Upon Further Review 2015: Offense vs PSU

Submitted by Brian on November 25th, 2015 at 12:53 PM

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This Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things, like Harbaugh, and family, and Harbaugh, and some more family. Also I have a mortgage that was easy to get and has an excellent rate that will save me a ton of money over the life of it. And Harbaugh. And a decidedly pants optional lifestyle. Also Harbaugh.

Matt's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call. (No pants required.)

FORMATION NOTES: Penn State played most of the game in a 4-3. Passing downs saw a nickel. I may have missed a few nickel snaps since 11 and 15 can look similar. This was a pretty typical alignment:

PSU 4-3 even

Note the PSU player to the top of the screen is a corner and Brandon Bell, their nickel LB, is over the slot. PSU's defense is superficially like MSU's, but they sit their safeties back a lot more and are generally less aggressive.

Michigan didn't do much out of the ordinary other than line up Peppers at RB, frequently in a shotgun 4-wide setup I dubbed "Baylor" because obviously.

m 4-wide baylor

This one was a WR screen since PSU elected not not to put two guys near the stack to the bottom of the screen.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Mostly the usual. Slight variants:

  • Kalis got knocked out for a snap, so Dawson was inserted.
  • Bunting returned to the field for a few snaps.
  • Hill is getting a fair number of snaps behind Poggi and Williams.
  • Peppers got a number of pure RB snaps and handoffs that were in no way frippery.
  • Ways saw a little PT.
  • Hidgon also saw a few snaps.

Still no Green or Isaac.

