Upon Further Review 2015: Offense vs Minnesota Comment Count

Brian November 4th, 2015 at 4:53 PM

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FORMATION NOTES: I did an inconsistent job of it this week but I plan on denoting all 6 OL setups with "heavy" going forward. You can deduce which snaps were 6 OL when there are only four skill players listed this week, although I might have missed a couple.

The new things this week were mostly Peppers related. This was "Ace twin TE Peppers H":

ace twins peppers H

This was "Emory Tight":

emory tight

As a reminder, "Pistol" implies a tailback and a TE so Pistol FB is this:

pistol fb

As far as Minnesota goes they generally went with a 4-3 even or over. The most notable thing about their D was the MLB, who lined up a yard or two deeper than the other guys, as you can see in the above shot.

Also Minnesota's goal line formation was goofy. Just four guys on the line.

minnesota weird goal line

I still called this "goal line."

PERSONNEL NOTES: Line per usual with the exception of Grant Newsome, who had several snaps as a sixth OL. Poggi didn't play; he was left home with pneumonia; stay away from Ricky Doyle please. As a result Michigan played largely without an H-back, instead going with a lot of two inline TE sets.

WR was per usual except DaMario Jones got in briefly with Drake Harris out. Ways got a target on the first drive but then was absent; Chesson and Darboh got almost all the PT, with Perry the third guy in three WR sets.

Isaac and Higdon did not play at RB, where it was mostly Smith early and mostly Johnson late with some Derrick Green in the first half.

