Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Cincinnati Comment Count

Brian September 14th, 2017 at 3:33 PM

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


These were both pass rush exotics.

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


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

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

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

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

[After THE JUMP: the killers!]

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 over Press one high Pass 5 PA rollout TE flat Kinnel Inc
First pick route, although this one is merely attempted and not executed because Michigan blitzes McCray and replaces him with Kinnel(+2, cover +2). Kinnel shoots down in to the box and gets cheek to jowl with the TE, preventing the pick from happening. Unclear if QB responds by throwing it away or just missing. McCray(+0.5) forced a throw after being left unblocked by the blitz. RPS +1.
O25 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-2-5 Nickel over Press one high Pass 4 Tunnel screen Hudson 6
UC is running this so that the left side of the line stays in, so Winovich thinks this is a legit pass rush opp because his guy just sets up to block him. Mone slants over there as well and gets a similar look. Someone probably screws up as there is no one to block Hudson coming from the interior. Hudson(-0.5) does redirect to tackle but he’s reading the tunnel late and gives up a chunk. Good thing he did so because McCray(-2) failed to read the screen, failed to see the C coming out on him, got blocked by a guy who was 3 yards inside of him on the snap, and then tried to go upfield, airballing. If Hudson isn’t there McCray gets not even a hand on the back and loses leverage. Gary(+1, pressure +1) whooped his guy around the corner and he’s just straight up pass blocking.
O31 3 4 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 Faux nickel over Press two high Pass 3 In Hudson Inc
Huge split between Hurst and Gary filled by Furbush as a quasi-nose and McCray over the guard. M backs out, rushing 3. Hudson(+1, cover +1) jumps the quick route and disrupts it; ball sails past harmlessly. Winovich(+0.5) and Gary(+0.5) had driven guys back to the QB and this throw had to be out despite the three man rush, pressure +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-0, 11 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play    Player Yards
O13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 over Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Hurst 1
Hurst(+1) gets in the A gap and drives into the backfield, forcing a cutback into Gary(+1), who blew up a tight end and flowed down the line.
O14 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Press one high Pass 5 Flare Bush 3
This will be an interesting contrast with McCray later. This is another attempted pick route and they do catch man coverage. Bush(+1, cover +1) moves out in coverage, immediately checks where his pick is coming from, and runs around it, forming up on the sideline in position after the catch and forcing the back out for a minimal gain.
O17 3 6 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-3 line slide Press two high Penalty N/A Delay N/A -5
Winovich your ‘nose’ with Hurst and Gary to his left and the LBs also slid to the field. Pass rush exotic. Cinci is baffled, checks, runs out of time, has already used a TO earlier this half against this same weirdass setup, RPS +1.
O12 3 11 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-3 over SAM Press two high Pass 4 Dig Winovich INT
So this is open for a first down because McCray(-2, cover -2) sucks up on a five yard hitch route on third and eleven and not at or near the sticks. Michigan gets bailed out by Winovich(+1) or Hurst(+1) or both(pressure +2), as Moore gets impacted on the throw, which sails directly to Kinnel(+1). TD return.
Drive Notes: Defensive TD, 14-0, 7 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-3-4 4-3 under Press one high Pass 4 Slant Metellus 9
Metellus(-1, cover -1) beat and can only tackle after the catch.
O34 2 1 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 5 Sack Bush -9
More or less a double A twist with Furbush(+1) already at the LOS. He drives the RG and prevents him from having any thought of popping off on Bush(+2, pressure +3), who times it up and solo sacks. Hurst(+1) probably irritated since he was a step behind. RPS +2, this was going to be super hard to deal with.
O25 3 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 Faux nickel over Press two high Pass 3 Corner? N/A Inc
Three man rush but it’s not anywhere near(pressure -1). This throw is seven yards away from the nearest receiver. Coverage(+2) solid on everyone I can see.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-0, 5 min 1st Q. Punt hits a gunner and D right back on the field.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
M38 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 5 Slant Glasgow Inc
Glasgow(+1, cover +1) in for Metellus briefly. He does better against a slant, contesting and possibly getting a grab in on the arms at the critical moment.
M38 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3-4 4-3 even Press two high Pass 4 PA fly Watson Inc
PA is convincing and nerfs the rush(pressure -2); this is two high and clearly zone coverage; they try to high low Watson and throw the deep fly route. I can see nothing of what happens until late in this play; Watson is running a step late and inside but still gets his hand up to PBU(+2, cover +1). There are throws that complete this with more arc but not many. Metellus is not anywhere near getting over the top of this but I’m not sure if that’s by design or just an error.
M38 3 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-2 dime Press one high Pass 5 Tunnel screen Kinnel 11
100% RPS as Michigan sends all five guys in the box at the quarterback and eats a screen. Bush(-1) does not climb over the pick route he’s getting and gets plastered by one of the releasing OL; he probably has no shot at this but the cut block that chops him down is authoritative. Kinnel(+3, tackling +3) saves a should be touchdown with an awesome fill, beating a free releasing OL and tackling Boone in an acre of space. RPS -3. Bush misses the rest of this drive for Robo, FWIW.
M27 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3-4 4-3 over SAM Press one high Run N/A Speed option Winovich 16
Also feels RPS-y. This is a speed option ‘counter’ off what looks like a regular zone read look. Winovich(-2) forms up as if to contain the QB on that and continues to contain the QB even when the play changes and the RB is the guy in need of contain. Pitch read is obvious, made, and successful. RPS -1; DE and McCray trying to contain this RB in space and getting suckered by a look they seemingly had not prepared for.
M11 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3-4 4-4 over Press one high Pass 7 Rollout out Watson Inc
All out blitz met with a rollout but Watson(+1, cover +1) is in the pocket of the available receiver and disrupted the timing with his press, so the ball is wide and the WR is not ready.