[After THE JUMP: screens and Rudock and such.]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M11 1 10 Ace twin TE 1 2 2 4-4 under Pass Hitch Chesson 7
Simple pitch and catch on off coverage. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
M18 2 3 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Out Darboh Inc
This looks like a sight read for Darboh. He runs an out and up. DB is on top of this, does a great job with it. Darboh then breaks it off and is wide open on the sideline. Rudock hits him, but Darboh(route -1) is standing OOB. He comes back in but you can't do that. (CA, 0, protection 2/2)
M18 3 3 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Corner Chesson 16
Smash combo. One high S can't get over to Chesson's route after FB in the flat takes the corner out. No replay but given the path of the S I think Chesson successfully sold post (route +1) and turned the S around. Rudock finds it and hits it. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M34 1 10 I-Form Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 over Run Power O Smith 1
Blocked pretty well and Smith runs into blocked guys. Poggi and Williams(+1) fire in the end. Kerridge(+0.5) gets an okay kick. Kalis(+1) smashes the playside LB. Poggi does not get off his block after the first hit and find a LB, but Williams ends up pulling around Poggi; LB goes inside Williams. Smith(-2) runs directly into that guy when he can take it further outside into minimal resistance.
M35 2 9 Shotgun 2-back 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Pin and pull Higdon 0
Chesson is the other RB. Ways gets a snap too. This is a cluster, with PSU clearly anticipating a run to the boundary here. I don't know how much of a pin and pull zone this. Either it's not or the line does not adjust, because the PSU DL shifts late and M still pulls the C and playside T. This is bad. Braden has no prayer at blocking the NT and Kalis is in a very bad spot against the DT. Butt(-1) misses his block on the playside end. Chesson gets a cut on a CB but that CB flies by on his knees and gets an ankle tackle in. Higdon starts to fall and the NT tackles from behind. This wasn't going anywhere anyway. RPS -2.
M35 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Dig Chesson 39
Terrific pocket as this takes a long time to develop. Rudock fires in another badass dig route that causes two DBs to bang into each other for a big catch and run. (DO, 3, protection 3/3)
O26 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 under Pass TE corner Butt 26
Another spectacular pocket. Williams is left in to block, FWIW. Rudock has all day to survey and fire to Butt after Butt(route +1) turns around the S and breaks open to the corner. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-3, 7 min 1st Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O43 1 10 Offset I 3-wide 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Draw Smith -4
PSU sends a blitz that annihilates this. Kalis(-1) fires out at a DT slanting away from him. Kerridge(-1) never picks up either blitzer, but really this is RPS -2; difficult for either guy who didn't block correctly to adjust.
O47 2 14 Ace empty TE 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Sack N/A -4
Kalis(-2) spectacularly fails to pick up a stunt. Rudock does need to get rid of this on a three step drop but yeesh. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2)
M49 3 18 Shotgun empty 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Dig Chesson INT
On the one hand this is a super bad idea into the chest of a linebacker. On the other hand, it's third and eighteen and punting is happening anyway. Still prefer a punt of a throw instead of something that flips field position. (BRX, 0, protection 2/2). Rudock should have dumped it to Johnson and then maybe gone for it on fourth, or pooched it.
Drive Notes: Interception, 7-3, 4 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M9 1 10 I-form twins 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Edge pitch Smith 8
FB dive fake to the quick pitch that should only work when M runs it. M runs it; it works. Cole(+1) gets a good open field block on the relevant linebacker. Darboh(+1) does the same to a DB. S who is last guy and playside DE combine to cut Smith down. Not a great play for his skillset but perhaps that's why it works. RPS +1.
M17 2 2 I-Form Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 over Penalty False start Williams -5
Williams -1.
M12 2 7 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 over Penalty False start Glasgow -5
An illegal snap. Glasgow –1.
M7 2 12 Ace empty TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Hitch Butt 11
Quick pitch and catch to get a chunk of it back. Butt(+1) avoids a tackler and gets almost a first down. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M19 3 1 I-Form Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 under Pass PA FB flat Houma 3
This is actually a nice read and throw by Rudock as a LB drops almost in the throwing lane and he waits a beat before getting it out in a spot where he can't bat it down.(CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M22 1 10 I-Form Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 over Run Power O Smith 1
Brutal lack of patience by Smith as if he just gives the blocking a chance it opens up beautifully. Williams(+2) wrecks the playside end. It takes a second, but he kills him. Hill(+1) sees he's not need and goes and hits a linebacker. Kalis(+0.5) hits the playside LB and gets enough. Smith(-2) cuts back into huge amounts of trash. For no reason. Jordan Howard picks up 20 yards here. BTW, check out the spectacular defensive holding on Braden's guy.
M23 2 9 I-Form 2 1 21 4-3 under Run Zone stretch Peppers 6
M shuffles Houma to the weakside boundary and then runs there. I think Peppers misses a cut. Houma(+1) cuts the playside end. Alerted by the shuffle the playside LB runs hard to the play; he forces Peppers to the sideline. No real force guy here so understand what Peppers does. Braden(+0.5) did turn a guy in for a while; Darboh(+0.5) blocked a guy that Peppers flashed by.
M29 3 3 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 5-2 bear Pass Out Chesson Inc
Route combo had worked for a first down but the ball is batted down. (BA, 0, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Flash screen Darboh 6
Chesson in the slot and heads for the CB. PSU put their WLB Bell over the slot and he tries to shut down the space. Chesson(+0.5) gets enough of the DB to force him inside; Darboh(+1) stiffarms the LB to get down the sideline for a solid gain. (CA, 3, screen)
M26 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Flash screen Darboh 3
This one is not a great idea. Coverage is off but W LB looking for this all the way now he can get to it; PSU lined up with six in the box and this should be the run half of the RPO. Darboh(+1) manages to dance for a few yards anyway, powering through a CB for the last couple. (CA, 3, screen, RPS -1)
M29 3 1 Goal line 2FB 3 2 0 4-3 over Run FB dive Houma 2
PSU inserts a LB unblocked right at the POA and Houma(+1) runs him over for the first down.
M31 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Waggle scramble Rudock 4
Peppers at RB. PA fake to him. Williams blocks down on the DE to give Rudock the corner. Butt runs a corner route with Peppers underneath. CB to that side picks it up nicely and Peppers tries to extend his route downfield. Not sure if this has much of an impact because Butt looks pretty covered either way but with Peppers dragging his man into the mix there's no throw. Rudock takes off and gets a few. He really could have cut this back to the center of the field where there is nobody and gotten a nice gain, but hard to criticize. I'm not filing this as a SCR since the run was suboptimal so it's an MA designation because MA is punting (MA, N/A, protection 1/1)
M35 2 6 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over Run Power O Smith 4
PSU runs a blitz that sees PSU slant to the play. They blow it on the second level, with both LBs and the S who comes down as part of the blitz vacating the backside and pursuing as if this is ever going to go in the gap that is intended. Kalis(+1) plugs Johnson after he rips past Glasgow. Pretty good here; drive on this is difficult and he manages it. Glasgow(+0.5) stumbles out after Johnson is not there to hit;  he recovers. Everyone runs away from him. He turns around to hit a guy and does. Smith sees the cutback way late. He does hit it but by the time he does one of the LBs has the chance to recover from his biff, getting in a tackle attempt that slows Smith considerably. Smith(+0.5) manages to grind out a few yards. Butt(+1) got a solid block on Zettel given the circumstances as well.
M39 3 2 Ace twin TE 2 2 1 4-4 under Pass Slant Chesson Inc