[After THE JUMP: here is Speight to save the day / no he shouldn't be the starter]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M15 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Slant Ways Inc
No video on first drive since it's only on ESPN3. Replays are also a major pain so forgive some thinness in the analysis here. Rudock has Ways and tries to hit him for a first down or so but an underneath LB manages to get a hand in. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)
M15 2 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Zone stretch Smith 3
Playside end gets turned in by Cole(+1), which should be bad news for Minnesota. Darboh(-1) can't block anyone on the edge, though, and it gets forced back for a meh gain.
M18 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel bear press Pass TE out Butt 9
Butt working against a linebacker; pops open in man coverage and it's pretty simple conversion for M. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M27 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-4 over Run Power O Smith -1
Jet fake and a handoff up the gut; Smith is buried. Minnesota has a blitz; they slant playside. Glasgow(-1) loses his DT, leaving Braden to hit him. Kalis(-2) gets run right around; his man blasts Smith in the backfield at the same time the blitzer gets to Smith. RPS -1.
M26 2 11 Ace 1 2 2 Nickel over Pass PA slant Darboh 15
This is an Iowa Rudock type play on which he hits the slant inch perfect so that Darboh can pick up a nice chunk of YAC. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
M41 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Post Jones Inc
I'd forgotten about this: M takes a deep shot on which Rudock over throws Jones (for some reason). Jones had zero separation from the CB on his back but there was no S. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M41 2 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Smith 4
Peppers in as a decoy. Flash screen look; Smith runs up the gut. Cole(+0.5) gets a big kick of a guy heading upfield; LBs held by the Peppers stuff. Smith(-1) just runs directly upfield for four yards when setting up a block and cutting to the frontside looks very feasible. Braden(+1) got a good block to create some space for Smith.
M45 3 6 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Okie two Pass Improv Smith INT
Everyone at the LOS with a four deep shell behind it. Peppers again a decoy, running well behind the LOS and putting his hands up, but Minnesota doesn't bite. Rudock scrambles out after the protection breaks down and tries to flip it to Smith. It gets deflected and intercepted as a LB flips a hand out but this isn't the worst idea. It going to get a first down, M is probably punting otherwise, and for the LB to get his hand on it at this short range is rather unlikely. (BA, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Interception, 0-0, 8 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR DForm Type Play Player Yards
M43 1 10 Pistol FB twins unbalanced 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Flash screen Darboh 8
This appears to be a call instead of a presnap read since Smith runs a flare route while the rest of the line shows power. Minnesota playing off; Chesson(+1) gets into the legs of the outside CB; CB does not quite go down but he lets Darboh outside for a solid gain. (CA, 3, screen)
O49 2 2 I-Form 2 1 2 4-4 over Pass TE Y cross Butt 18
Eight man box; PA sees everyone sucked up, leaving Butt one on one with a safety. Butt breaks open by a yard or two but can't maintain that separation since he is a TE; Rudock throws a lovely lofted ball that Butt can leap for and the S can only tackle on afterwards. (DO, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O31 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-4 even Run Inside zone Green 3
Starts out as a pistol but Butt moves down to inline and Rudock to under center. Cole(-1) releases immediately without hitting the DE lined up on Butt, which is a reasonable decision; he falls, apparently tripping on the DE's legs. Glasgow(+0.5) and Braden do win against the playside DT; Braden does not get out fast enough to hit the MLB before Green is upon them. Also Minnesota played both their safeties seven yards deep. RPS -1.
O28 2 7 Ace twins twin TE 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass PA dumpoff Smith 15
Minnesota not really prepared on the snap here; they're looking at each other and seem confused. End result is super passive all around. Rudock has all day to throw. M does not get the deep guy open; Rudock starts jogging up in the pocket, drawing a delayed blitz, before hitting Smith on a dumpoff he can turn into a solid gain with YAC. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O13 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-4 over Run FB trap Kerridge 4
Smith motions out to an H-back spot just before the snap; FB trap. Glasgow(+1) gets a good kickout of one DT. Braden(+0.5) gets a hit on the other guy, who was looking for the trap a bit; he still gets moved enough for Kerridge to squeeze through. Kalis(-0.5) IDs a LB he should hit and then changes his mind to go slightly deeper; Magnuson comes over to hit the original LB but never had an angle as the Smith motion did not cause Minnesota to react. LB tackles. RPS -1.
O9 2 6 Pistol FB 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Arc zone counter Smith 5
Looks like split zone but is actually a counter on which Kerridge is headed around the backside end. M hands off to the backside of the fake inside zone. This works really well, with the backside end over pursuing and Smith cutting behind. Cole(+1) and Kerridge (+1) get second level blocks that should spring Smith for a TD but Glasgow(-1) fired out too flat when he released to a linebacker all the way on the other side of the play and that LB made a nice read to get to the play and tackle Smith. Rudock(-1) almost certainly has a pull option here and needs to take it. RPS +2.
O4 3 1 Goal line 2 2 0 Goal line Run FB dive Kerridge 2
Newsome as your third TE. M just blows Minnesota off the ball, with Glasgow(+1) and Braden(+1) depositing the NT on the goal line; Newsome(+1) buried a DE.
O2 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Pass Waggle cross Butt Inc (Pen +1)
Hill(route -1) gets knocked over and Rudock gets some pressure; Rudock finds a wide open Butt at the back of the endzone as he nears the sideline but overthrows him. (IN, 0, protection N/A). Minn LB chasing hits Rudock in the helmet after, PF, no ejection, refs -1.
O1 1 G Goal line 2 2 0 Goal line Run FB dive Kerridge 1
Minnesota is leaving a ton of dudes off the LOS, which is weird. They only have four down linemen, so it's easy for M to double them and blow them off the ball. This time it's Kalis(+0.5) and Magnuson(+0.5) and Williams(+0.5) who collectively pancake a DT and let Kerridge into the endzone for an easy TD. RPS +1, I guess.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, EO1Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O29 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Dig Chesson Inc
Rudock comes off one read, maybe two, leaving the wide side of the field and coming back to the short side, where he finds Chesson for first down yardage but throws it a bit wide. It does hit Chesson in the hands but it takes him off his feet and makes him attempt a diving catch. (MA, 2, protection 2/2)
O29 2 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Counter iso Smith 2
Minimal yardage for the blocking here. Braden(+1) puts his guy on the ground; Cole(+0.5) gets a big kick with help from the end around fake; Houma(+1) hits and moves one LB. Glasgow(-0.5) again cannot get to Minnesota's MLB, who they are playing unusually deep; ditto Mags(-0.5), but both of these blocks are also Minnesota sitting to read and react instead of being aggressive NW/MSU backers, so they have more time to get to the right side of a block. Meanwhile, S lined up at seven yards has a free run at Smith because Darboh can't get there in time because S lined up at seven yards. RPS -2.
O27 3 8 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Dig Darboh 13
A little dubious about two WR on third and eight but M makes it work. Minnesota has a big twist on with a DT coming all the way across to the outside of the line; Rudock steps outside of the pocket and gets that delayed pressure eventually, but it's not in time. He steps up and fires a dart that's a tiny bit late and a tiny bit low and still pretty good in the circumstances; Darboh helps out with a reasonably difficult catch. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
O14 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE unbalanced 1 2 2 4-4 over Run Power O Smith 1
Kalis(-2) runs by a linebacker who makes a tackle at the LOS. Big hole here as DE runs way upfield to eliminate himself but if LB contains and Kalis kicks Smith is going to get limited yardage as there are many unblocked gentlemen sitting four yards downfield.
O13 2 9 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass Skinny post Chesson 13
This throw is a bit late, as the safety should be able to get over but hesitates; needs to be out a beat or two faster. It still gets there and his caught; Chesson makes a grab while taking a hit. Result-based charting here. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-3, 12 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 I-Form Big H 2 2 1 4-3 even Pass Waggle TE flat Butt 2
Rudock gets lit up as the backside end has no thought but to blow him up. He manages to get it out to Butt for a minimal gain. (CA+, 3, protection N/A, RPS -2)
M27 2 8 Ace empty TE 0 2 3 4-3 over Run Jet sweep Peppers 9
Peppers flanked out to the short side, jet motion, handoff. Williams(+1) blows up the playside end. Playside LB tries to shoot the gap to the inside; Cole(+1) shows impressive agility to pick him off. Kalis(-1) fell over after an initial hit and his DL can flow free; Butt(+1) gets a solid long term block; Peppers cuts inside of that; Glasgow just doesn't have time to get to the safety, who barely ankle tackles Peppers after the sticks, with the guy Kalis was supposed to get finishing the play. RPS +1.
M36 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Inside zone Green 3
M blows out one DT; the other buries himself near the goal line. Green(-2) cuts behind the buried guy into nothing, blowing up everyone's blocking angles and getting tackled by two guys. Kalis(+1) and Magnuson(+1) had whipped the backside DT and a cutback is a sold gain. Braden(+0.5) put a DT to the ground as Glasgow inadvertently trips him.
M39 2 7 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass PA Dig Chesson Inc
Rudock has all day; throws a dig route that is batted down by a linebacker in zone coverage. He's got Grant Perry one on one on a post deeper or a dumpoff to Green. (BR, 0, protection 3/3)
M39 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over Penalty Offsides N/A 5
M44 3 2 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Waggle TE flat Butt Inc
The first real WTF moment of the day as Chesson releases to the flat and catches man coverage that has to bend around the outside WR; primary read, obvious throw, 99% first down. Rudock doesn't throw it, waits for pressure, and then turfs it at Butt's feet. (BRX, 0, protection N/A, RPS +1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-6, 5 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass PA Hitch Darboh 7
PA, all day, Rudock comes off one read to find Darboh wide open on a curl route. Ball takes a little while to get there, so Darboh gets tackled immediately. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M32 2 3 Ace twins Peppers H 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Wheel Peppers INT (Pen +15)
Minnesota has one deep safety and then starts pointing and moving guys around, ending up with 9 or 10 in the box depending on how you want to define a press corner. Peppers runs a wheel route on which he draws a LB; Rudock throws the ball about 20 yards short. LB runs Peppers over before he intercepts; flag thrown. This is really bad from Rudock, as he gets very mild pressure and decides to take two steps back and then throw off his back foot instead of stepping around a DE who has given up contain and then firing. This was a three man rush on which Peppers was singled up deep against a LB with no S over the top. (INX, 0, protection 2/2, RPS +3)
M47 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Off tackle draw Johnson 5
M's slight draw variant on which they pop it outside instead of up the middle. DL creases easily. Johnson(-0.5) stumbles for no reason, which slows him and prevents him from getting the corner. He has to cut back behind a good block from Cole(+1) and an okay one from Glasgow(+0.5); backside LB gets him. Play left him unblocked , probably by design, as M goes and gets both safeties in search of a big play. RPS +1.
O48 2 5 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 even Run Zone stretch Johnson 7
One block away from a big play. Minnesota is surprised and flanked quickly here, with Cole(+2) getting around and reaching and end for the duration of the play. Butt(+0.5) escorts a LB upfield as he makes a bad decision as to where to go. Kerridge(+1) clubs a safety; Johnson(+1) makes a sharp upfield cut just outside the numbers to erase an unblocked CB. He's about to hit it big when the last LB gets him; LB ran upfield of Braden(-1) and Braden couldn't harass him enough to prevent him from flowing down the line. If this doesn't happen Michigan has four blockers for the last two guys. RPS +1.
O41 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass Scramble Rudock 3
Two WRs deeper seem covered; can't quite tell; Butt doubled. Dumpoff to Smith is going to be real open if Rudock just waits another beat; protection is fine, but he starts scrambling away from the dumpoff for a meh gain. (TA, N/A, protection 2/2)
O38 2 7 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Lead zone Smith 1
Develops kind of like a stretch; Cole(+0.5) gets a big push on the edge, so there's a considerable gap. Playside LB runs up and dives at Kerridge to force it back; he is successful, but I'm reminded of Johnson's little hurdle late against MD. Smith doesn't try that. He cuts back inside. NT has not been entirely dealt with as Braden gets a small hit and releases; LB he is targeting then flies upfield of him. Braden(+0.5) does get a shove in. Glasgow(+0.5) does control this NT enough to give Smith a crease; Smith(-1) just runs into the NT. If you run on the correct side of this block you give yourself a chance.