M11 2 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 Nickel even Press two high Run N/A Rollout scramble Winovich 6
Zone read fake with a one man route from the TE in the flat. Watson covers it; QB just tucks and runs from the moment after the supposed mesh point. Winovich(-0.5)    redirects to force it out but a step too late to hold this down to a few yards.
M5 3 4 Shotgun 2TE 3-3-5 Nickel even Press two high Pass 4 Fade Hill Inc (Pen +3)
The dubious PI call. I’m not minusing this.
M2 1 G Shotgun empty twin TE 4-3-4 4-4 over Press zero Run N/A QB power Gary 1
WR comes in motion for a jet fake and they run QB power behind it. Gary(+2) stands up and throws away a tight end. He gets hit by the puller. Robo comes up and helps slow momentum but doesn’t really get much of a hit in. Gary actually makes most of this tackle from underneath the mess.
M1 2 G Shotgun twin TE 4-3-4 4-4 over Press zero Run N/A Inside zone Wroblewski 0
Mone(+0.5) goes for a submarine move that slashes down the C and leaves a big gap that Robo(+1) fills, getting a bit lucky that the back is off balance because of the feet o the guy Mone got under.
M1 3 G Shotgun twin TE Goal line Goal line Press zero Run N/A Inside zone Wroblewski 1
Exact same play with the exact same result, with Mone(+0.5) and Hurst(+0.5) clearing the decks for Robo(-1) to hammer the dude; he takes one false step and that robs him of the necessary momentum. Wonder if Bush gets this stop.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-7, 2 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Zone read sprint Winovich 15
Inverted veer without the pull totally relies on Winovich(-2) forming up on the QB and getting flanked by the running back, a la UCF last year, and it happens. Once RB is outside he’s to the S.
O40 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Power O Bush 3
Jet sweep fake and then power. M hands the jet to Metellus and this allows Hudson to stay involved in the front; line creases, not too hard with just three guys, as Furbush(-1) loses up front. Hurst almost grabs from behind but can’t quite make it. Bush(+1) runs up to hit the puller and stalls him out; RB runs into puller and starts losing balance, where Hudson(+0.5) finishes. RPS +1, Hudson was unblocked and able to finish at 3 yards.
O43 2 7 Shotgun 4-wide tight 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Pass 5 Sack Kinnel -7
Pass pro bust by UC facilitated by their set here, which allows Kinnel(+1, pressure +3) to set up just off the line. Winovich dives inside and McCray blitzes right behind him, drawing RB and RT attention, Kinnel jumps on the back of the QB. RPS +2.
O36 3 14 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 Nickel over Press two high Pass 4 Dig Bush Inc
Pocket is clean for a second but Furbush(+1, pressure +1) is able to redirect and hint after Moore’s first pump. If this ball isn’t out now, it’s a sack. It is, Bush(+2, cover +2) is maybe the reason for the pump and is now able to PBU.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 12 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O33 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Run N/A Inside zone McCray 6
Definite zone look with Furbush evacuating the box late and a safety coming down. M is shading the NT as well, presaging shenanigans. These do not work as McCray(-1) got stapled inside by an aware LG; Kinnel looks like he gets upfield but almost closes this down. Bush can’t get over; Metellus fills. RPS -1, this was not timed well and Michigan’s light front got a bit exposed as a result.
O39 2 4 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 30 nickel slide Press two high Pass 4 Hitch Watson Inc
Pocket is mostly good but Winovich(+0.5) is driving his guy into the QB, disrupting a bit. Throw is upfield of the WR; Watson(+1, cover +1) in position to contest and does. Not quite a PBU but he’s a factor.
O39 3 4 Shotgun trips bunch 3-2-6 3-2 dime Press one high Pass 4 Hitch Hurst Inc
Hurst(+2, pressure +2) gets through two gaps and gets pressure up the middle; Moore does get the ball off but just barely. It’s a little hitch out of the bunch that Long(+1, cover +1) probably tackles on immediately and short of the sticks. He doesn’t have to as the WR bobbles it.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 8 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Counter Solomon 2
Jet action, counter opposite it. Solomon(+2) shoves the LG into the backfield and cuts off the outside, absorbing a puller. Furbush(-1) got blocked out of the picture effectively so the play gains instead of loses yards. Bush(+0.5) is the first guy to the scene despite initially checking the jet.
O22 2 8 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Flare Long Inc
Must throw as Winovich(+1, pressure +1) runs over the LT. He’s going down too and this is going to be a hurry/scramble situation, not a sack. QB dumps it to the back, who drops it and wasn’t going anywhere anyway with Long(+0.5) and McCray(+0.5, cover +1) in the area.
O22 3 8 Shotgun empty TE 3-3-5 Nickel under Press one high Pass 5 Sack Hudson -7
TE left in and doesn’t matter as Hudson(+1, pressure +3) gets a free run. He makes it count. Winovich(+1) and Hurst(+1) beat blockers and meet at the QB. RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-7, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O13 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Furbush 0
Furbush(+1) draws the attention of two OL for the duration and doesn’t get killed. Hurst(+0.5) and Winovich(+0.5) both stand up guys and make the frontside unappealing; cutback is doomed with Bush(+0.5) and Gary(+1) meeting at the back, Gary after he dismissed a guy.
O13 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Bush 4
Just a bare crease as Gary(-1) slants inside and gets moved out and upfield by a double. Hurst(+2) blew his guy up but couldn’t close it down entirely. He did force the back out of an ideal flight path and gave Bush(+1) an opportunity to get around a free releaser and to the back to prevent a chunk play.
O17 3 6 Shotgun double stacks 3-3-5 Dime Press one high Pass 4 Tunnel screen N/A 20
Another RPS as the double stacks all but clear the box and Bush motions out with the back to the other side. The four guys left in the box all rush. Nobody doubles back. Hudson gets doubled downfield. And that’s the only guy until the safeties. RPS -3.
O37 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 5 Wheel McCray 25
This is not really a pick. WR is looking to disrupt, he does not block, McCray goes around him on very much the wrong side because he does this sort of thing, and the wheel is screamingly wide open. A guy like McCray(-3, cover -3) should never ever go under the screen, so to speak, and should just contain. Especially now. This is just malpractice on his part. If McCray does cover this this is a sack as Furbush(+2, pressure +2) rips up the middle past a blocker and Gary(+1) is a step behind.
M38 1 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 5 Throwaway McCray Inc
