Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Florida Comment Count

Brian September 8th, 2017 at 12:50 PM

2017 logoo_thumb

SPONSOR NOTE: Matt also bought a very silly Michigan bus this offseason. For no reason, really. Just to have a giant bus with a winged helmet painted on it. And other stuff, sure. An engine, probably. Twitter handle painted on the side because that's how we do.

So you can get a mortgage from a guy with a giant Michigan bus or a guy without a giant Michigan bus. Homesure Lending is the guy with the bus. This is an easy choice even if you don't need a term sheet in 15 minutes because you're a bigshot lawyer who is very bad at promoting your own books.



Michigan played almost the entire game in a 3-3-5 stack. Copious discussion below.

PERSONNEL NOTES: Exact snap counts are not available right now but the general picture was clear. On the DL, Michigan started Gary, Hurst, and Winovich. Those guys got the lion's share of snaps. Marshall and later Solomon rotated in at NT. Kemp got a few snaps when Gary needed to get told something. Winovich went the distance until garbage time, when Reuben Jones and Kwity Paye got in.

At linebacker Furbush and McCray were the OLBs with Bush at ILB. Gil got a couple early series as Michigan rehydrated McCray; that was the only rotation until late. On the last drive the LBs were Gil again, Mbem-Bosse, and Uche.

Secondary was Metellus, Kinnel, and Hudson the whole way at safety with Hill and Long generally first choice at corner. Long's injuries and solid play from Watson got him a healthy number of snaps. Thomas got in a little bit in the third and fourth quarters. There was no dime package. Also yes I'm lumping Hudson in with the safeties since he will split over the slot and occasionally play FS.

[After THE JUMP: do the rich rod!]

