Upon Further Review 2017: Defense vs Minnesota

Submitted by Brian on November 9th, 2017 at 1:50 PM

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SPONSOR NOTE. This was going to be a three-thousand word sponsor note because there's not much to say about this game, but Matt was like "no, stop that," like most of our advertisers have to say to us on a regular basis. "Please stop doing that," Matt said, "and instead have a brief item noting HomeSure Lending's ability to get you a mortgage from the comfort of your own home rapidly."

Thus this note, which is not an exegesis on various details of mortgage lending, and that's just another reason to get a mortgage from HomeSure.

FORMATION NOTES. Like last week, Michigan spent the vast bulk of this game in a four-man front. Whether that's disrespect to the opposition's passing game or Aubrey Solomon emerging into Michigan's best option as the seventh guy in the front seven is to be determined.

Minnesota was all three-wide gun except when they were in their irritatingly effective jet sweep package.


More on this in a bit.

SUBSTITUTION NOTES. 247 published snap counts earlier in the week so no speculation necessary: the back seven barely changed, with McCray, Bush, Kinnel, and Hill getting all or almost all of the 60 snaps. Long and Watson split the other CB snaps. Metellus would have gone the whole way but for his ejection; Glasgow entered in his place.

There was more rotation up front. Gary, Winovich, and Hurst got about 90% of the snaps before Minnesota's late FG drive; Solomon had 26. Kemp, Paye, Marshall, Mone, and Dwumfour all got 10-20 snaps.  Uche got 5, Rueben Jones 2.

[After THE JUMP: another week, another Big Ten quarterback.]

Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A QB power Hudson -1
Edge threat one way with the RB and QB power the other with both backside OL pulling. Nobody bothers blocking Hudson(+1), who is blitzing as Metellus replaces him in hypothetical coverage. Gary(+0.5 )and Solomon(+0.5) push the POA back into the backfield and this is a wad play. Bush(-1) misdiagnoses here and starts running after the back after initially going after the QB.
O16 2 11 Ace twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A Jet sweep Long 4
Yo-yo motion from Smith, who gets the ball on the edge to the strong side. Long(+1) strings it out and Metellus(+0.5) is near the LOS to force the bounce.
O20 3 7 Shotgun trips 4-2-5 Nickel over Press one high Pass 4 Slant Metellus 25
Metellus(-2, cover -2) gets torched on a slant; can’t tackle, YAC. Kind of wonder if Bush is supposed to be dropping into this after faking a blitz but doesn’t quite get over in time.
O45 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Press one high Run N/A Counter Hudson 0
Same double pull on the backside. Hudson(+1) again blitzing off the edge right into this; puller does not recognize this and attempt to block him. Gary(+1) sheds and helps tackle at the LOS. RPS +1.
O45 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Press one high Pass 5 Flare screen McCray 8
RB to flat immediately, with McCray(+1) in man trying to keep up. He takes a blocker and gets around him; he does take a big shove. He gets there, but his blocker follows him and re-engages; WR cuts back and there’s no help. McCray fights back inside; WR back outside. RPS -1.
M47 3 2 Shotgun trips 4-2-5 Nickel even Press one high Pass 5 Slant Hurst Inc
Hurst(+1, pressure +1) gets his hands up and bats it. Metellus in much better position to contest if this does not happen.
Drive Notes: Punt, 0-0, 11 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Pass 5 PA slant Bush 16
Winovich(+1, pressure +1) dives inside his guy and surges up the middle, forcing a back foot throw. Both Bush(-1) and Furbush(-1) get little depth on their drops and are hanging out at about five yards (cover -2) when the ball is thrown; relatively large window for a chunk play.
O41 1 10 Wildcat 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 over SAM Press one high Run N/A Inverted veer keep McCray 2
Edge fake on this doesn’t hold anyone, really. McCray and Winovich are the guys to the playside. Winovich(+0.5) shuffles down and absorbs the pulling G. McCray(+1) sits in the hole and tackles. Solomon(-1) took a play long double and got blown out, but hey no blocker. RPS +1.
O43 2 8 Wildcat 3-wide 4-2-5 Nickel even Press one high Run N/A Split zone Solomon 2
Minnesota checks. As they do so Hudson walks up to the LOS. Then he walks back. Wildcat, fake nobody pays attention to, split zone. Hurst(-1) overpenetrates and is kicked out way upfield so there’s some room in the middle. Solomon(+1) wins a one on one block and sheds to tackle at the LOS; Gary(+0.5) and Bush(+0.5) execute similarly, if less emphatically. RPS +1.
O45 3 6 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 line split Press two high Pass 3 Scramble Winovich 8
M sends just the DL, with McCray spying. Gary(+1) gets pressure up the middle that would normally be good; QB repositions and comes off a throw he thinks is covered(+1). He’s between Gary and hurst and there are three blockers with nothing to do except harass McCray. McCray(-1) starts running to cover the sideline when QB isn’t moving to it and can’t cut back when QB takes off the other way. Winovich(-2) is doubled and doesn’t get to the QB and that’s fine but by the end of this play he’s 13 yards upfield; should have quit and focused on containing long before this. Pressure -3.
M47 1 10 Wildcat 3-wide 4-2-5 Nickel under Press zero Run N/A Inverted veer keep McCray 0 (Pen +5)
M does have a zero check here with Kinnel coming down into the box. He has edge responsibility. McCray(-1) jumps offsides before the snap; he then shuffles on the QB exchange instead of firing at it despite the outside help he has. He’s then able to crash down and tackle for nothing because he has no blocker and isn’t afraid of the outside threat. RPS +2.
M42 1 5 Wildcat 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even Press zero Run N/A Split zone Solomon 0
Hurst(+1) and Solomon(+1) drive their guys back a couple yards each and provide RB a bunch of bad choices. McCray(+0.5) helps clean up as Solomon tackles.
M42 2 5 Ace twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 over SAM Press one high Run N/A Jet sweep Hill 12
Yo-yo action again. Hudson and Metellus are to the field and have to contain. They do. Hudson gets moved by a TE but guy is still cutting upfield just outside the hash. Hill(-2) is in man coverage on this guy and ends up 3-4 yards behind him as he reverses field; if he’s able to catch up or even just delay a bit Gary likely makes this tackle. RPS -1.
M30 1 10 Shotgun 2TE 4-2-5 4-3 even Press two high Run N/A Inside zone Solomon 1
Solomon(+1) stalemates and then powers through a G after taking a momentary double; Bush flowing up forced C to leave it. Marshall(+1) takes a play long double and holds up pretty well to it. Solomon closes it down from the front and Hudson from the back for a stuff.
M29 2 9 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 Nickel even Press one high Pass 4 Scramble Winovich 12
Hudson(+1, cover +1) walks down and comes off the edge but aborts when he sees the RB leave the backfield. He jams the RB, and QB read man with a blitz from Hudson and is trying to go there immediately as McCray runs out there, presumably in man coverage? This could be an adjustment M made in case of this eventuality as they ran a play with a severe weakness. QB comes off it; four man rush can’t get there and again the pocket cracks, with Winovich(-1) falling over after getting pushed past the QB at 9 yards; Solomon(-1) unable to push the pocket at all so there’s a big gap QB hits. Pressure -3.