UC elects not to block McCray(+1, pressure +3, RPS +2) up the gut, which OK. Moore throws the ball from the pocket to absolutely no one but doesn’t get a grounding call, refs -2. Also, Brandon Watson got run over on another blatant pick, no call, refs -2.
M38 2 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Rollout out Hudson Inc
Low snap throws this off but still nowhere to go. Receivers covered(+2), with Hudson in the pocket of the relevant guy on a bad overthrow.
M38 3 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-3 stack Half press one high Pass 4 Sack Hudson -1
Coverage(+1) is good for a beat and then Hudson(+3) converts a speed rush by ducking under and OL, beating a hold (refs –2), and sacking. Pressure +2.
M39 4 11 Shotgun empty TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 5 Corner McCray Inc (Pen +10)
Hudson lined up in the box over the RG as an obvious blitzer and when the back motions out it’s McCray who goes with him. Obvious spot to attack is obvious and is attacked. McCray(-1, cover -2) tackles the guy in a panic. RPS -2, asking for it asking for it asking for it. Free run for Winovich(pressure +3) doesn’t matter because McCray panicked; this throw wasn’t anywhere near the guy and he had a guy over the top.
M29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Fade Watson Inc
Watson(+2, cover +2) dominates this route and provides no window for a completion. Winovich(+0.5) and Hurst(+0.5) are closing(pressure +1), forcing the throw.
M29 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Penalty N/A Delay N/A -5
M34 2 15 Shotgun trips 3-2-6 3-2 dime Press two high Pass 5 Throwaway Watson Inc
Watson(+1) blitzes off the corner without a tip and Gary(+0.5) and Hurst(+0.5) are cutting off all escape angles. Pressure +2 despite the rollout; cover +2 because nobody’s open, QB hurls it away.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(51), 17-7, EOH.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O15 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 PA slant Metellus Inc
Metellus(+0.5, cover +1) in position to make a play but the ball is wide so no opportunity. Ball out too fast for pressure to get there.
O15 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Split zone Furbush 0
Both OLBs creep to line and blitz. Hurst(+1) gets a one on one matchup and puts the C on skates, cutting off gaps and threatening to tackle. RB can’t go inside of that because Furbush(+1) rode through a double that’s very badly executed by the OL. He’s in the lane, must bounce. Hudson(+0.5) there to clean up the bounce as Furbush is tackling.
O15 3 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-3 line slide Press two high Pass 3 Corner McCray 15
M doesn’t rush Winovich, who is a screen/draw spy. Bush(-1) doesn’t get a great jump on his blitz and the other two guys are handled (pressure -1). McCray(-2, cover -2) again in a zone and this is pretty frustrating on third and ten, to watch him get seven yards of depth, read the QB, and start moving upfield and to the outside. He’s at five yards depth when the ball goes over his outstretched hand. If he’s at ten this is a PBU. I really don’t get what he’s seeing here.
O30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 PA slant Kinnel Inc
Slant again; this time it’s on track and Kinnel(+2, cover +2) is there to knock the WR off balance and grab at an arm to force an incompletion.
O30 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Power O McCray 5
Uh man I don’t want to heap on McCray(-1, tackling -1) here but he meets the back at a yard and lets up 4 YAC with no OL pushing, really. Winovich(+1) had gotten off a down block and forced the ball backside, away from the intended gap and McCray was a free hitter there.
O35 3 5 Shotgun trips bunch TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 ARO Thomas 7
America’s rollout out. Michigan shows man with Ambry Thomas tracking across the formation with a man in motion. Cinci WR simply blocks Watson backwards into Thomas’s path and that’s an open first down because woo OPI. Refs -2, RPS -1.
O42 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Screen Furbush Inc
Furbush(+2, cover +2) is looking for this and gets off his OL block, bashing the back in the backfield. QB turfs it. Fun fact: no PI behind the LOS so as long as you don’t hold them it’s all legal, baby. RPS +2.
O42 2 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Zone spring keeper Jones 46
Mostly on a big MA from Jones(-3), as M has a scrape on. McCray is the edge gentleman and flows out to the back capably. This should allow Jones to attack the QB for an easy TFL. Instead he forms up as if he’s the contain. That leaves just four M defenders in the box against four blockers, and bad news ensues. Hurst(-1) does get too aggressive and puts himself on one side of a block in a bad situation here but that’s who he is. Furbush drives another OL and fights back to the gap but not quite fast enough. No LB level with Bush going hard to close off a frontside gap, and then Kinnel(-2, tackling -2) misses a tackle just after the sticks to make it a large bad play.
M12 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 PA rollout TE flat Hudson 2
Hudson(+1, cover +1) in man on the TE and tracks him across the formation, too deep for the pick to work. He tackles after a modest gain.
M10 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 5 Pick corner Kinnel 10
WR blocks Watson into Kinnel again, obvious OPI, refs -3. Also RPS -1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown,17-14, 11 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O32 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A Jet sweep Metellus 4
Hill(-1) is sent on a CB blitz that should be an RPS win but he doesn’t hit the blitz hard enough and his WR can block him. It’s still not bad as Metellus(+1) comes flying up and Bush(+1) is hard to flank on these. Gary helps tackle too.
O36 2 6 Shotgun trips TE 4-2-5 Nickel over Press two high Run N/A Inside zone Mone 3
Mone(+0.5) again stands up to a double. He does get moved a little bit, but late. Hurst(+0.5) gets a double that doesn’t last as long, stands up to it as well, and getes off to tackle. McCray(+0.5) also there, closing down the space.
O39 3 3 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Pass 5 Skinny post McCray Inc
Ugh, now deeply uncomfortable with pending McCray grade but I cant’ see any way this isn’t his deal. M plays cover two with Hill popping off the outside WR and getting a short crossing route at the sticks. Outside receiver runs a wide open slant as McCray(-2, cover -2) clearly runs after the same route Hill is covering, leaving the outside WR wide open in the pocket before the S. QB misses badly, lucky. Pressure(-3) nowhere near despite a five man rush.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
M46 1 10 Pistol 3-wide 4-3-4 4-3 over Press one high Pass 4 PA rollout TE flat Furbush Inc
Jet fake, interior fake, rollout. Nothing seems open(cover +2) and eventually McCray(+1, pressure +1) feels like he can run up to contain. He does, forcing a zero yard throw to a guy Furbush(+1) has blanketed.