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Half press one high Run N/A Jet sweep Bush 4 + 15 pen
M issues standard jet response by rotating. Long goes back to S as Kinnel fills in on the jet side. This should work for no gain but Metellus(-1) doesn’t set the edge very well; he gives ground and ends up giving up the edge a little. He does tackle and force out after about five so no big deal. Bush(-2) gets an obvious late hit that is a hair away from targeting. Time between end of previous play and next snap: 4:30. RPS +1.
O44 1 10 Shotgun empty TE 3-2-6 3-2 dime Press one high Pass 5 Corner Hill 34
Michigan might be better off tipping this a bit; as it is they’re blitzing two LBs from five yards depth and it’s not enough time to get there (pressure –2). Metellus is in man coverage on the TE and blitzes when he sees him stay in. Ball is gone already though. Sort of conflicted here. Hill is in off coverage on the slot and runs with him when he breaks outside. He’s a half stride back and going for the arm grab; WR wrests his arm free at the critical moment and brings it in. Hudson at FS and can’t get over the top. –1 Hill, cover push.
M22 1 10 Ace quads tight bunch 4-3-4 4-3 even Press one high Run N/A Yakety sax N/A -4
Furbush in for Hudson. Gary IDs the slot receiver as covered and flanks outside of him. QB stepped on, falls. Back fumbles, UF gets it back. Gary was unblocked after that flank and this is likely going nowhere anyway.
M26 2 14 Ace trips tight bunch 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Outside zone Hurst -1
Quick count and M on top of it. C tries to pass off Hurst(+2) and backside G tries to cut. He loses. Hurst stumbles directly into the back. Winovich(+1) stands up the RT and sheds to help tackle. Bush(+1) blazed through a gap before an OL can get to him and arrives on fire only to find a tackle already made. Gil and Furbush also did a good job to get into OL releasing to them, hit them, and set up in a gap.
M27 3 15 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 Okie Half press one high Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
M32 3 20 Pistol trips 3-3-5 Nickel even Press two high Run N/A Inside zone Gil 3
Gary folded inside at DT and Furbush at DE. Gary takes a chop block that goes uncalled (refs -2). Maybe the chop guy missed enough? I mean, he’s engaged while a guy is attacking his legs. Gary gets blown out as a result. Gotta call that. Looks like Winovich and Hurst are stunting; Winovich goes inside and clogs up interior lanes, must bounce with no apparent force. Gil(+0.5) has a pretty easy job to flow unblocked and tackle. Kinnel(+0.5) flows up and helps. Winovich +1 for the lane cloggin’.
Drive Notes: FG(46), 0-3, 12 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Waggle throwaway Metellus Inc
Well covered by Hill(+1) and Metellus(+1, cover +2); Hudson(+1, pressure +1) on the edge and shoots up into the QB in a flash; throwaway.
O25 2 10 Shotgun double stacks 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 WR screen Long 2
Long(+1) is in press; he chucks away the guy trying to block him and cuts off the outside. Hudson also comes up and they’re kind of in the same space; WR has to cut back to the center of the field, where Gary(+0.5) and Furbush(+0.5) flow from the interior and tackle.
O27 3 8 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Okie Press two high Pass 4 Sack Bush
DL all to the bottom of the screen and the LBs all to the top. Two LBs back out and Bush comes on a crazy loop blitz that he somehow gets home on; RB is really not expecting this LB to come flying out of nowhere and despite his great speed he’s able to redirect effectively when Franks tries to bug out. Bush(+3) jumps on his back for the sack. Winovich(+1) ended up containing on the edge here despite starting as the nominal nose tackle. Pressure +3. On replay it’s clear that Bush got the back to commit to a gap and then changed it, like a running back might.
Drive Notes: Punt, 3-3, 4 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Offset I 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Yakety sax N/A -7
M a little lucky here as it looks like Bush(-1, cover -1) gets confused for a moment and the wheel route will be open for something. He does abort and take an angle that should hold it down to a first down and change but still. Franks just falls over. Gary(+1, pressure +1) had a push-pull that got him around his guy at 8 and might have sacked.
O18 2 17 Pistol twins twin TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Tunnel screen Hurst 2
Hurst(+2) reads the OL flowing outside and goes with them, disconnecting and taking a perfect angle to tackle just as the WR is about to breach the LOS. Without that this is a decent gain before McCray and Kinnel can clean up. This looked dangerously open because Both Hill and Watson end up trying to play force. In these situations I go with the guy getting blocked as correct. Hill(+1) did a great job to force it back quickly; Watson(-2) had a missed assignment and ran himself out of the play entirely.
O20 3 15 Shotgun empty TE 3-3-5 Nickel even Press two high Pass 4 Scramble Gary 16
A youthful indiscretion here as UF rolls the pocket in an attempt to get some protection. Coverage(+2) good on a half field read. McCray starts creeping up as his guy stays into block and Franks is cut off. He reverses field and finds a ton of room largely because Gary(-2) didn’t flow down the line, instead trying to burst upfield. He gets pushed and only gets around the corner at 11 yards, which is worse than doing nothing. Franks demonstrates why by breaking the pocket and getting the first down. Pressure -2.
O36 1 10 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Kemp 2
Gary exits. Also Hurst, with Marshall at NT. IZ from Florida. Furbush(+1) inserts himself on the playside, ramming back the RG and cutting off a bunch of gaps. Kemp(+2) stood up, controlled, and shed the RT to initiate a tackle at the LOS. Bush(+1) shoved back the C(!) and then flowed down the line in case he was needed. He was not.
O38 2 8 Ace trips tight bunch 3-3-5 3-3 stack Half press one high Run N/A Inside zone Hill -1
I think this is just a regular IZ but it looks like the RG is in a pass set? It doesn’t really matter as McCray is blitzing to the interior, intentionally giving up the corner because Hill(+1) is blitzing. He takes the right angle to the back and shoulder-blocks him down with a tackle I kind of hate. RPS +3, this was all Brown.
O37 3 9 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Corner Long Inc
7 man protection from Florida gets the job done, though Hudson is coming up and threatening enough to force a throw. (Pressure -1.) That throw is a corner route at Long. Long is in this guy’s hip pocket(+1, cover +1) and gets his head around; ball is overthrown to the point where neither guy has a play on it.
Drive Notes: Punt, 10-3, 14 min 2nd Q
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
M37 1 10 Ace twin TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Run N/A Power O Gary 2
M lines up super deep and then creeps on the jet motion. This is unbalanced so when the WR motions Hill becomes a bonus box defender and M slants playside. Attempt to run power at 3 man line fails as Hurst(+1) and Gary(+2) both stand up blockers, with Gary ripping to the hole at the LOS. Back bounces off but it’s too late and the rest of the D swarms. Furbush(+0.5) right spot for the tackle.
