Upon Further Review 2015: Defense vs PSU Comment Count

Brian November 26th, 2015 at 11:38 AM

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FORMATION NOTES: Standard stuff from Michigan to the point where I forgot to take a screenshot. Here is a picture of Hackenberg getting swarmed instead.


[Eric Upchurch]

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Charlton moved to buck/WDE. With him there it's WDE. RJS backed him up an got a healthy number of snaps. Hurst, Henry, and Wormley got the vast bulk of the remaining DL snaps. Strobel got in for a few. Godin had a little bit more playing time than Strobel but maybe a dozen snaps total.

Gedeon rotated in for both Morgan and Bolden periodically. Bolden seemed to get more rest than Morgan. Gedeon might have been in there a quarter of the time. Ross played a reasonable amount as a SAM in 4-3 sets.

Secondary was as per usual now, with Hill the dime back behind Thomas. Stribling got scattered snaps. In the 4-3 Peppers and Lewis were the corners.

[After THE JUMP: diatribe! Three plays that went poorly! And then good stuff!]

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O21 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 PA out Wilson 9
Quick pass for five yards. Wilson(-0.5, tackling -1).misses a tackle and yields a few more YAC. Lewis(-0.5) is next up and gets run through to set up a second and short.
O30 2 1 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Penalty N/A Offsides Hurst 5
Hurst -1.
O35 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Run N/A Zone stretch Henry 56
Thomas rolls to the LOS, acting as a SAM. M sends him and slants to the play. Henry(-2) cut by a tackle lined up well behind him. Bolden(-3) has an initial instinct to go upfield of a block and ends up sealing himself out of the gap. He does not delay Barkley one iota. Morgan(-2) should be expecting cutback here w/ the slant and can't recover in time. He does at least get a lot closer to a play than Bolden. FWIW, Charlton(+1) killed the LT and had cut the frontside off entirely. Wilson(+1) has no chance to shut this down but does manage to track Barkley down before the endzone.
M9 1 G Wildcat twins H 4-3 over Run N/A Power O Hurst 1
Hurst(+2) fires his guy in the backfield fast enough to knock a pulling G off his path and pick off the H-back. The pulling G then runs by Bolden. Bolden(-0.5, tackling -1) shoots the gap and misses the tackle. Barkley bounces out, where Thomas(+0.5) does a decent job to react and bring him to the ground. Bolden tackle difference between a TFL and a short gain.
M8 2 G Ace 3TE tight bunch 4-4 even Run N/A Power O Wormley -1
All four LBs in. This time Wormley(+2) blasts his guy back to pick off the pulling G, and that's about it for the play. Barkley has to pop around the OL. Morgan comes up and hits that guy with Gedeon(+0.5) hitting the gap. Bolden(+0.5) is the force guy and pops off it to tackle with Gedeon.
M9 3 G Shotgun 3-wide 3-2-6 dime split Run N/A Inside zone Hill 3
M has LBs in the interior gaps and PSU is hoping that loops and stunts will open this up. Not so much. Ross(+0.5) and Morgan(+0.5) hold up; Henry(+1) fires his guy back, forcing Barkley to bounce. Hill(+0.5) does a nice job to read and fill, making a nice tackle(+1) in space. Wouldn't take much to prevent a TD here but he makes this no drama. RPS +1, feel alignment induced bad idea.
Drive Notes: FG(23), 0-3,11 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O13 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 4 Drag? Hurst Inc
Hurst(+1, pressure +2) rips through the G and is in on the QB very quickly. Wormley(+0.5) and Henry(+0.5) stunt with Wormley coming through. Hack might have a drag route for a few yards but he throws it in the middle of nowhere.
O13 2 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel over Penalty N/A Offsides Henry 5
To induce these offsides calls Hackenberg is making a sudden motion with his hands. I think that should be false start. It is not called. In any case, Henry(-1) jumps.
O18 2 5 Shotgun trips TE Nickel over Pass 4 Sack Wormley -3
Wormley(+2, pressure +2) wrecks the TE and sacks. Coverage(+1) good for a beat, which allows Wormley to get home. Henry and Hurst stayed in their lanes and prevented any escape. Ball don't lie.
O15 3 8 Shotgun trips TE Okie one Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
O10 3 13 Shotgun trips Okie one Pass 4 TE seam Thomas Inc
Director decides to have a super close in shot on third and thirteen. Dude has a future as a Big Ten ref. This is really a 3.5 man rush that M is getting there on but doesn't actually get there. Pressure -1. Thomas(+1, cover +1) is in good position on the TE lined up just outside the T but provides a small window that Hackenberg nails. Thomas then rakes the ball out just after the fact. I am only giving 1 here since 50% of the time this is still a catch despite the rake. Still, not the worst.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 6 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M40 1 10 Wildcat twins H 4-3 over Pass N/A Reverse pass Wilson Inc
Wilson(+1, pressure +1) gets in Hackenberg's face after he takes the pitch. This is enough to cause him to throw off his back foot and turf a wheel route that is otherwise open for a potential TD. Ross is nominally the guy responsible here but the alignent and motion here discombobulates immensely. Given the unblocked Wilson presssure this isn't a total win on RPS, but it ain't good. RPS -2.
M40 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-4 over Pass 4 Out Bolden 6
Pick play that doesn't quite come off as Lewis jams the pick and Bolden has a relatively easy route to the sideline. Ends up a standard pitch and catch for 5.
M34 3 4 I-Form Big twin TE 4-4 over Run N/A Pin and pull Ross -4