M46 2 10 Shotgun empty 4-3-4 Nickel over Press one high Pass 4 Slant-corner Metellus Inc
Slant fake gets Metellus(-2, cover -2) to bite and deep shot is on. QB hears footsteps from Winovich(+1, pressure +1) and doesn’t step into the throw. It’s well long. Metellus was in the building at least, so not -3.
M46 3 10 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Pass 4 Corner McCray Inc
This is the coverage McCray(+2, cover +2) should have been in on the –2 plays earlier in the game. He gets good depth, drifts outside, and provides no window to throw in, because he’s leaping at the ball from ten yards deep instead of five. Hurst(+1, pressure +1) forced the throw and got a hit in.
Drive Notes: Punt, 17-14, 5 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Hurst 1
Hurst(+1) and Gary slant with LB support backside and Hurst makes the back spin in the backfield. Bush(+0.5) comes up to hit, almost loses the tackle and then kind of flings himself further along the ground from his knees to grab an ankle; this plus Hudson(+0.5) coming down gets it done. RPS +1, slant forces to unblocked.
O26 2 9 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-2 diime Press two high Pass 4 Tunnel screen Hudson 8
No help from the DL but at least this is just four and there are a reasonable number of people in the area. Bush(+1) attacks and gets two guys to block him; McCray reads this a little slow but is dealing with same action to the other side so understandable; feel like Hudson(-1) should be filling much faster than this as a two deep S who should be reading these interior WRs.
O34 3 1 Shotgun twins twin TE 4-3-4 4-3 over SAM Press zero Run N/A Inside zone Hurst 0
Hurst(+2) times the snap and blows off the line and crushes the RT and disconnects to tackle. This is from the side so it could still end up falling across the line but Mone(+2) has taken and driven a double team and Bush(+1) has run up to hit the C back so this collapses around the back comprehensively and four guys tackle.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-14, 1 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 Nickel over Press two high Pass 4 Slant Watson Inc (Pen +15)
This is just a poor throw but Watson(+1, cover +1) in position to rip it out of it’s not. As it is he’s almost intercepting a ball that catches him by surprise. Gary gets the garbage roughing/targeting call on this, only part of which is overturned, refs -3.
M40 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 4-2-5 Nickel even Press two high Run N/A Inverted veer keeper Winovich -2
Winovich(+3) blazes around the LT and runs directly at the mesh point. He engulfs the back, discovers he doesn't have the ball, discards him, and then TFLs the QB. I be like dang. M was well positioned to hold this down anyway with Bush(+0.5) and McCray(+0.5) showing in the right spots to deal with the puller and then the QB.
M42 2 12 Shotgun trips 4-2-5 Nickel even Press two high Pass 4 Throwaway Gary Inc
Gary(+3, pressure +3) is off the edge in a flash, reaching the QB as fast as humanly possible. QB hurls the ball in the vicinity of a receiver and prevents a sack, so he’s got that going for him.
M42 3 12 Shotgun empty 4-2-5 Nickel even Press two high Pass 4 Fade Hudson Inc
This isn’t a slant fake it’s just Hudson(-2, cover -2) getting beat straight up. He avoids -3 since he will tackle short of the endzone if caught but this is a straight up drop on a guy who spent way too long in a backpedal before converting to trail coverage. This throw is kind of incredible since Hurst(+2, pressure +2) drove through the middle of the pocket on a stunt, discarding an OL and blowing up the QB as Winovich(+1) powered the pocket shut. This looked like a prayer when it went up.
Drive Notes: Punt, 24-14, 13 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3-4 4-3 even Press two high Run N/A Zone read keeper Gary -2
Never going to work. Hill(+1) gets outside his guy and upfield and will cut off the edge. Furbush(+0.5) and Gary(+1) chase inside out and force it to Hill. Gary gets more points because he shouldn’t be able to do this. RPS +1.
O23 2 12 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3-4 4-3 even Press two high Pass 4 Flare screen McCray 6
On the one hand, McCray does a terrific job to dodge a cut block from a WR and get out on the RB. On the other he barely slows the RB and allows him outside. This converts -3 into 6. But he did delay. Push, tackling -2? Is that possible? Yes.
O29 3 6 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-3 line slide Press one high Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
Presnap movement gets ‘em spooked.
O24 3 11 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-2 dime Press one high Pass 4 Tunnel screen McCray 9
Again open. Bush(-2) fails to read this and anticipate contact. He gets slashed down and is gone. Long blocked by OL, forces it inside sort of. McCray(+2) rescues a first down by reading fast and successfully going upfield of a blocker. He tackles, mostly, about six yards past the LOS. He can’t quite get the guy down; Kinnel(+0.5) comes up for the finishing thump.
Drive Notes: Punt, 27-14-, 7 min 4th Q. Punt snap goes into the endzone for a safety, as is only right.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 Nickel even Press two high Pass 4 Rollout hitch Hill INT
Zoom in and no good replay so dunno. This is a very Blake Countess INT where Hill(+3, cover +3) baits the QB into thinking he’s covering something shorter and then steps in front for the pick. Maybe? Anyway, pick six.
Drive Notes: Defensive TD, 36-14, 4 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3-4 4-3 even Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Mone 3
Mone(+0.5) and Solomon(+0.5) don’t go anywhere; Bush(+0.5) runs up to hit the C. Pile lurches forward.
O28 2 7 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3-4 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A Speed option Gil 5
Gil(-1) makes a version of the McCray mistake where he doesn’t look out for crack blocks. He runs too far upfield and takes the block. He bounces off it and pursues, at least. Kinnel rallies to tackle with help from a couple others.
O33 3 2 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3-4 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A Inside zone Kinnel 3
Solomon(+0.5) holds up to a double pretty well, leaving a creepin’ safety as the free hitter. He’s late to stop the first down because of the situation.
O36 1 10 Shotgun trips 4-3-4 4-3 over Press two high Pass 4 Dumpoff Thomas -1
Cover two so Thomas(+1, cover +1) is right there to stick on the catch. He can’t tackle but does slow the guy significantly; this leaks a few yards.
O35 2 11 Shotgun trips 4-3-4 4-3 over Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Marshall 2
Marshall with a decent play as he gets left too soon.
O37 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3-4 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A Inverted veer keeper Uche 3
Uche is more or less free as a Cinci lineman stops his pull for bad reasons. I probably shouldn’t have charted this drive.
Drive Notes: Punt, 36-14, EOG.