M17 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even Press one high Run N/A Counter edge pitch Metellus 7
Solid RPS move here from Minnesota as they fake IZ and pitch it out; Michigan’s relying on Metellus(-1) crack replacing on a guy who looks like he’s running a slant; Metellus has already gotten burned on one. Metellus falls off but not in time to prevent a solid gain. RPS -1.
M10 2 3 Ace twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 even SAM Press one high Run N/A Counter edge pitch Watson 10
Very similar concept from their jet formation; fake jet edge the other way. Watson(-1) doesn’t read this fast enough to get up on it and string it out, and then he gets run over on the tackle(-1). Winovich(-1) also beat to the edge. RPS -1, though.
Drive Notes: Touchdown, 7-7, 1 min 1st Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O25 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 over Press one high Pass 4 Scramble N/A 6
Either Gary gives up his responsibility to maintain the edge or someone fails to blitz or stunt, because there is nobody to the right side of the line. If I had to guess I’d say Mone was supposed to loop here since both Gary and Hurst move right, but guess. Coverage(+2) good; Pressure(-3) doesn’t get through and leaves that big cavern to run in.
O31 2 4 Wildcat 3-wide 4-2-5 4-4 under Press zero Penalty N/A False start N/A -5
O26 2 9 Wildcat 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even Press two high Run N/A Split zone Hudson 0
Corner blitz so Hudson(+1) doesn’t even have to think about the QB and runs directly at Smith, nailing in the backfield. RPS +3.
O26 3 9 Shotgun 4-wide 3-3-5 Dime line split Press one high Pass 4 Scramble Gary 2
Gary(+2, pressure +2) around at seven yards and threatens to sack; Winovich(+1) also drives the pocket. QB escapes by going around Gary well upfield and this gives McCray time to rally and hold this down.. Coverage(+1) good on the scramble action.
Drive Notes: Punt, 13-7, 14 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O9 1 10 Ace 4-2-5 4-3 even Press two high Run N/A Jet sweep Hudson 8
Another yo-yo jet sweep. Hudson(-2) is drawn in by that motion and ends up a yard from Bush, probably too close. On the jet he’s seemingly checking inside in the same gap Gary is in, and that’s a gap and a solid gain.
O17 2 2 Ace twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 over SAM Press one high Run N/A Counter off tackle Gary 13
No pull here, just counter action from the RB and a jet sweep that pulls guys out. Gary(-2) is used to not getting a block here so when a TE blocks down on him he gets blown out. McCray(-1) doesn’t scrape over; failing to read what’s going on for a while and getting cut off by a back. Bush has a lot of space to shut down and does force it back upfield but there’s no one there and a ton of room. Bush(-0.5) gets definitively sealed out as he reacts to the jet fake and could get back to this better. RPS -1.
O30 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 over Press one high Run N/A Jet sweep Kinnel -2
M reacting to this hard now and gets a TFL. Hudson flares out and fires upfield; not sure how I feel about this because he does get blocked by a TE and removed but the WR bends to get around him. +0.5? Okay. Kinnel(+2, tackling +2) fires on this action and runs up in a ton of space, first cutting the RB off and then tackling for loss. RPS +1; still a tough ask in space for Kinnel.
O28 2 12 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 over Press one high Pass N/A Wheel Metellus Inc
Pocket just comfortable enough for a throw but collapsing so a push; Metellus(+1, cover +1) jams his guy and then releases downfield, seems in very good position; his dude falls. Mostly of his own volition, but Metellus had something to do with it.
O28 3 12 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Split zone Bush 2
Give up and punt. McCray(+1) fires into an OL and forces him back; Winovich(+0.5) also drives to cut off backside lanes. Bush(+1) is free because this bounces to the front and his guy suddenly has no angle but he makes the read an authoritative tackle.
Drive Notes: Punt, 13-7, 9 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O18 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack SAM Press two high Run N/A Inside zone Hudson -2
M brings Hudson down late and flares McCray into the gray area as they show zone; run. CB blitz means Hudson(+2, tackling +1) can run directly at the back; he does so for an impressive TFL. RPS +2.
O16 2 12 Shotgun empty TE 4-2-5 4-3 even Press two high Pass 4 Sack Hurst -6
Hurst(+3, pressure +3) runs over the RG and hurls him into the QB. Hurst follows for a NFL draft reel sack.
O10 3 18 Ace 3-3-5 Base 3-4 Press one high Run N/A Jet sweep Watson 2
Watson(+1) runs to this action and is there to fill, with Hill(+0.5) and Bush(+0.5) chipping in, Hill with a force and Bush by flowing fast from the interior. RPS +1.
Drive Notes: Punt, 20-7, 4 min 2nd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O36 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even Press one high Pass N/A Improv Hurst Inc (Pen +15)
Hurst(+2, pressure +2) rips through a guard and gets quick pressure up the middle; QB rolls out and fires low on a comeback route that Metellus can’t quite get to as the rollout has shortened the throw; dropped. Gary(-2) gets an illegal hands to the face call.
M49 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even Press two high Run N/A Counter edge pitch McCray -2
Counter edge pitch again; M backs McCray(+2, tackling +1) into a short zone and when he reads the ball coming to him he jets right by a WR trying to crack and initiates a TFL. RB spinning out of it when Winovich(+0.5) and Hudson(+0.5) finish the job. RPS +1.