Johnson motions from the backfield to flanker. Houma still in an RB ish spot. CB blitz, M goes to a quick slant at Chesson, who just saw his CB leave. S replaces but there is an opportunity here. Rudock throws this ball behind Chesson, which prevents Chesson from shielding the DB from the ball and leads to a PBU. Slightly harsh IN coming since this is a seven yard throw. (IN, 1, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M41 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Baylor 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Yakety snap Rudock 3
Huge splits for the WRs as M tries to stretch PSU laterally; Peppers at RB. Rudock fumbles the snap, picks it up, runs the play for a few yards. Braden(+1) and Cole(+1) blew out a DT, providing the room.
M44 2 7 Shotgun empty trips bunch TE 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Hitch Peppers inc
M initially lines up in a quad set and should just throw the screen because 1) Peppers and 2) they have a numbers advantage. They instead motion Peppers across the formation and run a deep hitch with him as Butt runs an out under it. Rudock misreads it, throwing over a dropping CB who deflects the ball. Butt was open underneath to set up third and short. (BR, 0, protection 1/1)
M44 3 7 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 5-1 nickel Pass Improv Chesson Inc
Blitz, great pickup, all day. Rudock cannot find anyone, rolls out, and eventually tries to hit a very covered Chesson. Ball is low and not going to be intercepted but very little chance of a completion either. (TA, 0, protection 4/4)
Drive Notes: Punt, 7-3,4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M30 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Comeback Perry Inc
This might be a tiny bit late; Perry(route -1) doesn't sell his route well and should be more open than this anyway. He drops the ball, and he leapt in such a way as to take him OOB anyway. Not great. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M30 2 10 Shotgun trips bunch 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Drag Chesson Inc
Smith's been terrific in pass pro but on this one he blows the pickup. He heads to the gap in the line at first but when no one shows immediately he leaves that zone. As soon as he does that a stunting DT runs through the vacated area. He gets through on Rudock just as he throws. Drag is pretty well covered but could set up a third and medium if on point. (PR, 0, protection 0/2, Smith -2)
M30 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Fade Darboh 26
Darboh gets over the top against press cover and has a step and a half. Rudock throws this a bit short and to the outside, necessitating a circus catch out of Darboh. He makes it and drags the toes. (MA, 1, protection 2/2)
O44 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Flare Smith 4
Braden(-2) gets spun through by Zettel and Rudock gets heavy pressure up the gut. With both ends coming to him and no room to step up in the pocket it is get rid of the ball time. Smith might not be the best read here as M is running open-looking mesh routes, but situation is not terrific for a QB. Smith(+1) dodges a tackle and grinds out a few yards. (CA+, 3, protection 0/2)
O40 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Flare Smith 11
Virtual replay of the previous play minus the pressure. So this is not great. Smith(+1) again dodges a corner coming up hard. Darboh(+1) picks off another DB and Smith grabs the corner for a first down. (BR, 3, protection 2/2). Smith trucks a guy for fun at the end.
O29 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass TE Post Butt 18
Butt starts to run a corner that turns the DBs hips outside and Rudock looks to the left of the field, moving the linebacker underneath completely out of the middle of the field. Butt(route +1) breaks back in, open by a couple yards. Rudock puts it in the #buttzone. Slightly generous DO for moving the LB. (DO, 3, protection 2/2). Check Higdon on this play. Not exactly in Smith's class as a pass protector.
O11 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Flash screen Darboh 11
M catches an all out blitz with soft corners and hits the screen against it. Perry(+1) gets a solid cut block and Darboh(+1) reads the DB bailing to the sideline and cuts back under for an easy TD. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +2)
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-10, 1 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M17 1 10 Offset I 3-wide 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Hitch Darboh 7
Quick pitch and catch in front of a soft corner. Darboh grinds out a couple after contact. (CA, 3, protection 1/1)
M24 2 3 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Flash screen Darboh 8
Chesson(+0.5) just gets enough of a hyper aggressive CB to get him off balance; Darboh(+1) still has to run through his tackle to get the edge and pick up the first down. (CA, 3, screen)
M32 1 10 Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Pass Comeback Ways 9
Peppers RB, motions out just before snap. Late blitz from PSU isn't well timed and gets picked up; Rudock hits Ways on a comeback for a nice gain. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M41 2 1 Shotgun 3-wide 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Power O Houma 4
Slot LB now right over the slot WR, no gray area here, as the WR screens have caused a reaction. M runs power and moves guys. Houma can do better with this. Braden(+1) and Cole(+0.5) blow Johnson out. Kalis reads the playside end diving inside, not playing force, and correctly goes outside; Williams(+1) moves that DE. Houma(-1) should follow Kalis but instead just burrows directly upfield as FBs are wont to do. With Butt cracking down a Houma cutback is a significantly bigger gain.
M45 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Hitch Chesson 7
Quick pitch and catch as LBs drop into deeper routes and Chesson pops open. Chesson grabs a couple YAC. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O48 2 3 Shotgun 4-wide Baylor 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Flash screen Perry 6
Big big splits for M and just one DB anywhere near one of the pairs; Rudock adjusts to the screen. Darboh's(-0.5) block on that DB is poor but enough to get Perry past a stumbling DB since there's so much space out there. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1)
O42 1 10 Offset I 3-wide 2 1 2 4-3 even Pass Out Darboh Inc
Either this is a sight read that Darboh doesn't get or Darboh just runs the wrong route because Rudock throws an out that is open against this coverage and Darboh(route -1) runs a hitch that 1is not. (CA, 0, protection 1/1)
O42 2 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 1 2 2 5-2 bear Pass TE Y cross Butt Inc
Rudock pumps the screen and tries to go deep to the slot but doesn't like it. He comes off that and finds Butt, but the LB lined up on the LOS comes through after setting up, probably because he's supposed to be in man against AJ Williams. Smith(-1) comes out and fills the gap but there's way too much room because Cole(-1) never comes off his double of the DT and Smith can't shut all that space down. Rudock gets nailed as he throws and even so just barely overthrows the #buttzone. (PR, 0, protection 1/3)
O42 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over Pass Slant Chesson Inc
Chesson(route -1) gets beat up on this route and Rudock throws it anyway. Broken up and incomplete. This should be good based on the presnap read, but he should come off it when it's not. (BR, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-10, 11 min 3rd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M33 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 under Pass Waggle TE flat Williams 1 +15 Pen
Slant away puts a DE in Rudock's grill as he flips around, has no choice but to try to hit Williams short for whatever he can get. This is because Williams(-2) misread who he was supposed to block because of the slant. (PR, 3, protection 0/2). Zettel hits Rudock in the helmet, targeting, overturned but roughing stays.
M49 1 10 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 under Run Toss sweep Peppers 7
Kerridge(+1) shuffles backside and cuts the DE to the short side. Darboh(-2) doesn't even get a finger on a DB who comes up and constricts space. Mags(+1) gets a good second level block. I don't know what Braden(-1) is supposed to do; he aborts a pull and cannot get anything on a DT, who flows; Glasgow(-1) overruns a second level block. Peppers gets tackled by the CB who avoided Darboh.
O48 2 7 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 over Pass Scramble Rudock 3
Pressure but not particularly controlled; Rudock can step up through it. Kalis(-1) gets discarded by Johnson, though, and Rudock doesn't have a guy he wants to hit. He runs for a meh gain but the decision was good. Tenuous SCR (SCR, N/A, protection ½)