Is it wrong that I'm concerned at this performance?

probably, but okay shoot

I mean, 14 points to a team that barely beat Austin Peay, and they missed two open deep shots. One was a flat drop on a touchdown.

Fourteen points? Is that gross or net?

Gross. But bad team so we look for holes they poked, right?

I see your point. High level drive chart to set the table, with the last one (six plays, 16 yards in garbage time) omitted:

  • 12 three and outs, two of which are pick sixes
  • 2 first-down-and-outs
  • 53 yard drive at end of first half ending in 51 yard FGA
  • 9 play TD drive starting at Michigan 38
  • 10 play 85 yard TD drive

The holes poked were few and far between. They are such that we can more or less list all the ways in which Cincinnati had any success that wasn't a one-off based on a bust.

I have a feeling the words "tunnel screen" are in my immediate future.

Yes, they are, although not for very long. I don't have much to add to Seth's analysis. Michigan got RPSed hard on the most successful of them. They'd have five guys in the box or even four; all those guys would go after the QB, and the linebackers were often one on two or even three. That kind of thing. Later they started running defenses that left screen spies at the LOS; Cincinnati did not run tunnels on any of those playcalls.

Five tunnel screens went for a total 54 yards; Michigan has work to do here. They're likely to figure it out, though they'll have to make some sacrifices to do so by rushing less relentlessly on occasion.

Okay, and then?

Another genre of successful Cincinnati play outflanked Michigan by switching the edge guy. This speed option has a clever twist:

#15 DE to top of line

It features a fake mesh point to put the DE in zone read mode. Winovich is contain. The mesh makes him think the QB is the player in need of containment, and he doesn't adjust when the QB and RB switch roles. Michigan's seen this a few times before, but not recently. That's a simple fix Michigan will practice and get down. UC also flanked Winovich on one of those zone sprint plays Michigan had trouble with last year; again Winovich focused on containing the QB instead of the guy running outside. Again: not too hard to fix.

The third and most irritating variety of successful Bearcat plays was a series of blatant OPIs delivered to Brandon Watson's facemask. At least four times in this game a Cincinnati receiver simply blocked Watson into the path of another defensive back. Or did this to him:

CB 28 to bottom of screen

"And let's not forget that keeping wildlife, an amphibious rodent, for, uh, domestic, you know, within the city... that ain't legal either." –refereeing points of emphasis, 2017.

What can you do about that if they're not going to call it? Switch to a bunch of zone, which Michigan did in the second half. 

And what happened on the QB run?

This is filed under one-off bust, and that by a backup. Michigan has a scrape exchange on that should work for a TFL. McCray chases the back out, beating an OL and defeating that bit of the play; Reuben Jones, on one of his three or four snaps, is thus free to thunder at the quarterback and tackle. Instead he forms up as if he is contain, and all the scrape does for Michigan is erase the linebacker level:

4 DE and 9 LB to top of screen

Kinnel then misses a tackle to tack a bunch on. I minused him for that but in his defense it is hard on safeties when players bust directly up the middle of the field that quickly.

Okay but what about the things that they didn't get but could have gotten?

In the game column I credited Cincinnati for setting up a double move with a bunch of slants; this was half true. Metellus did get burned on a carefully prepared slant-corner. He ate the first slant UC threw, which was the only poorly-defended one. After the first shot Michigan harassed every subsequent slant into an incompletion. Glasgow, Kinnel, and Metellus all chipped in. And then the Bearcats went for the payoff:

S #14 on bottom hash

That is a well timed counter and Cincinnati had a shot. Winovich helps disrupt this; QB clearly hears footsteps there. The opportunity was there.

The second one at Hudson was worse coverage since there's really no move, and a much much better throw since Michigan is pouring through the line:

#7 S between bottom hash and numbers

Hudson just spends way too much time in his backpedal before converting to man coverage. That's a guy who's not totally comfortable in zone coverage yet.

This too is an area for some concern. Michigan is going to continue putting their safeties in these situations. Like Onwenu we're talking about true sophomores in start #2 (#3 for Metellus), so there's reason to believe the box safeties will get better at this. There's always a leak somewhere, though, and this looks like a candidate.

So... how did the needle move after this game?

Not much. Still stuck on top five defense that isn't Alabama. The chart, with one notable exception, is solid to better top to bottom:

[update: I did not add in the last desultory drive here since it was very garbage time]

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Gary 11 1 10 That get off though.
Hurst 14.5 1 13.5 Lack of stats must be killing him.
Mone 3.5 3.5 Beast mode 3rd and 1.
Winovich 11 4.5 6.5 Edged twice, otherwise terrific.
Kemp   DNC
Solomon 2 2 Blew up a power.
Marshall     DNC
Paye DNC
Jones 3 -3 Scrape bust.
TOTAL 42 9.5 32.5 Almost total dominance from starters.
Player + - T Notes
Furbush 9.5 2 7.5 Robbed of a couple sacks by instathrows from QB.
Bush 12 4 8 +3 sack again, very good otherwise.
McCray 8 14 -6 Zone issues. Edge issues.
Robo 1 1 0 One successful hit, one unsuccessful
TOTAL 30.5 21 9.5 Busy McCray day discussed below.
Player + - T Notes
Hudson 7.5 3.5 4 +3 sack, one –2 cover he got lucky on.
Metellus 1.5 3 -1.5 Quiet, had the other dangerous moment.
Kinnel 9.5 2 7.5 The impressive things were not the big things.
Hill 4 1 3 INT and otherwise ignored.
Long 0.5 0.5 Ignored.
Watson 8 8 Hello!
Glasgow 1 1 One snap, one slant breakup(ish).
TOTAL 31 9.5 21.5 Don Brown hat trick.
Pressure 36 7 +29 So many sacks avoided by QB hurling ball at 2 sec.
Coverage 32 16 +16 More holes this week
Tackling 3 5 -2 Less great. –15 to –20 yards on day.
RPS 15 12 +3 Tunnel screens versus unblocked rushers.

Another day where the DL is utterly dominant—aside from the Jones error the only DL issues were Winovich getting edged twice and a nit picked here and there. Another day where Bush is terrific, and the safeties are mostly terrific, and a huge pressure number. And a notable exception.

So... uh, that notable exception.

Yeah. By the third quarter I was uncomfortable with how this was going to come out. McCray did salvage a couple things after, but not enough. This was a poor performance.

At this point it doesn't even bother me when McCray gets juked in the open field by a back; that's life. (Also I didn't minus that because he beat a cut block and gave up 6 on second and 12.) And I don't really blame him for the holding call since Michigan put him in a terrible spot, alone in man coverage on a tailback. There is no reason that should ever happen.