M35 2 8 Shotgun empty TE 30 nickel slide Press one high Pass 4 Hitch Winovich 6
Winovich(+1, pressure +1)slows and then explodes around the corner; Franks must throw. He takes a little hitch route. Immediate tackle from Hudson(+0.5).
M29 3 2 Offset I Big 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Run N/A Power O Bush -1
M not set and this looks like it’ll be bad; Hurst(+2) fires out low and takes out the RG’s legs, which trips and removes the pulling G. Still a lot to do for Bush(+2, tackling +1), who is actually set unlike his compatriots, and takes a great angle to the ball, making backfield contact and finishing with help from Kinnel.
Drive Notes: Missed FG(47), 10-17, 7 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O15 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-3-4 4-3 even Half press one high Pass 5 Fly Hill 31
This is odd. Hill gives up an inside release here, which basically never happens in M single high coverage on the backside. Everyone always forces outside for sideline reasons. Hill loses contact with the WR and then doesn’t read the fact that he’s slowing up on an underthrown ball. This is a very Not Jourdan moment. Hill -3, cover -1. Kinnel got over pretty well but the underthrown ball didn’t give him a chance to make a play. Ball is probably unintentionally underthrown as McCray(+1, pressure +1) blitzes and gets around the corner, making this uncomfortable.
O46 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Zone stretch Winovich -1
Tackle over. Winovich(+2) hammers that tackle back despite being some 80 pounds short of that guy; this opens up a flight path for Bush(+2) and Hudson(+1) to hammer the back behind the LOS. This is some extremely Devin Bush stuff right here, as he attacks, hits an OL, and redirects super fast to get to this in the backfield.
O45 2 11 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Crack sweep Winovich 8
Very crack sweep looking formation after a WR motions in and it comes off. Winovich and Hurst appear to be stunting with Winovich headed inside and Hurst going for the edge. Okay but when Winovich(-1) feels that WR cracking down on him he’s got to abort and start stringing it out, IMO, and he’s got to be alert for this kind of crack sweep motion. Tough for Hurst(-1) to make up for his starting position; he doesn’t take a great angle. Metellus(+0.5) does well to outflank a G leading out and force it back to where Bush(+0.5) can tackle after getting through some chop; want Hill(-0.5) to read the crack block of his WR faster and be useful here. RPS -1.
M47 3 3 Shotgun twins 2TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Winovich 47 (Pen -10)
Penalty is obvious as the OL releasing to Bush rips him down by placing both hands outside his shoulder pads and yanking. Dumb, also irrelevant. M stacks this up as Hurst(+1) and Furbush(+1) both drive into the backfield and cut off the entire frontside. Winovich(-3) is unblocked on the backside and just has to clean up or at very worst prevent the guy from escaping behind him after he reverses field. He does not. Metellus(-1) and Hill(-1) both do crappy jobs downfield to get off blocks and Kinnel(-1) doesn’t read the play well, so instead of a chunk this is a TD. This was lucky.
O43 3 13 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 Nickel even Press two high Pass 4 Fly Watson Inc
Excellent pocket(pressure -2) but Watson(+2, cover +2) is up to it, running in the outside WR’s hip pocket and batting the ball down with authority.
Drive Notes: Punt, 13-17, 2 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Ace twin TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Waggle corner Hill Inc
Waggle. Short routes covered, decent pressure on the edge, corner throw with Hill(+2, cover +2) in the hip pocket and there to intercept! Or just deflect it, barely. This looked like an INT and then the deflection is glancing, WR still can’t bring it in so this is a PBU. Hill +2, cover +3. Metellus +0.5 for short cover.
O25 2 10 Shotgun twins 2TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Zone read belly McCray 6
Similar to the Higdon TD. UF lets Winovich go and runs an IZ ish play they probably want to cut back. They do as McCray(-1) and Bush(-1) both hammer so hard frontside that they’re gone and on the other side of blocks they sort of beat. Winovich(+1) does well to close this down after checking the mesh and tackling with help from the S.
O31 3 4 Shotgun trips tight bunch 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Scramble Metellus 3
Blitz with Gary(-1) and Hudson(-1) on one side. Gary again gets way upfield; Hudson meets an OL and gets run over. Coverage(+2) excellent and Franks doesn’t know what to do. He sees the room and takes off. Marshall(+1) is in NT spy thing and manages to string it to the sideline; there Metellus(+2) discards a WR like he is a fruit my son is mad at and comes up to tackle. Franks is probably going to get there except he fumbled; Metellus still did a lot here. Marshall thumps that same discarded fruit and recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 23-17, 10 min 3rd Q. Zaire in at QB for UF for the remainder.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O26 1 10 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Zone read belly Furbush 2
Furbush(+1) inserts as DL 4 and beats the RT, surging to the backfield and cutting off the front of this play. Gary(+1) is unblocked and flowing down to tackle; he gets to it quickly. Bush did read and spin back this time so he’s in the area.
O28 2 8 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Zone read keeper McCray -2
Pull is bad but so is everything as Hurst(+1) and Winovich(+1) crush their blockers and eat the back. McCray(+1) scrapes over the top and makes Zaire juke in the backfield. He does get beat but he’s induced a delay that Kinnel(+1) uses to get a TFL. Also Metellus tackles Kinnel for emphasis.
O26 3 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 5 Improv Furbush Inc
McCray(+1) and Furbush(+1) both blitz and both beat their guys after a single move. They surge up the gut. Zaire rolls out; Gary(+0.5) contains ably. Kinnel(+1, cover +2) in strong position to affect and break up a catchable throw. Throw is OOB.
Drive Notes: Punt, 26-17, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O8 1 10 Shotgun 2-back 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Run N/A Split zone Kinnel 3
Michigan in a nominal two high look but Kinnel is at eight yards and inserting himself into the box on run action. This is necessary because UF does block M’s front. Hurst(-1) loses momentum and gets put on skates by the C, pretty big gap. Kinnel(+1) is there to tackle after a modest gain; Hurst gets a point back because he fought to the hole and helped close it off a few yards downfield. RPS +1, unblocked S near LOS.
O11 2 7 Pistol trips TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 5 Tunnel screen Furbush 9
Likely works either way but Furbush(-2) chopped to the ground by a WR and does not force back or even really slow the WR. Hurst and Winovich are pursuing and a delay means he might get eaten up from behind. Bush(+1) demonstrates this by bending around the OL trying to get out and getting to the WR. He misses an arm tackle attempt but that allows the DL to grab from behind and tackle.RPS -1, this caught a blitz and M had few defenders in an area with 3 blockers.
O20 1 10 Pistol FB 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Cross Watson Inc
