Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Indiana Comment Count

Brian November 22nd, 2018 at 12:52 PM
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image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumb_thu[2]SPONSOR NOTE: Hey folks, this column is made possible in part by Matt Demorest, who's been one of our longest-term sponsors. He's also caused a steady stream of unfailingly high praise to hit my inbox from people who use his services. He is 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: Pretty much the standard by this point in the season: Michigan alternates between 1 and 3 TEs, spends 70% of its time in the gun and/or pistol, uses Ben Mason a little bit less than you'd like, and has largely abandoned Stanford-esque manball formations.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: QB, OL as per usual except Bushell-Beatty came out after the first two drives and Stueber went the rest of the way. Higdon resumed taking the plurality of RB snaps, with Evans, Mason and Wilson spotting him about half the time. Mason got some FB snaps as well; Wangler had a couple out of the pistol.

WR and TE were about usual too. Black got more snaps; Bell and Martin fewer than last week, but it was still Collins and DPJ most of the time with Perry in the slot. Michigan was slightly less TE heavy, with McKeon and Gentry out there about two-thirds of the time; Eubanks got his usual 15-20.

[After THE JUMP: everything but the girl]

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Tuesday Pressers 11-21-18: Players

Tuesday Pressers 11-21-18: Players Comment Count

Ethan Sears November 21st, 2018 at 8:16 AM

[Ed: Thanks to The Daily's Mike Persak for sending audio, as I am home for Thanksgiving]

Things Discussed

  • Shea Patterson and Dwayne Haskins know each other
  • Chase Winovich's injury (no, we didn't get an update)
  • Disappointment over past losses to Ohio State
  • Karan Higdon's sort of guarantee

[After THE JUMP: Three days. I messed up the count yesterday. I am dumb.]

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Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Rutgers

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Rutgers Comment Count

Brian November 15th, 2018 at 7:40 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: Pretty much the usual with shotgun and pistol dominating Michigan's formations, usually with at least two TEs on the field. 3 WR snaps were limited; there were another 12 snaps with 3 TEs. These latter were usually from under center and made up a majority of Michigan's under-center snaps.

The fullback is not a frequent participant, still.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: The usual at QB and OL. Michigan did not extend Peters's brief-as-possible cameo past the one snap because the ensuing possession with Joe Milton was with the backup line, and Milton got quick pressure as a result.

RB was an almost even distribution of snaps between Evans, Wilson, and Higdon. This might have been Rutgers-related or it might have been because Higdon made a number of bad cuts. Ben Mason was once again facing limited deployment with maybe a dozen snaps.

WR was a nearly equal rotation between the two established starters, Oliver Marin, and Ronnie Bell, with Grant Perry and Tarik Black getting about a dozen snaps. McKeon and Gentry were near-omnipresent at TE, with Eubanks mostly getting in on 3TE snaps. Luke Schoonmaker saw his first action of the year.

The backup OL was Ulizio/Filiaga/Vastardis/Spanellis/Stueber. Jalen Mayfield continues to head for a redshirt.

[After the JUMP: throwz!]

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Selection Pressure

Selection Pressure Comment Count

Brian November 12th, 2018 at 12:39 PM

11/10/2018 – Michigan 42, Rutgers 7 – 9-1, 7-0 Big Ten

Confronted with every option for intrigue Michigan vs Rutgers could provide, BTN went with "who is Michigan's backup quarterback now?" The pre-game studio show teased it. The announce team mentioned it in the first quarter. There were multiple sideline shots of Joe Milton warming up next to Brandon Peters warming up. When the moment came, Peters entered, handed off to Chris Evans for a long touchdown, and was immediately replaced by Milton.

The prospect that Harbaugh was trolling BTN's angle crossed my mind. He almost certainly wasn't, but, it's not like he had anything else to do. In the aftermath of the game he praised Rutgers for not giving up ten yards a play and called Chris Ash "Rob Ash."