The other coverage issues were more bothersome because that's a mental problem a fifth year senior is having. The contrast between McCray and Bush jumped out at me. UC spent most of the day trying to pick Michigan defenders in man coverage. When this happens and you are a linebacker the thing to do is to get modest. You are a linebacker. You can't go under the screen, because Nik Stauskas will rain on you.

If anyone can defy this maxim it's Bush, but when UC tested Bush in coverage he darted around the pick and got there to defeat the play:

MLB #10

That's so good. Bush has a pretty good idea of what's coming and is just checking to make sure. He immediately scans for the pick, finds it, and goes around it, reaching the sideline with the back. The Bearcats did not test Bush again, except once by accident.

McCray is still not getting around the screen. The wheel route was the clearest example:

LB #9

There were complaints about this being a pick on twitter. No sale. UC did get away with a bunch of flat-out blocks. This was not one of them. The WR sets, turns back to the QB, and is not, say, blocking Brandon Watson for the duration of the play. This is on McCray, and on the fact that he is still trying to go under the screen. He's been torched for a solid year on edge stuff and should be the first linebacker in the world to go into damage control mode by making the same move Bush did in the first clip, except slower. Instead, that.

Compounding matters is that for most of the game McCray's zone drops were terrible. Here's the good one.

LB #9

That's what it's supposed to look like, especially on third down. McCray gets good depth, reads the QB, and runs out on that corner route. I'm sure there's a throw that gets this completion—precisely one throw. That's good zonin'. Unfortunately that happened deep into the second half, long after McCray had been established as the Michigan zone's weak point.

Wide open guy on the first interception? McCray is creeping up on a short route on third and eleven. Third and ten conversion? Over McCray's head because he started moving upfield instead of back to the sticks:

LB #9 

That wide open guy UC just missed? McCray vacates his zone to chase an out route to the sideline:

LB #9

That's –6 worth of coverage busts. Like Onwenu and Ulizio there was progress late; unlike the right side of the line McCray cannot point to inexperience as the reason he erred. You could maybe argue that Michigan ran a bunch of zone in this game and McCray isn't used to that because Michigan barely zoned a year ago. That's an argument he'll be better going forward, but not one that he did okay in this game.

It is what it is. Desmond Morgan had a terrible anomalous –12 or something in that Minnesota game a couple of years ago and surrounded that with solid performances. This is probably McCray's Minnesota game. He is a good player. His limitations are even starker when he's out there next to Bush; opponents are going to keep hammering this all year.

The rest though... <kisses fingers>.

I saw you gave a +3 to a safety tackle ten yards downfield?!

I did, and I'll do it again. (Hopefully I won't have to.) Kinnel was almost entirely terrific. His headline moments were probably the least impressive parts of his day. The sack was a free blindside run; the interception was a ball that sailed thanks to pressure and went directly to him. His most impressive play on the day was one the cameras did not do justice to:

Seeing this from the stands was a different, relief-filled experience. That jet from offscreen was perfect, high speed and touchdown-saving. He'd miss a similarly heroic tackle attempt on the quarterback later in the game, so he still needs to learn when taking a risk like the above is necessary. If Kinnel comes in at the QB slower on his miss he almost certainly makes the tackle by giving up a few more yards; if he comes in slower at the tailback he gets blocked and UC scores.

In addition to heroic tackle (attempts), Kinnel showed his coverage skills. On this one he shoots up, avoiding the intended pick, and starts bothering the TE in the backfield:

It's all legal in the backfield, baby. He also got in on the slant disruption. Notably he did not get burned deep after doing so.

I have... strange feelings about Devin Bush.

We're still not doing phrasing.


Yes, I also have them. I'm trying to remember the last Michigan linebacker anything like him and it's... Ian Gold? Who I remember almost nothing about because it was 20 years ago? Nobody in the Brian-charts-the-game era is anything like him.

He had a second consecutive excellent game here, one highlighted by a doom squirrel sack:

That is a lot of ground covered without overrunning the QB. He also had that flare screen coverage above and several positive impacts on Michigan's run defense. He wasn't tested often in coverage; even so he successfully baited the QB here:

That pump is a "shit he didn't blitz" pump, and then when he throws it anyway Bush is all over it.

Bush picked up some minuses on the tunnel screens for getting very comprehensively blocked by the slot WR coming out on him; he was otherwise really really good.

I have similar Hudson feelings.

As do I. This is suddenly a support group. Hudson did get beat on the long drop discussed above and has an area for improvement; he also delivered on some of that TFL sack action that the viper gets in on by virtue of being in a Don Brown defense. The first sack was free; the second was excellent, as he drew the right tackle and beat him by threatening outside and then darting back in when the RT over-set. The tackle tried to hold and even that didn't work:

He was no doubt a big factor in Michigan's many coverage positives—I could barely see downfield thanks to the terrible director—and was a consistent positive when tested on the ground.

It's time to check in with the All American you don't have anything to say about anymore.

Hurst did Hurst things. I'm pretty sure it was Hurst, not Winovich—unless it was also Winovich—who hit the QB on Kinnel's pick six. Also here is a Hurst thing:

73 nose tackle

He is Mo Hurst. The end.

Wait: I will say that the 3-3-5 is blunting his statistical impact and transferring some of the glory to the linebackers and safeties. When he's a three tech next to a guy like Glasgow he gets a lot of single blocking and whips it. He got singled up on a third and short stop when Mone was in the game and, yep, whipped the blocker:

Here he's frequently doubled as Bush jets by for a doom squirrel event. Hurst isn't getting stats because free-running back seven guys get there first; he's still contributing. Michigan's free-run-to-sack efficacy has been great and that's in part because Hurst is forcing pockets shut despite getting doubled:

73 nose tackle

Hudson gets that sack in part because the QB has nowhere to run.

Hurst is playing very well despite the lack of numbers (just one TFL so far). His ability to threaten both A gaps and sometimes even the B gaps is a foundational component of the stack's success. I don't have anything else to say about him that I haven't said the last two years.

Uh... cornerback takes?


What do you mean no?

They weren't called into action much. Michigan played a lot of zone in this game, much more than they usually do. Whether this was practice or a reaction to Cincinnati's numerous pick plays not drawing OPI is unknown, but if things looked a little weird that was why. This Brandon Watson PBU sort of looks like man coverage that gets beat by a step; it's actually Watson setting up in a zone and then dropping. The window here is pretty small:

He had two other cover +2s, one for pressing a route out of existence, the second for a near-PBU on which he was in the pocket of the WR. He's been really good so far, the most pleasant surprise on the defense. I guess that is a cornerback take.

