Upon Further Review 2016: Offense vs MSU

Submitted by Brian on November 2nd, 2016 at 4:18 PM

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FORMATION NOTES: Michigan broke out the 'bone a couple times:

flexbone

That is a bonafide flexbone. One of these snaps was a jet sweep, the other a trap that coulda shoulda worked in the fourth quarter but for McDowell blowing Cole up.

Pistol diamond with MSU in their very standard arrangement:

pistol diamond

4-3 over, two safeties sitting at 8-10 yards, on damn near every play.

Late MSU did split their LBs and blitz them as they threw the kitchen sink at M in an attempt to get the ball back.

split lbs

But it was mostly "here we are running quarters."

SUBSTITUTION NOTES: Starting line with the Braden/Bredeson left side for the second straight game, Speight your QB. Peppers got six wildcat snaps and one as a WR; Morris got thee QB/FB snaps. JBB got five snaps as a TE-type substance.

Darboh led the way at WR with 54 snaps; Chesson had 40 and Harris, Crawford, and McDoom got the scattered remainder. Poggi and Hill again split FB snaps about down the middle. Smith got 60% of the RB snaps with Higdon and Evans splitting most of the rest; Isaac was only used on four snaps, three of them sweeps.

Butt got 57 snaps as the primary TE; Asiasi (31) and Wheatley (18) also got significant action. Bunting was briefly on the field as well.

[After THE JUMP: three quarters of up and down the field followed by (correct) turtle time.]

Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Offset I twins 2 1 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Stop and go Harris Inc
Max pro and Michigan trying to hit a bomb right away. Harris torches Willis (route+) as he bites hard on the stop route; Speight misses him pretty badly. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
M20 2 10 Ace H 2 1* 2 4-3 even 7 Run Split zone Smith 20
JBB in as a TE wearing 95. He actually lines up a yard or two outside of normal TE positioning, which takes McDowell that much further from the play. MSU runs their favorite double A twist blitz; M runs up the gut right at it. Bullough splits the two OL but to do so has to run so hard that he runs right past the play. OL do a good job not to turn around because he’s gone; they double the OLB and there’s a big gap for Smith. S attacks it; Darboh cracks down and can’t get there; Smith(+3) jukes him since he’s coming in so hot to avoid the crackback. He breaks a second tackle near the sticks and then carries a DB for a final five yards.As far as blocking goes: Bredeson(+0.5) got an adequate kickout as, did Mags(+0.5), and I guess Cole(+1) for bashing the second blitzing LB even if he might have let the first one through?
M40 1 10 I-Form Big 2 3 0 4-3 even 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac 7
Three TEs with Butt flanked; he comes down and crushes the playside DE(+2). Kalis(+2) reaches and pancakes playside DT. No pursuit coming now. Wheatley(-1) hits the playside LB and moves him but doesn’t get around him; he’s then shoved by another LB and falls off. Cole picks up that slack since he’s chasing the LBs anyway. Hill(+1) comes in and pops that guy to provide the final crease; Mags(+0.5) got a kick on a DB in space.
M47 2 3 Ace 3TE 1 3 1 4-3 over 7 Pass Waggle TE flat Asiasi 15
Jet fake, handoff fake, roll to the waggle. CB blitz from MSU and inadequate contain from it. Speight has Butt wide open for a good chunk but instead decides to check it down to the flat route, which is also open. Asiasi catches it up for five and turns it up the sideline for a solid gain. (CA, 3, protection N/A, RPS +1)
O38 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 under 7 Run Jet sweep McDoom 20
McDoom has to bend around the DE somewhat, as Poggi slows to hit him if necessary; it’s mostly not so he mostly doesn’t get hit. Willis flies up; McDoom(+2) just runs around him. RPS +1.
O18 1 10 Ace twin TE empty 2 2 1 4-3 over 6.5 Pass Slant Darboh 8
Evans flanked out to the field, which I’m interested in hearing more about later in the season. Looks like that’s the first read too, but Speight comes off of it; Darboh cuts underneath a LB and offers a target that Speight hits. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
O10 2 2 Pepcat Pistol FB Big 2* 2 1 4-3 over 8 Run Zone read give Smith 7
Major flare contain from DE; give. Another double A from MSU that M runs away from; Mags(+1) and Kalis(+1) blow out a DT; Hill(+1) hits a LB and seals him. Smith does pop backside with good efficiency but I think he’s got a TD if he heads outside of Butt, who arced around and harassed a S. RPS +1.
O3 1 G Pepcat Pistol FB twin TE 2* 1* 2 Goal line 10 Run Crack sweep Peppers 3
FB is actually Chesson(+0.5) here, and he leads it out. He’s not exactly Hill, but he does get enough on the relevant S for Peppers(+1) to get to the pylon. Asiasi(-1) made this way more difficult than it had to be by stepping inside on his guy instead of flaring out to cut off the playside LB.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 4 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M38 1 10 I-Form H 2 1 2 4-3 over 7 Run Double iso Smith 1
MSU sends a corner blitz that nerfs this play, but it looks like Darboh expects this to be a throw on a hot read? He’s visibly frustrated he didn’t get the ball. Anyway, M adjusts to the weird blocking changes because MSU is blitzing off the corner. The only thing you might want to see executed differently is Poggi getting the corner instead of moving to a LB but even if that happens the LB is just making the same tackle because Darboh isn’t cracking down but rather running a hot route. RPS -2.
M39 2 9 Pepcat 2-back 2* 1 3 4-3 over 7 Run Reverse McDoom 33
Evil playcall first fakes an outside run to the right for Smith and then looks like speed option left before the pitch. MSU buys this wholesale. They’ve also got a double A blitz on, with both LBs biting on the option action. McDoom has a ton of space. Butt(+1) picks off the only guy in position near the LOS. Smith(+2) slashes down a safety. Crawford(+2) clubs the corner, who ends up 20 yards from his starting spot before getting off that block. McDoom(+1) sets up his blocks well. RPS +3.
O28 1 10 Ace twins 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass TE corner Butt 26
TRAIN. Ends up with JBB an inline TE and three actual WRs (including Butt) to the field side. M drops back to pass; Bredeson(-1) has considerable difficulty with a DT he lets in on Speight and could get a holding call(refs +1). Speight stands in and throws an audacious looped ball right to Butt’s hands and away from the surrounding coverage. Dang. (DO+, 3, protection ½). RPS +1? This was Butt mostly covered by Bullough on a corner route on which he was lined up way to the inside.
O2 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line 11 Run FB dive Hill 0 (Pen +1)
Cole(-1) gets beat by McDowell and when Hill tries to cut behind that Bullough inserts himself; this was prepped to defend this play. RPS -1. After the play Cooper starts throwing punches at Hill for unknown reasons; Cole attempts to defend his player and McDowell yanks Cole off the pile, drawing a flag. Probably went on the wrong guy.
O1 1 G Goal line 2 3 0 Goal line 11 Run Pitch sweep Smith 1
Butt(+0.5) and Braden(+0.5) fire a DE into the endzone; Hill(+1) thunks Nicholson; Smith(+0.5) runs over Bullough for six. So many more blocks have to get executed on a pitch here.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 14-7, 12 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over 7 Run Iso Smith -1
DE jumps offsides; no call; refs -1. Poggi(-2) airballs on his lead block; Bredeson(-1) does not offer help to Cole(-1) against McDowell, and that’s not great. LB buries Smith and this wasn’t going anywhere anyway as McDowell follows close behind.
M24 2 11 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Curl Darboh 16
This looks like a totally badass throw as Speight’s getting nailed and kind of is; the only issue is that Speight got nailed mostly because he held the ball way too long. Darboh goes off screen because TV directors hate me this year; live and after scrutinizing what’s available on the replay it definitely seems like Speight hitches up twice with an open Darboh before finally letting fly. Mean gradin’ here. (CA, 3, protection 2/2)
M40 1 10 Pistol diamond 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Run Zone counter Evans 10
Both FBs head left and the play breaks right; with Kalis(+1) stepping around a defender to facilitate the cutback this certainly seems planned. Counter motion erases the LB level and leaves Evans one on one with an S. S shoots down; Evans(+1) slides outside and stiffarms him. Mags(+1) got a big kick to provide the necessary room.
50 1 10 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Improv Darboh 43
Jet motion; MSU motions a CB inside and blitzes him. JBB(-2) fails to recognize this. Speight avoids the CB and fires a deep ball to Darboh that should probably be a TD; Darboh can’t keep his feet. (DO+, 3, protection 0/2, JBB -2)
O7 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 7.5 Run Zone read give Smith 2
No respect for Speight on the ZR, which M will come back to later. For now they allow MSU to overplay it; DE cuts off a big cutback lane as Kalis gets s bunch of shoving in on a DT but can’t control what side he’s on. Smith forced into that gap and tackled by DT and DE. Bredeson(+0.5) got enough on a DT to provide a lane; Braden(-1) goes after a DE who Butt is dealing with and doesn’t get a second level block because he’s late reading it. Cole(+0.5) did get a good LB block. RPS -1.
O5 2 G Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over 7 Pass PA wheel Smith Inc
CB on Darboh passes him off for a second and then realizes he’s dead if he does that, so he just grabs him. Darboh can’t get in his route; refs -2. Hill(route –) fell; wheel is doubled up without consequence because of the Darboh offense. Speight reads what’s happening and tries to back-shoulder it. He almost does; it glances off an outstretched fingertip. While this is technically inaccurate it’s the only throw Speight has and it’s in the spot it would have to be for anything good to come out of this play. (MA, 0, protection 2/2)
O5 3 G Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over Pass Out Chesson Inc
Mentioned this in the game column as the spot that M misses Perry but got the WR wrong. It’s Chesson(route -) who fails to shake an MSU safety; he just runs a speed out and doesn’t try a double move or anything; the route is rounded, too. Speight has to try to hit a tiny window and misses; this was all or nothing on this route. I guess I’m going to IN this. (IN, 0, protection 1/1)
Drive Notes: FG(22), 17-10, 6 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
O48 1 10 Ace twins H 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Waggle throwaway Chesson Inc
