First Look: 2017 Defense

First Look: 2017 Defense Comment Count

Brian January 13th, 2017 at 12:37 PM

DEPARTURES IN ORDER OF SIGNIFICANCE.

31639313880_1392e82766_z

[Paul Sherman]

  1. CB Jourdan Lewis. Two-time All-American has case for second-best cover corner in school history. Various excellent stats, none better than this: over his last two years throwing it in the dirt and throwing at Jourdan Lewis were equally productive in terms of QB rating.
  2. DE Taco Charlton. Rampant in the second half of the season against both run and pass and destined for the first round of the draft. Charlton was the rare WDE to play at 280 pounds and gave Michigan's run defense oomph it will miss even if his replacement keeps up the pass rush productivity.
  3. SAM Jabrill Peppers. Massively overrated nonentity will be mysteriously drafted in first round this April and have decade-long NFL career. Absence in bowl game went completely unnoticed and did not pave the way for almost all of Dalvin Cook's yards.
  4. NT Ryan Glasgow. Robot Viking finally started getting appropriately rated as a senior, when he was again an excellent penetrator and disruptor of all things run and pass.
  5. SDE Chris Wormley. TE obliterator and utterly steady; maybe a hair less than explosive. Pass rush not a huge strength, but that went unnoticed since everyone else was picking QB out of their teeth. Elite run defender capable of playing inside or out.
  6. CB Channing Stribling. Outstanding year in coverage; if he was any easier to hit with a completion than Lewis it was a narrow thing indeed. Run support an Area For Improvement, as they say. Should still go early in the NFL draft, as he's a legit 6-foot.
  7. Safeties Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas. Close to interchangeable, so addressed together: capable of deep zones and slot coverage, these two kept Jabrill Peppers out of coverage almost all year. Tremendous luxury to be able to do that and flip 'em on motion. Thomas did bust a few times for big plays (most prominently against UCF and FSU), but as safety tandems go this might be tops in recent Michigan history.
  8. ILB Ben Gedeon. Sideline to sideline ILB who couldn't carry wheel routes downfield. Consistent tackler who showed up in the right spot almost every time; took on blocks with aplomb and shed them with authority. Lack of playing time early in career got more inexplicable every game.
  9. DT Matt Godin. Played well enough early in the season, when Hurst was laid up with a minor injury, to maintain that status for the duration. Was solid in his role; provided little pass rush but effective run defender. Least productive rotation DL by some distance but still meaningfully positive per PFF.

WHAT'S LEFT

31961149486_49933860a5_z

get in his belly [Fuller]

  1. DT Maurice Hurst. Technically not a starter but whatever man. Per PFF, the most productive interior pass rusher in the nation. Huge grades to both them and this sites UFR; with serious uptick in snaps should have breakout senior year and contend for AA status.
  2. ILB Mike McCray. Resurrected career after long-term injury threatened it and was about 80% revelation. Superior blitzer, tough customer on the inside. Struggled to contain edge runs for much of the year; late improvement in that department.
  3. CB Jeremy Clark. Injured in game four and Michigan will try to get a sixth year for him. If that comes through Clark is a bolt of experience in a secondary that will otherwise have almost none. Lost his starting job to Stribling but started anyway since Lewis was out for the first three games; has a year of solid starts under his belt and should be a draftable guy.
  4. DE Rashan Gary. Snaps limited by guys in front of him; impressive and productive when he did get on the field. Physical potential limitless, and should take The Leap as a sophomore.
  5. DE Chase Winovich. Crazy productive pass rusher who'd show up for a handful of snaps in big-time games and come away with a sack anyway. Per PFF had 27 pressure events in 277 snaps, which is almost precisely the same rate at which Charlton racked them up. Run D occasionally wobbly. Potential breakout player.
  6. DT Bryan Mone. Second straight injury-plagued year. As a result barely got over the 100-snap threshold that we're using to distinguish "new" from "what's left." Struggled when he did get snaps much of the year, hopefully because he was not 100%. Flashed ability against OSU.
  7. FS Tyree Kinnel. Promising safety candidate was dimeback for much of the year and did well in that role. Had a couple of Kovacsian TFLs where he'd fly up from outside the picture to kill a guy dead. Coverage, which was reputed to be a strength when he was a recruit, didn't get tested.
  8. CB Brandon Watson. Nickel corner was beat with some regularity when tested. Doesn't seem to have much upside.