As for the other guys, ask again later. Hill delivered the coup de grace...

...and that was almost the only time Long or Hill was tested, as Cincinnati relentlessly attacked Michigan's safeties in man and McCray in zone. For a given definition of "relentlessly."

Anything from new contributors?

Aubrey Solomon got his first +2 by blowing up a power play:

#5 NT

That's promising.

Also Bryan Mone still counts for this section and he did have one play that jumped out in his 22. He takes a double team on this attempted third and short conversion; with a little help from McCray he not only stands up to it but drives it back:

#90 DT, second from bottom of line

That's quite an ace in the hole on short yardage, to be able to bring in a mountain like that. A fresh one, even.

Other than that there wasn't much. Robo got half a drive with Bush out and did a reasonable job on a couple of goal line runs that came right to him. He got the back down at the half yard line on the first; he was not so fortunate on the second.

Oh. Hey. Bolded alter-ego.


I want to do a new thing, bolded alter-ego. What would you call the best play of the week?


Yeah buddy. Let's do it. With apologies to Rashan Gary's crowd-enthralling edge rush it's got to be this comprehensive Chase Winovich zone read obliteration:

#15 DE to bottom of screen

Beats LT clean, swallows back, realizes back does not have ball, discards back, swallows quarterback. Winovich had a bit of a quiet day since it was the back seven shooting in unblocked; that was an exclamation point.

Gary's edge rush was the next snap, by the way:

I'm impressed Hayden Moore didn't walk off the field and fade into the distance immediately after these. His very next throw was in fact the picture perfect bomb that beat Hudson, and he threw that while staring Hurst right in the face. Moore isn't good but you can't question his toughness.


Just about everyone but particularly Gary, Hurst, Kinnel, and Watson(!).

Maybe not so heroic?

McCray's zone drops could have been the source of three chunk plays; instead it was just one as the pressure got home. He was culpable on the wheel route as well.

What does it mean for Air Force and beyond?

Well, this is accidentally pleasant. Having a bonafide 3-3-5 as Michigan's base defense is a boon as Michigan faces an option team. Look for Michigan's safety alignment: after getting burned with single high a few years ago I'm expecting/hoping that Michigan spends the game in a split safety look.

It is really a stack, at least against spreads. More four man lines in this game but still two-thirds stack, with Mone featured as a change of pace and short yardage bull.

Gary beefed up, albeit without results. His highlight plays are near misses at the moment; this was on track for stardom. Ditto Winovich, who is translating his per-snap productivity from last year into a starting role.

Watson: very good? His awareness has been great, and he's pressing effectively. I have some lingering doubts he might get outrun by elite guys of a certain Will Fuller strain, a la Blake Countess. Those dwindle by the week.

Furbush is a bit of a one trick pony. Reliable and tough as the designated blitz LB, but we haven't seen him scrape much if at all, and haven't seen him try to cover. It's a good trick, though: he's been effective.

Devin Bush is going to be everyone's favorite Michigan linebacker. Denard: The Linebacker turns out to be almost as fun as Denard. MOAR DENARDS.

There are potential chinks in the armor. #1: in games where OPI is turned off and Michigan must zone their drops can be wonky. #2: if you can get McCray in man coverage or space he's in trouble. #3: Michigan's box safeties might be vulnerable to getting hit deep.



September 14th, 2017 at 4:00 PM ^

A good qb/wr results in cincy scoring 28 points this week.  I know all teams miss deep shots so you can't count points that didn't happen but since nobody is trusting this offense to put up much over 30 on any good defense its a little worrying to know cincy was close to 28.

Leaders And Best

September 14th, 2017 at 4:06 PM ^

It's a young aggressive defense so there are going to be some busts.

But did you look at the drive chart? This was a domination. The 1st INT returned for TD and the fumbled punt put more pressure on this defense in the 1st half, and it still held up well. I can live with giving up 28 points if my defense scores 14 (or 16 if you count the safety).


September 14th, 2017 at 4:14 PM ^

I don't disagree the drive chart looks good, but do of those drives look good on the drive chart but featured wide open td misses.  This blog has rightfully been pointing out free runners behind the msu defence that aren't getting hit but you can't then turn around and ignore when it happens to you.

Our defense is great but all analysis in my mind happens in the context of what happens when we play psu (first good offense we face).  Those weren't so much mental busts but getting beat.  They are young and will get better but like Brian noted there is likely a leak and that is a bad one to have vs psu.  Luckily I still think their oline is trash so I still actually feel pretty ok about that game as long as Purdue or Simmie Cobbs don't go off on us.


September 14th, 2017 at 4:28 PM ^

I know what you mean. I said as much in the offense UFR--the grades and the close-run nature of the misses--the defensive grade will probably look good. Yet, an opponent with any kind of real talent on it could easily have won this game, and as it was Cincy had the ball on the hands of an open receiver streaking towards the endzone (even after the great Winovich play and the Gary hit) in a moment that could have drawn them within three points in the fourth quarter.

Granted, with a young team there are going to be busts. I knew this coming in. I predicted preseason that Michigan will lose a flukey game they shouldn't on a day like this. 

But the sheer volume of busts is a bit troubling. Yeah, it's a backup DT playing contain instead of the QB, and a couple of coverage problems, and a read option pitch that gains 16 yards after a turnover, and... well, we're getting a lot of "ands" here. That's a lot of mistakes. 

It's kind of amusing that most of them are turned in by McCray, the lone "returning starter," but it's also troubling because that will likely be a trouble spot all year. Surely Joe Moorhead is licking his lips thinking about ways to get Gosicki or Barkley single-covered on McCray. I can't say I'm looking forward to seeing that. 

The good news is that there is both room and time for growth. The bad news is that there are a lot of things to fix.

Leaders And Best

September 14th, 2017 at 4:49 PM ^

No defense is going to play perfect on every play. Sheer volume of busts? I think that is extreme. Beating coverage is different than a bust. There were few busted coverages in this game. Considering the youth of our secondary, I would have thought people would be jumping for joy right now.

My biggest concern on this defense is the depth right now.