Speight has a DE in his grill the instant he turns around and does well just to get rid of the ball in the general direction of Chesson. (PR, 0, protection N/A, RPS -2)
O48 2 10 Pepcat 2-back 2* 1 3 4-3 over 7 Run Inverted veer keep Peppers 15
Chesson a lead blocker here. His presence occupies a DE and forces a blitzing LB to respect Smith; Peppers(+2) pulls; Bredeson(+1) gets around and seals Bullough, who goes down in a heap. Butt(+0.5) is present on a second level block. Peppers just about spins past a safety but gets hit by pursuit. RPS +1.
O33 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 over 8 Run Iso Higdon 3
Butt(-1) shed right away by the DE; he does manage to reattach. That still drives Higdon back inside, where MSU has guys. Braden(-0.5) and Bredeson(-0.5) didn’t get any push on the non-McDowell DT; I get why the backside guys are overplaying and letting LBs flow but non McDowell DT should be a slam dunk. Higdon(+0.5) did well to take a hit and lurch forward for a modest gain.
O30 2 7 Offset I 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Run QB lead pitch Chesson -2
Morris. M aligns two TEs to the right and runs left, pitching the ball back to FB-type substance Chesson and using Smith as a lead blocker. Smith(+2) cuts the bejeezus out of an unprepared DE. Cole(+1) gives ground and seals out McDowell. Braden(-1) lets his guy outside of him; falling; Chesson(-2) doesn’t see the gap until it’s way too late and awkwardly cuts just inside of Morris, losing a bunch of speed and turning this into a loss. Kalis(-1) whiffed after releasing to the second level, never finding the backside LB; he’s first to the play. I’m less annoyed at the call here than live.
O32 3 9 Offset I Big 2 2 1 3-3-5 stack 6 Pass Curl Darboh 10
Odd formation for this down and distance but it works so okay. Drag route from Hill pulls a couple of defenders out of shape and Speight takes the opportunity to rifle it in for a first down. S hits on the catch as the throw here is a beat or two late; Darboh won’t be denied. (CA, 2, protection 2/2)
O22 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Pass Drag Chesson 6
Basic crossing route for a reasonable gain. This is significantly behind Chesson and requires a somewhat challenging catch. (MA, 2, protection 2/2)
O16 2 4 Flexbone 3 0 2 4-3 over 7 Run Jet sweep Peppers 3
Morris at QB; M just runs a jet handoff to Peppers(+1) that sees him confronted immediately by a LB. He does well to stiffarm him and get a few yards.
O13 3 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 5-3 over 8 Run Iso Smith 0
Extra DL in. Cole(-2) obliterated by McDowell and Poggi(-0.5) undercut so Smith has no room and a free LB can whack him; with Poggi and friend in his feet his power is gone.
O13 4 1 I-Form Big 2 2 1 5-3 over 8 Run FB dive Hill 2
Cole(-1) basically run over again but manages to contain McDowell just enough because it’s not a RB carry; Hill(+0.5) displays good power as he runs behind Kalis(+0.5) and Mags(+0.5) knocking the other DT out of the gap.
O11 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Pass Out Harris Inc (Pen +5)
MSU CB reaches out and yanks Harris back as he breaks to the out and will be wide open for the TD. Otherwise this is right on the money. (CA, 0, protection 2/2)
O6 1 G Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-4 wide 8 Run Zone read give Smith 6
Kalis may move a bare fraction of a second early but in real time it’s just about simultaneous with the snap. MSU spits their line super wide and goes double A up the middle; M handles it. Cole(+1) picks up one LB and escorts him to the left; Kalis(+1) does an excellent job to see the blitz and leave McDowell; he gets over and nails the second blitzer. With the DTs shooting outside that’s all Smith(+1) really needs. He gets tackled by two guys at the two and grinds his way in. RPS +1; they spent a guy on Speight here and opened their gut up wide.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 24-10, 1 min 2nd Q. M picks O’Connor off and the next drive starts with 27 seconds.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M46 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 over 7 Pass Curl Darboh 14
Six sent; M picks it up. Speight can comfortably step into a throw to a wide open Darboh, as the CB just Cox’d this coverage. (CA, 3, protection 3/3)
O40 1 10 Shotgun 4-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack 6 Pass Hail Mary? Chesson Inc
M does not pick this one up nearly as well; Kalis(-2) doesn’t come off McDowell after he leaves his zone and dude is through scot free. Speight just hurls it at the endzone and… is this a Hail Mary? Michigan just sends three guys right up the middle of the field; they converge with four defenders and Chesson just about runs under it. Uh. (MA, 1, protection 0/2)
O40 2 10 Shotgun trips tight bunch 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack 6 Pass Dig Darboh 20
Another six man pressure picked up excellently; Speight stands in and rifles a dig to Darboh for a chunk. (DO, 3, protection 3/3)
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 3-3-5 stack 6 Pass Fade Darboh Inc (Pen +15)
Obligatory quick fade to the endzone with no TOs. MSU sends a safety blitz for some reason so this is one on one. Ball is just beyond Darboh and he can only stab at it with one hand because the DB has grabbed the other one. He draws a chintz PI call(refs +2). (CA, 1, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(22), 27-10, EO1H.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M25 1 10 I-Form Big 2 3 0 4-3 even 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac 2
Butt(+1) removes McDowell and tracks him downfield. Bredeson(-1) gives ground and can’t seal out the DT, who flows. Wheatley(-1) turns around after the playside LB shoots outside of him. Never turn upfield. Braden(+1) hits that guy and then moves on to the force player; Wheatley does then shove that guy completely out of the play but the Braden hit was probably enough. Cole’s late to his spot because he has to run around Bredeson; he does get a kick but an awkward one for Isaac; he cuts behind; Bredeson’s guy tackles with help from a safety.
M27 2 8 Ace twin TE 1 3 1 4-3 over 7 Run Crack sweep Isaac 7
Asiasi(+2) stones and buries the playside end. Mags(+1) dives at the force guy and is fortunate he falls over, but he does. Results-based charting. S comes down hard; LB flows inside out; Cole doesn’t really do anything w either. He does kind of get in the way of the LB accidentally; Isaac(+1) slows up and bounces outside once the S lowers his head.
M34 3 1 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Waggle comeback Darboh 15
Rollout left so Speight has to throw across his body. He finds Darboh and airmails one high; Darboh makes a Citizen Dang worthy catch as he gets it. (MA, 1, protection N/A)
M49 1 10 Offset I 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Run Dumpoff Hill Inc
Double A gets M this time as the protection is totally borked. Kalis(-2) changes his mind about which LB to get and gets neither; both Higdon(-1) and Bredeson(-1) head outside. If Speight has just a whisker more time he can dump it to a wide open Hill, but he’s getting grabbed on the throw and it’s wild. (PR, 0, protection 0/4)
M49 2 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Run Counter FB trap Hill 4
Higdon goes for a pitch one way and M traps back the other. Kalis(-1) and Cole(-1) combine to let the NT, who is not McDowell again, get to this play. Kalis wrongly assumes Cole has it handled and doesn’t offer a hit despite the misdirection totally freezing the LB level; this should be a situation where you err on the side of hitting the DL. Cole has a reasonable chance to handle this even so. He does not. That is the only thing that prevents this from breaking big. RPS +2.
O47 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 1 2 2 3-3-5 stack 6 Pass Out Butt 8
Bunting(-1) simply run over by McDowell, but he’s way wide and Mags comes back to harass him so just enough time. Butt is pretty well covered here but put it in the #buttzone and covered don’t exist. Speight does. (CA, 2, protection ½) Huard thinks this is a bad ball. I'm fine with anything up high that Butt can get two hands on.
O39 1 10 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over slide 7 Run Power O Higdon 3
Odd LB slide to the strong side of the formation, possibly a response to Butt being covered? I dunno. CB blitz telegraphed and MSU slants to the play. Kalis(-0.5) can’t move the DT at all; Mags(-1) and Butt(-1) don’t drive the other D either. Bredeson has nowhere to go on his pull and Higdon has to cut back behind into an unblocked LB. Cole(+1) did shove some guy way out of the way to give Higdon a lane.
O36 2 7 I-Form Big H 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Pass PA wheel Higdon INT
JBB(-2) again at TE. He blocks down, letting a DE through free. Kalis(-2) airballs on a LB. Both guys are in basically free. Speight throws the wheel route close to blind and is punished. (BRX, 0, protection 0/4)
Drive Notes: Interception, 27-10, 11 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M4 1 10 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-4 under 8 Run Lead zone Higdon 2