Rutgers. Whatever. Good… bad… Rob Ash is not the guy with the gun.

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There is one bit of meaning that you might chisel out of the grim slab of a game against Rutgers. Michigan explicitly instructed Shea Patterson not to pull the ball, resulting in a fair number of runs wiped out near the line of scrimmage and a steady stream of third and mediums. Then they dialed up a bunch of high degree-of-difficulty throws.

Patterson nailed almost every one of them. He was flushed from the pocket away from his throwing arm; he calmly checked three options and hit Donovan Peoples-Jones on the third. DPJ hauled in a chunk fade on the sideline on another rollout left by the right-handed Patterson. Nico Collins got an inch-perfect back-shoulder fade for his second touchdown. Zach Gentry was permitted to explore the upper edges of the #buttzone on a seam. Oliver Martin had one TD doink off his facemask before scoring one on a two-man-route, max-protection throw from the Rutgers 16; Patterson slalomed through several defenders before finding literally the only option on the field just before it exited said field.

It felt like Michigan was calling the grossest stuff in their playbook just to see what would happen. Who puts two guys in a pattern from the 16? Who calls a short-side rollout to the left for a right-handed quarterback? Given Harbaugh's history, a man trying to make a point. The fourth quarter of Michigan's Citrus Bowl demolition of Florida a few years back featured Jake Rudock making a bunch of throws designed to end up on his NFL reel. That too was the grossest stuff in the playbook.

The 2018 edition of this wasn't aimed at the NFL, but rather Patterson himself. Patterson was asked to sit in the pocket and find guys. He was asked to take a bunch of deep shots despite a difficult wind situation. Harbaugh:

"That was a really tough night to throw the ball. It reminded me of my days back at Soldier field some of those windy conditions. But he made some throws that were just unbelievable. Put in the right spot with the wind blowing and swirling.”

Some of those deep shots got pushed off course; a couple of back-shoulder attempts didn't quite come off. As the rest of Patterson's passes zinged home against a not-terrible secondary the ceiling on Michigan's offense might have come off. The faint outline of a Rudockening is now there, waiting to be confirmed or dis-confirmed in two weeks. Also against Indiana. But in two weeks.

A version of Patterson who's taking shots to his giant leapy crew of wideouts, a version that's sticking in the pocket long enough for Michigan's routes to complete, a version that's got the whole suite of throws down: that is the guy who might propel Michigan past Ohio State and into the playoff. The hesitant version of Patterson that's slightly frustrated during Michigan's revenge tour is less likely to do these things.

Harbaugh spent this game daring his quarterback to evolve. So far so good.

HIGHLIGHTS

AWARDS

 

Known Friends and Trusted Agents Of The Week

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[Barron]

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

#1 Shea Patterson. See above. 18/27 for 260 yards and three TDs. Zero rushes. One more week to stay healthy.

#2 Donovan Peoples-Jones. DPJ nosed ahead of his compatriots with a tough catch down the sideline on the aforementioned Patterson rollout away from his throwing arm and a slant on which he was able to rumble for an extra ten yards despite four different Rutgers players hanging off of him.

#3(t) Nico Collins and Zach Gentry. Tough catches for each to convert first downs and, in Collins's case, score. One point each because the points are made up and don't matter.

