Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Rutgers

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Rutgers

Submitted by Brian on November 2nd, 2017 at 4:35 PM

2017 logoo_thumbSPONSOR NOTE. Boy it's a little depressing to play a team that brings nothing other than disinterested New Yorkers who mostly spend their time watching Guy Fieri instead of football. Rutgers purports to be an athletic program but it's really just a way to reach into someone's pockets. Unlike HomeSure Lending, which does exactly what it purports to: sure, lend for homes. It's in the name and everything. Like if Rutgers's mascot really was the Cable Subscribers.

That's truth in advertising, and quick excellent rates for you, the discerning Michigan fan.

FORMATION NOTES. Michigan almost entirely shelved the 3-3-5 in this game. There were nine snaps with a three-man line, but eight of those were passing downs. The rest of the day Michigan played a 4-2-5. Usually that saw Michigan with two definite ILBs and Hudson following the tight end around, often a couple yards deeper than the LB crew:

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You will be happy to know that Michigan did not put either ILB outside in coverage. When someone got pulled out of the box it was always Hudson. Here Rutgers puts their tight end out wide and he's the guy in man coverage to the bottom of the shot.

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Rutgers didn't go empty, which would force one of the LBs out of the box if Michigan was going to play man.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES. Biggest change was a ton of second DT snaps, the vast majority of which went to Solomon. Michigan had 38 4-2-5 snaps and he got 30 of them, with Dwumfour getting five late and Mone getting just spot duty. The rest of the defense was as before, with the secondary the same five guys rotating through, McCray and Bush omnipresent, and Hurst, Gary, and Winovich the rest of the front.

Kemp, Jones, Dwumfour, and Paye got some snaps late on the line. Uche got in a little bit late, as did Gil.

[After THE JUMP: the usual]

Rutgers Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Rutgers Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 29th, 2017 at 12:00 PM

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[Campredon]

Can you assess Brandon Peters’ game and did he do enough to earn another start?

“He really acquitted himself well. Moved the football team. Played very, very well. Yeah, he did a lot and from the first time he went in there, just feeling the deep zone and feeling the linebackers drop and taking that extra half second to take a breath and hit the checkdown just was good ball. He was good.”

Brandon himself said his biggest advancement since fall camp was communication. How much has he addressed the things you talked about before the season?

“He’s made big strides. Really good in that area. It’s been—and was good out there today.”

What did you see on the touchdown pass to Chris Evans and—

“I thought Chris made a heck of a catch on it. Thought Brandon saw it well. Good protection, and Brandon put it… you know, a little short, but Chris adjusted well to the ball and made a nice catch.”

And then the next time out he had a two-minute drill. What impressed you most about Brandon’s game today?

“Today? Well, the things I talked about earlier. I mean, just that he was playing the position. He was playing good ball. Two-minute drill, I think that’s definitely… that’s a real bright spot to go in there—what was it, his second drive, I think, and get organized and get our team organized in the two-minute drill on the field. That’s something a quarterback doesn’t usually have happen to him on his second drive of playing football but I think it went really well for him, and that was great to see.”

[After THE JUMP: questions about special teahaha just kidding it’s more stuff about Peters]

Michigan 35, Rutgers 14

Michigan 35, Rutgers 14

Submitted by Ace on October 28th, 2017 at 3:57 PM


The first of many touchdowns, one hopes. [Patrick Barron]

Welcome to the future.

After four drives for each team, Michigan found itself deadlocked at seven with lowly Rutgers in front of a listless homecoming crowd. Embattled quarterback John O'Korn had completed 3/6 passes for 13 yards with an interception and two dropped snaps. On what turned out to be his final snap of the afternoon, he passed up multiple open receivers to roll out of a clean pocket and throw in the direction of a very well-covered Donovan Peoples-Jones.

When the defense booted Rutgers off the field with 7:01 to play in the first half, ballyhooed redshirt freshman Brandon Peters entered in O'Korn's stead.

"They just told me to get warmed up," said Peters. "When we got the ball I was just standing there next to Harbaugh and he said let's go, you're in."

The crowd instantly came to life. So did the offense. Two Karan Higdon runs picked up 20 yards to open the drive, then Peters got going, connecting on passes to Ty Wheatley Jr., Henry Poggi, and Nico Collins for first downs before Higdon capped the drive with a ten-yard touchdown.

"I wasn't that nervous," said Peters. "Honestly it was a great opportunity to get out there. I was more excited and confident than nervous."