O45 3 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Drag Jones 2
Coverage looks pretty good all around and a delayed blitz catches Cole(-1) off guard. He recovers but Rudock thinks he's got to throw. He hits a covered Jones on a drag. Jones momentarily breaks a tackle but lacks Darboh's ability to power through things and stumbles to the ground short of the sticks. (CA, 3, protection 1/2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 14-10, 8 min 3rd Q. Punt is muffed, M recovers.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O9 1 G Shotgun 4-wide Baylor 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Zone read belly Peppers 6
LB over the field-side stack so screen isn't on. Six in the box now. M runs an inside zone with Cole(+1) and Braden(+1) blowing Johnson off the ball. Peppers cuts back behind this and lowers his shoulder to get down to the three. RPS +1.
O3 2 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run Iso Smith 2
Cole(+1) gets a driving block on a DT who lined up inside of him. Glasgow(+0.5) gets enough drive to knock Johnson off balance. Smith(+0.5) surges down to the cusp of the goal line. He's given a bad spot, this should probably be about an inch from the goal line.
O1 3 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line Run FB dive Houma 1
Cole(+0.5) and Braden(+0.5) turn in a DT and give Houma the necessary crease.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 21-10, 6 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M22 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass TE out Butt 6
PSU blitzes but the S is late and picked up. Rudock has a flat option and Butt deeper; Butt open, Rudock hits him smoothly. (CA, 3, protection 2/2). Refs miss the spot on this by a full two yards! (Refs -1)
M28 2 4 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Pass Flare Darboh 7
They rarely call these kinds of blocks in the back but I think this is one on Perry (refs +2). YMMV. Perry(-1) comes out too flat and ends up making contact only after the CB has hit it upfield; Darboh avoids the tackle thanks to Perry's block in the back and grabs the first down. (CA, 3, screen)
M35 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Inside zone Smith 3
Smith(+1) decisively takes a big cutback lane but doesn't get much. Williams(+1) shot a DE down the line; Cole(-1) doesn't get much of a release and gets hit by the LB; he pops off into the backside hole. With a S at 8 and coming down after neither TE releases the two guys combine to tackle. RPS -1.
M38 2 7 Ace empty TE 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Hitch Williams 8
MLB bails to a deep zone as PSU appears to run tampa two. This leaves Williiams wide open for an easy conversion. (CA, 3, protection 1/1, RPS +1)
M46 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over Run Power O Houma 2
PSU inserts a S as an extra LB for a full seven in the box with a corner overhanging. Similar to the previous power with Houma except he follows the blocks. Butt(+1) shoots the playside end down the line. Kalis(+0.5) comes around and hits a LB who fills. Ways(-1) is cracking down on the S and does not get a solid block; he gets moved by the S instead of vice versa and Houma has to awkwardly bend around that block in the backfield. That allows PSU to recover and prevents this from being a second and short situation.
M48 2 8 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 under Pass Sack N/A -6
Mags(-2) beat around the corner and the DE slaps the ball out as he passes. Nothing Rudock can do, really. (PR, N/A, protection 0/2)
Drive Notes: Fumble, 21-10, 1 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
M26 1 10 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even Pass Flash screen Darboh 7 (Pen -13)
LBs in the box here and CB eight yards off so this is easy money. (CA, 3, screen, RPS +1) Chesson gets hit with a ludicrous illegal block penalty(refs -3)
M13 1 23 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel even Pass Out Perry 8
Checkdown that takes a while to get there. Perry(+1) is able to make the first tackler miss anyway and pick up a chunk. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M21 2 15 Ace 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 nickel Pass Out Perry Inc
Perry is getting held the whole way as he tries to run a route, like outside-the-pads held, and gets no separation. Slant from Chesson bracketed, timer goes off for Rudock and he chucks it away. Could have tried Darboh on a bomb maybe. (TA, 0, protection 2/2, refs –2)
M21 3 15 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 Nickel over press Pass Drag Darboh Inc
Only one route here goes past about eight yards. Rudock looks at it. It is probably covered. Rudock has to get rid of it as Mags(-1) recognizes a stunt late.Checkdown to Darboh at like two yards with a guy in his pocket, ball behind, ball hits turf. Bleah. (MA, 2, protection ½, RPS -2)
Drive Notes: Punt, 21-13, 12 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O40 1 10 Pro set 3-wide 2 0 3 4-3 over Run Jet sweep Chesson 20
Edge acquired as Cole(+2) and Smith(+2) both get great cut blocks on which they get their entire body into the defender, preventing them from getting up in the tangle of bodies. That's the edge and Chesson runs until the backside safety can track him down. RPS +2.
O20 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide Baylor 1 1 3 4-3 even Run Inside zone Peppers -1
Rudock(-2) needs to pull this as the backside end crashes down. With slot LB checking screen a keep here is a big chunk. RPS +1.
O21 2 11 Shotgun trips tight bunch 1 2 2 4-3 even Pass Hitch Butt 5
Mags(-1) almost loses the DE; he is basically through but then trips over a teammates feet and goes down. This still spurs a throw. It's short to Butt for a meh gain. (CA, 2, protection ½). Coverage was pretty good here and Butt had to shield a guy off to prevent it from getting raked out.
O16 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 2 2 3-3-5 nickel Pass Fade Chesson Inc (pen +10)
Bunting inline. Rudock just take a shot at the fade route downfield, on which the DB just grabs Chesson's shoulder pads and never lets go. Otherwise this looks very accurate. (CA, 0, protection 2/2)
O6 1 G Shotgun twins twin TE 1 2 2 4-3 over Run Inside zone Peppers 5
No frippery here, just Peppers running an IZ. Glasgow manages to fend off Johnson but gets put in the backfield and shed when Peppers comes through, so not ideal. Kalis(+0.5) gets an initial hit on the other DT; Mags(+1) moves him. Braden(+0.5) gets to a linebacker and Peppers(+1) hits the hole fast, seeing and cutting to make the Braden block count. He then falls forward down to the one.
O1 2 G Goal line 2FB tight 3 2 0 Goal line Run Iso Smith 1
Meh from the line but Smith(+0.5) gets there with a leap. Two hands on the ball the whole time, which is nice.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 28-16, 5 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Type Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Offset I Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 over Run Inside zone Smith 5
Williams(+1) and Hill(+1) blow out a DE with Hill climbing to get an excellent second level block. Kerridge(+0.5) kicks a CB that basically gives up and dies before contact. Smith(+1) makes the cutback into the TE-created hole and only gets cut down at five yards because of four-minute-drill safety stuff.
O20 2 5 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 under Run Iso Smith 4
Zettel over aggressive. Kalis(+0.5) escorts him upfield. Glasgow(+1) stalemates and eventually wins one on one with the NT. Williams(+1) and Cole(+1) blow up a DE with Cole getting to the second level. SAM shoots under Kerridge, nothing he can do. This could be a bounce but instead Smith(+0.5) sees the cutback and takes it. S again makes early contact.
O16 3 1 I-Form Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 under Run Inside zone Smith 3
Mags(+1) picks up a slanting DE and shoves him past his lane. Williams(+0.5) gets enough of a LB; Smith plows ahead. Could maybe have looked for a bigger play but on third and one no.
O13 1 10 I-Form Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 under Run Power O Smith 8
Poggi(+2) gets a crushing block on the SAM, driving him way inside and maintaining it through the play. Kerridge(+0.5) kicks a DB; Kalis(+0.5) gets around; Smith(+1) sets up Kalis's block nicely, threatening outside and then cutting back in when the lane Poggi's block provides becomes clear.
O5 2 2 I-Form Big twin TE 2 2 1 4-3 under Run Inside zone Smith 3
Stalemates across the front that M does eventually win to get some push. Smith starts poking around for a hole and finds one as Kerridge(+1) kicks a DB well upfield and Poggi(+0.5) bear hugs a linebacker. Smith(+0.5) grinds forward for the first down.
Drive Notes: EOG, 28-16.