WHAT'S NEW, OR CLOSE ENOUGH, ANYWAY

30814720185_d56ca59cfd_z

dread level: rising [Patrick Barron]

Everything! Almost everything, anyway. The DL has some guys who have established a certain level of performance, to the point where only one of them is even sort of "new," that a redshirt junior who would be old except for terrible injury luck. 

Dudes flanking McCray. Devin Bush figures to draw into the starting lineup next to McCray since he was the clear #3 ILB last year. That should push the bulkier McCray to MLB and give Bush WLB. Hopefully that would allow McCray to focus more on getting vertical instead of lateral. Bush is very much a spread ILB.

Meanwhile at SAM/Viper(!!!), many different things could happen. Josh Metellus and Jordan Glasgow got Don Brown praise for their work at Viper(!!!) during bowl practices; Noah Furbush is a more traditional LB option at the spot; Khaleke Hudson still seems like a perfect fit as an emphatically box safety; if Michigan can get Willie Gay, recruiting types report that he is an instant impact player.

Either all of the secondary or all but one guy in the secondary. Michigan has a ton of cornerback talent pushing through at a spot where you can get by decently on athleticism. Safety has guys with scattered snaps a year ago and really needs a couple of players to come through.

WHAT'S ROD STEWART 1977

31847297892_38034667a7_z

omar comin' [Fuller]

Still the defensive line. Michigan graduates all four starters but this is very much a reload situation, not a rebuild. Michigan figures to start:

  • Maurice Hurst, who produced just as much as last year's top starters in 60-70% of their snaps. He is going to be elite.
  • Rashan Gary, who was +13 in about 300 snaps as a true freshman and is a holy lock to be real good as the #1 recruit in the country.
  • Chase Winovich, who would be coming off a double-digit sack season if he had as many snaps as Charlton, in his first year as a WDE.
  • Bryan Mone, who had a series of injury struggles the last two years but flashed his ability on a critical third and short stop against the Buckeyes.

Those guys are very much in contention for the best line in the conference.

Probably cornerback? If Michigan gets Clark back that's a veteran who will be of interest to the NFL as a Sherman-type jumbo CB; I thought he was a B+ guy in 2015 and should get better if allowed to return. Surely Michigan can find Lewis 2.0 from the pile of recruits in shiny wrapping paper they've accumulated.

Don Dang Brown. Brown lived up to the hype and then some. Michigan LBs totaled 43 TFLs as he solved problems with aggression; Michigan is at or near the top of any defensive metric you care to look at. While the copious talent had a lot to do with that, those guys were around last year and Brown still just about halved S&P+'s expected points allowed metric from 13.7 to 7.7.

While there's going to be some regression, Brown's defenses tend to take a year before kicking in to high gear. Increased familiarity with the system should help mitigate the personnel losses.

WHAT'S ROD STEWART 2017

24708505701_a6098b4691_z

Is Kemp ready to play? Is anyone? [Fuller]

Defensive line depth. Seven different guys saw 250+ snaps last year, with Bryan Mone getting 117 of his own. Four of those guys are gone. There is a shortage of gentlemen ready to step in. This site constantly says that nose tackle is a spot with two starters. Starter #2 at NT is...?

DE is probably fine. Between Reuben Jones, Carlo Kemp, Lawrence Marshall, and Ron Johnson Michigan can find a couple guys to spell the starters. The only DT on the roster other than the projected starters is Mike Dwumfour, a middling three star coming off an injury redshirt. Michigan's bringing in a ton of DT types in this recruiting class but even if they get a top guy like Jay Tufele or Aubrey Solomon, relying on a true freshman in the two deep is alarming. Michigan might have no choice but to move Gary to DT.

Going from Peppers to Not Peppers. The silver lining of his absence almost certainly costing Michigan the Orange Bowl is that I don't have to spend much time explaining why Peppers's departure will be costly. Yes, he tended to go on a ride when he got blocked. Michigan was delighted to take that tradeoff if it meant that you could not outrun Michigan's front seven with Usain Bolt.