O49 2 12 Shotgun 2TE 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press two high Pass 5 Sack Hudson -17
Hudson(+2, pressure +3) simply not picked up on the edge. Hudson does a good job to mirror an outside move from the QB and then close as the guy breaks the other way; QB throws it for an intentional grounding call. RPS +2.
O32 3 29 Shotgun trips 3-3-5 3-3 line split Press two high Pass 3 Sack Hurst -6
Furbush(+0.5) feints and then backs out; Hurst(+3, pressure +3) then rips two gaps over to jet between the distracted G and the C. QB steps up into Hurst and is lost.
Drive Notes: Punt, 20-7, 11 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O45 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 over SAM Press one high Run N/A Jet sweep Bush 9
Big gap between the two guys on the outside trying to be force and the rest of the defense as Gary shoots after the running back. This is probably as designed since the whole line slants left. LBs don’t react like this is the call though, with Bush(-1) waiting and waiting and getting blocked and McCray(-1) checking frontside gaps that don’t exist and won’t with Hurst blowing it up.
M46 2 1 Ace twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 even Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Gary 4
Hurst(+2) surges into the backfield and forces an awkward backfield cut from the back; he does so and then there’s not much pressure from the D. Gary(-1) got doubled the whole play and got off the ball late and gets sealed inside; Metellus prevents the bounce as he’s overhanging in prep for a jet sweep, but back can get the first down.
M42 1 10 Ace twins twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 over Press two high Pass 4 Waggle throwaway Metellus Inc
Inevitable waggle comes and M defends it, with Hill taking the deep route and Metellus(+0.5) and Bush(+0.5) doing a fairly good job to bracket the intermediate WR. Flat TE also covered(+3), thrown away. RPS +1.
M42 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 over SAM Press two high Pass 5 Sack Hudson -5
Hudson(+3, pressure +1) off the corner. He does get a blocker this time; blocker just gets to him and knocks him upfield as he threatens to sack. QB is spooked and rolls out; he does not know that Hudson is still on his feet and chasing him down from behind. He tries to throw; Hudson tomahawks the ball out. Winovich(+1) recovers.
Drive Notes: Fumble, 20-7, 7 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O14 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack SAM Press two high Run N/A Counter edge pitch Furbush -4
IZ fake to the edge pitch and even though supposed edge guy Hudson backs out it’s dead. Furbush(+1) sheds a semi-WR-block to contain and that’s the end of that. RPS +2.
O10 2 14 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Pass 4 Throwaway N/A Inc
Pocket is mostly okay(pressure -1) but no throw through two reads(cover +2) and Croft has to run around. Furbush(+1) does a good job of reading the QB’s movement and shoots up to contain and force an OOB chuck.
O10 3 14 Wildcat 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Inverted veer keep Hudson -2
White flag is waved as Minnesota returns to wildcat stuff. Hudson(+2, tackling +1) rips off the edge and ignores the QB, without a CB blitz. This is either a read because the fake is nothing, and the QB hasn’t kept, or just a Don Brown FU. RPS +2.
Drive Notes: Punt, 27-7, 1 min 3rd Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O23 1 10 Wildcat 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A Inverted veer keep McCray 0
Zero respect for fake so McCray(+1) is unblocked in the face of the back; Winovich(+0.5) and Bush(+0.5) also in the area. RB bounces to the edge for nothing. RPS +1.
O23 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 4-3 even Press two high Pass 5 Sack Hudson -5
Pocket okay for a read or two (cover +2); QB sees nothing. Hudson(+2) blitzes and is around the corner relatively quickly; he again closes so fast from behind that Croft is taken by surprise and sacked. Pressure push; coverage sack.
O18 3 15 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 line split Press two high Run N/A Inside zone Dwumfour 3
Dwumfour(+1) slants inside through an OL into the path of the back; rest of defense rallies once the slip through the line is no longer a possibility.
Drive Notes: Punt, 33-7, EO3Q.
Ln Dn Ds O Form D Pack Front Cover look Type Rush Play Player Yards
O16 1 10 Ace twin TE 4-2-5 4-3 over Press two high Run N/A Inside zone McCray 0
M slants and both LBs head to the backside gap that nominally gets cleared by the jet fake. Bush(+1) and McCray(+1) combine for a stuff. RPS +1.
O16 2 10 Shotgun 3-wide 4-2-5 Nickel even Press one high Pass 4 Corner Kinnel Inc (Pen +15)
Comfortable pocket(pressure -2); Kinnel corner route time again. Kinnel(-1, cover -1) beat by a step or two but is able to recover on a pass that’s a little short and get what looks like a good PBU, but on replay he's clearly in the WR a bit early. This is still a softish PI call.
O31 1 10 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 4-3 even Press one high Pass 5 Scramble Hudson 4
Hudson(+1, pressure +1) off the corner; RB tries to cut him and fails, mostly. QB can still break upfield and must because Hudson is chasing him. Furbush(-1) is driving left the whole time and gets too close to Hurst; there’s a gap that QB can hit. M playing zone behind it so rally is quick and yards minimal.
O35 2 6 Shotgun 3-wide 3-3-5 3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Inside zone Furbush 4
Paye(+0.5) fires inside and drive a TE back; cutback to the outside. Furbush(-1, tackling -1) is coming over as the force guy and has an opportunity to get this down at the LOS. He reads the bounce too late and gets beat but does manage to pull the guy down, barely, from behind. Refs(+1) short Minnesota a yard.
O40 3 1 Ace