Wow. Another screen looks like it’s set up to be a long touchdown as M flows hard to rollout action. Three OL pop out with the back and there’s nobody home. Zaire never even looks at this! He’s looking at a crossing route the whole time. Hurst is aborting his rush to try to check the screen and then resumes his rush because Zaire isn’t looking at four guys with 1 M player, a late arriving McCray(-1) in the area. Instead Zaire overthrows a crossing route that Watson(+1, cover +1) had blanketed. RPS -3? It’s possible Winovich(+0.5) or Hurst(+0.5) tracks this down if McCray makes the guy redirect?
O20 2 10 Shotgun 2TE twins 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Furbush 5
Just a bare crease in the line for the first time(?) in the game. Furbush(-1) over-penetrates here, which is bad but also kind of impressive. He’s inserting, drives into a double, and it really looks like he’s done the job, and then the back runs right through the double team. Bush(+0.5) there, scraping over, to tackle despite the surprise.
O25 3 5 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 5-1 split Press two high Pass 5 Improv Watson 23
Five man rush and McCray creeps across the LOS and ends up locking up the RB; he’s not really rushing, he’s covering, but he occupied a blocker. One on one across the board; Zaire gets one beat and then Hurst(+1, pressure +1) is coming through to force a scramble. Scramble drill sideline throw is spectacularly completed on Watson. This is a shit happens moment. Watson’s coverage(+1, cover +1) is great until scramble drill time.
O48 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 30 nickel slide Press one high Pass 5 Drag Hill 1
Slight reconfig of the front and Bush(+0.5) comes hammering through at the snap. He and Gary(+0.5) draw so much attention that Furbush gets a free run(pressure +2). Zaire can get the crossing route off but Michigan is playing trap coverage with their CB, not man, and Hill(+1, tackling +1) comes up to make an immediate tackle.
O49 2 9 Ace trips tight bunch 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Waggle flat Metellus 3
M blitzes Hudson(+1) right into this and he takes a good, fast flight path that cuts Zaire off. He’s able to dump the ball out anyway. Metellus(+1, cover +1, tackle +1) is there for an immediate tackle. RPS +1.
M48 3 6 Shotgun empty tight bunch 3-3-5 Okie Press two high Pass 4 Sack Bush -8
Got DAMN, Devin Bush. He times the snap up but doesn’t start moving until it’s off and still is a rocket through the line, beating the RT clean and chasing a fast QB down for a sack. Some other guys chip in a little but this is all Bush(+3, pressure +3)
Drive Notes: Punt, 26-17, 14 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O34 1 10 Shotgun twins 2TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 6 Sack McCray -5
First big blitz all game really. Hudson(+2) around the corner super quick; he forces a step up. Bush gets cut off by the back; McCray(+1, pressure +3) has seen the back stay in and converts himself into a blitzer, going right up the gut for a sack. RPS +1.
O29 2 15 ??? ??? ??? ??? Penalty N/A Illegal sub N/A -5
O24 2 20 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Tunnel screen Bush 2
Tactical advantage of the 3-3-5 here as releasing OL here depend on who’s covered and UF doesn’t know. Nobody gets out on Bush(+1) who simply runs down the line and tackles. Metellus(+1) cut off the outside well. RPS +2.
O22 3 22 Shotgun empty 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Pass 3 Hurl Winovich Inc
Rollout and a three man rush and M still gets two guys to the QB, with Hurst(+1) roaring down the line from the backside and Winovich(+1, pressure +2) looping around and exploding upfield to hit on the throw, painfully. Ball is a duck that isn’t really at anyone. Hill(+1, I guess) deflects it… away from Hudson. Rats.
Drive Notes: Punt, 26-17, 8 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O20 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Midline keeper Gary 7 (Pen -5)
They try to option Gary; Gary(-1) forms up on the QB well but bites on a bounce juke by Zaire and runs himself out of the play. Gap up the middle now that gets closed down; Bush(+1) takes on and sheds an OL and threatens to hold it down; he’s held and flag comes out. Hurst(+0.5) and Winovich(+0.5) both pursue from behind and tackle.
O15 1 15 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 5 Improv Gary 13
Gary(+2, pressure +2) whoops Ivey w Taco level speed to power; he just about sacks until Zaire makes a super athletic back juke. Pocket’s busted, he’s got LBs coming in, and he gets off a sideline throw with an athletic toe tap catch. Great play.
O28 2 2 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Zone read keeper Winovich 3
Pull and Winovich(+1) is able to redirect and tackle by himself after Zaire spins inside of him. That saves several yards even if it gives up the first down.
O31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 5 Throwaway Hudson Inc
Gary(+1) and Winovich(+1) both drive the pocket, forcing a flush. Hudson(+1) reads the flush and that he’s got nobody in his zone and immediately flows to fill, running up to lay a lick(pressure +2) and force a throwaway. Metellus(+1, cover +1) all over hypothetical WR.
O31 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 6 Drag Watson 7
All three LBs surge up the gut and engulf Zaire but not before a zero yard throw can get off. Bush(+1), Furbush(+1), and McCray(+1) all zip through(pressure +3). Zero yard throw is a drag against man that Watson(-1 cover -1) is trailing fairly badly; he manages to catch up but misses a tackle(-1) to make this a decent gain.
O38 3 3 Shotgun trips TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 6 Rollout out Metellus Inc
America’s Third Down Rollout is open for the first down but Zaire is left handed and this is super hard for him. He leaves it well short. Metellus(+1) had a shot at dislodging a more accurate ball and hits this poor #4 again.
O38 4 3 Shotgun trips tight bunch 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 5 Drag Metellus Inc
Pocket is just good enough but collapsing; Zaire has nobody(cover +2) who’s really open. He tries a drag vs Metellus, and Metellus clearly interferes with the guy by yanking him back with his hand. No ref can see this I guess, and Powell stumbles over. Rubbin’s racin. Metellus +2. Refs +2.
Drive Notes: Turnover on downs, 26-17, 3 min 4th Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O11 1 10 Shotgun trips tight bunch 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Sack Hudson -8
Hudson(+2, pressure +3) times his blitz up without tipping it and gets around the corner clean thanks to Gary attention. He misses the tackle as Zaire ducks under him but he’s still doomed. Solomon(+0.5) got some push and constricted space and as Zaire pops off the tackle he buttfumbles. Recovery, near the goal line. Hudson did get credited with a sack here. RPS +2.
O3 2 18 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Half press one high Pass 3 Sack Winovich -3
UF bust lets Winovich(+2, pressure +3) through clean to the inside of Ivey, who grabs the RG and points him at the impending sack BEFORE THE PLAY IS EVEN OVER. Winovich deposits his helmet in the midsection, fumble, Furbush(+1) alert to recover.
Drive Notes: Defensive touchdown, 33-17, 1 min 4th Q. Final drive very very garbage time and not charted. I did clip Mbem-Bosse and Uche combining for a sack.






