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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Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Penn State

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Penn State Comment Count

Brian November 8th, 2018 at 3:43 PM
*/

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). 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 mixed it up a bit more this week, with 17 pistol snaps and 13 from under-center ace formations. The fullback has largely fallen out of the offense; just 6 snaps with two backs, and one of those featured Mason as a wing TE. Instead, thirteen three-TE snaps. These were almost all runs but the Collins deep shot and Gentry RPO TD were from three-TE sets.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: The usual at QB and OL, except for a change at backup LT: Nolan Ulizio got in instead of Jalen Mayfield as they seek to preserve Mayfield's redshirt. An absolute ton of TE snaps, as mentioned above, saw Gentry and McKeon split snaps almost equally; between Eubanks spotting one of the starters and the 3 TE sets Eubanks saw maybe half of Michigan's snaps outside of clear passing downs.

Tarik Black was still pretty limited, with maybe a dozen snaps. Collins and Peoples-Jones maintained their starting roles. One thing to look out for going forward: DPJ in the slot with Black and Collins on the outside. Bell, Martin, and Perry all had a handful or two of snaps.

Evans returned full-go in this one, getting about a third of the RB snaps. Higdon got the rest except for a few from Mason. Wilson got in right at the end.

[After THE JUMP: deviously doing the stuff you're already doing]

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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
*/

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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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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Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Nebraska

Upon Further Review 2018: Offense vs Nebraska Comment Count

Brian September 26th, 2018 at 4:46 PM

[Eric Upchurch]

image-6_thumb_thumb5_thumb_thumbSPONSOR 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: A bit more balanced, with Michigan going shotgun (or pistol) on about 40 snaps and under center on the other 30. All murderback snaps were three TE ace sets:

mason form

Nebraska stuck in a 3-4 with their line shaded to the run strength for most of the day, frequently adding their strong safety into the box after starting him from the gray area.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Patterson, then McCaffrey and Peters at QB. No Milton, boo. At RB Higdon a clear #1, Wilson a clear #2, and Samuels sprinkled in on a couple carries before garbage time. By the middle of the third it was Samuels and a debuting Christian Turner. Mason got some run at RB, obviously. Jared Wangler got some backup FB snaps.

Collins and DPJ your primary outside WRs with a healthy dose of Oliver Martin, who stayed out there deep into the game. Ronnie Bell got a bunch of second-half snaps; Ambry Thomas got three total. TE the usual with maybe a little more Eubanks because of the 3TE sets and garbage time. Redshirt freshman walk-on Carter Selzer got snaps in the fourth quarter, which is a definitive statement that Schoonmaker and Muhammad are redshirting.

OL was the usual on both first and second units, except that Michigan brought in Andrew Vastardis at C after one drive and bumped Stephen Spanellis out to RG. Stueber and Paea got the last drive.

[After THE JUMP: down G over and over]

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Wednesday presser 8-29-18: Pep Hamilton

Wednesday presser 8-29-18: Pep Hamilton Comment Count

Ethan Sears August 30th, 2018 at 3:29 PM

[Ed-Ace: Please join us in welcoming aboard new press conference correspondent Ethan Sears, whose work you may have seen at the Michigan Daily and UMHoops. Don't worry, Adam isn't going anywhere—you'll be seeing his posts soon, too.]

“How we doing?”

(Everybody, all together) Pretty good.

So, what were sort of the qualities that set Shea (Patterson) apart from the other quarterbacks, that you feel won that job?

“I think Shea has shown in big games, over the course of his short career that he can make plays. And,not that the other quarterbacks can’t make plays, but he offers just an ability to make the on-schedule plays and the off-schedule plays, and we’re excited about having that element in our offense.”

So was experience a big part of that then?

“Absolutely.”

Exactly how close, was it a close competition? And at what point in camp, any point I guess, was it clear that Shea was the guy?

“Yeah, it was an extremely close competition. I think coach (Jim) Harbaugh had talked throughout the offseason about the possibility of making that decision right up to gameday at Notre Dame. Possibly take that long. And the other guys, they showed tremendous growth from spring practice to training camp, and they played well. They did a lotta good things as well, but ultimately, coach decided to go with Shea.”

So would announcing Shea as the starter two weeks before, I guess that kinda gives the idea that you guys have known for a while. So, would it be unfair to assume that it wasn’t a close competition?

“That wasn’t the case at all. I don’t know that we’ve known for a while. Only coach Harbaugh knew when he wanted to announce it and who that guy would be, but we thought we have four candidates that are very qualified to go out and play a high level of football for us.”