3-3 stack Press one high Run N/A Inside zone McCray -1
McCray(+2) blitzes through the backside tackle and gets to the back in the backfield; he’s able to bounce off. Hudson(+1) popped around a TE trying to block him and uses the delay; TFL.
Drive Notes: Punt, 33-7, 10 min 4th Q. Last drive is a lot of backups and not charted.

This again.

Yep. Michigan faces inept offense and dominates it except for a single touchdown drive.

I feel like I've seen this movie before.

We have, repeatedly. Defensive UFRs are turning into Mo Hurst writ large where I don't have much to say that I haven't said before. This one is especially low-information because PJ Fleck decided to set a bunch of downs on fire with that wildcat stuff, which is a major reason Khaleke Hudson just had a record-setting day.

Khaleke Hudson though! Woo!

Yes, woo, but any time someone gets that many TFLs without even having to beat a block there's something deeply wrong with the opposition. Eight wildcat snaps gained a total of –3 yards, in large part because Michigan would send a corner off the edge and let Hudson run right at the ballcarrier:

By the end, when Hudson had discovered that Minnesota had no intention of handing off to the QB, Hudson just blew up Smith in the backfield.

There's not even a mesh point there, not really.

Earlier in the game the Gophers simply failed to block him, repeatedly. He blitzes here; two Minnesota OL run by him, TFL.

#7 OLB to bottom

Hudson's outrageous day was largely because Minnesota neither blocked him nor optioned him. It was one of the most boggling things I've seen in years of charting this stuff.

Disclaimer out of the way, Hudson did take advantage of every one of the many opportunities Minnesota provided him. The intentional grounding sack is an excellent example. So many guys come in so hot here that they run by the quarterback when he makes a move and the guy can make a throw. Hudson comes in under control and then tracks the QB down once his first move doesn't work:

Rodney Smith is a tough customer at running back, a tackle-breaker, and Hudson did not get hit by him once. The one time it looked like Smith was about to escape he went down; Hudson was latched onto him like a rabid squirrel.

Hudson's other two sacks saw him get a block and get around it to chase down Croft; both were coverage sacks and QB-without-operational-timer sacks, but Hudson's ability to keep his feet and close in a flash were also major factors. Hudson's sack-strip was excellent awareness of what Croft was likely to do, and excellent timing:

The third again displayed Hudson's impressive closing speed.

Finally, this doesn't show in the box score but it might have been my favorite play of his in the game other than the tomahawk:

Hudson can and has beat blocks this year. It's just that he didn't have to. Because reasons.

His 14 TFLs now lead the team and he's just one behind last year's Peppers total; while some of those were gifts from PJ Fleck and company he certainly earned his share. Michigan likes his blitzing so much that they would fling linebackers out to cover folks in empty package. While that can't continue for obvious reasons, it does indicate that M thinks he's as much of an impact player as Bush.

Bush has gone silent of late, though?

Yeah, but you have to figure that a portion of Hudson's explosion was Minnesota being concerned with Bush and not so much Hudson. He's going to go through a transition period here where he's been scouted and is a priority target for the opposition. He's been quiet, but is still performing. Here's a dang chart, which has a lot of low numbers for the team because I dumped an unprecedented amount of stuff in RPS.