Look, man, this was pretty much the best case scenario for the defense. I'm just sayin'. Watch Florida left tackle Martez Ivey start yelling at the left guard on the Furbush touchdown before the play is even over:

You! Come over here! I know you're in the middle of a football play, but look upon the destruction your incompetence has wrought! Feel in your very bones the touchdown you have given up and shall never recover from! Eat at Arby's!

Also here is Florida's quarterback getting hammered on a rollout that Michigan rushed three on.

That's some dystopian business right there, and we should slow our roll a little given the evident dysfunction of the opponent. How much? I don't know. Cincinnati isn't going to tell us much either; data will roll in a little at a time.


okay yes but


okay yes that was freakin awesome


okay yes, woo


Thank you. The big story of the game, of course, was Michigan busting out a 3-3-5 stack out of nowhere. I don't want to pile on Todd Blackledge too much—he is a solid color guy—but at some point in the second half he said "there's that three man line again" and I was Offended Girl In Popular Meme. After the first drive every single Michigan snap that was not a passing-down exotic was a 3-3-5 stack, give or take a linebacker slide on a couple downs. And it worked!

To describe this in words is difficult. The avalanche of emotions that washed over me as I watched Jeff Casteel's defense wreck Florida because Don Brown thought it would work and Jim Harbaugh knows enough to trust him was enough to bury a man. I was simultaneously amused, infuriated, enticed, alarmed, boggled, and gob-smacked. At this point a brief history is in order.

At West Virginia, Rich Rodriguez ran a 3-3-5 because he was the ultimate outsider. He didn't know jack about it, but Jeff Casteel did, and he plugged various misfit toys into the system and it worked pretty well. When he came to Michigan he hired Scott Shafer, who was not at all a 3-3-5 coach. He let Shafer run his 4-3; this went very badly until the Purdue game in 2008, when Michigan used the bye week to install a 3-3-5 with Donovan Warren, cornerback, as the free safety. This worked worse.

Everyone blamed Tony Gibson, not without merit, and this plus his DBs tendency to explode when presented with a double move haunted him until the end of his days in Ann Arbor. These days he is a popular and highly successful defensive coordinator at WVU, because obviously.

Greg Robinson entered, and in his second year as a desperate beaver-flinging incompetent RichRod again prevailed upon him to install the 3-3-5. He did, after a fashion. You may remember Penn State Game That Was Definitely The End, where Kenny Demens lined up on the butt of a nose tackle:


video quality has come a long way since 2010

I'd actually read up on the stack a few years earlier and knew this wasn't how it went. In the stack, the MLB is actually 5-7 yards removed from the line of scrimmage so he can go get it sideline to sideline. And lo:


Michigan made Devin Bush their little unfettered missile, and he delivered. RichRod is now the coach at Arizona.

So. The stack in a few bullet points:

  • It's a one gap defense. A 3-4 asks DL to take on an OL and and play either side of him. (Sometimes. It's complicated.) A 4-3 asks DL to pick a gap and go get it. The 3-3-5 is a 4-3 where one of the linebackers becomes the fourth DL by blitzing. You don't know who or where. This means that you can run 4-3 DL in the stack basically as is, with some DT-to-nose-tackle tweaks.
  • It likes burly thumper OLBs and makes a place for them in modern football. For most of the last two years this site has said "Noah Furbush can't play except against manball because he is an old-ass SAM." Now he's a weird-ass LB/DT, and it worked. McCray is similar.
  • It likes MLBs that can run their ass off, the end. RichRod's old 3-3-5 frequently used walk-ons at MLB because it was a position about will, desire, and being short and fast for a linebacker. Devin Bush is the apotheosis of these dudes.
  • It uses Michigan's already extant safety framework. Michigan has three approximately interchangeable safeties, two of which are box safeties and really really interchangeable. The 3-3-5 has a "spur" and "bandit" that are more or less Hudson and Metellus to a T.

The 3-3-5 shocked and then as Furbush slashed into a gap and Bush clobbered a guy at the numbers, it clicked. Michigan's personnel is very stack-friendly.

Is this the base defense going forward then?

Probably not? But maybe? Michigan didn't actually use much of the blitz variation that's one of the stack's main assets. It was almost always Furbush inserting himself into the line. It kind of felt like Michigan rolled it out and just kept doing it because it was working.

Something that works is a good thing to have as your base defense; I'm not sure we're 100% clear on that after a game against a bad offense that must have been all but unprepared to face a stack.

