Beau Benzschawel
Beware of Big Beau Benscha.... Benzwashwe...Benzchwae....the right guard. [Patrick Barron]

Fee Fi Foe Film: Wisconsin Offense 2018 Comment Count

Seth October 11th, 2018 at 9:05 AM

Resources: My charting, UW game notes, UW roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats

Jim Harbaugh's offense is rare in this age of spread. He loves to use extra tight ends, fullbacks, and offensive linemen dressed as tight ends to extend the line of scrimmage, creating more gaps than the defense has competent run defenders to cover. Harbaugh also probably finds the heaviness of Paul Chryst's offense excessive.

Four years into Chryst's return to Madison and the meatball transformation is complete. Its engine, as per usual, is an offensive line that averages over 320 pounds, benches more than their pickup trucks, and goes eight deep with all-conference candidates before roll call gets to the fifth letter of the alphabet. They're grabby, mean, way more intelligent than all the memes about them, and mostly impenetrable in pass protection.

Behind them is man for this time and place. A man who believes he can shoot a football into a pinhole. A man turned on by the undulations of a rill.

Behind that man, that rarest of North American endangered species: A fullback.

Behind him, a patient discerning connoisseur of bespoke gaps.

The film: Sure we'd all like to have seen how BYU pulled it off, but are we BYU or are we Kinnick at Night? Iowa could have won this too if they hadn't fumbled away two punts.

Personnel: My diagram:


PDF version, full-size version (or click on the image)

Wisconsin returned everybody but the tight end and fullback from last year. The latter had a proper heir apparent in FB Alex Ingold. The former however has been replacement by committee, which committee includes blocky-blocky-catchy TE Kyle Pennison, and catchy-flexy freshman TE Jake Ferguson (last year's quasi-second starter Zander Nueville is out for the season), and several backup offensive linemen in high numbers.

They're also facing Michigan again without their burly star WR Quintez Cephus, who's embroiled in a sexual assault accusation he's contesting as if he's either extremely innocent or extremely not. Flanker/Jet motion guy A.J. Taylor has maintained his highly efficient 12 yards per target from last year. Sophomore split end Danny Davis III is at 8 YPT and a 73% catch rate but strangely hasn't been used as much as the far less efficient slot Kendric Pryor. The real third down threat is Ferguson, Barry Alvarez's grandson, who's got 10 YPT and the second-most targets to Taylor. They also like to throw to slippery third down back Garrett Groshek, a quasi-slot receiver who seems to be reserved for shotgun snaps. When Taylor needs a breather they have RB Taiwan Deal back from the injury that knocked him out for 2017. Deal is a pure mooseback.

If it's not a passing down however, you're unlikely to see more than AJ Taylor from the last paragraph. The great RB Jonathan Taylor has started to get some use as a receiver this season, Ingold can catch more than fullbackian passes in the flat. They rarely throw at Pennison, and three different backup OL charted in this game in addition to the starting five. Play-action passes are sprinkled in with equal parts cunning and reticence, and are mostly America's Favorite Rollout to make sure your OLBs and safeties don't come down to interrupt Wisconsin's 9-minute turns.

The line is the vintage Wisconsin line. RT (Hornibrooks's blind side) David Edwards is a 1st rounder on most boards. He's a wall in pass protection, and a bulldozer on the run. RG Beau Benzschawel is a peak Wisconsin guard, a little too stiff to get NFL types excited but massive, leaning, smart, and quick enough to be a massive pain and their best run blocker. C Tyler Biadasz is a thick run-blocker with savvy beyond his years but arms that can get him in trouble versus a serious pass rusher. LG Michael Dieter has finally found his home inside after playing C and LT over a long starting career. And LT Jon Dietzen is a punishing run blocker who splits time with promising sophomre LT Cole Van Lanen, who's as grabby as any Badger OT I've seen. Not that it matters against Michigan but they all have their hands outside their defenders' arms pretty much every play. The Packers do this too. Other states should legalize it since it seems to be working.

[after THE JUMP: Randy Rivers and the Tight, Tight Windows]

Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? This question does not apply, since "Pro-Style" today means a passing spread most similar to Northwestern's offense. Wisconsin is what a normal, non-option offense looked like in the 1980s except with 1,000 more pounds on the field.