WHAT'S HEISENBERG ROD STEWART UNCERTAINTY

30800074865_e77f3ec463_z (1)

[Eric Upchurch]

Safety. You know, I'm almost sanguine about safety these days. After a solid decade of safeties topping out at "eh, he hasn't set his head on fire" and frequently dipping into "welp, he set his head on fire again," Michigan's on a run of guys who are actual positives. It is at this moment that we must have maximum vigilance, for this is when Angry Michigan Safety Hating God loves to strike. 

Michigan clearly likes Kinnel. Unfortunately they have few alternatives; it looks like both Hudson and Metellus are tracking towards hits, but are both of those guys box safeties who you don't want to see in deep coverage? I dunno. Mental issues for a couple of true sophomores could pop up as well.

Outside linebackering. Bush will probably be at least all right and could verge on good by the end of the season.  SAM/Viper(!!!) could see just about any level of performance and it wouldn't be much of a surprise.

MANDATORY WILD ASS GUESS

What looks like another excellent starting DL and cornerbacks that should pick up the departed's mantle without too much trouble is a good baseline to work from. And while the unit is going to be young—just three seniors are currently projected in the starting lineup—it isn't going to be troublingly so. The only spots at which freshmen are likely to contend are backup DT and maybe somewhere in the secondary.

So while they aren't going to be this year's outfit, which was neck and neck with Alabama for the nation's best, neither are they going to drop off to average. Unfortunately, this is not a fully Harbaugh-ized program so there are some sore spots at which one injury could radically reshape the outlook—someone please wrap the DL starters in cotton until fall—so I reserve the right to repeal the prediction if the wrong guy goes down, but this should be a top 15 S&P+ defense and top 20-ish in YPP and the like.

Comments

Sal Volatile: The Career of Ryan Glasgow

Sal Volatile: The Career of Ryan Glasgow Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 29th, 2016 at 2:00 PM

29449812653_ae6d23f439_z

[Eric Upchurch]

On September 7, 2013, Ryan Glasgow stepped onto the turf at Michigan Stadium in front of 115,109 fans (and another 8.65 million watching at home) for what was undoubtedly the biggest game of his life. Six minutes and 30 seconds of game-time later, Glasgow stepped into the turf at Michigan Stadium; just a redshirt freshman playing in his second game, he was double-teamed by future first-round NFL Draft pick Zack Martin and future third-round pick Chris Watt on the second play of Notre Dame’s second drive with such brutal swiftness that one of his shoes got stuck in the turf and failed to make the six-yard journey downfield with the rest of Glasgow.

The Notre Dame game was the first in-season wake-up call for a player whose time at Michigan has been shaped by a series of well-timed conversations and self-aware redirection. “We’re watching film that Sunday, getting coached hard—I mean, just got absolutely destroyed, but I think that served a purpose,” Glasgow says. “It kind of made me realize this is college football. People will just destroy you on the other team if you’re not ready to play.”

********

That there have been plays for a coaching staff to critique involving Glasgow in a Michigan uniform is amazing considering the mind-bending alternative, and that has nothing to do with his status as a former walk-on or any depth issues present in the early Hoke years. That Glasgow played football at all is shocking considering his parents’ stance on the sport.

Glasgow’s parents, Drs. Steven and Michele Glasgow, decided when their children were young that they didn’t want them to play football. Hoping to steer their kids toward something less violent and aggressive, they first presented them with the opportunity to play other sports as an outlet for their energy. In second grade, though, Ryan turned the pressure up on his father.

He approached his father one day and told him that he wanted to play football. The local youth league didn’t start until kids were in fifth grade, so it came as something of a surprise that Ryan was pitching his case so early. Ryan’s father told Ryan to talk to his mother, and Ryan informed him that she said Ryan needed to talk to him. He told Ryan they stood together on the issue and would prefer he not play, and Ryan went for the ace up his sleeve. “I said, ‘Why do you want to play football?’ And this floored me, actually, and this was a manipulative thing that he said,” Ryan’s father says. “He said, ‘Dad, I want to play football because you played football.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s not going to work, Ryan.’” (Dr. Glasgow played football at Penn.) His father told Ryan that he and his brother Graham were physically gifted enough to play many other sports.