Honorable mention: More or less the whole defense, which had Rutgers in turtle mode the whole day. Nobody really stood out as Michigan spread out the reps and TFLs.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Chase Winovich (#1 ND, #3 SMU, #1 NW, T2 MSU, T1 PSU).
8: Shea Patterson (#3 WMU, #1 Maryland, #3 PSU, #1 Rutgers).
5: Karan Higdon (#1 WMU, #3 Nebraska, #3 Wisconsin), Donovan Peoples-Jones(T1 SMU, #3 MSU, #2 Rutgers).
4: Devin Bush(#3 ND, #1 Nebraska), Rashan Gary(#2 WMU, #2 Nebraska), David Long(#2 Wisconsin, T1 Michigan State), Josh Uche (T2 NW, T2 MSU, T1 PSU), Jon Runyan Jr (T1 Wisconsin, T2 PSU), Zach Gentry(T1 SMU, #2 Maryland, T3 Rutgers).
3:  Juwann Bushell-Beatty(T1 Wisconsin), Jon Runyan Jr(T1 Wisconsin).
2: Ambry Thomas (#2 ND), Josh Metellus(#2 SMU), Brandon Watson(T1 MSU), Lavert Hill(T1 MSU).
1: Will Hart (#3 NW), Mike Dwumfour (T2 NW), Kwity Paye (T2 NW), Khaleke Hudson(#3 Maryland), Ben Bredeson(T2 PSU), Nico Collins(T3 Rutgers).

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

Harbaugh's post-game press conference in which he noted that all of Michigan's injuries were minor.

Honorable mention: Eh, most of the rest of the game.

image​MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

An 80 yard touchdown run from a guy whose name is misspelled allows Rutgers to close the first quarter 7-7.

Honorable mention: Karan Higdon cuts away from a first down on fourth and short; Ben Mason loses his mind on a short yardage run shortly after; various other Rutgers first downs.

[After THE JUMP: what happened on the 80-yarder]

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Michigan 42, Rutgers 7

Michigan 42, Rutgers 7 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 10th, 2018 at 8:17 PM

I’ve heard people say that the best way to find a good place to eat on vacation is to strike up a conversation with a local. Judging by the above photo, the locals know their Rutgers football. Rutgers put their best into this game for a certain definition of “best,” even digging a trick play out of the back of the book and deploying it late in the third quarter for a 19-yard gain on a QB-RB-QB connection. Had they scored, Rutgers would have pulled within 14. On the next play, they tried to give Michigan’s defense whiplash with a Wildcat look; Raheem Blackshear’s handoff went off the side of Isaih Pacheco, Michigan recovered the fumble, and the game was essentially over.

It took Michigan five plays to score after the fumble recovery, a touchdown that took the game from essentially to emphatically over. Four straight handoffs to Tru Wilson moved Michigan from the Rutgers 42- to their 10-yard line, at which point a beautiful backshoulder throw to Nico Collins put Michigan up 35-7. This was just one of Shea Patterson’s many inch-perfect throws on the night, which ended for him (and most of the other starters) at the conclusion of the third quarter. The offensive line should get credit for some of Patterson’s on-the-money deep shots, as they gave Patterson as much time to throw as he’s had at any point in his Michigan career and were a significant factor in Patterson finishing 18-of-27 for 260 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The run game had a quizzical outing, especially when considering how well Michigan’s line held up in pass protection and the trajectory the running backs had been on. Michigan ran the ball 40 times for a sack-adjusted 199 yards, or 4.98 yards per carry. Chris Evans, however, was responsible for 61 yards on a single carry, taking the first handoff of the fourth quarter and the first snap of Brandon Peters’ night through the middle of the line and past Rutgers’ secondary to the end zone. Removing Evans’ carry, Michigan rushed for just 3.54 yards per carry.

[After THE JUMP: how Michigan avoided the Golden Idol of trap games]

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I Don't Hate Your Corpse Any Less And I Don't Want Store Credit

I Don't Hate Your Corpse Any Less And I Don't Want Store Credit Comment Count

Brian November 5th, 2018 at 1:16 PM

11/3/2018 – Michigan 42, Penn State 7 – 8-1, 6-0 Big Ten

The jarring thing was this: they didn't seem drunk. There were two dudes crossing Stadium at about the same time I did, and they were not drunk, and they were singing something very loud. It was a faintly familiar verse, the kind of thing that tickles the back of your brain and, if left unaddressed, leads to the kind of frantic wikipedia search that either relieves you of your memory burden or leaves you staring at a list of defenestrations, wondering which rabbit holes you'd fallen through to arrive at this place.