Ross(+3) absolutely wrecks the FB trying to lead this play out. He fires that guy back. He comes back inside. Barkley is so shocked by this that as he tries to spin out he falls; Peppers had him dead to rights anyway. Henry(+2) drove his guy so far back that he closed any holes further inside Ross and helped force the TFL. Such a huge play since it forces a punt instead of an IU-like fourth down attempt.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 3 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O35 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel over Run N/A Zone stretch Strobel 15
Strobel(-2) in. He gets reached and PSU has a big gap. Tough for the LBs. Gedeon(+0.5) runs up and gets a pretty good hit on one OL but can't get a tackle in. He still forces it back in a situation where the back is in a ton of space. Bolden(-1) doesn't do as good of a job. He doesn't deliver a blow and has more time to get off his block; he doesn't. He gets held a bit(refs -1), which doesn't help, but Barkley is direct to a safety again without slowing. Hill(+1, tackling +1) has a solid fill and tackle on the slippery Barkley.
50 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 4-3 even Pass 4 TE out Peppers 6
Zone for M; Ross takes the flat and Peppers(+0.5) reacts quickly to tackle on the completion. Pressure(-1) not great; Godin and Strobel still in at DT.
M44 2 4 Offset I 4-3 over Penalty N/A Offsides Godin 5
Godin -1.
M39 1 10 Offset I 4-3 under Pass 5 Fly Peppers Inc
Solid pocket(pressure -1) but the ball is well overthrown. Peppers in the area but I'm not real comfortable with the way this coverage looks. Impossible to really judge with the throw, push.
M39 2 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Run N/A Pin and pull Wormley 3
Wormley(+1) caught a little off guard on the snap but he fires out and gets outside of the guy trying to block down on him. He surges down the line and initiates a tackle with Hurst(+0.5), who basically did not get blocked but still shows impressive range to run it down. Bolden(+1) is the playside LB. He runs up and thunks the lead puller to constrict space and allow the backside pursuit to get home.
M36 3 7 Shotgun 4-wide Okie one Pass 6 Sack Ross -10 (Pen +10)
Late shift and M sends the house, with Ross looping around up the gut to sack. That path was wide open as Henry(-2) holds the center, and this is pretty obvious. I wish Michigan could get holding calls on which opponents put their hands outside the shoulders but I can't criticize this call since Henry clearly prevents the C from attempting to get to Ross. Probably unnecessary since this guy sucks, too.
M26 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 5 Sack Charlton -11
Bolden slides down just outside of Charlton at the snap with Hill replacing. This time Henry just drives upfield and that's enough on the stunt as Charlton(+2, pressure +2) rips through a late-adjusting G to get a rush up the gut. Bolden(+1, pressure +1) shoves the RB back into Hackenberg on his blitz and gets a tackle attempt in, which isn't successful but gets Hackenberg moving. Charlton tracks him down and grabs his feet, allowing Henry to come in and finish it.
M37 2 21 Ace trips tight bunch 4-3 even Run N/A Split zone Henry 3
Henry(+2) blows the LG in the backfield and sets up shop. When Barkley passes he disconnects to tackle with help from Hurst(+1), who didn't get penetration but did fight through a momentary double and close down the space.
M34 3 18 Shotgun 3-wide Okie one Pass 4 Fly Hill Inc
PSU is pulling a guard to the backside to try to pick up Charlton. He gets held up a bit as Henry tries to surge into the backfield. Hackenberg steps up past Charlton, who can only get a hand in. Henry(-1, pressure -1) and the G have a competition to see who can hold the other guy more forcefully. Hackenberg has the option to scramble, as Huard will spend the next sixteen hours hammering, but decides to cut it loose deep, nearly completing a bomb on which Lewis(-2) falls down; Hill(+2, cover +1) gets over to hit the WR OOB even if he catches it, which he does not. Not a terrific play here.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 10 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M19 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Run N/A Zone stretch Peppers 0
Similar to the way IU started OT last week with a stretch to the field, where they have trips. Last week M had no support to the field since they were in man. This time zone with Peppers short and that only goes one way. RJS(+1) does a nice job to hold the edge and gets held(refs -1) for his troubles, another one of those hands outside the shoulder jobs that Henry just got called for. That threatens to give PSU the corner before Peppers(+1, tackling +1) gets off a block and chops Barkley down. Hurst(+1) also got down the line and prevented an attack within the tackles. Morgan(+1) blew through a block from the RG. RPS +1.
M19 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel over Pass 4 TE out Bolden 5
Henry(+0.5, pressure +1) drives his dude back into Hackenberg, forcing a quick throw. Bolden(+1, cover +1) is in terrific position on this and almost intercepts on a mutual catch; tie goes to the offense.
M24 3 5 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 dime Run N/A Zone stretch Charlton -2
RPSed as Thomas(+0.5) holds his water and doesn't tip blitz until he moves down just before the playclock expires. M is slanting to this play with Charlton(+1) screaming down at the back from the drop; Thomas takes QB contain. RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-3 even Pass 4 PA post Peppers Inc
Absolutely all day(pressure -3) as PSU leaves in 7 and nobody can get anywhere near Hackenberg. He dials up a bad-idea deep ball with two WRs in the same area, both well covered, and Peppers over the top. Fortunate to miss badly since Peppers(+1, cover +2) has an excellent shot at a pick if ball is on point.
M43 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 4-3 even Pass 5 Screen Ross 5
OL falls getting out but not sure how much this matters since Ross(+1) gets on his horse and obliterates this dude. That forces the ball back after an awkward cut from Barkley and gives the rest of the D time to rally. Hurst(+0.5) is the guy who rallies.