O37 3 6 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Flare Johnson Inc
Dumpoff that's going to gain most of the needed yardage and has a pretty good chance at getting all of it since the nearest guy is ten yards away when Johnson should be catching the ball. I want to INX this because I'm mad but it's just a plain ol (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O37 4 6 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Okie zero off Pass Sack N/A -7
This is a no brainer decision BTW, remember to talk about how no brainer of a decision this is. Minnesota sends the house, with seven blitzers including the corner to Rudock's blindside. Too many to pick up, Rudock doesn't see it and gets blown up. Rudock does realize he's got a guy coming and tries to scramble up, with is a real bad decision, just throw the ball. (PR, N/A, protection 2/2, RPS -2)
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs or fumble, whatever, 14-13, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Pistol FB 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Comeback Darboh 14
Solid route(+), timing, and protection. Ball again seems to take a while to get to its destination and necessitates a somewhat difficult catch from Darboh, but not one that even warrants a 2. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M39 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Flash screen Chesson 8
CB does keep leverage this time as he approaches more cautiously. Perry ends up diving fruitlessly at his feet but that's enough to annoy the CB; Chesson(+1) does a nice job to pick his way through Perry's feet and get upfield for a nice gain. (CA, 3, screen)
M47 2 2 I-Form 2 0 2 4-4- even Run Power O Green -2
Jet fake doesn't seem well timed but that might be on purpose for some reason; M runs a standard power and gets nailed. Newsome is your LT with Cole your playside TE, so Minnesota might be picking up on that. Newsome(-2) also kicks the backside end. That ain't right. That creates a huge gap for two LBs to shoot; they obliterate Green. Playside slant was going to make this real tough anyway. RPS -1.
M45 3 4 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel bear press Run Reverse Chesson 22
Peppers in the slot; he gets a pitch backwards and then reverses it to Chesson. Man over him goes with him because it's man coverage and then the two playside contain defenders are like OH NO PEPPERS and chase him. Rudock(+1) is leading out and kind of bothers the guy in man on Chesson. He's a QB, we grade on a curve. Guy flies upfield and is gone. Cole(+0.5) doesn't have a difficult job but mirrors the playside end all the way. Chesson runs for a big gain. RPS +3; this was free. Darboh(+1) also got an extended downfield block.
O33 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Zone stretch Johnson 4
Well blocked; M eats a playside corner blitz and still gets a solid gain. Cole(+1) reaches the playside end again but with the CB blitz maybe that's not the worst for Minnesota. Johnson(+1) sets up and makes a hard cut upfield just inside of the Cole block; CB manages to grab and tackle after two and pile falls forward. Glasgow(+0.5) got enough of the playside DT to create a crease; Braden got a hit on a LB to knock him off balance, but that's dodgy; Butt(+1) got a solid downfield block. RPS -2.
O29 2 6 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Corner Darboh Inc (Pen +10)
DB basically tackles Darboh. Unfortunate as this ball hits right on the goal line and looks pretty good but I can't judge it since Darboh's on his knees at the five. (Not charted, 0, protection 2/2)
O19 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Pin and pull Johnson 13
I think? C and backside T pull. Cole(+0.5) actually stops doing so when he sees that Braden has released the DE is coming; he seals. Kalis(+1) seals the NT. Good kick by Mags(+0.5); big big hole. Braden(+0.5) gets out and annoys a LB. Glasgow(+1) cuts another; Johnson(+1) reads his blocks, presses outside to hold guys out there, and then cuts straight upfield once the crease is secure. Perry(-0.5) had an opportunity to extend to the S and make this a TD but waited on the CB outside and then kind of hung around, uncertain. Understand the first bit, second is a ding.
O6 1 G Wildcat trips tight bunch 0 2 3 4-3 over Run Pin and pull Peppers 6
Williams(+2) takes the playside end and puts him in the endzone. Chesson(+1) kicks a DB; Butt(-1) doesn't read that block and goes outside and doesn't it anyone. Cole(+0.5) correctly holds up to hit the first guy he sees; Glasgow also dives at him but misses and Cole doesn't make contact until that chop block danger has passed. Peppers(+1) runs over the CB that Butt let run free and gets the last three yards himself.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-16, 11 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M13 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Split zone Johnson 1
I have to assume this is a read and if so Rudock(-2) blows it. Nobody is even checking him; a pull here is a nice gain. Since he does not pull, backside end crashing down like a maniac as Braden(-1) cannot control a DT slanting inside of him means that Johnson is doomed. RPS -1.
M14 2 9 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Slant Darboh Inc
Open for a solid gain and third and two or so; Rudock throws it well behind Darboh and he can't make the catch. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)
M14 3 9 Pistol FB 2 1 2 Okie one off Pass Dumpoff Houma 2
This seems like a pretty dumb playcall on third and nine; M finds both outside WRs bracketed and Butt does get covered; two guys leak out of the backfield and it's like so what. A stunt gets through eventually and Rudock dumps it off for little. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS -1).
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-16, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass Dig Darboh 16
Rudock hitches up once or twice as M goes max pro with just two guys in the route but he does find Darboh in between three guys in zone for a pretty slick pitch and catch. (DO, 3, protection 2/2)
M41 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Pin and pull Johnson 13
These are opening up big as only one MN LB is reacting. Braden(+1) seals relevant DT; Cole(+0.5) kicks DE screaming upfield. Glasgow(+1) gets around and sets up to catch LB, moves him inside; big big gap for Johnson. Perry(-0.5) airballed on a cut because the guy shot upfield; Johnson(+0.5) has a pretty easy job but is fast and outruns that guy to the secondary. RPS +2.
O46 1 10 Offset I heavy 2 0 2 4-3 over Pass Scramble Rudock 6
Newsome in; PA; Rudock has forever. Minnesota has deep S and doesn't bite on the PA so Rudock's decision to not throw is probably right; he scrambles out for a decent gain, gets blasted in the helmet, and is knocked out of the game. (SCR, NA, protection 3/3, refs -3) Theory: sliding is worse for QBs than just taking hits.
O40 2 4 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Run Counter Johnson -1
Glasgow(-2) sees the NT slant away from him; he falls over and that guy is in the backfield unimpeded. Johnson is supposed to start right and then cut back to the left and he gets eaten by that dude in the backfield. Rest of the play looks ugly but with enough time to see what's happening in front of him Johnson may be able to burst outside for a solid gain.
O41 3 5 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Throwaway N/A Inc
Speight has all day. He gets a whisper of pressure and starts to bail out; he can just move in the pocket, reset, and fire, but does not; even before he had to move checkdowns were available that set up potential go-for-it situations even if they don't pick up first downs. Speight rolls to the sideline and throws OOB. (TA, N/A, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-23, 3 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Scramble Speight 6
Plenty of time and when the fourth guy comes through Michigan handles him, allowing Speight to roll to the sideline. He takes off for a reasonable gain. No idea if anyone was open. (SCR, NA, protection 2/2)
M26 2 4 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even Run Zone stretch Johnson 14 (Pen -10)
Massive gap again as the playside end just runs himself out of the play. Playside DT block from Glasgow(-2) is bad, forcing Johnson to bend outside around it and possibly causing a loss if the DE wasn't held. Braden(-1) should have hit that guy. He releases immediately and his man goes upfield; he does get a shove in. Kalis(+1) gets a good cut on the backside LB; Chesson(-1) falls off the playside guy, causing Houma(+0.5) to abort and hit him. That's unnecessary but he doesn't know that. Johnson(+1) bends out around the bad Glasgow block and then bursts to the secondary, leaping an S block to pick up a few extra yards. RPS +2; this wasn't blocked real well but M didn't need to. Comes back thanks to a hold on Glasgow that is legit.
M16 2 14 Shotgun trips 1 1 3 Nickel even press Pass Flare Johnson Inc
Instant pressure on Speight as M blows a five man blitz pickup; Mags(-1) lets a DT inside of him as the end drops off; Glasgow(-1) does not adapt to the LB coming inside of him, both guys are in, possibly a Speight issue if he didn't adjust the protection. He throws at a very covered Johnson and could get this picked. (BR, 0, protection 0/3, team -1)
M16 3 14 Ace 1 2 2 Nickel over Run Off tackle draw Smith -3
Blitz puts a guy right in the intended gap; Kalis(-1) also loses his guy so badly upfield that he can come tackle. RPS -2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-13, EO3Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Emory Tight 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Zone stretch Peppers 4
No QB. Three man OL with two OL types flanked. Newsome to the top, Strobel to the bottom. FBs behind each flanked set of OL and Chesson behind Peppers. Peppers just runs a sweep to Strobel's side. Blocking goes okay but both Strobel and Mags take on the playside end when one is probably fine. Chesson(+1) runs real fast and cuts the playside LB; Peppers heads inside of that. Mags(-1) pops off the DE block and runs at the guy Chesson cuts; he ends up blocking nobody. S comes down, LB also, tackle for meh gain.
M29 2 6 I-Form 2 1 2 4-4 even Run Pin and pull Johnson 2
Really feels like an RPS play as a DE way outside Mags shoots inside on the snap. The DT just inside of him comes outside. Both of those are problems for the OL. Kalis(-1) fires out straight and immediately loses the DT; Glasgow is pulling and starts blocking him with no angle, and that wipes out his ability to lead. Mags(+1) does adjust to get rid of the playside DE. Kerridge kicks out a LB; LB nobody had since Glasgow got picked off hits at the LOS. RPS -1.
M31 3 4 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 Nickel over Pass In Chesson Inc
Pressure as Johnson(-1) gets in Mags(-1) way and the DE gets in on Speight; he throws a very bad idea ball that could be intercepted if the LB is looking for it instead of focused on Chesson. (BRX, 0, protection 0/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-26, 10 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Offset I twins 2 1 2 4-4 over Pass PA TE out Butt 9
FB in the flat is covered; Butt open for a moment despite a stumble, and Speight hits him. (CA, 2, protection 1/1)
O31 2 1 I-Form Big H 2 2 1 4-4 over Run Power O Smith 3
LB creeps to the LOS and shoots the gap; Kalis gets hit deep in the backfield on his pull. Mags(+1) has the backside end and gets a couple yards of depth on him; without anyone playing force at the LOS Smith has a cutback lane he takes. This gets him a couple. On second and one I will ding this despite the first down. RPS -1.
O28 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Drag Hill 8
Pick route from M; Williams hits one LB and then flips around like he might receive a pass. LB continues covering Williams, letting Hill pop open for a dink pass that picks up good yardage. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
O20 2 2 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 over Run Zone stretch Johnson 8
Both playside DL end up fighting inside; Mags(+1) takes a guy slanting to him and steps around him to give M the corner; ditto Glasgow(+1). LBs are flowing behind to cover for the slant and both the playside guys jump upfield of blocks. Butt(+1) stays with it and removes his guy; Kalis(+0.5) hits the guy but then loses him and its fortunate that he gets run over by Glasgow accidentally. Houma(+0.5) hits a corner; Johnson takes a hit from the S and breaks it but backside pursuit then gets him.
O12 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Johnson 3
This should be a WR screen, I think, with two safeties at ten yards and seven guys in the box. M runs a zone read; DE flows up and handoff made. Braden(+1) gets the backside DT well off the LOS so it looks open for a second and then the guy M has no blocker for just runs at him and tackles. RPS -1.
O9 2 7 Wildcat 2-back twins 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Sack N/A -3
Nobody open and Peppers runs for a short loss. They fake a sweep with Chesson that looks like it would have really worked. RPS -1.
O12 3 10 Offset I twins heavy 2 0 2 4-3 even Pass Post Chesson 12
M catches a coverage they must expect because this is perfect for it and they don't even have a TE on the field on third and 10, instead going with six OL. Chesson threatens a corner before breaking in while Darboh pulls away the safety with a post further inside; Speight sees it and hits it. (somewhat generous DO, 3, protection 2/2). RPS +1, I guess, but if this didn't work I'd be very cross about PA on third and ten.
O3 2PT 2PT Shotgun empty TE 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Drag Darboh 3
Darboh pops open. S and LB are both looking in the backfield; Darboh expects a jam and is juking to get past the LB. He doesn't get one and it looks like maybe the S decides the LB should take him because of the weird path Darboh takes. Speight is looking farther outside for a while; he comes back to Darboh as he starts scrambling up and hits him for the two point conversion. Butt got a double the whole play and helped open this up. (CA+, 3, protection ½), Kalis -1.
Drive Notes: Touchdown(2PT), 29-26, 5 min 4th Q.

