharpies: Scissors

Neck Sharpies: Scissors Comment Count

Seth November 20th, 2018 at 10:00 AM

I know this game left a lot to be desired but there was one play in the IU game that went entirely to script, and also demonstrated a few things about Michigan's offense as it spurts and blorps its way toward being really good.

After all the field goals early in this game, it felt great to get an easy touchdown. It was also a route combination I've been hoping to see a lot more of from Michigan this year from their multi-TE sets. It's been a staple of Harbaugh's passing games going back at least to Stanford. And the guy who designs the playbooks for Madden noticed it immediately:

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The primary concept of Harbaugh's offense is creating more gaps. Often this means bringing somebody from the backfield to insert somewhere, whether that be a fullback, a tight end from the other side, or a lineman who pulls. The other way to do that is extend the line of scrimmage:

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Against Indiana, Michigan was running a lot of early pin and pull-type plays where they loaded up with tight ends and used a pulling guard as the kickout, starting with the first play of the game, a "counter" from their trips-TE look:

And then this almost touchdown a few plays later:

Truuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

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This is mansome stuff. Michigan is cracking the MLB with their best blocking tight end, blocking down on IU's weaker (normally backside) linemen with both offensive tackles, kicking out a safety on the edge with whatever Onwenu weighs times however much Onwenu is accelerating, and pulling an uncovered lineman (Ruiz) from the backside to boot.

[After the JUMP: Paper first]

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Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Michigan State

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Michigan State Comment Count

Brian October 29th, 2018 at 1:05 PM
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image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[1]SPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). There are food trucks, beer, televisions, a giant colorful bus, and it's right next to Revelli so the band will march past. Check it out.

When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home. If you need one, he's the man, man.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan ran an absolute ton of 2TE sets in this game, with fullbacks and third receivers barely making an appearance. MSU continued to be MSU, running a base 4-3 over on virtually all plays.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: The usual at QB and on the OL, with Stueber getting the final mashing drive after JBB's injury scare. Higdon got the vast majority of RB snaps with Evans backing him up; Wilson got one snap.

Gentry and McKeon got most of the TE time, with Eubanks getting a fair number of 3 TE snaps and a few opportunities to replace the starters. Gentry and McKeon were out there almost the whole time.

Mason was again limited but able to get in a dozen or so snaps; Wangler had a couple cameos when Mason was at RB. Collins and DPJ got the bulk of outside WR snaps; Black got on the field briefly; Martin and Bell got their usual dozen or so snaps. Perry was the only slot.

[After THE JUMP: missed opportunities and a few taken ones]

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Product Of The Programs

Product Of The Programs Comment Count

Brian October 22nd, 2018 at 1:18 PM

10/20/2018 – Michigan 21, Michigan State 7 – 7-1, 5-0 Big Ten

No ghosts, no magic, no secret sauce: there's nothing hidden in Michigan State's recent run with Paul Bunyan. Most of the time they were a better football team than Michigan, and better football teams tend to win football games. All the noise was just that. Michigan lost games because they were bad football teams run by bad football coaches.

But holy hell, you just try to believe that when it's 7-7 despite a second quarter spent entirely on the Michigan State side of the field and it's raining and Michigan's fumbling like Urban Meyer trying to get his story straight and MSU's backup punter spears a disaster snap out of the air with one hand.

Then he hits a 60 yard punt, which is nearly double his season average. If the Black Pit of Negative Expectations didn't rise up and claim you then, you are a better human than I. The rain, and the turnovers, and the improbable thing by the guy in the thing with the rain… etc.

Fortunately, it turns out that being a vastly superior football team is still a good way to win football games. The rain cleared, the five-star quarterback threw a pass to the five-star wide receiver for a 79-yard touchdown, and that was more or less that. All over but the shouting.

But this is Michigan-Michigan State, so the shouting is the main event.

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Jim Harbaugh described the pre-game dust up as "bush league," and that was about right. If you are a human like me who has been infected with the Lebowski virus your immediate thought was the Jesus ranting about BUSH LEAGUE PSYCH-OUT STUFF. And that's what it was.

There is no other reason to roll out on to the field in helmets and no pads—because that's a thing people do—ten minutes late, when you know various Michigan players will be on the field for their allotted whatever. And there's no other reason to walk through those players with your arms locked. Hell, it probably worked. Devin Bush went full Rick James on the Spartan logo at midfield shortly after; he picked up a mystery unsportsmanlike conduct flag in the first half.