Ryan dropped his head and started walking away when his father asked if there was another reason he wanted to play. He turned, his eyes lit up, and he said, ‘Dad, I want to run into people!’ His father then asked if there were any other reasons Ryan wanted to play. He had one more reason at the ready: ‘I want to knock ‘em down, dad,’ His father burst into laughter and told him that he could play. Ryan couldn’t believe what he just heard. “I said, ‘Look, if you think the greatest thing in the world is going out there and running into people and knocking people down then yeah,’” Dr. Glasgow recalls. “‘I mean, if we’re not letting you play football then you’re just going to be doing that some other way, so at least you should be out there with coaches in an organized sport and learn how to channel it and sort of go from there,’ and that was it. That was how they got permission to play. We had really planned on not letting them play; it was a very important thing to him.”

[After THE JUMP: “They can test how fast, how high, how much you lift, but some kids, they’re just football players.”]

Comments

Pre-Orange Bowl Presser: Players, Part 2

Pre-Orange Bowl Presser: Players, Part 2 Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 7th, 2016 at 10:02 AM

31142627701_715c910b9a_z31256866235_fc572e69e1_z30896825640_0177a89929_z

[Upchurch/Fuller]

Chris Wormley, Ryan Glasgow, Wilton Speight

Wilton, what are your thoughts on Florida State and playing them?

“Yeah, pretty cool. I saw that the last team, the last Michigan team, to go to the Orange Bowl was Tom Brady’s team that went to overtime with Alabama, so that was a cool little piece of history that I saw. Really athletic team in Florida State. Lot of studs on that team and real well coached by Coach Fisher, so I’m excited to hit the film with Coach Fisch and figure out the gameplan for what we’re going to do.”

What was the rollercoaster of emotions today? Did you wake up feeling you still had a chance to get into the playoff and when you found out, how did you guys cope with that, deal with that, move forward from that?

WS: “I think we all woke up hoping something might still happen. We knew Clemson or Washington had to lose for us to really have a solid chance, but it’s not done by computer; it’s done by people with brains and emotions and thoughts, so we thought there was still a chance. But we put ourselves in this position to leave it up to other people. Four points away from sitting here up in front of you guys undefeated. It’s tough, but at the same time we’ve got a lot to prove. We can really make a statement in Miami.”

RG: “Yeah, I agree with Wilton. I think that this game in Miami is going to be a statement game. We want to leave this program on top and [with] a step in the right direction. Chris and I are leaving, but Wilton has two more years here to lead this team. So yeah, we want to make it a statement game. We want to show that we’re in the top four teams in college football.”

CW: “I agree.”

Wilton, how’s the shoulder, collarbone, whatever’s going on? How healthy were you last Saturday?

“I was healthy enough to play, to be able to try and make as many plays as I could for the team. This week off has helped. We didn’t practice this past week; coaches were out recruiting. We’ll start back up on Tuesday. Not sure the extent of how hard we’ll go this first week, but the week off definitely helped. I’m getting healthier every day.”

[After THE JUMP: “I think we’re gonna be hungry, we’re gonna be angry, and we’re gonna want to take it out on a team, and Florida State’s the next team up.”]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Indiana

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Indiana Comment Count

Brian November 23rd, 2016 at 1:01 PM

HomeSure-Lending_logo_tag

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]

Comments

Everywhere And Nowhere At All

Everywhere And Nowhere At All Comment Count

Brian November 21st, 2016 at 1:05 PM

11/19/2016 – Michigan 20, Indiana 10 – 10-1, 7-1 Big Ten

30978029632_92eeca6d6a_z

[Bryan Fuller]

When Midwestern Football Weather looms, there is only one priority for the experienced fan: please, not sleet. The heavens can aim at my head with golf-ball-sized hail as long as the precipitation is of the form that can be dodged or shaken off. The icy needle stuff that penetrates anything short of a spaceship hull is decidedly not preferred.

That's what we got in 2008, figuratively and literally. The infamous Fandom Endurance III game against Northwestern that sent Michigan to 3-7, guaranteeing no bowl bid for the first time in 40-some years, was played in a driving sleet that is bar-none the worst weather I've ever experienced at a game. I imagine the only competition available is that Purdue game from the 90s that ended 5-0; I was not present.

At halftime of 2008 Northwestern the sleet sent me to the concourse in the hope the pretzel machines could restore some feeling to my hands. They could not. And yet:

This is how weird it's been of late: as I huddled near a pretzel contraption at halftime of a game between 3-7 Michigan and Northwestern, soaked, frozen, pondering the grim futility of all things, I discovered that I was sort of enjoying this. Yeah, sure, you had to peel back layer upon layer of misery to get to the morbidly sunny core. But it was there.