Fortunately(?) this was not required. The verse led into a chorus that is intimately familiar to anyone who is extremely online. It culminated, with elaborate hand gestures. It was beefy, hammy. You may already hear this in your head: "GIVE ME YOUR HEART, make it real, OR ELSE FORGET ABOUT IT."

Across the street, people booed. They were being Smooth-rolled. It seemed like they'd just parted, and this was a parting shot. As I veered off onto the side street that held my car the dudes chortled to each other, victorious.

This was not a black pit. It was… it was a brightly lit mesa of trolling your friends with Santana/Robb Thomas collaborations.

Nine weeks ago those guys were not merrily inflicting music-type substances on their friends. They were sitting in a dark basement, saying nothing, grateful that the other guy had enough damned sense to say nothing. When the moon rose the men silently, separately resolved to destroy it.

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Elsewhere: fulminations. Jim Harbaugh challenged a fourth down catch with three minutes left in a 42-0 game, causing the "harbaugh class" search to disgorge great heaps of rotted fish onto the internet. Penn State scored on that drive, so the camera had cause to cut to a defensive coordinator in the process of holding a ranked opponent under 200 yards for the third straight game. This is what he looked like:

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He looked grim. Disappointed. 58 minutes of wholesale obliteration was not enough. Don Brown is a hater.

Don Brown keeps receipts. In the run-up to this game he and his players repeatedly mentioned Penn State running plays up 42-13 with under 40 seconds left, and how that stuck with them. Brown didn't send his second team line out until the last gasps, and film review will be hell for them this week.

Donovan Peoples-Jones keeps receipts, and increases the volume of his hatin-ass touchdown celebrations weekly. He will fire the cannon if when he scores against Rutgers.

Chase Winovich keeps receipts, and will tell anyone that yes, that is our little brother, and yes, this is our revenge tour, and yes he very respectfully stole Trace McSorley's celebration and he's apologizing for nothing.

Rashan Gary keeps receipts. He keeps them on his face.

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[Fuller]

Rashan Gary's mom keeps receipts. Some of you on the internet are in trouble.

So yes, this is a petty team. This is an angry team. This is a petty, angry fanbase with a petty, angry DJ. Nobody is apologizing for anything. Michigan is handing out receipts itself, because it's got too damn many to deal with right now. Hold some of these along with the L.

It is time to hear the lamentation of their message boards. It is time to belt out the chorus to "Smooth" at maximum volume no matter how damaging it is to the souls around you. We've sat in the dark plotting the downfall of celestial objects for too long to have any dignity about blowing up the moon.

Someone else can be angry for a time now. Someone else can sit in the black pit of negative expectations after one drive with Michigan players pouring through the line, seemingly untouched.

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The postgame handshake between coaches was brief and seemingly cordial, but afterwards James Franklin stopped and turned back to Harbaugh. Harbaugh was already jogging into the tunnel. Franklin stared a hole in his back for a good five seconds before turning back to the field, seething. It was like the end of Lost In Translation, if Bill Murray had said something that made Scarlett Johansson into a barely-contained ragebot.

I wonder what it was. I keep inventing pettier, crueler things. The exact content is irrelevant though, because the thrust is this: we regret nothing. We have many more receipts.

AWARDS

Known Friends and Trusted Agents Of The Week

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[Upchurch]

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

#1(t) Chase Winovich and Josh Uche. Thunderous back-to-back sacks on Penn State's opening drive set the tone, and the pressure did not stop until they got pulled late. Winovich made PFF's team of the week, nationally, and Uche probably missed largely because of snap count. Two points each, made up and don't matter.

#2(t) Jon Runyan Jr and Ben Bredeson. Very little pressure from PSU's DL and Michigan mashed their run defense with a heavy emphasis on the left side of the line.