I tell you I was about to write a stern letter to the Big Ten officiating office after we got a Nebraska 2012 replay because of their Magic Targeting Eight Ball.

You should probably still write that letter.

And then Speight was decent, and now I want him to start for the rest of time until such time as he throws an incompletion, at which point I would like Brandon Peters to start.

It is nice that Michigan did not suffer the same fate they did against Nebraska that one year. They managed to find something on the ground late. Meanwhile Harbaugh beat Speight's pads and yelled at him until he was more terrified of not throwing instead of throwing. Michigan also got a huge special teams win when Minnesota left their last punt really short, setting up a short field for Michigan.

But you gotta take advantage, and Michigan did, first by getting Speight a couple of easy throws. He hit Butt on a little play action to the sidelines; the throw was a bit shaky but it got there. The next throw was an RPS play on which Williams hit and then spun to avoid an OPI as Hill dragged across the field; then on third and ten Speight read and hit on a double post:

That was a pretty ballsy setup by Michigan as they had just two wide receivers on the field and went with Grant Newsome as a sixth OL—if Minnesota doesn't leave a safety in a useless deep third to a side of the field where there are literally no eligible WRs, that's probably fourth down.

But it worked, and I'll attribute that to Michigan seeing a vulnerability or something. Yeah.

Then the thing that was pretty impressive:

Speight's movement and awareness to get that complete won the game.

So he should start right.

Almost certainly not.


I mean, it was nice to see Speight come through when Michigan needed but he did not give off the aura of a guy competing with Rudock seriously, even as frustrating as Rudock's been. And in this game he was okay.

Was he?