M38 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide Okie one Pass 6 In Hill 9
Hill(-0.5) beat but only by a half step or so. Hack puts it out in front of his very large and lanky TE, who brings it in.
M29 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Nickel over Pass 4 Slant Lewis 4
Lewis(+1, cover +1) there to hit on the catch and make this difficult; PSU makes the difficult play. Lewis does a nice job to tackle a yard short of the usual length.
M25 2 6 Shotgun trips Nickel over Pass 4 Hitch Stribling Inc
RJS(+0.5, pressure +1) comes around the edge and forces a throw after one read's worth of time. He gets held(refs -1). Bah. Stribling(+1, cover +1) in the back pocket of the WR and there to make a play, but none necessary since the ball whistles OOB.
M25 3 6 Shotgun trips TE Okie two Pass 4 Fly Peppers 25
Late shift with Hill coming down into an intermediate zone after showing a deep half to the field. PSU tests Peppers(-3, cover -3) in man press on the flanker and Peppers doesn't do so hot with it, overrunning a ball he certainly has a play on. Pressure(-2) not forthcoming.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-10, 2 min 2nd Q. PSU forgoes a one minute drill; the one run there is not charted.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O7 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 4-4 over Pass 4 TE out Peppers 5
Quick underneath pass against a zone that pops open for a second; Peppers(+0.5, tackling +1) drives on it and makes a nice tackle.
O12 2 5 Offset I twins 4-3 under Pass 4 Wheel Wilson Inc
Fake screen that tries to hit M over the top. Wilson(+1, cover +1) does not bite and Hackenberg just punts it OOB.
O12 3 5 Shotgun trips TE Okie two Pass In Lewis Inc
Two interior receivers on the trips try to run a pick route. One WR is just blocking, no flag. Doesn't matter since Peppers(+1) and Lewis(+1, cover +2) both read what's going on, with Lewis coming around the outside and Peppers getting off the block. Incomplete but dead in the water either way.
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-10, 10 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel even Run N/A Pin and pull Wormley -1 (Pen +15)
Wormley(+1) blasts the TE in the backfield. Henry(+1) rips to the outside when he sees the pull and basically stunts behind Wormley to the outside. Gedeon(+1) runs up and blasts a puller. RB has nowhere to go except into Henry. Wormley gets a ridiculous call against him for illegal hands to the face when he is clearly grasping the jersey of the tight end and kicking his ass so badly that it kind of looks like he's grabbing the facemask. Refs -3.
O35 1 10 Offset I 4-4 under Pass 4 Fly Peppers Inc (Pen +15)
Ridiculous pass interference call on Peppers. Pressure(-1) not getting through, though this gets out pretty quick. Peppers is shoved in the facemask. WR gets separation. Peppers barely impacts a WR just as the ball arrives, flag. Refs -3.
O50 1 10 Offset I 4-3 over Run N/A Split zone Wormley -3
Ross moves down to the back of the line, blitz plus slant. Wormley(+2) under a block and into the backfield. He can't tackle but he forces Barkley behind after slowing him. Ross(+1) takes the H-back's block, pops off, and shoots upfield to TFL.Gedeon(+0.5) read the cutback and was there, if unnecessary. RPS +1.
O47 2 13 Shotgun trips Nickel over Pass Sack Charlton -6
First read covered as Wilson(+1, cover +1) jumps an out, and the second never happens as Charlton(+3, pressure +3) whips the LT to sack. Hackenberg leaves for a play.
O41 3 19 Shotgun trips Dime over Pass 4 Comeback Lewis Inc
Lewis(+1, cover +1) dominates an attempted fade route; WR breaks back under because he's beat and the backup QB does see it, but he's way off. Lewis in the hip pocket anyway. Pressure(-1) vaguely approaching as the pocket compresses but not great.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-10, 4 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
M42 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 4-3 over Run N/A Inside zone Hurst 0
Jet sweep fake and then straight IZ. Henry(+1) and Hurst(+1) both stand up their guys and can two gap them easily. Wormley(+0.5) is on one side of a guy but hasn't gone anywhere either. Back runs into doom.
M42 2 10 Shotgun trips 4-3 under Pass 5 Fly Thomas Inc
RJS(+1) and Ross(+1) get around the tackles to meet at the QB(pressure +2); Hackenberg just chucks it. Lewis in decent position but some separation; Thomas(+2, cover +2) comes over the top and nearly intercepts an overthrown ball.
M42 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide Okie two Pass 4 Y Cross Hill Inc
Decent time here. Hackenberg gets nailed by Ross the second after he throws but long enough this is a push. Henry(+0.5) paved the way for a delayed blitz. Hackenberg's throw is perfect, just past the outstretched hand of Peppers(+1) in terrific position. Fingertip catch is made until Hill(+1, cover +1) comes over and bashes the WR, who drops the ball as a result. +1 instead of +2 since the hit helps but the WR has to drop it, it is not a proactive PBU.
M42 4 10 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 dime split Pass 3 Skinny post Lewis 39
M threatens both LBs and then drops them out, which is sufficiently confusing for the OL to let two guys through. Charlton(+2) has a slick spin move past the other LT. Wormley(+1, pressure +3) drives through a stunt that sees the G pick him up late because he's worried about Morgan. Hackenberg gets lit up by both guys. Just before he uncorks a bullet that is in the exact six inches of space beyond Lewis(+1, cover +1) and within range of his WR. Hill(-1, tackling -1) gets run over on the tackle and falls off, which adds another ten or so yards.
M3 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 6-2 bear zero Pass 4 Fade Clark Inc
Clark(+1, cover +1) in great position and will almost certainly defend an accurate ball. Hackenberg throws it OOB.
M3 2 G Goal line twin TE Goal line Run N/A Double lead zone Hurst -3