Formation   Personnel   Playcall
Down Gun I-form Ace/Bone Wildcat   Avg WRs   Pass PA RPO Run
1st 6 16 6 -   1.86   7 2 - 20
2nd 10 5 9 -   2.12   6 1 - 17
3rd 11 1 2 1   2.53   9 1 - 5
Total 40% 32% 26% 2%   2.10   32% 6% - 62%

Their version of the Flexbone is quite different from the Maryland version:


That's two receivers on the line of scrimmage, an offensive linemen wearing #96, and an H-back they've thrown at just twice this year as the flex guys. No, they didn't jet motion out of this except the one time.

Differentiating between the above and a formation I charted as "Ace Heavy" is splitting hairs, but they did this a lot, with three tight ends (one of them often an extra OL) extending the offensive front:


Sometimes they're literally 7 linemen.


This was the end-around (to a receiver off to the right) by the way.

Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Another bad question, because this is really asking if they run outside zone or power as their base running play in addition to inside zone, and if that's the case they're Basketball on Grass, but, like, we're talking basketball with five Robert Traylors.


Tractor Tractor Tractor Tractor Tractor MUSHROOM MUSHROOM

The running game's breakdown was 22 variants of inside zone, 7 power plays (mostly counter trey), 5 outside zones, 4 fullback things, 2 draws, and 2 end-arounds.

Hurry it up or grind it out? Grinding is too slow for a team that's 116th out of 130 teams in Bill C's adjusted pace, where anyone past them believes in the Church of Time of Possession and isn't getting as many first downs. The announcers brought out the word "Slobberknocker" to describe this game.

Ten years ago it was en vogue for us internet smartypants to make fun of time of possession. Today, when math is an appreciated academic discipline at most accredited universities, scientists can more readily admit the psychological advantage to be gained from holding onto the ball for 30 minutes of real time. Wisconsin had drives in this game of 8, 11, 7, 6, 9, and 10 plays, and they don't run that many different plays. By the time you're at your 30 you can't remember a time when you weren't stopping outside zone, or counter trey, or inside zone with a TE insert, or inside zone with a jet fake. Is the 340-pound man wearing #89 the same as the guy wearing #95 a minute ago? Was having the ball just a dream? Wasn't there a DT next to you at some point? Is Jonathan Taylor ever going to cut or are we just going to stay in this shield wall all day?

Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): People said I was unkind when I gave Hornibrook a 2 last year. Then he was run down by Bryan Mone. 2.

Zook Factor: Dude:


I get that these teams were trading 11-play Ishtar drives with 1950s formations but let's go over the five punting decisions that Wisconsin made that weren't a) Obvious punting situations, and b) Fumbled right back to them by Iowa (it happened twice!)

  • 4th & 2 at IOWA 46: Bounced out of bounds at the Iowa 23 (23 yards)
  • 4th & 3 at IOWA 44: Fair caught at the 12 (32 yards)
  • 4th & 3 at IOWA 49: Downed at the 15 (34 yards)
  • 4th & 4 at IOWA 44: Fair caught at the 15 (29 yards)
  • 4th & 7 at WIS 48: Fair caught at the 3 (45 yards because Iowa is dumb)

The second 4th and 3 is the one capped above, down 3 in the 4th quarter, when Wisconsin hadn't gotten less than 5 yards on a run play in forever. Indeed Iowa was stopped, punted the Badgers back 50 yards, Wisconsin came back 4th and 4 on the 44, and punted again. Chryst should keep punting because it's working for him. He ignored the Iowa fans cheering when he sent out the punt team above and he won the game so he must be correct.

Dangerman: If I said I'm not afraid of RB Jonathan Taylor he would rip off 400 yards against Michigan so I won't be saying that and I won't be removing the shield that he gets for being an All-American candidate and competition for Barkley for all-B1G last year. But can I suggest he's not the GREATEST running back ever? Like last year and in this year's HTTV I compared him to every Wisconsin running back since 1990. He does possess many of their qualities. But he's LeVeon Bell, not Saquon Barkley.

Except Taylor is more LeVeon Bell than Bell ever was. Most of the time, he is just super super patient. He reads his blocking very well, and against Iowa's stout front that meant downshifting and staying put for a second or more while the Five Tractors got enough push to provide a crease.

Once he's got some momentum, he's going to get at least four yards no matter who contacts him. The play is over, and then he gets two more yards.