That column is staggeringly old now, especially for Michigan fans who aged in dog years during the RichRod era and in you-chose-the-wrong-grail years during the Hoke/Brandon double-barrel fiasco. By the stuttering end of Hoke's tenure I was referencing that column only to repudiate it, my goodwill stripped to the bone and pecked at by Brandon in case there was any seat-cushion related morsel he could take from me and give to himself.

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

31007005351_0d67b3bff4_z

[Eric Upchurch]

I don't know what's going to happen Saturday. John O'Korn didn't look like a quarterback who could win against OHIO STATE, but Ohio State didn't look like the all-caps version of themselves in a one-point win over Michigan State, or a four-point win over Northwestern, or a loss to Penn State. I don't know if John O'Korn is even going to play.

Having an Ohio State game hanging by a thread because of a quarterback problem is frustratingly familiar turf. Denard Robinson and Chad Henne literally could not throw their senior years; Devin Gardner played most of an OSU game on a broken foot; Drew Henson didn't even bother to play his senior season. It is brutal to have this defense and not know if they're going to have a chance because of yet another backup quarterback throwing a spanner in well-laid plans.

I spent large portions of that game playing Ohio State in my head. I've been doing this since the end of the Wisconsin game, to be honest. I didn't like the results much, but I suppose neither did the sliver of the OSU fanbase capable of complex thought after the Buckeyes got outgained by 3-8 MSU.

I think about ten years ago, and how seismic that felt. It felt like the world would rise or fall based on the result of one goddamn game, and how that was right. And Saturday, and ugh, and can we get this over with.

Then the heavens opened up.

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

What people with no experience of winter fail to understand is its capacity for sheer beauty. Saturday's transient blizzard turned a football game into a kaleidoscope of lacy geometries. The individual flakes traced whorls across the sky, each brilliantly lit. As they began to stick the stadium brightened, and brightened, until it was glowing. Light bounced from white to white until it seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once.

I forgot about Speight's shoulder, and the looming nausea machine this weekend, and Twitter, and even the fucking red hat TV timeout guy. What looked dim from the outside was brilliant as mid-day on the interior. It is something I will not forget.

30978029212_f1cf9dd9ac_z

[Fuller]

110,000 people felt that same lift. Maybe they weren't thinking quite as far back in the sleety past as I was, but they knew the difference between then, and now. Someone started chanting "BEAT OHIO," and thousands more took it up, as Michigan marched out a victory lit by a sun of a their own devising.

One game to change it all. Saturday.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Full suite from MGoVideo.

AWARDS

31007048731_149a552dd0_z

[Upchurch]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

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

#1 De'Veon Smith had more than half of Michigan's yards and more or less produced all their points. On one particular short yardage run he ran directly over safety Tony Fields, causing him to eject an object that was either his mouthpiece, tooth, or soul. Fields kept coming, and Smith kept turning him into mulch.

#2 Taco Charlton collected 2.5 TFLs and created several more by driving his man deep into the backfield. He has been virtually unstoppable as a pass rusher; this was his best outing against the run. And now his ankle's 100%. Look out, world.

#3 Jourdan Lewis had three pass breakups and only gave up one of the two completions he ceded because it was in a blizzard and he was giving up ten yards on purpose. He had a couple of important PBUs on third down slants that booted Indiana off the field.

Honorable mention: Channing Stribling gave up one completion for 20 yards or so but had his share of PBUs and solid coverage; Ryan Glasgow was an interior terror; the offensive line in general blew up what had been a very good rush defense. Dymonte Thomas had an impressive thunk to prevent a drag route from converting a third down and had one of those PBUs where I have to check to make sure that he's not Lewis.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland)
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
7: Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland, #2 Iowa, #2 Indiana).
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #1 Iowa).
4: Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland, #3 Indiana).
3.5: De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU, #1 Indiana).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers), Amara Darboh(#1 MSU),
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW)
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU),  Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois), Channing Stribling (#3 Iowa).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

De'Veon Smith stakes Michigan to a lead that felt much larger than three points.

Also, shirtless men.