Going forward I'd imagine we see a split based on opponent that averages out to 50/50 stack versus last year's 4-2-5. Bryan Mone got something like three snaps, and he is probably a very useful space-eating nose tackle. Michigan isn't forced to run a stack because they don't have the personnel to run a four-man line, and there will be times when a more dedicated interior run outfit demands the application of more beef.

I would like a long section about Devin Bush now.

First, a cha-


a chart:

Defensive Line
Player + - T Notes
Gary 8.5 4 4.5 A bit too much edge rush, not enough power rush.
Hurst 12 2 10 Still Mo Hurst.
Mone Just a few snaps.
Winovich 14 4 10 Kills bad OLs dead.
Kemp 2 2 Scored +2 on great run stop.
Solomon 0.5 0.5 A little push.
Marshall 0.5   0.5 Fumble recovery.
Paye DNC
Jones DNC
TOTAL 37.5 10 27.5 In 53 snaps with just 3 guys.
Player + - T Notes
Furbush 7 3 4 Came rather out of nowhere to be beef LB.
Bush 17.5 4 13.5 !!! Two +3 sacks and a lot of sideline to sideline.
McCray 5 2 3 Less impactful; probably not 100%
Gil 0.5 0.5 Looked very plausible.
TOTAL 30 9 21 I didn't think linebackers could grade like this.
Player + - T Notes
Hudson 7.5 1 6.5 Edge terror hints.
Metellus 9 2 7 Great coverage, and that was supposedly the Q with him.
Kinnel 3.5 1 2.5 Boring, hooray.
Hill 7 5.5 1.5 Big hit on the second bomb on him. Still got above zero.
Long 2 2 In and out with injury.
Watson 4 3 1 +2 PBU was good sign.
Thomas     DNC
TOTAL 33 12.5 20.5 It's a sweep.
Pressure 31 7 +24 Yep, it's a Don Brown defense.
Coverage 20 3 +17 Open WRs virtually nonexistent.
Tackling 2 1 +1 Watson leaked a few yards on a miss, and that was it.
RPS 11 5 +6 3-3-5 was baffling.

That might be the closest thing to a perfect chart I've done. Everything is a blowout. Everyone performed well. The only guys even close to a 50/50 split are a couple corners who must have been doing serious work offscreen as they contributed to a +17 coverage metric.

So. Devin Bush.

Michigan lore is littered with offseason hype magnets who never panned out; Bush is emphatically not one of those guys. Everything we heard about him this offseason turns out to be 100% true. He is a missile, a blitz machine, and a hell of a linebacker. His first sack was the defensive equivalent of Chris Evans setting a guy up in one gap and then showing up in the next one:

Franks looks like he's fleeing from a rabid squirrel. The back didn't miss his assignment; he set up to block Bush and then Bush ghosted into the next gap. There he still had the angle and the speed to flush the QB and then run him down. That is a +3 from me. He had a blocker, he beat him, and he solo sacked.

His other sack was a blitz on which he beat a tackle and then tracked down Zaire:

That is another +3. Both of those are incompletions if Bush is a regular linebacker.

Almost without exception in this game, when Bush was provided a lane in which to go hunt down the back he excelled. Winovich cleared the way for him on my favorite Bush git-em moment of the game, a stretch on which he ran up and hit an OL and then knew for a fact where he needed to go and then got there:

#10, LB with dreads on the 50

I've always had trouble properly assigning credit for LBs that are in the right place at the right time despite not being blocked. Bush doesn't let you do that as a charter. He is capital-T There. He has a huge UFR score and I went back to check that I wasn't too generous; I don't think so. It's just a really good performance on the ground and two sacks he created more or less on his own.

What a scout by the staff here. 

Look, we're not doing phrasing.


Tell me about Furbush. He was supposed to be a nonentity, right?

Furbush wasn't exactly a revelation but he went from nowhere to somewhere in this game. He was the main guy inserting into the line and he was effective in that role.

One of UF's rare successful runs was kind of his fault because his gap-shoot was somehow too effective. Watch the white linebacker here as he fires into the gap and then somehow the running back goes through him like this is a ghost story:

Over-penetrating is one of those good problems you can fix. Meanwhile his ability to attack half a man served him well against the pass as well; sometimes it was tough to tell but he was in fact the first guy to make UF's QB bug out on one pass rush, followed quickly by three other guys.

I'm not sure if he's going to have a role in the "regular" defense but he clearly demonstrated his ability in the stack.

So the safeties were interchangeable, you say?

The season preview had a section discussing Michigan's willingness to flip their safeties in response to opponent motion, and that was evident from the first snap. It's a jet sweep. Kinnel motions down and David Long becomes the free safety:

At some point in this game every member of the starting secondary was the free safety. Motion would put Hill at FS and have Kinnel move down to be a CB, that sort of thing. This says a lot about Michigan's faith in the coverage skills of Kinnel. He's always the FS when Michigan lines up and is always the guy who ends up turning into a cornerback when one of the cornerbacks becomes the FS.

Kinnel wasn't tested much in this game when he swapped, FWIW.

Hudson didn't really pop up much. Slight disappointment?