His best attribute is the ability to downshift and upshift again faster than a defender can get set. This was an interesting "Wham" (fullback replaces a linemen) play with a couple of folds that worked because Iowa wasn't prepared for it, but JT turned it into a big gainer by first letting his hole develop a little more, then down-up shifting on an unblocked safety when he got to the 2nd level.

Safeties who fling themselves at his legs are not going to get him down. I caught one bad bounce that lost him a couple of yards when going forward would get 2 or 3.

The other real star of this offense is going to need a…


Wisconsin vs Iowa Good   Neutral   Bad   Ovr
Quarterback DO CA SCR   PR MA   BA TA IN BR   DSR PFF
Alex Hornibrook 9 10(2) -   1 -   - 1 1 2   82% 92.0

Ol' Randy Rivers was deadly in this one, with PFF rating this week's performance higher even that Trace McSorley's against Ohio State. This isn't unusual for Mr. Tight Windows, however neither was the competition.

Alex Hornibrook leads all Big Ten quarterbacks in overall season grade as he has been the example of quarterback play seemingly game in and game out. Despite the lone blemish on his record against BYU, Hornibrook has put together three game grades over 90.0 and even in the loss to the Cougars, was subjected to four dropped passes by his receivers, nearly half of his season total (9) to date.

He takes what the defense gives him and throws to the spot where only his receivers can bring in the ball repeatedly. In fact, 54.6% of his passes are targeted past the line to gain, the second-highest figure in the Big Ten and only 35.3% of his passing yards have come after the catch, which is the second-lowest percentage.

A caveat: As you can see from the chart, that vaunted pass rush only generated two events. Iowa's pass defense relies on its pass rush so the offensive line's excellent protection, helped by plenty of play-action, allowed Hornibrook to survey and pick his spots in Iowa's zone coverage. Those spots were plantations compared to what Hornibrook usually throws into. Iowa has Mario's Ojemudia's brother and like Mario the brother is a good tackler in space who's good enough in coverage to drop into a linebacker zone. The problem is they have Mario's brother playing cornerback.

CB at the bottom of the screen

Last year Hornibrook's nondiscerning eye generated a lot of interceptions, but he's cut way down on those so far. That might be an anomaly:

That tight end, Ferguson, doesn't drop many and probably only lost this one because that Iowa LB got half a fingernail on it. It also highlights Hornibrook's dead-on-balls accuracy.

He doesn't always have to be—Wisconsin runs so much, their offensive line is so experienced, and their skill position players are so extremely blocky that their play-action is maximally deceptive. Like I just told you this is play-action and for a hot second you're still going to think I posted the wrong link:

The part that scares me the most about Hornibrook is he makes use of the receiver's full route. You may have the right coverage called, but his receivers are trained to keep their eyes on Hornibrook more than where they're going, and that leads to a lot of backyard passes that nobody would ever draw on a whiteboard:

It was particularly effective against Iowa because their cover 2 cornerbacks are built to come in and out of contact with receivers, not stay with them. But it works as well on any cornerback playing man, because staying all over these kinds of throws means leaving yourself wide open to the kind of pass interference Jane Coaston wants to run as a base play.


I've been saying every week this season that Michigan's defense is a bad matchup for their various opponents: too athletic for Notre Dame's WRs to body, too fast and savvy for Maryland's and Nebraska's goofball tricks, too talented in the secondary for SMU's and WMU's fades, too good at pass rushing for Clayton Thorson to West Coast his way through his progressions.

"We're a bad matchup for them" was a good line but smart readers/listeners knew it was meaningless unless I gave a point of comparison. Wisconsin is that example of an opponent who's well suited to take advantage of the holes in Michigan's defense. Hornibrook is not the guy you want throwing to those six inches of slant space Michigan's base Cover 1 leaves open by alignment. Taylor is the wrong back to play against when your WLB is undersized and eager to take a shot at a gap. A fullback like Ingold and offensive linemen who raided the DL's dressing room are the wrong kind of skill position players for a linebacker corps recruited and trained to snuff out spread offenses. They're the wrong offensive line to come up against when your defensive tackle depth is down to a freshman and walk-ons.

Michigan last year was able to mostly hold up against their rushing attack with most of these same players. Unfortunately Brian only got as far as the offensive UFR before Henri the Otter of Ennui took over, so I don't have a detailed account of how that happened. My memory unfortunately is saying "Mo Hurst" and "Aubrey Solomon's coming out party" and "this was the game McCray was made for" before recalling some ref shenanigans that I'd managed to bury. I think there was a slot fade, and one long run for Taylor that took his YPC from 3 to 7. Quick rewatch of that and I think Mone was also excellent.

