Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Ohio State

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Ohio State

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on December 1st, 2017 at 12:00 PM


someday I hope to be as happy as Robert Landers (far left) [Fuller]

Ohio State’s punt coverage team is pretty good. Drue Chrisman, Ohio State’s punter, is really good. As a unit, they’ve allowed four returned punts for a total of 55 yards this season. Forty-two of those yards came on this play.

[After THE JUMP: more on both returners, parsing the punting, appreciating James Foug]

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Wisconsin

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Wisconsin

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 24th, 2017 at 6:32 PM



Formation/substitution notes: Uche made an impact, charting for the first time after (per the official site) playing on ST the previous two weeks and against Air Force. Had to look that up because I thought this was the first week they were using him on kickoff.

Otherwise, things remained the same. Michigan brought pressure on their punts when they had Wisconsin pinned deep, otherwise dropping at least one man post-snap. They doubled a gunner on punt return coverage once again this week; Wisconsin was deep in their own territory, and it worked fairly well.

[After THE JUMP: what could be more BIG TENNNN than the mere existence of a ST UFR? EXTENSIVE DISCUSSION OF THE PUNNNTTTTEEERRRR]

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Maryland

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Maryland

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 17th, 2017 at 10:04 AM


[Paul Sherman]

Substitution/formation notes: Michigan lined up a gunner in the slot…

maryland punt 1

…and then motioned him in. In this instance he carries the Maryland player lined up across from him into the middle, and he taps his lineman to let him know which gap he’s in.

maryland punt 2

Michigan used this motion again later in the game, though that time they had the gunner motion across the entire formation and then head downfield.

[After THE JUMP: A Eurostep punt block? Head to the comments, you titan of special teams nomenclature]

Upon Further Review: Special Teams vs Indiana

Upon Further Review: Special Teams vs Indiana

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 20th, 2017 at 4:32 PM



Formation/Substitution Notes: Not much at all. No noticeable substitutions. In terms of formation, Michigan would drop a couple of wings a few yards back on punt when Indiana stacked the line. Michigan also brought the gunners in tight and staggered two wings when it looked like Indiana was going for the all-out punt block with a little over a minute to go in regulation.

max pro

[After THE JUMP: DPJ’s development, Ben Wallace-ing your way to success, and other items from Puntapalooza 2017]

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Michigan State

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Michigan State

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 13th, 2017 at 5:03 PM



Substitution/Formation Notes: With regard to substitutions, the big one is Ambry Thomas taking over as the primary kick returner. We saw this in the second half against Purdue and, after this game and Chris Partridge’s comments this week, it seems like it’s going to hold for the foreseeable future.

MSU did some interesting things in response to the punt return team’s ability to bring pressure; it warrants further discussion after the charts.

[After THE JUMP: the ball itself is a focal point of the yardage-tracking charts, which will surprise exactly zero of you who sat outside for this game]

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Purdue

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Purdue

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 29th, 2017 at 12:35 PM


in need of a prospecting name [Fuller]

Formation/Substitution notes: Only change of note is subbing Kekoa Crawford out for Ambry Thomas on kick return. Crawford was the deep man for the first two returns of the game, both of which went out of the end zone. Michigan then inserted Thomas to start the third quarter. Timing is a bit odd considering Crawford didn’t have a shot to return the first two kicks before ceding his spot, but there’s a chance he can earn it back considering how the third-quarter return went. More on that later.

It’s not a substitution, but Brad Robbins’ redshirt is gone and Will Hart’s on the bench. Robbins did an excellent job getting distance and hangtime on his punts. It’s hard to tell whether they just drifted or were intentional, but it seems more likely that Robbins executed two directional kicks—Hart’s bête noire—in the second half. All told, it was an excellent debut for the touted freshman.

Other than that, Michigan would often hold three guys in a zone short of the sticks on punts. This was a smart decision and likely something Michigan picked up on film, as Purdue was frequently motioning out one of the members of the shield wide. The only all-out rushes were when Purdue was punting from inside their 10-yard line. They also went safe on Purdue’s lone field goal.

vlc record 2017 09 28 09h37m05s Michigan vs Purdue 1st Half mp4   YouTube

Makes perfect sense considering Purdue’s Brohminess and where the ball is located.