Well why don't you look at this



Jake Rudock 2014

Maryland 2 38++(2) 4(1) 2 2* 6 3 7 1 75%
Northwestern 5+ 7+(1) 3(1) 3 - 1 1 - 1 71%
Illinois 3 13(2)+ - 2 1 2 - - 3 77%
Wisconsin 5+ 16(3)++ 7 1 1 3 1 2 2 80%
Nebraska 3 20(1) 2 5 4** 2* 1 5 1 66%

Jake Rudock 2015

Utah 5+ 18+++ 2 4* 4* 4 - 1 1 71%
Oregon State 3+ 17(3) 2 2 1* - 1 2 2 76%
UNLV - 13(4) 2 5** 2 2 - - - 50%
BYU 1 12(2) 2 1 2* 5 1 2 4 63%
Maryland 2 13(3)+ 3 4 4 5* 1 3 2 50%
Northwestern - 16(1)++ 4   1* 3 1 2   75%
Michigan State 2 9(1)++   7(1) 2 1 2(1) 5   50%
Minnesota 3 10(2)+ 1 5* 2* 1 2 1 1 55%

Wilton Speight 2015

Minnesota 1 3+     2* 1     1 63%

Rudock was up and down with a strong period when Michigan raced out to a 14-3 lead followed by a frustrating end to the first half.

The interception on the opening drive was unfortunate more than anything else. Michigan had tried some Peppers frippery than didn't work and Rudock was trying to improvise. It seemed pretty clear that he wasn't going to scramble for the first down and that Smith was available. For a linebacker to get a hand on that pass from about 4 yards away and for that to ricochet to another defender is a pretty unlikely sequence of events; I prefer Rudock trying that rather than scrambling and putting Michigan in fourth and three.

And before and after that he looked solid for about a quarter and a half. This ball to Jake Butt is the kind of thing I've wanted to see from Rudock since I started looking at his Iowa games:

Butt is sort of covered, and in the past we've seen Rudock not throw at sort of covered guys. He is also a half-foot taller than the guy checking him, so he's not that covered, and Rudock throws a ball that takes advantage of that. Rudock hit some guys in tight zone windows; he moved around and hit some productive dumpoffs; he felt more confident and decisive in his reads.

I didn't actually think the first touchdown to Chesson was great, but I'd noticed that that safety is a former walk-on and not too good. It's funny to hear Blackledge talk about how Rudock made his WR stop with the pass as Chesson barrels headlong into the S because that's where the throw goes:

Blackledge is describing the way that should have worked, not the way it actually did.

And then.

And then things got very frustrating. Rudock throws a dangerous pass that a linebacker bats down here, and look at the skycam replay. rant Perry is right in front of his face on a post route; he is one on one with a safety he turns around:

With a tailback dump also available that was bit of a hair-puller.

On the next play (there was an intervening offsides penalty) they run a play designed to work against man coverage, get man coverage, have Chesson open in the flat for the first down, and Rudock just doesn't throw it:

To me that's so much worse than the interception. Punt, Minnesota TD on the fluky Clark corner route, a seven yard hitch, and then Michigan gets Peppers singed up on a linebacker:

Live I did not notice that Rudock got some gentle pressure. His answer to that was to hop back two steps and throw off his back foot, which works great if you're Connor Cook. If he had stepped up in the pocket he can get the requisite arm strength on this throw to… well, probably to overthrow Peppers. But Peppers is really fast so he might run it down anyway.

And then another swing pass way off:

That's a first down or close to one; Michigan would go for it on the ensuing fourth down and turn it over, paving the way for a Minnesota FG. That's a huge swing at the end of the half because Rudock missed a zero yard pass.

Add it up and it's slightly less frustrating than previous games because he did hit some DO throws, but the continual inability to hit deep is hurting the offense.

You said in the table to talk about the decision to go for it on fourth down.

Absolute no brainer. Fourth and six is makeable. You're on the Minnesota 37. There's a minute left in the half. You have a lights-out defense going up an offense that has to this point in the season been very bad, especially downfield. The ensuing drive only got anywhere because Leidner threw an interception that somehow eluded Dymonte Thomas.

I find our run game alarming.

First, chart:

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Cole 10.5 1 9.5 Killing it on outside runs. Sealed the world.
Braden 7 3 4 Solid outing.
Glasgow 7 6.5 0.5 Had a couple of –2s on TFLs.
Kalis 4 7.5 -3.5 Ran by guys he should block twice; inconsistent downfield
Magnuson 5 1.5 3.5 Good day for him although M is clearly left-handed.
Newsome 1 2 -1 Redshirt gone
Butt 3.5 1 2.5 Minnesota edge guys not that physical.
Williams 3.5   3.5 Major driver of Peppers TD.
Kerridge 2   2  
Poggi       DNP
Houma 2   2  
Hill       DNC
TOTAL 45.5 22.5 67% Benchmark but meh yards goes back to RPS and RBs.
Player + - T Notes
Rudock 1 3 -2 Missed a couple keeps.
Peppers 1   1 Thunk
Smith   2 -2 No YAC.
Isaac       DNP
Green   2 -2 Meh.
Johnson 4.5   4.5 This is probably generous.
Higdon       DNP
TOTAL 6.5 7 -0.5 Overall result is yards blocked only.
Player + - T Notes
Darboh 1 1 0  
Chesson 4 1 3 Some good work on a couple of screens.
Harris       DNP
Perry   1 -1  
TOTAL 5 3 2  
Player + - T Notes
Protection 51 6 89% Blowout. –2 Mags, –1 Glasgow, –1 Johnson, –1 Kalis, –1 team
RPS 21 20 1

Tough to get an advantage w/ limited capabilities.

I thought the blocking was fine overall despite not great days from Kalis and Glasgow; the TEs and Cole made up for it.

So why were the numbers so blah?

Part of this goes back to Rudock. We again got no completed deep balls. Michigan attempted just two. One was very early to Damario Jones and overthrown; one went to Peppers and was drastically underthrown. With Michigan 0-fer on passes of more than about 20 yards downfield, opposing safeties are getting way up in Michigan's grill. Minnesota has their dudes seven yards from the LOS here:

That's no way to live. There are other reasons that play doesn't get a ton but in general safeties are filling too close to the line of scrimmage.

Michigan got a huge gap on one of their counter iso plays only for a safety, again lined up at seven yards, to run up and cut off the outside before Darboh could intercept him:

That is likely (well, maybe) a Smith bounce to the corner and a solid gain if Rudock could put the fear of God into the safeties. Or even the fear of a minor saint. The saint of bird flu, leftist book groups, and coleslaw.

Michigan is physically competent in their blocking but not overwhelming; they are not total goobers with their execution but there's often a guy or two who isn't quite getting it right.

And, well, you know. The tailbacks.

/erects spittle umbrella

I'm pretty much over it, but I'm not sure if any tailback except Drake Johnson made a more than a yard or two for himself on Saturday.

Michigan ran a lot of zone and on zone plays you need to cut. If you do not cut on zone defenders are on the correct side of the blockers and guys are flowing to you. If you do not cut on zone this happens:

Glasgow doesn't get to that linebacker, but I don't blame him. I blame a running back that declared where he was going as soon as he got the ball. Pick one side of that buried guy at the LOS, threaten the other side of it, and then cut. There is such a thing as being too north/south and that's it.