Only in the context of Bush. Hudson didn't set the world on fire like that; he was still effective whenever his assignment was tested. Hudson didn't end anyone but he felt pretty Peppers-ish on a few waggles where he closed the distance in a flash:

Other than that his impact was somewhat muted, mostly by circumstance. UF only had 53 snaps and Michigan had a lot of guys getting after it; someone was going to get the short end of the stick. Hudson had to settle for being the motive force for a couple of TFLs and not the guy getting the glory. Here he gets around the corner in a flash, forcing Zaire to step up in the pocket and soon after have his chest caved in by McCray:

He looked as advertised as well: great short area burst, low to the ground, etc. We did not see a fierce hit. That is coming.

Meanwhile, Metellus was equally good. His standout play was of course the fumble. He did not really force it; he did end the wide receiver trying to block him and prevent an obvious first down.

He also made a couple impressive tackles after the catch—one particular waggle looked sure to be a first down until Metellus casually tackled from behind to make it a three yard gain—and got some rubbin's racin' points on an out route he clearly interfered on:

Around here we take the lack of a flag as savvy and hand out points. That's a plus two. Also that's the same guy he clobbered on the fumble. Brandon Powell is going to see Metellus in his nightmares for weeks.

After one game it looks like all three of Michigan's starting safeties are capable enough in man coverage to switch willy-nilly with acceptable results. Also they will come up and tattoo their face on yours. We had an inkling that this position group would be more reload than rebuild after the spring game; even so this performance exceeded any reasonable preseason expectation. In honor of that here is Kinnel tackling Zaire and Metellus tackling Kinnel at the same time because they are super best friends.

The general Hoke-ness of the Florida offense is the only brake on enthusiasm here. It is a significant one. Still... like.. I mean, not bad, right? No busts! No. Busts.

Okay but... I guess the cornerbacks were only sort of good?

For the supposed Achilles heel of the defense they performed extremely well. Hill got hit on a couple of deep shots; I thought the first was an instance where the offense executes perfectly and you lose. The second was Hill getting lost on a throw that was way short:

Impossible not to look at that and pine for Jourdan Lewis. Hill allowed an inside release, which I don't think I've seen on this kind of man coverage under Brown, allowed significant separation, and failed to react to the WR's adjustment. That's a flashback to some bad old days.

But that was just about the only clear problem on the day. The only other Lavert Hill issue was "he didn't deflect this pass enough":

All other deep shots were well covered, with Michigan CBs in good position to make a play on anything but a perfect ball:

Long's in great position and has his head around for any ball he's got a shot at.

And even Brandon Watson, who I was publicly skeptical about before the season, looked damn good. He had an authoritative PBU on a fly route down the sideline:

He's running with Freddie Swain there. Swain is a sophomore who was the #133 composite recruit a couple years back. If Watson can run with that guy he's in business. And even when he did get hit with a completion I was fine with it. He was the victim on one of the improv prayers UF completed; on the replay my initial take was "that's great coverage":

Watson has the actual route dominated. He can't mirror the improv stuff, but nobody really does. The bit where he jams this Cleveland kid (who is clearly talented) and prevents any thought of a throw on the original route is the important one.

Are there any players who are so good they're kind of boring and hard to talk about now?

Hurst remained Hurst. He was a sideline to sideline NT in this one, which is both very bizarre and something of a Michigan tradition now. Cut him, nah:

73 in the middle of the line

He was the secret key to Michigan's third down stop when nobody was set. He fired off, got in the backfield and into the pulling G's legs, and that allowed Bush to do his excellent Bush things:

73, middle of the line

He is Maurice Hurst. I think we know this by now.

Surely there are some downers... somewhere. How am I supposed to be a foil in this context? I feel so useless, like a Florida receiver farther than five yards downfield.

Michigan did get lucky twice. The first was pretty obvious: Florida rips off a 47-yard touchdown when the back reverses field and a holding call brings it back. The hold was a must-call but irrelevant to the outcome of the play. As soon as Winovich doesn't force it back or at least force the guy to waste time going around him it's over, and Bush wasn't going to be able to help even if unblocked entirely:

The Winovich thing opens it up but the secondary reaction there was not great either.

The second was a screamingly wide open screen on which Zaire didn't even look at the various screamingly wide open guys:

What are you doing Malik?

That looks like a long gain and possibly a TD that Michigan got got on.

The only other downer was Rashan Gary, I guess? Gary flashed his general absurdity plenty. He's going to be really good... as long as he cuts down on the irresponsible edge rush stuff. Too many times in this game Gary tried to be Winovich and dart around the edge only to find himself 10 or 12 yards upfield. That is too many. The Metellus forced fumble is a good example:

Gary tears off the corner and gets shoved. He ends up engaged with an OT ten yards upfield. Hudson gets pancaked; even if that was not the case he had a huge amount of ground to try to shut down and would likely have been unsuccessful. This was a frequent theme.

Gary's edge rush should be a surprising counterpunch to a bunch of Taco Charlton speed-to-power rushes, and I assume they'll move him towards that as the season moves along. His best moment in this game was a shoulda-been sack that came after he tossed preseason first team All SEC LT Martez Ivey aside with one arm:

#3, bottom-most lineman

That should be idea #1, because... I mean, All SEC tackle. One arm. No scramble. Do that.

Any way down the depth chart takes?

Not really. Nobody had much time to leave an impression. I did clip a pretty good twist blitz from Uche and Mbem-Bosse in garbage time:

Uche's ability to drive through two OL is impressive.