Before we get started, I would like a 6,000 word screed on the refereeing on both sides of the ball.

Uh. It's just that I upload the clips from one side of the ball first, and then the other side of the ball, and to have a comprehensive review… can you take a rain check?

I suppose.

All right, thanks man.

So this game was… okay.

It was. The default thing that happened seemed to be this:

And, like, I'll take it.

There weren't actually as many of those as it felt like there were. Michigan threw 8. Those picked up 48 yards, a solid 6 per attempt. One was called back on a ridiculous block below the waist call. One could easily have drawn a block in the back call on Perry.

Those eight screens had a minimum gain of three, that on second and four, and picked up four first downs. They also opened up a couple of actual runs when PSU had to get serious about putting their linebackers over slot receivers. They were successful and easy. PSU's defense wanted to give those yards up, and Michigan took them.

Yes, this is a direct contrast to two years ago, when the offense UFR was a spittle-flecked thing. And yes, these are… okay. They are not soaring testaments to offense. But they are efficient.

They gave Michigan a running game when they were choosing to opt out of one.

Yeah… about that. I thought we were supposed to get better at running under Harbaugh. It's not like I expect a ton right now, but eight carries for Smith before garbage time?

I hear you, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much Michigan was blowing Penn State off the ball. This upcoming

dusty and unused tumbleweed of a CHART

run chart is going to be rather slim on numbers given the paucity of carries, but it's an encouraging one all the same:

Offensive Line
Player + - Total Notes
Cole 8 1 7 PSU especially weak on edges w/out Nassib.
Braden 4.5 1 3.5 Solid outing against tough customers.
Glasgow 2 2 0 Weekly false start getting a little old, but great pass pro.
Kalis 4.5 1 3.5 See Braden.
Magnuson 3   3 Also took advantage of weak edge.
Newsome       DNC
Butt 3 1 2 Good matchup for him.
Williams 7.5 1 6.5 Racked a lot of this up late when game all but decided.
Kerridge 3.5 1 2.5 Solid.
Poggi 2.5   2.5 Barely played until very end w/M using more WRs.
Houma 2 1 1 All of this actually running the ball.
Hill 2   2 More prominent of late, possible Williams replacement next year?
TOTAL 42.5 9 82% WTF?
Player + - T Notes
Rudock   2 -2 Blew a zone read.
Peppers 1   1 Natural-seeming player.
Smith 9.5 4 5.5 +2 blocking, +2 on catches, and then +3 late, which fits a pattern discussed below.
Isaac       DNP
Green       DNP
Johnson       DNC
Higdon       DNC
TOTAL 10.5 6 4.5  
Player + - T Notes
Darboh 6.5 2.5 4 Third straight week where he's a real factor on this chart.
Chesson 1   1  
Harris       DNP
Perry 2 1 1  
TOTAL 9.5 3.5 6  
Player + - T Notes
Protection 50 16 76% Mags –4, Kalis –3, Smith –3, Williams –2, Braden –2, Cole -2
RPS 11 8 +3

Screens pushed it over the top.

So… you're probably like "whaaaat"? I was too. That's a very good performance for 3.6 YPC after Rudock and a kneeldown are removed. There is one main reason for that: a large percentage of Michigan's rushes were either short yardage or late, when PSU was hammering down safeties as trailing teams do at the end of a game. Of Michigan's 24 runs

  • five were in a four minute drill,
  • five were goal-to-go, and
  • four were second or third and < 3.

Michigan won all those plays except maybe a second and one they got four yards on, but winning in those situations means you get 3 or 4 or 5 yards. A little bad luck on the other stuff, which was generally blocked well despite meh results, and there you go.

So Michigan blocked Penn State really well a week after struggling against Indiana?

Uh… yes?

I did chart the last drive since it was still a hypothetically competitive game, and Michigan was blasting guys back. Here Williams and especially Poggi pave the edge of the PSU D flat:

That could be PSU just wanting to go home, but even early in the game I thought Michigan was getting consistent motion against the PSU front. Early in the second half Houma got a first down largely because Michigan caved in a DT:

(Follow your blockers, etc. Fullback is always going to tend towards north/south running.)

Johnson and Zettel were very quiet in this game, partially because of the gameplan but partially because Michigan's interior line was up for the task. Kalis did get Rudock blown up on a missed stunt; other than that they were close to flawless against the heart of the Penn State defense.

So what were the issues?

Well, one: a lot of those screens were run/pass option plays on which Rudock aborted a planned run to throw the screen. They are almost literally run plays, it's just that Rudock is picking which run they, uh, run. Then you're left with a real small sample size and not much to pull from.

Other than that, the usual combination of the line not quite killing it—they did well, but they didn't blow it out until late—and the running backs not taking advantage of the yards that seemed to be there. Live I was baffled that this early power play got stone at the line of scrimmage, and even now I'm a little confused as to how this doesn't break for a solid gain:

One thing I am sure of is that when the TEs are blocking down you shouldn't cut inside of them unless things are going badly. They weren't; Smith does.