It's going to be a unique challenge. No frills. Not much frippery. They're just very big, they emphasize the bigness, and they play a soft schedule against a lot of teams that don't have the time or resources to train up a Tongan terror at nose or LBs who won't get caved by a bouncer in a Terrell Owens jersey.

Michigan's strength and conditioning program and few weeks of rest for the damaged DL will either be enough to stop them, or it won't. When a team can't keep up with the strength of Wisconsin, their defense will start flinging its smaller bodies at anything that moves, hoping to make up for an average size difference of 60 pounds with 60 minutes of sacrifice. That's when they go play-action, finding the cracks in your zones, waiting for that split second of weakness in your man coverage to hit that square inch you can't possibly defend. Their lefty quarterback is not afraid to find that inch, because nobody in college expects to have to defend it. He's not afraid of pressure, because it never comes. He's not afraid to admit his prurience for fast-moving bodies of water, because in Wisconsin it's finally '90s!

Like the running game, stopping their passing attack will come down to whether Michigan's athletes are that much better than those the Badgers have picked on thus far. Because Hornibrook doesn't think too long when he spots a window, the interceptions are there for the taking if you've got guts to bait him and the ability to get there and grab it:

Don Brown's squad has already passed a number of tough challenging academic challenges along the way. This week we'll see how they fare in Phys Ed.



October 11th, 2018 at 9:21 AM ^

It does, I just don't see how we stop them from going on 16 play 89 yard drives that take up 12 minutes....where they only throw the ball once too. 



* Edit * this is also a game to where I think it would be good to maybe go on Offense first, hopefully if Whisky wins the toss they defer to the second half.

Perkis-Size Me

October 11th, 2018 at 11:43 AM ^

Well we had a fully healthy DL last year, so that helped. This year, I do expect Gary and Winovich to play, but w/o Solomon or Dwumfour in this game, it gets a bit dicey. Especially if its a close game in the 4th quarter. 

I just have this awful vision in my head of Wisconsin, being down less than a TD, going on a 7 minute drive at the end of the 4th quarter, where they constantly pound the ball right up the gut because the interior of the DL is gassed and down too many bodies, and then Hornibrook scores the go ahead TD on a play action pass with 30 seconds to go. 

With playing Wisconsin, the DL is the LAST place I want to have depth issues. 


Yost Ghost

October 11th, 2018 at 11:01 AM ^

Wisconsin is 13th is S&P+ (off 8/def 55)

Yes their offense is scary good but they're defense is not.

It would appear we're meeting strength on strength in this match up.

So the question is can UM's #25 offense do more damage against their #55 defense or can Wisconsin's #8 offense do more damage against our #2 defense.

My money is on UM.

BYU is #86 (#106 off) in S&P+ and they racked up 120/191 pass/rush

Iowa #26 (#75 off) racked up 256/148 

Nebraska #71 (#67 off) racked up 407/111

This and that it's in A2 gives me hope that we can win.


October 11th, 2018 at 9:28 AM ^

This is such a fantastic dissection of Wisconsin's strengths. In years past it might be slightly mollifying to say that Michigan's D goes up against a very Wisconsinesque offense every week in practice, but not so anymore. 

IMO, Michigan is much more suited to defend OSU than they are Wisconsin. 

I feel some sense of relief knowing that Don Brown is the king of drilling in defensive soundness and gap integrity. Maryland <> Wisconsin, but there is no doubt that gap integrity was an integral part of Michigan's dismantling of the Terps and I think it's safe to say that it will be a huge part of this game's outcome too, one way or another.

That Wisconsin Oline... I be like damn.


October 11th, 2018 at 9:33 AM ^

I am slightly terrified now and yet comforted at the same time that it took two fumbled punt returns and an INT by Stanley for Wisconsin to be in a position win that Iowa game. Despite the three turnovers, the Hawkeyes led until 1:00 left in the game.

Take care of the football and good things will happen for Michigan.


October 11th, 2018 at 10:02 AM ^

Wisconsin only put together a full drive on their last possession in that game. They were picking up a first down here and there but they would fizzle out. I don't know how good the Iowa D is but they were good enough to win that game. I certainly didn't get the impression that Wisconsin was the behemoth, crushing death run machine that people have worked themselves into thinking.