Hurst(+2) puts the C three yards in the backfield while getting held (refs -1). Barkley has to cut back, away from the play design. Probably fine even if Hurst doesn't do this since Bolden(+1) does a nice job to scrape around a bunch of traffic after Godin takes a hit from a FB while already engaged and buckles, understandably. On the backside where the play is, Gedeon(+1, tackling +1) is the backside contain guy and does a nice job to leap upfield and tackle when Barkley tries to bounce, which turns this into a sizeable TFL.
M6 3 G Shotgun 3-wide Nickel even Pass 4 Post? Hurst Inc
Hurst(+1, pressure +1) again just drives his guy back the whole play. Hackenberg throws. Miscommunication with the WR, no one home.
Drive Notes: FG(23), 21-13, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O37 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Nickel even Pass 4 In Lewis 4
Lewis(+0.5, cover +1) drives on a quick route to tackle on the catch.
O41 2 6 Shotgun trips Nickel over Pass 4 Screen Henry -6 (Pen +5)
Henry(-1) jumps offside. He also stunts to the outside directly into the screen and nails it well in the backfield (RPS +2).
O46 2 1 Shotgun 3-wide H Nickel even Pass 4 Scramble N/A 6
Pocket excellent(pressure -3) and guys eventually get well upfield without actually threatening, so it's Hurst in acres of space. Hackenberg can find anyone(cover +2) and then just takes off for a first down and more.
M48 1 10 Shotgun twin TE 4-3 over Pass 4 Post Lewis Inc (Pen +15)
Jet action. M reacts by activating Wilson to move down and shooting the backside CB, Peppers, to FS. Peppers(+1, cover +1) gets over the top of a post route despite starting about seven yards downfield. Pocket holds for a moment until Hurst(+1, pressure +1) gets through and forces a throw. Hackenberg chucks it unwisely. Lewis(-1, cover -1) gets called for an arm tug that's a super tenuous PI flag and then the ball lands ten yards away. PI anyway, because they're trying to kill Harbs. Lewis shouldn't have put himself in this situation but he probably didn't have faith that Peppers was going to dominate this over the top like he did.
M33 1 10 Shotgun trips Nickel even Pass 5 Wheel Bolden Inc
Late shift and Bolden(+1, pressure +3) gets a free run, forcing Hackenberg to chuck it. It's nominally at the RB but really OOB. Hill(+0.5, cover +1) in good position. RPS +1.
M33 2 10 Shotgun trips TE Nickel over Run N/A Zone stretch Hurst -4
Hurst(+3) blasts the C so far back that Barkley stops and cuts back behind him five yards in the backfield after thinking bout trying to get to the sideline. Henry(+1) did much better at sticking to the hip of the guy trying to release and not getting cut. He's there on the cutback, as is unblocked Wormley on the backside.
M37 3 14 Shotgun 4-wide 5-0 dime Pass 5 Scramble Charlton 17
Charlton(-3) is looping outside with Ross and does not drive upfield to contain. When Wormley(+1) drives outside and Morgan(+0.5) loops unfettered up the gut Hackenberg rolls out and finds acres of space since M in in man free all the way. Charlton and Ross(-1) are clearly jogging in pursuit and cannot cut off the corner in time; Hackenberg gets the first down.
M20 1 10 Shotgun 2TE H 4-3 over Pass 5 Wheel Peppers? 14
I don't know exactly what goes wrong here but it feels more like an RPS play or Peppers screwing up than the fault of the LBs, who are always going to be hard pressed to cover any of this. Bolden starts lined up on the hash; Barkley has a two yard advantage and then the TE route is a legal pick he is clearly trying get over the top of and cannot. (Cover -2, Pressure -1, RPS -2).
M6 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 4-3 over Pass 4 Slant Peppers Inc
Peppers(+2, cover +2) dominates the route and comes over the back for a PBU.
M6 2 G Wildcat twins H 4-3 even Run N/A Jet sweep Wilson 4
This gets two thirds of the way but it is still Wilson(+1, tackling +1) one on one in all the space in the world against a quick slot type. Wilson doesn't bite on an upfield fake and manages to run the guy down after getting on his horse. Similar to the Barkley play when he was the only guy between PSU and a TD and he made the play.
M2 3 G Shotgun 3-wide Goal line Pass 7 Slant Charlton Inc
M lines up Charlton as an MLB and runs him directly up the gut. He meets zero resistance. Not great, Frank. Hackenberg steps right and chucks one off his back foot way high. (Charlton +1, Hurst +1 for drawing the C the whole play and also beating him anyway, pressure +1). Peppers(+1, cover +1) is making a play on the WR to rip the ball out even though it's way high.
Drive Notes: FG(19), 21-16, 8 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Form Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide Dime buck Pass 4 Drag Henry Inc
Stunt gets Henry(+1) through as RJS(+1) presses the LG in. Pressure +2; Hack dumps the ball off short and wide of his target, which is open(cover -1) thanks to a pick play that may be not so legal. Peppers got caught up, but that would be more RPS.
O25 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide Dime buck Pass 4 Hitch Stribling 8
Wormley(+0.5) presses the pocket some. Normally I might ding a DB for giving up an eight yard pass but in this situation Stribling is playing it right.
O33 3 2 Shotgun 4-wide 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Sack Henry -8
Henry(+3, pressure +3) drives the C back and then rips him down to the ground to get a rush up the gut. Wormley(+2) beat the RT around the corner; he is still getting pushed and might get run around if not for Henry. Since Henry's there nothing for Hackenberg to do but die.
O25 4 10 Shotgun trips 3-2-6 dime Pass 3 Throwaway RJS Inc
Kind of a three and a half man rush with RJS hanging out looking to clean up any scraps that show up. Some do. This isn't really any one person but Charlton(+0.5) and Wormley(+0.5) push the pocket closed. When Hackenberg starts moving RJS(+1, pressure +1) runs up to prevent and escape, hitting on a throw that was never anywhere near his WR. Nobody was open anyway (cover +3). EOG.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 28-16, 4 min 4th Q.