MSU moves a LB down super late and slants him inside Butt. Butt(-1) and Mags(-1) do not adjust. Mags tries to go after McDowell, who’s slanting away; Butt futilely attempts to get that LB. LB shoots inside, Higdon has to run away from him. Kalis(+1) reads the slant and moves off his supposed guy to McDowell, but Higdon can’t use that block. He’s forced frontside into the slant and that’s always tough. Frontside stuff is almost entirely a draw and Higdon toughs out a couple.
M6 2 8 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Pass Fly Darboh 39
Excellent protection and a terrific ball almost not enough as the refs ignore Layne grabbing Darboh the whole way. He makes a one handed grab in his chest; damn son. (DO, 1, protection 2/2, refs -2)
M45 1 10 Pepcat 3-wide 2* 1 2 4-3 over 7 Run Inverted veer keep Peppers 7
Similar to an earlier keep but with Butt(-2) acting as a lead… something. He flares out without touching anyone. This means MSU can have a guy contain and also have a guy for Peppers since M wasted a blocker. Peppers(+3) should get killed for a four yard loss; he Houdinis out of two tackles and gets something from the play.
O48 2 3 Ace 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Run Offset draw Evans 2
It is possible to defend this if you send a corner blitz that confuses everyone, which MSU does. DE dives inside so OT can’t fling him upfield and then go get a LB. Mags(+1) does hit the guy and go get a block but nobody else joins him; M gets a bit but not much. RPS -1.
O46 3 1 I-Form Big 2 3 0 5-3 over 8 Run FB dive Hill 1
MSU just running hell for leather at this and almost kind of gets to it but Hill(+0.5) manages to surge over the line after getting hit just before it.
O45 1 10 Shotgun 2-back TE 2 1 2 4-3 over 8 Pass Tunnel screen Peppers -1
MSU sends a blitz from the boundary that sees the playside DE form up as a pass defender right into the tunnel. RPS -3.
O44 2 11 Ace trips tight bunch 2 1 2 4-3 even 7 Run Crack sweep Higdon 11
Hill(+1) cuts off the playside end effectively. Cole(+1) is M’s solution to the MLB running to this play; he stops and cuts Bullough. Kalis(+1) turns in the playside DT and buries him. Darboh(+1) hits and seals the playside LB; Chesson(-1) runs after this guy and turns upfield and gets lucky that the rest of the play goes so well. Mags gets a default kick on a CB; Higdon(+1) jump cuts past a S to get the first down.
O33 1 10 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 over 7 Run Trap Higdon 6
I think? MSU slant to the play and confuses blocking and myself. Backside definitely looks like a wham as Kalis waits for a DE to shoot upfield outside; he dives inside. Mags(+1) gets a chip and a good second level block. Cole(+0.5) shoves the NT wide and gives Higdon a lane; Kalis doesn't really have much he can do with a guy shooting inside of him. He shoves the guy, who falls as Higdon(+1) cuts past, running through his tackle. RPS -1.
O27 2 4 I-Form Big 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Run Lead zone Smith 0
Again MSU shifts a LB down late and M blows it. Mags(-2) runs the play as if that LB doesn’t exist, trying to get to the end, who is now Kalis’s man. LB runs in free and tackles.
O27 3 4 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Drag Butt 1
Mesh from M misses as MSU swaps some coverage responsibilities and gets a LB out on Butt. Butt(+1) does a great job to run through the tackle and not lose yards but can’t get to the sticks. (CA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS -1)
O26 4 3 I-Form twins 2 1 2 4-3 even 8 Pass Corner Darboh Inc (Pen +15)
PA, ton of time, and Speight fires at Darboh on a corner route. Throw isn’t the best. Want some air under it, but it’s good enough to draw a PI on the DB, who hit Darboh well before the ball arrived. (MA, 1, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
O11 1 10 Offset I Big H 2 2 1 4-3 over 8 Run Power O Smith 4
Mags(+1) and Kalis get movement this time; mostly Mags driving and Kalis getting to a LB. Bredeson(+1) pulls efficiently and gets a LB, kicking him out. Butt(-0.5) gets bumped on the way through to the other LB; he makes contact but loses the guy such that he can tackle Smith near the LOS; DBs rally to finish it.
O7 2 6 Pepcat Pistol FB Big 2* 2 1 4-3 over 7.5 Run Arc zone read keep Peppers -5
CB blitz gets M here; playside DE and OLB shoot inside; Peppers keeps. Butt runs way downfield at safeties; CB shoots in and tackles for a major loss. RPS -2.
O12 3 11 I-Form 2 1 2 4-3 even 7 Pass Wheel Chesson Inc (Pen -15)
Philosophical discussion about OPI in order here as Darboh is definitely running his route to pick the DB and mostly gets plowed by that guy. This isn’t a block; it gets flagged anyway. I can’t really complain; would like Darboh to turn to the QB and just brush this guy because it would enough. Speight misses the throw. (IN, 0, protection 2/2)
O27 3 26 I-Form 2 1 2 3-3-5 stack 6 Pass Dig Darboh Inc
M is just trying to ease it for their FG kicker; MSU S blatantly interferes with a pass down at the 10 and no flag, because whatever, refs do what they want. (Refs -2, CA, 0, protection 2/2)
Drive Notes: FG(44), 30-10, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M20 1 10 Ace H 1 2 2 4-3 over split 7 Run Lead zone Evans -2
MSU does something they haven’t done yet in this game, splitting both OLBs wide and blitzing them. Bredeson(-2) gets a tough matchup against McDowell and loses it badly. Evans has a shot at a backside cut if this doesn’t happen as there’s a pretty big hole backside; alas, it does.
M18 2 12 Offset I 2 1 2 4-3 even 8 Run Crack sweep Evans -1
MSU widens out their DE to Butt’s width as he lines up outside the tackle box and flares him wide. Butt(-1) then loses that block; Kalis turns in a DT but has to give ground to do so; Cole is delayed coming over the top; Mags(-1) runs by the MLB, who tackles with the DE. RPS -2. One too many times to the well.
M17 3 13 Offset I 2 2 1 3-3-5 stack 6 Pass Fly Darboh Inc
Ton of time; Speight tries a deep shot. By the time the receiver enters the frame he’s on the ground and the ball is well overthrown; don’t understand having one WR on the field on third and a mile and IIRC the CB was deep on this. (IN, 0, protection 2/2, RPS -1)
Drive Notes: Punt, 30-10, 9 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M23 1 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-5 over 9 Run PA FB flat Hill 2
All out blitz sees both TEs wide open. Speight is getting a ton of pressure and doesn’t see it in time; he dumps to the one covered guy, Hill, for a minimal gain. Braden(-1) and Kalis(-1) let their guys through. (BR, 3, protection 0/2)
M25 2 8 Shotgun 3-wide 1 1 3 4-3 even 7 Run Zone read keeper Speight 5
Um… okay? Speight would get a first down here if he was slightly mobile. He’s not. RPS +1? It is five yards with no blocking.
M30 3 3 Offset I 1 2 2 4-3 over 7 Pass Corner Chesson 18
Good protection this time against a five man pressure and Speight passes up two shorter routes that are covered for a wide open, and I mean wide open Chesson. If Speight leads him properly this is a TD; instead he holds him up and allows the safety to recover. (MA, 3, protection 2/2, RPS +1)
M48 1 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Run Power O Higdon 6
M motions Darboh in to threaten the sweep and then runs a power just inside of it. Butt(+1) gets good push on a DT; Hill(+0.5) kicks the end. Kalis(+0.5) gets there on his pull; Higdon(+0.5) fends off the guy Kalis is blocking and gets a solid gain. Bredeson(-1) again tossed away by McDowell; Braden picks him up but this allows Bullough to flow free and hold this down.
O46 2 4 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-4 over 8 Run Power O Higdon 2
Higdon(-2) goes straight upfield instead of following his blockers, which is good for a short gain and prevents M from converting and putting this game away. The initial N/S action is good as it sucks in the LB level, and Butt(+1) again drives his man; Hill and Kalis pull through for a CB and S and if Higdon hits this gap he could break it big. Instead he runs directly up the gut.
O44 3 2 Flexbone 3 0 2 4-3 over 7 Run Trap Smith 0
Orbit motion from Evans, a flexback, and Smith up the gut on a trap. Cole(-2) crushed by McDowell and he eats Smith.
Drive Notes: Punt, 30-17, 4 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form RB TE WR D Form Box Type Play Player Yards
M21 1 10 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-3 over 7 Run Power O Higdon 6
Butt(+1) and Braden(+1) hammer a DT way off the ball to the point where there’s a huge hole and no pursuit. DE is thinking crack sweep and offers free kickout to Poggi. Higdon(+1) runs through a tackle for a nice chunk of YAC.
M27 2 4 Offset I Big 2 2 1 4-3 over 8 Run Power O Higdon 3
MSU pinches inside as they play to spill this; M gets some push but too many bodies on the inside for a crease. Higdon runs up the back of the OL for what he can get. Sometimes I have no grades to give out. Three yard gains are often these plays.
M30 3 1 Offset I Big 2 2 1 5-3 over 9 Run Power O Higdon 0
MSU sells out; Cole(-1) again has major trouble with McDowell; Bredeson appears to abort his pull once he sees McDowell surge, assuming that the frontside of the play is now toast. Higdon does too, but the backside isn’t there either as MSU has an extra guy back there. Not sure what he should do but I think there’s maybe a gap to the front between TE and FB that he should test.
Drive Notes: Punt, 30-17, 1 min 4th Q. M’s remaining snap is a kneel.