This one caused me to exclaim "FFS" on twitter, because M blocks this play really well and Smith doesn't have the patience to let it develop.

By the time AJ Williams is blasting his guy over a pile and there is a crease to the safety where the play design is, Smith is already in a ton of backside traffic. The kind of run that Jordan Howard executed last week by downshifting for a beat would have sent Smith to the secondary.

Great backs consistently know when to slow down and when to hit it. Good backs are decent at it. Smith is frustratingly inconsistent. I mentioned this in the season preview: if Michigan had a kickass OL that executed 99% of the time Smith would be a terrific back for that situation. Behind an OL that's just okay he spurns a lot of opportunities that are not immediately obvious. Like this cutback, which is open from the drop but only attacked late:

Glasgow gets a bit lost there because PSU is doing a very bad thing. He does not quite recover because this is not a kickass OL; Smith does see it eventually and tries it, but he gets hit and delayed.

The combination of those two things means there are a lot of half-chances to score that Gyasi Zardes is on the end of. That is an awesome analogy for like 10% of you. For people not yet in the ever-expanding circle of USMNT obsessives: Michigan opens holes a B+ back hits regularly and they've got B- tailbacks.

Smith only had eight runs before garbage time in this game and I clipped three of them in frustration. Then I thought Smith looked really good on his last five runs, when he was going at a dispirited and tired Penn State D. He'd be Gerhart if this was year three. It is not.

You are so mean about Smith. He was positive! Significantly!

Look, I mean… look. Okay. Yes. BUT.

He does bring assets to the table. His blocking is very, very good. He actually biffed a couple pass pickups in this game but YTD he has very few minuses for a spot that often gets called on to block a defensive end. Smith can do this, and do this well. Karan Higdon was called on to pass protect once in this game, and the results were a little bit different than when Smith is called upon:

Smith has power and agility and can pick guys up. Even big guys. He had a mental biff in this game and then there was another problem that looked like his deal…

...but after I looked at it a few times I think that's on Cole, isn't it? Cole has a guy who slants way far away from him and keeps blocking him instead of dropping back into a pass protection zone, so Smith has to cover his initial set and Cole's area, which doesn't go great. That's too much room to shut down for one guy.

Anyway, the blocking is step one towards a third down back. Then in this game he added a couple of dumpoffs on which he displayed that fun Smith-vs-defensive backs stuff. On back to back plays at the end of the first half he turned nothing into something, first getting a few when Rudock got nailed, and then plastering a DB across his windshield for a first down:

This is something you can work with.

Meanwhile on the ground, Smith had a great, key cut block on the Chesson end-around:

Nobody's jumping over that cut. That's in the dude's waist. Smith's not fast for a tailback. He's not agile for a tailback. He is for a low-to-the-ground 230-pound brick of a blocker.

He brings enough as a runner to warrant carries next year, too. Just not feature back carries. If I was Jim Harbaugh my exit interview with Smith after this year would go something like "we are going to give carries to Peppers and (hopefully) Kareem Walker and, uh, Higdon and Johnson. We are also going to give carries to you. It is up to you whether you're on the field or off when the other guys get the ball."

Smith as a RB/FB/third-down-back/short-yardage-back… that's a guy who helps you win some games. Smith for King Hippo Vincent Smith. That's what I say.


You are probably expecting me to pooh-pooh this enthusiasm, since I do it every week.


I sort of give up. Michigan still has to have Peppers on the field a lot on defense. I can see them taking Peppers off the field on passing downs since he's not that much better than Stribling and Clark at coverage, especially long coverage. Any other snaps he misses hurt the defense a lot. So there's a lid on how much he can do.

But, I mean, he's just got it, you know? He has burst. When he gets hit he displays power and balance. He sees and hits holes. This looked and felt very natural:

He is certainly an awful pass protector, and that's an issue that I imagine will persist. Peppers doesn't have the time to be good at that… but that's wasting him anyway. If you play him with tight ends or Smith you can get away with his presence on the field without forcing him to block, and then you can reap that sweet sweet yardage.

Peppers for all things.

Spent a lot of time not talking about the stuff that actually scored the points in this game.

Ah, yes. Rudock:

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%
Rutgers 4 14(6)+ 3 2   1 1   2 78%
Indiana 8++ 27(5)++ 1 1 5* 2 2 4 5 78%
Penn State 2 24(8)+ 3 1 4* 2 1 5 1 70%

Wilton Speight 2015

Minnesota 1 3+     2* 1     1 63%

This was a less badass version of his Indiana game featuring one very bad interception and a lot of accuracy otherwise. He didn't light up the DO column like he did a week ago, but he kept that IN number at one on a ton of throws. The light seems to be on for good.

Rudock's performance did drop from his burnination of Rutgers and Indiana, but did not even approach the grim few weeks that preceded those games. He again hit a seeing-eye dig route to Chesson for a big gain:

That one might be a little behind Chesson but if you want to look that horse in the mouth, be my guest.

The TV crew did a good job of providing useful replays on pass plays in this one and here you can see Rudock giving a linebacker a telekinetic shove with his eyes to open Butt up:

Then, #buttzone. It's a very very very fine zone.

I thought a lot of the things that went wrong weren't on him, but rather the wide receivers or refs. Michgian ran a triple move early on which Darboh tried to sell an out and up. He broke it off when the DB got over the top, and then he ran out of bounds:

Rudock can't anticipate that. Later Darboh ran a hitch and Rudock threw an out; since the hitch was covered but the out was not I assume that's on Darboh. And this will get covered more in the next post, but if you're going to call Henry for defensive holding you have to call stuff like this against Perry:

I thought the defensive holding call was correct, but I was pretty frustrated that Michigan didn't get two or three similar my-hands-are-outside-the-shoulders calls. In any case, that route is dead and Chesson is bracketed and there's not much Rudock can do except throw it away.