Ditto this zone play from Smith a bit later.

Cut. He runs directly into a DL because he does not change his flight path for the duration of the play. Now, maybe that linebacker lights you up. Maybe Braden got just enough to put you through the crease. Running in a straight line at a block that you should be reading all the way is a great way to set up your cut… if you cut. Michigan's blocking isn't stellar but there are a lot of opportunities to get 2, 3, 4 yards more than Michigan ends up with.

I mean, the first time I saw Johnson make a cut I was like "nope, never going to play." He still seems to change direction like a guy 50 pounds heavier than he is, but at least he will set a guy up and go inside of him. Johnson wipes the corner on this play by indicating he is running in a direction and then changing that direction.

I'm not sure if Johnson has plus characteristics other than his speed and his press conferences (A++++) but he feels like a much more natural running back than the other guys.

Hail Drake, though?

I'm on board with Michigan trying to find out of Johnson is their feature back. I was a skeptic for a long time and I'm still not quite sure what he does that well other than run fast, but every time he gets a good chunk of carries he produces. A lot of the time it feels like he's just running into bigass holes that other guys don't get…

…but maybe he's using the running back fairy to poof them into existence or something?


via Smoothitron

Also, I like how Johnson presses outside a little on that run. He ends up cutting right off Glasgow's butt after committing two guys outside. It's not a drastic cut. It's not a highlight play, but he appears to understand how to set up his blocks. That's what I mean when I say he feels like a more natural running back.

He may be wobbly in pass protection. Michigan almost always sends him out of the backfield, which makes sense but that predictability could hamper the offense. Also he's a little rusty still—one sack was partially on him getting on Magnuson's way.

But yes let's give him half the carries unless it seems like he should have more.

We haven't really talked about the OL in any specific way this year. Can we maybe get some takes on those guys?

Cole and Glasgow are very similar. They're Michigan's best second level blockers. They're consistent with their assignments. They remember to keep stepping around guys when they are tasked with sealing someone away from the play. They are good pass protectors but not great; neither is a physical marvel but they are both solid, consistent technicians. Glasgow had an off day but I think a part of that was he was getting good blocks far away from the play that I didn't judge.

Glasgow doesn't actually get a hit here but this play is a pretty good demonstration of both those gents. Cole will pull to the Peppers jet sweep; Glasgow releases downfield and doesn't find anyone to hit until the end of the play:

Glasgow isn't served well by it here but he gets in space and slows down a bit, looking to see if there's anyone to hit. That has paid off several times this year when Glasgow's awareness of what's around him has seen him cut off a guy who doesn't seem to be on his radar. Meanwhile, Cole's superior agility is on display there. He is by far Michigan's most consistent second-level blocker because he can redirect to match most linebackers even when they go off script and decide to go upfield of him. I am rarely if ever irritated by an assignment they messed up.

The other guys are a clear step or two behind. Kalis is the most frustrating to me. He has a tendency to run past guys he should block and he's wobbly on the second level. He got two separate –2s in this game because he ran by a dude who he definitely should have hit. Braden is similar but tends to bring more oomph to his blocks; I am also less persnickety about him just because he's come a long long way since last year.

Let's go back to that Drake Johnson run. Go back and look at Cole in the above play. Now on the Johnson run, Michigan has this busted for a long play. If Drake gets past the guy who tackles him Michigan has four(!) blockers for the two safeties. The guy who gets him did the thing that Cole successfully stoned in the above clip:

Braden can't match it. That's the difference between the starting guards and Cole/Glasgow. (That and the fact that Cole gets a kick ass block on the DE for the duration.) Not on every play. On a lot of plays.

Finally, Magnuson is JAG right now. He's okay at blocking. They don't run to him very much. There are not many plays on which he has a big role and that seems to be about half Cole and half Magnuson. He is the Jarrod Wilson of the offensive line.

What about Grant Newsome?

He got maybe a dozen snaps. He certainly looks the part, and on that third and one above he buried a defensive end. I think he messed up one power play but he is a freshman.

I may not like burning Newsome's redshirt but at least he's played a meaningful role in a close game here. That's also a good sign for him personally and Michigan's OL next year. They only need to replace one guy; having a prototype left tackle surge through two or three other guys and look good doing it makes it likely he starts next year. If I had to bet right now I'd say next year's line reads Newsome-Braden-Cole-Kalis-Magnuson. Remember that Cole got a lot of time at center last spring.


Can I say Reggie Bush here? I feel that's what he'd be if he was a primarily offensive player.

(I had forgotten that Bush insanely lateraled the ball in the Texas-USC Rose Bowl.)


That's not an exaggeration?


Michigan expanded their package for him in this game. It's still a very trick-oriented package: wildcat stuff including a pass, a couple of plays where he was like HEY LOOK AT ME I MIGHT GET A SCREEN, end-arounds and reverses. The reverse to Chesson was basically a free 22 yards as Minnesota's backside completely abandons their responsibilities to chase Peppers:

Even so I'd like it if Peppers's appearances on offense started becoming more like "we just happen to have a slot/RB who we don't play very much because he's also on D" instead of the hand-waving decoy business. I'd like to see Peppers start running bubble action, because holy pants when Michigan decides to hit that over the top that's going to work, right?

Meanwhile, when he got the ball as a runner he displayed the kind of power that makes you think about the fact that momentum is mass times velocity:

Ball's in the inside hand, though. If Michigan tries to use him as an inside runner I bet they end up with a lot of the same issues as the current guys have just because he isn't repping consistently. Put him in one on one situations in open space, though, and…


Sure, yeah.


I don't want to think about it because I don't want to overheat and get disappointed when he doesn't have a Tom Harmon game against Ohio State.


Yeah, man, all Peppers everything.

Stanfordizations of the week?

Minnesota's defense was a little tricky for Michigan. They line up their middle linebacker a couple yards deeper than the other guys, which gives him time to read and react and get around second level blocks. He's the guy highlighted closer to the LOS here:

The past couple weeks had seen those linebackers read action to the right and bury themselves in the line; this week the opponent was more patient.

The Gopher linebackers were very much in the read and react mode, unlike the rampage-prone Northwestern and MSU second level. This meant Michigan's misdirection didn't pay off much, but neither did Michigan get threatened in the backfield very often. True to their stats, the Gophers didn't give up many yards but neither did they chip in many explosive plays.

(On the other hand, Minnesota's goal line package didn't make any damn sense. Kerridge plowed the ball from the 4 into the endzone on two carries on Michigan's opening TD drive in part because Michigan lined up in a goal line formation and Minnesota responded with a four man line. The ensuing doubles by Michigan were basically unchallenged:


Anyway, with misdirection off the table Michigan's primary wrinkle were zone plays. Michigan ran stretches a lot; during Drake's late renaissance he was picking up a lot of yards on pin and pull plays where the center and backside tackle were coming around. Some of the stretches were hard to ID because Minnesota would get reached so quickly the OL barely had to step, and then Michigan got the edge. There were a lot of plays that got outside the tackle, so many that I have to think the design of Minnesota's defense is vulnerable to that for whatever reason. The defensive ends got edged a ton and Minnesota linebackers absolutely loved going upfield of Michigan blocks:

When you do that you better make the play; sometimes they did. Other times not so much.