Pep, how are Brandon (Peters) and Dylan (McCaffrey) different now than they were maybe in January?

“They’re a year older. You know, they have more experience and more time with the offense and within the system. They have — Brandon in particular — having played in games last year, just has a better understanding of the urgency with which you have to make decisions in real games.”

And how has Brandon handled this whole thing from your — you’re around every day. How has he handled Shea coming in and now he’s not the starter and all that sort of stuff?

“He has been consistent. He’s never stopped preparing. He’s a competitor, so of course he wants to be out there, and if he ever had to get out there, I feel like he would go out and play at a high level.”

Who’s number two on the depth chart right now?

“I don’t know. We don’t have a depth chart.”

Who would go in if Shea got hurt?

“Coach Harbaugh would decide.”

[Hit THE JUMP for more Nico Collins hype plus much more.]

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Preview 2018: Tight End And Friends

Preview 2018: Tight End And Friends Comment Count

Brian August 28th, 2018 at 1:59 PM

Previously: Podcast 10.0A. Podcast 10.0B. Podcast 10.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver.

Depth Chart

Fullback Yr. H-back Yr. Tight End Yr. Flex Yr.
Ben Mason So. Ben VanSumeren Fr. Sean McKeon So.* Zach Gentry Jr.*
Jared Wangler Sr.* ---- Fr. Zach Gentry Jr.* Nick Eubanks So.*
Ben VanSumeren Fr. ---- Fr. Luke Schoonmaker Fr. Mustapha Muhammad Fr.

Given the situation at quarterback Michigan is unlikely to reprise their approach for most of the second half of the schedule, which surely pleased Bo and every other three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-guts devotee watching:

FORMATION NOTES. Hello, manball. Michigan's approach in this game was downright neolithic, featuring 32 snaps with one or zero WRs. Feel the Harbaugh goodness as Michigan goes with a goal line set on first and ten on their own 34 (the "WR" is Gentry and he will motion to a TE spot presnap):

image

Michigan did suffer to allow two wide receivers on the field 22 times; three WRs managed to get out there on 14 snaps.

But you know Harbaugh wants to. Probably not enough to do it... much. But if you're telling me he's got two returning starters at TE with NFL upside and a third guy who ran past the Florida secondary last year and he's not going to do it at all, well, sir. I disagree.

And now it's time for...

ANNUAL EXPLANATION OF THE FINE GRADATIONS OF BLOCKY/CATCHY

A few years ago we split tight ends from the WR post and fullbacks from the RB post, figuring that under Brady Hoke there would be enough of them to warrant it. We even split guys into various categories because a tight end is not just a tight end. Then Jim Harbaugh came in. After an internal struggle this site has decided not to split each one of these columns into its own post, but it was a near thing. Those columns are:

  • FULLBACK: a man with a steel plated head who runs into linebackers, gets two 50 carries in his career, and has six catches. See: Kevin Dudley, Sione Houma.
  • H-BACK: A "move" tight end who motions all about, rarely lines up on the actual line of scrimmage, often goes from fullback to a flared spot or vice versa, and operates as more of a receiver than the fullback. Must be a credible threat to LBs; ends career with 40 catches. See: Aaron Shea, Khalid Hill.
  • TIGHT END: Larger than the H-back, the tight end is a tight end who is actually tight to the end of the line. He comes out, lines up next to a tackle, helps him win blocks, and clobberates linebackers at the second level. He goes out into patterns as well, and may end his career with 40 catches himself. See: AJ Williams, Jerame Tuman.
  • FLEX: Big enough to play on the end of the line credibly. Agile enough to play H-back credibly. Not great at either. Capable of splitting out wide and threatening the secondary. Sacrifices some blocking for explosiveness. Can be a prime receiving threat. See: Jake Butt.

And of course many of these people bleed into other categories. Think of these position designations as Gaussian distributions in close proximity to each other.

TIGHT END AND FLEX: HOW FAST DOES THIS BATTLESHIP GO ANYWAY

RATING: 5

Last year's preview threw all available guys in more or less the same bin and then selected Ian Bunting and Tyrone Wheatley Jr out of that bin as the nominal starters. Nope and nope: both guys got scattered snaps as the younger generation pushed through. Now both Bunting and Wheatley have read the writing on the wall and lit out for greener pastures, leaving Michigan's tight end corps somewhat thinly populated.