[After THE JUMP: Robbins’ new gig; roughing vs running into the kicker; and Foug, god of hangtime, ruler of return teams]

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Cincinnati

Upon Further Review 2017: Special Teams vs Cincinnati

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 15th, 2017 at 4:00 PM

cincy punt lol

imagine the ferocity of James Franklin’s fist pump at this exact moment

Hello. Welcome to the inaugural 2017 Special Teams UFR. You like analyzing blocks on a kickoff return, seeing who got push on a PAT, and making fun of a decision James Franklin made in 2014? Great, we’ll get along just fine.

There are a couple of things worth noting before we dig in. First, special teams all-22 footage isn’t happening. It’s hard to find good footage; directors seem to use punts as their art house. That makes grading the blocking of each player on each unit impossible, so instead we’ll look at obvious gains and losses in terms of yardage. This is very much a work in progress, the point of which is to gain a better understanding of what’s going on in the third of the game that leads to Australians traveling thousands of miles from home to go full Superman on a prolate spheroid. Feedback? Hit the comments.

SUBSTITUTION/FORMATION NOTES: Peoples-Jones got five chances to field punts, did a nice job with two of them, then found himself on the bench in favor of Grant Perry. More on that later.

Kick returners were Crawford and Hawkins, with the ball never going anywhere close to Hawkins. He found himself forming a wedge with Mason every time.

Michigan’s PAT defense team is going to block one soon; with Metellus coming off the edge, Hurst teleporting through seemingly shoulder-to-shoulder linemen, and Rashan freaking Gary out there, it’s just a matter of time.

Cincinnati doubled Cesar Ruiz on every PAT and got knocked back the first time, then held his own. Not bad for a true freshman.

[After THE JUMP: Charts! Then Bolded Alter Ego (NTBAE)! Then more charts!]

Spring Practice Presser 3-31-17: Chris Partridge

Spring Practice Presser 3-31-17: Chris Partridge

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on April 3rd, 2017 at 10:09 AM



What’s the talent like at your position?

“Great. I mean, we have great talent. We have a chip on our shoulder when we come to practice every day. We’ve got a lot of opportunity ahead. But yeah, feel really good about it.”

How much has Devin [Bush Jr.] progressed from last year to this year?

“Devin progresses on a daily basis, you know. He’s starting to understand what it takes to be a Big Ten linebacker. He’s having a heck of a spring so far. He had a heck of an end of the season and got better and better. And he’s the kind of guy who comes to work every day, so he gets better every day. You really see it. He’s working on some things. We’re very excited about him.”

Do you feel confident he’s one of your top three guys right now with Mike McCray and Wroblewski?

“No, I can’t say that. I think every linebacker is one of my top guys, you know. I think that they all have to come to work and they have an opportunity. It’s all about opportunities in the spring and if they show up, whether it’s one rep or a hundred reps, they’re got to take advantage of it and work their butts off. I’m not ready to say—at least personally, I’m not ready to say who the top guys are. I think they all have to earn and do their part.”

The ferocity that Devin plays with on special teams; does he play that way at linebacker as well?

“Oh yeah, oh yeah. He’s not allowed not to. He’s really good. He’s the kind of guy who shows up and just…he’s the kind of guy who shows up every single day and every drill, whether it’s special teams or linebacker stuff, he gets it and that’s important.”

[Hit THE JUMP for Partridge’s recruiting philosophy and the strengths of the LBs]

Unverified Voracity Gives Self C-

Unverified Voracity Gives Self C-

Submitted by Brian on October 19th, 2016 at 5:16 PM

site note: UFR tomorrow AM and PM. Sorry about the delay.


Breakout star Ben Gedeon [Bryan Fuller]

Oh, man, please do not excite me. PFF breaks down the Michigan-Ohio State matchup as only they can, and Michigan comes out ahead on most counts, including all three defensive units. Ben Gedeon is a surprise standout:

This was without question the biggest area of concern for the Wolverines heading into the season, but both Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray have played well thus far. Gedeon’s 89.1 run defense grade is second-best in the country behind only the Ohio Bobcats’ Blair Brown, and McCray has graded well in all three phases while posting 10 pressures (three sacks) and a QB rating against of 42.1 in coverage.

That's a huge boost to a defense that didn't really need one.