I was promised a 6,000 word diatribe on the refereeing debacles.

Okay. So, yeah, it was brutal. Early, Hackenberg was drawing Michigan offsides by simulating the snap:

What's legal and what's not in these departments is a gray area, but PSU cut it out after a couple of jumps. I can only assume that's because the refs told them they would flag it.

I do think they should modify the induced-false-start-is-offsides rule. Offensive linemen are catching on now and drawing flags like the above. (It's not just Penn State—Kalis drew an offsides earlier this year by jumping on purpose.) They should make sure to emphasize that the false start has to be a natural reaction to the defense's movement to get the call instead of clear gamesmanship. Nobody watches football to see a bunch of procedure penalties.

Anyway. That's a nit.

Mount Harbaugh blew in this game not only because the refs threw a flag on Peppers for no discernible reason after the wide receiver had pushed off his face mask, but because on the snap just before Chris Wormley had drawn an illegal hands to the face call on a play where he never even grazed a facemask:

It does look like hands to the face for a second there, and then as the play goes on it's clear that Wormley is grabbing the OL's jersey and has done so for the duration. That phantom call is the primer, and the next is the match:

Later when arm-fighting got Jourdan Lewis called for pass interference on a ball that was ten yards overthrown Harbaugh was too broken to complain.

FWIW, The hold on Henry was a legit call. Yes, holding on DL is a real thing. Remember when Will Campbell responded to double teams by tackling the guy trying to release? It's a thing. Henry probably could have gotten away with it if he had kept his hands on the inside, but he grabbed the outside of the shoulder pad, and that's a big no-no.

Hypothetically, anyway. After Henry got nailed it was frustrating to see two or three instances of blatant my-hands-are-outside-your-shoulders holds go uncalled. One on RJS was particularly galling since he ended the play with his pads flopping in the wind.

Add in the illegal block penalty and targeting overturn and this was worse than the MSU game. That takes some doing.




Yes, pretty much. Penn State barely scraped over 200 yards of offense. More than half of those yards came on three plays: the zone stretch that went 56 yards, the Peppers-ceded TD, and the fourth-and-ten conversion on which Hackenberg momentarily looked like the Highly Touted NFL Prospect he entered the year as.

So what happened on those plays?

Can we not just focus on the positive for once?

Is this a Michigan blog or what?

Fine, yes, okay, fine. First, chart.




Slow like a Brady Hoke team, I guess.

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Henry 12.5 7 5.5 Took the cut, jumped a couple times.
Glasgow DNP
Wormley 14 14 Two sacks and never effectively blocked.
RJS 4.5 4.5 Backup in this game, back to pre-Ojemudia injury minutes.
Charlton 10.5 3 7.5 Promising debut as starter.
Hurst 11 1 10 Fixed the stretch stuff, and got the usual amount of penetration.
Godin 1 -1 Barely played.
Strobel 2 -2 Reached on 15-yard Barkley stretch on one of few snaps.
Ojemudia DNP
TOTAL 42.5 14 28.5 Welcome back, ball of death Kotter.
Player + - T Notes
Morgan 2 2 0 Always good when your MLB is more or less optional.
Bolden 5.5 4.5 1 Rough start but settled down to have a decent day.
Gedeon 3.5 3.5 Hit some people.
Ross 6.5 1 5.5 Pretty good as a SAM.
TOTAL 17.5 7.5 10 Much better week from this unit, probably because of DL dominance.
Player + - T Notes
Lewis 4.5 3.5 1 Fell over on a deep route and that could have been bad if not for Hill; otherwise was Lewis.
Stribling 1
Peppers 9 3 6 Big bad thing was only bad thing; otherwise excellent.
Wilson 5 0.5 4.5 Saved two TDs with tackles in space.
Hill 5 1.5 3.5 Two PBUs acquired by hitting WRs hard.
Clark 1 1 Nice job on a fade.
Thomas 4 4 Please be real, please be real, etc.
TOTAL 29.5 8.5 21 Really nice game from the safeties.
Pressure 26 15 +9 Some what disappointed, which is probably crazy.
Coverage 33 7 +26 Barely any options.
Tackling 6 4 2 Nice to get a positive number against the slippery Barkley.
RPS 8 3 5 Hard to get clever with no OL.

I don't hand out minuses quite commensurate with the yardage gained on big plays. If I were to do that I'd have to give up some stunningly large numbers on a 56-yard run relative to a 15 yard run. So this kind of game where the opponent hits a few big things and then curls up and dies comes out well in UFR. I think that's correct, obviously, but YMMV.

Anyway, this was another one of those games were Morgan barely factors because of the defensive line, but Gedeon and Ross had nice games and the safeties were collectively terrific. Combine that with the expected dominance of the DL against PSU's OL and you have a solid three-level win.

But we are Michigan fans.

So, the bad things?

The passing plays are simple. Peppers played a jump ball badly. This was discussed in the game column and I don't have anything new to add:

Peppers turned his head and then got completely lost. Instead of locating the ball and slowing down to try to make a play on it he turns back upfield and tries to find the WR again. That's frustrating. If Peppers slows up and leaps for the ball and it goes over his hand, I can live with that. Instead the WR is uncontested.

I'm sure you're going to ask me about Peppers moving to offense because he's bad at coverage in a bit.

The fourth and ten conversion was just one of those things. Hackenberg gets lit up a split second after he throws a laser that goes a couple inches past Lewis's outstretched hand. One moderately tough catch later and a missed tackle from Hill and PSU is at the three:

That's one of those plays where I shrug and issue a +1 to the defensive back. The only thing Michigan did wrong on this play is not tackle the guy at about the 15. When the offense executes perfectly you get beat. The replay of this play and the third down that preceded it makes it clear that Hackenberg was hitting paper-thin windows. The end.

And the stretch?

After reviewing it, it's on Henry and both linebackers, with Morgan maybe a bit less of a problem and Bolden a bit more of one.

Michigan moves Dymonte Thomas down into a SAM position on the end of the LOS.


When teams do that, especially with a safety, about 99% of the time they intend to slant the line away from the SAM and blitz that guy to clean up on the backside. This is what Michigan does, and it's usually a good way to defeat a stretch. DL moving to the play on the snap rarely get reached.

Hurst doesn't get reached, but it's a near thing. He presses the hole closed. This invites a cutback, and maybe you could get on Hurst for making this crease bigger than it needs to be; I think that's harsh. Henry then gets slashed to the ground:


This is the seed for a successful play of any variety. This is bad. Getting cut by a guy behind you on the backside creates this crease, and with Thomas on the backside and a slant on the linebacker level is not dense with bodies.