Defensive Line

Player + - T Notes
Gary 5 5 0 Blown out once and illegal hands to face call.
Hurst 12 1 11 Two impressive sacks.
Mone   DNC
Winovich 5 4 1 Partially responsible for scrambles.
Kemp   DNC
Solomon 3.5 2 1.5 Solid in 26 snaps.
Dwumfour 1 1
Paye 0.5 0.5
Marshall 1 1
TOTAL 28 12 16 DEs didn't have a great outing.
Player + - T Notes
Furbush 2.5 3 -0.5
Bush 4.5 3 1.5 Quiet since Hudson took up all the O2
McCray 8 4 4 IV contain.
Uche   DNC
TOTAL 15 10 5 Few plays left over.
Player + - T Notes
Hudson 18 2 16 Huh, I thought this would be lower.
Metellus 2 3 -1 One bad slant.
Kinnel 2 1 1 Impressive TFL, PI
Hill 0.5 2 -1.5 Screwed up a jet I think.
Long 1   1
Watson 1 0 Beat in uncharted time once FWIW.
Thomas   DNP
TOTAL 24.5 9 15.5 Hudsonnnnn.
Pressure 17 12 +5 Lower than usual because a lot of broken pockets.
Coverage 13 5 +8 Incredibly low totals.
Tackling 5 2 +3 More open field tackles than not.
RPS 22 4 +18 Most of Minnesota's offense was f-ing stupid.

Hudson, Hurst, and that RPS number sucked up almost all of the available positives. I would like to further emphasize that Minnesota's approach in this game was dumb as dirt.

Seriously, though, what was with that Wildcat thing?

I have no idea. Minnesota ran an inverted veer with no handoff threat and one other play. None of it worked. Wildcat stuff hit Michigan for big plays against Penn State and Rutgers but both of those instances were correctable mistakes that got corrected. Michigan seemed to be checking into plays designed to defend the inevitable veer action. Here McCray heads right for Smith because Kinnel sees the shift and appears to be jetting for the QB as a result of it:

#23 S to top of screen, also #9 LB to top

He'd do the same thing on another wildcat snap on the very next play. That was an inside zone and did not feature an unblocked guy, but then you're just running IZ without optioning off a front seven player, and that went like it usually does against the Michigan defense.

Time for the weekly How Did They Get The Touchdown section.

Minnesota's TD drive was a play action slant, two scrambles, a jet sweep, and two edge pitches. IE, a bunch of gimmicks and a slant. Most of those gimmicks ceased working the instant Minnesota scored. Michigan tightened up their rush lanes and gave up three scrambles for 12 yards the rest of the game. The edge pitches died spectacularly:

The one thing that kept working for a while was the jet sweep package.

Yeah, man. That was annoying. What was the deal there?

I don't really know. Minnesota used a lot of back-and-fourth yo-yo action early, and that was effective. Hill's in man coverage on the ball carrier here and ends up nowhere near the dude:

That's frustrating since literally every Minnesota snap from under center over the past month has featured jet action. Hill should be expecting the WR to return from whence he came.

A second jet was Hudson checking inside gaps that were covered.

Later he'd get TFL #8 by reading and firing outside in the gap that the WR hits between Gary and the corner. Michigan also got hit on a nice RPS play on which Gary got blasted from the side when he expected to be unblocked; mostly these were just a few individual errors against one sort of play.

The corners were virtually untested; the safeties a bit dodgy, etc.

Er. Yes. Michigan did get hit a couple times on the drive I didn't chart; on one Long was beat by a step and Croft laid in a perfect throw that the WR dropped. The other was Watson getting beat clean down the sideline. Other than that the only positive pass events on the day were in the general direction of the safeties. Metellus gets beat badly here and cannot even get a tackle attempt in:

And Kinnel was hit with a pass interference penalty on Yet Another Corner Route; it wasn't the clearest PI in the world but the second camera angle here does make it seem like a correct call:

This is the same thing. It has been and will continue being the same thing.

Anything new? This is just the same thing.

Solomon got another start and on the rare instances where Minnesota tested the interior of the Michigan OL he did well. Here he fires back a guard and helps create a zero yard play:

#5 DT to bottom

He hasn't added anything in pass rush yet, which is a mite disappointing since he's supposed to be a guy with some upside there. Still, true freshman.

Anything so old but still impressive?

Maurice Hurst: in ur base.

Always in ur base.

Gonna miss laughing uproariously at the husk of an offensive lineman who no longer has a soul.

Uh... isn't there supposed to be a lot more of this?

Usually, yes, but this was a short game that saw unblocked guys kill about a third of Minnesota's plays, and most of the rest of them were Michigan thumping guys. There's really not much to say except "Hudson is really good when not blocked and Minnesota needs a new OC."


Surprise: Hudson. Also Hurst.

Maybe not so heroic?

Nobody really but the DEs had very minimal impact.

What does it mean for Maryland and the future?

You should probably have a plan to block Hudson. Just sayin'. Maybe this performance will help Devin Bush get back on the rampage horse.