The fumble was just one of those things more attributable to the tackle (Magnuson, in this case) and bloody fate. YMMV, but I don't see a way in which Rudock can do anything about it.

I may have been slightly generous on the Darboh catch, which could have been an IN, but other than that I didn't think there was much wobble in the numbers. The PFF grade remains a mystery to me here; if I had to guess they blamed him more for the kind of things I just attributed to things other than Rudock.

This was a tough defense and small windows and Rudock did well. I expect him to have a solid game against OSU. What a time to be alive.

Stanfordizations of the week?

The screens were the main thing. Michigan saw that Penn State was vulnerable against them and liked to leave extra LBs in the box and drew up a plan to punish that. They even got a cheapo TD from the 11 on it when PSU blitzed and the relevant DB, paranoid about giving up the edge, overcommitted, allowing Darboh to dart inside:

Michigan got decent gains while constraining what Penn State could do. That's win now and a win later. The above clip is one win.

When PSU did not adjust they kept doing it, and they eventually forced a change in gameplan. The change in gameplan from PSU opened up the Peppers run that initiated the first-and-goal series on Michigan's touchdown immediately after the muffed punt:

That is 5.5 in the box and Bell directly over a WR outside the hash. Without that extra LB in the box PSU is going to have a hard time preventing that belly play from picking up a chunk. So that's about 10-12 plays in a slow game in which Michigan game-planned themselves an advantage.

They also ran the edge pitch that I laughed about earlier in the year:

Michigan used to run that a lot and never hand it to the fullback; this year they'd fake it and always run the fullback. Now they've got both sides.

On the downside, Michigan might tip outside runs. Penn State wrecked a Higdon sweep that looks like a "pin and pull." On a pin and pull the guys who pull are determined by where the defensive linemen align. PSU seems to smoke out the play here; the DL gets thwacked by a linebacker, shifts immediately before the snap, and the wrong guys pull for Michigan:

That results in a ton of linemen running down the line unimpeded and no room. Higdon goes down to an ankle tackle but the nose(!) leaps on his back to make sure. That's RPS'd.


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

Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
Darboh 2 1/1 0/1 7/7   11 2/8 8/11 43/47
Chesson 5   0/1 4/4   18 0/2 6/10 27/29
Perry 1     2/3   2   1/2 6/8
Harris           2 0/1 2/2 3/3
Ways       1/1   1     2/2
Peppers           1     3/3
Butt 1   1/1 4/4   4 2/2 9/10 30/30
Williams       2/2   3 1/1   11/11
Bunting           1     6/6
Hill                 5/5
Poggi               1/1  
Smith       2/2   4 1/1   12/13
Isaac                 2/2
Green                 1/1
Johnson           1     3/3
Jones       1/1   1     1/1
Higdon                 1/1
Kerridge               1/1 5/5
Houma       1/1   1     8/9

ROUTES: Darboh –, Butt ++, Chesson +-, Perry -

Darboh of course turned in the play of the game:

Darboh's ability to power out first down as a possession receiver was brought into stark relief when DaMario Jones had an opportunity that he could not take advantage of. He did drop a ball behind him and have a couple of route biffs.

Chesson was a bit quieter in this game than he was against Indiana. He grabbed the badass dig and had the end-around; he got beat up on slant and was targeted a number of times on shoulda-coulda plays where the ball did not arrive.

Jake Butt… Jake Butt is good at football. I still have him for one remotely catchable drop. He turned around the safety on his touchdown:

He turned around a safety on a chunk play just before the Darboh TD. He is the proverbial weapon, but I'm not telling you anything you don't know in that regard.


This was a far more solid all-around performance than it appeared at first. Rudock and the three amigos at WR did stand out; Cole had an excellent game in both phases.

Maybe not so heroic?

Nobody really stood out as particularly bad. I did get persnickety about a number of Smith's carries.

What does it mean for Ohio State and beyond?

I have an expectation that if Jake Rudock is protected he will move the ball. How about that? Jim Harbaugh as QB whisperer is quite a thing. Put Rudock in the Alex Smith pile.

I don't know if protection is going to happen. Cole had issues against Ngakoue, and Bosa awaits. This game is either going to lock Cole in as the left tackle until the end of time or make people want to move him to center. The rest of the line has been mostly good this year and was excellent against tough customers in this game; OSU will be a stiff test.

Smith is a tough hombre somewhat miscast as a tailback. I mean, he's Michigan's best non-Peppers option but down the road a more diverse role will serve him and Michigan better. His pass protection will be critical on Saturday.

Michigan's big three WRs are all solid players. Butt is an A, an all-around tight end who excels in the passing game. The other two are a notch or two below as they still have some holes in their game, but they block, they mostly catch, Chesson runs and takes the top off, Darboh pounds out first downs—this looked like a potential weakness at the beginning of the season and is now a strength.

Jay Harbaugh and Tim Drevno have done work with Michigan's TEs. Bears repeating. All of these guys look like good players now.

Jim Harbaugh will have a gameplan designed to take advantage of the weak spots in the Ohio State defense. The RPS number didn't come out massively positive in this game because PSU was defending the screens well enough that I was assigning positives to the WRs instead of rock paper scissors, but they all worked and they forced a response from the defense. RPS isn't designed to be a be-all-end-all of playcalling evaluation—I think Harbaugh did an outstanding job minimizing the impact of PSU's DTs and taking advantage of weak edge play.



November 25th, 2015 at 1:30 PM ^

Might be time to start.

Throwing screens for mostly yards after contact isn't a huge win on paper, but I don't think Harbaugh was exclusively thinking about testing PSU's edge defenders with it.  He also knows what he has.  Darboh and Chesson have been abusing opposing CBs all season.  Their gameplan had to take that into consideration; they basically decided to fight the battle there.


November 25th, 2015 at 1:37 PM ^

Brian do you really think Peppers would struggle to pick up pass protection? I highly doubt it. I'm not saying he'd be Smith, but I think he'd be better than a few of the other backs.