#3 Shea Patterson. Only 17 attempts but 144 yards and 2 TDs on those attempts, plus 10 carries for 50 yards. Seemed to get pull/keep decisions right the whole day, and juked a couple guys to pick up chunks.

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.

10: Chase Winovich (#1 ND, #3 SMU, #1 NW, T2 MSU, T1 PSU)
5: Karan Higdon (#1 WMU, #3 Nebraska, #3 Wisconsin), Shea Patterson (#3 WMU, #1 Maryland, #3 PSU).
4: Devin Bush(#3 ND, #1 Nebraska), Rashan Gary(#2 WMU, #2 Nebraska), David Long(#2 Wisconsin, T1 Michigan State), Josh Uche (T2 NW, T2 MSU, T1 PSU), Jon Runyan Jr (T1 Wisconsin, T2 PSU).
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).
1: Will Hart (#3 NW), Mike Dwumfour (T2 NW), Kwity Paye (T2 NW), Khaleke Hudson(#3 Maryland), Ben Bredeson(T2 PSU).

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

Brandon Watson intercepts a ball to absolutely no one, returns it for a TD, and puts the final nail in an already extensively-nailed coffin.

Honorable mention: Eight-play all-run TD drive to kick things off; Patterson finds DPJ on a throw that may indicate he's getting more comfortable; Uche and Winovich slash into the backfield; DPJ nearly brings back two punts.

image​MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

PSU escapes the shutout.

Honorable mention: Blocked FG momentarily provides PSU a touchdown. Uh… the end?

[After THE JUMP: chaos reigns]

Comments

Michigan 42, Penn State 7

Michigan 42, Penn State 7 Comment Count

Ace November 3rd, 2018 at 8:22 PM

It's fully operational.

A hale and hearty Michigan took a stumbling Penn State squad behind the woodshed until they were sure there was no movement left, then added a couple more shots for good measure. Before the Nittany Lions' Sad Touchdown Drive, PSU managed only 111 yards on 36 plays, barely cresting a three-yard average—and needing that final drive against M's backups to avoid a rushing Rutger. The Wolverines bested PSU's total yardage on the ground alone, churning out 259 yards with the rushing attack.

They were a motivated group looking to avenge last year's defeat. James Franklin's decision to run up the score stuck with this team, and they didn't shy away from mentioning that motivation afterwards.

"We wanted to make sure to turn the intensity up so there was no coming back from that," said Karan Higdon, who accounted for 132 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

Michigan set the tone early, sacking Trace McSorley twice on the game's opening possession, then covering 76 yards on eight runs for the game's opening score, a read keeper that got Shea Patterson into the end zone untouched from a yard out.

[Hit THE JUMP for REVENGE.]

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View from the Sidelines: Over the Hump

View from the Sidelines: Over the Hump Comment Count

Ethan Sears October 20th, 2018 at 9:29 PM

Remember the third quarter?

 

Michigan State scored off a trick play, after a turnover, tying a game in which it had been outplayed and it was like every iteration of this rivalry amalgamated into a five-minute span. It felt like you knew exactly how the rest of this thing was going to go, because we had seen this movie before.

 

When Michigan went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, Khari Willis dropping a surefire interception, it seemed like a prelude. Instead, it was another break in a game full of them, ending in a narrative-changing 21-7 victory.

 

If some of those breaks go a little differently — if the Spartans come down with a first quarter tipped ball instead of Nico Collins, if they do the same in the third quarter instead of Zach Gentry, if Willis doesn’t drop that pick — this might be a column about how the Wolverines still can’t get over the hump. Those plays have gone Michigan State’s way of late in this rivalry. And being able to win that weird, intangible element — clearing the “everything always goes against us” hurdle — might say more about Michigan than anything else it has done.

 

“Our team never blinked the entire time,” Jim Harbaugh told reporters. “They played hard, they played smart. From the pregame shenanigans, there was no backing down today by our guys. From then on.”

 

[After THE JUMP: A column]

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