Peters didn't seem nervous. When Michigan got the ball at midfield with 1:49 to go in the half, he marched the team right into the red zone. He had a freshman moment, nearly throwing an interception on a slant to Grant Perry, but that didn't rattle him one bit. On the very next snap, he tossed a near-perfect* lob to Chris Evans on a wheel route for a 20-yard score. With one change in personnel, Michigan went being in a dogfight at home against Rutgers to blowing them out.

"I saw man coverage, one-on-one with Chris," said Peters. "I wanted to give him a chance to make a play and he made a great play on the ball."


The wheel route remains undefeated. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]

Michigan had already made needed improvements elsewhere, and the insertion of Peters served to accentuate them. The offensive line had been opening holes in the running game, which featured a diverse array of powers, counters, outside zones, and crack sweeps. With opposition safeties finally forced to respect the pass, the backs found ample room to run. Higdon (158 yards on 18 carries) and Ty Isaac (109 on 14) both cracked the century mark; Michigan averaged 6.5 yards per carry.

The pass protection also looked vastly improved. O'Korn and Peters both consistently operated out of clean pockets; Peters did a better job of standing in and delivering. Michigan didn't take a sack.

Most importantly, Peters continued dealing. He finished 10/14 for 124 yards with a touchdown and no turnovers. He didn't lock on to a favorite target; ten different receivers caught passes for the Wolverines today. While Peters's stat line may not blow anyone away, he made it obvious he's the best option to run this team right now. His coach agreed.

"He really aquitted himself well," said Jim Harbaugh. "Moved the football team. Played very, very well. He did a lot. From the first time he went in there, just feeling the deep zone, feeling the linebackers drop, taking that extra half second to take a breath, take a checkdown. it was good ball. It was good."

Harbaugh probably didn't need to declare Peters the starter for next week's game against Minnesota, but he did so anyway.


Mo Hurst spearheaded another dominant defensive performance. [Campredon]

The defense needed no such fixing. Outside of a long Janarion Grant touchdown out of the wildcat and one drive in which Rutgers QB Giovanni Rescigno uncharacteristically connected on a couple NFL-level throws, they effectively held the Scarlet Knights to nothing. Rescigno dropped back to pass 21 times; he threw for 101 and took five sacks. Rutgers's pair of running backs combined for a mere 45 yards on 18 carries. Rutgers simply couldn't block Maurice Hurst, Rashan Gary, and Chase Winovich, and freshman DT Aubrey Solomon didn't look out of place on that line while getting the most extended playing time of his young career.

Higdon opened the fourth quarter with a 49-yard touchdown jaunt on a perfectly blocked power play to put Michigan up 35-14. A game that had already flown by didn't take long to wrap up from there. Rutgers wanted to get home. Michigan, one would like to think, was champing at the bit to get the Peters Era underway in earnest when he gets his first career start under the lights against Minnesota.

"It was time," said Harbaugh.

*Nitpickers will note it was a little short. Most Michigan fans, however, saw the skies part and heard angels sing.

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Indiana

Submitted by Brian on October 19th, 2017 at 3:31 PM

2017 logoo_thumbSPONSOR NOTES. Matt's on his way to Penn State as we speak, thinking no doubt about various ways in which US Soccer's surplus can be spent effectively: reducing the cost of A-level coaching licenses, supporting youth clubs that produce USMNT players, building a giant statue of Sunil Gulati being devoured by wolves. Maybe I'm projecting. I'm probably projecting.

Matt's probably thinking about ways to get your mortgage quote even faster, like inventing a time machine or hiring really fast donkeys. Because he gets you quotes fast, like a competent person not in charge of US soccer does.

FORMATION NOTES. Another 60-40 split between the stack package and a four-man line. 31 four man line snaps of which Mone probably got 25, with Dwumfour in on passing downs. 4-3 snaps went down 3 against a spread offense.

Michigan is deploying some dime now, with all three CBs on the field simultaneously. I had them for 11 dime snaps.

Indiana was all spread, never under center. Here is a picture of Indiana:

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Other than the usual diet of weird line alignments on passing downs this was basically what you'd expect.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES. Secondary was the usual: Kinnel and Metellus omnipresent except for a play or two after Kinnel got dinged when Woods came in. Thomas and Glasgow both got a few snaps. CBs rotated through snaps, with a half-dozen or so snaps where all three were on the field.

Bush was omnipresent; McCray nearly so except in the immediate aftermath of a cut block when Gil got a play.

Michigan again rotated between two of Hudson, Furbush, and Mone, with the 3-3-5 set far more common than alternatives. Uche got a few of Hudson/Furbush's snaps in the second quarter. The DL did see some rotation, with Solomon, Kemp, Marshall and Dwumfour all getting scattered snaps. Winovich did not come off the field; Dwumfour was usually in as a fourth DL on passing downs instead of Mone.