Ohio State's biggest advantage is quarterback, unsurprisingly. JT Barrett and Wilton Speight are grading out similarly as passers; meanwhile there is a slight Barrett advantage on the ground. The overall tone of the article is... uh... far too encouraging for me to be comfortable with.

But the level of dominance the Michigan defensive line has achieved to date can only be challenged by Alabama, as six players have run defense grades of at least 80.0 (by comparison, Alabama has two) and five have pass-rush grades higher than 75.0 (Alabama has six). DTs Ryan Glasgow and Maurice Hurst and DEs Chris Wormley and Taco Charlton are all likely top 100 picks (should they all choose to enter the draft this year), and last year’s No. 1 recruit DE Rashan Gary has been as good as advertised.

Michigan is now slightly favored in the Game by S&P+ and it sounds like PFF would pick Michigan as well. This terrifies me.

Lewis on Lewis. Rather frank self-scout right here:

"There's still a few things I can clean up," Lewis said this week. "I've let a few guys behind me a little bit and have just relied on my quickness and makeup speed. But I've got to stop cheating (with my eyes) and use my technique more."

Not as harsh a self-assessment as Peppers giving himself a C-, but that is accurate. Three or four times the ball has gone in the air with Lewis in seemingly bad position; he's made a play each time. Ideally he'll be able to wipe out that moment of nervousness when the ball is in the air.


The Peppers factor [Patrick Barron]

Fancystat fight. Football Outsiders has two advanced CFB metrics: S&P+ and FEI. FEI, a drive-based metric, doesn't release until this week, and so we haven't been able to compare the two yet. In general FEI is less impressed. Michigan is third, not first, and their defense is fourth instead of an absurd runaway #1. OTOH, FEI has Michigan's offense third in the country, which seems optimistic.

The thing that really leaps out is special teams, though: S&P+ has Michigan 107th. FEI has Michigan 1st.

The FEI drilldown is how you'd expect. Michigan's been horrible at field goals (119th), meh at punting and returning kickoffs, and very good at their own kickoffs and returning punts. That shouldn't add up to the #1 team in the country but FEI also includes metrics for starting field possession on offense (#1) and defense (#13) that must factor in? Those numbers are only slightly about special teams.

S&P+ relies on "success rate" for kickoffs and punts, which has always seemed odd to me since there's no first down to shoot for. A yard is a yard on special teams. In any case, Michigan's terrible S&P+ rating is due to a heavy weight for FG kicking, which fair enough, and a poor punting success rate.

FWIW, the Mathlete's numbers that convert everything to points lost and gained have Michigan 16th.

My take: FEI is overrating the special teams because the defense is so dominant that it's moving field position outside the bounds of normal, and S&P+ isn't weighting the explosive Peppers returns enough. I asked Bill Connelly, the S&P+ purveyor, about this, and he said much the same thing. He's got good reasons to go with success rate but a guy like Peppers blows assumptions inherent in that choice out of the water.

Glasgow getting it done. Graham, that is. He got his first start this weekend and a newpaper breaks down film(!!!), where he impressed:

First and foremost, we have to highlight the performance of rookie Graham Glasgow, making his first start. Playing left guard, no Lions lineman drew Donald more often, matching up against the All-Pro 16 times, including 11 snaps in pass protection. Surprisingly, Glasgow rarely was given the assistance of a double-team, getting help from a teammate three of those snaps.


Glasgow was terrific throughout the first half. He didn't give up any pressure, until losing his block on Donald during Detroit's final offensive play. Stafford managed to escape that pressure, bailing from the pocket and finding Andre Roberts for a short touchdown on fourth down.

Is this an opportunity to say I foresaw all of this as early as Glasgow's first few games? Maybe. Probably. Yes.

The revamp is for real. John Beilein already had one major revamp of his program that ended in a Final Four run. Revamp #2 is on now, and it's seriously serious:

This is going to be a fascinating year.

Etc.: This midseason All Big Ten team is incorrect because the defense is not Michigan's starting 11, but it does have Ryan Glasgow on it so I give it ten points. Big Ten Geeks previews basketball. What went wrong with Notre Dame. People are so mad about this arm-grab thing from Richard Sherman that just looks like good crafty D to me. Early Big Ten hockey impressions. Brady Hoke could recruit some.

A toast to Yost. The cookie monsters.