In the aftermath, MSU beat writers are going into more detail about a confrontation that doesn't even warrant the term "kerfuffle" than any one of the many incidents that ESPN turned up when they investigated the Spartan athletic programs in the aftermath of Larry Nassar. The word "class" has been uttered. This is all a distraction.

Shouting is warranted. Shouting about some goons holding green bones trying to pull an imaginary one over on a team that will hold them to 93 yards of offense in the near future is not. Michigan State is, has been, and will be trash. Shout about that. Michigan State deserves no respect and should be treated with nothing but contempt.

This has always been true. An event like the above happens about every third year. That, too, is a sideshow.

This weekend on WTKA, Lorenzo White openly joked about the giant piles of steroids MSU was doing the last time they were relevant. This is a widely-reported fact that did not prevent George Perles from becoming an MSU trustee. An internal investigation cleared Perles; in 2008 Tony Mandarich admitted his steroid use and told Armen Keteyian that by the time he reached the NFL he was addicted to painkillers. It is an open secret that MSU did zillions of steroids in the early 1990s and that Mandarich exited Michigan State a ticking timebomb. Not only did MSU let that guy escape with his undeserved dignity intact, they put that guy on the board of trustees.

I mean, why not, right? The rest of the board consists of former football players, infamous slumlord/booster Joel Ferguson, the grandson of the guy the basketball arena is named after, and a couple people who don't even have a good reason to be a shameless lickspittle in the face of incontrovertible evidence that the institution they nominally govern is a failed enterprise. Collectively they said Lou Anna Simon should keep her job after the worst sexual assault scandal in the history of the United States.

So fuck Michigan State. Fuck their football and basketball teams especially, as they are the main drivers of the deranged culture that enabled Larry Nassar. There is a straight line to draw between Perles and the rest of his board to Mark Hollis to Lou Anna Simon, all of it enabled because Michigan State got to beat big brother in some sports sometimes. Nobody in power at that university cares about the woman subjected to Keith Appling and Adriean Payne's charms, or Auston Robertson's victim, or Travis Walton's, or the various people subjected to the presence of Michigan State players in events that weren't sexual violence but were sure as hell violent. So why would they care about insistent reports dating back 20 years about a doctor abusing gymnasts?

Well, you see, sometimes we get to rub the big in-state school's nose in it. So, obviously. It's all good.

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There's an undercurrent in the Michigan fanbase that MSU is beneath notice. This is wrong, but I get it. There was a point in time in the past when the best revenge was celebrating with Paul Bunyan in the locker room. This is no longer the time we have, for various reasons. One is Michigan having various bad football teams. The other is what happens when MSU is beneath notice.

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[Patrick Barron]

You've been noticed. We see you for what you are.

HIGHLIGHTS

AWARDS

Known Friends and Trusted Agents Of The Week

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[Barron]

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

#1(t) David Long, Lavert Hill, and Brandon Watson. The main drivers of a 5/25 passing performance. Joel Klatt, a former quarterback, reached untold depths of despair when trying to describe what Brian Lewerke was seeing downfield: absolutely nothing. Two points each because they're made up and don't matter and this section probably should have highlighted them more this season but doesn't because they barely get thrown at.

#2(t) Chase Winovich and Josh Uche. The other half of the dominant pass performance; three sacks between them, with Chase chipping in his usual level of run pursuit.

#3 Donovan Peoples-Jones. It was just one catch, but it was a good one.

Honorable mention: Karan Higdon had a Chris Perry kind of day. Shea Patterson had ups and downs but his legs are now a thing. (Don't tell any DCs about that.) The OL got another collective W.

KFaTAotW Standings.

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

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

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[Patrick Barron]

Donovan Peoples-Jones gives Michigan the winning margin in one giant play when everyone in the world thought a coinflip slog was in the offing.

Honorable mention: Jordan Glasgow rakes out a fumble. BPONE mitigated by a couple of deflected catches. Patterson stands in and hits Collins for a first-half TD.

image​MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

Chris Evans fumbles to set Michigan State up at the 7, leading to a tie game and many sufferers of BPONE.

Honorable mention: Karan Higdon stumbles into the mesh point for another fumble. MSU's punter goes combo OBJ/Orin Incandenza. Patterson dorfs a couple of fairly easy TDs. The entire second quarter of implausibly not scoring.