The slant means that linebackers should be alert for cutbacks. The play is unlikely to bounce outside. Morgan does not do this. He's probably overreacting to last week; he goes and buries himself in the G releasing after chipping Hurst. I get why he does this—last week Hurst got reached several times and Morgan had to go try to rescue things a lot. But with the slant on this isn't his job. Or, at least, his job should be to watch for a cutback first and then try to mitigate the damage if Hurst doesn't do his. Maybe he doesn't have to make a tackle,  but get an arm on a guy, slow him down, make him cut.

And then, Bolden. Morgan just about gets back to this play. Bolden never approaches it, and that's because he falls into a terrible habit he's had for four years. He tries to avoid contact and go upfield of a block.  Here he's got choices:

[Bolden is the leftmost player]


  1. He can hit the guy and try to make a play by two-gapping the DL.
  2. He can go into panic mode and cede ground to get over the top to make sure he's in the gap.
  3. Or he can run upfield of the block at first, change his mind, hit the offensive lineman weakly, and come nowhere close to impacting the play.

You can make a case for door 1 or 2. Personally I prefer a full on panic approach since this is a bad scene when the RB gets to cut straight up the gut so quickly, but #1 can succeed and will have less overall damage if it does. Bolden, of course, picks door #3. I'm not surprised since Bolden does this a lot. It is what it is.

The good news is that literally the only other successful run of the day for Penn State has a pretty simple explanation: Tom Strobel got reached on a stretch and Bolden either got held or didn't get off a block, depending on your POV. Also, Bolden recovered from that to have a solid day otherwise.

What about the safeties?

Jarrod Wilson in all that space is not going to shut down a guy like Barkley; frankly I think it's a terrific play just to track him down at the ten. Delano Hill got pulled after a couple plays where he turned big plays into touchdowns by not making the tackle Wilson does on this play.

Wilson made a similar play later when he got tasked with defending a jet sweep from one hashmark all the way to the opposite sideline, by himself. He gave up four yards, but even so this is a great play:

I thought that was a touchdown for about 3/4ths of that play. Wilson's going to leave Michigan one of the more underrated players of the past decade because he does nothing but put out fires and prevent anyone from testing the middle of the field. He was the guy who read the trick play and pressured Hackenberg to force an incompletion. I want to emphasize that when I call him "boring" that is the nicest thing I can say about a free safety.

Meanwhile, Thomas obviously has no chance to do anything on the 56-yarder but that burst he has when he transitions from pursuit down the line to desperation mode is pretty impressive. Later he got over the top of one of the fade routes for a near interception.

Now that Thomas generally knows where to go he's demonstrating that speed that made him such a highly touted recruit. His underneath coverage is not quite as good as Lewis's, but he's a solid option against a tight end or #3 or #4 WR.

That's a small window and a play on the ball, albeit a slightly late one. I will take it.

Hill wasn't as prominent but did have a couple of plays on which he helped bracket a guy. He forced a WR out of bounds on an early Hackenberg punt 'n' pray, and later he would get a thwack on a wide receiver to break up a third and ten conversion:

Every week I get a little less nervous about safety next year. /knocks on all available wood

How does Charlton starting at WDE make you feel?

Pretty good. That spot looked like a hole for next year; now it projects to have a good (or better) senior starter.

Charlton was excellent in this game, displaying a combination of power and pass rush that is really appealing for next year—and next week. On the play after the Henry hold PSU tried to pick him up on a stunt, to which he said "no thank you":

Getting around that traffic and getting to Hackenberg's feet for the sack is impressive. Later he'd get another with a straight-up pass rush move:

Not a whole lot of those have been effective this year. The caveat, of course, is that Penn State is horrendous at pass protection.

There was one big mistake in this game. Charlton did not drive upfield on the Hackenberg scramble and lost contain. Also, I it just me or does it seem like both Ross and Charlton are jogging to the sideline instead of sprinting?

I feel like that's me being crazy but it also feels like either of those guys could have prevented a first down by going at full speed.

In any case, we have a track record that's getting reasonably long with Charlton and he's done well with the playing time he's gotten. He's suddenly got 5.5 sacks on the year despite playing maybe a third of Michigan's snaps. Extrapolating out senior production from increased playing time and increased proficiency is quite fun. You should try it.

The line got better didn't it? Against stretches, yes? We're not gonna die, no?

It didn't take a wizard to predict that Michigan's defense would reassert itself against Penn State. The defensive line was dominant enough to get off the field quickly most of the day, and Penn State runs a slow offense.

This limited Strobel snaps to handful immediately proximate to the 15-yard run and allowed Michigan to roll with Henry/Hurst/Wormley/Charlton much of the day. Godin's role was almost as small as Strobel's; the only DL backup to get much run was Royce Jenkins-Stone. It sucks that Michigan is now down to one or two viable backups, but at least the starters are fierce.

Hurst in particular rebounded from a rollercoaster of a day against the Hoosiers. Immediately after the 56-yarder he flung his dude in the backfield to pick off one and a half pullers, which left Barkley easy pickings for the linebackers and secondary:

When linebackers blast into the backfield like that it's usually an interior lineman who's erased a puller facilitating things.

When not getting cut on that one play, Henry was similarly dominant, depositing guys trying to block him yards in the backfield and closing gaps himself. In the third quarter Henry and Hurst would both display their improved proficiency at defending outside zone. Hurst does the spectacular bit by dumping his dude in Barkley's lap, but also check out Henry sticking as close to the hip of the OL in front of him as possible, giving ground to avoid the cut:

I think Henry might even use that OL for balance. So that's progress in a much needed department. It's not like these guys can't do it. They have the ability. They just need to plug that leak in their game.

Finally, expecting to block Chris Wormley with a tight end remains an exercise in futility.