In the second half Michigan found something with Drake Johnson. I mentioned one bigass hole above; here's another:

The late pin and pull zones baffled Minnesota. Michigan had previously only used that scheme to run outside sweeps; in this game Minnesota DEs would blast upfield when they felt that coming, leaving truck lanes up the middle. Johnson was able to take advantage on a series of 10+ yard runs.

This isn't much in the way of frippery. It's just running plays.

Accurate. With the exception of the Peppers stuff, the nature of the Minnesota defense didn't lend itself to the kind of things we've seen in previous weeks. I did find a cool thing.

This is a split zone counter that set Michigan up to punch in their first touchdown. On split zone the FB comes down and hits the backside end here; this time he arcs around and goes out to the second level, where he wrecks a DB.

If that's an actual read Rudock blew it; when the RB ends up running next to the QB and is getting yards the pull is wide open.

Smith's lack of giddyup—Johnson probably scores—and a missed block on Minnesota's backside LB prevent this from getting to the endzone but I liked to see that quite a bit anyway. Always wanted M to run that with Denard for obvious reasons.


[0 = uncatchable, 1 = circus catch, 2 = moderate difficulty, 3 = routine]

Player 0 1 2 3 0 1 2 3
Darboh 1 0/1 1/1 5/5   8 1/5 5/6 26/28
Chesson 1   1/2 2/2   10 0/2 4/7 13/14
Perry           2   1/2 2/3
Harris           2 0/1 2/2 3/3
Ways 1         1     2/2
Peppers 1         1     1/1
Butt 2   1/1 3/3   3 2/2 4/5 21/21
Williams           2 1/1   8/8
Bunting           1     6/6
Hill       1/1         5/5
Poggi               1/1  
Smith 1     1/1   3 1/1   6/7
Isaac                 2/2
Green                 1/1
Johnson           1     2/2
Jones 1         1      
Higdon                 1/1
Kerridge               1/1 3/3
Houma       1/1   1     4/5

Very solid week from them, with no drops and a number of moderately difficult catches. Michigan didn't have a ton of trouble getting open against a very good secondary, which is a nice bump in expectations. Darboh shaking Eric Murray like this is unexpected:

But with a limited passing game these guys aren't chipping in a ton.


Cole. Butt and Williams. Darboh. Johnson.

Maybe not so heroic?

Rudock was up and down but ultimately down; Kalis has a rough outing; tailbacks other than Johnson.

What does it mean for Rutgers and beyond?

Love the Drake. Feature back shot starts now. He's producing. That's enough.

Status quo at QB. Signs of life, then signs of WTF, and no deep balls again. Speight's entry into the race gives Michigan a backup that is somewhat capable of moving the ball, so that's nice.

Darboh had a nice day. The receivers may be good but held back by extenuating circumstances. We've had a very long run of time without boggling drops being a common feature, which is something to be grateful for in CFB. Illinois has something like 46(!!!) this year.

Cole is very good. I don't think he's a great pass protector and expect him to get worked by Joey Bosa, because he is not really a left tackle. This may open the door for Grant Newsome next year if he is on a stardom track, while Cole is excellent on the interior.

It's a struggle. This is the offense; they scuffle and usually scrape out enough points.


Everyone Murders

November 4th, 2015 at 5:21 PM ^

If we put aside the Northwestern game as either an anomaly or a win against a fragile or overrated team, it seems like the offense is what we thought it would be at the beginning of the season.  A little worse performance at QB and RB than what we anticipated, a bit better on the OL and WR than what we anticipated, and TE about what we thought.  Net-net, it's an adequate B1G offense, which after last year ... OK.

So long as this unit mostly holds serve for the defense, and special teams continues to excel, we should be OK.

(Oh, and people thinking we should start Speight if Rudock is available should have to wear a pointy hat and sit in the corner.)


November 4th, 2015 at 5:42 PM ^

Cole looks like a future C. He gets to the 2nd level very well and he's really light at OT. C position mitigate his weight and pass protection at the edge while highlighting his strength as a 2nd level blocker.

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November 4th, 2015 at 5:45 PM ^

I have a sneaking suspicion Speight plays Saturday - either starts or comes in after a series or two because Rudock is still not fully recovered.

I also pray that Drake gets his shot at being the featured back. Kid deserves it, in my opinion.


November 4th, 2015 at 6:04 PM ^

Well usually you "put stuff on film" against an overmatched opponent and your fan base scratches their head at first and you are like "oh it's just a wrinkle for the opposing future good teams to worry about".

I don't put that in this category.  I put that in we had little to no offense and aside from 1 Chesson run and maybe 2 Johnson runs Peppers was the potential explosion and every play of his was needed to eek this out.


November 4th, 2015 at 5:52 PM ^

It's really nice to see Cole stepping his game up so much this year, he's on a heck of a trajectory. Kalis had really seemed to be improving a lot too, I hope he can right the ship soon; I'm still holding out hope that he can be All-BIG level before things are said and done.


Cole vs Kalis comparison in UFR over time


November 4th, 2015 at 5:55 PM ^

Smith was clearly hurt and if after 2 weeks of rest he is hurt, he is going to be hurt the rest of the way save for the bowl game (high ankle I presume - ask Walton about it).  Green is just a guy.  Isaac MIA.  Johnson is only now rounding into form and only guy who saw the holes and found em.

Walker - if anything near the hype - would have a chance to start by game 3-4 next year with this roster of RBs ala Saquon Barkley at PSU this year.  Combined with a QB who makes safety go back oh I don't know ...10 yards... and it will be a lot more fun to watch. 

With the type of athletes PSU and OSU have on the DL this type of execution won't lead to fun things.

Bummed about that Glasgow # - grandma is gonna yell.

Special teams again saved our ass - I believe 2 of our TD drives were 28 yds and 40 yds.

I have jumped full swing into the Taysom Hill bandwagon next year since we are so desperate for playmaking abilityt and I don't want to count on Walker (who is not even a commit yet, and with our history of "5 star rbs" I won't trust to carry the backfield in year 1).

Peppers stay healthy man.



November 4th, 2015 at 10:22 PM ^

Let's say Hill comes here and plays great for six weeks, then goes down with another season-ending injury. What are we really out? The scholarship, I guess--but you have to figure we'd probably lose somebody between NSD and fall camp anyway, so as long as we don't hold one open for him we don't even lose that.


November 4th, 2015 at 5:57 PM ^

It's very disapointing how the RB's are leaving yards on the field by not cutting and simply missing holes.  The vision and decision making to do that seem like coachable things at least to an adequate level of ability.  It's not like teaching throwing accuracy.  To me this is the most perplexing deficiency of the offense. Jake Rudocks limitations are his limitations..I can understand and accept it.


November 4th, 2015 at 8:55 PM ^

I'm surprised to hear that. I would think if someone knew the plays really well they would be better at knowing where to look to make quicker decisions. "Track on the buck, go to whichever side of the guard he doesn't" or something like that. I don't get the sense the current backs are doing that.