[After THE JUMP: a SQUIRREL (not Devin Bush)]

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Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Wisconsin

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Wisconsin Comment Count

Brian October 18th, 2018 at 4:24 PM

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[1]SPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). There are food trucks, beer, televisions, a giant colorful bus, and it's right next to Revelli so the band will march past. Check it out.

When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home. If you need one, he's the man, man.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan's most gun-heavy game of the year with just 18 under-center snaps vs 43 from the gun or pistol. Unlike previous games Michigan was perfectly happy to run from the gun on short yardage. There wasn't a whole lot of weird stuff by formation. Michigan had a couple of quads packages, one from a bunch and the other more spread out.

Wisconsin stuck in their base 3-4 defense for virtually the whole game, with the exception of passing downs.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Mostly the usual. OL the starting five the whole way. At QB McCaffrey and Milton both got a a few snaps. Two of those came during the competitive portion of the contest. Evans returned and got backup snaps behind Higdon. Wilson was all but absent until about halfway through the fourth. Christian Turner used up game #2 with a few late carries.

Collins and DPJ backed by Martin and Bell at WR, as per usual. Very little Grant Perry—ten snaps and change—as Michigan played a ton of 2TE sets. McKeon and Gentry were both on the field for large chunks of the game; Eubanks got a few snaps.

The thing that stood out most was the lack of Ben Mason, who didn't have a role on those 2TE shotgun snaps but also ceded some playing time to Wangler.

[After THE JUMP: fire up the ground game]

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Eleven On Eleven

Eleven On Eleven Comment Count

Brian October 15th, 2018 at 2:04 PM

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

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

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

Nope.

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

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

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TJ Edwards is sad in the background [Eric Upchurch]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HIGHLIGHTS

AWARDS

Known Friends and Trusted Agents Of The Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honorable mention: The Spirit of Denard. Paul Chryst.

KFaTAotW Standings.

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

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

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

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

image​MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

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

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

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

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Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Maryland

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Maryland Comment Count

Brian October 10th, 2018 at 5:44 PM

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[2]SPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). There are food trucks, beer, televisions, a giant colorful bus, and it's right next to Revelli so the band will march past. Check it out.

When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home. If you need one, he's the man, man.

FORMATION NOTES: Michigan added an entire bomber wing to the right side of their line for various snaps:

image

These were part of a larger 3TE package that also had some more balanced looks, one from the gun. These were almost all runs. The above package specifically was a way to use the Big Big Boys on dive plays without exposing the backs to interlopers from the outside.

The rest of the day was pretty much par for the course. There were a few more pistol snaps(7), a couple of which featured the biggest lineup Michigan can muster save for Oliver Martin's presence, which is RB Mason, FB Wangler, and two TEs.

I had 26 snaps from under center, 7 from the pistol, and 36 from the gun, FWIW.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Mostly the usual. Large uptick in Wangler snaps, possibly as middle finger to DJ Durkin. Higdon got the large bulk of the RB snaps, with a few going to Mason and Wilson. Bell and Martin have settled in as the backup outside WRs. Gentry barely left the field; McKeon also got a ton of snaps. Eubanks got maybe ten as Michigan used some 3TE sets.

OL was the usual.

[after THE JUMP: it's a Zentry(!) kind of day]

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Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Northwestern

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Northwestern Comment Count

Brian October 4th, 2018 at 5:31 PM

[Patrick Barron]

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thuSPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). Food trucks, beer, TVs, and also those things. When not tailgating Matt is also a person who will get you a mortgage right quick from the comfort of your own home. If you need one, he's the man, man.

FORMATION NOTES: Even more gun/pistol than usual. Up to almost 70%, and a number of the exceptions were short yardage/goal line stuff. I have just 11 snaps with a fullback on the field, and here's something I never thought I'd say: that's probably not enough.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: At this point this is all as expected. OL, QB, RB, FB the usual given Chris Evans's injury. Wilson got scattered snaps and nobody else saw the field at RB; Wangler got a few snaps but it was Mason when there was a FB. The most notable item was dearth of McKeon snaps after his drop. Usually one drop doesn't get you exiled. I wonder if something else was going on.

DPJ, Perry, and Collins got the large bulk of the WR snaps, with Martin and Bell getting the remainder. There was a distinctly Carr-ish thing where Michigan tended to tip run when Martin and Bell were in.

[After THE JUMP: a bit of a festivus]

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