They really kicked our ass.

Mmmhmm.

Jake Butt isn't a hammering panda and had some difficulties, but Michigan hitting people hard was a theme throughout the day. The MSU defense was Malik McDowell crushing people and not much else. Michigan gave it to 'em.

But the total yardage wasn't that great.

This was a weirdly short and then very long game, so let's drive chart it:

  • 3 touchdown drives of 80, 62, and 48 yards
  • 3 field goal drives of 70, 49, and 69 yards, with the short one a 27-second drill that ended with the ball on the five, first and goal.
  • 39 yards before Speight throws a pick

That is Michigan's entire output before the fourth quarter. They were stopped only by an interception and ripped up and down the field. Michigan had first and goal on six of those seven drives, and they were only stopped on one of the field goal drives because they'd run out of time in the first half. That is a redzone conversion away from total dominance.

Michigan ended the game with a bit of a thud, going three and out twice and getting one first down on the other drive; all of those were Lloydball drives on which M ran into stacked fronts and maybe took a shot on third down. You can disagree with the approach there, but it's a fact that M turned off the scoring O in the fourth. On third and thirteen they had one WR on the field and threw him a bomb down the sidelines—that is the definition of maximum safety.

I'm not that concerned about the four minute offense being bad. Michigan was very close to getting the extra first down or two that prevents the irritating fourth quarter. MSU started loading up, Michigan lost a couple McDowell matchups, and they got RPSed a bit, and Speight left that corner route to Chesson short, preventing an exclamation-point TD:

Later on that drive Higdon fails to follow what looks like a well-blocked power play:

Michigan ends up losing another McDowell matchup on third down and punts. This was a combo of guys off by a hair and McDowell being McDowell; it looked mostly fine and followed what was, again, a complete domination.

Thanks to WILTON SPEIGHT-DOCK!

really

Look man we can't all have nicknames like Citizen Dang.

Speight's game remained impressive after a detailed review. Chart:

[Hennechart orientation: mouse over column headers for explanations of the categories. + is handed out for a good throw under duress. * is handed out for a very bad version of a bad thing. Numbers in parens are screens. DSR is an attempt to compress the numbers into one overall number. PFF is PFF's grade.]

  Good   Neutral   Bad   Ovr
Game DO CA SCR   PR MA   BA TA IN BR   DSR PFF
Hawaii 1 8(1)+       1(1)       1* 2*   73% -1.0
UCF 3 21(1)     5 2     2 2(1) 2   82% 1.0
Colorado - 14(2)++++ 1   4 3   2 - 5 6**   50% -3.5
Penn State 1+ 17(2)++ 1   1 4   1(1) 2+ 8(1) -   68% 1.0
Wisconsin 3 16(3)+   5+   1 2+ 4 5*   57% -0.5
Rutgers 1+ 10(1)++   1   5   67% 0.5
Illinois 5+ 10+ 1 2 3   1* 3   79% 4.5
MSU 4++ 11(1) 2 6   4 2*   70% 2.5

Speight had some bang-up passes; he also had a bunch of throws I filed "marginal" because they either made it tougher for his receiver to catch or robbed them of YAC or were incompletions on which I thought he had a really small window he almost hit.

He was confident and had B+ accuracy; this wasn't last week or UCF but neither was it close to his grim midseason performances. By the third quarter I was expecting him to convert on third down and long, and he did.

I still think that's a hair late but this is a sophomore confidently throwing over the middle against zones without incident. That's not particularly common in college football. He was able to stand in thanks to his OL for much of the day and made good on that time with rifle shots across the middle:

And like Rudock before him he is beginning to explore the #buttzone.

There were some overthrows and Darboh bailed him out once, about which more in a second; as the charting says these were acceptably few in number.

His ability to feel and avoid pressure remains a strength; it was the main catalyst for the early bomb to Darboh:

That is an obvious strength at this point. Speight's pocket awareness is excellent. He doesn't get happy feet; he moves around when he should and doesn't when he shouldn't.

On review some things looked better, some looked worse. Speight's impressive ability to stand and deliver was nice, but it was strictly unnecessary:

That throw is way late, as you can see the underneath coverage has cleared; from the stands it was clear Darboh had already turned around and stopped by the time the ball came out. That got downgraded from a DO.

On the other hand, the disappointing incompletions that prevented Michigan from going 4/4 on first-half TD drives started with more than 27 seconds on the clock were mostly on his receivers and some poor officiating. This wheel to Smith is in fact his best and only option:

Darboh is held and therefore has no route, refs –2. Hill falls and can't get into what I assume is going to be an open flat route. Speight might as well take a shot, and the area he throws the ball into is the only one where his guy has a vague chance and the DBs do not.

On third and goal M put it all on Chesson winning a route against a safety and he did not.

Speight tries to hit a tiny window and can't; I grudgingly put that in the inaccurate bin, but Chesson really has to do better against a safety. Get your body into him before the break, or break sharper, or feint inside. Don't do that.

Anyway: Speight continued his Rudockening; this wasn't an electric performance but it was quite good, and if he can continue this for a couple more weeks Michigan can enter the 'Shoe confident in their QB.

He did get helped out by Darboh a ton, though.

I mean... Darboh did have a couple circus catches.

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

  THIS WEEK   SEASON
Player 0 1 2 3   0 1 2 3
Darboh 2 2/4 1/1 5/5   14 3/8 4/4 31/34
Chesson 3 0/1 1/1 1/1   11 0/2 8/10 13/14
Perry     9 1/1 5/5
Peppers     1/1       1/1 2/2
Ways                 1/1
McDoom             1/1   2/2
Crawford               1/1
Harris 2       2    
Butt 1/1 2/2   5 1/2 1/1 22/24
Bunting         1     2/2
Wheatley               1/1
Asiasi       1/1         2/2
Poggi               4/5
Hill 1     1   2/2 6/6
Smith 1     4 1/1 2/2 7/7
Isaac                  
Evans       1 0/1   3/3
Higdon 1         1      
McKeon                 2/2
Hirsch                 1/1

ROUTES: Harris +, Chesson –, Hill –.