Other than that, Solomon, Thomas, Paye, and Gil all got a handful of snaps. They looked fine; ask again later.


Literally everybody but especially Bush, Metellus, Hurst, and Winovich.

Maybe not so heroic?

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What does it mean for Cincinnati and beyond?

Giggity. Defensive expectations are upgraded. New players played at or above expectations except Gary, because he was only very good.

The 3-3-5 is a thing to watch for against spread teams and mobile quarterbacks. It's very good at inserting LB and safety types where they shouldn't be, like a mesh point, and is clearly something Michigan is comfortable with going forward. There aren't even that many changes between it and last year's base D: the back five is the same, the DEs are the same, Furbush is likely a stack specialist and Mone a 4-2-5 specialist, so only Hurst, Bush, and McCray have to go from one mindset to another. It's way more complicated for the opposing offense than the defense.

Metellus and Kinnel are cover safeties. Both guys got stuck in man-to-man matchups with Florida's four-star wide receivers and were in the hip pocket. Both guys were described as CB/S hybrids as recruits and that seem to be paying off. The rotation on motion is evidence enough these guys have chops.

Devin Bush is going to have ten sacks this year. He didn't get lucky or pick up a cheap one. He made those happen. Offseason chatter wins here.

Gary is going to have to make some adjustments to be a beast. It's coming. Maybe a little slower than we anticipated.

The cornerbacks are probably fine. No busts, just the one bad weird Hill play.



September 8th, 2017 at 3:56 PM ^

they were 100th (!!!!!) in FEI Offense last year.

That was worse than such luminaries as 1-10 Massachusetts, Central Michigan, a bunch of four letter acronyms I barely know what they stand for, all with losing records (UTEP, UTSA, UNLV), etc and a bunch of other teams you'd expect to be at the literal bottom of FBS.

How Doug Nussmeier still gets OC jobs, let along high paying ones, is beyond me, but this offense was/is really poorly coached and bad at football.  So caveats abound when talking about the defensive domination.

But yeah, even using a 3-3-5 against an SEC team that actually does at least have some talent and then blowing up that talent isn't something I expected to see...ever.


September 8th, 2017 at 1:44 PM ^

On the QB scramble you (and Blackledge) dinged Gary for losing contain, I think Furbush is the defacto DE on the play responsible for contain. Gary was the interior lineman and his job is supposed to be rushing straight up field. He probably goes too far either way, but not as big of a mistake as if he were the DE. Furbush dives way inside and should be the one getting the -2, IMO.


September 8th, 2017 at 1:09 PM ^

I'm anticipating the old-school-ish post about how we'd better have four linemen when we play "the Wisconsins of the world." Never mind that Wisconsin itself often goes 3-4. Never mind that p=mv and that a 240# guy (and, yes, you would need the larger linebackers) at speed -- and in an uncertain spot -- can be very effective.


September 8th, 2017 at 1:12 PM ^

Obviously, no one heard of the 3-3-5 or saw it coming.  But it hindsight, it's a little funny that we spent 6 months reading (or writing) about how we had shaky D-line depth and a whole bunch of extra linebackers and none of us put 2 and 2 together.


September 8th, 2017 at 1:21 PM ^

I am amaized at how interchangeable the parts of this defense are. Every player can and does play 2-4 positions and you never know where that will be on any given down. I must admit, I never thought a 3-3-5 could work in the run heavy B1G but I stand corrected. This defense obviously works when you run it with the right DC and personnel.


September 8th, 2017 at 5:59 PM ^

I'm not sure how one game against a non-B1G team with a really bad offense proves this can work in the B1G.

I do know that sports are far more about players, talent and execution than scheme and we have really big, fast, versatile players so it probably doesn't matter that much what scheme we're in. As long as these players execute their assignments within said scheme, we'll be fine.


September 8th, 2017 at 1:21 PM ^

If anyone had option to trade last years defense for this young defense, I don't think anyone would raise their hand.  They were great last year, but this D just feels faster so far.


September 8th, 2017 at 1:25 PM ^

So beyond the slight warning that they did this to a Hoke-ified offense, the defense looked amazing? I'll take it, after all I remember what the great defenses did to the Hoke teams and it looked a lot like that.


September 8th, 2017 at 1:27 PM ^

If you are like me and are subconsciously CONTENT of our LB play from knowing how far we are now away from screaming at Bolden on the TV every other play, then kindly upvote me, with enthusiasm.....


September 8th, 2017 at 1:30 PM ^

"look upon the destruction your incompetence has wrought! Feel in your very bones the touchdown you have given up and shall never recover from!"

This, along with the brilliant opening bit on Rashan Gary in the season preview, makes me wonder if Brian has been reading HP Lovecraft over the summer?


September 8th, 2017 at 1:31 PM ^

i just saw a guy that maybe was trying a little too hard. he looked really hyped up. but the good thing he wasn`t being handled and wasn`t struggling, he will be fine.


September 8th, 2017 at 1:34 PM ^

Even on that play where he rips Ivey, he is quite slow off the snap. Others have commented on this as well, but it is a little alarming he isn't quicker out of his stance.


September 8th, 2017 at 1:48 PM ^

It is on purpose, I believe. He is taking a second of hesitation to feel the play out. It was mentioned in the Michigan Insider this morning. I'm almost certain he is doing it on purpose.