Honorable mention: O'Korn scrambles for 30 yards; Smith extends the lead to 10.

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.
Iowa: The touchdown.
Indiana: Smith woodchips Michigan a lead.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Indiana goes on a Legitimate Drive in the middle of the second quarter and takes the lead at a point where you're wondering if Michigan can actually score a touchdown of their own.

Honorable mention: Various O'Korn things; the back-to-back-to-back ludicrous catches to set up an Indiana FG.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.
Iowa: Kalis hands Iowa a safety.
Indiana: A legitimate drive.

[After THE JUMP: Quarterback fussin'.]

Comments

Michigan 20, Indiana 10

Michigan 20, Indiana 10 Comment Count

Ace November 19th, 2016 at 7:48 PM


De'Veon Smith's diving touchdown put Michigan up for good. [Eric Upchurch]

For 40 minutes, Senior Day at Michigan Stadium couldn't have gone much worse. The offense had nothing going with John O'Korn, who looked hesitant and flustered in Wilton Speight's stead. Indiana led 10-6 and looked poised to upset Michigan for the first time since 1987.

O'Korn had thrown for all of 46 yards when he dropped back on third-and-eight from the Michigan 36 with five minutes left in the third quarter. Indiana got instant pressure and O'Korn broke the pocket, jetting down the sideline for 30 yards, Michigan's longest play from scrimmage to that point.

"The opportunity presented itself. I thought I was going to score," O'Korn said, cracking a smile. "Then I got tackled from behind."

De'Veon Smith would not be denied in such fashion. He broke through the line, fended off a tackler, and scraped the ball along the top of the pylon for a spectacular 34-yard diving touchdown.

Following a short Indiana punt against the wind two drives later, Smith burst untouched into the secondary, and tiptoed down the sideline past a dominating block from Kekoa Crawford for a 39-yard score.

"Grinding out first downs. Grinding meat. De'Veon," said Jim Harbaugh, succinctly describing Smith. "It felt like old-fashioned, slobber-knocker football."

Smith accounted for over half of Michigan's total yardage with a career-high 158 yards on 23 carries. As Michigan Stadium turned into a Winter Wonderland in the fourth quarter, his punishing runs salted the game away on a 15-play, 51-yard drive that took nearly nine minutes off the clock and left Indiana with no shot at a comeback.


Michigan Stadium as snow globe. [Bryan Fuller]

While Michigan's offense scuffled early, the defense and special teams kept the Wolverines close enough for the eventual comeback. The defensive front, led by seniors Taco Charlton and Ryan Glasgow, ran rampant in the Hoosier backfield; those two accounted for 5.5 of Michigan's 12 tackles for loss. Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray both had excellent games, and the secondary shut down the passing game, holding the Hoosiers to 6.4 yards per attempt.

While Jabrill Peppers couldn't get much going in his few snaps on offense, he made his presence felt in the other two phases. He repeatedly gave Michigan great field position by fielding IU's line-drive punts, and a pad-popping stop on Richard Lagow in the backfield for one of his two TFLs helped hold the Hoosiers to a field goal on what would be their only scoring drive of the second half.

Special teams played a big part in this victory beyond Peppers's returns. Kenny Allen used the elements to his advantage, pinning Indiana inside their 20-yard line on four of his six punts, and he calmly connected on both of his field-goal attempts. When Peppers wasn't fielding punts, Michigan was blocking them; Michael Jocz and Khaleke Hudson got their hands on a punt apiece to help swing the momentum in Michigan's favor.

That proved enough for Michigan to avoid an upset. A much larger test looms next week in Columbus, of course, with the stakes about as high as they could be. It's yet to be seen if Michigan will have their starting quarterback on the field for the program's most important game since 2006.

"We'll see," Harbaugh said regarding Speight's status this week. "He's day-to-day."

Comments

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Iowa

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Iowa Comment Count

Brian November 18th, 2016 at 12:13 PM

HomeSure-Lending_logo_tag

SPONSOR NOTES: Here is an article about a rate hike "relatively soon," and it's not from Macedonian teenagers. Those Macedonians teens, always with their incorrect news hijinks and saying WHAT ARE THOOOSE in Macedonian. Anyway, now is a good time to get a loan, and later will be a less good time.