Yessir.

Darboh had his best game at Michigan by some distance, adding a strong #2 to his pantheon of Citizen Dang catches:

Only that grab against BYU last year tops that. Or maybe this is #2:

Refs will usually let you get away with some handgrabbing, but when it's 20 yards of it and you end up catching a ball in your chest with one hand that should be obvious enough to draw a flag. Extremely hypothetical MSU UFR person* offers up a +1 to the CB and says "rubbin's racin'" here, because dude gets away with it. But I don't know how you let this go and hit Peppers with his terrible call or make half the other PI decisions in this game.

*[He quit after the Wisconsin game and also never existed in the first place because the MSU fanbase can't support a high quality independent team blog.]

Like, wasn't there a blatant one on third and a million?

Yep. Michigan had to settle for a 44 yard field goal because of this on third and goal from the 26:

image_thumb[7]

I have no earthly idea how you miss a guy arriving that early. That this play came after a 50/50 OPI call rankled even further. These guys were idiots the whole game, from the missed Bush targeting call to virtually every PI decision to Tackle Taco Time. This was the second consecutive year the refereeing in this game was straight trash.

I think we have to stop calling the weekly Harbaugh hijinks "Stanfordization," because to me that means punting on fourth and three from the opponent 32.

Hmmm. You've got a point there. I'll search for better lingo.

But anyway gimme.

The biggest tactical takeaway wasn't the existence of something but rather its absence: MSU's double A gap twist blitz. You may remember that blitz from Spittle Flecked Rich Rod Rant and Spittle Flecked Al Borges Rant way back when, because Michigan ate it over and over and over again for TFLs and stuffs and sacks. No longer. They still run it. It's not working.

Michigan's opening first down was a double A blitz that got Bullough through, but to do so he had to go so fast that he overran the play:

Michigan got the other guy; Cole probably biffs on Bullough but he doesn't compound the mistake by turning upfield. It's his block that makes the room for the Smith cutback, and then it's Godzilla versus the fishing village time. (Another thing to note on this play: Darboh doesn't get the crack block on the S but the threat of it makes him come in so hot that Smith can easily juke him.)

MSU tended to run it whenever Peppers came in at QB, and it got them nothing. The McDoom reverse was a double A on which that call erased even the vague possibility of LB-level pursuit. It was also just a vicious play to try to defend.

As soon as Peppers starts to run left the entire damn defense freaks out about it.

A subsequent Peppers zone read found MSU running a double LB blitz; it wasn't into the A gaps, but it was directly at the play. M ran an inverted veer with a tweak that occupied a DE and forced the blitzing LB to respect the threat of a give, and that's bad news:

This was even happening when Speight was your shotgun quarterback. Smith's six yard TD late in the second quarter was another double A blitz that Michigan had the answer for:

By this point it seemed clear that shotgun snaps got double A blitzed a lot, so Michigan might even have gone with the gun here specifically because they wanted the gut of the D to be linebackers instead of DTs. McDowell rips outside and finds air.

The lone time it did help MSU was on the interception, but even then Kalis was in position to block the guy. He just did not.

The trademark MSU defensive playcall was comprehensively beaten. Finally. All of these plays feature the extreme aggression of the MSU linebackers being used against them, something that Michigan hasn't been able to do in forever. Can't block 'em? Run right by 'em.

Any other blips and bloops?

I also think Michigan had some stuff in there that they couldn't quite execute. Smith got blown up for little on a corner blitz, and Darboh was openly frustrated that Speight didn't see it and abort to a little hitch route.

TRAIN. TRAIN?

I'm not exactly sure what TRAIN bought M this time since they just lined up in an ace twins formation and threw out of it. It did work:

I guess it's tough to get a blitz timed up when you're figuring out what you're looking at?

And the Peppers stuff?

I'm not entirely opposed to Peppers as full time redzone QB. People are legit terrified of him. Smith ate up seven yards from the ten because this was the DE's reaction to zone read action:

image_thumb6

That looks like how people used to defend the read option a decade ago, before shuffling and all that business came into vogue. (Also, this play was another double A gap blitz that M just ran away from.)

Peppers is causing people to forget the last ten years of football, and you kind of understand why that might be:

Damn shame Magnuson couldn't maintain his block because that could be a TD if he does and man that's going on a Heisman reel.

Anyway. Shuffling against him is asking for trouble. MSU played him to give on conventional zone reads in a way that harkened back to RichRod at Glenville State. Michigan is increasingly incorporating plays on which there is no read or he's the default option to keep (inverted veer) as they explore how much you can get away with no-throw Denard.

What was with the JBB as a TE thing?

Michigan used to to spread McDowell out way away from the line early, which was interesting. He didn't have to do anything except exist two yards outside of normal inline TE positioning to give Michigan a bunch more breathing room against the best player MSU has. MSU switched it up and JBB didn't get many snaps.

One of them was the INT, and on it he completely blew a protection, as per Harbaugh in the postgame presser. He totally blew a blitz pickup on another snap as well. The sheer number of errors in scant playing time is simply too much for him to continue seeing the field. He might continue doing so because Harbaugh has a role for a sixth OL, but I'd be surprised if he was in the conversation for much else going forward.

Speaking of pickups, you have some OL numbers for me?

Offensive Line
  RUN   PASS PRO  
Player Snaps + - Total PFF   Snaps Pass- Error% PFF
Braden 41 2.5 2.5 0 -0.9   29 1 2% 0.7
Bredeson 41 3 5.5 -2.5 -2.2   29 2 4% 0.7
Cole 41 6 9 -3 -2.6   29 1.0
Kalis 41 8 2.5 5.5 2.4   29 7 12% -0.2
Magnuson 41 7.5 5 2.5 0.9   29 1.6
Bushell-Beatty 2 0   2 4 100% 0
Butt 32 9 6.5 3.5 0.9   2
Bunting 1 0   1 1 50% -0.4
Wheatley 11 1 -1 0.4   2 - - 0.1
Asiasi 25 2 2 0 0.1   0
Hill 10 5.5* 5 0.3   4 - - 0.1
Poggi 15 2.5 -2.5 -1.7   6 0.2
TOTAL - 43.5 36.5 54%

*[Hill got a half point for running.]

Metrics
Player + - T Notes
Protection 40 16 71% Kalis –7, JBB –4, Bredeson –2, Higdon –1, Bunting –1, Braden -1
RPS 14 17 -3 Tipped to MSU during Lloydball period.

This week I'm in almost total agreement with PFF. Michigan had some struggles, mostly against Malik McDowell. McDowell is responsible for almost all of the Bredeson/Cole negatives and would have graded out with a huge positive and significant negative in Extremely Hypothetical MSU UFR; M scuffled but pulled through for the most part with a good performance from the right side.