But hoo boy the remaining villagers could really be something. ZACH GENTRY is the headliner despite a bit less playing time than his compatriot. This is because Gentry is a 6'8" guy who was Michigan's fastest and most agile tight end in last year's team combine. As Jay Harbaugh put it when they moved him late in his freshman year:

"He's got what we call a 'dominant trait.' He's super fast and super tall and has very good hands. He has something naturally that gives him a chance to beat everybody as a route-runner.

He only got to show his dominance sporadically due to the environment around him, finishing with 17 catches. But his per-target numbers are flatly unbelievable in context even if they are a small sample size: 17.8 yards a reception. 11.7 yards per target(!!!), a 65% catch rate and zero catches that did not move the chains or improve Michigan's chance of doing so on a subsequent down. Michigan's next-best YPT receiver who got the whole QB smorgasbord was Kekoa Crawford at 7.2. And that sample size would have been larger in--all together now--better circumstances:

Gentry is a giant man and delivers on his height. He's capable of plucking balls out of the air that are well outside his frame and when Purdue went cover zero he demonstrated excellent body control to punish that decision:

As safety blankets go, the dude nearly a foot taller than most defensive backs and much faster than most linebackers is a quality option. And he is on another level athletically from most of the front seven guys who could deign to cover him.

That tall guy seems like a good person to throw to since he's the closest thing to an imaginary eleven-foot tall person we have.

Yeah, Zach Gentry started going from potential to production in this game. His big catch and run was a great route that suckered a linebacker outside and opened up that YAC:

83, TE to top of line

That is exactly what Michigan was hoping for when the moved him there. That throw's a bit high, except Gentry is 6'7". Also he dusted a guy and ate up 20 yards after the catch.

And if Michigan wants to get weird, Gentry has flashed the ability to hack it on the outside.

WR #83 top of screen

What he hasn't done so far is high-point the ball over two-to-seven helpless defensive backs, a la former Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki. This has been entirely due to a lack of opportunity. I charted Gentry with one drop on 13 routine opportunities last year; more telling was a lack of non-routine shots. He had just one opportunity at a moderately difficult catch (which he made); I put those in a bin labeled "2" and they encompass almost all of the things that a pogo-stick giant should be doing downfield. There were only two circus opportunities, and sometimes pogo-stick shots downfield should land there, as well.

Gentry was not Gesicki by any stretch of the imagination, but largely because Michigan didn't give him the opportunity to be Gesicki. Again, offense bad sad emoji etc etc. In a functional offense with a fade machine quarterback, Gentry could blow up. Should blow up.

Gentry's blocking was meh but not a disaster. PFF had him about 200th of ~300 qualifying tight ends but I'm pretty sure they grade like me and those numbers aren't necessarily adjusted for individual "strength of schedule." So he's probably not worse than whatever MAC tight ends he's behind, he's just playing tougher opposition. And Gentry's issues were at least half mental issues that generally come with being a guy getting his first playing time. When he was on the right page he did well:

#83 TE to bottom

He was fairly regularly able to get under not-so-good players and drive them:

TE #83 to bottom of line

His athleticism allowed him to stay coiled and not expose his height unduly; sometimes he flat-out drove his (again, pretty bad) opposition:

#83 TE to bottom

Gentry was generally able to control Big Ten LBs and weakside ends; it was only when circumstances forced him into trying to control a Big Boy that his lankiness worked against him. Here he catches an MSU DT and suddenly looks like a 6'8" TE trying to survive:

#83 TE to bottom of line

When he set up in-line and took a thunk from a DL who knew what was coming he'd give some ground but he'd usually stay attached and fight his way through it. When able to take on someone in his weight class things went well, for the most part. And even when he took on a Big Boy if he was able to surprise him he delivered a blow.

#83 TE motioning to top of formation

He pancaked a DE once! A Rutgers DE. But still! Seriously, by Wisconsin he was capable of legitimately impressive moments:

#83 TE to bottom of line

That is palpable movement on a DE and then a TJ Edwards pancake. Was that consistent? No. Was it there? Yes. What's more important for Michigan going forward are not the 2017 results, which did indeed top out at "eh"--he was 55% in UFR charting--but the approach. Gentry was a very willing blocker, one who got results when he got the call right and wasn't placed in an adverse situations. PFF had him one of Michigan's best offensive players against the Badgers and 24/7 noted that three of his four highest grades had come in the run-up to The Game. He improved greatly over the course of the season.

A year of experience and 15 extra pounds should improve his output further, and this will give Michigan a dual threat that someone like Mike Gesicki did not provide. Now just go be Gesicki when the ball is in the air and we're cooking. Survey says: maybe!

[After THE JUMP: tbh probably Michigan's best tight end]

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