October 11th, 2018 at 9:41 AM ^

Dumb question about Wisconsin: How do they do it? They take relatively unheralded large people & turn them into really excellent offensive linemen year after year over 3-4 coaches and almost 30 years with almost no down years. I cannot think of another example like it in sports. What would it look like to have an S&C program so much better than others? What do they do to keep it ahead of the competition for so long?


October 11th, 2018 at 10:24 AM ^

Well we have their old S&C coach.

The way they do it though is they have a large swath of Middle America to recruit from that hasn't been professionalized like the coasts and the South and the industrial side of the Midwest. Michigan has lost a lot of talent to players who transfer to big programs out of state, and the high schools have sent most of their talent to the big in-state programs. It's the same story around most of the country, and with 99% of high school talent filtered into about 1,000 schools the recruiters and the bagmen can sort through and get each according to his station.

Much of Wisconsin's recruiting comes from smaller schools because the small schools haven't sent their talent to get noticed. Wisconsin has all of those connections to themselves. Maybe half or more of their coaches played for Barry Alvarez.

They also have a large Polish population in Northern Wisconsin that has taken to football on a cultural level that you rarely see outside of the Deep South. The Watts come from there, as do all those weirdly named offensive linemen and linebackers they get. Wisconsin has that community virtually all to itself. It's not worthwhile for the rest of the country to try to scour all these farm towns and logging communities for talent that's been raised since birth to dream of playing for the Badgers then the Packers.

They also don't have any lower competition. The MAC is concentrated in the Rust Belt, and the small schools around Wisconsin don't offer full scholarships, so they get a bunch of walk-ons (e.g. Jack Cichy) who in Michigan might have been a Michigan State or Western Michigan star.

Iowa has similar connections around its state. The amount of talent in the Midwest is significant, but so diffused that scouts don't notice until it's too late for a rankings leap. If they got the same amount of attention that the Southern kids get I bet Wisconsin's classes would be ranked around 15 or so every year. However if they got that much attention they probably would have a lot more offers than Wisconsin.


October 11th, 2018 at 11:06 AM ^

The also have system stability. They've been running this for 30ish years. Basically nothing has changed except the name tag on the HC. When you have a system in place, and you basically never deviate, that system should be near perfect. They know what they need, they get what they need, and they do what they want. It's impressive, but it might also be why they'll never beat OSU/Bama/Georgia/Clemson. It's an old school system in a game that's evolved. Michigan has slowly caught up with the times. 

UP to LA

October 11th, 2018 at 1:35 PM ^

Interesting point about the absence of MAC-type schools. It really is just all DII-DIII schools in Wisconsin and the UP and Minnesota, and I think you're right about that having a real impact on walk-on/greyshirt recruiting.

A slight note of correction, though: the Watts are from Waukesha, which is in the south (western suburb of Milwaukee). There is a northern Wisconsin football culture, though. Part of it might be tied to Polish population, as you say, but I think there's also some vestigial non-lumbersexual lumberjack culture stuff going on -- northern Wisconsin/UP was the country's/world's leading lumber producer at the end of the 19th century, there's been little population flux since,  and there's a certain residual gruffness that leads young men toward, for instance, concussive sports.


October 11th, 2018 at 10:24 AM ^

They play in the West. Looking at their schedule from last year, I honestly believe that Michigan wins 10 or 11 games with that schedule, and yes I am referring to last years 8-5 Michigan team.

Here is their schedule from last year.

Home vs Utah St

Home vs Florida Atlantic

Away vs BYU

Home vs NW

Away vs Nebraska

Home vs Purdue

Home vs Maryland

Away vs Illinois

Away vs Indiana

Home vs Iowa

Home vs Michigan

Away vs Minnesota


That is about as weak as it gets honestly. Fast forward one year and they have already lost to BYU, and I happen to think that they will lose to Michigan and at Penn State. They will be looking at 9-3 assuming they win the rest of their games, and they should. The fact of the matter is, if they were to play in the east they would be a 9-3 or 10-2 each year and probably would not have been to a big ten championship game since Urban's second year. Still solid, but really not much better than what Michigan has been since Harbaugh's return.