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: Michigan may have had two "deep" safeties, but they were not very deep. This was MSU-level #disrespekt for Iowa's ability to punish Michigan over the top, and this was a relatively conservative safety deployment for M in this game.

tight safeties

One guy would generally bail while the other shot into the line of scrimmage. Michigan also used its safeties as SAM linebackers with some regularity. Here Peppers is over the slot and Thomas is tight to the LOS to the bottom of the shot:

4-3 even

Also sometimes I hate directors. This is a presnap shot on third and six.

are you fucking kdding me

There is more than the usual sprinkling of ??? in this chart because of things like this.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Massively reduced rotation. Save an injured Delano Hill the back seven got literally every snap, of which there were 68. Taco Charlton did not leave the field; Wormley only rested on four snaps; Glasgow got 50. Hurst and Godin split snaps about down the middle again; Hurst had a slight edge with 30 to Godin's 24.

Kinnel got 23 snaps as Hill's replacement. Spare parts included Mone(15 snaps), Gary (9), Winovich (3), Lavert Hill(6), and Brandon Watson(3).

[After THE JUMP: [very Kirk voice] WAAAAAAAADLEY]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs MSU

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs MSU Comment Count

Brian November 3rd, 2016 at 3:42 PM

HomeSure-Lending_logo_tag

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

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Rutgers

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Rutgers Comment Count

Brian October 21st, 2016 at 2:26 PM

HomeSure-Lending_logo_tag

SPONSOR NOTES: Rutgers's total yardage is like Matt's rates: absurdly low! Their general organization is like Matt's competition: disorganized beyond belief! Your pants after watching the Peppers punt return are like your pants when applying for a mortgage with Matt: optional but discouraged!

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: Rutgers was all gun and mostly three-wide. Michigan responded with two different approaches. One was their conventional 4-2-5. Here Thomas and Peppers are over the slot receivers with out of the picture as the free safety.

image

The other was a 3-3-5 package; since I consider Peppers a safety those were listed as 3-2-6. Similar packages with Furbush were labeled as a 3-3-5.

image

Michigan had this setup, which is close to a stack. They had others where a safety crept down to an OLB spot that were kind of a 3-4; I called those "faux 3-4." They had some 5-1 lineups with two LBs on the end of the LOS and the DL folded inside. This package comes in for much more discussion after the jump.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Obviously there was a massive pile of it. The starting line only got about 20 snaps each, with Hurst getting 26 to lead all DL. Gary, Charlton, Wormley, Winovich, and Glasgow all got around 20. Godin got just 12. Jones, Onwenu, and Kemp also got late snaps. Lawrence Marshall did not play and did not travel.

Starting LBs went the whole way until the starting D got lifted; backups were as expected with Furbush at SAM and Bush and Wroblewski at ILB. Wangler got in very late, as did Mbem-Bosse.

Secondary as per usual. Metellus, Hudson, and Kinnel split snaps at S with Kinnel getting more time since he plays on passing downs with the regular D. David Long got far fewer snaps than Lavert Hill... still affected by that injury?

[After the JUMP: oh man]

Comments

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Wisconsin

Upon Further Review 2016: Defense vs Wisconsin Comment Count

Brian October 6th, 2016 at 3:31 PM

HomeSure-Lending_logo_tag

SPONSOR NOTES: Also at the Marlin tailgate I met a guy who had refinanced with Matt and was now hanging out with him pregame, because they're buds. I didn't judge. Maybe I judged a little.

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: Michigan spent a lot of time in this formation:

4-3 over press two high

Line is shifted to the TE so that's an over set. Peppers is overhanging the TE. Two deep safeties, press coverage.

They'd also put Peppers inside the end. I called that "4-3 bear".

PERSONNEL NOTES: Wisconsin's manball and constant three and outs caused some shifts in the DL snap distribution. Charlton played every snap—although there were just 53. Wormley and Glasgow were close behind with around 40; Godin and Hurst just about split the other DT spot. Gary (13 snaps), Mone (7), and Winovich(2) rounded out the rotation. Mone's just getting back, obviously; the other two are either freshmen getting their first taste of manball in a game situation or much lighter than alternatives.

The back seven starters never came off the field except for a few dime packages without McCray. Watson(7 snaps) and Kinnel(3) got a little bit of PT on passing downs as extra DBs.

[After THE JUMP: this QB got shook]

Comments