September 14th, 2017 at 4:59 PM ^

Certainly not expecting perfect but the worse the offense the smaller the margin of error for the defense.  Look at Florida the last couple of seasons with really really good defense but not alabama elite and a bad offense. Certainly good teams but they finish with 4 losses. 

Our offense is better than Florida's and our coaching is way better but this griping is in relation to whether we can make a run at the big ten championship and potential playoff berth or just have a solid year.  


September 14th, 2017 at 4:44 PM ^

And the thing about this is we'll never know how bad our defense can get gashed, until we face a team with an offense capable of gashing us.

Purdue is dangerous through the air, but they are far from elite, and probably not capable of playing 4 quarters of perfect football on offense to beat our defense.

Can MSU beat us with their 3 headed RB trio + their QB with deceptive speed and elusiveness? It's possible, but they don't have the pieces in place to really challenge our defense for 4 quarters.

So the game that can really tell us if there is a team out there capable of hitting when our defense has a miscue is Penn State. Thankfully, we have 4 more games (and 5 weeks of practice) to fix the holes in our defense. 


September 15th, 2017 at 10:44 AM ^

The thing you are not taking into account is the QB was getting the ball out in like 2-3 seconds most the time and was still under duress. That us the big difference between when msu has bust and Michigan. Oh and the fact it happened 2 times in this game, whereas it was all game long with msu.
Same thing will happen with psu, who will also have to throw fast because their line is bad


September 14th, 2017 at 5:02 PM ^

If they play like they did against cincy they lose to psu, wisconsin, probably osu, and more than likely one random upset loss.  Of course 9-3 is a solid season but if the question is can we win the big ten a couple of these holes are a little worrisome.  Its not the end of the world but I don't think the drive chart gave a full picture of the defensive performance and it was a little more worrisome than a statistical review alone would suggest.

Leaders And Best

September 14th, 2017 at 5:14 PM ^

The defense played well enough to win. Good opponents are going to get you even if you have the best defense (see Alabama in the CFP championship game).

But if you put the defense in bad positions with a fumbled punt return, shanked punts, and QB exchange issues like we did against Cincinnati, opponents are going to have more opportunities to attack you. Based on the first 2 games, the offense looks more like the unit that will keep this team from achieving championships. Was the defense the reason we lost to OSU last year?

Leaders And Best

September 14th, 2017 at 7:54 PM ^

This take is what I am talking about when I say expectations for the defense being  insane. Michigan's defense held OSU in check for almost all of regulation. Both of OSU's TDs in regulation were a direct result of INTs by the offense. The defense more than did its job in that game.

Defending in OT is a different animal so I don't think you can lump those in with the rest. Did the defense not play as well in OT? Yes. But the Game should have never needed OT in the first place and why it got there is what you should be focused on though. 2 INTs essentially for TDs and a fumble on the goal line against a top 5 opponent usually gets your doors blown off.

I am guessing you are going to blame the Iowa loss last year on the defense breaking down on the last drive too?


September 15th, 2017 at 1:20 AM ^

Before OSU started their drive with the missed FG in the 4th quarter, OSU had only had the ball for 19:41.  Michigan on the other hand had the ball for 30:47.  If the defense was tired, that's an indictment of the S&C program at UM.

The defense played lights out for the first 50 or so minutes of the game, but for whatever reason late in the 4th quarter and in the OTs they couldn't stop OSU.

Monocle Smile

September 14th, 2017 at 5:24 PM ^

If they play like they did against cincy they lose to psu, wisconsin, probably osu, and more than likely one random upset loss.

Do you have a butthole inside your butthole from which you extract extra crazy shit?

TWELVE three-and-outs. You make it seem like they were raining open bombs all day and we consistently got lucky or they tackled themselves or some crap. We faced way more drives than in a typical game. Also, a young team is much more likely to play to the level of the opponent, so quit your doom and gloom.


September 14th, 2017 at 6:30 PM ^

Are you not able to disagree with someone without being an asshole? His opinion is rational and not presented in meltdown fashion as you suggest. He is 100% right we do not win the conference if we play every game like we played our last.


September 14th, 2017 at 8:34 PM ^

There were no egregious parts in his posts. I don't look up what people said in separate topics, nor do I care. That's pointless to the topic on hand. This blog is usually great for football debate but posts like yours immediately jumping down someone's throat because things they said in the past is childish. Disagree, counter with your points, don't be a dick. It's real simple.


September 14th, 2017 at 5:59 PM ^

It's absurd that literally any level of criticism gets written off as over the top moaning. Msu hasn't given up a defensive td but that doesn't stop anyone from posting screenshots of missed open receivers and talking about how bad their secondary is. If you do that you can't turn around and ignore guys getting open and getting missed against us and just waive it off because of the stats at the end.

I don't know why thinking the play this weekend would result in a 9 win team is some sky is falling shit but to each their own.


September 14th, 2017 at 7:21 PM ^

15-40 for 132 yards; 1 TD and 2 pick 6s.  Add in 4 sacks for minus 23 yards.  that makes 44 pass plays for 109 yards.  those are some of the worst passing stats i have ever seen (gardner against msu excluded). it doesn't get much better than that, even with their 2 or 3 drops.


September 14th, 2017 at 8:07 PM ^

11 for 25 passing with 181 yards. 4 rushes for -9 yards. 1 td and 2 pick 6's. These are oddly similar and very recent stats. I wish Florida could of played last week just to guage how their D looks against another opponent. Right now I'd guess their D top 25 and ours top 10.


September 15th, 2017 at 1:33 AM ^

but at the same time, what were you/people expecting?  10 new starters on defense with most of the back 7 very green.  If people weren't expecting busts and breakdowns to happen early in the year people have some exorbitant expectations.  

I'm sure Brian and Ace's complete dismissals of UC in their previews doesn't help the outlook people have after week 2.  No one really knows how good most teams are right now.  WMU gives USC a huge scare and then doesn't really give MSU a scare.  Rutgers give Washington a slight scare for 30 minutes of football and then loses to EMU.  

The beauty of a sports season is hopefully watching teams grow and get better as the season goes along.  That didn't tend ot happen much between 2007-2014.  However, there was a lot of growth in 2014 throughout the season.  Last year I woldn't say there was a lot but it was such a veteran team most of the players who left after they year were playing at their collegiate level from the beginning of the year.  I'm expecting this team to be much better in November then they are now.