November 4th, 2015 at 9:21 PM ^

It's really not. You can teach them the plays but you can't coach vision because it's all instincts from there. Drake Johnson has the best vision out of all the RBs on the roster by a long shot. Drake sets up blocks so well that he manipulate LBs or S into going certain way before cutting the other way or finding little crease that he can go small through the holes.

Also, I keep seeing De'Veon Smith and Derrick Green keep running into OL's back which tells me they have terrible vision and you can't coach them out of bad vision. Only difference is Smith can break tackles while Green goes down on first contact.

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November 5th, 2015 at 4:22 PM ^

Okay.  Surely you can learn through reps where the hole is supposed to be and where the secondary cutback opportunities tend to be for a given play. To me that seems like a binary decision not requiring this mystical, god given "vision" you speak of.   At minimum you can coach a guy to do more than mindlessly run in a straight line. 

MI Expat NY

November 4th, 2015 at 5:58 PM ^

I see Rudock right now as a guy who is mostly competent that leaves 4-5 plays out there a game that would make this offense hum.  I think that performance is going to be fine for three of our four remaining games.  Against Ohio State, unless the defense has just an insane performance, he's going to need to make those 4 or 5 plays for us to win.


November 4th, 2015 at 5:58 PM ^

I'm sorry, but I just can't agree on the RBs. Maybe it's true in a general sense that Johnson has the best cutting ability, but you want Smith to do what here?

The blocker he's reading is opening up a hole exactly where he should be. He can either go through that hole (for what would likely be a TD if Glasgow held his block), or what, cut into the two unblocked linebackers flowing from the backside? Bounce into the guy that's getting kicked out? I don't get it.

Meanwhile, Johnson's "cut" that you praise isn't really much of one, to my eyes. He takes such a horizontal angle on his run that he has no choice but to cut (although "turn" is probably a better word) upfield lest he run out of bounds. He ends up de-facto juking a guy because he's decently agile and the defender overruns the play - that happens with fast RBs, but I don't see it as a great cut per se.

I agree in a general sense that Johnson seems like the most natural RB out there, by a decently wide margin, and like I said that may be reflected in his cutting ability generally speaking. But I don't think this is a good example.


November 4th, 2015 at 7:16 PM ^

"that happens with fast RBs, but I don't see it as a great cut per se." Well, regardless of whether it was because of his speed or a cut, it seemed like something Smith might not be capable of (though maybe as you say, the sideline forced it). Also, Brian definitely didn't say it was a great cut. He just praised him for cutting at all. He mentioned Drake cuts like a guy 50 pounds heavier than he is.


I certainly don't know film well, and sometimes just give the benefit of the doubt to some people I trust because of things I don't understand, but I was also confused about the Smith run you mention. I watched it like 6 times and couldn't figure out what else he was supposed to do.


November 4th, 2015 at 8:32 PM ^

Deveon Smith did not set up his blockers here. He could have taken a step toward the other side and then cut hard to his desired destination which would have allowed the blocker to seal off the defender and given him a wide lane to run through. Drake Johnson understands how to do that and then is rewarded by the massive lanes he has to run through. The lanes exist in a zone scheme if the running back knows how to find them. That is also one of the many reasons why Mike Hart was so great in college. No, I am not saying Drake is Mike Hart but he clearly demonstrates the same ability to see how plays will develop before they do. None of our other backs have shown that yet.

Space Coyote

November 4th, 2015 at 10:10 PM ^

This is lead outside zone. Smith's job is to press the LOS on the exact path he took. When he got to the LOS, his correct read was the one he took. If he goes off his track early he makes life much harder on his blockers and he can't get to his spot at the time he needs. You don't run stretch by faking inside and cutting outside 3 yards behind the LOS. 


November 4th, 2015 at 6:01 PM ^

on the reverse. I'd give him a heroic performance for the game.

I thought Rudock looked really good on the 3 TD drives.  Then he had a spell of WTF on some other series.  More consistency and a deep ball or 2 and we'd be golden.

Moonlight Graham

November 4th, 2015 at 9:08 PM ^

Two easy-ish games to get us to 8-2 and maybe top 15 ranking, then it's showtime in Happy Valley and The Game at home. Should be fun. Hope Rudock's ribs are ok. I assume the rib injury happened on his final sorta-slide play forcing Speight to come in — although out of all the myriad of injuries it looked like he could have suffered on that play in slo-mo (concussion or decapitation, neck, ankle, knee, hip) I would not have guessed ribs.  


November 4th, 2015 at 6:02 PM ^

Dollars to doughnuts Smith's ankle is hindering his ability to make cuts, something that he was not great at to begin with.  He really should play as little as possible this week, if at all.  Captain Obvious, I know, but ankle injuries are easily exacerbated.     


November 4th, 2015 at 7:03 PM ^

Smith is north-south to a flaw.  But ankles are good for more than just cuts.  His nuclear-powered icebreaker ability?  That's lower-body strength.  He's been playing on an injured ankle and had no YAC that I saw in this game.  He's much easier to bring down because he can't transfer the strength of his core/legs to his feet with a bad ankle.


November 4th, 2015 at 6:08 PM ^

I am, however, excited with the future based on the play designs. The execution obviously isn't there yet(not quite McKay's  Bucs territory) but one can see the potential for plenty of explosion plays and a highly productive running game once UM has the proper pieces to run it.


November 4th, 2015 at 6:19 PM ^

Your first clip after "Hail Drake, though?" shows exactly why he should be the feature back. You say he just runs into a big ass hole there, but his subtle cut back inside toward the end of the run is beautiful.

Also, no comment on the two "targeting" shots to Rudock?


November 4th, 2015 at 6:33 PM ^

For example, I notice that there was no minus given for the last play of drive four (the non-throw to Chesson in the flat featured in the "1st half part 12" video).


November 4th, 2015 at 6:44 PM ^

Brian...are you 2 star struck by Drake J. still?   Its hard to understand why you dont see what most of the rest of us see...which is that Drake is the best RB on the active roster, and its not even close.  He has been this since last year when Hoke was forced to use him due to injuries to the other RBs.  Every time Drake is in there, the running game starts to happen.  This is not a coincidence.  The guy is good.


November 4th, 2015 at 6:47 PM ^

Did you miss the part where he basically said Johnson needs to be the featured RB at this point? And besides, he's still flawed though. While he did look much better in last year's IU and OSU games, he still can't cut very quickly. Bottom line is there just don't seem to be complete backs on the roster right now.

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Detroit Dan

November 4th, 2015 at 11:36 PM ^

This is like Brady and Henson.  One back is consistently superior, to such an obvious extent that eventually the coach has no choice but to make him the starter.  

In basketball, some still like Chatman over Abdur-Rahkman, as if actual on-court performance is insignificant as compared to "potential".

Drake Johnson consistently (year-in, year-out) gains more yards per carry than Smith and the others.  This could be rather significant.


November 4th, 2015 at 6:57 PM ^

I thought Green or Ty would emerge as one of the go to backs while Johnson gets back in the fold. Now I would go with Johnson and just hope he remains healthy.