Pass protection was exceptional with the exception of Kalis, who had some uncharacteristic struggles, and two blown blitz pickups by JBB on two snaps.

Cole isn't grading out so hot this season.

No, but I'm not going to read too much into this game. Afterwards it was revealed that Cole had the flu or strep or hand and mouth or something; he was also going up against Malik McDowell a lot. Grading on a curve is appropriate. The number above does not grade on a curve and is ugly because MSU's short yardage tactic was to single McDowell up on Cole and figure the rest out. This was a good plan.

McDowell will do that to a lot of centers when he's interested and not limping off with another minor injury; he was fired up for his last M-MSU game and looked like the top ten NFL pick he's reputed to be. So maybe that was always going to happen.

I was a bit more disappointed that other Michigan State DTs were able to do anything other than pick their teeth up off the ground. Michigan ran a counter trap that should have busted for a chunk, but Cole again allowed his man to get to the hole:

I wanted Kalis to hit that NT and dinged him for that, but I also think Cole should be able to drive that NT and step around him so that Hill can jet to the second level. That dude who beats him is a redshirt freshman.

But apparently NFL draft guys like him, so maybe I'm wrong? M did do a great job on those double A pickups and he's a big part of that, and he was flawless in pass pro.

Anything on the tailbacks? Are we concerned that they did not get big chunks of yards?

RB chart (WR grades are run only):

Backs
Player Rushes + - T   PFF   Notes
Speight 1   0.3   Zone read keeper!
Smith 10 8.5 8.5   2.1   +4 from me and +0.8 from PFF are for a couple monster run blocks.
Isaac 3 1 1   0.6 Nice weaving run on one crack sweep.
Evans 4 1 1   -0.3   We keep having little disagreements here.
Higdon 10 4 2 2    0.5   Almost very good but blew it in Lloydball time.
Peppers 6 7 7   1.2   Giggity.
Johnson               DNP
TOTAL 45 21.5 2 19.5   +4.4    
Receivers
Player Blocks + - T   PFF G   Notes
Darboh 26 1 1 1   -0.2 +4.1 in the air though! 
Chesson 22 0.5 3 -2.5   0.4   shruggie
Perry      
Ways        
Harris 2         0    
McDoom 1 3   3   0.9   Able runner.
Crawford 3 2   2   0.4 Paved the way for the reverse.
TOTAL - 6.5 4 2.5

They were good, offsetting a rough run-blocking day—just 54%. Imagine me saying that last year. I should note that half of Smith's big day was for a couple crushing run blocks. He was still good with the ball in his hands but with a +8.5 you might expect him to be averaging 8 YPC or something.

Even with the questionable blocking M's backs got a goodly number of yards. There were 8 Lloydball carries for 14 yards. In the portion of the game where teams were acting normally they had 20 carries for 97 yards, almost 5 YPA. While you would like Michigan to have done better on their four minute offense, only the Higdon carry on which he cut away from what looked like well-blocked power stood out as a problem. It was kind of a problem:

On the other hand, I did like Higdon's ability to slice through the MSU defense on this crack sweep:

The vision issues on power are kind of becoming a thing, though. Hopefully he can get those straightened out.

MSU was blitzing desperately on the remainder and sometimes you get got when that happens. One more yard on either of Michigan's last two drives and this whole Death With Dignity narrative doesn't get off the ground; oh well.

Anything you mostly clipped for next year's season preview but briefly want to touch on here?

Devin Asiasi is going to be a big deal, man.

It'll be interesting to see Michigan's offense with a couple of guys who might be truly elite blockers at TE. Butt's all right; Asiasi could be a killer.

Heroes?

Darboh, Speight, and De'Veon Smith. I thought Hill was terrific at FB again.

Maybe not so heroic?

Poggi again struggled in my numbers and PFF's. The interior OL got walloped by McDowell. I get that.

What does it mean for Maryland and the future?

If they come up some elite NTs they're going to struggle. OSU doesn't really have those guys this year and I think that'll be an even matchup. If M comes up against a Clemson or Alabama I don't think M will hold up well on the interior.

Speight is one week closer to being a real good time. He now looks like a guy winnowing his flaws on a weekly basis. They exist and will continue to exist; the trajectory gets another data point.

Darboh's the top WR. Dunno what's with Chesson but the failure to beat a S on that goal line play is a bit worrisome. Darboh is doing excellently on contested balls.

Impact fullback Khalid Hill. Long past time to give him bulk of FB PT, I say every week.

So far so good for Braden at LT. No protection minuses, and he had a few McDowell matchups.

Peppers for redzone QB. Hell, man he can just hand it off and still occupy two guys.

Comments

Big Boutros

November 2nd, 2016 at 4:36 PM ^

I have to wonder if there is some lingering rust from Chesson's injury. IIRC he couldn't even start running until July, let alone participate in spring ball, lift weights, etc. It hasn't been a huge problem because the offense is operating efficiently but I hope his production picks up soon.

The saving grace is that we're only at Game 8. Through 8 games last season, Chesson had 20 catches -- which is what he has right now.

He did have a couple rushing TDs at this point last year, but a lot of his sweeps have gone to McDoom with good results so I'm not as concerned about that.

michgoblue

November 2nd, 2016 at 4:46 PM ^

I also think that Chesson's inability to run until July is part of the problem, but not for the reason that you mentioned.  I don't think that he is rusty.  I think that the problem is that Chesson and Speight look like they have yet to develop any real chemistry.  Late Spring and early Summer is when QBs and receivers tend to work together to develop their timing and chesistry.  If Chesson couldn't run until July, then they likely missed those pivotal months together.

This was the same issue with Rudock last year.  For the first half of the season, it just seemed like when Rudock targered Chesson, his passes were "off" on timing.  As the season went on, the chemistry developed to the point where by season-end, Chesson was Rudock's favorite target.  Remember that because he was a transfer, Rudock didn't start working with the team until fall camp.  Could be that, much like last year, Chesson and our QB just need some time to develop chemistry. Here's hoping that I am right, as our already good offense would be that much better if we brought another All American level receiver online. 

DairyQueen

November 3rd, 2016 at 12:37 AM ^

I hope that's the case, because if I remember correctly, he had a PCL tear? Can anyone recall what his specific injury was?

It's one of the rarest knee injuries you can get, and usually the only people that get them are 80+ car accident victims and people who have a total knee dislocation.

stephenrjking

November 2nd, 2016 at 5:50 PM ^

Whatever the issue is, Chesson is not running good routes. The endzone route gets focused on here, but throughout the season when he has been on screen he has been totally blanketed by opposing DBs. And I noticed on a long pass (the hail mary type play late in the first half, perhaps?) he was just kind of gliding across the field, no violence in his route cuts at all.