October 11th, 2018 at 10:25 AM ^

"They take relatively unheralded large people & turn them into really excellent offensive linemen year after year over 3-4 coaches and almost 30 years with almost no down years."

Well, take a look at the one constant over that time period: Barry Alvarez. He was HC from '90 through '04, has been the AD since '04, and was smart enough to not hire anybody who was going to radically diverge from an offensive approach which was successful enough to win three conference championships during his time as HC.

What would have been the trajectory of Michigan football over the last decade if Lloyd Carr's successor was somebody who wanted to maintain the basics of Carr's approach to offense?

As for Wisconsin's recruiting, I've heard that their recruiters pay particular attention to areas that are not heavily recruited—mid-size cities, small towns, and outright rural areas in northern Wisconsin, MN, and other midwest states—and they do the grunt legwork of scouting these places for HS kids who fit Wisconsin's template for offensive linemen. These kids traditionally have not been highly rated, and so don't come into Wisconsin's program expecting to start as freshmen. They expect to redshirt, and to gradually work their way into the lineup by the time they're late-season sophs or juniors.

Perkis-Size Me

October 11th, 2018 at 11:55 AM ^

I've wondered the same thing, but I think part of it (in addition to Seth's great breakdown) is that Wisconsin has basically been running the exact same system for almost 30 years. Gary Andersen implemented a couple of spread elements here and there, but by and large, from Alvarez on to Chryst, the system has been the same. So you've got all that continuity where the staffs know EXACTLY what they're looking for in a player. What strengths they need to have, body frames, etc. 

It's got to be down to a science for them at this point. 

Blue In NC

October 11th, 2018 at 4:55 PM ^

I mean I get that Wisconsin is good on offense and the numbers support that but in the diagram, they would have 8 dangermen if not for a WR suspension (and still 7).  Given that level of supposed talent, they should either be an Alabama-esqe death machine or their coaching is incompetent.  I think Chryst is a good coach so IMO I lean towards 7-8 stars is a bit overrated.  Again, just my opinion but even with the "bad matchup" I personally would rather face Wisky's offense than OSU's.

I think Wisconsin will go on some long, grinding drives but I also think that this defense (even banged up) is good enough to stop them sometimes.  I also think that we will get some pressure on passing downs.  Oh wait, I forgot that holding is not called.  Scrap that.

You Only Live Twice

October 11th, 2018 at 9:58 AM ^

It's better to have realistic expectations of the opponent's capabilities. Much prefer Seth's analysis to... yesterday, driving home, hearing Nick say.... well not much of anything really, other than "have to win the next three or else"  


October 11th, 2018 at 9:59 AM ^

This is a bad week to have DT injury issues. I'm pretty nervous they are going to be able to get a few 10 play 7 minute drives that turn this into an extremely low drive affair.


October 11th, 2018 at 10:51 AM ^

It's definitely going to be a low-drive affair. Cashing in on red zone possessions is going to be so critical for Michigan, and getting Wisconsin behind the sticks and getting them off the field a couple of times could be gigantic. This could be an 8 or 9 possession game. 

This feel like a game that will be something like 9-7 or 10-9 at halftime. But I'd prefer it to be a game where Michigan is up like 17-3 at half. 


October 11th, 2018 at 11:28 AM ^

This is a good point, very few drives. Hopefully Shea can continue to extend our drives but it seems this offense takes time to heat up, and we start cashing in regularly around the 5-6 drive of the game. Going to need to cash in early. Protecting the ball, getting key stops or a turnover, or a special teams score would be huge in this game, for either team.


October 11th, 2018 at 11:38 AM ^

Agree. People look at different reasons for why individual drives peter out (Brian went to some length to mention that against Maryland, unlike at Northwestern, Michigan picked up serious yardage before the drives halted) but they all seem to peter out eventually. Michigan gained yards against Notre Dame before failing to score points, as well. 

This game is a big opportunity for things to change. It boggles that Michigan keeps taking the ball first and then failing to score; I'd prefer to start on defense if the plan is a slow build to some of the really exciting stuff that can produce big plays. But if they get the ball first, scoring a TD, getting a stop, and then getting another score of some kind would be a huuuuuuge opening to the game that can change the complexion of everything. 

4th and Go For It

October 11th, 2018 at 11:36 AM ^

May be a low-drive affair but last year vs UW we had a surprising number of drives. Last year's game UM had 13 possessions plus a one play drive before halftime. Granted that involved a lot of 3 and outs and short drives from us that allowed for that, which no one wants, but we also held them to a lot of 3-6 and outs. 