Indiana managed it once, I think. Every other attempt to do this has been a disaster. That's a major upside of a 300-pound SDE. Another is that sometimes you get to see 600 pounds of meat slam into a QB.

Ow. If Michigan gets Gary, Wormley's heir apparent is Wormley with the "explosive edge rusher" add-on pack. /tents fingers.

/three hundred pound man flies by ass-first screaming HELP I CAN'T SLOW DOWN

Uh… so that happened. I feel such a thing should be explained.

I'm really going to miss James Ross versus Penn State offensive linemen. Last year he sent a guy 100 pounds heavier into the first row, and in this game he had a reprise. One slightly aided by a fall, but cumong man:

Ross also blew up a more size-appropriate foe on a TFL:

He finally got to play a big chunk of minutes as a SAM, and he looked terrific. It is his misfortune that the position he was born to play fell out of the defense just as he was locked and loaded to play it. Here's to a big game against Ohio State as a rousing sendoff.

So Michigan did not die on stretch plays because of the line? Or was there something else?

Michigan did make tactical adjustments after the Indiana game. Penn State tried all the things that worked against Michigan a week ago, and aside from a couple runs found them closed off again. Indiana opened both overtimes with a zone stretch to trips. Those plays broke big when the playside end got edged and there was nobody left since M was in man coverage.

Penn State tried it; M switched to zone and guess who showed up. 

That's the difference between Kevin Wilson and James Franklin. Wilson finds things that will work; Franklin tries things that have worked.

Also in this department: Penn State dialed up a goal line fade against a 6'4" corner.

Great job by Clark, BTW. That might be deliberately thrown away because there's nowhere to go.

Peppers did bad at coverage and now he should play running back.

I mean, you're not entirely wrong. Peppers should get like 10 carries a game. But you're wrong. In all instances except the obvious bad thing Peppers was very much on point. This attempt at a pick play was holistically doomed but Peppers did his part by fending off a blocker and nearly intercepting:

(Yes, that's OPI.) The Hill PBU mentioned above featured Peppers foreshadowing fourth down by having superior coverage only for Hackenberg to beat it; Hackenberg was not so lucky on a key goal-to-go play later:

His coverage has improved immensely from the beginning of the year and he removes entire swathes of opponent playbooks. The number of WR screens the screen-mad Nittany Lions ran was zero.

Peppers is too important to the defense to make a primarily offensive player. I'm listening if you're talking about stealing snaps here and there. Anything more and not so much.


The starting defensive line except maybe minus Henry if we are being super harsh, Ross, all three safeties, Peppers.

Maybe not so heroic?

If we are being super harsh, Henry played well overall but was a major culprit on the long run and took two frustrating offsides penalties.

What does it mean for Ohio State and beyond?

Jourdan Lewis can keep returning kickoffs. Let's jam this in here:

Lewis has been little if any dropoff from Peppers and if that means Peppers gets five more snaps on offense, thumbs up.

Michigan is still weak against the stretch but getting better. M bottled it up after the first two but Henry getting cut is a thing that happens not infrequently; I am still a bit worried that a much better OSU line that runs the stretch as part of their base offense (unlike Penn State) will be able to find cracks. Reach blocks were much fewer in this game, at least.

Charlton is a viable WDE starter. This isn't a huge surprise since he'd been getting a reasonable amount of playing time and consistent turning in +3, +4 type UFR games. Deployed as a starter he maintained that level over more snaps. I think he'll have to spot Wormley a bit against OSU since they'll have more tempo and more plays, but long-term he's the guy.

Michigan's safeties are rounding into form. This game was a rare one in which Wilson's abilities were prominent. He's the same guy he's been. Hill and Thomas, on the other hand, are visibly improving week to week.

Ross was born 20 years too late. He's a terrific SAM in a Jabrill Peppers world.

They can do this. I think.



November 26th, 2015 at 12:03 PM ^

Jarrod Wilson mini appreciation thread....

Peppers got blown up on 4  passes all year= how dare he be human = he is bad at coverage and needs to go to offense full time! lol. By the way that little Utah freshman wr is one of the stars of that team with nearly 50 catches now aka future Wes Welker.

Tons of complaints about how we lack explosion and side to side pursuit "in space" and we want to take our best player in space and move him to offense full time? Logical.

Giving Henry a pass as he is playing inside this week after the Strobel disaster last week so back to an old position but not one he was playing as much this year with Glasgow out there. Only the false starts annoy.


PSU O is a great salve.

Mr. Yost

November 26th, 2015 at 1:44 PM ^

He's probably the most underappreciated player on the team to be honest.

In regards to Peppers...he just doesn't have great deep ball skills. It wasn't just the touchdown. He's shown it on offense as well. It'll come, but right now his biggest impact is by far playing in the box.

We only play 2 LBs anyway...so I see no problem keeping Peppers in the box full-time. In obvious passing downs let Thomas or Wilson come down and man up with the slot WR while Peppers blitz or play zone.

The slants aren't his fault...the LBs have to drop into the passing lanes, they haven't done this all year - which is frustrating, because you know they can do it (see Des Morgan INT @ UConn).

Now Peppers as a redzone NB, no problem...because there's no threat of a deep ball.

Regardless, he's the best athlete we have on defense and the 2nd or 3rd best player (Glasgow is REALLY good) we have on defense. It could be A LOT worse.

Sidenote. I think teams are 0-13 with screen passes versus Peppers. That's insane.


November 26th, 2015 at 12:27 PM ^

"Free safeties ought to be boring" becomes much easier to understand if, like me, you've spent some time on Sundays watching the Raiders play defense just to see Charles Woodson. And noticed that Woodson is rarely involved except to clean up the messes of other people, occasionally poaching a brilliant interception here and there. 