November 25th, 2015 at 2:14 PM ^

I think he's saying it's not worth his time to do so. The practice time (and wear and tear) you'd need to make anyone a good blocker just isn't going to be worth what you're going to gain by being able to plug him in on plays that require that he pass protect. You can scheme around not being a good blocker pretty easily when he's only going to be in on a handful of plays a game. 


November 25th, 2015 at 1:47 PM ^

After listening to Ross Fulton on MgoRadio I got a little nervous that he made it seem as though OSU is at the same level as Michigan in terms of blowing up those receiver screens. However it feels good to know that we have a coach who can actually a) recognize it and b) do something to counter it.


November 25th, 2015 at 1:49 PM ^

Rudock has all day to survey and fire to Butt after Butt

Next time say it more slowly and in a deeper voice with an "ahh, yesss" thrown in.  Gotta appeal to more demographs, ya know.


November 25th, 2015 at 1:53 PM ^

I agree the offense looked better on a second viewing. My guess is that OSU will try to take away the screens like PSU, but I'm not buying their corners other than Apple being to deal with all the shifts well enough. And I know the MSU game was a weird beast, but OSU's desire to not commit safeties to the run gives me hope for some nice chunk plays


November 25th, 2015 at 5:46 PM ^

If OSU was ever going to commit safetys to the run game it would have been last week against a back up QB in bad weather. Im sure OSU doesnt fear our running game. Weve only broken a couple long runs and one of those was a super human effort by Smith and against weak competition. I fully expect OSUs safetys to be in deep zones all game.


November 25th, 2015 at 5:46 PM ^

If OSU was ever going to commit safetys to the run game it would have been last week against a back up QB in bad weather. Im sure OSU doesnt fear our running game. Weve only broken a couple long runs and one of those was a super human effort by Smith and against weak competition. I fully expect OSUs safetys to be in deep zones all game.


November 25th, 2015 at 2:15 PM ^

The only way you put that on Rudock is if you want to treat him like an NFL Vet. I was watching the Arizona game, and the announcing team mentioned that Carson Palmer just recently added a shoulder dip and step up move into his pocket movements as a way to combat fumbles when the DE gets around the outside of a tackle. It is a very effective movement, but I am sure it's not one easliy learned.



November 25th, 2015 at 2:17 PM ^

Seriously; I dunno. It seems like their main weakness is "QB LOLZ" and "Playcalling with 12 sided dice...and ten of those sides are wrong". I think OSU has the upperhand, but the OSU fans I know are LITERALLY EXPECTING Michigan to win. 

/flashes Football Knowledge spotlight

/realizes its the middle of the day



November 25th, 2015 at 6:10 PM ^

showed you can power run on them and wear them out, not our strong suit.  State also showed you can throw on the edges when you get time.  I have seen other team, like Illinois, have some success moving the ball on OSU.  The biggest thing to avoid is the big negative play that puts you behind schedule.  OSU is also very good inside the redzone.


What OSU showed is their defensive coordinator had no balls to throw the house at two backup quarterbacks and played scared safe defense almost all day.


November 25th, 2015 at 2:27 PM ^

Here's an odd question.  If Zettel had been ejected for targetting, could Michigan theoretricallty have declined that penalty, since Zettel being out for the first half against MSU next week would actually hurt Michigan?  (Assuming Michigan could anticipate the possibility of an MSU win vs OSU.)


November 25th, 2015 at 3:47 PM ^

The penalty could be declined, but the ejection would stand. 


a. A penalty is completed when it is accepted, declined or canceled
according to rule, or when the choice is obvious to the referee.
b. Any penalty may be declined, but a disqualified player must leave the game
whether the penalty is accepted or declined (Rule 2-27-12).


November 25th, 2015 at 3:27 PM ^

I liked the game plan and UM utilizing the throws to the flats as their runs rather than ... you know...going 27 for 27.

It is what it is as we say each week with Bolden and the run game.

Just funny how quickly things can change - 2 months ago "we are going to be a run heavy team and Jake just needs to manage things" now "Jake is gonna win this and we have to manage the run game."

This season has to be killing Harbaugh in one aspect - he wants to run 40-45x a game.  Unfortunately he doesn't have the tools.

Hopefully Walker commits and his "Saquon Barkely" imitation is true and he grabs the job early like Barkley did in game 3 and doesn't relent.  My pause there is we ALL said Green would beat out Fitz by the 1st game of Big 10 season (if not sooner!) 3 offseasons ago.

Walker on 1st and 2nd (if he is ready to play) with Smith as a 3rd down back on passing downs (FB otherwise) with Higdon/Drake as your change of pace backs would be fine if Walker is here and is the real deal.  Green I see at another school next year and Isaac seems to have his head somewhere out in space so who knows with him.

Happy to see interior of line work this week against two future NFL players.  Cole v Bosa should be interesting; I was not that impressed with Bosa last week with his false starts and general play but I assume he mostly played against Conklin who similarly owned him last year in EL as well.  The other OSU DE (Hubbard) also got in on Kieler a few times in 1st half so Magnuson also has his hands full.


November 25th, 2015 at 4:13 PM ^

good write up but to say peppers is a bad blocker makes no sense, he hasnt even played rb enough to make a statement like that. plus the problem with the run game is not the off. line.. it is the fact we dont have a great natural rb.  the line has really developed in all aspects.. why do you think peppers keeps getting hinted at as a rb?

     you dont have to look hard to see a real above average rb.  they just have that look with the ability to cut off of blocks and explode downfield......peppers.


November 26th, 2015 at 4:48 AM ^

Well said. Peppers has better vision than anyone on the roster. Good rb's don't need a great line, they have the vision and shiftiness to see something no one else can see and then exploit it. Jabrill has that. Ezekiel has it too, unfortunately. So did this Sanders guy I grew up watching in Detroit as a sad lions fan....he was actually the best rb I've EVER seen, and he never had a line.