If our D has another stout outing and limits their extended drives, and Shea can hit some deep plays to help us score more quickly on what is a suspect Wisconsin secondary, there may be more possessions here than we're thinking.


October 11th, 2018 at 10:06 AM ^

On the WTKA/MGoBlog Round Table Brian just called Hornibrook the best QB in the conference.

Whether he is might be debatable, but he's certainly good enough to beat Michigan on the road.

Blue In NC

October 11th, 2018 at 5:01 PM ^

Sorry, not buying that, at least individually.  He is that good because of (a) the great running game, and (b) great protection in the pocket.  That doesn't mean he's not good but a number of QBs could thrive in that scenario.  That being said, he is called upon to be a game manager, make some key throws and not screw things up and is doing a great job of that.  But better than McSorley, Shea and Haskins (and others)?  Not sure I agree.

4th and Go For It

October 11th, 2018 at 10:08 AM ^

They're a solid offense no doubt and stiff test for our defense. However it seems so far that 2018 UW < 2017 UW.  Keep in mind in last year's game our defense allowed no more than 6 plays per drive and forced 7 punts and 1 INT on UW's first 8 drives. If it wasn't for a punt return TD allowed, Michigan would have been up 10-0 late in the third before UW put together their first real drive - 7 plays for 75 yards and a TD. Alas they did have that punt return and that put it to 14-10 Wisconsin. Brandon Peters gets knocked out, and UW answers with a TD, hope dies, we lose. 

The D only gave up 17 points to this team last year with the other 7 coming on the punt return. This year's UW team seems about the same on Offense and worse on Defense. Shea Patterson exists. This won't be last year's outcome. 


October 11th, 2018 at 11:37 AM ^'s not a dynamic offense, and it's still the #1 defense in the country yardage wise. It's the same as the last 2 years. In 2016 it was 88 yards to the Corey Clement rushing attack, and 159 on the day. 2017 it was 58 rushing yards on 37 plays and 234 total.  

Michigan won in 2016, and had a decent shot last year if Peters stays healthy.  This years offense >>>last years offense. 


October 11th, 2018 at 12:44 PM ^

But you can't just ignore the impact the injuries to the DTs will have on this game vs. last year. There's no worst position to be depleted against UW than DT. The best Oline in the conference in front of arguably the best QB and best RB going up against an injury depleted defensive front is scary as hell. 

Their game plan has to be drawn up on one the ball up the middle, wear them action late.


October 11th, 2018 at 10:22 AM ^

Would be curious if BYU did anything specific to pull of the upset or if it truly was an anomaly. I saw BYU play and they looked awful. If Gary and kemp are back, then I think our dline depth is good enough.


October 11th, 2018 at 10:24 AM ^

Our DL is depleted but frankly this is a good game to have Mone.  Also, while Brown's squads are built to stop spread attacks, if they've spent any amount of time repping against the first-team offense they're familiar with this look.  That don't guarantee a win, but they won't be unprepared.


October 11th, 2018 at 2:57 PM ^

No, we don't, and that says something.  Solomon, even if he plays, won't be a full speed after being out so long.  Gary has a bum shoulder.  If the Maryland injuries are toss-ups then it's likely at least one of them is still hurt.

I'm not necessarily talking "too hurt to play".  If any of these injuries aren't bad enough to keep them off the field but rob them of power and/or mobility, it's going to make a difference.


October 11th, 2018 at 10:27 AM ^

By late game week against even mediocre opponents I'm worried. Against good opponents I'm downright concerned. Against a team built to manball into our depleted defensive front? 

I'm terrified.

That's not a useful barometer. I'm always terrified. Still, though. 

Mone and Marshall need to play the games of their lives. Kemp and Solomon would be a big help if they're healthy.

And Rashan, man. It's time. 

yossarians tree

October 11th, 2018 at 1:36 PM ^

Umbig11 said Gary and Kemp are in, and Solomon is probable though we can't expect his best. At least he's a body to rotate in. Even Jeter is a big axe that can take a few swings at their interior O-line. And Gary can slide inside and wreck havoc with his quickness. I wonder if we see less Hudson and more Furbush in this game seeing Furbush as a bigger, more traditional stay-at-home linebacker who can fill gaps.