There are times where chasing down a run near the endzone seems like a fruitless excersize that delays the inevitable; Michigan has had teams in the recent past where that is the case. What's great about Wilson's early rundown, plus his sideline pushout at the 2 later on, is that with this defense preventing a touchdown on one play often means that no touchdown occurs at all. This has been explicitly true both on those plays and in game like Minnesota.

How awesome.


November 26th, 2015 at 12:34 PM ^

It is absurd to think that this DL is this good despite losing 3 rotation pieces in Glasgow, Mone, and Ojemudia.

I know he graded out positive, but I don't think I've been more frustrated by a player in recent memory than Joe Bolden. It seems like every time the opponent has a big play, I'm muttering "Damn it Bolden" to myself. Wish Ross would've played more this year, but maybe it's a coverage thing when they only have 2 LBs on the field.

Happy to see Dymonte playing and playing well. He's one of the kids we were all worried about being permanetly tainted by Hoke.

Also, thanks for posting this today Brian. As somebody who actually has to go to work today, it's the little things that keep me sane.


November 26th, 2015 at 1:51 PM ^

This was covered on the main page the other day.  Bolden was set up in an almost no win situation on the 56 yard run.  With Thomas blitzing, Bolden had pass coverage responsibilities on the TE if it was a pass, so he has to stay home until he's certain it's run.  While his pursuit might not have been the best around the blocker, the posters analyzing the play felt if anything, the 56 yd run was an RPS minus for the coaches for putting Bolden in an extremely difficult position.

Mr. Yost

November 26th, 2015 at 2:14 PM ^

Always seem to be in crucial situations. When Jake Ryan always got the 3rd and 1 stop...Bolden is always 2 steps late.

I've been beyond unimpressed.

And I know Durkin is god and saying something negative about him is a collective GASP...but I've been underwhelmed with the work by HIS LBs, that's the unit HE coaches.

Now, I give him a pass because I think he requires a special type (more athletic) LB and his scheme doesn't work for your prototypical B1G slobberknocker...but Bolden and Morgan aren't good, I'm sorry. They're average B1G LBs who should be good going on great their senior season.

Pray we finished with a couple top recruits.


November 26th, 2015 at 12:42 PM ^

all you can do is laugh at some of these " film breakdowns". peppers is weak in coverage, michigan cant defend the stretch.. i get that you are focused on what didnt work,  a coach does the same type of thing .. i know i played and coached football for over 40 years.  but that doesnt mean it is a weakness.

   plays will be made, remember woodson looking like a pop warner player on "one play against david boston". he got completly turned around and boston jogged backwards into the endzone.

     i would look at the whole body of work. psu had 2 decent runs the whole game. they completed a handfull at best of good passes. in the end um won a game that alot of people thought they could lose.

   even the worst teams will have some close losses and some big wins sometime. ohio st. has had alot of games that they could have lost, but they didnt.  thats what really good teams do... they find a way to win the game.. the only thing history will ever remember.



November 26th, 2015 at 1:13 PM ^

This is written poorly enough that it's hard to get the point, but it sounds like you are criticizing the OP for focusing only on the negative and not looking at the "whole picture."

Which suggests that you haven't actually read the whole post, or the other UFRs posted on this site. Like, at all. Because Brian pretty explicitly writes in this post that Peppers blew the TD pretty badly but that otherwise he was terrific and that removing him from the defense would be a horrible idea. He has actual charts that literally compile ratings from the entire game. You know, the whole picture. 

It's possible that I am completely misreading your post, because I have a hard time understanding how you could have misread the OP on this scale.


November 26th, 2015 at 12:46 PM ^

Call me crazy but this defense can put the hurt on the Buckeyes. The red zone defense is nasty and I've got to believe Durkin's got an answer to mitigate Zeke.

Shop Smart Sho…

November 26th, 2015 at 1:07 PM ^

"Absolutely all day(pressure -3) as PSU leaves in 7 and nobody can get anywhere near Hackenberg."

I absolutely don't understand the "pressure" metric.  Not moving the pocket against 7 blockers seems kinda bad, but not -3 bad.


November 26th, 2015 at 1:12 PM ^

Maybe I'm alone here , but I'm better at recognizing what the offense is doing at any given time, and my ability to judge a defense in real time is limited to, basically, the results. So these defensive UFRs are super helpful and make me feel smarter. Thanks!

By the way, earlier in the year, during the shutout streak, these defensive UFRs were hardcore football porn. Want that again.

Mr. Yost

November 26th, 2015 at 1:50 PM ^

About Charlton at WDE...it's was SUCH a point of weakness trying to play LBs there. Charlton has the physicality and athleticism to hold up there for a couple of games. I think he's the starter next year.

Such a great move by Harbaugh and Durkin and Mattison. We needed to get bigger on the line and Charlton, Hurst, Henry, Wormley is by far our best line.

Cranky Dave

November 26th, 2015 at 2:00 PM ^

Thanksgiving, great for us not so much for Brian. I'm glad to see Ross and Gedeon get more snaps. Wish they were getting more but I'm sure Durkin is a better judge of playing time than me.


November 26th, 2015 at 4:55 PM ^

I will punch the TV this Saturday, if Ohio scores on a long Eliot run on 3rd and 1 or something short yards...where the safeties over the top are no where and once he pierces the line, he goes untouched for 60 yards...ala Beanie Wells, and all of the other Ohio RBs for the past 15 Michigan games.

yeah thats a run on sentence above...

Michigan Fan L…

November 26th, 2015 at 4:55 PM ^

Happy Thanksgiving.

I said it before and I'll say it again.  I'm very thankful.  Four road victories in the Big Ten?  Who woulda thunk it?  That's why I'm now wearing my maize and blue colored glasses and I see no flaws at all.  Woo-hoo.

Let's Go Blue!!!!!


November 27th, 2015 at 11:37 AM ^

So what happened on those plays?

Can we not just focus on the positive for once?

            Is this a Michigan blog or what?

            Fine, yes, okay, fine.

So much truth.