Solomon might be making Michigan into a 4-2-5 team again. He's solid. He's not great yet.

...nothing else? Uh? I mean... yeah.


Wolverine In Iowa 68

November 9th, 2017 at 2:04 PM ^

I'm betting that the plan was for the QB to take the handoff on numerous occasions, but after watching ol Rabid Squirrel Hudson crush it, he just flat-out refused to do so, sacrificing his RB to save his own skin.


November 9th, 2017 at 2:32 PM ^

They do. Michigan isn't going to rush 4 and drop 7 into zone coverage all game like Iowa did. Styles make fights and you're kidding yourself if you don't think they are going to give us all we can handle. After watching what PSU did to our safeties people should be worried about OSU's slot WR's.


November 9th, 2017 at 3:20 PM ^

We've been beaten by some pinpoint throws.  McSorley was dropping dimes. IU's QB was accurate.

The problem with Ohio State isn't the QB (he can't drop dimes), it's the scheme against our man coverage.  Their play designs and route tree are excellent conceptually and the receivers know how to find the open grass.  Barrett can hit open receivers.  He can't fit the ball into tight windows.


November 9th, 2017 at 3:22 PM ^

Johnny Dixon is pretty scary, I don't think we can afford to just put Metellus or Kinnel on him. But I am confident that Don Brown will have a plan. 

One thing I've noticed about OSU is that they don't seem to have a Curtis Samuel type of guy this season.  Dixon is a dangerous slot--he's not a RB.  Dobbins is scary at RB, but not a downfield receiving threat.  So maybe we lift a DL or LB and bring a third CB into the game? 



November 9th, 2017 at 9:24 PM ^

Demario McCall is the closest Samuel-type athlete OSU has, but he's been hampered by injuries all season.

Parris Campbell does not have the juke-moves of Samuel in the open field, but put Campbell on a straight line and he's got more speed.

K.J. Hill is possibly the best allround receiver, but has not been a deep threat very much.

Put them all together and maybe we can reconstruct another Samuel out of them.


November 10th, 2017 at 12:14 AM ^

I wouldn't say much better.  That's some availabiliy bias for McSorley (you're giving him too much credit for playing out of his mind against us) and some recency bias against Barrett (dinging him too much for Iowa - he was excellent for like 5 straight games before that including 13/13 for 3 TDs in the 4th quarter against PSU!!).

And OSU has a better O line that gives him time to do what he did against PSU.  Hurst is gonna have to eat.


November 9th, 2017 at 2:25 PM ^

Seeing that Rodney zone read stuff reminds me of watching Hoke & Borges try to run the zone read with Denard where it became obvious they just thought they play seemed like a good idea but they had no clue how to actually do the play successfully


November 9th, 2017 at 2:33 PM ^

I was hopeful that Fleck would do a great job at Minnesota, but the apparent schematic incompetence here sets off serious alarm bells. Fleck is supposedly an enthusiastic guys who delegates the Xs and Os to capable coordinators.

But leaving a viper basically unblocked all game long and getting devoured alive is not the work of a capable OC.

Against Maryland last year, you could tell that the OC knew what he was doing and was putting his players in the best position to succeed. We creamed them, but competence was visible. And it briefly showed this year before their entire QB roster was mysteriously attacked by aliens. This here is a team that is physically overmatched but also not equipped to do things well, and that's sad to see.


November 9th, 2017 at 3:03 PM ^

seems a lot like James Franklin.  But it's waaayyy too early to count him out.  This is the OC from WMU and they ran a more pro-style passing attack, I'm pretty sure.  They don't have the personnel at Minnesota yet to do what they did there.  It looks like they're trying to do running QB stuff, even though they don't know how, sort of like we tried to do spectacularly poorly with the Pepcat last year, except that's their full-time QB.

Will be interesting to see if they try to overhaul the roster to get their type of guys (could take a while) or if they try to fit a square beg into a round hole (like Borges for a couple years) or if they look for a new OC after a year or two.


November 9th, 2017 at 3:30 PM ^

I am very skeptical of the CEO head coach model after Hoke's failure at M.  Perhaps it can still work.  But I think one requirement is that the HC needs to know enough of the schematic stuff that he can both choose the best coordinators and properly evaluate their performance.  I don't think Hoke was capable of doing that on the offensive side of the ball at M, and there isn't a ton in Fleck's resume to suggest he'll be able to do it either.  But we shall see.