[After THE JUMP: bolded alter-ego can't maintain the fiction any longer!]

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Air Force

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Air Force

Submitted by Brian on September 20th, 2017 at 3:45 PM

2017 logoo_thumbSPONSOR NOTES. Oh man yes I am still on that kick about advertising, which we try to do respectfully. HomeSure Lending supports our content and keeps us from going behind a paywall like the rest of sports media, at least that section of it dedicated to something other than clickbait. No autoplay videos, an advertising ratio of about 1:10 compared to TV, and Matt regularly buys people beer and food. So, yeah, man. A mortgage is basically one number, and Matt will get you that number super fast. It's either him or Larry Culpepper. CHOOSE YOUR FATE.

FORMATION NOTES. Michigan spent virtually the entire game in the stack. Most of the time they had Hudson aligned as the "pup" linebacker, as discussed in the game column.

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Hudson on the hash farthest back.

Michigan had been using their DEs in a five tech (IE, lined up outside the tackles) in their first two games. Here they moved them into "4i," which is shaded just inside the tackles. The wing players are Metellus and Kinnel, with the corners flanking Hudson.

Air Force is of course in the flexbone. I called the above look "flexbone tight" and this one "flexbone twin TE":

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Michigan did not slide in response and a lot of Air Force's successful runs came by hammering doubles down on both Furbush and Gary, but more about that later.

When Air Force went three-wide Michigan responded with a more conventional-looking press with two high safeties—for a given definition of "high."

Michigan had a four man front with Bryan Mone on two snaps. Oddly these were both first and tens; Air Force gained 1 and –3 yards.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES. The back eight was nearly immutable. J'Marick Woods got one snap when Metellus was dinged up and Michigan rotated Watson, Hill, and Long through their two CB spots. The LBs, Kinnel, and Hudson did not depart for any reason aside the two Mone snaps on which Hudson left.

The line was mostly Winovich, Hurst, and Gary. Kemp got maybe a half-dozen snaps; Solomon spotted Hurst for a similar amount of time. I think there was one Reuben Jones snap, maybe a few. Mone got the aforementioned two snaps.

[After THE JUMP: the bone!]

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Cincinnati

Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Cincinnati

Submitted by Brian on September 14th, 2017 at 3:33 PM

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SPONSOR NOTE: I would like to focus on that Larry Culpepper thing. Again. I mean, you've got HomeSure Lending. He's Pitbull here. He has parties. Sometimes underneath overpasses, and he just wants you to have a real good time. He's a Michigan fan, and he loves sharing the Michigan with you.

Other companies, when not putting kittens into their hummus, are running around blaring about rockets or how they invented mortgages and are very annoying and aren't offering you free food or #content. This is not a hard decision, especially when Matt gets you lightning fast quotes.

FORMATION NOTES: More four man fronts in this one. Excluding the final backup-laden drive, I had Michigan down for

  • 45 3-3-5 snaps,
  • 1 3-2-6 dime snap,
  • 11 4-2-5 snaps, and
  • 11 4-3-4 snaps.

They did this weird thing some, which I called "3-3 line slide":

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Winovich is your "nose tackle" and the other DL are to his left.

They'd also do this thing where they had a huge split between "NT" Hurst and Gary:

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These were both pass rush exotics.

Here is a good old 4-3 even. Funny old thing.

vlcsnap-2017-09-11-20h36m58s969

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: It was always Mone as the fourth DL, so Mone got 22 snaps, about a third of the total. Other starting DL went almost the whole way. Winovich/Hurst/Gary each briefly gave way to Jones/Marshall/Kemp but their snaps were probably under 5 each.

Linebackers were McCray, Bush, and Furbush throughout save the last half of the first UC touchdown drive, when Bush was sidelined with a minor injury and Wroblewski came in. Wroblewski will henceforth be called Robo. Furbush of course missed out on the 4-2-5 snaps.

In the secondary, Kinnel and Metellus were omnipresent; Hill, Watson, and Long rotated through the corner snaps with a scattered few claimed by Ambry Thomas. Glasgow did get one snap on which he defended a slant like a vengeful Kenny G. I think it was just one—he rather sticks out.

Depth chart mavens might be interested in the final drive, which saw Kemp-Dwumfour-Solomon-Paye across the front and a linebacker corps of Uche-Robo-Gil; secondary remained the same.

[After THE JUMP: the killers!]