His routes are very poor, and he can't win jump balls, so his ability to actually catch deep balls is limited to inch-perfect throws where his speed gains him half a step, because defenders are always on him. That TD against Rutgers, for example, where he was wearing the DB (who, it should be noted, plays for Rutgers) like a cape as he pulled in the deep pass from Speight.

It's possible that his agility is just limited due to his recovery. That wouldn't surprise me, and he wasn't hugely agile before. That is the gentler explanation of why a guy who could burn Vernon Hargreaves can't get separation anywhere; the other is that the burn against Hargreaves might have been a mild fluke. 

Hopefully his strength increases and he can start getting separation again.

FWIW I think this has been a big part of the struggle with the downfield passing game.

ijohnb

November 3rd, 2016 at 10:05 AM ^

think we are very good and that Chesson is good, but not particularly because of the Florida game.  I think Florida was 1) overrated, and 2) quit once they saw we meant business.  Chesson went off during that game, but he had been very good before that.

On that route highlighted above, I think the throw was a little bit late and flat.  There was enough separation there to get the ball to him.  That is not to say that he didn't look heavy footed, he did.  But to say he "did not beat the safety" is a little bit of a stretch.  You can only beat a guy so bad on that particular play, the timing needs to be there with Speight and it wasn't. 

I did note that the first deep shot of the game was to Harris and not to Chesson, that surprised me a little.  It appears there is no quesiton that he is playing at less than 100 percent.

Blue_42

November 3rd, 2016 at 11:42 AM ^

I don't think the first deep shot going to Harris was anything more than Jim giving him an opportunity to shine against a team he was once committed to. Similarily like when we played at Rutgers and JBB got the start at left tackle.  If we weren't playing in Jersey (his home state), I don't think he gets that start.

Fezzik

November 2nd, 2016 at 8:46 PM ^

One, Chesson was under the radar until half way thru last season where he then surprisingly blew up. This season, he was known and scouted as our only known deep threat and you game plan for what you know. Two, Rudock had impressive deep ball accuracy late last year that Speight so far simply does not have. Most deep balls Speight has completed to date have not been great passes.

michgoblue

November 2nd, 2016 at 4:38 PM ^

I get what Brian is saying about Hill receiving the bulk of the FB PT; he is clearly playing better than Poggi.  But, FB is a very physical position, and a FB can sustain a ton of abuse.  I expect that in games that are not close, Harbaugh is splitting FB time equally so as not to unnecessarily wear down - or risk injury to - Hill.  When we go into the 'Shoe, I expect that Hill will receive over 75% of the FB snaps.

Alumnus93

November 2nd, 2016 at 4:44 PM ^

If Chesson isn't hurt, then its bizarre how dominant and fast he was vs Florida, and now is neither. Why aren't they sending him deep more often?

Brian, had you done UFRs during Brady's time, he'd have come across much worse, than what you tend to give toward Speight, who I believe, is the next of a long line of great Michigan QBs in the NFL. He is a sophomore, who is 9-0 as starter, and that is scant mentioned.

stephenrjking

November 2nd, 2016 at 5:53 PM ^

Brian actually says this in the UFR:

"This is a sophomore confidently throwing over the middle against zones without incident. That's not particularly common in college football."

I would say that he's mentioning it.

And this is definitely promising. Speight, as a redshirt sophomore, has the same level of experience that John Navarre did in November of 2001. Navarre was, erm, not very good at all in that stretch. And confident, accurate throws over the middle against zones were basically unheard of.

Game has changed and all that, but Speight is looking good here. What in the world will our depth chart look like next year and the year after?

TrueBlue2003

November 2nd, 2016 at 7:00 PM ^

as a measure of QB quality while ignoring individual performance is a fool's errand.  We have an insane, potentially historically good defense, which Speight has nothing to do with.

Yes, he's been good-for-a-sophomore and better than expected, which Brian credits frequently.  But he had a bad stretch of games and pointing that out isn't a knock on the guy.  It's just objectivity, which is the point of UFRs.

TheReal_GR3

November 2nd, 2016 at 4:52 PM ^

Peppers had two WR snaps by my count. One was on the deep corner to Butt, Peppers was outside WR on a deep post I think and the other was the tunnel screen attempt that got blown up by an great read from #98. 

 

Just a note. 

Jon

November 2nd, 2016 at 5:22 PM ^

> The trademark MSU defensive playcall [America's Double A Gap Twist Blitz] was comprehensively beaten. Finally.

Finally indeed! It's about time, and was super pleased to see this!

ThatTCGuy

November 2nd, 2016 at 5:34 PM ^

There's a ton of neat shit in this game that Harbaugh hinted at, but is probably waiting to pull out until the OSU game. 

I assume in the OSU game  they're going to just say "fuck it" and put Peppers in those Flexbone formations at QB and have him actually run a speed option or a full triple or something with him, Chesson, and De'veon. 

funkywolve

November 2nd, 2016 at 5:28 PM ^

Maybe it's just me and without knowing the actual route I could be wrong, but it looks like a really poor route by Chesson.  Once he engages the safety he needs to go more at a 90 degree angle to his left rather than the 45 degree angle.

If you look at where Speight puts the ball, it looks like it should be a catch if Chesson is running parallel to the goal line.

TrueBlue2003

November 2nd, 2016 at 7:09 PM ^

and that was where Chesson got the minus for route, I believe.  It was still a late floating pass.  There was a larger window out of Jehu's break and Speight probably needed to throw it before he even made the move.  He waited and floated it and allowed the safety to catch back up.  But yes, Chesson should be beating that safety by a wider margin with a better move.

TrueBlue2003

November 2nd, 2016 at 7:14 PM ^

he'll probably comfortably slide into the Butt role (yikes, the pun's are impossible to avoid) next year.  In a game like this there is no room for "grooming" because that would mean Bunting instead of Butt during critical plays.  I do think he must be hurt or it seems like he'd be playing more against the likes of Illinios and Rutgers in real garbage time? Although, we've gone to a very run heavy gameplan in those blowouts so you're gonna have your blocking TEs in there, not your downfield receiving threats.

stephenrjking

November 2nd, 2016 at 6:29 PM ^

My guess would be that Harbaugh uses talent however he can get it. He's not the sort to ground players who can play just because they're not "his kind of player." Which is not to say that he won't have a certain idea of what kind of guy he wants to recruit, but if a guy turns into a receiving-intensive type Harbaugh will find ways to use that.

Note that Butt's blocking has improved noticeably through the season. That crackdown on the sweep was something else.

umaz1

November 2nd, 2016 at 6:11 PM ^

"After the play Cooper starts throwing punches at Hill for unknown reasons; Cole attempts to defend his player and McDowell yanks Cole off the pile, drawing a flag. Probably went on the wrong guy."

They specifically threw this on McDowell for pulling Cole off the pile. That's an emphasis this year.