November 9th, 2017 at 10:28 PM ^

Dabo Swinney just won a national title as a CEO head coach, and HCs produce good units on the sides of the ball they don't specialize in all the time. But you need good people in place and I think you need to know enough about both sides of the ball to know how things are going and make key decisions. Hoke failed in large part because he did not address issues on the offense, particularly with the OL, until it was too late.

And perhaps Fleck knows more about Xs and Os than I realize, since my opinion doesn't have that much evidence behind it. 

But the issue isn't just personnel here. Especially since Minnesota has good tools for a running game. It is running plays that are just plain bad, getting them blown up, and then running them again. This is the Minnesota equivalent of 27 for 27.


November 10th, 2017 at 12:53 AM ^

and all else equal, you'd of course prefer your head coach can contribute at the level of a coordinator on one side of the ball, but it can absolutely work, as evidenced by Dabo. All coaches have to pretty much completely delegate at least one side of the ball, no reason they can't be successful delegating both.

Choosing and evaluating performances isn't rocket science. Look at what Harbuagh did with Brown.  Looked at who had the best defense (BC) and went and got the guy!  Now I know there was more that goes into it, but I would argue knowing X's and O's is fairly independent of your ability to take a big picture approach to performance evaluation. In fact, you might end up getting in the way.

Both Hoke and RichRod's failings were that they tried to exert too much control (and didn't hire good fits for coordinators because of it).  They both insisted their coordinators run schemes their coordinators didn't know how to run and for which the available personnel weren't good fits: RR insisted on running a 3-3-5 despite his coordinators lack of experience with it and his players being poor fits for it and Hoke (smartly) tried to run RichRod's offense but with a coordinator not that well-suited to do it.  Still, Hoke's offenses remained very good his first two years, but then he tried to run a poor scheme for DG in 2013 and 2014.

The 2013 and 2014 OLs weren't all his fault, probably mostly not his fault.  If we're angry now about Hoke's final class in 2014 and the transition class of 2015 for not leaving us enough upperclass OL this year, take a look at RichRod's last full class (2010) and the transition class of 2011. Woooooof.

There were only three total OL taken in two years!!!!  Three guys in two years for FIVE positions.  And two of them never even played a down, I don't think: Christian Pace and Chris Bryant.  2013 and 2014 were inevitably going to be rough with young guys all up and down the line.  Hoke, Borges and Nuss just made them worse by not scheming to Gardners strengths.


November 9th, 2017 at 3:49 PM ^

Agreed - I was very surprised by how inept the offense looked. It's one thing to be bad and get manhandled by a top 10 defense, it's another thing entirely to just have any entire gameplan built around a flawed play (Rodney Zone Reads). Like, they just kept going back to it over and over and over again without adjusting anything like they weren't even aware they should do something about Khaleke. It was bizarre to see them continuing to use that play in the 2nd half


November 9th, 2017 at 2:46 PM ^

I thought a lot of Michigan eating the jet sweeps was the optioned DE (mostly Gary) not getting upfield enough and attacking the mesh point. You can see a lot of these Gary takes one step forward and dances in place. This allowed the jet sweeper to run parallel to the line instead of having to bend slightly upfield to avoid the DE, giving him the critical step on the edge defenders to turn 1-2 yards into 5-6. 



November 9th, 2017 at 3:02 PM ^

Minnesota's game plan was dumb as dirt

You can say that again. This looked like a Class A high school team facing off against a Class D school from the UP. When one guy lives in your backfield the entire day, you should probably do something different. This was 1st year RR-level offensive incompetence (or any year RR defense incompetence).


November 9th, 2017 at 3:23 PM ^

He hasn't really shown it this year, unfortunately. He's been getting blown out by doubles nearly as much but doesn't have the athletic upside Solomon gives you. Mone hasn't really looked like his old self this year, sadly.

The Man Down T…

November 9th, 2017 at 3:34 PM ^

intentional grounding play.  They were on him so fast that not only could he not get outside the tackle box, but they made him botch his throw away.  The ball never made the line of scrimmage which is also required even if out of the tackle box.   Just a beautiful defensive play...


November 9th, 2017 at 6:34 PM ^

I have Jabril and Khaleke both with 13 TFLs.  

Thats Jabril's JR year #s and Khaleke's SO year #s. KH obviously still has 3 games left. 

I need to find a better site for stats.